2018 has been a strong year for j-pop so far, both when it comes to native Japanese artists and k-pop acts expanding into this territory. Though boy group Da-iCE’s January single Tokyo Merry-Go-Round didn’t do much for me, they’ve come roaring back with the brilliant Fakeshow. This is easily in the running for their best single yet.
Fakeshow initially piques interest, but it takes a few listens to truly get under your skin. The first element most listeners will notice is the instrumental’s riveting, slinky strings ornamentation. The production bursts at the seams, constantly on the verge of growing too grandiose and adventurous for its own good. But, barely controlled chaos turns out to be quite brilliant in this case, as the instrumental pulses with a masterful energy. It’s so wonderful to hear strings being used this way — not as a means to add an inflated sense of sentimentality, but as a playful response to the performers themselves.
While Fakeshow’s boisterous production will capture you immediately, its melody feels more elusive. Da-iCE deliver a vampy, theatrical series of hooks that take full advantage of their powerful vocals, but this is a modulation-heavy track and threatens to overwhelm with tricks. This may be an issue in the short term, but it pays off big time with repeated listens. Fakeshow retains its killer pop energy, but also feels like a genuine experiment. And that — in this day and age — is truly thrilling.