Most of you who read this blog probably don’t care. Those of you who do care probably already know.
Basically, today on Friday, August 1st, DRM officially became dream – no, wait, Dream – again. (Really, avex, what’s with the name changes anyways?) Obviously, we don’t get out of it unscathed, because with the capital letter we lose Hasebe Yu. (To be honest though, she was never my favorite member of the group, and only got anywhere on member rankings because I couldn’t distinguish – and still can’t – between 8/7-nin dream’s individual girls.)
This doesn’t really hurt me, as if you couldn’t tell from that in-parentheses aside up there, other than having me wonder when Tachibana Kana will finally debut with a breakout hit that will have avex executives ruing the day they left her to rot in futsal, but I figured it provided a good excuse to finally review their last non-digital single for the past three years, as well as the single that stuck me with some small interest in the dream expansion pack (that is, the other 5 members), そよ風の調べ/STORY.
I could throw in some extra words for the heck of it (actually, here I am doing just that), but much as I do love this single (mainly for nostalgia’s sake), it’s a pretty average one. I don’t think it deserved to chart as low as it did, thanks to an unfortunate second track that didn’t get promoted nearly as much as it should have due to graduation hype, but really, there’s nothing special here that you won’t see anywhere else. However, it is a lot like AAA’s Get CHU!/SHE no Jijitsu single of 2006 – or more recently, the upcoming MUSIC!!/ZERØ single – with a combination of both light pop and a darker variation on their sound. It just so happens that in AAA’s case, that’s rock, while for dream, it’s R&B.
The first track, そよ風の調べ [Soyokaze no Shirabe], is an upbeat pop song with sweet lyrics dealing on graduation. (I should know. It was one of the first songs where I tried to translate the lyrics.) Appropriate enough – this single was released in March 2005, after all. While it opens with a solemn bell-like chord, it quickly twinkles (yes, twinkles) into a consistently happy, if generic synth, track, complete with quick dance-able beat skipping along the music. In fact, it’s really this same beat that makes the song, leading you through the vocals, which are about par for a girl group and dream in particular. (My heart cries “Kana, you can do better than this!”) Energy, but not so much on the technical ability. There’s a slight jump between the group vocals and the solo lines stuck in between during the chorus where the sudden lack of voices sounds a bit empty, but overall it’s ear candy to skip along to, if you’re so inclined. Me? I, uh, don’t skip.
By the way, the video, which you can watch above for yourself, is simple, but exactly the sort of PV I like. The plain white backgrounds and props make sure your attention is drawn to the colorful outfits of the girls and keep your attention there where it should stay. Those outfits are really shiny and much more interesting that the variations of white and sequins that they ended up using for lives. Kana (of course I need to mention Kana) looks amazingly hot, much more than she does in the covers where she’s relegated to the side. One of the girls (the one with the green toboggan over the baseball cap, and the one other than Kana and Yu who isn’t wearing a hat on the cover) looks bored during her solo line, but that’s why she’s not up there with Kana, Yu, and Sayaka – at least, I think that’s Sayaka. The dance is unfortunately really simple considering that they do have 7 people, but who watches girl group videos for the dance? It’s always about the eye candy. And this video is a nice piece of eye candy to go with the ear candy that is the song.
STORY, the second song, was considered a double A-side to the above track, but short of one particularly sexy performance for dream party 2006 X’mas (which you can see above with the “boxes” and the leggy outifts and hot-as-always Kana with a stick taking lead), was never performed. That’s a damn shame, because it’s a fairly accurate guess that this image was the image avex was trying to achieve for DRM. Like most of dream’s works this has a fairly generic sound for the genre it’s stuck in, opening with a rapidly descending piano and moving into threatening guitar chords that mix with a steady series of synth beats while using the usual dramatic string interjections to give the music some touch of melody. What makes it stick out is dream’s vocals – they got just the right mix of angry attitude, smoky seduction, and a light sweetness that reminds you this is from a girl group. With Koda Kumi on her steady rise around this time, avex would’ve done well to push this song in promotional appearances. Unfortunately, this didn’t even get a video.
With one decent and one solid track, this could’ve been the single that helped (then) dream grow out of the pop obscurity they’d fallen (and continued falling) into. VERBAL once mentioned Crystal Kay being shunted to regular pop despite having the technical ability to do so much more because catchy pop is what, of course, catches the ears of the Japanese public. Both these songs are fairly catchy pop, but somehow, things didn’t work. It’s still got one of the best songs dream’s put out since their reduction to 7 members, though. Well 6-nin dream pull any better? We’ll just have to see.
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