Review: KAT-TUN – Dead or Alive

Second Guest Post by my amazing friend Meghan! She is an amazing writer and requested to write about the new single “Dead or Alive” by KAT-TUN! 

Dead-or-AliveA new year has started and KAT-TUN has come out with a killer single. This January KAT-TUN released Dead or Alive. This song was written for Kame’s new movie, Joker Game, which was released on Jan 31st. Jovette and Maiko Rivera, the writers of Dead or Alive, have done a fantastic job with this song and has matched it well with the spy-love theme of the movie, while at the same time still holding true to the style he usually write s for KAT-TUN. Personally I was exhilarated to hear that he had written Dead or Alive and knew from the start that it would not disappoint.

Proving my point, Dead or Alive made it onto the World’s Top 20 Single Awards at number 12, that’s above Maroon 5 and Ariana Grande.

Dead or Alive sadly didn’t get much exposure on the usual programs. Due to the difficult situation at the moment in Islam with the Japanese hostages, KAT-TUN had decided that it would be best to perform their B-side tracks instead out of respect.

Dead or Alive

The first A-side of this year has really outdone itself. The theme of this song was clearly ‘spy’ which I believe really opens itself to a variety of possibilities. Dead or Alive focuses on the secret lifestyle yet also showing that there is someone that they would protect no matter the circumstance. After seeing Joker Game, I understood that the song matched exactly to the movie and really brought out the emotions that Jiro Kato (Kame’s Character) had towards Lyn (Kyoko Fukada).

The arrangement is fantastic; bringing a large range of instruments that is common in Jovette’s style and also reminds me No More Pain. Even with the large presence of string instruments, the guitar is what really catches my attention. The tune is catchy and also elegant; the transitions are smooth and flows throughout the whole song, including a quieter section in the middle of the song which ties it all nicely together without being repetitive at all.

The lyrics continue the whole mysterious spy-love theme with phrases like “I will fly to save you” and “Searching for the meaning to live”. It possesses an almost lost and searching feel with an understanding that love is what you ultimately protect regardless of danger.

Polaris

Polaris is a big contrast to Dead or Alive. The music is light and sweet, a perfect little ballad. This to me I think is common to find on a KAT-TUN B-side. Normally we have a big A-side, very rocky and edgy, and then a sweet and loving ballad to balance it all out.

Polaris is about the stars and love. I want to say it’s about lost love as it possess a melancholic tone but the sweet idea of promises of tomorrow that ends this song makes me think otherwise. Therefore, I would describe this song more as hopeful.

White Lovers

White Lovers, which was sang on TV a few times, is another sweet song in my opinion, almost with the same feeling as Polaris. However White Lovers seems to be more about young lovers. The song is sweet and all about learning about one another. It’s a sweet song with a good beat that’s got a lovely piano playing in it throughout.

I would describe this song as very Junno-like, not only because of his large amount of singing parts in it, but rather because the song reminds me of some of his solo songs. It’s sweet and cute and the blending of all of KAT-TUN’s voices go very well. Whereas Polaris was more hopeful, this song seems more promising and about enjoying the relationship.

You are delicious

You are delicious is more a dance song. It’s energetic and upbeat with a good hook and smooth transitions. The most interesting part of this song is the lyrics I believe.

The lyrics speak a lot about enjoying the night until morning using the analogy of roulette to explain that anything can happen. To anyone who is familiar with the club scene, the song seems to talk about the thrill of the club and about meeting with people and spending a fantastic night with them. As usual, KAT-TUN is dancing on the line with this song, not right out making explicit, but there are enough edgy phrases that make it rather suggestive.

Overall, it’s a great song to bounce along to.

Hanasanaideai (離さないで愛)

To anyone who was following the series of solo songs and the solo music videos that KAT-TUN had recently been doing, you would understand what I meant when I say that Hanasanaideai was nearly a disappointment. This was one of Kame’s first solos and was often performed on Dream Boys. I understand that Kame would want to give live (both on CD and visually) to this solo.

This song is very Kame-like. He portrays it confidently and beautifully, bringing across the insecurity a woman can feel in love. It dances on the edge of desperate and hopeful. Yet still echoes nicely with the music and matches well with the type of songs that Kame usually chooses for his solos.

The music video is intriguing. A lot of loneliness is portrayed in it but also bringing through a lot of hope. The part that I was most interested in was how it seems that Kame has hit the bottom and yet refuses the assistance of a stranger (aka. Junno). Where the song talks a lot about hoping to be never let go, this just seemed a little contrasting to me. Half the video also features Kame dancing. Half of me suspects that this is an echo of his new drama starting February 6th (Second Love).

Dead or Alive – Music Video

Although I love the song, I found the music video a little bit of a disappointment. It’s beautifully shot and does fantastic work with the lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spy theme and how KAT-TUN are all running around espionage style and singing. But part of me wanted more. I desired dancing that we usually get in their other videos, and if no dancing, at least a loose story line. The making of the video is a lot quieter and toned down than usual, but still has a few entertaining parts that made me laugh.

The special edition

As some of you know, this single featured a special edition which you had to order especially online. The title track is the same, and the design is the same as the Regular edition (a little disappointing, I was hoping for at least a different cover photo) but the contents were worth it.

The B-sides of this CD are live recordings from the countdown concert 2014-2015 and features all the members solo songs sung live as well as In Fact and Dead or Alive. It also featured a long 30 minute special talk especially for the fans which did sound a little like a radio program without the music (the members words, not mine)

Overall I think that the single was very well put together and featured some good songs. I’m glad that Jovette and Maiko wrote the A-side this time and that I hope that he will be writing more of their singles in the future.

If you haven’t heard the songs already, you should definitely check it out.

Single Information

Royal Kingdom Music (Jovette and Maiko’s site)

World Single Awards ranking

World Single Awards article

Translated Lyrics of Dead or Alive

 

 

I’m Meghan, a South African who has lived all over the place. Currently I live in Japan where I am a teacher, a writer, a traveller, a translator, a blogger and a dreamer. Meghan’s blog

Lauren’s Top 10 Favorite Johnny’s Releases of 2013

Though it is already May, I had this document sitting on my computer since the end of last year and I thought that it might be nice to share!

This time, I will be talking about my top 10 favorite Johnny’s releases of 2013. I made a YouTube video on my favorite Johnny’s releases of 2012 at the end of 2012 and people seemed to enjoy it, so I thought it would be good to wrap everything up again as well for 2013. These are in no particular order, I simply chose my top 10 favorite Johnny’s releases of 2013!

 

1: Tegomass – Sayonara ni Sayonara and Neko Cuudoku

テゴマス「サヨナラにさよなら」「猫中毒」

It’s no secret that Tegomass is one of my favorite Johnny’s groups and with that being said their two singles released this year, Sayonara no Sayonara and Neko Chuudoku are first two in my favorites of 2013! Tegomass hadn’t released a single since early 2011, which made it 2 years since their last single. These two singles are very different from eachother, but both reflect some of Tegomass’s charms. Sayonara ni Sayonara was cute, but with a adult twist and amazing calming vocals. Neko chuudoku was a new venture, Tegomass dancing for the first time in their music video which brought out their cute side, which they are famous for! I cannot explain how much I am in love with these singles and their B-sides as well! I have a review of Neko Chuudoku here if you are interested to hear more details!

 

2: Kanjani8 LIVE TOUR 8EST

関ジャニ8LIVE TOUR 8EST

This DVD was released in April 2013 and was their tour from 2012 and their 8 year anniversary. The DVD was filmed outside at Nagai Stadium in Osaka and the day it was filmed, it was pouring rain so you get to enjoy Kanjani8 acting funny in the rain. This DVD also has the first Eight Ranger comedy skit since their 2009 tour, PUZZLE. It was actually filmed during one of the performances I was able to attend and this tour holds a special place in many eighter’s hearts for the nostalgia and for representing how far Kanjani8 has come in just 8 years. This DVD is definitely for Eighters new and old alike! This was the coupling tour with there 8 year anniversary album by the same name “8EST” that was released in 2012.

 

3: NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 Utsukushii koi ni sure yo!  DVD

NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 〜美しい恋にするよ!〜

This NEWS DVD is one of my favorite DVD’s hands down and for many reasons. First is that this DVD was the first tour that NEWS did with just 4 members. Second, they preformed all the fan favorites that the fans decided on from their BEST album released in 2012, as well as the member favorites and solo songs. It was a special concert and was filmed with many emotions on the first day of the tour, which is rare for a Johnny’s concert that normally films towards the end of the tour. I didn’t see this tour the day that it was filmed and attended another location for this tour, but I felt the emotion pouring out through the DVD even through I wasn’t there. NEWS has become closer to their fans more than ever and this was an amazing comeback tour!

 

4: NEWS- “NEWS” Album

If I had to pick a favorite Johnnys album of all time, it would have to be this album, followed by NEWS Pacific and Tegomassu no Mahou. This was NEWS’s first album as 4 members with all the songs originally sung by the 4 of them. I love everything about this album, from the order the songs are in to the solo songs. They also included a DVD called LIFE OF NEWS where the members went on a day off together and introduced something they were really into to the other members and showed new NEWS’s dynamic. This album was the perfect combination of fun and mature and it marked NEWS’s new chapter as 4 members. If you would like more details on this album as well, I wrote a review about it here.

 

5: KAT-TUN – “Kusabi”

KAT-TUN 「楔-kusabi-」

KAT-TUN always ends up ninja-ing their way into my favorite list every year and this time it is with their mini album called kusabi. This was released in November and is the first release since Koki was asked to leave Johnny’s for breach of contract. I had been listened to this album non stop to prepare for the countdown concert and new years fan event that I went to at the end of last year and the beginning of 2014.  The title song, kusabi, is my favorite song on the album followed by Gimme luv. The reason I like this album so much is because I feel like they are starting to go back to the old KAT-TUN sound that I am used to when I got into KAT-TUN during queen of Pirates and Break the Records era.  Kudos KAT-TUN for a great mini album!

 

6: Yamada Ryosuke – “Mystery Virgin”

山田涼介「ミステリー ヴァージン」

When I first heard the title of this song I was like HUH? Because it really doesn’t make sense, even with the lyrics of the song it only clears up the title a bit. BUT despite that, I fell in love with the beat of this song and since Yamada Ryosuke was the reason I got into Johnnys and a song I loved by him Moonlight was a special song on one of the editions of this single, this is in my top 10 johnnys releases this year. This is also the theme song for the Kindachi Special drama that aired in January of 2013 year that Yamada starred in along with his fellow Hey! Say! JUMP member Daiki Airioka.

 

7. Kanjani8 – “JUKE BOX”Album

関ジャニ∞ 「JUKE BOX」

This was Kanjani8’s album released in October of 2013. This album is classic Kanjani8 with their combination of funny songs and band style songs, as well as the bonus features that came with the album, including being able to vote for your favorite unit performance for the JUKE BOX concert tour. They have all kinds of style of music from band style to ballads, to comedy to dubsteb electronic dance music, which make the album interesting! The main song this year for the PV that was included on a DVD with the album was “Takoyaki in my Heart” and it is very Kanjani8 like and is basically a member introduction.  They broke up into 2 Units this year and each wrote a song with the theme of “Manly”. The making of these songs were on the DVD with it as well. Kanjani never fails the fans with tons of bonus features for the price!

8. Hottake Band – Sayonara, Arigtou

堀田家BAND 「サヨナラ☆ありがとう」

This was the theme song for the drama that Kamenashi Kazuya from KAT-TUN was in back in the Fall called “Tokyo Bandwagon”. This was a special unit formed with the person that plays the father of Kame’s character, Tamaka Koji. I really like this song because it sounds like a drama theme song for me, not just a random song that was put in there. The guitar is so nice, with the combination of the airy acoustic guitar but also the electric guitar that pairs with it.  It gives a fall-like feel to me, which is when it aired! It also fit the theme of the drama as well, which was Family. It brings back so many memories of this past fall, good and bad, but mostly of my best friend returning to Japan! We listened to this song at Christmas while making Christmas dinner together, it being our first christmas without being with our families. I was sick a lot during December, and being able to spend christmas with her meant a lot to me so this song reminds me of that Christmas every time I play it and I smile.

9. Kanjani8 – He so magari/ koko shikanai keshiki

関ジャニ∞「へそ曲がり/ここしかない景色」

This was a double A side single released by Kanjani8, “He so magari” for the Drama Okura was in called “Tenki Onee-san” and 「ここしかない景色」 was for the movie that Ryo was in called “Kencho Omotenashi-ka” 「県庁おもてなし課」. 「へそ曲がり」 always reminds me of last spring and I love the beat of the song! I often find myself jamming out to it when I am walking around the city to and from school. 「ここしかない景色」is a band song for Kanjani8 and though it sounds kind of sounds like a generic band song, I like it! I like the acoustic guitar sound in band songs that keeps the rhythm of the song paired with the electric guitar back and forth.

10: KIS-MY-FT2 「キ・ス・ウ・マ・イ ~KISS YOUR MIND~ / S.O.S (Smile On Smile)」

Kis-My-Ft2 ninja-ed their way into my top 10 again this year as well! Though I am not a huge fan myself, I watch them from the sidelines and there seems to always be at least 1 song that I like from them each year. This year was another Double A-side single, but the song that I like is 「キ・ス・ウ・マ・イ ~KISS YOUR MIND~ 」。This song never fails to get stuck in my head! The beat is amazing, upbeat and a good up and down of pace throughout the song. I also love the choreography of the Dance in the PV (though I think the concept of the music video is kind of strange to be honest….) so I prefer watching the dance version of the PV because I actually tried to learn the choreography since I liked it so much.

 

So there you have it! My top 10 Johnny’s releases of 2013! What made your cut? Please comment below telling me your favorite Johnny’s releases below and why. I would love to hear new recommendations!