Over the past few years, several Johnny’s groups have started recording more English-language material. This surprises me given the agency’s lack of access to English-speaking markets. Just like K-pop, I’m not sure I want these acts to be vying for international attention – especially if it means diluted the aspects that make them unique and exciting. But, I’m not quite sure that’s what’s going on here.
Despite its Japanese title, Namae Oshiete’s lyrics are 99% English. And, the song has some serious talent behind it. It was composed and produced by legendary American producer Babyface. I did a double take when I first saw this news. Babyface’s music conjures instant nostalgia, but his output has waned over the last decade or two. I certainly wouldn’t have expected him to collaborate with Johnny’s, though the match makes perfect sense when you consider the agency’s love for classic pop history.
Apart from its crisp harmonies, I don’t hear a ton of Babyface’s 90’s sound within Namae Oshiete. But, the song proves to be quite addictive. The lyrics are pretty awful, and they’re sung at such a slow pace during the verses that you can hear each excruciatingly cringy word with utter clarity. No native English speaker would say these things without wincing. But then that chorus rolls around and wraps the listener in a pop embrace. The tropical percussion sputters to life, the titular hook punches with layered finesse and the vocals flirt with falsetto. It’s incredibly cheesy, yet somehow Namae Oshiete gets better with each listen.
As usual, the youtube upload is a shortened version of the track. The full version adds a brief dance break and elaborates upon the last chorus for a very satisfying finale.