Japan's largest male idol group entered their last year before an indefinite break and set global reach as one of their goals. This has resulted in new English-language recordings of their greatest hits, a much larger website and even one or two music videos being available on YouTube. Of course, a little thing called the "global pandemic" has thrown a big wrench into their plans, and it remains to be seen how the end of this chapter in Arashi's story develops. For one thing, I hope that it will be stronger and more unforgettable than in summer.
When I think of Arashi, I hear the tightly packed orchestral arrangements of their newer material or the youthful exuberance of their early 00s work. I can't imagine a reheated trop bop with simple English lyrics, sluggish beat drops and embarrassing vowel effects. There's something to say for groups that are pushing their boundaries and trying something new, but most artists will always be at their best when they accept what makes them special and build on that instead of jumping on badly fitting trends.
Indeed, to describe In The Summer as inappropriate would put it mildly. The choral hook retains some of Arashi's trademark energy, but even this feels like an atypical red melody to a group of her stature. On the other hand, the verses of summer are frightening. The auto-tuning effects go particularly badly with Arashi's vocals – whose charm is usually in their expressiveness. Summer makes them J-Pop robots – and not in a good way (like 2014's excellent, vocoderelike asterisk). I think I can hear what they were looking for, but In The Summer is the wrong approach on almost every level. Fortunately, the boys have reached a point in their career where they cannot prove anything to anyone.
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