Tasuku Hatanaka is back with “Manatsu BEAT“, single that takes pride in its dreamy soundscapes, catchy tunes and smooth vocals.
Title: 真夏BEAT Label: Lantis Release date: 22/08/2017 Genre: Dance-pop/Tropical house
1．真夏BEAT 2．Summer Breeze 3．CRUISING 4．真夏BEAT (Instrumental) 5．Summer Breeze (Instrumental) 6．CRUISING (Instrumental)
Track by track analysis:
A high tension synth lead opens the way for “Manatsu BEAT“. Relying heavily on synths to create its dreamy soundscape, “Manatsu BEAT” is an interesting summer dance tune. Among the several interesting bits in this instrumental, we have the tempo changes. This instrumental has more than its fair share of tempo changes. The verses are initially slow paced, however, the build up made into the chorus is so well done that the listener barely notices the smooth increase of tempo. Soothing synth pads and a groovy bass line were pivotal for that smoothness. Then we have the verses, clearly faster paced than the chorus and packing a whole lot of tension that culminates in its high tension synth lead and catchy beat. In the chorus I found the washy drums, especially the cymbals, to be rather overbearing. When the chorus kicks in, all you can listen are those cymbals that completely take away the focus from the vocals. Aside from this, the instrumental is catchy and creates a comfortable lounge vibe that makes this song incredibly enjoyable to listen to.
On the vocal end it’s a pity that Hatanaka didn’t show more. He certainly is a solid singer, demonstrating that with this groovy performance, however, aside from a quick falsetto, nothing interesting happened. Even with its issues, “Manatsu BEAT” is a solid opening tune. 4.5/5
For this song Hatanaka embraced this year’s EDM trend: tropical house. “Summer Breeze” relies on a slow paced, groovy mix of dirty synths (seesaw, among others barely noticeable on a first listen), marimbas, dreamy synth pads, a funky bass line and a simple hi-hat and bass drum beat. There’s something about this instrumental that is dreamy and nostalgic at the same time, is alluring in its own way, making it impossible for anyone to ignore. The soundscape crafted with this song – even including the sound of waves washing away the shore – is one of its biggest assets.
In this dreamy soundscape, all focus is on Hatanaka‘s sweet, R&B-ish vocals. Between his trademark falsetto, sweet mid-tones, vibrato and even rap, he more than made up for the lack of excitement on the vocal end in the previous song. After listening to this song, it feels like it would have been a better fit as a title track. This single’s highlight. 5/5
“CRUISING” brings back a funky, 90’s inspired dance-pop sound to the table. A blend of synths that include dirty, arpeggiated and atmospheric synth pads leads the way, setting a fast pace to this song and, at the same time, crafting this big sounding pop tune. The instrumental counts as well with a groovy bass line and a simple hard-hitting beat.
On the vocal end we have a performance reminiscent of what late 90’s/early 00’s boybands use to be known for. The intro managed to steal a snicker from me with its cheesiness, however not everything fell in tacky territory. Hatanaka managed to deliver an energetic performance filled with falsetto – a highlight in the chorus -, that fit well with the old-school vibe that this song exudes. Although far from being the best song on this release, “CRUISING” is still an entertaining tune that will take you on a trip down memory lane, back to the tackiness and excitement of big boyband pop tunes. 4/5
One year after making his debut, Tasuku Hatanaka returned with “Manatsu BEAT“. Loungy dance music seems to be a perfect fit with Hatanaka‘s versatile vocals.
“Manatsu BEAT” has the right amounts of laidback, high-tension, funkiness and groove that make this song a noteworthy dance tune. However, synths seem to be the main focus in this song and, aside from an occasional falsetto or vibrato-ed part, Hatanaka‘s performance was uneventful. It seems that priority was given to make him sound cool as possible, completely putting his singing skills in the back seat.
“Summer Breeze” stole the show and should have been the title track. Hatanaka‘s R&B-ish vocals and the sweet instrumental made this song stand out with ease within this release. For all I know, this song could easily be one of the best dance songs released during this summer. Stellar work on that instrumental managed to, not only channel a dreamy vibe, but also embrace a trendy music genre while not making it overbearing or sound too generic.
While I was expecting another dance tune – especially taking into account the overall feel of the single as well as its theme, I wasn’t expecting to be taken back in time, to when boybands were a thing, with “CRUISING“. The song doesn’t kick off in the best way, with that “Yeah Baby…” making Hatanaka sound like a cheesy DJ from that era, ultimately ending up making it difficult to take this song seriously. The weakest song on this release that, if you want to have a perfect experience with this single, can be overlooked and you won’t be missing much. It’s just an entertaining tune, nothing more.
After listening to this single I still feel that, for the most part, the focus was on creating a cool identity/image for him in the music industry rather than focusing on showcasing his vocal prowess. Thankfully his stunning performance in “Summer Breeze” was enough to fill in the void that the uneventful “Manatsu BEAT” and “CRUISING” were responsible for.
All in all, “Manatsu BEAT” perfectly created a summer-y soundscape meant to be enjoyed at any given time. With dreamy instrumentals and groovy performances, “Manatsu BEAT” isn’t necessarily an improvement in comparison with “STAND Up“, yet this is a consistent release that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Manatsu BEAT” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.