If you’re an AAA fan and an astute reader of this blog, you’ll notice that their most recent single hasn’t been mentioned at all. Of course, some people might excuse it because of the promotion of the boys-only mini-album around the same time. Others might bring up that I was on a hiatus (if unannounced) from my ramblings.
For the past month and a half, that most recent single didn’t exist for me. In fact, have a quote from a forum conversation over AAA’s periods for me.
AAA 2005-October 2006 = growing into it. (Let us never bring back Hallelujah’s cornrows, Nissy.)
AAA November 2006-June 2007 = smoking hot and working the “idol” concept.
AAA July 2007-September 2007 = duck-ing. (As in, being like a duck. Not ducking under something. Though they did a lot of that too.)
AAA October 2007-January 2008 = experimental.
AAA February 2008-June 2008 = My fanhood is ashamed.
And that last line? Can all be blamed on BEYOND～カラダノカナタ [BEYOND~KARADA NO KANATA].
Let’s get one unsavory truth out of the way first. I couldn’t even finish the music video. It hurt. Lights, bad trailing effects that should only exist when weapons in Soul Edge/Calibur are being swung (and even then, only with suspension of disbelief), entirely useless hurdles and glass-breaking, and really “we just didn’t care” dance scenes. I give props to the fire-trailing and the whole sliding sections where you had multiple members’ faces on the screen as they sang, but the latter’s only because it’s easier to identify who sang what lines. Which is somewhat unnecessary anyways. Also, I didn’t want to rewatch it so much that I’m only doing this from memory.
Unsavory truth number two. The version of the cover above is the only one where all up-front members look good, and it’s two of the people who were lowest on my members ranking pre-Otakon. (They’re still not in the top 3 post-Otakon, but AAA’s only got 7 members now, what can you do?) In the CD-only version, Shin looks perfect, his usual monotone face (because really, he can only do about four expressions – weak/awkward/shy smile, the glare & stare, deer-in-headlights (which he’s pulling there), and “deliberately not looking at the camera because there is a shiny thing” – when it comes to a photoshoot) working with the blown hair and his black/white outfit . We can’t see the end of his pants so we’ll let it go. Meanwhile, Urata looks like he just got caught beating up a paparazzi who, in turn, caught him stepping out of a love hotel with someone way too young for him. Or Japan. Is that even possible? And that outfit isn’t much better. There is only one way a male should do an off-the-shoulder look, and that if the shirt calls for it (And that button-up orange plaid begs to be on a girl as a nightshirt, not off your shoulders Urata. Get a girl and make babies already so she can take that shirt from you. Like me.) and they have sloped, rounded shoulders. Basically, feminine ones. There are also age restrictions, but Ura’s not that old. Yet.
The CD-Extra version, with three people gracing its cover, should supposedly have a better chance of looking good, you think. Oh, you poor naive fool. The first thing that grabs your eyes is probably Hidaka, with his red vest. And then you look at his face, with its strange expression. There are no words for that expression. Your eyes automatically shift to Misako. Okay, her top is decent, and that denim corset is a cute way to break up the blue expanse, even if it’s with a different shade of blue. Going up, going up… wait, did you just go past her eyes? Go back down. Those thick eyebrows may eat you alive otherwise. Or better yet, hurry up and move on to Shuuta, who’s looking as gay as possible, and his arm looks quite displaced, and as a New Yorker I’m anything but fond of that brilliantly pink Yankees cap… but he’s still the best looker fo the three. No, I’m afraid to say that again it’s the backdancer who steals the spotlight on this cover – at least AAA’s pulling a reversal in the usual way spotlights are given.
This leaves the CD+DVD version and the cover you see gracing the top of this post. Both Nissy and Chiaki are looking especially preppy, Chiaki’s channeling Minnie Mouse (you look at that bow and the puffed sleeves and tell me otherwise), and I seriously want to rip that sweater vest off Nissy – and not for the reasons wu-san might want to – but there just really isn’t anything horribly wrong with how they look. Unless you don’t like them, and then everything is wrong with how they look. We don’t listen to people like you.
“Okay Kimi, that’s enough about the promotional imagery. What about the single itself?” Oh, you mean I didn’t mention? I hate the actual song, BEYOND～カラダノカナタ, too.
In my defense, I tried to like it. After all, it’s from AAA and avex. They haven’t always come out with winning combinations, but somehow they’ll always end up appealing to me eventually. Without the video attached to it, I thought I could like it better. And it seemed like they tried to do something different, which I can always applaud.
…it’s still horrible. The music is minimal, with drums clearly leading the track, and the guitars and little synth bits just adding flavor. The little drum solo with synth bass and static has no place in the song, too. This gives more focus to the vocals, but frankly AAA is supposed to be both a dance and vocal group for a reason. Ura’s completely nasal, and none of the tone that I find appealing about his voice makes an appearance. Misako turned her whiny dial to full-power. Nissy sings as well as usual, but even he turned up the nasality. The other four get little solo lines during the choruses, and it makes a nice call-and-response effect, but there’s so much more they could do – and it gets pretty annoying too. On the vocal melody itself, it’s all over the place. Actually, it doesn’t even sound melodic. I get that there’s supposed to be a slightly lazy feel and it jumps into the more energetic hook to enunciate the whole “Sky’s the limit, you can do anything if you try” thing, but it sounds bad. It’s one big mud-pit wrestling competition to see who wins – drums, singers, or my headache. (No prizes for guessing.) As far as I’m concerned, this song still shouldn’t exist.
So why am I still reviewing this single? Other than to rant, of course. Because the B-side is again the only reason I’m acknowledging it. I was prepared to hate One Night Animal by automatic association with BEYOND. But always the sucker for dance songs, within the first minute I’d fallen hopelessly in love. Okay, perhaps not love. Like. A very close friendship?
Like the A-side, this track tries something new and overdoes the playing with voices, throwing on the vocoder and stuttering. The result is something that sounds like it’s a remix, and the guitar prior to the rap a remnant of the “original song”. (Of course, this could just be my mind entertaining comparisons to Kishidan’s One Night Carnival.) AAA with sexy tones and group singing rarely fails, and they pull off the vocals well. The music threatens with a combination of 80’s disco hall (my mind drew odd comparisons to Amuro’s WHAT A FEELING, at first) and porn atmosphere, but it’s a catchy beat that’s not hard to dance to. Or fuck to, if you’re so inclined. Who actually plays music during sex? The rap’s a bit jarring at first, Hidaka throwing in odd lilting tones that makes it seem harsh against the smooth singing – but it’s only what, several seconds? Half the time I don’t notice it’s there. This would’ve made an awesome A-side on its own, and I could seriously see the video being Kuchibiru kara ROMANTICA part 2, or an updated version. With lots of sexy shots. The outfits would probably have been better than the ones for BEYOND, at least.
There’s a final B-side track, and of course it’s a remix. MIRAGE (83key Remix) is, of course, remixed by 83key, who we last saw with a remix of Welcome To This World on AAA’s REMIX ATTACK album. Well, if you’re focusing on AAA’s discography. If you’re really interested to see where else he’s popped up, go check his site. But wow, has it really been 2 years? This time, he’s turned MIRAGE into an electronic sci-fi zone, with trance atmosphere and light synth notes and a reverb on the vocal track adding a futuristic atmosphere that erases the mock-Arabian/mystic completely. As we know, I liked what little Arabian there was, but I like this too. The music change causes the chorus to sound unfinished, hanging in mid-air as we swap right into Urata’s stanza lines, but it really just adds its own hint of mystery. It’s not an amazing track, but it’s rather nice for what it is.
So. If you go beyond, well, BEYOND, the single’s not too bad. But that’s still a pretty big leap you’re going to have to take. Step it up so we don’t have to, avex.