Over the past couple of years, Sexy Zone have delivered a near-perfect singles run. The momentum was bound to dip eventually. When it comes to Johnny’s groups, that usually occurs with the release of a slower, more sentimental track. Like many J-pop acts, their music is tied heavily to dramas, and Summer Hydrangea (夏のハイドレンジア) serves as the theme of member Kento Nakajima’s new drama – a remake of Korea’s She Was Pretty. The drama itself is a ton of fun, and the song acts as a great soundtrack. Taken on its own, it’s emotive and beautiful but lacks the impact of their upbeat work.
If you watch J or K dramas, you’ve heard this style of song many times before. It’s practically its own genre by now. Cue the lilting piano, add wispy strings and make everything as overwrought as possible. With this criteria, Summer Hydrangea is a total success. The guys pour their hearts into the track, delivering a series of great vocals that emphasize the innate drama within the melody. The chorus has a satisfying surge, pushed forward by insistent percussion that gives Hydrangea appealing drive.
Yet, unless I’m watching Kento charm his way through the drama, I don’t have much use for a song like this. I can’t fault the music on a technical level, and Sexy Zone remain as engaging as ever. At just under five minutes, the song is perhaps overlong. But, its drowsy energy necessitates a prolonged delivery. As sentimental OSTs go, this is a great one. Yet, my musical inclinations will find me reaching for the synthwave sounds of English-language b-side Heat much more often.