Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Favorite Arashi Songs

It is always a daunting task to choose a top ten or even a top twenty when you're talking about artists as prolific and as variable in style as Arashi. So I'm not even going to try to limit the number of songs I talk about here. I'll just give some of my thoughts on the songs that particularly stick with me. They're not in any particular order.

But first, I'll digress a little by talking about some playlists I have on my iTunes, because I just need a reason to post pictures of these awfully good-looking boys.

I have a few Arashi playlists on my phone. They're named after members, of course.

Under Arashi Aiba, I have happy songs, things that make me nod my head and smile cheekily like SuperFresh and Everybody Zenshin and most of Aiba's solos. Arashi Aiba is like the boy-next-door who comes over all the time and wants to pick up your mood by making you appreciate all the little things until life is not mundane anymore. Everybody loves Aiba. I have such a soft spot for him, and this playlist is so dedicated. I play it a lot in the morning right after I get up, to remind me that the day is beautiful, and that Aiba is telling me Ganbatte!

Yes, that's right. Hidden inside this tender-faced shonen is a powerful voice that will take you far far away. 

Arashi Ohno is pure magic. It will transform me into a soaring bird. It's because his voice is just so suited to taking flight. It's got such clarity, such power, such precision, that you feel like you are a piercing ray of light shining out of a crystal and shooting straight into the clouds. In this playlist, I have all his solos and I also have songs where his voice picks it up to a different altitude (like movin' on and Monster).

Arashi Nino is a little melancholy, and a little sentimental. It's the perfect soundtrack for a night alone, with only a glass of wine and the distant voices of the streets for company. It's what you're feeling when you enter heartbreak hotel, but it's also what you feel deep down inside for every wasted day you spend hating yourself for not doing more with your life. It's got anguish, it's got sorrow, and it's got tons and tons of regret. Select Nino solos (and some Ohno solos!) and Arashi ballad numbers such as truth, refrain, Akashi and Your Eyes are included.
I was tempted to post the an an pictures, but that would have been "very, very danger."
Arashi Sho is manly, sexy, and full of swag. He wants to get into your face and really make you listen to him. He's the type of guy you want to be rapping in your ears when you need to rough it out in the gym or just when you're just feeling fly. His voice is husky and low but very distinct, and you can hear him chugging out his words with a gruffness that you wouldn't ever imagine to be in a person as polished as he is. But Arashi members surprise us at every turn, don't they? It's part of their charm. The playlist is upbeat with a bit of in-your-face conceit, the type of thing you want to cross your arms and wear your baseball caps sideways for. Think A.RA.SHI, a Day in our Life, Pikanchi, Jidai, and of course La Tormenta.

Arashi Jun is one fine beast. Where Sho is swagger, Jun is slick. Arashi Jun has a futuristic feel. Jun knows how to be smooth and sexy, and he likes to take you for a ride while he's at it. There's something about that nasal voice of his that, when flattened and treated, is the perfect vehicle for a ride into an alternate sci-fi universe. Arashi Jun is something to play when one is dressed in a sleek leather suit and strutting down the street, ignoring all the heads you turn, because, like Jun, we can be vain princesses ;) *smirk* Songs we princesses strut to include Come Back to Me, Face Down, Breathless, Intergalactic, Mada Minu Sekai E, Lotus, and a swoonworthy number called Tokei Jikake no Umbrella.

All right, on to my favorite songs!

このままもっと (Kono Mama Motto)
Sakurai solo
 I first heard this song on the beautiful World DVD and instantly fell in love with it. I was fairly reeled in by the 1920's esque first chords already, and I expected it to be a jazzy number like Love Parade so I was really surprised when I saw Sho walking out in a polka dot suit, with a really sweet video of a young boy and girl playing on the screen behind him. Sho's usually all about the rap and the swag and the deep manly voice, so when he first put he mic to his lips and sang the tender first verse, my heart. just. melted. As if the melody itself wasn't already sweet and full of nostalgia! To add Sho's slightly husky voice singing in a higher range was just such a touch of tenderness and brought out the innocence of the song so much better. This is the song that really made me love Sho's singing voice. Before, I never really took note of his singing, but after this, I'm really hoping to hear more of his parts in the group songs! The Sakurap here is really great too. He somehow manages to seem really sweet and tender even in his rapping, which isn't easy. This is the song that made tipped me into a "Sho phase."

Come Back to Me
MatsuJun solo
I heard this one first on the DVD for Scene. It started off with the little interlude where Jun is suspended on a wire and pretends to be flying through a video game. I liked that whole setup, and I loved the solo when it came. Seeing Jun in a neon outfit with no shortage of swag and singing a songs that is actually good to listen to was a plus. I mean seriously, Johnny? Some of the solo material you've been giving Jun is just plain crap (like "We Wanna Funk We Need a Funk"?!?!?! What was going through your head when you okayed that?). I liked the verses because they had a nice swervy melody that made me feel like I was a windswept video game character haha! I also enjoyed hearing MatsuJun do his rap/pseudorap part in this. All in all, a very futuristic song. It's one case of when I think the autotune was used pretty well.

Up To You
You watch a video of Arashi being produced on an assembly line. They then descend the stage in ridiculously colorful blue/pink/green outfits that really make them look like circus ringmasters. And the first chords we hear are these expectant, start-the-party chords. I was pumped!! This song, is, to me, the one that feels the most Popcorn-y. It's a rather popping (haha, I have no vocabulary today) tune, with lots of key changes and a cutesy overtone. It feels like a very Aiba song, for lack of a better way to put it into words. I love the chorus because of the "pop up" parts :)

(時計じかけのアンブレラ) Tokei Jikake no Umbrella
B-side of My Girl
Ah, what list is complete without Tokei, eh? When you see our five bakas decked out in their kakkoi white-and-black suits, freshly swaggering after an exuberant performance of La Tormenta, one sure thing to make your already weak ovaries explode into bloody smithereens is the high-tension string opening of this song. I literally screamed when I watched it on the DVD. The smooth tension of their dance was breathtaking. I especially liked all the "whoa whoa whoa"s :) But the real reason I love this song, and have loved it for so long is the mysterious tension that pervades it throughout, and this is entirely due to the strings strumming pointedly in the background. Every time the music swells to bring the boys to their chorus, I feel a great rush of satisfaction. And the "whoa whoa whoa"s are like a little release of the tension, almost like cries that are let out and then swallowed back up into the tense night. The rose petal art swirling around the screen behind Arashi was also the perfect visual accompaniment to such a mysteriously seductive number.

B-side of My Girl
Read the song review here.
I really bought My Girl just so I could have the two B-sides teehee! SuperFresh was first introduced to me from a fan-made video I saw on Youku. It was made with a bunch of member photos arranged to appear and disappear with the beat of the music and naturally there were also stars and the Arashi prince logo added in strategic points. I really enjoyed the video because it portrayed my bakas just as I like to see them: cute, funny, and full of boy-next-door mischief. SuperFresh is really the perfect vehicle for such a group. They're happy-go-lucky, they like to have a laugh at the expense of each other, and they take all the good things in life in their stride, remembering to thank the world for being beautiful as they walk along a cartoon rainbow path haha. I like its beat, and I like the how cute all the members sound, especially Aiba with his "Countdown 3-2-1."

B-side of Endless Game
Read the song review here.
What a pleasant surprise on a single that is already quite stellar on its A-side! This is my song of choice when I do chores around the house. It's got this futuristic sense of action to it, and I feel like I can get physical labor done with so much more relish when I have this playing in the background. I also like to have it playing on my earphones when I'm walking to class for the same reason. I feel like I'm frickin' Gantz on a mission when the smooth "INTERGALACTIC" line comes on. Can't wait to see my baka boys perform this on the ARAFES 2013 DVD because it would be a TOTAL SIN if this was not voted in the top three for coupling songs (update: I think I read a lovely concert report by yarukizero at which indicated that Intergalactic was astoundingly left out of the program both nights. My disappointment is severe.)

La Tormenta 2004
5x5 The Best Selection of 2002-2004
One word: SWAG. This song is full of it. Brims with it. Overflows with it. Frickin' makes every Arashi fan go nuts with how our baka boys transform from wearing stockings on their heads to rapping each others'  introductions and entering the stage with shiny backflips. I always love hearing the members rap. I mean, Sakurap is amazing and has a great magnetism to it, but it's very refreshing to hear the other styles of rapping in the group. I especially enjoy hearing Ohno rap with his sexy low voice (it's better exemplified in his rap part in Rock It! but it's still plenty attractive here). My favorite part of this would be Aiba's introduction, and it doesn't matter who sings/raps it. I love the "Don don ban ban" singsong and quick succession of syllables that follow it in a quiet rush, dipping low and coming back to the normal pitch and just skipping along with smooth rhythm. I loved how Jun rapped it at ARAFES 2012. I also enjoyed hearing the high-pitched Nino's spin on it, but I think Jun's version is still my favorite. My second favorite rap part would have to be when Ohno does the "daisotsu idolu.That's right. Sakurai Sho kun!" part at the end (pardon the sucky Japanese). I love the way he says "That's right" and pronounces it similar to "Sakurai." The rhythm is just perfect and adds so much swag to Sakurai hehe. Okay, now I realize that I can't keep quiet about any of the other rap parts now because every one is so effin full of that sleek sexy Arashi spirit! The Nino rap must be my next favorite because of the way Aiba/Jun sings "me-lo-dy." and because I like the same vowel sounds of "engi" "senshi" and "enji" put together in the first line. It has this power to it that dares anyone to mess with Nino on the acting stage. Jun especially makes my heart dizzy when he points to his head as his sings "me-lo-dy" in the 2005 concert. Oh Jun... The Jun rap is a full-on orgasm of Sho's brutally manly voice just showing off his younger bandmate. Now onto the Ohno rap: I love the exchange between Ohno and Nino/Aiba when they rap it. I also like the background music (what is it? Playful xylophones in the background here?) because it really gives Ohno a frivolous artsy feel which might normally be more reserved for Aiba. RIDE ON FIRE STORM!!! (And yes, this is where the title of this blog came from)

Love Situation
This was the song on the ARAFES 2012 DVD that convinced me that the $50 I dropped on it was not just a good, but a FANTASTIC and ESSENTIAL use of my money. The choreography was impeccable, smooth and very hip. There was a lot of popping and locking and twisting and even a couple of cartwheels/flips. I love choreos that try to mobilize the dancers at all levels (i.e. lower body level, upper body level, above-the-head level) and this really accomplishes it. The footwork is eye-catching, and several times, we see our boys dropping their torsos close to the ground. There's just so much action always going on with their hands, feet, arms, and heads!The song itself is the perfect thing to dance to, as it's got a posher, smoother, more R&B feel to it. It begins with a nice piano intro that's then accentuated by swishy percussion sounds, and then the brass comes in to really bring the swerve into this melody. I'm sure that by now, every Arashi fan's heart has an inbuilt trigger to go tachycardic when hearing those first few bars of piano. This is the type of song were you can just imagine the guys lounging about and singing sassily with perhaps a snap of the fingers here or a cheeky wink there. And speaking of such things, of course, no one can talk about this song without mentioning that scream-worthy "Chikutzukidai" whispered huskily by MatsuJun at the end of the bridge to the last chorus. The crowd went WILD on the DVD, and I'm pretty sure I rewound and watched that part half a dozen times before I could continue. Why so perfect, Jun?!

First of all, may it be known that I am an uber-fan of Maou. It's not the first Ohno drama I watched but it is the one that made me fall in love with him and upgrade him to a temporary ichiban status for a few months, and this song is just such a fitting theme song to this bitter revenge drama. I mean, the drama plot is basically like a Count of Monte Cristo type of thing where Ohno plays a two-faced lawyer out to get poor Ikuta Toma. And this song has so much anguish in it; with every "Kanashimi~" I feel a part of my heart torn up and oddly enough, the image of Shiori hugging Ohno with as much strength as she could pops up in my head. but even without the context of the drama, I think it is a very strong number, with Ohno showing off some excellent vocal range and control, and all five members singing their hearts out. The passion in this song is undeniable and flows through their voices in a beautiful heart-shattering way. The orchestral background adds a sense of grandeur without sacrificing musical tension. Now pardon me because I am no expert at listening for musical instruments and I do realize that a lot of this is produced by synthetic instrument sounds

take me far away
Ohno solo
Can any list be complete without a few (or all) Ohno solos? His voice just... soars. And my oh my, how it takes flight here in the epic "take me far awaaaaaaaaaaayyy" line. I can envision his face all wrung in the emotion of the minute when I hear that line. It is one big atrocity that I do not have this song on any of the CD's I own, and hence it is not in my iTunes music library. The tragedy!! The rhythms here are flowy in a rippling way, and Ohno's voice, so expertly controlled, ripples until you feel like the tension in the melody is swelling up inside your chest, ready to burst. And then, of course, you hear him sing that one line of release, and it. just. soooooaaaarrrs.

This is a great pick-me-up. Anytime you feel down, just pop this on, and in no time you'll be doing all the hand motions with the song, twisting your hips and holding a remote control as a mic. Something about the repetition in the chorus ("sweet sweet" "do it do it" "moving now moving now") just underscores the upbeatness of this song. It is pure Arashi in their full on rainbow energy mode. If any song could sparkle, it would be this one. Plus, the music video is Arashi at their cutest :)

ワイルドアットハート (Wild at Heart)
Wild at Heart
Lucky Seven, anyone? It's my favorite MatsuJun drama so far, and I can't get over how good his hair looks in it. Possibly my favorite Jun hairstyle, the only one that can compete with the Popcorn hairstyle, at any rate. But back to the song. Wild at Heart is, like Troublemaker, an excellent failsafe pick-me-up song that you cannot resist moving your body to. The beat is strong, and the melody has pure cheeriness as its main formula. And who can forget that chou kakkoi moment when Jun kicks away the mic stand during the second to last chorus? This is a song that is perfect for letting loose and being a bit silly, and I love it. It brings back a side of Arashi that is more like their early days.

Rock This
Beautiful World
There is no way to put the sheer swag of this song into words satisfactorily. How does one explain the pulsating techno repetition of "Rock-rock this. Rock-rock this." and the anticipation is builds as our beloved bakas enter? How does one even come close to describing the offhand manliness with which they execute the "Ey!"s and "Oh!"s and the sexy low their voices reach as they almost strum out the words in their throats? And then their short solo verses! How does one even begin to talk about the awesomeness in those? My personal favorite is Ohno's "Arashi. Mada mienu. Ka no akari. Sagashi." His voice drops about an octave from where he usually sings/raps at and the result is unfathomable depths of sexiness that you wouldn't believe coming from a pretty face like his. Something about Aiba's velvety voice always gets me in full fangirl mode when I hear it in such kakkoii-ness here, too. You know that Aiba can turn on the sexy and still keep the softness in him, and that combo is just a killer. You know, I spent a whole afternoon thinking about it, and I don't think I have ever known anyone like Aiba personality wise. I know people like Jun, or Sho or Ohno or Nino, but none like Aiba. Such bakaness coupled with sensitivity, loyalty and softness is a rarity. Really. And I can't get the image of all five of them walking across the middle of the walkway, arms out, palms spread and swaggering to the max with Riidaa at the head, and the others flanking him. That, my friends, is the Arashi spearhead. I'm always especially weak at the knees when I see Ohno doing anything leaderlike, and seeing him so kakkoi, swaggering at the lead of what may be the most kakkoi people on the planet, is just too much for my pleasure centers. (Okay, I realize that the Arashi spearhead was actually performed during the song "always" which is also an excellent  number, though a little more muted than Rock This, but I can't resist mentioning it).

"Kimi ga iru kara" is a line that I kept repeating to myself over and over again. I sang it under my breath as I walked to class. I sang it out loud when alone in the elevator up to my apartment. I sing it in my head during a particularly boring workshop session. There is something about this line and the way the whole tone of the song is uplifted when it appears that makes me come back to it. It's a song with some very dark, mystic tones (fits with the mysticism around lotuses) but you do feel that with this line, there is a ray of cold sunshine in all of this. And god but I love me some "aaaaahhhhhhh~~~"s from Ohno and Nino. I especially loved Nino's in this song. It really suited his thin high voice.

Doko ni Demo Aru Uta
Nino solo
I don't know which is my favorite Nino solo, this or Sore wa Yappari Kimi Deshita. They have a similar tone to them and both rely on nothing but the sheer power of Nino's voice with coupled with a simple instrumental accompaniment. And both showcase his vocal blasts pretty well, though in both cases, I think it's apparent that Nino cannot control his voice as well as Ohno. But that's a small matter because he sings with so much passion that it's forgiven if his voice falters a little at certain points. You really feel like he's giving his all and pouring his entire soul into the songs. These are very plaintive melodies, and are usually sung when he's alone on stage with his just his guitar or piano. No backup dancers. No fancy videos playing in the background except maybe something that shows the lyrics so the audience can follow along. It's the epitome of the Arashi Nino playlist, sad, regretful and heartbreakingly beautiful.

 a Day in Our Life
All the Best: 1999-2009
I think this is one of the classic showcases of Sakurap. He's got the swagger, he's got the deep manly voice (despite being just in his late teens when this was recorded, I think). I love Arashi songs with a good dichotomy between the rap and the singing (ex. 5x10, kansha kangeki ame arashi etc). The song is just such a good blend of the tough guy rap (mainly Sakurai with Aiba and Nino as backups) and the softer underlying melody sung by Juntoshi. It makes you think about youth, about how rough and rebellious but also tender it can be, and I always see Sho's rebellious belly-pierced image in my head when I hear that familiar "Zanshinzan..." beginning.

All the Best: 1999-2009
In my opinion, one of the most heartfelt Arashi songs there exist. If I had my way, this would be on every top listing of Arashi songs just because it is so beautiful and has all tenderness of Arashi in it. It's a song about thinking back on the years they spent together and the unique relationship they share with the loyal fans who have supported them for so long. Every solo line is recognizable, and you can really distinguish the different voices that sing them. You hear Ohno's strong high voice taking you higher, you hear Nino's quick rhythm trying to get all the emotions out (and his "hyakunen saki mo" that trails off into the clouds like a balloon you want to hold on to but can't), you hear Aiba's soft fuzzy voice enveloping you like a blanket, you hear Jun's gentle voice that just tells you he has a tender smile on his face when he's singing it, and you hear Sakurai Sho's smooth voice starting it all, with such clarity, as befits a rapper. I especially love the "honki..." parts in this song, as they are interspersed between the bits of Sakurap in a perfectly heartfelt way. No hard edges on the Sakurap here! A very different feel than in a Day in Our Life, for sure.

Your Eyes
Your Eyes
This is a song that I liked at first listen. The first line of the song is basically the chorus, and it's a superbly powerful ballad at that. I was very surprised to learn that this was the theme song for Mikeneko, because the intense tone of it just doesn't quite fit with a show that's about Aiba being a socially awkward detective who can talk to cats. Your Eyes sounds more like it could be a Nino drama theme song. It's sentimental, but not exactly in a sad way. More like in a powerful, I-need-to-release-this-tidal-wave-of-emotions way. But that is really just the chorus. The actual verses are more flowy and something you could sway to. I just really love the force of the chorus and how unrelenting it is.

リフレイン (Refrain)

Boku no Miteiru Fuukei
Link to song review here. 
I first heard this in a video of our five bakas performing it live at a Music Station session, and every heartfelt note of this soulful melody floated into my ears, borne up on delicate tinkling synth notes, and melting me heart in the process. This is definitely one of those ballad-y songs that Arashi puts out every once in a while when they (maybe?) feel like they want to get a few more mature fans to swoon, too. You know, sometimes blatant swag can only get you so far in terms of fan base. This is a song with genuine feeling, one that can make anyone cry, regardless of their age or gender. I really love the "meguri meguru" repetition here. Ohno's voice is as always perfectly poised to deliver the taut emotion, but having the others in there really adds a raw edge to it that the more polished and controlled tones of Ohno sometimes lack. Plus, two words: Umbrella. Choreo. Check out the Popcorn concert if you don't get what I'm referring to. 

明日の記憶 (Ashita no Kioku)
Ashita no Kioku/ Crazy Moon (Kimi wa Muteki)
Another soul-penetrating Arashi ballad. The emphatic cadence of in the beginning of the song (after the tinkling intro) is a hallmark of the song, and it's very emotional. Every Arashi ballad has its own "hook" or snippet of a melody that shoots straight to the listeners' hearts; for Refrain, it was the "kokoro ni itsumademo" chorus line and the muted back-up singing during the chorus. For truth, it was the "kanashimi" line. And now, for Ashita no Kioku, it is those five chords. There's a sense of physical stillness coupled with emotional progression, which translates pretty well into the Quiz Show 2, which this is a theme song for (and honestly, I cried when I watched it!). It's hard to say what emotion you feel after hearing this song. There's a bit of sorrow, but also an underlying contentment, as if by the end of the song, the singer has resigned/reconciled himself to his lot, and there's certainly a 海阔天空 finality to it.

Time (Jun solo)
Is there really anyone in the world who can resist a cute Jun? I mean, the guy looks and moves like sex on a stick and yet suddenly he reappears out of the dark with a pom-pom on top of his head and starts smiling like a twelve-year-old "Viva myself~" while tilting his head like a shy schoolgirl. Whoa. Just. Whoa. The voice is a far cry from his usual passionate nasal notes, and it's almost like he's pouting at you. KAWAII~ It's as if this word was invented just for this performance. The tune itself is very playful, and full of little melodic leaps and stops. Love this. Only wish I had the song itself but I came too late to the party to buy a LE of the Time CD. Alas Zannen!!


  1. Question: how long have you been an Arashi fan?

    1. I've been aware of them since 2009, able to name all the members around 2011 (lol) and active in the fandom only just last year.

    2. lol. I was just wondering since you've mentioned Love Situation on Arafes and wondered why not from Time. But yeah, when I started in this fandom, I couldn't tell Sho and Aiba apart.

    3. Ahaha I see. Yup, I watched Arafes before Time lol.

  2. For me I like believe, niji, everything, sakura sake, ohhh kaze no mukou e cuz I can watch nino play guitar.. Hehehee

    1. Thanks for sharing your favorites! Ah those are all excellent songs! I have a soft spot for all of those heartbreakingly tender Nino solos, including Niji, and Everything is one of those songs that I believe are incredibly underrated! The PV for that, showcasing the beautiful member harmonies, is one of my favorite things when it comes to Arashi's music.

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