#1 Song Review: Week of 9/3 – 9/9

Hello, AramaJapan readers and welcome to #1 Song Review! Last week was a battle between AKB48, Nishino Kana, and Oishi Masayoshi, with Oishi Masayoshi coming out on top. This week we have 2 new contenders plus an old one re-surfacing. Check out what the staff though of these songs and give us your thoughts too!

Oricon: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL (not released digitally as a single)

Ronald: (Weekender) From an instrumental standpoint, I actually don’t have that much of a problem with this. I tend to like music like this. It’s pretty disco-y/French house-y, there’s a choir…  I appreciate the attempt being made but it really just falls flat. These guys’ vocals really just ruin the track. Maybe they’re going for some sort of comedic factor? Whatever it is, it’s lost on me. 4/10

(Asu e no YELL) Good God, is this cheesy… This just really isn’t my thing. So happy, so cheery, so… ughh. And the guitar solo… This is pretty much what pops in my head when I think of Johnny’s Entertainment. Maybe if I was a teenage girl and wanted to bang these guys, this would appeal to me? 1/10

Single total: 2.5/10


Kanki: (Weekender) I like this single. I don’t usually listen to the ‘newer’ boy groups but this definitely has a fun feel to it. However, it sounds generic…as is the case with a lot of J!E groups these days in my opinion. I like that it’s fun and the rap part was pretty good too!  4/10

(Asu e no YELL) Better of the two title tracks. It’s another fun track, but still probably not something I would listen to again after this. Do all of the J!E songs sound similar now…? 5/10

Single total: 4.5/10


Ryan: I tried listening to ‘Weekender’ without the video but that wasn’t happening. Besides the ill fitting suits, questionable hair (I’m always so intrigued how different the taste in Japanese hairstyles for males is so different than anywhere else), I quite like the use of pattern and color in the backgrounds. The song isn’t bad by any means – it’s still standard, but nicely broken up with the rap. When talking about Idols, yes music is important, but to me it’s really more of a combination of the members and the visual concept. ‘Weekender’ reminds me of this Morning Musume song, but since I like the members it elevates the song for me. Double A-sides are good for the fans but in the end, from an outsider’s persective, both PVs suffer budget-wise. I haven’t been able to watch other Johnny’s video just because they’ve been sort of unobtainable outside of the fandom so I don’t really know how these compare, but they left a lot to be desired.

Weekender: 2/10

Asu e no YELL: 4/10

Single total: 3/10


Cait: (Weekender) Hey! Say! JUMP used to be my JE group of choice around 2008, but I dropped off fairly quickly once I realized that Johnny’s on the whole was never going to be for me. In any case, I’m the opposite of Ryan in that I had to run away from the PV thirteen seconds in once boys who still look barely pubescent started rubbing their bare chests in slow motion. As for the song itself, I tend to love disco-tinged pop music like this for the fun and cheerful vibe, but whether or not you can take the sometimes grating vocals will likely be a significant factor in your enjoyment of it. The rap offers added interest, but starts to bring the song down for me towards the end — there’s just too much going on. Simple and straightforward is best when it comes to this kind of sound. 6/10

 (Asu e no Yell) This one, on the other hand, did absolutely nothing for me. I think this is the type of song that you have to be a fan to really want to listen to; it’s generically uplifting, probably good for a concert encore and gives each member their moment to shine. The tempo changes with the claps after the choruses were the most interesting point musically for me, and the choreography and PV set-up were cute, but I struggled to listen past the first minute-and-a-half because I felt like I already knew how the whole song went. 3.5/10

Single total: 4.75/10

Ryusenkai: (Weekender) All right, I’m just going to preface this review with two quick notes: One, I’m not really an idol fan in the slightest, and Two, given that this is a Double A-side single, I’m going to score both songs within the review and give my final score as an average of the two. All right, with that out of the way, first we have “Weekender”. The arrangement for this track honestly came off as really messy to me – almost like a bunch of sounds were just thrown together without much thought given to how the final product would end up. Couple that issue with some pretty unimpressive vocals and some trite, throw-away lyrics and you might end thinking about this song in the same way that I do. It just never really comes together. 2/10

(Asu e no YELL) “Asu e no YELL” at the very least sounds more like one song, though one that falls into the realm of “innocuous, upbeat pop” that I mentioned a couple weeks ago. The arrangement is more consistent than the previous track’s was and the vocals sound a bit better on this tune, but the lyrics are just classic cheese. Still, I suppose that by comparison this is an improvement, just one that’s not really my style. 3/10

Single total: 2.5/10


Zara: (Weekender) How bouncy this song is. I won’t lie, this one had me bouncing a bit in between studying so it’s an upbeat tune I totally wouldn’t complain about. I’m fond of Hey Say in the same way I’d be fond of a kid I know who’s doing well….if that makes any sense. Their tunes and beats usually have me thinking ‘ah, this is from Hey Say, it sounds like them’ and this one is no different. But if you’re into upbeat tunes that might put you in a good mood, give this one a go. 6/10

(Asu e no YELL) Oh dear. Maybe it’s the bridge or the overload of Yamada-voice, but this song has done nothing for me. It happens with HSJ, you get songs you like and ones you won’t listen to again. This falls into the latter category for me. It’s just…yeah, I found myself actually paying more avid attention to my homework whilst listening to the song, which means I could tune it out too easily. 2/10

Single total: 4/10


Recochoku: May J. – Hontou no Koi (not released physically until 9/10 / iTunes #6)

Ronald: I used to be a May J. stan back when she was doing urban music. I was on her from debut pretty much. Her debut album is still one of my favorite Japanese albums ever. Then she got signed to Avex and I pretty much dropped her. She just got really corny. Like she was making a lot of really lame songs that lacked the impact of her pre-Avex work. And the cover albums! Ughh! The only Avex song of hers that I can think of that I actually like is Say My Name, because it reminds me of the old May J. “Hontou no Koi” really isn’t making me reconsider May J. It’s the same dull material she’s been doing for years. She has a really good voice, I just wish she had material to match it. 5.5/10


Kanki: I just must be really into ballads this month. This song is very soothing and relaxing, maybe I just need that in my life right now! You can feel the passion in May J.’s voice when she sings this song. It’s really pretty and full of emotion. 6/10


Ryan: Is May J. happening because of Frozen? I’ve though she was cute on J-MELO for awhile now although she lacks personality as a TV host. Somehow she brings it when she’s singing ballads though. Whether she happens or not, I feel like she’ll have a nice career singing movie soundtrack songs. Her pop songs and dance tracks are fine, but that won’t differentiate her from her contemporaries. This is where she works best. 5/10


Cait: May J. is an undeniably beautiful singer, and the level of power and conviction she possesses is honestly staggering. It’s just too bad that there’s something about her personally that’s always lacked in appeal for me, and seemingly much of the Japanese public, too, at least before Frozen, as I definitely remember her having a pretty lengthy period of struggle chart-wise. That being said, this song is a perfect example of where she shines, with a flowing melody carried as much by its composer as her effortless, soaring vocals, and with a new album coming up next month, I’m glad that her recent success has given her a bigger platform to showcase that talent once again. (And the movie doesn’t look bad either!) 6.5/10


Ryusenkai: I’ve actually never listened to May J. prior to this track, so beyond a bit of hearsay from some friends, I didn’t really know what to expect. Before I say anything else, I’d very much like to compliment both her voice and her singing technique, since the first is beautiful and the second is quite polished. “Hontou no Koi”‘s composition and arrangement, while also very pretty, definitely aren’t anything groundbreaking though, and in fact remind me distinctly of another song that I’ve heard, though I can’t quite place it at the moment. Though I wasn’t able to find a full translation for the song’s lyrics, what I’m able to piece together from the title and what I can understand myself suggest nothing that one wouldn’t expect from a track titled “True Love”. As a full package though, this song certainly deserves respect, since everything does come together very, very nicely. 7/10


Zara: Hmm Frozen… There is something about ballads. When they’re sung right, you can feel the conviction and emotion with which it has been sung right down to your core and that’s what they’re supposed to do to you. This song, while May J pulls off the raw emotion very well, it also feels like I’ve heard it before. I don’t know where but there is something familiar about this song that kind of has me wondering for awhile what it was. That being said however, if powerful and longing ballads are not your thing, you’re probably going to end up pushing pause or closing the tab once she really gets going. Ballads have a powerful effect on me as well: they often put me to sleep. 2/10


iTunes: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku (Physical #32 / Recochoku #3)


Ronald: I have no new thoughts on this song except that I think I may’ve overscored it before. I blame that crap Kanjani8 song it was up against. That would still get a 0 though. 5.5/10


Kanki: I feel like Hata Motohiro can’t ever do any wrong. This song is great, another good feeling and relaxing song. I can see why it’s top on iTunes right now, the lyrics are touching and it’s a song that can really lift your spirits if you’re feeling down. I would consider listening again ;) 7/10


Ryan: I’ve already talked about this favorable in our first review post, but the longevity is exciting! I still like the song and I NEED to see this movie. 7/10


Cait: A nice song that does what it’s supposed to do in terms of being featured as a Doraemon theme song. “Nice” implies, unfortunately, that it wasn’t my style. Still, I liked the mature, maybe even melancholic nostalgia to its sound, knowing how much this franchise has meant to viewers of all ages. It felt like a more universal connection compared to something like Perfume’s “Mirai no Museum” (yep, still upset about this single a year later) and I appreciated that choice as a listener. For those who like that acoustic male singer-songwriter type of thing, this should be right up their alley. 5/10


Ryusenkai: “Himawari no Yakusoku” and Motohiro Hata, however, I’m quite familiar with. This song holds the honor of being one of my favorite digital hits this year, and probably my favorite to drop during the summer months. Hata has an absolutely beautiful singing voice and a singing style that very much appeals to me. So very practiced, yet still dripping with emotion. The composition and arrangement, while sitting firmly within Hata’s comfort zone, are both incredibly pretty and just complicated enough that you notice things you might not expect when you listen to the instrumental. The lyrics for this song are somewhat cliche, but unlike Hey! Say! JUMP’s “Asu e no YELL”, manage to exercise just enough literary finesse to also end up as poignant. Overall, a very good, if safe song from Hata that fits the movie it serves as the theme for very well. My pick of the week by a hair. 7.5/10


Zara: Hmm, here we go, I honestly did not mind this one. As a song for Doraemon, it does the feeling justice. Singer/songwriter type songs are always a hit and miss kind of thing. Either they get it or they don’t and this song is nice and floaty enough to work. I like it, it’s got a good feel to it and even if you don’t understand the lyrics, you should get the feeling. 5/10



Ronald’s Rank:

1. Recochoku #1: May J. – Hontou no Koi / iTunes #1: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku

3. Oricon #1: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL


Kanki’s Rank:

1.  iTunes #1: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku

2. Recochoku #1: May J. – Hontou no Koi

3. Oricon #1: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL


Ryan’s Rank:

1.  iTunes #1: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku

2. Recochoku #1: May J. – Hontou no Koi

3. Oricon #1: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL


Cait’s Rank:

1. Recochoku #1: May J. – Hontou no Koi

2. iTunes #1: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku

3. Oricon #1: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL


Ryusenkai’s Rank:

1.  iTunes #1: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku

2. Recochoku #1: May J. – Hontou no Koi

3. Oricon #1: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL


Zara’s Rank:

1. iTunes #1: Hata Motohiro – Himawari no Yakusoku

2. Oricon #1: Hey! Say! JUMP – Weekender / Asu e no YELL

3. Recochoku #1: May J. – Hontou no Koi