{single} BeForU – KI・SE・KI

October 21, 2009 at 2:40 am | Posted in BeForU, Kosaka Riyu, Music, Shiraishi Noria | Leave a comment


(released November 18th, 2004)

2. チカラ (Re-arranged version) [Chikara (Re-arranged version)]
3. Firefly (add Vocal&Mix)
4. GRADUATION (New Vocal&Mix)
5. 約束 [Yakusoku]

BeForU’s 1st single, to mark the second generation of BeForU. After Maehara Shiyuna left, an audition was held for two girls to join the group. However, there was a tie along the way, and the line-up was increased to six. The new members are Arisawa Miharu, Minami Sayaka, and Sotohana Risa. The three are known as BeForU NEXT.

Now, KI・SE・KI seems to be a good musical direction for the group to go in. The synth intro was solid, and reminded me a bit of the spooky organ you hear in gothic rock songs – unfortunately, we won’t actually get that since BeForU still stays in its DDR-friendly zone. While I generally detest synths and beats as the sole accompaniment, I actually like the composition of this song. The piano lines in KI・SE・KI were a nice touch. The vocal performance, however was definitely lacking. The new girls all have rather nice voices but everybody (even Riyu) sounds rather bland here – with the music setup and a good melody that starts out low-key and builds to a catchy chorus climax, I thought KI・SE・KI had potential to pack a pretty big punch, but the girls just sing like they’re half asleep.

The next three tracks are covers of first generation BeForU’s songs. The Re-arranged version of Chikara takes the lighthearted girly rock song and strengthens it into a more mature sound with grittier guitars and a nice bass line while keeping the mood of the original intact. This one appears to be a Riyu solo with the rest of the group doing occasional chorus vocals. Riyu’s singing has definitely gotten stronger since the original version (she sounds more exuberant and less hesitant), but I wish they had featured the others (or at least the new three) more – wasn’t that the point of this single?

Is it just my imagination, or are the beats and synths heavier in this add Vocal&mix version of Firefly? The NEXT girls are prominently featured in this song and sound a lot better here than in KI・SE・KI. They have rather distinct voices too – one of them has a round, rich tone (Sayaka), another has a thin but throaty voice (Miharu), and the third has a really mellow voice (Risa). However, Risa sounds like she has trouble handling the song. In comparison to the others, her voice is weak and even flat in some parts. Firefly probably wasn’t the best choice to show off the vocals of the new members – I’d hoped for a 6-member version of Dive instead. My favorite part of this rendition was the bridge – Sayaka and Noria sounded wonderful. I think I still prefer the original to this, even though though I like the variety in the new girls’ voices.

The New Vocal&mix version of GRADUATION follows, and it’s a Minami Sayaka solo.  It’s easy to see why Maeda Naoki favors her – she has the most solid and distinct singing voice out of the three. Her voice actually is better suited to this song than Riyu’s is, and it really goes with that cheesy but sweet “sakura petals floating around high school graduation” feeling of the song. The bridge is especially pretty, since Sayaka’s smooth voice transitions into those melodic jumps with ease. Sayaka’s singing is very soothing, yet not lacking in power and deliberation. While she does sound like she’s singing through her nose in instances, her voice tone doesn’t end up sounding pinched.

Synthesized strings (would it kill them to use real strings? it sounded okay the first time but after a few listens, my ears started hurting) lead into Yakusoku, a group song. It started out nicely with Risa singing softly (and she does do a decent job here, albeit sounding a bit out of breath), and then the music really kicks in when Riyu gets into her line. I really can’t stand Yakusoku’s arrangement – sure the contrast between soft and loud in verses makes the song interesting, the chorus just sounds tinny and overblown and out of place…and I don’t like the melody there at all. The only redeeming parts would be Sayaka’s solo in the bridge and the brief piano outro at the end.

Favorite Track: Graduation (New Vocal&Mix)

Overall Grade: C+

The piano lines KI・SE・KI were a nice touch.

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