In a collaboration with the “Yuri!!! on ICE” anime series, Wataru Hatano brings his new single “You only live once”. For those that are already familiar with the series, this single won’t be much of a surprise because the title track is featured as the ending theme for the series. Hatano is unrecognizable in this release, surprising everyone while embracing a new music genre and leaving behind his pop-rocker image.
Single: You Only Live Once Label: Avex Release date: 23/11/2016 Genre: J-Pop/Dance
01.You Only Live Once 02.Sing and Dance! 03.You Only Live Once (Instrumental) 04.Sing and Dance! (Instrumental)
Track by track analysis:
01.You Only Live Once
Hatano meets progressive house. “You Only Live Once” is a track meant for those sports lovers that are looking for a good tune for your next workout. Heavily rooted in synths the song progresses thanks to a simple mid-tempo beat. For the fans of the genre this track will be an instant favorite. For those that were hoping for Hatano to deliver something closer to his trademark sound and don’t fancy electronica or house music, this will be a hard listen – Hatano‘s vocals are totally manipulated with auto-tune and distortions and the vocal performance is shorter than usual. On our side, although this is definitely not Hatano‘s sound at all, it still brought a certain “freshness” to his repertoire. Rather than the vocal performance being the main point in this track, it’s the instrumental that takes almost all protagonism. Whether the instrumental was done correctly or not would play a big role in our final rating. “You Only Live Once” is a track that you’ll want to listen either on the dancefloor or during a workout. 5/5
02.Sing and Dance!
“Sing and Dance!” seems to follow the same electronica trend set by this singles’ title track. Synths, brass, bass and simple drums lead the way in this happy-go-lucky track, yet another one that will take you to the dancefloor. Although the intro might be a bit of a put off for those that don’t fancy those kind of hyper, cutesy songs, things shift a bit when the first verse kicks off (not enough for us to actually enjoy this track). The song is nothing extraordinary, quickly being labeled “cute” rather than a strong, impactful song. Once again as it is with most songs – but especially with dance/electronica – the opinions might diverge a lot. On our end this track is clearly a downgrade after such a powerful dance tune with the title track. “Sing and Dance!” is a track that tries too much to incorporate something “brighter” rather than focus on the actual, overall content. Could have been a better track with some changes on the instrumental piece. Vocally this track isn’t challenging or interesting enough with all the vocal manipulation going on, so nothing to point out in this department. 3.5/5
Hatano keeps morphing his sound and ultimately distance himself from his pop-rock sound. This time around he surprised everyone while embracing progressive house in the title track and not letting go of electronic pop on the second track. In this energy driven release, Hatano showed that he can fit and keep up with the current trends. For longtime fans this is starting to take a strange turn, especially when what originally drew people to his music was his vocally abilities (clearly put in the background this time around) and the moving pop-rock instrumentals. With all of this gone it might make some fans distance themselves from his future releases.
While this might have been an exciting and hyped release (mainly because of the hype surrounding “Yuri!!! on ICE“), it feels like Hatano‘s sound is undoubtedly commercial right now. His pop-rock days seem to be something of the past for us right now – with the last good endeavor in the rock genre being “Kakusei no AIR” way back in 2015. Now he’s trying to appeal to a larger public, forgetting that what made him a renowned musician among seiyuu was his uniqueness, mainly in the vocal department. We’re curious to see where things head with his next single to celebrate his solo debut anniversary. Whether this is a temporary endeavor or a long term trip, the next release will certainly settle it.
You only live once is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.