#1 Song Review: Week of 11/12 – 11/18

Hello AramaJapan readers and welcome to this week’s installment of #1 Song Review!  Last week, Namie Amuro came in first, ahead of NMB48 and Che’Nelle. She’s looking to continue her reign against Che’Nelle once again this week but there is a new challenger as well! Find out what various staff members thought of the songs that topped the physical and digital charts this week and share your thoughts on them too!

Oricon: KinKi Kids – Kagi no Nai Hako (not released digitally)

Ronald: This isn’t too bad. It’s a nice midtempo with some electronic touches. It has a nice, refreshing feel. One thing is though is that it does get a bit repetitive, as if the song drags on for too long. I wouldn’t mind this being shortened a bit. 5/10

Ryusenkai: While it’s worth mentioning my usual disclaimer (idols aren’t my thing) I’m actually pretty okay with KinKi Kids, all things considered. They care a lot more about their music than most idols do and Tsuyoshi has had a solo career where he composes all of his stuff for years now. “Kagi no Nai Hako” is a fairly classic old-school upbeat ballad that very much reminds me of an anime theme from around the “Hikaru no Go” era, with a few more electronic touches. I think that there’s a tad too much of an auto-tune undercurrent here, especially when I know that neither of the two need it and it doesn’t really add to the song as a whole. The instrumental’s honestly not terrible, though I guess it could be considered a little safe since this sound is far from new (it also ends up a bit repetitive during the chorus); the lyrics are the type of classic cheese about being unable to reach the one that you care about (unsurprising given that the song’s title is “Box Without a Key”), and leave something to be desired. That said, I still don’t hate this; the song doesn’t feel like it was half-assed even though it is a bit cheesy, and it reminds me of when I was younger and heard songs like this all the time when I was watching anime. Nostalgia and the degree of respect I have for KinKi Kids might be leading me to overscore this track by a bit, but even so, I suppose congratulations are in order for the duo managing to coax the most respectable score for an idol group out of me yet. 5.5/10


Recochoku: Che’Nelle – Happiness (not released physically til 11/19 / iTunes #2)

Ronald: Same review as before – Don’t get me wrong, Che’Nelle has a really nice voice but most of her songs leave a lot to be desired. They’re just so standard, so expected, so generic. She’s that foreign girl who sings generic ballads in Japanese. I hear this and I just think “God, haven’t I heard this a million times before?” It’s like… was May J. not available? 4.5/10

Ryusenkai: Same review as before – Che’Nelle is another in the group of singers like May J. who have a particularly pleasant vocal tone to listen to, but really could use a bit of work on their overall vocal technique. Che’Nelle in particular needs to get a better handle on her breathing, since it’s something that you can’t help but notice once you’re aware of it. That said, I still do quite enjoy the R&B-tinged vocal performance that Che’Nelle gives in “Happiness”, since I’m something of a sucker for these emotional styles of singing – particularly at this time of year. Her command of both Japanese and English is also to be praised, since it’s not something that you see done this well all that often. The lyrics are trite and the instrumental sparkling and pretty. 5.5/10


iTunes: Namie Amuro – BRIGHTER DAY (Oricon #8 / Recochoku #2)

Ronald: Same review as before – I love this song. I drag Namie all the time for her lack of artistry and her lack of vocal ability and just her general existence, but this song is amazing. Everyone once in a while she releases a good song amongst the sea of trend-chasing crap she shits out. I’m honestly shocked at how good this song is. Whoever made this for her needs to be in control of her sound now. Leave the dated EDM alone. 9/10

Ryusenkai: I’ve very much a kind of love-hate relationship with Namie Amuro’s music, in that I almost universally dislike her more upbeat music and am at least fairly fond of most of her less typical mid-tempos and ballads. “BRIGHTER DAY” is probably the song of hers that I’ve liked most in a good long time, though those reasons might not be entirely related to the song itself. That said, the instrumental is still a pretty pleasant listen, if a bit simplistic, and her voice goes well with this particular sound (I think her range could be a little better, though that’s hard to judge through a studio version). BRIGHTER DAY’s lyrics are undeniably uplifting, and while I’ve criticized a fair number of songs for being that “kind of cliche, you have to keep going” upbeat track, I’d say that the key difference here, at least in my case, is that I actually buy it. Like with the KinKi Kids release, this song doesn’t feel like a throwaway release, and it seems like there’s a specific intent behind its creation. Now, this is an extremely subjective judgement, and I acknowledge that, but that’s just how I feel when it comes to this specific track; I first heard it a while back when I was going through a pretty rough and change-filled few weeks, so that might be making me resonate with it far more than I would otherwise. Yet, extraordinarily subjective or not, “BRIGHTER DAY” is still my pick of the week, the innocuous yet ultimately fitting nature of its instrumental marrying very well with both Namie’s voice and the song’s overall message. Every once in a blue moon, things come together in just the right way. 7/10


Ronald’s Rank:

1. iTunes #1: Namie Amuro – BRIGHTER DAY

2. Oricon #1: KinKi Kids – Kagi no Nai Hako

3. Recochoku #1: Che’Nelle – Happiness


Ryusenkai’s Rank:

1. iTunes #1: Namie Amuro – BRIGHTER DAY

2. Oricon #1: KinKi Kids – Kagi no Nai Hako / Recochoku #1: Che’Nelle – Happiness