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New Daoko: “Bang!”

Ambition is a hell of a thing, but certain artists just really need to chase it. Daoko built her reputation on mystery — she was a wise-beyond-her-years high school rapper who never showed her face and took Sotaisei Riron’s tone of a teenager scribbling personal poetry during a boring math class and applied it to hip hop. It’s a bit of a naive reading — for all of the shrouding, Daoko made her intentions known pretty quickly, I mean not many students are recording with m-flo — but ultimately makes for a great narrative, and at some point the story has to go in a new direction. Like Suiyouib No Campanella’s Komuai or, to a slightly different degree, Seiho, Daoko is the type of artist who seems ready for the spotlight, and in a position where momentum is on her side. If that’s what you want, you have to go for it and push yourself…even if the risks are great.

As long as we can all agree that the goofy retro cheese of “ShibuyaK” never happened (though, hey, it did pretty well online at least), Daoko’s “Bang!” feels like that fist big leap. It’s pop in every single way, from a clappy opening bringing to mind “Happy” and a video that finds any of the artsy stuff tossed aside in favor of her dancing with Hot Cops. Regardless of how many lamp shades Sia puts over her head, pop is about directness and “Bang!” is as pointed as it gets, from the sweetly-sung pre-chorus bit to the moment when the hook hits in all its repetitive wonder. The guarded Daoko of a few years ago, and even the version of her that was dipping her toes into full-on pop has now plunged in. And it works — this is a good pop song, one very different from older material…but we all have to graduate high school at some point, and Daoko is choosing to go for big. And she’s come up with catchy number that recasts her hushed voice in just the right light and, alongside half of the pop duo Oresama, has written a tight-but-twist-filled number (those string plucks!) that’s a solid first step towards the spotlight. Listen above.