My thoughts on the sophomore solo single from former Especia member Wakita Monari.
Release Date: February 15th 2017
1. Boy Friend
2. Red Skirt
3. Boy Friend (instrumental)
4. Red Skirt (instrumental)
Wakita Monari has been doing pretty well for herself creatively since striking out on her own as a solo artist. Contrast her fortunes with that of her old group Especia; who just recently broke up and I guess it would be fair to say this ended up also being a really good business decision with hindsight being 20/20. We’ll never know the exact details that lead to things ending up the way they did, but it’s a really unfortunate situation for all involved with Especia. Well, Monari appears to have moved on and hopefully so can everyone else now.
On a more positive note, Monari’s debut single “In The City” turned out to be a very strong single to kick off a solo career with. So strong in fact that it easily made my Top 10 Singles/EPs/Mini-Albums of 2016. You can also read my full thoughts on the single by heading over here. It basically gave me the old Especia sound that I’d been missing so it would have been really difficult for me not to end up loving it a bunch. We can argue if it’s still “Idol music” if you want but I kinda don’t care if it is or not. All I know is it was great and you should check it out if you haven’t already.
I guess you could say that I’m heading into this new single with fairly high expectations of it. It’d be hard for me not to in all honesty, given how highly I rated the single that came before it. What am I hoping for exactly? Well, as long as I get some kind of 80s Synth-Pop type deal I think I’ll be pretty satisfied. If I don’t get that then oh well, as long as it’s still good I’m sure I won’t be having too many complaints about it. That’s enough heaping on unreasonable expectations and complaining about Especia yet again from me, let’s take a look at this shiny new single here.
Well first up we have “Boy Friend”, not “Boyfriend” but a boy who is a friend. Or maybe it’s a classic case of Japan not getting the English quite right, who knows. Regardless, if Monari or any other Japanese entertainer wants to get herself a boyfriend (or girlfriend, it’s 2017 after all) then who are any of us to judge? All that aside, you know when you hear the first like 10 or so seconds of a song and you just know that you’re going to like it? That’s pretty much what happened to me here. I came in with expectations and it appears they’re going to be met.
The song opens with that retro Synth-Pop style instrumental that I’ve grown to love over these past however many years its been at this point. It’s warm and familiar although some could make the case of it being a little too derivative, their loss. Monari’s vocals are warm and playful which makes the song sound even brighter than the instrumentals already makes it sound. This style of song definitely fits her vocal range well and it seems like both she and her producers have a real appreciation for the genre, which comes through in the song. Man, this end of year Top 10 is getting messy already.
Our b-side for this single is titled “Red Skirt” but written in Japanese instead of English in a shocking twist. Short song titles written in English seem to be all the rage these days so this was a little surprising if not also a trivial observation on my part. Maybe “Red Sweater” would have been a more appropriate title seeing as that’s what Monari was wearing for a bit there while promoting this single, missed opportunities. Is it weird that parts of the instrumental for this song kinda remind me of Maison Book Girl? I don’t know, there’s just something about it I guess.
The instrumental for this song sure is different, but there are parts that are still familiar so it’s not a total shock to the system. Some of those synthesizers are a little out there though, especially at the start of the song. It gets toned down for the majority of the proceedings though but there’s still some interesting stuff going on. The song is sung more like a “ballad” I guess but it’s far from being monotone and boring. Monari just has a voice that I could listen to forever, although if I’m being honest I do like “Boy Friend” a bit more than this song. Both are excellent though.
I’m not really sure what more to say apart from this is another fantastic single from Wakita Monari. It’s only her second solo effort but man is this stuff great. Granted you maybe do have to have a predisposition towards 80s Synth-Pop but I feel like most people could find enjoyment in these songs. Her solo career is still in its early stages but I really do think she’s onto a winner with this kind of stuff, with me anyway.
I believe I read on “the internet” that Monari is already putting together some new songs for what I assume will be a future release. That’s great news if you’re me or anyone who has enjoyed these past 2 singles she’s put out. Hopefully she doesn’t keep us all waiting too long but if it’s more material in a similar style to this stuff then I guess I’ll be able to cope with the wait somehow.