Review: Yamashita Tomohisa – Ai Texas

Ai Texas Regular Edition

General Overview

“Ai Texas” was released on Feburary 29th, 2012 and is Yamashita’s 5th solo single.  Though this was his 5th single, this is his first one that he has released since leaving the Johnnys group NEWS and going solo in October 2011. It is also his first single with a new record label, Warner Music Japan.

The title song, “Ai Texas”, is used as the ending and insert song for the drama that just finished airing called “Saikou no Jinsei no Owarikata ~ Ending Planner~”, which Yamashita stars in. It comes in 5 editions, with only 3 that you can buy in a regular CD shop in Japan.

Music Content

There are total of 3 tracks that come on the single, which all 3 tracks come with the Regular edition, with only the title song and “Candy” coming on the Limited Editions.  The A side is “Ai Texas” and the B sides are “Candy” and “Perfect Crime”.

“Ai Texas” Itself is described as a “Country Rock” flavored song. It has a very distinct country like guitar and the single, as a whole, is a lot different than his usual R&B/ Dance tracks like “One in a Million” and “Loveless”. He has started branching out into some different genres for his singles in the past year since his release of “Hadakanbo”in January 2011 , which had a pop-ish, big band feel to it.

The B sides, however, are very much his usual R&B/ Dance tracks. They sound very similar, in my opinion, but I liked “Perfect Crime” better musically. I thought it had a better beat and a better chorus than “Candy”.

The Music Video

There wasn’t much to the music video, just Yamapi walking around in a “Texas” like background with lots of computer graphics. I personally don’t like the video that much and prefer his other videos, like “Loveless” and “One in a Million”, better. I think its because I like music videos with a story line to it. I tended to loose focus and trailed off at times while watching the video.

The Packaging

Each edition of the single came with a different cover, all featuring Yamapi with a “cowboy” like out fit. The limited editions feature him in a striped blazer, jeans, plain black shirt, completed with a scarf. The regular edition has him in a while blazer with a  cowboy hat and snake patterned shirt. The color scheme seems to be red and white. It seems to go well with the “Texas” or “cowboy” theme that they wanted to portray.

What I found interesting about the packaging is the writing on the front of the CD with the track names. Normally, albums and singles come with the track listings on the back of the CD. Also, on the packaging it is spelled in english “I, Texas” rather than the romanji version “Ai Texas”. I can’t understand why it is that way and I really don’t like it.

The extra content of each edition is as follows:

Limited Edition A: Comes with a CD with 2 songs + karaoke versions of the songs, and a DVD with the “Ai Texas” music video on it.

Limited Edition B: Comes with a CD with same content as Limited Edition A and a 24 page photo booklet.

Regular Edition: Comes with a CD with 3 songs + karaoke tracks of “Ai Texas” and “Candy” only.

Overall Opinion

Its a catchy song and I love Yamapi’s solo work, but it is definitely a miss for me. I would rather listen to his previous singles than “Ai Texas”. I guess maybe is because I don’t like the guitar in the song and the “country” feel to it, along with the “Texas” theme. Maybe if the music video had a story line to it, I might have liked it a bit more. I tend to like songs better if they have a good music video or a good performance attached to it.

Johnny’s Talk: Changes in Johnnys and Associates

I have never been happier and prouder to be in the Johnnys fandom than I am now.

Some of you may be confused by this statement: Jin Akanishi left KAT-TUN about a year and a half ago, NEWS just lost Yamapi and Ryo, Johnnys is debuting a group that is so young called “Sexy Zone” and breaking down Junior groups in the process, as well as lots of Juniors leaving or being asked to leave and many more things that have disappointed many people in the fandom,

What do I see in this? Amazing change! It shows that people in Johnnys are no longer just robots, like I used to think, and that they are changing to fit the times. They are being truer to themselves and wanting to give their all in something that they love, rather than 50% to something that they don’t love.

I had a long talk with a new foreign Johnnys fan from England here at my university last night about various things. The topic of Jin Akanishi and Yamapi leaving their groups to go solo came up. I wanted to hear the opinion of a Jin Akanishi fan and also what she thought about Yamapi leaving NEWS. After talking for a while, we came up with some conclusions. To sum it up, basically they wanted to be true to themselves without the restrictions of the groups image. People might think that this is selfish, but I don’t think so. Think about it from their perspective, they no longer have a “home” to go back to or have the crutch of the group to lean on anymore. All of the focus is on them and not 6 people, though they were the golden boys of their groups. Also, they got a taste of the solo scene and realized that by making their own music they were being truer to themselves. At the same time though, they get much more critizim. Once again, I think it is brave for them to do this because they get the full force of everyone’s attention and criticism.

Also, I think it takes a lot of courage to say “I am sorry.  All of you have supported me and gave me a home for so long, but its time for me to move on and start another chapter of my life.” I believe this because people change over time. Their love for the group or the members may not have changed, but their personal taste might have changed and clashed with the image that the group had, thus not making them happy. Actually, I have heard that your way of thinking changes every 5 years. I am not sure if that is true though.

I also think that it is showing their support for the group or their love for the group by leaving them. If they are not giving 100% to the group and not being true to themselves, they are only holding themselves and the rest of the group back. At that time, it is better to separate for the good of everyone involved. This includes Ryo leaving too. I bet he felt that he wasn’t giving 100% to the groups and that he felt bad for holding any of his 2 groups back.

I see many amazing opportunities from these changes that Johnnys has implemented recently. I have actually never been more impressed at what Johnnys has released than right now in 2011 (at least in the groups that I follow, and a few others that I don’t really follow). I think it is all thanks to growing, changing, and maturity. The Japanese are famous for Kaizen, constant change or constant improvement.  Maybe Johnnys is finally embracing that.

To conclude, don’t think of something at face value and don’t reject change straight away. Dig deeper to see the oppertunities that come out of it. We don’t know the whole story either, so all we can do at this point is to sit back and see what happens while hoping for the best!

I look forward to many more opportunities and surprises from Johnnys in the coming years. I hope you all will follow me in thinking about the positives that change can bring!

Johnny’s Talk: Reality Sets In

I woke up this morning to finally read the member comments translated. My headache was too bad last night to wait up for them.

What did I get from them? Well, first off that this decision was not made lightly and probably months, or longer than that, in the making.  Ryo had been working a lot with Kanjnai8 for quite a while now and acting at the same time, making it hard for NEWS to do things together. I think Kanjani8 would have slowed down their releases if Ryo still wasn’t thinking about leaving. As for Yamapi, I think he simply was more successful in his solo work than he thought he would be and finally decided to follow his best bro Jin going solo (not being mean or sarcastic here. I truly believe it). Because Ryo was thinking about leaving, why not he leave at the same time while he has the chance; like ripping a bandaid off. I don’t believe any of this Ryo and Yamapi fought stuff.

Second, the members are all very sorry for this happening … for the exception of Yamapi, in my opinion. I just didn’t get that from his comment because he didn’t even apologize at all. Ryo, I felt, had a apologetic tone because he said that he was burdening both groups by holding back CD release dates and such, just for him.

After reading the comments, I went to the Johnnys site and looked at the NEWS page. There were only 4 member’s faces there. That is when reality finally set in for me, but I did not cry. Johnnys is a business.  In the end, they do things that will only profit them. They decided that Ryo will be more profitable in Kanjani8 and acting, Yamapi will be more profitable solo, and that NEWS is STILL profitable with 4 members. Keep that in mind, guys. Johnnys could have just disbanded NEWS because the two golden boys left. Tegomass is popular, so they could have just stuck with them doing their thing, Koyama doing his news show, and Shige acting a bit here and there … but they did not.

I believe that NEWS will not be the same, but I beleive that we have to be positive about this. Maybe KoyaShige will finally debut? Who knows. The one thing that I do know is that change is a must and I have to stay positive that this will be the best thing for NEWS and Johnnys. It sucks that this happened, but I believe that something great will come out of this … like Johnnys finally having an international presence in places other than Asia. Watch out world, Johnnys has started going global!