Not a trace of doubt in the skies!
For the sake of making bad puns, I was once a non-Believer. When the first previews of this song came out as early as late December, I think, I wouldn’t touch it. Starting from January previews of the PV started flooding the Arashi communities – and I stubbornly scolled past it all.
So now I can only hope that the church of Arashi will let me back into its fold.
It’s been at least 2 months since the new year started, but that doesn’t matter to Arashi. They’re kicking off the new year with a bang, whether or not it’s March already. This is how I can best describe the double A-side single that is their first musical release of the year.
But first, because 5 and its multiples have always been amongst my favorite numbers, I must congratulate Arashi on their 25th single. Hmm? Where was I for their 20th? Happiness? What lies. There was no 20th single. There is no spoon. Believe it!
Believe is the theme song to Sakurai Sho’s YATTERMAN movie. YATTERMAN, if you haven’t heard, is about indirect innuendo in the theme of mecha superhero. Also I have not watched it (nor its anime origins, though I have something to say about the anime’s latest theme as well), so take that line with a grain of salt. It’s been surfing a wave of immense popularity from just about every person who’s heard it and bothered to make their opinions known on the Internets. Even Raid’s in approval. People like this song, there is no doubt about that.
It opens up with a vibrating buzz that gives you the impression of a futuristic, probably very electronic song. While the buzz likes to reprise itself throughout the song, the music uses lots of actual instruments, from piano for the dramatic stanzas to strings during the bridge to the lots of happy brass in the chorus. Shocker, I know. Considering the vocal melody varies greatly from part to part (low (pitch and energy) verse, zig-zag (but mostly rising) refrain, descending bridge, and energetic high-speed chorus), Arashi’s vocals in this song are flawless. Even Sho’s rap follows this pattern, soft, kind of sung, and echoed before jumping into his macho mode where he half-screams it at you – this is Step and Go version 2. This is an intense and addictive track, an amazing opener for the major part of Arashi’s 10th year.
Lest Ohno fans suddenly mob my blog to literally chew me out, the other A-side is 曇りのち、快晴 [Kumori nochi, Kaisei], as sung by 矢野健太 starring Satoshi Ohno [Yano Kenta starring Satoshi Ohno], and the theme song for Ohno’s drama that I have yet to watch, Uta no Onii-san. It’s another Nana/Reira/Kirari, folks. No, really. At least Yamapi used his own name for Daite SENORITA. Higashiyama’s threesomes all had their own group names, and Koichi released No more under plain old “Maizu Tsukasa” – none of this “starring” crap. (Please don’t mind me, folks, I’m just pissed because it’s extra characters in my folders and filenames and Windows does have a character limit after you nest too much. Which I find is completely necessary to do for my “Johnny’s” folder.)
In contrast to Believe, I did find at least one person who seemed to hate this song, but hey, to each their own. To be fair, this is not a very Ohno-like song, especially in comparison to his solo songs on their albums of late. From the beginning “DAN DAN DANG!”, Ohno’s already kind of screaming his throat out, and it continues through the song, despite the track being a very happy pop piece and it being possible to sing this without the scream effect. On the other hand, this is marked as a “character” song, so maybe Yano can only sing like this and Ohno’s reflecting that in his vocals. To which I say Ohno is on par with some seiyuu who really do change their singing style to reflect the character they voice and not just the song (Takahashi Hiroki in particular), and Yano needs to stick with rocking his heart out.
I guess if the alternative was having GIRL NEXT DOOR do the theme song (as vocalist Chisa is in the show as Ohno’s ex-girlfriend), I’m all ready to accept this. It’s not a bad song and catchy in its way, but it does need some time to grow on you, especially if you’re the sort to prefer the smoother side of Ohno’s vocals. Once it does, though, you’ll probably be “DAN DAN DANG!”-ing along as well, to the great dismay of your associates.
The B-side to both tracks, found only on the CD-only version, is トビラ [TOBIRA]. To be honest, this is actually the sort of song I’d imagined the theme song to Ohno’s drama being, especially with an opening line like “Change my life!” It’s a very upbeat song with a disco beat, though unfortunately a bit forgettable, which is probably why it’s on B-side status. It’s comparable to some of the tracks off their ARASHIC album, actually, in that it’s fun and happy and brass-abusive (though admittedly the horns remain in the background) but not life-changing.
I’m still coming to terms with two of the tracks of this release, but Believe has snagged me hook, line, and sinker. I like to keep files that I use to reel myself back into fandoms every so often when I’m slipping out of them (fancams of the Ohno/Sho duet Oretachi no SONG being an example), and this is probably going to be another one of them. For now though, I’d like to reclaim my Arashi fan member card. Come now, is not Shosus all-forgiving? Wait, he’s the type to hold a grudge? And hit you with umbrellas?
…on second thought, maybe I want to sign up with the Kult of KinKi instead.