Review

Song Review: Official HIGE DANdism – Laughter

It’s not often you hear a new single that stretches on for nearly six minutes. Such is the age of streaming, and the time restraints necessary to craft a hit on platforms like Spotify. But although Official HIGE DANdism (Official髭男dism) have become the kings of streams in Japan, the Japanese market itself is still dominated by more old-fashioned forms of music consumption. Either way, I’m delighted that Higedan’s new single Laughter is so long. I wouldn’t cut a single moment.

Over the past year, Official HIGE DANdism has become an absolute sensation in Japan, and for good reason. I’m completely smitten with the band, and particularly frontman Satoshi Fujihara vocals. He’s such an incredibly expressive performer, imbuing each note with pathos and emotion and nuance, even as he’s belting to the rafters. And… belt he does. Where most bands might build toward a single climax within a song, each line of a Higedan track feels climactic. The band’s unique songwriting style favors long, stretched out melodies that compliment the power in Fujihara’s voice. Their music often elicits a combination of goosebumps and tears from me, and that’s not something I say often.

On first listen, Laughter might feel overly long or even meandering, but Higedan tracks reward gradual builds and explosive payoffs. The track’s classic rock instrumental contributes to its sense of momentum. Fujihara’s piano isn’t as prominent in the mix as usual, supplemented by an orchestral heft that lends Laughter a widescreen, grand appeal. The surging guitar and dramatic stomps of percussion add to the cathartic feel of the song, which builds to a head after its second chorus — right when most tracks would be drawing to their conclusion. Its bridge is an explosive moment of sheer audacity. I was on a walk the first time I listened to Laughter, and this segment literally stopped me in my tracks. The choir, the sustained power note, the overwhelming intensity of it all. Maybe it’s due to all the stress in our world right now, but Laughter completely owned me, reducing my usual resting bitch face to an embarrassing puddle of emotions.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9.25

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2 thoughts on “Song Review: Official HIGE DANdism – Laughter

  1. This song just cruises along. Before you know it, it is 2:20 in without much fuss. 6 minutes passes quickly.

    I don’t think they are the most innovative band ever, and actually not much that different from a Day6 or the like with a similar lead / shared lead vocals timbre, but it is all high quality stuff there.

    Speaking of the vocal, here we have another singer with effortless transition from mixed to head to falsetto, like our beloved Kim Sung Kyu, and more gutsier version of a Ryeowook. Very agile voice. This guys voice is lighter in timbre than most and he isn’t pushing on it, so it all sounds higher than it really is, That power note is only a B, which isn’t that high, but placed well enough so that he owns it. The higher falsetto twirls in the verses are higher D’s and E’s. In this respect his voice resembles more of a Steve Perry (… of Journey) type. Steve Perry only occasionally busted above a C, believe it or not, although it always seemed higher. Oh Sherrie’s “Holds on” line is a high C, for example.

    Another difference is that unlike other recent vocal performances that some are gushing about (ahem), this vocal has so much confidence in its delivery. You don’t spend a moment wondering if he is going to crack, or go flat, or how well can he sing it live, or is he really singing it live. The microphone on this performance is not lying.

    Like

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