Throughout their seventeen-year career, mega-successful j-pop group Arashi have traded in a variety of sounds. Of those, Power of the Paradise represents my absolute favorite — a dramatic mix of bombast and symphonics, all powering a sugar rush of propulsive pop melody. Though they’ve recorded better songs in this genre, Paradise pulses forward as a celebratory singalong, perfectly suited to its spot as their fiftieth single release.
The song made its debut as a theme for the Rio Olympics before its eventual release this month. This is not at all surprising, given its uplifting sound. Nearly the entire track is underlined by a cascade of powerful drums, which quickly become its strongest element. Over the top is a lush string section and hints of brass, giving Paradise a stately, orchestral feel. This potentially stuffy mix is expertly arranged to create a song that feels as accessible as it does grandiose. This has long been one of Arashi’s musical hallmarks, and it’s gratifying to hear their music retain such a high standard this late in their career.
I can’t put my finger on it, but the melody in the verses feels incredibly familiar. But in this case that’s actually a positive, as it evokes instant feelings of warmth and a complete desire to sing along. As a whole, Paradise isn’t as melodically adventurous as it could be, choosing a simple, heavily repeated refrain instead of something more ornate. There’s no telling how successful it would have been had it opted for a more experimental route, but its populous approach was probably smart. Power of the Paradise was designed as an anthem, and you can’t get much more anthemic than this.