‘THE ONE‘ feels like a song that I’ve been waiting for all this time, but I couldn’t have told you this until it dropped over the past weekend.
Yes, ’Karate’ is a fine track — but personally, ‘THE ONE’ has completely stolen my attention. It’s not the off-the-rails madness that makes many of BABYMETAL tracks so fun to listen to; in fact, this is the closest thing BABYMETAL has to a ballad (as of yet), and as someone who notoriously skips over mellow tracks, ‘THE ONE’ had me completely transfixed.
The track opens with a lone guitar solo of the main theme, followed by a haunting arpeggio arrangement, effortlessly spiking with sharp, pelting drums thundering forward. Like flying into a hurricane, the instrumentals build and build; roaring louder and louder, until it all suddenly dissipates — a spacious vacuum, as if discovering the eye of the storm as SU-METAL begins to sing.
Accompanied by a gentle piano, SU-METAL’s voice cuts through loud and clear, singing for the first time, in complete English bars. Even more surprising, is how accurate her pronunciation of the English lyrics are, considering how the grand majority of Japanese acts hardly seem to put forth real effort in doing so, opting for the simpler, but nearly incoherent “katakana English”.
I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a linguist coach specifically to get it right, and this small detail pays off in spades. A smooth blend of English and Japanese, this is a true fusion of East and West, and one that celebrates the unification of cultures that have grown to love BABYMETAL over the years.
The vocal melody is sublime, starting with a slowly escalating Disney-esque ballad before climbing to a boiling point where the chorus erupts into a profoundly emotional rally worthy of powering a revolution. SU-METAL’s vocal strength is on full display, and her accompanying duo, MOA and YUI, provide complimenting backing vocals during the chorus (“One for all, All for one”), giving it extra resonance and power. The instrumentation is thoughtfully arranged and dynamic, with delicately cascading piano notes and layers of guitars. The music paints a dreamlike landscape of mythical scope and proportions, a visual song I’ve admired and enjoyed from rock opera and classic metal.
I’ve been unsure of my feelings when it came to BABYMETAL’s shift towards metal with pop elements than the other way around, but ‘THE ONE’ just may be my favorite track from them yet. Many of their songs I love possess the slightly deranged multiple-personality syndrome of bubblegum and calamitous metal, but the sheer effectiveness and thought they’ve been putting into crafting the more straight-laced songs lately makes me feel better about the perceived trade-off, especially with this song.
‘THE ONE’ is a intensely sentimental, inspirational, and powerful piece that perfectly relays their immense ambitions through the music itself. This is a hair-raising track to close out their upcoming album, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Plenty of idol fans will remember when BABYMETAL was a side project that probably had a shelf life of a couple years, if that. When the group became internationally recognized with ‘Gimme Chocolate’, I figured it would come and go like numerous social media fads: “Oh look! Here’s Japan being weird again. How cute!”, followed by a massive drop in interest once Youtube and Twitter found the next aberration to highlight.
Initially, I had little faith in the incredible swell of new followers and in BABYMETAL’s management, but I was completely wrong — and I’m glad I was. What I thought would be a short-lived fluke for the producers to milk while the getting was good, they’ve instead dug their heels in deep and laid down long term plans. ‘THE ONE’ is a celebration of everything that’s happened in the past two miraculous years, and a emboldened look towards the new future they’ve built for themselves. If you thought they were a threat when they entered the international scene, just wait. This year will be huge for BABYMETAL, and ’THE ONE’ does nothing but instill my confidence in their vision.
Whether you’ve been following them from the beginning or just recently, if you’re receptive to the powerfully positive message BABYMETAL brings, whether it’s songs about anti-bullying, putting aside differences, or Valentine’s Day chocolate, ‘THE ONE‘ feels like a heartfelt, grateful response to the warm positivity and overwhelming reception they’ve received from people all over the world; and what a anthem it is.