[blog] Arashi songs 101

Someone recently asked me what Arashi songs I would recommend. The person was obviously not an Arashi fan but she got curious “because they are so famous in Japan”.

Off the bat, I would recommend these songs:

  • A.Ra.Shi – because it’s their debut song and it sold over a million copies, which in itself is a record;
  • Furusato – a song they have not officially recorded (and I suspect because the copyright is owned by NHK) but is identified with them because they first sang it on KOUHAKU in 2010 and has since become a theme for the iconic year-end program and was used in a NHK drama special that starred Matsujun;
  • Truth – very beautiful composition that sounds and looks even more awesome live, plus it’s not their usual poppy sound;
  • Pikanchi (either 1 or Double) – though I like Double more; both songs have that gritty, rocky, rough edge to it and the Double PV is one of my favorites shot on a helipad with the Tokyo urban jungle serving as backdrop;
  • 5×10 – this is simply special because all five of them composed this to mark their 10th anniversary; every single word expressed in this song comes from them.

My original tweet though included Sketch instead of 5×10. But after a discussion with some Arashi friends on Twitter, I agree that 5×10 should be an intro song. That is if you’re really limited to five choices because with 12 studio albums, there sure is a whole thick discography to choose from.

I also enjoyed tweet-talking with those who answered my some kind of crowd sourcing on which Arashi songs they would recommend to non-fans. The answers were very interesting.

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Still is one of those songs that gives you a fluffy feel like most Arashi songs and it’s also very nice to sing along to but the lyrics are actually sad, about two people parting ways.

Tabun ano toki bokura wa arukidashitan da tagai ni chigau michi o
That was probably the day we set off walking, each on a different path

It’s even nicer when performed live and I have no shame in saying that it made me teary-eyed when I watched it in the Arafes DVD. So yeah, definitely worth recommending especially for those who are inclined to love songs (though the Arashi brand of love song is not what you think it is).

But like I said, with a thick discography to choose from, five songs ain’t enough. Even twitlonger won’t be enough to list down all the must-listen-to Arashi songs as @jhingnigami said.

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@FindAiba and I have three songs in common:

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Subarashiki Sekai is such a wonderful song, and yes, it means “wonderful world”. It’s one of the first Arashi songs I listened to and I remember playing it over and over. Even now, I never get tired listening to it and when they performed it acoustic at the 5×10 concert, I was in pure heaven.

Sakura Sake takes out the rockers in Arashi. Also one of the first performances I watched (was it the concert snippet that came with Arashic or One?) and they always have fun rousing the audience in this number. The energy when they performed this in AAA 2008 is so sugoi that one can actually hear the entire stadium reverberating with screams from the audience.

@FindAiba was actually the one who convinced me that if it’s a choice between 5×10 and Sketch, 5×10 should take precedence. Sketch was written for the boys’ 5th anniversary but only Sho and Nino were involved in the songwriting and composition, so yes, 5×10 trumps it (though as they would relate later, Sho and Nino still ended up putting everything together while the other three gave them the lines that they wanted to say to the fans).

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Funky at MS! Yes! And I have a feeling that Funky at the LOVE concert is more awesome. I mean, it already looks awesome in a studio with a TV audience, how much more during live. That is, if Uncle Johnny will finally release LOVE DVD. When, that is the question.

The songs picked by @rzkyfauzia are all classic Arashi songs though if my choice is limited, I won’t pick Breathless. But the Calling/Breathless double-sided single is a record-setter having sold almost 900,000 copies so it is special in itself.

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Now, there’s something interesting in @hiyamaya’s choices: Wave. It’s an unusual choice, it’s not even one of the popular songs though they performed it in a concert before.

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So I asked her why:

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Dad listening to Arashi? That’s one of the coolest things I have heard but then it’s a small surprise since from Japanese grannies to babies, they all listen to Arashi.

The answer of @jungyunh0e was one of the most interesting tweets I got because she recommended Arashi songs to a guy friend and he liked them, particularly… Bittersweet.

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I’m not the only one who found Bittersweet not to my taste. I know a lot of Arashi fans who also took time liking the song. But like I said, perhaps it’s easier to like the song if you haven’t listened to a whole lot of Arashi music, especially in their pre-2008 era when they had their breakthrough. However, it’s a really nice song that is not cloyingly sweet nor too bitterly angsty. Just bittersweet right.

Now, @saku_rach’s tweet reminded me of one song that MUST be in any Arashi music indoctrination program: Fight Song.

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Ken Mogi, Japan’s famed brain scientist, has called it a “very deep song”. Oh and it was composed by Nino so no, the brat doesn’t think about okane all the time.

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If A.Ra.Shi is their signature song, Furusato their roots and 5×10 their soul, Fight Song is their battle cry. And it’s very Arashi in every sense… the way they have fallen many times over their climb to success and how they’ve always picked themselves up and brushed themselves off good-naturedly and carried on… the sense of not letting go and still believing in their dreams, that is Arashi.

Donna ikutsu mo no kotoba yori mo
Tatta hitotsu no kotoba ga ii
Mazu wa jibun de fumidashite mite
“Ganbare” Sonna yasui yatsu de ii

No matter how many words you could say
Just one little phrase is enough
Start by taking that first step yourself
“Keep it up!” Something that simple is enough

The thing with Arashi songs, it’s not just the sound but the message. They have always assumed this positive, hopeful, encouraging tone in all their songs. There are a lot of testaments around on how their songs have accompanied countless of fangirls through hard times whether in school or life in general. Then of course, those stories from the 2011 earthquake when their music served as a form of healing and encouragement to the survivors, particularly Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi.

Smile again, I’m smiling again

Smile again, I’m smiling again

There are a lot more Arashi songs that deserve a mention, to name a few: A Day In Our Life, Right Back To You, Kaze no Muko e, Yes? No?, Gori Muchuu, Hero and so many more. There are also songs better appreciated once performed live like Everybody Zenshin, Tokei Jikake no Umbrella and Super Fresh. I also have songs that may not figure in others’ intro list like Thank You For My Days, which in fact sounds like a Christian song; or Natsu no Namae (I have a soft spot for this song because of the memory of Matsujun dancing to this in his Matsujun Samba costume during the One concert). Perhaps to make life easy, I’d recommend All The Best! album that compiles their hit songs from 1999-2009.

Arashi are not the best singers in Jpop but each of them have their distinct voice that they bring to the group, just as they also have their distinct personalities that set them apart from one another. Riida is hands down the best singer with his mellifluous voice. Nino has that soulful quality that makes ballads perfect for him (Nino playing the piano or the guitar in his solos during concerts is one of my fave parts). Sho’s raspy voice suits him perfectly as the resident rapper. Aiba is breathy. And Jun, we all know his nasal singing voice, but he really has worked hard to improve over the years and he knows how to play on his strength which is: sexy (their music producers give him those solos for a reason, example: in Sirius and Love Situation). Now combine all these different styles and that’s the Arashi sound that we all know. Take one out, it won’t sound the same.

Of course, music is up to the listener. What’s my ear fun may be noise to another person and vice versa.

Thanks to my  Twitter friends who tweeted me on this topic: @jhingnigami, @FindAiba, @rzkyfauzia, @hiyamaya, @jungyunh0e, @saku_rach and also @ShayMujan and @MasBaihaki.

© Orange Jasmine Purple Yam (blogging since 2001). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the contents in this site without permission from the author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Orange Jasmine Purple Yam with appropriate link to the original content.

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13 thoughts on “[blog] Arashi songs 101

  1. I agree with you, music taste is really subjective. That’s why recommendation can be tricky. It’s probably safer to base it on the other person’s music taste. Or just have him/her watch Arashi’s 15th Anniversary nonstop special live. It’s 15 mins long, but it covers quite a lot of genre and highlights their works year by year from Day 1 to date. I particularly like medleys — i get multiple songs in one go and then go from there (in case of a ‘new’ artist i’m warming up to) =)

  2. My five songs would probably be 5×10, truth, Love So Sweet, Namida no Nagareboshi, Rock This

    5×10 for the reasons you mentioned, though for a person who isn’t too familiar with Arashi, this song might be better listened to after she understands them more. Because this song just means so much more once you begin to see Arashi as not just the super popular group they are now, but also as the group who used to struggle in late night TV slots and yet still gave it their best, who sang with all their hearts even to stadiums that were half empty. 5×10 is a testament to Arashi’s struggles and it only gets better and better the longer one knows Arashi. I actually like Sketch more than 5×10, too, but I’ll put 5×10 because you convinced me in your article ^^

    truth – need I say more? This song is epic and remains one of the top voted Arashi songs by fans. It got performed twice in a row for Arafes and I think fans voted the choreo as one of the most memorable Arashi dance moves recently, too. This is a song that stands the test of time, and I can never get enough of it, especially that solo “迫る真実” by Riida’s piercingly clear voice somewhere in the last chorus. Maou is the drama that made me fall in love with Ohno and there is no more fitting song for it than this. The lyrics are perhaps the first ones I memorized and they are just beautiful. “Like a lily that doesn’t know impurity; its desire is clear…” “No matter what world I draw, I can’t see tomorrow..” This song is a mainstay on any Arashi list, and I would probably recommend both the drama and music video as well as any live performance of it, too (it’s good with the orchestra, but really, any performance of it is spectacular).

    Love So Sweet – To me, this is THE Arashi love song. I know they have lots of other romantic songs over the years, but Love So Sweet is the one that sounds most “Arashi” to me. This was before Jun’s voice improved dramatically, before they started consciously going all “super kakkoii” on us (not that I mind the kakkoii, hehe), and the dance moves were cutesy and more reminiscent of the “Kitto Daijoubu” style than the current “PARADOX” style. (side note:Now that I mention it, Kitto Daijoubu is perhpas one of the most “Arashi” songs I’ve listened to and the PV is just tons and tons of crack-y ❤ <3) Love So Sweet is a happy, young-sounding love song, no angst, no heartbreak, just Arashi reveling in being alive and being able to let their voices fly. Also, isn't a line like "Saikou no Lady" just so Arashi? Who else says that, really?

    Namida no Nagareboshi – This might be more of an unusual choice, since it's not performed as much and was not released as a single but as an album track for the Kiroii Namida soundtrack, but I think it adds diversity to the mix of Arashi, and for a first time Arashi listener, I would recommend this just so they could get a sense of their breadth in style. The gently strumming guitar (AH! I love you, Aiba-chan!), the slightly coarse but still plaintive harmony, and the whistling closing is all so Showa and tender and innocent and for some reason takes me back to my childhood. In some ways, I guess this song sounds like a children's lullaby (blame it on Aiba's prominent and velvety teddy bear voice here!). An even more Showa choice would be the other song from the soundtrack, "Modori Ame" which I also LOVE.

    Rock This – Because at least one of these songs has to feature the super-kakkoii side of Arashi, where they're throwing the gloves down and bringing the swagger to the party. And of course, that also means one thing: SAKURAP. Admittedly, it's hard to choose a "best Sakurap" and I can think of several other songs with more memorable Sakuraps than "Rock This," but in terms of Arashi swagger, the only thing that can beat "Rock This" is perhaps "Re(mark)able" or (dare I say it?) "La Tormenta 2004." So why did I choose this song? I guess it just sounds sleeker than the other two. *shrugs*

    Other songs worth mentioned:
    Love Parade – for the jazzy feel
    Face Down – bring'em to the floor, Arashi!
    Troublemaker/Wild at Heart – to show that Arashi can never get tired of being silly
    Refrain/Your Eyes/Ashita no Kioku – for the slow angsty ballad lovers
    Superfresh – the layering of sounds is amazing
    Ai wo Utaou – it's new but I have a feeling that this one will stand the test of time. It's sweeping, epic and Arashi's voices all sound incredible
    A Day in Our Life – for the tough-guy Sakurapping
    Still… – agree with you on the points about Still… The rap and the poetic lyrics are what seal it as a classic, but I would recommend this for a more experienced Arashi fan.

    So many other songs!! And I haven't even touched on the members' solos yet. Thanks for doing this post!

    • oh dear, where to begin replying to your comment.
      everything is just a nugget of beauty and truth. I love what you said about 5×10:

      “Because this song just means so much more once you begin to see Arashi as not just the super popular group they are now, but also as the group who used to struggle in late night TV slots and yet still gave it their best, who sang with all their hearts even to stadiums that were half empty. 5×10 is a testament to Arashi’s struggles and it only gets better and better the longer one knows Arashi.”

      just beautiful.
      and indeed, the song has more meaning juxtaposing it with The Arashi Story. we all know we don’t love them because they are kakkoi or good-looking or they sing well (open to argument lol) or now that they’re famous (everyone loves a winner, right?) but because we appreciate the road they took to get to where they are now, and by witnessing that journey, we celebrate the triumphs they have despite the odds hurled at them. their story is a testament that hard work, perseverance and faith (plus a lot of crazy) do pay off in the long run.

      you do have a lot of unusual choices in there and whenever I encounter such, it’s really interesting to find out why. I agree, Namida no Nagareboshi is so pretty! and yes, the layering of the voices in Super Fresh is just so subarashi. I can listen to that song on loop forever lol and I love the live performance.

      I admit I miss the silly Arashi during the Kitto Daijobou and the CxDxG no Arashi era but then, they have to grow up and progress lol we can still see that dorkiness every now and then, not just in large doses.

      for solos, I always love Nino’s solos. and my fave has to be Himitsu (Neen, pls don’t kill me though I wasn’t one of those who voted for this in Arafes lol) and Caramel Song. Oh Nino. who knew you’re a brat?

      thank you for such a lovely comment! I enjoyed reading it and will read it again lol

      • And thank you for a lovely reply! I love talking about Arashi’s music. I sometimes don’t think it gets talked about enough, and I’m guilty of it myself, since I spend more of my fangirl time giggling over their variety shows/interviews than actually taking a detailed listen to their music. So I’m super glad you did this post! :)) I hope your friend (who you were gathering these song recs for) gets to appreciate Arashi too 🙂

      • It’s easy to forget that they are national idols because they are such clowns even now and am I glad that they haven’t lost the silly side of them.

        Can I just say that Love So Sweet is the first song I memorized without any effort? I guess it’s the frequency of listening to it that before I knew it, I can sing along even without a cheat sheet. And Arashi seems to like it because it’s always part of the set list lol and the fact that Glay covered it in their concert? Another proof on the wide appeal of this song hahahaha

        I have a feeling that Guts will be in the same silly category as Kitto Daijoubu, Troublemaker and Wild at Heart; considering also the plot of Nino’s drama. And saying that, I am so looking forward to it.

        True, Arashi’s music is overshadowed by their fame but if you have the likes of Ken Mogi analyzing it, it must be something hahahaha

        Lastly, the boys are lucky that they have the best songwriters who know what kind of songs sound great for them. And what’s sweeter is that they themselves are humble enough to acknowledge that they have a huge team supporting Arashi and that the five of them are just the representatives of all that talent behind them. Now, if that isn’t humility, then I don’t know what that is. And that is why we love them. And that is why they are blessed.

  3. Haha “Guts” just sounds like it’d be either a crack-y song, or a swaggy song like “A Day in Our Life.” I can’t wait for April to come already! And I really really hope there’ll be some fun choreo in the PV! Bring back the Kitto Daijoubu one more time onegaishimasu!!

    THe boys are lucky indeed that they have JE’s powerful backing and deep pockets to hire the best of the best to compose and write for them. I used to wonder how much creative input Arashi actually gets over their music and shows and it used to bother me that their songs are for the most part written and composed by others. Even some of their jokes on the variety shows are scripted (since they do mention having scripts for them), and I just felt a little perturbed that the seemingly effortless comedy and emotions put into Arashi’s work were all a product of someone other than Arashi’s careful pre-calculations.

    As a fan who likes them for their easy personalities and heartfelt songs, I wondered at how much of an act Arashi must put on for us. Is Aiba really plaintive and baka in private? Surely even Riida would get tired of always being asked about fishing on variety shows? Is there really not a single moment when Sho or Jun or Nino don’t think to themselves, “This is so silly, I can’t believe I’m getting only 3 hours of sleep a night because I need to eat stuff on TV and give exaggerated reactions to how umai it is!” And even when they’re singing, is it just a job to them? Words and notes on a page? Or do they actually feel like they connect with the music? Yup, I was uncomfortable thinking about these questions, because it’s obvious that Arashi and Johnny’s in general are highly packaged products. Factory-made idols, if you will.

    But then it hit me. How can anybody who has spent their lives from age 13 onwards in an environment where rainbows, sparkles and homoerotic skinship is encouraged be immune to the kimochi required for success in showbiz? They say actors incorporate a bit of their characters into themselves and a piece of the role stays with the actor forever. So even if all this was just an act for Arashi, even if they were really nothing but the dutiful vehicles of JE whose every move was carefully calculated to make fangirls squeal just the right way, they would still have been doing this for over 15 years; they would have grown up with the act, and the act would have become so enmeshed in themselves that it actually became a genuine part of their personalities. I’m tempted to say that if I had grown up as a Johnny’s Jr, I’d probably have just as much fun doing what Arashi does without a second thought for how silly I look or how contrived most of my dramas/variety show segments are.

    The Arashi we see, and the Arashi we hear might have started out as nothing more than five pretty faces Johnny wanted to capture new fangirls with (remember? They each even had roles on who would be study leader, and who would be comedy leader etc etc.), but the group has long since grown into something more personal, and something more THEM. You can hear it in their music and see it in their PV’s. Their debut performance looked a lot stiffer and more contrived than their later works. I personally think that it’s because they started to feel more comfortable with each other as the years rolled on and also because their projected images had begun to overlap more with their true personalities (or vice versa, their personalities had matured to meld more with their projected images). And of course, the music and the shows that they make now are as heartfelt as if every step was coordinated by the five of them personally. In a way, their hard work to present themselves as genuinely as possible is their show of gratitude to all the people supporting them behind the scenes. And that is indeed why we love them, because of their humility and commitment to making their fans and colleagues happy. After all, Arashi’s job has always been to spread the shiawase, right?

    Sorry this turned into such a monster of a comment. I don’t even know if it all sounds coherent. But when you mentioned how they’re just humble representatives of the talents behind them, I was reminded of all my former thoughts on the matter and couldn’t put a stopper on my typing.

    • I so want to reblog your comment lol
      it deserves its own post! and yes, it makes perfect sense lol
      girl, you should start your blog hahahaha! I would love to read!

      • Haha, I actually do have my own blog already. It’s on blogspot though. Good thing you brought it up, because I totally need to update it. Haha!

      • Oh gomen, I think I have asked you this already and your blog is bookmarked in my laptop lol I wish there was a crossover between WordPress and blogspot. Please update! Hahaha

  4. Pingback: [blog] big only in Japan and other things they say about Arashi | orange jasmine purple yam

  5. hmmm made me think of what 5 songs would be a good introductory song to Arashi. Maybe I’ll pick Love So Sweet, 5×10, Fight Song, Energy Song and Subarashiki Sekai. I really wanted to put Arashi in there but I picked Love so sweet over Arashi because I think it would be good to make them listen to something that is came from something as popular as Hana Yori Dango. 🙂

  6. Five songs for introduction to Arashi, i will pick Fight Song, Happiness, Daremo Shiranai, Guts!, and Truth (i would like to give “Furusato” even though it is not their song just because they sang it beautifully). If we talked about solo performances, Take Me Faraway, Niji, and Hello Goodbye would be my choice.

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