The Spinners

Dream “A” Live (Arashi, 2008)

In J-Pop, Je Lapegera on January 28, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Dream “A” Live marks the distinction of Arashi’s place in J-Pop culture: from being your everyday household boy band names to becoming your highly entertaining super idols.

Compared to their early releases, Arashi’s eighth studio album is more amplified through the use of strings, winds, and beats as their base material, infused in a wide range of music genres—pop, rock, jazz, ballad, name it. The opening track “Theme of Dream ‘A’ Live” enchants you with the same concoction of orchestral feeling while being invited by the boys to Come on! Get out! in their Jap-American flair. Both “Step and Go” and “Life Goes On” have that perennial pop-groovy vibe, complemented by the mix of trumpets and keyboard. “Niji no Kanata e”, “Once Again”, and “Flashback”, on the other hand, all exhibit a slow, jazzy yet upbeat aura.

The songs in the album are catchy by nature and imbibe the usual relatable contexts of love, hope, and bliss. Aside from being the OST of Yamada Taro Monogatari series, who would not be enticed by the delightful harmony (and dorky images of fun-loving boys) of “Happiness”? More optimistic feelings can be drawn out from “Do My Best” and “My Answer” with their cheery, positive melodies. Moreover, almost anyone can be captivated by the boys’ rendition of “Serious” and “Koe”, appealing to a more amorous mood through their ballad tones.

Dream “A” Live should be commended as well in showcasing the boys’ individual vocal style. Without argument, the album brings out the best in them vocally. While tracks such as “Dive into the Future”, “Move Your Body”, and “Your Song” exude the group’s ability to blend with each other’s singing prowess, solo parts should also not be taken for granted. Additional member tracks are also included in the album’s limited edition, not just to target their audience’s purchasing power, but also to raise that distinction beyond that boy band stigma. Masaki Aiba is left alone in his usual nasal yet cheerful self with his rendition of “Hello Goodbye”. Kazunari Ninomiya reinvents “Gimmick Game”, a love-hate upbeat song that complements his high balladeer voice. Satoshi Ohno never fails to impress us with his crystal clear voice as he sings “Take Me Faraway”, while Jun Matsumoto tries his uber-sexy glitzy performance of “Naked”. Of course the rapping is still owned by Sho Sakurai, with his tongue-twisting “Hip Pop Boogie”.

Dream “A” Live, upon its release, created that certain buzz about Arashi through its trendier, post-modernish music clamor underlying their ideal mature matinee imagery. It is instrumental in pushing the boys to surpass that boy-glam stage and ultimately sustain the transition of becoming spectacular titans of the J-pop scene. But for any fangirl, flailing or not, it is nothing but dreamy.

– Je Lapegera

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