1. January isn’t even over, and Yasutaka Nakata has been involved with four noteworthy singles, each one offering a different view of where he’s at in 2017. If he can sneak a Capsule number in, we’d have a total round-up. “Harajuku Iyahoi” came first, followed soon after by Perfume’s “Tokyo Girl” and Natsume Mito’s “Puzzle.” And now, “Crazy Crazy,” a hyped-up number with Charlix XCX and Kyary (which came out last week, but the full video is out now and up top, which is a good enough reason to finally spill some thoughts on it).
Yasutaka Nakata, much like a shark, has to be in constant motion. In recent years, that has mostly applied to his schedule, a grueling thing involving movie soundtracks, club events and convenience-store talent searches. But it also applies to the music he makes — it sounds goofy and obvious, but he’s at his best when he’s excited by the possibility of a project, rather than commitments. Perfume’s music since JPN has all been heavily dictated by commercial interests, and much of it has been really good, some tipping into great. But none of it is Game. It’s even more glaring with Kyary, an artist offering him exciting new possibilities when his main pop project was starting to narrow, but has since hit the same rough patches. That’s all reflected in the latest singles for each, both in the same up-down EDM territory that he’s done much better in the past. “Puzzle” is a solid bit of Nakata pop, which makes it one of Mito’s top numbers.
“Crazy Crazy,” though, presents new challenges. An artist he’s never worked with before, for one. But, since it is with a relatively big names like Charli XCX, it presents Nakata with an actual global audience, something he’s never really risked before unless you really overthink his Kylie Minogue remixes. And — surprise surprise — “Crazy Crazy” is a fantastic bit of pop.
2. The twist, though, is this shines because it doesn’t really try too many new things. Musically, this sounds like an older Capsule song, one of the numbers more melodic and less bloghouse. Melodies interlock in clever ways, building towards that big bright chorus. Plenty of vocal effects are drizzled over the singing, helping everything click just right. It’s a throwback of sorts, with a few modern touches worked in. And the hook!
Though, the most intriguing detail here comes with the singing, when Charlix XCX’s voice sorta morphs into Kyary’s, and then suddenly flips back. This is the experimental detail, one building on a trick he played back on Caps Lock where he rendered Toshiko Koshijima’s voice into something resembling Vocaloid. He’s not the only one exploring this idea — funny enough, the song “Crazy Crazy” most reminds me of is another country-hopping collaboration, “B Who I Want 2 B.” That one featured Sophie (and Vocaloid tuner Mitchie M) creating singularity pop between Namie Amuro and Hatsune Miku.
3. Speaking of, “Crazy Crazy” has nice timing, as Nakata’s actual musical influence has been pretty firmly established by now. So it’s good to see him enter the same territory of folks like Zedd and Porter Robinson, who are pretty vocal about his work, and also get pretty positive reactions from Western media. And, I mean, I’ll put my cards out and say I’m a person who still like PC Music and though their Nakata-inspired touches were great…but man, “Crazy Crazy” is way better than any of the pop songs any folks orbiting that universe have penned for Charli XCX. In the end, Nakata is the master of making Nakata-like pop.
4. What really pushes “Crazy Crazy” up for me is the excitement oozing out of it, to the point even old ideas suddenly seem thrilling again. The song itself resembles older Capsule cuts, but sounds fresh in the context of 2017. It even carries over to the video, which draws from what was the key point of Kyary during her rise up — cute, but also kind of creepy — and basically imagines what a Chris Cunningham clip gone kawaii might look like. “Crazy Crazy” doesn’t sound like any big change-up. It just sounds like a great pop song with heart in it. Listen above.