#1 Song Review: Week of 1/7 – 1/13

Hello AramaJapan readers and welcome to this week’s installment of #1 Song Review! Last week saw Nishino Kana come out on top again, this time beating Kamen Joshi and SEKAI NO OWARI. This week, we have a returnee from last week plus a newcomer. 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 #1: NEWS – KAGUYA (not released digitally)

Ronald: I actually like this song. It’s a nice blend of a more traditional Japanese sound with modern dance pop. It’s kinda unexpected coming from one of the Johnny’s groups. This is probably the freshest sounding Johnny’s song I’ve had to review so far. The vocals here are also probably some of the best I’ve heard from a group from this company. The chorus to this song is god awfully catchy. I’ve had it stuck in my head. I like the pre-chorus too. One of my complaints though is that I could’ve lived without that auto-tuned bridge. The other use of auto-tune in the song didn’t really bother me. 7/10

Ryusenkai: As has become custom: I’m not the biggest fan of idol music, but I’ll always give anything that comes my way a try, since you never know what you might find. NEWS was actually the first Johnny’s group that I’d heard of when I got into Japanese music… almost a decade ago now, so I suppose that it’s kind of fitting that I finally get to take a look at one of their songs on here. While I’m not a huge fan of just how electronic this track can get, I actually do appreciate “KAGUYA” at least attempting to sound a little different than what I’ve come to expect from an act in the JE stable. There’s definitely an effort to have a more “traditional” sound overlaying the electro-pop beat here, and it actually does manage to give the song an intriguing texture that you don’t hear all that much of. Production seems to be pretty slick as well, so no complaints in that department. That said, I do think that there’s too much auto-tune used on the vocals here, to the point where it causes voices to blur together at a few distinct moments throughout the track’s length. Based on what I can pick up of the lyrics, this seems to be a song where their meaning takes something of a back seat to their ability to fit to the beat (beyond the overall Princess Kaguya theme), which I don’t particularly like if I’m honest, though with this type of song I can see why they did it. On the whole, while “KAGUYA” is way too electronic (and auto-tuned) a track to really be something I’d listen to a lot, I can definitely appreciate what was attempted with it, which in this case actually matters more than you might expect. 5/10


Recochoku #1 / iTunes #1: SEKAI NO OWARI – Dragon Night (Oricon # 34)

Ronald: Same review as before – Generic in a way that this isn’t likable. I’m not here for this Avicii Japan-only bonus track featuring SEKAI NO OWARI. And the banjo, WTF is that? It was like a bad sound effect on one of those Fisher Price kid’s toys. This is so generic that they’ve ripped of Avicii’s country/EDM hybrid shtick. There’s something about this band that I just really don’t like. They’re like the band version of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, childish and gimmicky. It’s makes sense that the singer is banging her… 2/10

Ryusenkai: Same review as before – I’ve a weird relationship with SEKAI NO OWARI as a band, since I actually do quite like their compositions for the most part; there’s clearly a lot of work put into them. Where the problem begins to creep in is with their (in my opinion) overuse of auto-tune and lyrics which are frankly… really not very good. I’ve had the auto-tune described to me as a stylistic part of their music, and if so, it’s possible that said style just isn’t for me; I don’t mind artists experimenting with auto-tune as an effect, and I’ve even supported it when BUMP OF CHICKEN and Southern All Stars have dug into it in the past. However, it’s not something that I feel goes with every song and should not “replace” singing, so to speak. Those two factors end up making a lot of SEKAI NO OWARI songs feel repetitive to me fairly quickly. This brings us to “Dragon Night”, which contains both of the above problems PLUS a composition that’s been invaded by EDM stylings. Throwing yet another repetitive element into a style of song that already ends up somewhat repetitive for me probably isn’t the best of ideas, and this is honestly one of my least favorite SEKAI NO OWARI songs. This song at least has one moment within its instrumental that shines – the impressive banjo run followed by what sounds like a few notes on a xylophone. 4.5/10


Ronald’s Rank

1. Oricon #1: NEWS – KAGUYA

2. Recochoku #1 / iTunes #1: SEKAI NO OWARI – Dragon Night

Ryusenkai’s Rank:

1. Oricon #1: NEWS – KAGUYA

2. Recochoku #1 / iTunes #1: SEKAI NO OWARI – Dragon Night