If it’s only the boys, …I don’t love it.
Let’s break up the Johnny’s pace for a bit. I haven’t given up my love for AAA yet, and I still very much prefer the group with two girls, yes. (I had the oddest dream last night about that, actually, but this isn’t the journal for that.)
However, even the title of the boys-only winter concert (男だけだと, …こうなりました! / Otoko dake da to, …kou narimashita!/If it’s only the boys, …it became like this! – thanks to Ruri for the correction) seems to be pointing at avex aiming for the boyband crowd with this group. I am, of course, a member of that same crowd. But the group I developed an obsessive fandom for was not 5 guys (that’s the other group whose name starts with “A”. No prizes for guessing who.), it was 7 (formerly eight) talented young people, 2 of whom are girls and probably won’t be getting a gender-change anytime soon. Oh, please no.
Between that and an admittedly drastic shift in my listening patterns (for the past two weeks I haven’t been able to listen to anything other than Johnny’s songs), it took me a while to get around to it, but I finally bought AAA’s four boys-only digital tracks from mu-mo today. Okay, so a week isn’t that much of a while, but it took me that long to realize I didn’t have to find an iTunes Japan gift card or wait for it to be released on a disc. Shuddup.
I’ve learned a lesson from the past, and that is – don’t listen to previews. Previews are usually only the chorus, and they always screw me over. I will hate the previews but love the song, or like the preview and go WTF when the opening notes of the full track play. Or they will completely reverse my expectations. Basically, for me, previews don’t do their job and there is no point in wasting bandwidth on them. With that noted, I tried my best to avoid previews and opinions until I could get the songs.
I failed for only one track, and that was Crash, because someone kept forcing it on me. (Surprisingly, this was not Raid. Wow. But wait, that’s because he’s been trying to force BON KYU! BON KYU! BOMB GIRL on me. HAH. Hasn’t succeeded yet.) So I had an idea of what Crash’s choral vocal melody sounds like – and it is catchy. Then I listened to the full song and had to shake my head again. The chorus may be catchy, but the full song leaves little impression once you’re done listening to it. And I’ve been listening to it on full repeat for purposes of this post – the instant I left the area where the song was audible, it faded out of mind. (Admittedly, this could be used to describe each of the digital releases.)
It shouldn’t be, really. It’s a very energizing rock-ish song with a steady beat, the sort that would probably be playing at a training gym. There is an obvious intention of dramatic build-up going through the song, and the guys bring the right sort of attitude and energy to it. This is the first AAA song where I didn’t like Hidaka’s rapping, though. “Didn’t like” may actually be a wrong term – because I don’t mind it. But I also don’t think it brings anything at all to the song, whereas it’s always had a place in every other song that it’s popped up. I’ll enjoy listening to this song when it pops up, maybe dance a little, but it’s not going to linger any more than that.
Hasta la vista ～アスタ・ラ・ビスタ～ brings out the Shimatani Hitomi tradition of repeating the song name in katakana after the Roman name. (It’s also something I always hated when romanizing tracks for filenames.) It also attempts to start off grandly, bringing in orchestra strings to build up the opening and then making a stilted transition into the hip-hop beat that forms the majority of the song with an abuse of synthetic brass that brings to mind PARADISE PARADISE. Though I only know a scant bit about the American dance club scene (shameful, I know, I’m at the age where that’s all I should know), if they knocked out the opening this would be a perfect fit in there.
I rather like it, and the inclusion of some string instrument (I can’t tell what it is, but it sounds like it could be a zither) during the break between the two halves of the song adds an interest point. All of them get a point to sing, though it’s heavily backed and becomes a bit hard to discern the individual vocals unless you know how each guy sings… like me. Don’t grow up to be like me, kids, I’m too vocal-obsessed. It’s a bit telling that I kept imagining this song with Misako and Chiaki singing, too, though. I really do think this could have been better with them in there.
あきれるくらいわがままな自由 [Akireru Kurai Wagamama na Jiyuu] sort of finalizes the idea that I grew up listening to the “Lite FM” radio channels a bit much, because it opens like a classic American pop ballad and the fact doesn’t strike me as odd at all until I remember that this is a Japanese song. It is, undeniably, an American boyband-style love ballad, right down to the choral “Just once” parts and the “Baby please come back to me” lines. And it finalizes the idea that I’ve listened to those channels to the point where I’m sick of this sort of music. Actually, I groaned. Out loud.
Throw on the fact that this isn’t what I want to hear in my Japanese pop, and you get a song that clearly doesn’t appeal to me much. Sure, both Urata and Nissy’s vocal abilities have improved, but I’d much rather listen to Mou Koi Nante Shinai for a ballad led by the two of them.
The title of the last digital release, BET, brings to mind Body Talker. A jazzy, upbeat attempt at being seductive, that is. Instead, it’s more hip-hop beats led with Hidaka’s rapping. Most surprisingly, Shin and Shuuta have a chance to shine vocally, and Shuuta continues to make me glad I told him to sing more though he throws in his own with Hidaka during the rap.
It’s still clearly Hidaka’s track, though, and having seen an AAA performance firsthand it makes me wonder how this will come across during the winter lives. It’s got a good beat to dance to (though any dances I can come up with to this beat involves lots of stomping), but it doesn’t exude energy or technical ability, and the most the crowd can do to this one is wave. If they even wave. It just doesn’t seem very AAA-ish, more like a collaboration between EXILE and maybe RHYMESTER. And not the best, at that.
I really thought I’d be more excited for this single, but I wasn’t. And surprisingly, I feel let down after actually hearing the songs though my expectations weren’t anywhere to begin with. Like with most AAA songs, this may grow on me with repeated listens (except Akireru. I’m sick of that music.), but how many?