I first heard (most of) Run during a live performance back in late March, and I knew right away that this was going to be a big pop moment. It’s rare that a song ticks so many of my musical boxes at once. But due to pandemic postponements, it’s been an excruciatingly long wait to hear the full studio recording.
If you’ve followed my “Top 100 K-Pop Songs of All-Time” countdown, you’ll know that there are certain musical approaches that I tend to covet: a constant sense of rising momentum, rock-tinged instrumentals and celebratory brass, big power notes and explosive choruses. Even one of these aspects can make a track really click with me. It’s almost impossible to find them all within a single song. But to my surprise and delight, Run is that song.
Sexy Zone have been on a roll this past year, releasing one killer single after another. Run acts as a theme to member Kento’s new buddy cop drama Midnight Runner, and harnesses the excitement of that genre. Right from the start, the track pummels us with its mammoth brass riff, bounding forward on galloping percussion and a jam-packed instrumental. The first verse snowballs from there, cresting along the guitar-fueled rhythm with waves of backing vocals adding extra heft. The song grows more intense as we enter the first part of its pre-chorus, only to hit a momentary lull that sets up the chorus for punchy, maximalist fun.
Run’s second verse plays with this energy further, drifting in and out of ultra-rhythmic segments as the groups’ vocals power on. Fuma’s raw, deeper-toned voice has always been a key ingredient in Sexy Zone’s best work, and it’s utilized at full ferocity here, offering moments of sheer exhilaration. Kento is undeniably strong as well, performing with a forcefulness that really suits the song. Then, there’s that chorus. It hits like a ton of bricks every time it comes around. The melody is structured as exclamation point after exclamation point, climactic strings whirling in the background to craft a rousing, almost disorienting sense of movement.
Since the inception of The Bias List, I’ve set a precedent never to give a song a perfect score right off the bat. After all, music needs time to fully reveal itself. And in the strictest sense of that rule, I guess the precedent still stands given the fact that I’ve lived with most of Run for months now. But, that shouldn’t dull its achievement. This is an absolutely superb single.
Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!
Now THIS is a song we can agree on. Oh I do so love the Sexy Zone. I love that I can say that I love the Sexy Zone and not have it mean other things.
I swear to god that doesn’t sound like double time but quadruple time or something. Octuple time? Does such a thing exist? But as soon as I heard the song careen out of the gates with the bpm set in true jpop fashion a good 10 or 20 bpm too high, you just know its going to be good.
There are so many nuggets of instrumental goodness in here, you have to do your ten second by ten second break down to capture them all. (My favorite moment hits at about 1:54, that guitar drop out line.) (No its not, its 1:34 with that bass line ripping.)
But lets pick up on the fact that jpop doesn’t sacrifice performance in pursuit of a hypersynchronized vigorous dance attempting to more be over the top than the last dance. Or any dance really. Did you miss a dance here, nope! The video is stylish despite complete and utter lack of a dance. Or costume change for that matter, I don’t think they change from those blue shirts. Or expensive set. One building set filmed thisaway and thataway, and sky. That sky set, that must have cost, well nothing. Nope, just basic good old camera work with clever shots and framing. Akira Kurosawa would be proud! (Perhaps? OK who knows what Kurosawa would think of jpop.)
The singing is high quality pop too, full throated, and somehow keeps up with the crazy pace. They all can sing! And they can sing over that crazy intense instrumental, and cut right through it while still singing not shouting. OK sure, the chorus is a chorus of all four, but that is actually highly effective.
If I have one problem with this song, is that it is jpop and made of that Unobtanium material for the us here in the US.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I’m glad you enjoy it as much as I do! I’m never quite sure how J-pop is going to sit with readers of this blog (especially when it comes from a group called “Sexy Zone”), but Run is just such an incredible energy.
Nick , can you please tell me your favorite Jpop song?
At this point, I don’t even know what it is myself! So, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. 🙂
You have to review the other songs included in the CD single. They even have one entitled Small Love Song which is their first try on an all English song. I like Together, a feel good happy song. All the songs in their CD single is really good. STY or Sexy Thank You! As Kenty would always say. 🙂
This song nearly brought me to tears. And I never cry. The Power.
Pretty much my reaction as well, though I was prepared for it since I’ve been waiting for this full song for so long.
I agree that they’ve been releasing hits after hits, although Wonder Child is still my favorite from those you’ve listed and linked here. Since this song is kinda a coupled release with King & Prince’s Mazy Night (because of the double casting for the Miman drama), I can’t help but compare the 2 songs. It seems that you prefer this one, and I happen to prefer Mazy Night. I guess mostly because Mazy Night is just much better performed. Just looking at the MV, and not the performance of this song actually raises all of its merits!
Btw, are you also following the drama? Objectively, the writing is pretty uneven, but the casting of Kento and Sho is brilliant! It’s almost like they’re playing themselves.
I actually just finished the second episode last night! It’s a lot of fun, isn’t it? They’ve got great chemistry and I love that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Yeap! It’s my weekend guilty pleasure! Episode 5 is my favorite so far.
I totally thought they were gonna make a KentoxSho unit though. They’ve done this with double Johnny’s castings before like shujixakira [seishun amigo] and torajixhaiji [Fantastipo]. That would’ve been interesting to see.
OMG, do you know where I can get/buy this song or stream it or whatever? I need to have it on my phone, I am obsessed… it’s not on SPotify, not on Itunes, I don’t have the Japanese Itunes… is there ANY other way :(((
Unfortunately, the only way to get music from Johnnys groups is to buy the physical cd.
Check your email 🙂
You’re a legend, thank you! 🙂
Powerful song and vocals from beginning to end, although I’ve always been a fan of transitions in key or time signature, some songs are better left as is like this one. I’m new to Sexy Zone, I just heard them from a friend. We have different biases in the J and A world. LOL Anyway, such a promising group.