Back in the last decade (2000 to 2009), a girl group by the name of AKB48 was already making waves for establishing a large group that would hold 48 members for a concept of ‘idols you can meet’, and while the idea was entertained for about 3-4 years, it didn’t actually take hold of Japan until the release of a quaint single with inspirational power in late 2009.
With the release of ‘RIVER’, AKB reached new heights, with the single being the best-selling idol-pop single since the last 7 years (you know, back when Morning Musume. was still a huge name), but is this RIVER worth the traverse to the other side, or is it generic enough to have you drown?
And this is where things really kicked off for AKB.
“RIVER” is an anthem of self-motivation, of girl power, of goals, of reaching the future… it’s crossing that river and believing in yourself. It hits hard. Once Takamina hits that “AKB~”, you know you’re in for a ride. Powered by unison singing, “RIVER” is the hardest that AKB had gone at the time, going for something that would undoubtedly get everyone in Japan fired up, whether it would be in their theaters or through the TV screen. Its instrumental has electric guitars, slight twinkles of synth piano, and heavy-hitting drums, but even that is overpowered by the vocal powers of the “RIVER” senbatsu.
It gets the people going. RIVER! You can do it!
Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara
Because I Love You
A staple favorite for AKB fans, “Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara” is idol-pop at its BEST.
Performed by the Under Girls, the AKB ‘not-quite-as-popular-but-we’ll-get-them-there’ senbatsu, fueled by electric guitars and violins in harmonic unison throughout, it follows a slight generic idol-pop formula, but it never feels like it wanes. Perhaps it has something to do with its incredibly catchy chorus, or perhaps its the speed at which the girls sing along with the instrumental, but whatever it is, it works. What’s also nice is that vocally, there’s no issues. The girls work really well throughout the song. It just feels really fun, and its cheer-like nature (as well as its wholesome attitude) has fans cheering to the song in unison. This is quintessential idol-pop, and I couldn’t love it more.
Lastly, we’ve got the Theater Girls!
Performed by a batch of girls who aren’t quite as popular yet under the AKB umbrella, “Hikoukigumo” is another staple AKB song that is moreso performed in their theater shows. However, in this particular case, the song has been remastered to fit the quality of the single, and it works really well! I find myself enjoying the song more and more with every listen. It’s a very generic idol-pop song, containing horns, electric guitars, claps, and other interesting instruments and sounds that make up your usual idol-pop song. It has a cheer feel to it, as well, giving fans an opportunity to sing along. It’s a little more toned down than the other songs on this single, but it’s rather fun to listen to. It does wane, much like a vapor trail, but I always find myself coming back to this song every now and then.
(There’s a video for this song, but alas, it is not available on the AKB48 YouTube channel, lol.)
This single slaps!
Each song is a song full of cheer and joy, something I have been missing from the AKB catalogue for years. When I come back to listen to this single every now and then, it takes me back to when I was in high school, having discovered AKB and the overall wholesome and inspired quality that their songs presented and carrying that forward with me in life. Not to say AKB is bad now, but ‘RIVER’ is a great example of AKB at their peak, and how they persevered.
While it might be in the past now, ‘RIVER’ is a memory of all the great things that have come since then. AKB has done it. They’ve reached goals they never thought possible, and ‘RIVER’ was pretty much the start. Well done, AKB.
MUST-LISTEN: 君のことが好きだから, RIVER