AKB singles this year have been predictable so far. As early as 2009, AKB has been laying down a format and timetable for their single releases: a spring sakura-related single, a summer single, an election single, an autumn unorthodox single, and a winter janken single. They’ve been going down the checklist, replicating and amplifying the success of 2010, and they’ve been succeeding. AKB started off the year with a million-seller ‘Sakura no Ki ni Narou’, and the following summer release ‘Everyday, Katchuusha’ has sold even more. Ecstatic with the releases so far, 2011’s answer to ‘Heavy Rotation’ was something I’ve been looking forward to; Unfortunately, ‘Flying Get’ just couldn’t live up to those expectations.
But that’s not to say the song was a disappointment; I actually enjoyed it a lot. It’s brash, celebratory, and boastful; a sound that I felt was a great entry to AKB’s lineup. It’s been likened to early Morning Musume tracks to which I agree to an extent, but I feel like ‘Flying Get’ has an attitude that’s distinctively its own. The song starts at full throttle and powers through to the end—this unrestrained and relentless quality gave it an exciting edge that kept me coming back. ‘Flying Get’ is a party; a fast, loud blur that ends too soon, making you want to jump right back into it again.
It’s the other elements of this release that just didn’t add up for me. I’ve expressed my worries about the uncut PV being 18 minutes long before on the podcast, and they were all realized when it was finally revealed. The cinematics didn’t enrich the music video; instead, they were far too drawn out and lacking any real entertainment value. The intro was especially quite a drag to get through until the actual PV kicked in, which was by contrast an incredibly fast-moving and busy video. I did enjoy the world of cheesy 80’s sci-fi mixed with extravagant Chinese design elements, and the set was absolutely beautiful, but it was clear that the director just couldn’t execute the narrative in a dynamic or fresh way that lived up to its cool concept.
‘Flying Get’s choreography was also lackluster. It was a dance that, like the video, didn’t enhance the song and couldn’t carry the energy that ‘Flying Get’ had impressed me with. While the costumes looked decadent and beautifully ornate, the entirely gold color scheme was an eye-sore. Add the messily thrown-together dance stage created for the PV and it becomes a lukewarm representation of a colorful song.
There was a lot going against this release. The drama that ‘Flying Get’ featured in was a ratings flop and the choreography, costumes, even the covers brought on criticism long before its release, and I don’t think that a decent PV with a lot of boring added footage will be enough to bring excitement back to the table for a lot of fans. Of course a lot of this vocal criticism probably wouldn’t have surfaced if AKB wasn’t the behemoth it is today with its sturdy track record, but any kind of tremor at this stage is going to cause a lot of wobbling. ‘Flying Get’ isn’t the second coming of ‘Heavy Rotation’, but it’s a solid song that’s far from their worst.
If AKB is sticking to 2010’s rubric, the next single should be another unconventional one. Since I found ‘River’ and ‘Beginner’ to be among their most creative songs, their next release is really my most anticipated one. Let’s go!
Releases August 24th, 2011