Dominant j-pop agency Johnny’s Entertainment hasn’t debuted a new act since 2014, making King & Prince’s arrival highly anticipated. The group is a combination of two trainee units, Mr. King and Prince, and has already proven to be a huge commercial success with first single Cinderella Girl (シンデレラガール).
As with most Johnny’s acts, no one voice stands out as being particularly unique in tone. Mostly, King & Prince blend in with the agency’s house style, which consists of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production and multi-tracked, emphatic vocals that veer toward (and often fully embrace) the nasal side of boy band performance. If you’re not predisposed to liking this, you’re probably better off giving Cinderella Girl a pass. But for those of us who have no shame in this particular game, the song’s a lot of fun.
On first listen, Cinderella Girl is almost too saccharine for its own good. You watch the video and these guys are dressed in full kiddie show prince charming cosplay. They wink and mug for the camera, delivering cheesy asides like “you’re the only flowering heroine” and “always makes me happy!!” It’s too on the nose. Too obvious. And then you try to go to sleep that night and find that infinitely hummable chorus lodged in your head. That’s when you realize that this is going to be one of those songs. Its pop melody is so committed to its own exuberance that it sucks you into its gravitational pull. You succumb to it in spite of your better instincts.
This pretty much sums up my experience with the entire discography of fellow Johnny’s act Hey! Say! JUMP, and I won’t complain if King & Prince pull off a catalog half as addictive as theirs. These days, the world could use more shameless, upbeat fun.
(it also weirdly sounds like an old Sweetune song…)