addictdesu: (NEWS)
Happy 2017! Well, we're practically done with the 'New Year' celebrations now; but as this is my first post for the new year I'll be starting with a music review, one I have missed doing so much.

Last year, I skipped writing for 恋を知らない君へ (Koi wo shiranai kimi e) when halfway through my review of the single the text file was corrupted. What a loss, it was an interesting time for NEWS--it was their busiest schedule in their whole career so far! In the middle of bustling activities the music they've released was quite a successor for January's ballad ヒカリノシズク--essentially a ballad single (3/4 of the single are slow songs!), Koi wo is the sound you were silently longing for in NEWS.

But they've built their image around concepts that are apt for the bold... thus, they keep coming back for it. The newest single, EMMA, straightforwardly tells you that they're not done with チャンカパーナ and KAGUYA and チュムチュム’s bombastic sound yet. Putting aside the Classical, the ballads, and the sports tracks, NEWS' real strength in their discography lies in the way they make controversial A-sides coupled with hidden treasures that are the B-sides. EMMA, like the older successful singles, does it again.



►L-R: Limited Edition (LE) A, LE B, and Regular Edition covers◄


General comments

The paragraphs above are considered part of the general comments, but hey, let's make this section more specific. EMMA is the OP for the TV adaptation of 嫌われる勇気 (Kirawareru Yuuki), and in which Shige is one of the main characters. /Thank you Shige for constantly giving NEWS themes songs for singles!/

This is my first time to talk about the jacket covers, the second most controversial bit (yeah, the single is that controversial that we even have a plausible rank). At first glance of the covers they're totally unrelated to NEWS; look in any way and they're still random pieces of material which would've been done better by the fans. Not to be rude, really, but it was the general consensus. Judging a book by its cover is still prevalent; especially that we judge an idol group's jacket covers by the idols' faces, not the face of someone else.

The title EMMA itself was a mystery, and the costumes, choreography and lyrics are controversies. In spite of the discernible similarities with the past singles, EMMA has a unique and striking presentation--bolder than ever, it keeps NEWS on the relevance, but with a more matured viewpoint as all of them will be now in their 30's this year.

What's the most important thing in EMMA? Arguably not the title track. There are always hidden gems found in the B-sides, extra special this time around. Whether to satiate fans with a good throwback or just another way of being innovative, remakes are often anticipated especially if done by the same artist. NEWS did a remake of two of their most popular songs pre-4nin: さくらガール (Sakura Girl) and I · ZA · NA · I · ZU · KI; so yes, it's not really arguable that this is the most important thing in the single.

Still to throw in the already wild blend are the "Snow" songs. Although not religiously, NEWS have Season-themed tracks and for this winter there are two--a very generous move, since usually there is only one Season song per release. That way, I feel like EMMA (the single) isn't actually rushed as opposed to how EMMA (the song) appeared (from the jacket covers to the fact that the PV was shot a little before the new year). Rushed or not, in terms of the quality of the music the single is extensively thought-out. It is approached in a polarizing manner; age-old tricks for the new songs and new quips for the remakes.

Song by song comments

01 EMMA is nothing new, except that it is the ultimate rehash of NEWS' novelty hits--meaning everything is combined in here. チャンカパーナ 3.0? KAGUYA 2.0? Retro twin of MR. WHITE? A Western チュムチュム? A Country 恋のABO? Another バンビーナ (Bambina)? Yes, the song is all of that. Yet the wild mesh the song is founded on may be the very reason EMMA is nonviable, as it sounds like it is just there to follow the working pattern... For the love of nasty, loud titles... For the novelty.

Read more... )

--

This single's overall feel is more than a winter affair. EMMA is summer-hot, Sakura Girl is for spring, I · ZA · NA · I · ZU · KI's autumn sentiments and the 'Snow' songs direct take on winter... With these characteristics, it's almost as complete as an album. And we don't really need to think about a new album because after this single was released, an announcement for a new album came! Let's look forward to NEVERLAND, and I hope I could make a review for it as well.


Single rating: ♪♪♪♪ (Four lovely eighth notes out of 5!)
addictdesu: (NEWS)
Have you noticed how late I am in posting my reviews? I need to get this off my list so I can start with the newly released album!





Title: ヒカリノシズク/Touch
Artist: NEWS
Release date: January 20, 2016
Tracks: 4

L-R: Regular Edition, Hikari no Shizuku Edition (LE A) and Touch Edition (LE B)


General comments

NEWS' first single of 2016, a double A-side single, is released roughly 2 months after their last single of 2015. The first of the A-sides,Hikari no Shizuku, serves as the theme song for the drama adaptation of Shige's book Kasa wo Motanai Aritachi wa which also includes Shige in the cast! The other A-side, Touch, is used for NEWS' newest product endorsement, Nissen Touch 'n'. At the time of writing this review, we're counting hours to the new album QUARTETTO's release (Edit: upon posting, QUARTETTO is already out), added to the news of a regular show *FINALLY!* that keeps the fandom in a feast for days.

Or for months. Definitely, for months.

So what's the point of these italics--I mean, good news in here? The management is gearing the previously unnoticed NEWS again. In other words: we're unbelievably active just when we thought we're starting to lose our shine. Whatever the long-term plan for us is, we are certain that we're staying because of 1) World Cup 2) *possible* Bra CMs, and 3) Classic sound. This latest single, according to the sources, is headed in the latter direction. Music-wise, it seems NEWS has finally found its niche.

Curiously enough, Hikari ni Shizuku/Touch is a single you'd be careful before listening. Classic sound is no joke; Yonjuushi and its enigma gives a clue that at least one of the songs would give another Rachmaninoff--or whichever classical composer one would think--vibes off. And of course, the more curious matter is the 'Touch' song. Looking at NEWS' discography, touch is the title of their very first album... When there were still 8 members and their musicality wasn't a priority then.Turns out, this single is appreciation-guaranteed! Pulling off the charms in unexpected ways, the single finally fills what has been missing from the group since they became four: a legit ballad, and a legit feel-good song. Steering away from the too energetic and commanding A-sides NEWS has shown since the group's comeback, Hikari no Shizuku/Touch brings the "less is more" style back into play.

Song by song comments

01 ヒカリノシズク (Hikari no Shizuku) is a standard Johnny's pop-rock ballad, that NEWS does not only give justice to, but makes it their own, like only NEWS could sing this song. Even it's supposedly generic. And it's true. The power lies in the distinct vocals.

The instrumentation is quite simple underneath the heavy air of the ballad. For example, the piano uses very basic chords. The strings play a continuous composite melody that repeats itself every section; and the bassline, guitar line and drumline are also predictable. But combine these and it forms a thick stratum of harmonies. What makes this song soar above their past slow tracks is NEWS' vocals matching the air of the instruments--it's so profound that the voices and instruments sound one, inseparable.

As just mentioned, the power lies in the members' vocals. It's not upbeat at all (though in a walking pace) but the dynamics of the voices, from soft to loud, low to high, is a head-turner; neither it is in NEWS' widest of vocal range for a song but it gives that good illusion. The instrumental is subdued, making the track feel very light at some moments, especially in the verses. The soft strings gives the song a soulful touch, pop-rock the genre may be. Somewhat it reminds me of a slower Full Swing with less rock and more pop.

It's supposedly a simple song but the emotion of the vocals really carries it away. Starred by Shige this time, his voice actually fits ballads and though it's not a surprise in the fandom anymore this is like the ultimate proof that he also does well in these kinds of songs. And boy, Tegoshi again gives the edge, especially in the bridge, without doing it overboard. (Fangirl moment: whenever I listen to that part I'm always on the verge of tears!)

02 Touch is a fan and non-fan favorite--that's how fine the song is. It's hands down catchy, owing to the holistic feel-good vibe of the song: the sugary tones of the vocals and the instruments throughout, and the silliness of the melody as heard on the instrumental flourishes. All these while NEWS doesn't even try to sound goofy or whatever. It has an even blend of larkiness (in the sound) and maturity (in the arrangement; and the slightly suggestive lyrics).

I can't figure out what's the key accompaniment used in the song, aside from the soft piano and modest bass. It has such a high prominence--it's the driving force that keeps the song charged and moving! It might be the work of a snyth, but to compare it to a real instrument it seems like a Piccolo Trumpet*. Similar-sounding with the White album track NYARO especially on the intro, the snyth/instrument has its own spotlight, playing a larger role in Touch than the former.

*Piccolo Trumpet = the smallest of the Trumpet family

The melodic lines are a giveaway. The song doesn't have very high nor low notes, yet the intervals are pretty varied, and that gives the playful aura of the track. Also, the 'fan favorite' is probably the falsettos in the chorus, smoothly and even sensually delivered, blended with splashy effects and the continuous fanfare in the background--makes it suitable for both listening and singing alike. Touch is an absolute LSS!

03 星の旅人たち (Hoshi no Tabibito Tachi) sounds like Don't Stop Believing on the intro and is especially developed to make you feel you're in a pop musical. Within the same key yet a lot rhythmic than Touch, the song has a generous amount of different effects, that may not be obvious at first but becomes apparent as it progresses. Its steady beat doesn't necessarily make it a dance song; however, it's the main driver of the track. This is a nice contrast to the previous track because although both are clear-cut pop music the arrangements are entirely different. The former has a free rhythm while this is strictly accented--it makes Hoshi no Tabibito Tachi rather stale, if not for the embellishments that can be heard once in a while. NEWS' vocals are okay; I hear faint echoes as if this was recorded in a concert hall... presumably, this is part of the song's musical play style. Just one thing I am not happy about is the inclusion of (Spanish style?) guitar-plucking parts on the interlude and epilogue. For me it's out of place. Minus that and the song is actually charming, especially if you're fan of upbeat modern musical repertoire.

04 whisper doesn't deserve to be the last of the B-sides because it's close to perfection and is in a genre that fits NEWS best, in my opinion: Jazz. Not the traditional jazz in entirety, though even for a casual listener it obviously belongs to this genre. To be precise, the song sounds close to those of 80's Bebop and Funk. It's similar to Sweet Martini but this is faster, and unlike the more electro base of the other, here the glorious brass dominates the instrumental. Plus it's auto-tune free! I'm actually a fan of autotune so I don't mind if the song has its share, but for a vocally exhausting song, the breaks in whisper are magnificent. The rhythm change, the unpredictable instrumentation, the constant alter in pitches, the crazy dynamics... don't expect it'll sound very intense because it's not rock after all, but for a jazz song this is totally rockin' it.

The odd one among the tracks, it has no trace of JPop at all. It's in a different key signature too (the other three are in Cmajor). I would have wanted this to be a part of NEWS' next album rather than placed last in a single, but since the 'Classic sound' I expected is not to be found, this Ballroom-apt track compensates with its heavy brass use and complicated melodies Pop songs don't usually have. Lastly, the vocals are natural and each of the members' lines and adlibs are flawless! It's a challenging song that NEWS (not just Tegoshi, or not just any member) sings perfectly.

--

I loved Yonjuushi the single and I thought the next single wouldn't get any better than that, but this turned out to be better. I was only disconcerted at the lack of the "Refined classic sound" tag the album is supposed to have; However, the tracks are overwhelmingly good that the theme need not be needed anymore. I’ll bet that instead on the upcoming album.

Single rating: 4.5 out of 5!
addictdesu: (NEWS)
Because I'm very industrious today! :)






Title: 四銃士 (Yonjuushi)
Artist: NEWS
Release Date: November 25, 2015
Tracks: 4
yon2.jpgyon.jpg
►Limited and Regular Editions jacket covers◄


General comments:

Yonjuushi is NEWS' first-ever DVD single. I don't know its difference from an ordinary single (What's the point of a DVD for a single? Enlighten meee). Regardless, it deserves its whole upgraded packaging. I honestly didn't expect this year-end release to be good--having the group release songs in an unusually fast pace I was a tad worried if the last of NEWS' 2015 spectacle would be spectacular too.

Subjectively, it is! I love the whole package. It's my new favorite. I am charmed by the tracklist, and the PV couldn't be more sophisticated. Musically, level-headedly, the tracks are hit-or-miss. Luckily they are all 'hit' to me; I can't even choose a favorite because all tracks are my jam! Like KAGUYA and チュムチュム, NEWS prioritized variety here. But I think the assortment is less apparent in this single due to having four tracks instead of the past singles' five. Three out of four are upbeat; two out of four are 'party'; four out of four have the beginning parts sung by Tegoshi! (Am I that observant, or just biased?)

Yonjuushi the single is innovative, albeit only in certain angles. Otherwise it could bring about a generic sound impression. NEWS is still an idol group with the same league of composers and same 'ol lyrical themes. Even so, if we focus on the innovative angles, this single is more than a Johnny's pop puppetry. Theyactually explored music, especially the title track. Let's now look into each of the songs.

Song by song comments:

01 四銃士 (Yonjuushi) may not be one's cup of tea. It wasn't for me, either. An arrangement by orchestra conductor Nishimoto Tomomi, the song is entirely based on the Classical piece Rhapsody in a Theme of Paganini (which I'll simply refer as Paganini in this review), by Romantic period composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. It's not a song only made to show NEWS trying the 'classic' sound; it is also the opening song for the anime Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo.

My introduction to this track was a statement from a member (I think it was Shige?) saying  Yonjuushi is very different and new from all the songs NEWS have sung. Of course it sparked my utmost curiosity. When I heard the Anime theme version I was worn for I didn't hear a bit of newness to it--except for the strange musical Form not commonly found in pop songs. Its A-B-A-B-A-B (Extended Tertiary) Form is molded in such a way that it sounds like a draggy Sonata-Allegro even though the track's tempo is actually fast.

Read more... )
--

My rating for this single is highly subjective. Yep, even I do have wordy comments and strong opinions in my reviews, when giving ratings I consider the impact to majority of listeners and not mine. Yonjuushi is a hit-or-miss package. You need to understand Yonjuushi (the song)'s origins to appreciate it. You need to at least differentiate the preceding soccer songs before seeing the uniqueness of ANTHEM. While Eien's bad ending is really unsatisfying; and SPEAKER is mediocre. My rating therefore lies on how these songs help NEWS' musical image to be pushed upward--and in that sense, for the fans they do. The single once again showcased the flexibility of the group.

Single rating: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (4 lovely eight notes out of five!)
addictdesu: (NEWS 2)
NOTE: Originally, this review was omitted from my fandom projects list--for the usual reason, busy in RL and all. I began re-working on it months after its release, reckoning I still got time to do it! Can't deny that this single is too awesome to be ignored.





Title: チュムチュム (Chumu Chumu)
Artist: NEWS
Release date: June 24, 2015
Tracks: 5

►L-R: Regular, LE A and LE B jacket covers◄


General comments:

While the previous and the first NEWS single in 2015, KAGUYA, was as fresh as the new years could be, Chumu Chumu is a summer single, and I expected 'freshness' on a summer scale.

Well, as far as the seasons are concerned, Chumu Chumu doesn't belong to a particular season; instead it's a storehouse of seasonable tunes. We get grandiose, instrumental-heavy tracks, and a smooth flow from one genre to another; giving all the five songs a near equal significance in the single. The cohesiveness I was finding in KAGUYA? I've found it here. It isn't as powerful as my overall perception of ONE -for the win- single; although it is not the power I am noting this time, but the needed balance of the tracklist. Standalone and steady, Chumu Chumu is a quality package. NEWS' musicality still soars up high.

The only discord that has made me unsettled is the choice of Chumu Chumu as the carrier track. I know NEWS is creating a pattern of strong lead singles, and the India-themed song has the ultimate bragging rights... but I wonder if it would've been better for the group to deviate and rather chose the less upbeat tracks? As I said, almost all the songs in the single are standalone, meaning they're great on their own. With some exceptions I will discuss later, I find it a little unwise that the other great songs are just B-sides. Don't get me wrong, I looooove Chumu Chumu and its choreo and the costumes. However, other tracks have just-as-huge potential.


Song by song comments:

01 チュムチュム (Chumu Chumu) has the ultimate bragging rights! Lavish, compelling, this kind of music will never leave you without a wham or two. Obviously its inspiration is India, from the title (Chumu Chumu means "kiss" 'twas said), to the melody, to the style, execution, odds and ends. Just a simple reminder: I'm no expert on Indian genres but I've heard enough mainstream to get the idea. Most of us get the idea, don't we? *And please, I do not want to go into talks about Cultural Appropriation, better keep them out of here*

The India flair is most obvious at the intro and the outro having the exact sound, the gallant pattern of 5-bar overtones within a static chord, with a chanted "Chumu chumu" at the end of every measure, ineligible sounds such as "eiyah" and "acchacha" (in the bridge) comprise the Indian highlights, along with the accompanying instruments which set the song into a whooping feast of beats and tones.

Read more... )

--

I've said in the beginning of the review that the only discord I have is the choice of Chumu Chumu as the A-side. I love the song so much, don't get me wrong. But it has a remote resemblance to KAGUYA so I would also appreciate if they chose either Hi wa Mata Nobooru or Sweet Martini (or even Megalomania) that have entirely no similarities with the grandeur KAGUYA already offered this January. Even so, with the excellent connection of all the 5 songs, I'm very contented with this release.

How the 5 songs connect excellently :
• if Chumu Chumu is melodic, Hi wa mata noboru is harmonic
• The first two songs have loud and grand sound; Sweet Martini is relaxed
• Sweet Martini is a slow auto-tuned jazz piece, while Megalomania is an techno treat
• The third and fourth songs are effects-dominated; Sasabune is a melodious ballad

Single rating: 4.5 out of 5!
addictdesu: (NEWS)
Only did it after three weeks. I'm not that late, am I?






Title: KAGUYA
Artist: NEWS
Release date: January 7, 2015
Tracks: 5
REGULARLIMITEDB
►L-R: Regular Edition and Limited Edition B jacket covers◄

General comments:

This deserves to be called a comeback single.

JPop and KPop groups have different connotations of/for the term comeback. 'Comeback' in JPop means coming back from a significant hiatus, usually accompanied by problems in the group or of an individual member, and so it is considered a big word. 'Comeback' in KPop is less severe; K-ent companies have their groups releasing material commonly after a year or less of receded activities. In short, it happens regularly in KPop. Nonetheless, comebacks are important and are always much-awaited on both of these pop music cultures.

When I said KAGUYA deserves to be called a comeback single, I am pointing to the Korean connotation. Just like KPop groups' comebacks, KAGUYA radiates this vibe of "I'm back after some rest, get your grooves again!" This is true since NEWS wasn't active doing group work last year.
Read more... )


Song by song comments:

01 KAGUYA
KAGUYA is snappy. See, not that type of love song. Sound-wise, it is along the lines of Chankapaana, Quntastic!, and Koi no ABO. But unlike these three which have a disco/70's flair, KAGUYA is a modern oriental party pop; the 'oriental' being its base. Go figure. It is obvious from the traditional instruments used.

What I hate about KAGUYA: nothing. What I love about KAGUYA: everything! Even though it is far from the slow and soothing love song I hoped NEWS' next anthem to be, KAGUYA got into my faves list like a rocket for its intensity. No belting--remember? But it has all the elements for me to say that it is--sound-wise again--better than Chankapaana. I've also read comments from other people saying this is the best NEWS carrier single after Taiyou no Namida, and has a beauty comparable to the song Forever.

Read more... )


Wraaping it up:

KAGUYA challenged variety in a way I don't like much, to be honest. Nevertheless, many good points emerged from the experimentation done in this single. It's a release which will make you proud of NEWS more than ever. Not to mention, it's a good prelude to the new album coming in February!

Single rating: 3.5 out of 5! (I couldn’t use eighth notes because of the .5 huhuhu)
Download the album (including the PV and the making in one!) go to [livejournal.com profile] rockthecliche. For the lyrics and translations, go to [livejournal.com profile] aitamashii and/or h0bbitx3 :)
addictdesu: (NEWS)
Super late post but I still wanna do it! I have a lot to ramble about this single xD





Title: ONE -for the win-
Artist: NEWS
Release date: June 11, 2014
Tracks: 5
neeenews-oneforthewin
►L-R: the Limited Edition A and B jacket covers◄

General comments:

This single... Is one of NEWS' most powerful releases, because--and not just because--three of its songs were used in the World Cup. Musically speaking, here are the reasons why.

Read more... )

Song by song comments:

01 ONE -for the win- fits World cup in Brazil like a glove. The tropic sound and rhythm; percussion rolls, the chorus of ethnic voices to the inset sound of people cheering in the intro, the build-up in the refrains, and the "Viva la vida Brazil" at the start of the choruses... It's truly a high-spirited song with the spirit of the recent World Cup. The highlights in this song a.k.a. the-most-wonderful-thing-I've-heard-NEWS-sing-of is the 32 countries mentioned, all the countries that participated in the said event! See the effort there... And the Engrish. Lots of Engrish. Ostorariya is Australia, Kuroachiya is Croatia, Nejaran is Netherlands and so on. Massu's rap part where he sang 1/3 of the countries and 1/2 of the Engrish was a laughingstock to me the first time I heard it! Nevertheless, this song, with its melody and lyrics, is a celebration of unity among these countries. This is a very influential A-side with a fun yet unfortunately low-budgeted indoor PV (as always. ><)

Read more... )

Wrapping it up:

The past two singles, Chankapaana and WORLD QUEST/Pokoponpekorya showed what NEWS with 4 members can do. ONE -for the win- isn't about that anymore. It's now what they can challenge to become a more efficient and appealing singing group. They aimed for power and they earned it with power.

I have come to a conclusion that NEWS members have always been, and will always be, cohesive in terms of musicality, no matter how different their voices and styles were/are with one another, 9 or 8 or 6 or 4. This release is the newest (and arguably the strongest) proof. Turns out, ONE -for the win- is more than a product of the World Cup hype... It's NEWS setting the bar up, higher than what they've reached in the past ten years.

Album rating: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ / 5 lovely eighth notes out of 5!
Download the album (including the PV and the making in one!) go to [livejournal.com profile] rockthecliche. For the lyrics and translations, go to [livejournal.com profile] aitamashii :)

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