As happens with many acts within Johnny’s Entertainment, News have slowly become j-pop’s answer to a reliable old Vegas act. I don’t mean this as an insult. The group’s willingness to indulge in every manner of over-the-top novelty is one of their most endearing assets. And like any veteran performers, they always back it up with an undeniable talent.
After the underwhelming (and overlong) To You, Who Doesn’t Know Love last summer, I was fearful that News’ sense of joyful cheesiness was slowly being replaced by adult contemporary balladry. Thankfully, new single Emma brings them bounding back with the kind of high-energy singalong they can rattle off in their sleep. The song launches with a burst of surf guitar and spaghetti western influences, augmented with a slick dance beat. The production is wrapped up in a mainstream pop bow, but includes just enough individual hallmarks to help it stand out and feel like a fresh entry in their already impressive discography.
The verses are pure pop bliss, with a melody that echoes each line with an addictive answer of Abba-esque backing vocals. Their relative restraint works well to set up the very unrestrained chorus. Once we hit this enormous refrain, we’re in iconic News territory. They have a way of making a relatively simple hook feel like a confetti drop moment, and Emma‘s heavily-repeated chant is a big one. It’s undeniably cheesy, but performed with the kind of conviction and power that makes it hard to resist. And that’s News in a nutshell. I hope they never change.