Japan’s longest running pop star, Namie Amuro, (hence the word Pop star, not singer… check!) is set to release her single from the Death Note movie, Light Up the New World. Her release will be a double A-side single, titled “Dear Diary” / “Fighter”, which is in fact her first A-side since “Big Boys Cry” / “Beautiful” in 2013. However, like most of the leaks of Japan’s most notorious and successful stars, Amuro-chan’s tracks were also leaked just not long ago. Being a fan of her music, I can see myself buying the CD in full price, but… like an early consumer, I allowed the temptation (since the previews had already been aired) to take over me and I listened to the tracks. So… in advance, I decided to review the singles individually. Here we go;
“Dear Diary” is the leading single from the two, and is used as the theme song to the film. Majority of the instrumentation is constructed with live pianos, subtle guitars, and synthesizers, a typical standard to Amuro-chans ballad-esque songs. The track is slightly similar to her 2015 release, “Red Carpet”, though this recording is meant to be a sultrier ballad whereas the latter song was a bit more up-tempo and pop friendly. Knowing that “Dear Diary” is part of a continuous streak of non-album singles by Namie, the production of the track wears slightly thinner and starts to feel a bit too generic. The overall structure sounds incredibility predictable and familiar to her previous tunes, all collating the typical stylish pop sound she induces into, but giving it a rather grand, yet little innovated finish. The lyrical content is sweet, but nothing particularly new either. Had it stood alone, “Dear Diary” wouldn’t really stand a chance. But thankfully, the formula is still there to present a pretty decent track; lovely instrumentation, nice sound, good quality vocals, and a pretty polished production. Speaking of vocals, the chorus and her performance is one to beat; it’s strong and melodic, but still very sensual and emotional. It’s a good track, but the innovative spectrum and presentation is slightly becoming weaker by each release.
“Fighter” is the second A-side from the two singles, and is used as the insert track. To be honest, “Fighter” was the real reason I was anticipated for this release. For me, Amuro-chan has stood out well when she dips her fingers into the world of EDM on her records Feel and Genic, without totally drowning her out (we cannot forget her fusion of fierce Pop–R&B music though), so the preview for the track had me all gagging and excited as hell. Majority of the track is indeed “aggressive dance” music, but still manages to highlight softer, yet slick electropop elements by the time it hits the pre-chorus and bridge section. However, just like “Dear Diary”, there is still a very familiar formulaic layout; typical chorus drops, small little instrumental sections that boast technical approaches of EDM, and carefree lyrics. Also, her English in this song (or May I say, Engrish?) has tipped since the start of her transition from Japanese-spoken tracks, making her delivery, and sometimes (god forbit) her vocals, slightly incomprehensible. The elements maybe quite basic, but definitely one of her stronger electronic-driven releases. Because, well; it’s catchy, pretty simple and straightforward, and most of all (to my own personal extent), pure EDM–pop realness. Sure, “Fighter” is no top-of-the-crop when it comes to some entries that were featured on Feel and Genic, but it sure as hell is one solid banger that could easily soar a stronger yet darker approach to her future music.