Originally scheduled to coincide with Japan’s ill-fated hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Kite (カイト) brings together J-pop’s biggest male idol group with current chart-topper Kenshi Yonezu, who composed the track. Though I doubt whether this single will be Arashi’s final song before hiatus, it certainly carries the necessary weight. Kite’s lyrics reflect upon how the seeds of a dream blossom across a person’s life — a universal message that could easily tie itself to a variety of pursuits, from Olympic athlete to idol performer.
More importantly, Kite thrives on an entirely-orchestral arrangement. Before you continue reading, go back and listen to the group’s In the Summer from last week. Compare its vocals with Kite’s, and you’ll likely question if these two performances came from the same group at all. That’s the importance of arrangement. It’s about knowing your artists’ strengths and tailoring music to those qualities. In the Summer’s feeble attempt at appealing to global ears proved that Arashi’s voices just aren’t meant for that style of material. On Kite, they’re lush and weighty, layered together to deliver a resonant performance that embraces its own theatricality.
This appeal is further heightened by an instrumental that allows for open space, while adding prominence to the song’s waltz-like chorus. The orchestral arrangement has a grand and sentimental feeling, yet never feels overdone. There are many segments that don’t feature percussion at all, allowing the group’s vocals to drive the rhythm. It’s quite hypnotic at times, with a simple, repeating melody at its core. Kite builds to a suitably momentous crescendo, firmly instilling that sense of hope it stakes its success on. I’m sure it will sound even better when we’re able to revel in the spirit of the Olympics once more.
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