While yesterday was yet another Vista nightmare day for me, the arrival of Arashi's latest single "Step and Go" actually made me forget all about Vista for awhile…and it seems that CdJapan is now in the habit of sending out orders quite early as this is the second consecutive shipment to arrive on the actual release date (in Japan). Haha they "forced" me to purchase both editions! 😛
And immediately upon seeing the covers I have to say that "Step and Go" features 2 of the nicest Arashi single covers ever!! Hmmm…they kind of remind me of a Benetton commercial…the styling is so vibrant, lively, and rich in color! The LE and RE jackets feature a slightly different collage of the group posed together and the whole group looks really amazing!! I must admit that I'm guilty of having not watched any recent Arashi programs and in that absence I must note that Nino's hair is getting quite long! It's almost hard to imagine him with such short hair which he sported in "Letters From Iwojima" and I think this look really suits him better. After showing her the pv my mom thinks that Matsujun whom she always refers to as the 'Okinawan guy' 😛 looks quite different…hmmm…I'm just not seeing it…he looks the same to me. 😛 Of course he's her favorite member in the group and noted as most handsome along with Shokun whom she says has 'very pleasant looks' aka 'Mr. Personality!!' ^_^. Shokun's hair is also getting longer as he had a fairly recent stint with a shorter look…longer just seems to suit him better too and the group's most endearing, Aibakun always seems to have the right style and ever since zdorama noted how he can really sound like Randy Newman it always brings a smile to my face whenever I hear him speak! It's quite uncanny and all you need to do is first listen to any Randy Newman song and then put on Aiba's "Friendship" for one of those double take situations. Riida has always had the most stable style…well with the one exception of having no hair gel in Arashi's "Kiiroi Namida" (was there no hair gel back then?) and to answer the question of whom I thought portrayed the most believable character in the movie I think that would have to go to Nino…and if he weren't a member of Arashi I think I could imagine him drawing manga for a living as odd as that sounds. I thought that everyone was really great in this movie but if I had to pick a member for being "most unbelievable" in their role….ah poor Shokun…thank goodness he shaved!!! Riida's unchanging style always looks great and has so much flair to it and just last night I was thinking how my brother has a similar hairstyle and he even dyed it light brown too.
When it comes to genius in marketing, Johnny's is definitely no stranger to the concept as they regularly offer various editions for a single release making sure to include something that you'd be tempted to purchase in each one and "Step and Go" is no different as the LE features an amazing DVD which has a running time of just over 46 minutes!!! H!P used to be the undisputed king of the "making of" segment in terms of content and length but even they'd be hard pressed to top this latest effort from Arashi as "Step and Go"'s LE DVD is not only significantly longer but….hmmm….I'm thinking that Johnny himself must've gotten a hold of a few H!P PV DVD single releases and while perusing them in private "came up" with the idea of including extensive photo shoot footage, pv making of footage, and lots of candid moments to fill his latest creation.
The regular edition also becomes essential as it includes an additional song which isn't available on the LE version as well as karaoke tracks for both songs…someone at Johnny's really enjoys draining our bank accounts! :O
"Step and Go" is a vibrant
dance song and the
composers always find the perfect combinations between members in featuring their vocals in creating the perfect ensemble arrangement. While every member shines in their solo and grouped vocal lines as Arashi has long been known to have no weak vocalists, the song seems to feature Riida…or am I having a false impression here? Not only in the break after the bridge which is always a nice place to feature the group's best vocalist…Riida…as his voice has an amazing way of building a song back up to it's chorus but even elsewhere he just seems to be featured a lot more and understandably so. From the first time that I first heard Riida sing he made me think of Ishii Tatsuya of Kome Kome Club whom has arguably one of J-Pop's most fine and powerful voices! And there's such an ease to his delivery…I guess some are just born with it! ^_^. Shokun delivers yet another impressive rap which he has also penned himself and it has his trademark style which is smooth flowing and melodic in all the right places. He never ceases to grow in his self trained art and his solo raps really add such a defining sound to Arashi's sound. "Step and Go"'s immediately infectious "get on the dance floor" groove lends itself as the perfect vehicle for a pv which relies heavily on individual dance choreography for each member versus an ensemble arrangement which of course has its time and place in pvs as well. What's interesting about the director's approach here is instead of tapping into obvious rapid visuals they chose to create a dynamic collage of slowed captures featuring each member in improvised dance situations and the effect is perhaps even more visually stunning in this aspect.
The coupling with song "Fuyu wo dakishimete" which is exclusively available on the RE is a bit more of mid tempo song but definitely more on the upbeat side like title track. It's a beautifully driven song which features the sweet sounds of a horn section and piano in contemporary jazz arrangement of sorts. It's chorus is so uplifting and has kind of a cloud nine feel to it…well I'm on cloud nine listening to it! 😛 The vocal arrangement is much more choral like versus the solo dominated feel of the title track. Dare I call this a double a-side?….Yes! it sounds like one!! 🙂
The making of segment was such great surprise and while it features extensive photo shoots for the jackets and pv making of footage the real beauty lies in its candidness. One of my favorite parts is watching Matsujun and Riida play with a Wii console and while the game they're playing isn't shown…just seeing their facial expressions is really funny…I must make faces too while playing with the Wii! 😛 Everyone looks so tired when they first arrive at the set but Riida provides some nice comic relief while they're in the elevator! 🙂 Watching them shoot the footage for the dance sequences which were later slowed down adding a nice dramatic touch to them provides a really great look into
all of the hard work that went into the pv's making and it was either Nino or Aibakun who mentions that it's been awhile since he's been required to do such work in a pv and both of them actually hurt themselves a bit during the filming…ah nothing serious though…I'm hoping it's just a little bit of muscle ache!! Nino is such an amazing dancer and quite acrobatic…his slowed down sequences are absolutely dynamic and breathtaking!! Aibakun also does a very impressive handstand flip with a lot of flair…hmm my mom actually has always noted Riida to be the best dancer in the group…best dancer?…best vocalist?…and yet Matsujun's her favorite!! 😛 Matsujun has an amazing leap that he performs from a high platform onto a mat and he even sticks the landing!! Film editing is so magical and when you're able to witness the actual shooting and then the finished product it really adds to one's appreciation for this said art form. Haha don't forget to be on the lookout for the brief Wii footage and in the very beginning while Shokun is holding the camera filming everyone else, when he first approaches Matsujun…he makes the most amusing face!! ^_^. There's also an extensive talk portion at the end of the making of and while the talk gets away from the actual pv and single release it's still fun hearing them converse about personal things and you'll really notice how much of a talker Shokun is!!!…I've never realized that about him before and even the staff is amused!
Sorry that these little images are of such low low quality as they're not meant to be enlarged…as I still need to find a way to get my laptop's DVD drive to read region 2 discs. While DVD players can have their region code removed I'm not sure if that's possible with a pc drive. Ah one thing at a time as I finally have a broadband connection…the salesperson told me yesterday that Clearwire wasn't available where I live but it really puzzled me being that I live in central Oahu so I asked another salesperson today and she told me that it's possible that the mapped coverage on the internet which they normally use to track coverage areas may not be updated as Clearwire is constantly adding more towers to increase coverage. She then called to check for updated coverage areas and I'm so happy!!!….she said it would work here!! ^o^ The salesperson's name is Jayci and she's by far the kindest and most helpful salesperson that I've ever met!! I'm really not exaggerating and if I ever have a daughter I'm going to name her "Jayci." 🙂 And you thought that only Sayu talked about having a 'future daughter.' 😛 Okay I've now come back to earth now…. :P…..I'm also using photobucket now as was suggested as Vista continues to not allow me to directly upload to VOX but hopefully I can find a way around this issue soon. The only thing is photobucket doesn't seem to allow me to upload multiple images all at once to VOX so that they appear in a collage and in order which they aren't right now….I've tried highlighting multiple images but it seems to only allow me to highlight one at a time…hmm if only Vista would start being a friend.