Despite my slightly snarky review of the song, Cinderella Girl was an inescapably catchy debut for King & Prince. It perfectly positioned them as Johnny’s Entertainment’s next big thing, and a bonafide sensation in Japan. But as time has taught us again and again, a follow-up is just as important as a debut — maybe even more so. Knowing this, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed by Memorial.
Cinderella Girl was undoubtedly on the more saccharine side of Johnnys fare, but its structure was taut and continually circled back to a dynamite chorus. Memorial has a similar energy, but could do with some tightening. Its sweeping hook gets the job done, though its opening bars eclipse what comes after. The song’s verses are pure J-pop cheese, the kind of sickly sweet cooing that, frankly, does King & Prince no favors. They’re much more convincing on edgier b-sides like Beatmaker and Lover’s Delight. I worry that their fairy tale concept may be too limiting, and Memorial does nothing to dissuade that fear.
The instrumental is stuffed with all manner of dulcet strings and sparkling synths. What it doesn’t have is much of a lower end, and this lack of anchoring makes the track feel as if it’s going to fizzle away into fairy dust without leaving much of an impact when it’s gone. The group’s charisma holds it all together, and they even get the opportunity to display some vocal power during the song’s final moments. Memorial will do well no matter its quality — that’s how pop culture sensations work. I just hope that King & Prince’s success doesn’t cause Johnny’s to become lazy when it comes to song selection. There’s too much potential to waste on pleasantly innocuous material like this.