#1 Song Review: Week of 5/13 – 5/19

Hello Arama Japan readers and welcome to this week’s installment of #1 Song Review! Last week saw V6 and Nishino Kana tie. Kana’s back again this week along with 2 new challenger. 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: Arashi – Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari (not released digitally)

Ronald: I want to like this song, but there are elements of it that are kinda a wet blanket that keep it from reaching its full potential. I like the intro, the verses are decent (there’s a funky little segment in there which really peps the song up), and there’s the build up to the chorus… which results in this flat chorus. The chorus of this song is basically that wet blanket I was referring to. You think you’re going to get this really great chorus, and then you get that. It’s a disappointment. This song could be a lot better if they just had a really great chorus. Something along the lines of the chorus of “Sakura.” 5/10

Ryusenkai: Nothing different from usual here; idol songs aren’t typically my thing, but I’ve been impressed before on this feature so everything gets its fair shot. This is actually the first time that I’ve had to review an Arashi song here since I missed “Sakura” earlier this year, so I suppose that this will be an experience one way or the other. “Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari” is a fairly refreshing summery number that, while not the most upbeat of songs, definitely has its own fair share of motion to it. What actually strikes me most about this particular instrumental is that I can hear hints of some synth-work during the verses that reminds me of the material on (((Sssurrounddd)))’s album from earlier this year, in particular its lead track “Siren Syrup”. It has a kind of grooviness to it that’s honestly unexpected and a welcome addition to a song that I don’t feel would have branched too far outside of the sound that I generally expect from Arashi otherwise. The vocal melody in particular feels reminicent of something of theirs that I’ve heard playing in the past, but I honestly don’t know what or from where. I’m not sure how necessary some of the slight vocal effects were here either, but they don’t really detract all that much from the track, so that might be nitpicking to a certain extent. Lyrically, this song somehow manages to weave some rather nice imagery in with some of the more typical cliches, which I actually appreciate a good deal more than might be expected. In the end, I actually don’t dislike this, and while the song isn’t perfect it succeeds at what it attempts to do admirably. 5.5/10


Recochoku #1: Ikimonogakari – Anata (Oricon #10 / iTunes #3)

Ronald: Really expected… I mean it’s Ikimonogakari so you pretty much know what you’re going to get. This is nice for what it is, but it doesn’t really stand out. It sounds like a bunch of their other songs that I’ve heard over the years. It also sounds like a bunch of other songs by other acts. There’s nothing really new here. I don’t know if it’s not wanting to disturb the recipe for success or laziness or just a rut. Singles should stand out and this just doesn’t. The best part of the song is that instrumental segment around 3:45. but then again I feel as if I’ve heard this too. 4.5/10

Ryusenkai: Allow me to get something out of the way to start here:  I actually like Ikimonogakari a fair bit and think that they can get something of a bad rap at times.  However, I’m also tired to death of the rut which they currently appear to be stuck in and “Anata” isn’t really making me reconsider that opinion.  The song is a rather classic ballad for the group, and while Kiyoe’s vocals are certainly pleasant as always, the composition sounds like a number of songs which they’ve written in the past.  I really dislike criticizing a song in this manner, since I generally support an act managing to execute a particular concept well even if it isn’t particularly innovative, but the problem here lies in the fact that Iki have done this exact thing multiple times.  They don’t execute a particular, well-known style, they simply continue to execute their own, only rarely straying from the mold that they’ve built around themselves.  This strategy has been successful for them, without a doubt, but as a person who’s been listening to them for years now a fair amount of their material starts to blend together.  The lyrics for “Anata” are likewise fairly par for the course when it comes to this type of song and, while there are some nice turns of phrase, don’t elevate the track enough to really change my thoughts on it.  It might seem as though I’m being a bit harsh on this song, but I’m only doing so since I’m well aware of the fact that Iki can and has done better.  Here’s hoping that they manage to do so again in the future. 3/10


iTunes #1: Nishino Kana – Moshimo Unmei no Hito ga Iru no Nara (Oricon #27 / Recochoku #2)

Ronald: Same review as last week – When the music video for this song came out, I voiced my dislike for it. I’m still not a fan. It’s the follow up to her massive hit “Darling”, and it seems as if she’ll be continuing in this country-pop vein. I’m not a fan of this genre. I remember comparing Kana to Taylor Swift years ago because they were both their respective country’s darlings because they were young female singer-songwriters who made inoffensive music for the masses. But Taylor has somewhat spiced things up since then, while Kana really is making music like Taylor used to make. I never liked Taylor Swift, so I certainly don’t need a Japanese clone. Especially when said clone has made better music in the past. It’s like part of me wants to like Nishino Kana, but then she releases aural wallpaper like this… 4/10

Ryusenkai: I can’t say that I’m surprised to see Nishino Kana here again, nor can I say that I’m paritcularly surprised to see her following in the footsteps of her very successful hit “Darling”. This follow-up, “Moshimo Unmei no Hito ga Iru no Nara”, has a bit more motion to its melody and on the whole appears to be an attempt at a jaunty, mid-tempo track that won’t stray too far from what Kana’s known for, but still take an incremental step towards something a bit different. Assuming that was their goal, I can say that her and her team have succeeded quite handily, since that’s exactly what we’ve got – it’s inoffensive, it’s lilting, and it’s even just a bit cute. When we break down the composition a bit more, it’s a fairly simple pop song that wears its light country and folk influences on its sleeve, supported primarily by piano and acoustic guitar, though there are also some more varied orchestral touches ranging from bells, to flute, to what sounds to my ears to be timpani. I like that there’s a bit more liveliness than I might usually expect from Kana’s vocals on an A-side here, though the same can’t really be said for the lyrics, though I believe I’ve already gone into that at length in the past. Still, I’d call “Moshimo…” my overall pick for the week, primarily due to the instrumental variety on display here, though the generally ‘fun’ atmosphere that pervades the song is worthy of a nod on its own. 5/10


Ronald’s Rank:

1. Oricon #1: Arashi – Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari

2. Recochoku #1: Ikimonogakari – Anata

3. iTunes #1: Nishino Kana – Moshimo Unmei no Hito ga Iru no Nara


Ryusenkai’s Rank:

1. Oricon #1: Arashi – Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari

2. iTunes #1: Nishino Kana – Moshimo Unmei no Hito ga Iru no Nara

3. Recochoku #1: Ikimonogakari – Anata