Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Intergalactic - Arashi Song Review

Earlier this year, Arashi released their most recent single, Endless Game, which is a pretty solid track, though still not quite close to beating their phenomenal Face Down of 2012 or the 2013 double A-side Calling/Breathless. Arashi's been really into a more synthetic club style recently, adding some techno elements, a very danceable beat and favoring melodies/lyrics that are on the edgy mysterious side. All these singles fall into this category, which makes sense, since they're all theme songs to very edgy, suspenseful dramas/movies (I mean, things like Troublemaker or Love So Sweet wouldn't exactly make for suitable theme songs to dramas like Kazoku Game or Platina Data, ne?). Arashi's pushing into some seriously kakkoii territory, and I'm loving it! I've decided to review one of the coupling songs for Endless Game here, mostly because I actually like it a lot more than Endless Game itself, and also because I am terribly upset that it didn't get performed at the 2013 ARAFES and just thought I'd bring some more attention to it (we all know how coupling songs tend to get lost in the obscurities of time due to not being performed or collected into an album. Sigh). So without further ado, I give you Arashi's Intergalactic

The first thing you need to know about Intergalactic is that it is out-of-this-world sexy. From every aspect. It's like everybody involved, the composer, the lyricist, the sound engineers, and most importantly, Arashi themselves, had an ultimatum handed to them: sweep those fans up at warp speed and give them a throbbing hot eargasm in a dark, bad-ass corner of the galaxy. And boy, do they de-li-ver...

Beginning: silence. Oh but wait... strain your ears, and... is that an engine softly whirring its way to life I hear? There's some crackling, some static, and then, like it's rushing at you from afar, the music comes pounding into view, a sleek undulating thing with lots of crash cymbals around the main beat. I love the first few synth noises that kind of rise out of nothing, quiet at first but loaded with tension and then bounding up like it literally just approached you. Whoever did the panning or whatever it is they do to make sounds seem like they move in space did a great job here. The beats here, and throughout the song, are pretty coarse in texture, and I mean that in a good way, because the clashy sounds in the beat really complement the smooth vocals/synths, which I will get to shortly. The intro ends with an expectant triplet blast of some swanky synth sound. Are you primed for some smexiness in the next second or so?

Uh, yes, please! Slickly tuned MatsuJun (his voice is just so perfect for this type of song) wastes no time leading us in; the rhythm is kept tight but bouncy (I love the "knocking, hopping, popping, shocking" part; it's so bouncy and fun!), and Jun is being teasingly tense. I can just see his eyebrows arching at that lovely winding "You know?" and kyaaa! I cannot wait to see this in performance! Are we in your spaceship? Are we taking off? He brings it down at "spot light" and there's an exquisitely beckoning "oh oh oh" triplet right after that. We continue with the answering phrase, because obviously, we can't get enough of it, and Jun is still keeping it tight and tense with some good plays on the last syllables of emotion and creation. Aaaand just when you feel like you're so tense you could burst, he (and Aiba) draw it out long and lazily with "harukana galaxy" and whoosh! The clutter of all those synth noises are gone and Sho makes his entrance amidst a simple accompaniment of nicely panned drum sounds. He sounds excellent with the same slick tuning that was used on Jun, and yes, he's slowing it down, telling us to look at the stars and stuff, but before you know it he's bringing it down low like nobody's business ("kono yoru wooooooo") and then HOLY SHIYETTE! LIGHT SPEED TIME WARP ENGINE REVVING he's swerving that "wo" up to...

...*awesome sputter effect*...

... "DANCE IN THE STARSHIP! owaranai PARTY! Kono mama go to INTERGALACTIC!" Ummmfpf! Sweet release at last! The fab five are pounding you with a relentless dance beat in the full glory of all the synths, and their voices are just. oh. so. smooth. The autotune is so well-used here. I know a lot of people look down their noses at autotune as something for "people who can't sing" but even they have to admit that for numbers like this, it really adds that sexy futuristic edge that no normal human voice can ever produce naturally. And I personally love how this entire song is autotuned. The chorus is just mind-blowingly amazing, and every other verse ends super-stylishly in the monotone "intergalactic."

An instrumental interlude comes after this eargasm chorus, and it's basically the intro on steroids. Got a sprinkling of the sparkly synth, and this choppy techno sound that keeps us moving. Arashi's flying past galaxy after galaxy before we hear that familiar sharp synth triplet that signals the start of verse 2.

Jun is here to start it all again, and we quickly find that verse 2 does not have the same melody as verse 1. Oh hohoho! He's singing almost on a melodic plateau, and with the tuning it sounds like he's some sort of awesome droid voice (I love his line "flying with the UFO" haha). Aiba cuts in soon with his teddy-bear voice. Ah! He somehow still manages to sound so damn cute even when every other element of the song is just screaming mysterious-futuristic-starship-badassery. Ahem, excuse my soft spot for Aiba-chan's voice. Sho continues in his husky rapper voice, and I enjoyed the little curl he put in "hello" at the end. Then there's some combination of Aiba, Jun and Sho giving those tense pounding-beat verses. I even think Ohno and Nino are in there at some point, but I'm not good at recognizing these two voices when they're heavily tuned. There's a fun little staggering "eh-eh-eh" before "Everybody move your body" that I just can't resist singing along to. Again, cannot wait to see this all choreographed! Sho wraps it all up with the lead-up to the chorus just like before, and yes, he whips out that breathtaking swerve again to have us...

... "RIDE IN THE STARSHIP tomaranai journey! Daremo ga go to INTERGALACTIC!" Damn, that released some endorphins. Arashi pounds us with more "intergalactic"s and we just want to party in their starship forever and ever. The chorus ends in the sparkly synth. The other synths and the crash cymbals go away and Ohno emerges with a beautiful reverberating bridge that pans around and seems to reach out across a wide expanse of universe. I love his reflective pause on "mienai." Someone (Nino?) joins him in the next line, and the instrumentals build. After the delicious downward turn on "kanpai" it really starts building, and I think I hear an invigorated Aiba/Sho coming in to pick up the speed just a bit before a dramatic instrumental rev-up that launches us into...

... "DANCE IN THE STARSHIP! owaranai PARTY! Kono mama go to INTERGALACTIC!" Aaaaaahhh I cannot get enough of this! Futuristic Arashi ends on one last "intergalactic," and leaves us in medley of some high-winding synth, the familiar pounding bass, and sparkles.

Sparkles. Of course, Arashi.

Now for the love of God, please perform this on your LOVE tour so I can view your starship dance party in its full glory. I'm hoping MatsuJun comes up with some fabulous costumes for this.

Note: Again, I'd just like to remind my readers (yes, you 14 people out there in the whole wide world) that I know absolutely nothing about sound mixing/pop music terms, and my music theory is 10 years old on the shelf gathering dust, so I'm sorry if I mixed up terminology. Feel free to educate me in the comments! I'm very receptive :)

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