Exile’s iconic vocalist Atsushi is celebrating his 40th birthday with the impending release of a new album – his first in nearly seven years. Pre-release single Osaka Tokyo (オーサカトーキョー) stands as another milestone, recorded with fellow J-pop veteran Koda Kumi. The duo last collaborated way back in 2006, making this song a long-awaited reunion. As might be expected of an Exile-related project, Osaka Tokyo is a straightforward club track, drawing upon both performers’ unique voices to great effect.
When it comes to Exile songs in this style, it usually takes a few listens for them to sneak up on me. What first seems overly simple and generic soon reveals itself as a welcome earworm. That’s thanks to a classic approach to melody writing. None of Osaka Tokyo’s ingredients are remotely unique, but the song itself is strong enough to thrive within any genre. Atsushi and Koda make an interesting pair. His voice is higher and more reedy, while hers has a thicker, more combative sound. This is a bit of a role reversal when it comes to duets like this, and the two blend quite well.
Though its titular, chanted hook is Osaka Tokyo’s calling card, I’m much more charmed by the melodic refrain that precedes it. It has that descending structure I tend to love, where we meet the chorus at a high before sliding down. This gives the segment a punchy appeal that acts as a nice highlight. Osaka Tokyo‘s uncluttered sound will bring you right back to the first half of the 2010’s, but that’s no bad thing.
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