Since AKB48 usually ends up being my whipping posse whenever I write about them, let’s mix it up and start with some positives. The video for this new single isn’t nearly as creepily voyeuristic as some of their other 2010 clips. Plus, it even has a halfway decent idea…a giant rock-paper-scissors league/tournament complete with refs! I’m sure the dudes who got a kick out of watching AKB48 suggestively eat jelly during the “Heavy Rotation” video will leave disappointed but the rest of us will appreciate it.
The praise dries up there. “チャンスの順番” isn’t bad per se, it’s just derivative even by AKB48’s standards. This song sounds exactly like “Pontytail To Shushu” down to the goofy electronic whirls bubbling underneath. Originality checks in pretty low on what I expect from this pop-militia, but this just seems especially lazy.
KinKi Kids “Family ～ひとつになること”
Oh boy a piano-driven belch of a ballad by a Johnny’s group. Gonna’ be one of those weeks huh? “Family” goes the extra mile in being a trying bit of schmaltz by having the nerve to feature what sounds like a choir in the chorus. Somehow this track doesn’t overload on too many strings, but manages to be even more bloated because of that vocal addition. “Family” fits in perfectly within the Johnny’s, uh, family which means I’m getting the hell away from it.
三代目J Soul Brothers “On Your Mark ～ヒカリのキセキ～”
J Soul Brothers (sorry first part of name) operate in a similar fashion to super popular group EXILE, in that only two of the members handles vocal duties while everyone else in the band just dances. And these bros also attach themselves to R&B tinged pop that sounds like a vaguely uninteresting Ne-Yo. “On Your Mark” doesn’t boast quite the same swag a Ne-Yo or a The-Dream could bring, but J Soul Brothers also manage to not botch this. Unlike everything else on this list today…and unlike a lot of mainstream J-Pop…this actually tries to sound sexy with it’s high-pitched singing and VIP party piano. It lacks anything truly memorable but also comes off as perfectly enjoyable. Much like EXILE, the music itself isn’t so outrageous as much as the concept in general is.
Superfly “Eyes On Me”
“Eyes On Me” serves as the theme music for the upcoming video game “The 3rd Birthday,” part of the Parasite Eve franchise. Since I know nothing about this game except it’s coming out on the PSP, I’ll just judge the track divorced from whatever portable-gaming context might be required to understand this. It’s a ballad but an example of one not being totally cringe worthy (see: KinKi Kids), mostly because a good chunk of “Eyes” goes for minimalism and Superfly boasts an ear-grabbing voice that can elevate even the worst songs up a peg or two. It gets a little too Disney-whimsical later on, but treads water long enough to be considered a success.
This appears to not be online. Prove me wrong world, prove me wrong!
Terrible recording quality, yes, but all signs point to this be the sort of gingerbread-house-kit kinda ballad I mark low. You’d think the shoddy sound quality of the above video would maybe make it more interesting…think How To Dress Well doing J-Pop which could be sweet actually…but nope. “from” manages to be so dull as to not even make cell-phone-quality sound sorta weird.
Winner Of The Week: One of the shortest entries for this feature I’ve ever written…not a bad week ya know, but also one full of ho-hum ballads and an AKB48 song that just sounds boring instead of revolting. Best comes down to Superfly and J Soul Brothers…let’s call it a tie.