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Let it SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!

KinKi Kids is a well known name in J-Pop. Even if you haven’t heard a single one of their songs, you’ve probably at least heard their name. And giggled immaturely. (I’m still trying to figure out which is worse – KinKi Kids, Porno Graffitti, or Mr. Children.) But for all the ridiculousness, there’s probably a reason why the Domoto men, like their companions in oddly-named Japanese music groups, keep hitting the top of the Oricon charts. Yes, Koichi’s looks and Tsuyoshi’s quirkiness help a lot, but they have good songs. There, I said it.

So American Thanksgiving is past, and in the northern hemisphere of the globe, it’s time to bust out the winter songs. (Of course, some of you may listen to them all year long, I don’t know. Should I judge you? But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as seeing the Domoto “brothers” cramped in a cellophane-wrapped box.) The SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! single was released back in 2005, but with an all-winter theme, it’s become my favorite winter single.

SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!, the titular track, doesn’t hit its listener with any of the usual wintry pop sound effects, but comes across as a winter song all the same. Hmm, it wouldn’t have anything to do with the repeated “SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!” in the chorus, would it? Snark aside, the orgel opening leading into strings rather than piano is an arrangement I’d like to hear more often. The strings add atmosphere to the song rather than dominating,
and the electric guitar’s slow whine is surprisingly fitting considering it comes out of nowhere during the stanzas. I’m slightly disappointed that Koichi and Tsuysohi sound like they’re fighting for dominance during the choruses, but it’s a fairly moving winter song that sets the overall theme for the single – no matter which version you came across.

On both versions of the single is ミゾレ [MIZORE]. For a song titled “sleet”, it doesn’t seem nearly as icy or edgy as its namesake. In fact, it’s really relaxing, with piano holding court over a much wintry background, especially in the chorus. The overall atmosphere is light-hearted, and again, the only thing that really brings this down are the Domoto vocals. Koichi’s smoother-yet-more nasal (almost obnoxiously so) vocals are more suited to this song than Tsuyoshi’s unsteady ones, but they’re both evenly decent performers here. This would be the song setting the mood for holiday festivities, the track you drink warm chocolate and suffer horrible Christmas specials together to. Or maybe this is the soundtrack to a snowball fight or a random girl holding up a hand to catch a snowflake. I don’t know, I think the cold is getting to my brain.

The B-side on the limited edition of the single, ユキノキャンバス [YUKI NO CANVAS], is a very upbeat showboat-ish tap dance number. Tsuyoshi sounds great here, like the song was practically made for him, but in Koichi’s defense he sounds good too. Must be all the musical practice. I’m ashamed to admit that as much as I like it, it leaves little impression on my mind, but that’s why it’s a coupling song rather than a single. We’ll call this the one for giant group happy vacation activities or winter sports (especially skiing), but sometimes it doesn’t quite get that mood across.

雪白の月 [Seppaku no Tsuki], the alternate B-side, forms an interesting contrast in that it’s the slowest song on all versions of the single. It’s a piano ballad that highlights the imperfections in both Domoto men’s vocals, as both men force more emphasis into their singing and some of the high notes in the chorus suffer. Give them credit, though, you can at least feel the passion in their voices and that lends feeling to the song. Watching the first snow of the season, or if you’re spending a winter night alone, this is the song for you.

For all that KinKi Kids aren’t the best vocalists, this is still my favorite winter single. Lovely music for any part of the winter season, and my bias happily accepts the bad with the good when it comes to all things KinKi. Okay, now I have a shotgun to go prime for the coming bad innuendos that last line will bring.

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