Who needs to be saved?
I honestly didn’t think I’d be covering, much less fully reviewing, another KAT-TUN single in this blog so soon. After all, that last post was a long overdue one on a release from 10 months ago, and while I predicted two KAT-TUN dramas coming down through downloaded data streams into the household computers, I have not fully watched either. (I’m only halfway through the first episode of Kami no Shizuku, and RESCUE was primarily for my sister the Massu fanatic.) Despite not watching the drama though, I’ve got to admit – I fell in love with the eponymous theme song the instant the opening notes were wailed at the end of that excessively large and long first episode. (Am I the only one who thinks Nakamaru and/or his backers are trying to hint at something?)
RESCUE was released on March 11th, hot on the tails of KAT-TUN’s first single of the year (and the tie-in to Kami no Shizuku) ONE DROP. I normally don’t mention release dates, but this seems to be a case of “saving the best for last,” since I have had this song on repeat as much as possible, despite my major Johnny’s fandoms not having a whit of the K, A, T(x2), U, or N in them.
When ONE DROP tried to mix some sort of ornate elegance into KAT-TUN’s usual pop-rock stylings, and ended up sounding like a mess, RESCUE is straight out intense and unforgivingly abuses techno to add further impact. The layering in the chorus gives a haunting feel – with half the group wailing “I don’t want to cry alone” as the other three sing their hearts out in broken English. Nakamaru gets plenty of focus in this song, given that this is the theme song to his drama, even getting a little section to show off his professed skill of (somewhat uninspired) beatboxing. In particular, he shares the first half of the song with vocal leaders Kame and Jin, and leads the very addictive “Running up, I’m running” that goes hand-in-hand with the techno melody – repeated as each member joins in, falling into a lonely Jin whine, and zooming into the aforementioned beatbox.
It’s also amusing how he gets front and center in the covers as well – in one version of the covers, Junno and Ueda look rather unhappy as Nakamaru stares blankly into the camera lights. (Perhaps wanting more spotlight time?) Everyone gets at least one solo line; however, unless you’re a big KAT-TUN fan or have memorized the order in which they appear in the video (not especially hard), you probably won’t be able to distinguish who sings what because even these solo lines have harmonizing.
My biggest problem with this song is that it ends up sounding like it comes up short – though it clocks in at just over 4 minutes and 45 seconds. I do sort of want to blame the needless introduction from Koki, with 30 seconds of useless atmosphere building that stops short for Kame to howl. The song could’ve begun just fine there and without Nakamaru’s follow up “We’ll survive” – and though I’ve had a professed bias against Koki rapping, I don’t have a problem with any of Koki’s rap in the rest of the song. Just this opening bit. However, it is only 30 seconds and easily passes by without a thought.
Another not-so-problem, but certainly a thought to influence listeners, is that subtracting Koki’s rap and Nakamaru’s beatbox would easily make this a NEWS song. (It really isn’t too hard to replace these 6 with another 6. Just not V6.) In other words, this song is basically a slightly-less generic pop song. I’m entirely fine with it, but of course, it won’t appeal to everyone.
With all that, it was a bit hard to move on, but I managed. (That is, I forgot to push the repeat button on iTunes twice so it would “Repeat Track” instead of just “Repeat.”) 7 DAYS BATTLE is supposedly about their upcoming week-long concert in Tokyo Dome, but as I’m not a KAT-TUN fan and not in Japan, that becomes of little concern to me. With a heavy hand on the vocoder in the stanzas and a simple premise (of angry attitude to sound as cool as possible) behind the silly Engrish lyrics that don’t entirely require it, this song tries too hard. Since the vocals suffer from both a lack of energy and being covered up, it ends up being unconvincing. The music is simple but easily the best part, a combination of dark beats with bursts of guitar at the right moments to add power and change the atmosphere. But perhaps this is more indicative of KAT-TUN’s claimed style within the Johnny’s empire, and if you are a KAT-TUN fan you’ll probably enjoy this.
On Your Mind – Please come back to me – is a piano piece. Celestia is going to break my knees, but… it’s boring. This is the kind of song that even a non-idol singer with the voice of an angel is going to have to work to make interesting, because as a slow piano song with the barest of strings, the focus is on the vocals. That’s a pretty heavy burden already, and while KAT-TUN have the bonus of being a group and alternating solo lines to add interest, they don’t pull it off. If anything, the breathiness that seemed to become contagious made all the vocals slowly blend into the sound of one whiny person singing at slightly different pitches.
As someone who’s never been much of a KAT-TUN fan, I won’t have to be rescued from further monetary losses anytime soon. RESCUE is definitely a step on the track of fandom for me, though it comes at some cost to KAT-TUN’s identity. And perhaps that’s what I need to become a KAT-TUN fan – for them to not be KAT-TUN. I suppose this is where I require the rescue squad for the rabid fangirl mob.