I haven’t written much about Johnny’s Entertainment lately, mostly because I think the agency has had an underwhelming 2019 so far. But, my favorite Johnny’s act has recently returned with their annual full-length album so it’s time for me to dust off the cobwebs and dive in.
If I believed in the concept of “guilty pleasure,” Kis-My-Ft2 would certainly fit the bill. They’re not a group filled with in-sync dancers or amazing vocalists (in fact, a couple members have essentially made their name on not being able to sing), but they never disappoint when it comes to larger-than-life, bombastic pop music. New track Hug & Walk (what does that even mean?) is the latest in a near-flawless singles run, hearkening back to a simpler time when EDM was hands-in-the-air cheesy and a ton of fun.
As derided as it may be in some circles, LMFAO’s 2011 hit Party Rock Anthem really crystallized the musical trends of its era – goofy and over-the-top and shamelessly catchy. Hug & Walk pays tribute in sound and spirit, offering finely tuned melodies to anchor its schlocky dance beat. As a universal “let’s all love each other” anthem, the song definitely gets the job done.
Kis-My-Ft2’s indelible personality comes through on the verses, which pulse with funky electro energy. As the melody moves through its various stages, the instrumental answers with added layers of synth percussion, funneling the power of a good beat drop into moments you might not expect to hear it. The chorus moves from a galvanizing Euro-dance refrain to a euphoric instrumental hook with all the subtlety of an EDM parody, but the guys embrace the inherent knock-off nature of the structure with aplomb. As a simple, sun-dripped club track, Hug & Walk isn’t as revelatory as some of the material on their excellent 2018 album Yummy (seriously, Freeze and Break The Chains were SO good), but its giddy sense of optimism feels strangely vital in today’s pop climate.