Saturday, March 29, 2014

スーパーフレッシュ (Super Fresh) - Arashi Song Review

Ah, it's been a while since I reviewed Arashi's music and while I have fallen in love with the new songs (Bittersweet, Sync, and Motto, Ima Yori), it's curiously their 2009 track スーパーフレッシュ (Super Fresh) that I find myself humming absentmindedly around the house. So keep your seats, ladies and gentlemen, because I'll be taking you all for a spin back to the past with this post.

My Girl is one of those singles I bought out of loyalty. I didn't think (and still don't think) that the A-side マイガール is anything all that special, but this is one of those instances when loyalty pays off, because both the B-sides (which I had not heard prior to purchasing) blew the socks off my feet and to this day still remain among the top-played on my iTunes tally. Tokei Jikake no Umbrella (時計じかけのアンブレラ)  is one of those impassioned songs that do everything you could ever want a song to do: it punches, it seduces, it sways, it lifts, and as a bonus it has some tough-ass Sakurap tossed in, too. But since my friend nekobot01 has already written her very professional review on it (linked above in text), I will now divert your attentions to the other no less sensational B-side: Super Fresh!

What can one say about Super Fresh after four years of loving it?

It never gets old. Believe me. Some songs come and go, and you can only tolerate them for a set amount of plays before they lose their flavor, and you have to forget them before you can enjoy them again. BUT such a song, Super Fresh is not. I could set it as my morning alarm clock and I'm pretty sure I'd find myself bopping along happily to its beat at whatever ungodly hour I get up at 365 days a year no fail. No lie.

Super Fresh just has this quality to it, a carefree sway in its melody, a playful riff on the steady drumbeat, an unprocessed innocence in Arashi's voices, that all make it such a relatable song. In one word, I'd probably call it "youthful" because it's just abounding with the sort of simple positivity that is so characteristic of those wide-eyed teenagers stepping out into the real world (with Arashi at their backs cheering them on, of course).

So let's countdown 3-2-1!


Boom boom boom boom. Bem bem bem bem. Bum bum bum bum.... and heeeere we go!

Against the pounding four-four, Arashi gives a shout out to the East, West, North and South sides, their voices treated so it sounds like they're winking at us through a distant megaphone. A series of guitar phrases (they're simple chord breakdowns) strum in between the voices, and languidly lead us into... Sakurai Sho's smiling voice (yes I say smiling, because even without watching the live performance of this you can feel his smile in the audio alone; Sho-kun's awesomely sweet like that *winky*): "Maybe... tteiu ka kyo wa, hibi ni kansha o suru toki..." This ain't the tough rapper from Tokei Jikake anymore, girls; Sho, and everyone else in this song, are back to being the carefree boys-next-door flashing their peace signs to the "sunrise on the beat." Boom. I love that phrase. It is actually completely on the beat.

Jun loves this song! He's sure having fun performing
Super Fresh at 2012's Popcorn concert!
Lazy guitar strum, swishy synth and enter Matsumiya (!), singing the same melody "Maybe... tteiu ka kyo wa, hibi ni kansha o suru toki..." but wonderfully, oh so beautifully layered on top of each other so that their harmony contrasts with the simple solo voice of Sho in the preceding line. We get the feeling that this song is building up; it started out with just one voice breezing through the beat, and now there are two, different pitches, different timbres but same humour running seamlessly with the carefree backdrop of synthetic joy. And then MatsuJun voices exactly what we want with "Ready, atsumari! Let's countdown 3-2-1!" Wooo! That final "one" echoes like a tripped up tape recorder and finally unwinds itself to give us our reliably tight-voiced RIIDA (with an almost inaudible Aiba harmonizing) on the "Maybe... tteiu ka kyo wa, hibi ni kansha o suru toki..." line. Aiba's teddy voice is adjusted up in the latter part of the line and we're being taken to velvety heaven with his "Sou dekkai love to peace!" And boom. I just can't get over how every line in the sequence ends smack on the oh-so-bouncy-but-nonchalant beat.

The synth backdrop disappears, leaving only the pounding four-four as the five join voices in:

"Pi-su sign, ID wa Supaa Fureshu..."

Oh you're all super fresh, m'boys. There's a playful wooden bongo riff (it's subtle, but listen for it!) right when they sing "Aaaa-rata na scene..." that drives my tension through the roof every time. A swooshing noise wraps up the end of this verse (which was just brimming with happy tension), and we're spirited away to the chorus in a gust of minty freshness.

"Saaa ikou yo!..." (You know, for the longest time, I misheard it as 'Saikou no...' lol but that's beside the point). There's some steady action on the kick and hat here, with a smooth warm string background flowing just under the voices and drumbeat to give the chorus some richer sound dimensions. Throw in a few muffled trumpet blares to punctuate the cheeriness between lyrics and you get just the right injection of whimsy in a tempered musical tapestry that begs to be sunk into like a relaxing ofuro.

The chorus trails off, and we welcome back the languid guitar strums, humming and just unknowingly beginning to feel our heads bob to the merry beat... The strings are stretching out those long notes in cadences that gradually move up and down soothingly. Arashi wants us to relax and wait for them to coo us back into the youthful genki-ness that this song is all about. There's a pause-beat, a tight little clap-clap and then the whoosh lands us in the middle of Aiba/Jun heaven (their vocal mix is ❤❤) as they take us out for a little vocal cruising in this strange little interjected verse: "Kyo no motto 'yuubi hold on'..." Ohno enters the mix with someone (Nino perhaps? since the harmony sounds high) backing him. I actually don't think this type of song is the best for showcasing Ohno's incredible vocals, since he has a natural tension in his voice that is at odds with the generally carefree tone of the song (especially here in this verse where the synth piano is playing breezy chord breakdowns), so he ends up sounding a little strained. Ah well, each Arashi member has his own strengths when it comes to music, and the good thing is that even if Leader is not optimized for this song, Arashi's diversity means that someone else is. And here, I'd say that someone is Sho. I have mentioned my opinion on his less than stellar singing range and vocal quality in previous posts, but when he stays in a range he's comfortable with, he can pull off that laid back tone effortlessly. The magnetism in his rapping voice is there, but it's softened somehow and he ends up sounding exactly like the happy-go-lucky kind of guy that this song is obviously meant to make us all turn into. There's totally a reason he was selected to be the opening voice here, you know ;P

Nino continues the verse after Sho, and he's also sounding pretty good here. One can just imagine his eyes slightly squinted as he does a jaunty salute and croons to us. Our Neen is definitely dropping his voice to the lower end of his range for this song, and when he does that, he just sounds like he's simmering with tension... while being awesomely nonchalant, if you get what I mean. It's difficult to explain. Suffice it to say that I find Nino to be surprisingly sexy in this innocent sounding song :P

Arashi then sing the "Maybe... tteiu ka kyo wa, hibi ni kansha o suru toki..." lines, alternating solos Ohno - Jun - Sho - Aiba and finally Nino against a background with all but a curious clappy version of the four four beat removed. Then the layering, oh the vocal layering! Nino hardly even stops for breath after the "suru toki" before the others join him in a monotonically rapid "itsumo soba ni wa music..." and the beat is amped up to accentuate the layering.

All the wonderful synths, the drawn out string cadences (and I swear I can even hear a little bit of an electric guitar at some point), come back as Arashi pushes on into the bridge, which is one galloping tongue-twister (I'm surprised Riida could manage, haha! #Shiyagare memories):

"Kurikaesu kimochi arigatou  
Tachidomari ki ni nari loose control
Koe ni naranai koe I miss you so 
Kyou wa toriaezu hashagu yo

Like the rest of the verses and chorus, each line has more or less the same melody and rhythm, but the music stays interesting because of 1) the rhythmic hook of having a string of successive fast notes followed by a dangling long note in the second to last beat of each bar and 2) the subtle changes in vocal layering that shifts the emphasis from member to member in each line. The layering is particularly squeal worthy and for some reason, even when another member is dominant, one can always hear Nino's harmonics especially distinctly in this section. He's so cute, giving it his reedy all in that high-range harmony, I just want to give him a hug listening to it.

More whooshes as the strings draw us to back to the now familiar "Maybe... tteiu ka kyo wa, hibi ni kansha o suru toki..." refrain, and this might be my favorite part of the song, because the way they interject the steady "Maybe..." verses with the rapid bridge verses is just oh so perfect. I hear some Aiba and Jun on the main verse with Sho and someone else doing the bridge interjections, and the rhythmic blend is bliss :) I have a fondness for songs that pull off parallel verses simultaneously (which is why I am a sucker for the Arashi songs that have raps layered into the singing like 5x10, A Day in Our Life, Sketch etc.), and Super Fresh is just such a prime example of what Arashi's raw voices are capable of creating when put together the right way.

We're ushered into the chorus with another big whoosh, and I'm loving the little filtered "Countdown 3-2-1" from Sho at the end of one line. It brings back that punch of being on the beat. As the final chorus winds down, we're treated to a BONUS TRUMPET EPILOGUE! Ahhh... clearly, Sho and Jun are not the only ones who love their brass. The cuteness, the light-heartedness, the happy-go-luckiness... ahhhhhh!!!

We end with the strings gliding to a halting synthetic whoosh.

Now please perform this song again? One live performance is too little for a song of this calibre :) Pretty pretty please? *nudges MatsuJun as he plans the next Live*

Trivia about this song:
~ MatsuJun says he liked it in Arashi's Secret Talk on the Ura Mania CD. He really wanted to perform it live, but it just never worked out. (here's say_it_again's translation of the talk if you're interested) Of course, we all know that in 2012, Arashi did finally get the chance to perform Super Fresh at their Popcorn Live Tour, so Jun's dream was fulfilled at last :-) He did look like he had a lot of fun during that performance.
~ Riida has also said in an interview (translated by yun_miyake here) that this is the song he would suggest for making one relax. He also did the choreography for the Popcorn performance of it.

One last note: I am not in any way a professional at sound mixing/engineering or music theory or really anything related to music. Just a fangirl airing her thoughts after a particular song gives her too many feels for her heart to contain. So please kindly point out any mistakes I make in terminology. I won't offended as long as you're constructive.


  1. you're making me want to listen to this song again.
    and I super love the super fresh performance in Popcorn lol
    I just love it when they do harmony. they should showcase it more. I think they also do a good job of it in Furusato.


    1. Agreed. They definitely need to do more performances of this. It's so sad how some of their best songs are B-sides/album tracks that get performed only once in a concert and then get washed away by new discography (e.g. Boku ga boku no subete, and Kimi ga iru kara), and some I've never seen performed at all (like Snowflake, or How to Fly). I really applaud them for doing something like Arafes to give us the chance to pick out our favorite (less performed) songs.

      And I love Furusato too <3 Arashi harmony, whether in couples or trios or all five together, is beautiful.

  2. Hi!!
    It is like watching super fresh live (in fact keep on repeating it while typing this lol) by reading your review here. Great that u like this song too. And i ranked their Super Fresh performance as no 1 followed by Cosmos in Popcorn. Love the way they enjoyed and relaxed performing it and for me, it was obvious on Jun's face. All of them was super cute singing this.
    Watching Popcorn all over again and I cant wait for my Arafes13 copy to arrive soon. Plus, after long time, I can finally watch them perform Yes No (it is my first love to Arashi after Jun baited me from Gokusen)
    Btw, I enjoy reading your review and thank you. OMG will be humming Super Fresh all day long :P

    1. Hi again!
      I'm glad you enjoyed reading this :) Super Fresh is also one of my absolute favorites in the Arashi repertoire, and I just wish it would get performed more often! I totally rewatched the entire Popcorn DVD after writing this review hahaha. The boys are just too irresistible and that concert was just one of the most visually stunning ones that Arashi has ever done (the water screen, the projections, the fireworks and just omg EVERYTHING! I ordered Arafes13 too, and I already know I will be doing nothing else on the day that it comes in the mail hahahaha =D
      Let's Countdown 3-2-1!!!!

  3. Super Fresh was indeed super fresh. I don't think I've ever heard any song like this. It is one of my most played songs of my Arashi playlist.

    1. Yup, I never seem to get tired of this song either! It's just so fresssshhh! ^^

  4. Have you heard the acapella version of this song? I fell in love with their voices when i first heard this version. The acapella version is before the normal version in my playlist, so it feels like a story line. Arashi just having fun singing around a camp fire (or someone's house/garage), just the five of them, and then suddenly spotlight shone on them and the band start playing and they are now idols singing to a stadium full of people.
    The Super Fresh choreo is still the best choreo in my opinion. The rhythmical movement, the abundance of exquisite small gestures/details, clever use of the whole stage and the Juniors' are there to complete the harmony instead of just to as cheerleaders. It is a perfect mix of artsy/silly/cool/happy movements just like Arashi themselves.

    1. I haven't heard the acapella version, but I can imagine how great it sounds! The best thing about this song is the harmonic layering of Arashi's voices and it would come out so great in acapella!
      I really like the SuperFresh choreo as well. It's simple, but like you said, very Arashi-like ^.^
      Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment! <3