“Gingham Check” may be on the way but community member Chase decided it would be a good idea to take a step back from the rush of new releases and have a really in-depth look at last year’s election single; “Flying Get”. Join him as he shares his thoughts on various aspects of the song’s composition in a way that you don’t normally see when NSK reviews a new release.
Flying Get. AKB48’s 22nd single. The name of AKB0048’s planetary dropship in their namesake anime. The song that helped AKB48 win the Grand Prize for Excellence at the 2011 Japan Record Awards. The 3rd Sousenkyo single. Improper English.
Whatever you want to call it, Flying Get is widely recognized as a huge success for AKB, having been dubbed as one of the group’s ‘Kamikyoku’ (god songs). This success comes from many factors: the immense popularity of the group, their monstrous sales records, Aki-P’s legendary producing, Yuko in the PV with that sexy purple dress…ahem…but I digress. One of the biggest yet most behind the scenes factors is something that everyone hears and appreciates but is often never given the credence it deserves: the music itself.
In Flying Get, whether you enjoy listening to the song or not, the production of the music is quite ‘kami’ in its nature as well. Specifically, there are three aspects of the music that are exceptional or just plain noteworthy that I want to point out here and talk about: the layers of the music, the use of the horns (trumpets, trombone, tuba) and the musical style of the song.
After deciding to take a closer look at Flying Get for this article, I listened hard for anything that might be worthy of mentioning and the first thing I ended up noticing was the subtle layering of multiple instruments and electronic sounds during the verse. Beginning at 0:28 in the song, if you listen closely, there’re so many parts going on and moving under the vocals that its almost dizzying. You have the ever necessary drum kit and beat going, but there’re also random electric keyboard runs, a latin jazz style bass pattern, some guitar fills and what sounds suspiciously like tam-tam drums, shaker and pipa (Chinese guitar), which would be consistent with the ‘old Chinese movie’ theme in the PV. With all these various instruments playing their own individual parts over each other, it manages to make a really good solid backing for the vocals to sit on instead of overpowering or sounding like a huge instrumental mess.
As with many other upbeat AKB songs that have been produced, there is a horn section that mainly consists of blasting trumpets playing throughout the song (notables include Shoujotachi yo, Ponytail to Shushu, Everyday Kachuusha, Give Me Five!, etc). In those songs, the horn section mostly plays during the beginning of the song, provides some minor filling and support during the chorus and verses, and plays again during the breaks in between the chorus and the next verse. The brass in Flying Get does all that, but also plays more of a supporting role rather than just filler until the vocals come in again. Throughout the chorus especially, the horn section plays parts of the melody as well as provides transitions and supports the rest of the instruments. Although it may not seem like a big deal (it probably isn’t), the way the brass instruments were used in this song was different than they had been used before and so deserved at least a mention.
Stylistically, for Flying Get AKB made a 180 degree turn from standard J-Pop and entered a very interesting type of music. I honestly couldn’t categorize it, but Flying Get sounds like it somehow mixed older Asian music and Latin influences with a side of idol. This strange but fiery combo seems very….Gekikara…. There’s the spice of the Latin American countries, the power of the brass instruments and the band, combined with a driving, emotion-filled chord progression and oddly powerful idol vocals. The transitions from verse to chorus were also well orchestrated, with the energy coming down during the verses, and building up to the chorus. In addition, the instrumental bridge with the awesome shredding guitar managed to keep the intense energy going needed to maintain such a powerful song, and built it up even more to steamroller straight to a finale deserving of fireworks and explosions.
Flying Get was, and still is, a powerful song that is radically different from any of its contemporaries in both style and delivery. Whereas a traditional J-Pop song invites you with its cheery and kawaii girls singing to you, Flying Get pushes itself into your face, or rather, ears, until you roll over and take it. Just by being so different and innovative, Flying Get has ensured that it will hold its place in J-Pop’s memory for a long time.
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