Dispersing the MIRAGE.
It has come to my attention that I don’t get to continue calling myself an AAA fan unless I review the MIRAGE single. I assure you the perpetrator was swiftly dealt with, including techniques that involved (but were not limited to) setting rabid dogs after him into a maze of barbed wire and motion-activated flamethrowers. But you know, bodies are pretty incriminating, and I don’t have enough vats of acid to dump them all in, so I decided that I’d have to review the single anyways to shush any further naysayers.
And so, here we are. None of you are going to contest my claim as an AAA fan, yes? Good. On a slightly unrelated note, wow, it’s been a full month since I’ve done a review of any musical release on this blog. I guess I managed to uphold the “ramblings” part of the subtitle.
I previously expressed my great disappointment with the Arabian promise the song brought in its theme, but MIRAGE is a decent dance-pop track. The beat is clearly present, the usual lead trio of Nissy/Urata/Uno doesn’t fail to deliver, and Hidaka’s rap interjections don’t feel out of place. Basically, AAA does their job, and I like the song as long as I don’t think of what might have been. Actually, the Arabian touches in the music are easier to tell in the instrumental, which is a good listen by itself. Unfortunately, what that says about AAA is that it’s their vocals that makes the track generic.
Also, not to put any actual stock in my piddling Japanese skills, but I think that with this song, we’ve got the requisite pop group sex song for AAA this year.
For certain fans, the concept of Love Candle easily makes up for the genericness of the title track. For one thing, it’s a duet between AAA members that doesn’t involve Nissy; while both lead singers are male in this track, it’s Urata and Shuuta. Presumably it’s Misako and Chiaki providing the high harmonies, but the focus of the track is undeniably my two favorite members of AAA. Except the problem here lies with the vocals again – Shuuta’s voice isn’t really suited for this sort of lighthearted lounge music, and in fact, he sounds like he’s straining through the entire song. I’m glad to see you were listening in at Otakon, avex, but either something rockish or down-tempo, please. Didn’t we learn our lesson from the long version of HURRICANE LILI, BOSTON MARI? Shuuta does best when he can throw in attitude or croon. This was neither. Ura, on the other hand, barely passes, but his voice doesn’t sound quite right with this music either.
I don’t think anyone in AAA could handle this song, actually. It provides a nice counterpart to the titular track as far as tempo and genre goes, but it just doesn’t work with AAA. Perhaps I’ll like it more if I bother to color-code and translate it. Not today, though.
There’s also a live version of SUNSHINE from the 5th ATTACK Budokan performance on the CD-only version, an attempt at promoting sales of the DVD. (Which is a bit stupid, because it was released on the same day and dammit, avex, I’d be surprised if anyone bought CD-only version for this track; I thought we’d learned when we started putting remixes on singles instead of live versions.) AAA always sounds more engaging in concert than they do on the studio version – something I chalk up to the energy they bring – but it doesn’t make this track anymore appealling. Actually, I just wish all the more that they’d performed this at Otakon. Or not – Shin’s harmonizing was painful.
To the great delight of AAA fans, this single also topped the daily Oricon charts the day it was released – as of this writing, it’s at number 2. The ranking just doesn’t impress me, though – and a great part of it might have to do with the two Arashi singles ranked at 11 and 12 (again, as of this writing, Sunday January 13th) underneath it. On one hand, they’re Arashi, the current biggest Johnny’s group. (While other jimusho groups are steadily gaining popularity and I have a distinct bias, I feel justified in saying that.) On the other hand, both singles (NICE na Kokoroiki and PIKA☆NCHI) were released in 2002. Ouch. This single really hasn’t done anything to be there and Oricon only confirms it.
Maybe I’m wrong, and avex knows just what it’s doing with AAA until their contract ends. (Best of album, limited edition costing $80+? That’s low, avex; a punch to the gut and you know it. But you also know I’m probably going to try and go for it anyways.) But I really wish they’d make it clearer, because while they’re making little steps in exploring AAA’s capabilities, it just doesn’t hold.