Since its release last month, I’ve held up News’ Story as 2020’s best J-pop album so far, but Miyavi’s new Holy Nights might just give it a run for its money. Album track Heaven Is A Place On Earth is worth the price of admission alone, with a final spine-tingling minute-and-a-half that may just be the year’s most stirring musical moment. Prior to the release of Holy Nights, Miyavi teased its three opening songs one by one, starting with Bang. I’m so happy that the song now has a full music video so that I can rave about it today.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Miyavi and his awesome, inhuman talents as a guitarist. But this new work – his first since joining Japan’s LDH agency – represents a creative resurgence that was only hinted at during 2019’s No Sleep Till Tokyo. Bang is a perfect encapsulation of the intensity that characterizes Holy Nights’ first half. He’s set his sights firmly on “rock anthem,” funneled through the nimble propulsion of a great dance track. Bang opens with its chorus – all layered, fist-in-the-air vocals with minimal instrumental backing. This makes the frenzied guitar all that more impactful when it hits soon after.
Miyavi is synonymous with this slap guitar style of playing, and it lends his work greater rhythmic appeal than you’d find in most rock. For those of us predisposed to loving this approach, the results are nothing short of inspiring. It helps that Bang carries absolutely no musical fat. Its verses are taut and engaging. Its pre-chorus is gargantuan in sound, clobbering you over the head with unyielding snare drum. And the chorus, once joined by its full instrumentation, is a big sonic exclamation point, closing with a delightful bit of percussive playfulness. As the song itself references often, this is the aural equivalent of a Big Bang, puncturing a hole through the less-is-more genre trends currently holding the global music market hostage.
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