Album Review: NEWS – WHITE

NEWS-WHITE

NEWS “WHITE”, released on February 28th 2015, is NEW’s most recent album released a year and a half after their previous one. This time they used the theme of “white”, which has always been their “group color”. They also experimented with new sounds and new concepts, such as implementing a short film in the album. It topped the weekly charts, beating Acid Black Cherry.

The Songs

MR.WHITE

This is the title song of their album and also what their short film was based off of. I heard it on Koyama’s radio show K-chan news in the middle of February and I loved it the first time I heard it! This is a different type of sound compared to what NEWS has done in the past, with a “funk” vibe to it. I love the combination of the beat with the horns. The vocals are amazing and the key really suits their voices. When singing on music programs to promote the album, they always sung this song and you could see how confident they were with the concept through their performance.

KAGUYA

KAGUYA was NEWS’s most recent single that was released in January. It has a very “modern meets old” feel to it and is an “epic love song” that showed a more sensual side to NEWS. For a full review of this single, please click here to read my post about it.

NYARO

NYARO was originally released about a year ago, but only as a Bra commercial tie-up song for the brand Walcol. The fans have never heard the full version of this song, so it was great to finally hear it. It’s a very NEWS like “summery” song. It has a country feel to it with fiddle like sounds and country like guitar. Paired with the kind of dance beat in the background, I think it makes a new and interesting combination. The echo of “Nyaro” in the background in the chorus makes it such a fun and catchy song that get’s stuck in your head.

SEVEN COLORS

SEVEN COLORS was the theme song for the 2013 and 2014 FIFA Club World Cup and is personally my favorite of the three soccer songs that they have released. Since both times were in Morroco, it has a dance-electronic beat combined with African drums.  I like the uptempo-ness of the song combined and the variety of sounds.

Weather NEWS

Weather NEWS is probably the most news-like song out of this whole album to me. It’s a call and response song, very much like “4-Fan” was in their 2013 “NEWS” album. The whole concept of having a call and response song is such a fun concept to me and makes me feel involved in the concert and with the other fans as well. For the music, it’s a very simple song with simple lyrics, and it was a very nice surprise to have Shige do the rap part and not Massu, who had seemed to take on the rap parts since Yapami had left the group.

Super Sonic

NEWS normally has one “hard dance” song on their album, and Super Sonic was this album’s dance song. What makes it different than the other dance songs that they have done more of an electronic and dubstep feel to it, which seems to be a theme in Asian pop in general recently. When I first heard it, it sounded reminiscent of an Arashi song from their “Digitialian” album. It’s like a combination of a rock song and a dance song combined together and is probably my favorite dance song of theirs to date.

Black-Jack –Inter- and “BYAKUYA”

I combined these two together because one leads into another. Black Jack is an interlude or kind of intermission into the other part of the album, but more specifically into BYAKUYA. It’s a dubstep type song that you would probably hear in a club and somehow merges well together with the fantasy like sounds in BYAKUYA.

Now speaking of fantasy, BYAKUYA is an all out fantasy song, a cross between a pirate theme song, like out of Pirates of the Caribbean, and something out of Harry Potter or “Nightmare Before Christmas”. If you think about it, it also sounds like something that KAT-TUN would do, an epic song that has lots of “visuals”. There is so much going on in this song that you have to listen to it a few times to really hear everything. The first time I heard this song I felt a combination of “What is this epicness?” and “What did I just listen to?” because there was so much going on.

ONE –for the win-

One -for the win- was the 2014 FIFA World Cup theme song that member Tegoshi was also the main caster for.  This song has a more Latin feel to it, which really surprised me the first time I heard the song. This song is one of the songs that gets stuck in my head so easily because the chorus says all the names of the countries that participated in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

White Love Story

Out of all of the songs on the album, this has to be the song that struck me the most. It is such a light and fluffy love song, but more specifically a wedding song. The lyrics are so sweet and the harmonization combined with the piano and the lyrics make me tear up every time I hear this song. This song personally showed me an evolution in NEWS, a maturity from the typical love song to something that was deeper in a sense. The lyrics talk about a man treasuring a woman so much and wanting to make her happy and protect her from now on. At one point the lyrics say “You are my Heroine”, it might seem sickly sweet to some people, but I think that it’s a beautiful song and a beautiful melody, which makes it on my top songs on this album.

Ai Kotoba 「愛言葉」

Ai Kotoba is the song that NEWS wrote themselves for their 10 Year Anniversary Event. NEWS has gone through a lot in the past 10 years, going from 9-8-6 and then to 4 members, so this was was a song dedicated to the fans and them coming this far as 4 members. It’s a very sweet song with a simple melody, but a deep meaning. It’s  a special song for the members, as well as the fans. When I heard it in the countdown this past year, I was crying so hard.

Solo Songs

Koyama Keiichiro – Romeo 2015 「ロメオ2015」

This was a song that Koyama and former NEWS member Nishikido Ryo did as a duet together in a concert a long time ago and Koyama decided to revamp it as his solo for this tour. It has a latin flair, but it is quite simple if you listen carefully. It is sexy in a subtle way and the vocals aren’t too harsh and it suits Koyama’s voice very nicely.

Masuda Takahisa – Skye Beautiful

The first time I heard this song I didn’t know what to think of it and I didn’t like it that much. I was very confused at the rhythm changes, going from soft and “mysterious” to hard dance club like music. I had to listen a second time before I actually understood the tempo changes and how it all flowed together, and then it became one of my top songs on the album.

Tegoshi Yuya – Anata 「あなた」

Coming from his solo last album/ tour “Lovin U”, this was a bit of a disappointment to me when I first listened to it. It was very simple love ballad compared to the previous two solo songs, really focusing on the voice more than anything. It was quite boring for a while, but once I listened to it a few times and felt the lyrics and the piano, I began to like it more.

Kato Shigeaki – Escort

Escort is my favorite of all of the solo songs this tour, just for the beat of the song combined with the lyrics. Shige wrote the lyrics of the song again this time, and I think he was trying to spin off of his previous solo “Dreamcatcher” with “flowery” lyrics again. I like the piano and “funk” kind of vibe to the song and it flows very nicely, although some of the English lyrics make me giggle every time I listen to it.

Overall impressions

This album was a new direction for NEWS, they experimented with some new styles of music, but you could still very much feel classic “NEWS” throughout. It showed a more mature side of NEWS in a way, an evolution almost. In particular, Byakuya and Black Jack –Intern- and Kaguya were a bit out of the ordinary for NEWS, but it gave them a more mature feel. My favorite songs were White Love Story and NYARO, along with Weather NEWS, which were the most “NEWS” like songs on the album, in my opinion.

I hope you enjoyed this review! What do you all think of NEWS “White” album? Please let me know what you think in the comments below and press the like button if you enjoyed this post.

Review: NEWS – KAGUYA

KaguyaKAGUYA is NEWS’s first single of 2015 released on January 7th, and they came out with a bang! The theme of this single was “Princess Kaguya”, which is a famous story in Japan called “Princess Kaguya – The tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. It made it to the #1 spot on the Oricon weekly charts and stayed in the top 3 throughout January. Famous Director Ninagawa Mika directed the Music Video and did the Cover Jacket shooting.

The Songs

KAGUYA

KAGUYA is an “epic love song” that is a perfect combination between modern and ancient; the overall sound is modern with a combination of old sounds and old style lyrics infused into it. I love the echo of “Saga, Saga” in the background of chorus! The lyrics have a poetic feel to them, written in the perspective of the men who loved Princess Kaguya. The song is quite sexy, but in a subtle way, really showing NEWS’s grown up and sensual side. The song follows the story of Princess Kaguya, in which there are 4 princes that are invited to the home of the princess to try and become her husband, and they instantly fall in love with her.

Butterfly 「バタフライ」

The first time I heard this song I thought, “This is very much a NEWS-like song”. The vocals are very sweet and is a typical NEWS-like love song. I love the piano in it combined with the soft guitar. The part Koyama sings before the chorus starting with “Anata” each time is just so heartfelt and sweet and the harmonization of NEWS’s voices when they sing “Butterfly” is just amazing.

“Wasurenagusa” (Forget-me-not) 勿忘草」

The melody of this song, combined with the piano, reminded me of TM Revolution’s “Thunderbird”, which Tegomass had performed together with him on Music Fair before. This song is short, but very heart wrenchingly beautiful. This song surprised me because it sounds more like a Tegomass song than a NEWS song, but the vocals, especially Shige’s, are amazing for this song.

TOP OF THE WORLD

This is a very upbeat, dubstep-electronic like song. It’s not hard-core dub-step like Kanjani 8’s “Sorry Sorry Love”, but it is more of a lighter electronic dub-step song. I was attracted to this song because I love dance like songs, so I hope that this is one of the songs that they perform in concert in their upcoming tour.

TRAVeLiNG

This is a more of a swing like song with elements of their past song “Say Hello” in it. I liked the fun swing sound to it, which is rare in NEWS songs. Based on some feedback online I saw, people really didn’t seem to like this song, but I think it would be a fun song for them to do in concert.

KAGUYA – Music Video

The music video, as mentioned previously, was directed by Ninagawa Mika, who is a famous director and photographer known for a very colorful and sexy style to her works. She has directed AKB48’s “Heavy Rotation” music video and also was the director for the movies “Helter Skelter” and “Sakuran”, a movie about high-level prostitutes in the Edo period of Japan (Please correct me if I am wrong). This music video for Kaguya was no exception, full of color and very sexy, but in a subtle way. There is something very sexy about old-style Japanese clothing and props, like kimonos. It showed a more sensual side to NEWS that we haven’t really seen before. I love the dance when they pull their shirts to the side and show their shoulder slightly and also dancing while holding the Japanese style umbrellas. The set covered with colorful umbrellas and ornaments was outstandingly beautiful as well. I love the old style Japanese feel to the music video, showing them in an array of outfits from traditional kimonos to a more modern style button down shirt during the water scene. Ninagawa Mika did an amazing job with this music video, bringing out NEWS’s sexy side.

Final Thoughts

This is NEWS’s first single that hasn’t had any tie-in to it in a long time, and no soccer song as well. I am in love with this single and think NEWS and their whole team did an amazing job planning it. I think it was sexy and colorful, but still stuck to NEWS’s regular style, which is more “pure”. The B-sides were really good as well, making this one of my favorite NEWS singles in recent times. I really liked this change of pace and I can’t wait to see more from them in the future.

 

What do you think of KAGUYA? What did you think about Ninagawa Mika directing the Music Video? Let me know in the comments below!

Concert Report: Johnny’s Countdown 2014-2015 in Tokyo Dome

JCD-Image

This year on New Year’s Eve, I was able to attend Johnny’s Countdown for the first time! Since I became a fan, I have watched it every year on TV. This year though, Johnny’s Countdown wasn’t broadcasted on television, so it was different compared to previous years . In this post I will talk about what happened in the concert briefly, followed by some thoughts I had afterwards. Let’s get started!

The Concert

The concert started promptly at 11:00pm, starting with a video showing the names of all of the groups that were performing in Johnny’s Countdown this year, and then each group performed by debut year from the most recent debut. Johnny’s West started, followed by ABC-Z, Sexy Zone, and Hey! Say! JUMP. There were actually a lot of fans of these groups in particular that I spotted in the crowd, besides Kinki Kids, which surprised me. These are the “Kouhai” groups, or the younger groups,and it was an interesting experience to see all the different fans from these groups and how different the demographic was from the shows and concerts that I normally go to. I had seen Hey! Say! JUMP live back in 2011 for “Summary” in Kyocera Dome, but I had never seen the rest of the groups live before. If you had read my blog post about my 2014 favorite Johnny’s release picks, then you probably know that I was very interested in Johnny’s West and Hey! Say! JUMP in 2014 and that it was so much fun to sing and dance along with their songs! They really are fun groups to watch live.

After Hey! Say! JUMP was NEWS, which is my favorite group in Johnny’s, so it was very emotional for me to see them back at Tokyo Dome after about a year and a half, singing one of the same songs. They sung their new single “Kaguya”, as well as “Ai Kotoba” and to be completely honest, I was crying hard throughout their whole performance, especially at “Ai Kotoba”, which was a song written for their fans for their 10 Year Anniversary event and not yet released on CD. (Edit. NEWS just announced an album today 1/16 that has “Ai Kotoba” in it) It was very emotional for me to see them live as 4 members after so long.

Next up were Tackey and Tsubasa. This was Tsubasa’s first performance back from being admitted to the hospital, so you could tell that the Tackey and Tsubasa’s fans were very excited. After T&T was Kinki Kids. This had to be my favorite part of the countdown, besides NEWS, because I have heard amazing things about them performing live. I am not a huge fan of Kinki Kids, but their performance blew me away. I have always wanted to seem them live, and this was the perfect opportunity to! I loved hearing their famous debut single “”Garasu no Shonen” (硝子の少年) live.

After Kinki Kids, came the Sempai groups, Shounentai, who has Higashiyama in the duo, as well as Okomoto Kenichi (who is the father of Okomoto Keito of Hey! Say! JUMP. It was fun to see father and son interact with each other on stage, Keito at one point putting on his father’s jacket for him). After they finished perfoming, it was the countdown! After the countdown, Matchy came out on a motorcycle and rode around the dome! It was then introduced that it was his 35th Anniversary, and he performed for about 20 minutes. After his performance, special guest Kuroyanagi Tetsuko came into the dome in a police car with sirens and everything straight from Kouhaku, then came on stage and talked with the Sempais. She congratulated Matchy on his 35th year anniversary and also congratulated Tsubasa on being released from the hospital.

After this, all of the groups then came out and performed one of each of Matchy’s songs, ending with “Ikagen”, in which they all wore the same white jacket with “ikagen” on it. With that, there was the ending greetings and then the concert officially ended.

Overall impressions

This year’s Johnny’s countdown was different than other years, the biggest reason being because they didn’t air it on live television as they normally do. Talking with my other friends who have been many times, normally it would be very “start and stop” because of the TV broadcast and the talents themselves couldn’t really interact with the fans that much. This year, it was smooth and more fan interactions by each of the groups that performed. The Sempai groups did an amazing job performing as well and a highlight for me was seeing some groups perform live that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to see in a normal concert.

I had a few concerns though, which were the talking parts, and also Machy’s performance, and some fan manners. First off, because it was Matchy’s 35th year anniversary, they put a good amount of the attention on that, especially because it was December that he debuted. Because of this, Matchy dominated most of the talking parts, as well as the special guest, Kuroyanagi Tetsuko. Nobody besides Kinki Kids and the other sempai groups (Okomoto Kenichi and Shounentai) talked. If it weren’t for NEWS’s Masuda Takahisa being silly in the background on the screens, NEWS fans wouldn’t have seen much of NEWS talking, same for the other groups too. Many people online were upset at Matchy dominating most of the countdown concert, but others enjoyed it for the sempai groups, so it was divided on this particular point. I still think it is good to respect and honor the sempai groups, but they should have informed us that this would be a special Matchy tribute instead of thinking we would get our normal group interactions singing lots other group’s songs.

Another concern of mine was I saw a lot of people around me, and in the dome in general, sitting down during group’s performances that they weren’t a fan of. Since the concert was dominated by the sempai groups, a lot of the people who came for the younger groups were bored during the other performances and sat down, some even on their phones. Why was this a bad thing? Well, at a Johnny’s concert most people stand up and support the groups, so it is seen as rude to not support the other groups and just sit down. A lot of people online were mentioning this point as well. To be honest, I can’t blame them for wanting to sit down, I even sat down during Matchy’s long MC, but I didn’t sit down when the groups were performing. Even if I wasn’t a fan, I listened and stood up to support everyone and cheered them on.

Have you ever watched Johnny’s Countdown before? How do you think this compares to other years? What do you think about some of the points brought up? Let me know what you think in the comments below!