I enthusiastically watched the entire NiziU project last year, happy to see many of my favorite personalities and talents make the final group. However, none of their post-show music has appealed to me. They’re one of those J-pop groups who pull a lot from K-pop tropes (JO1 and INI being other prominent examples), and this often results in a muddled sound that lacks its own identity. Sadly, new single Chopstick isn’t going to reignite my interest in the group.
For better or worse, Chopstick riffs on the familiar piano waltz of the same name – often one of the first songs learned by beginning pianists. I’m all for J-pop drawing from classical music, but I find the original Chopsticks somewhat irritating even in the best of times. Borrowing that foundation and adding even more irritating elements on top is… a choice. I have to hand it to the producers. It takes chutzpah to craft a track like this, and I’m sure its polarizing nature will appeal strongly to some listeners.
We all have our musical preferences, and in the coming days I’ll be raving about another J-pop song that some listeners will find equally cloying. But, Chopstick just ticks too many personal peeves. It’s plonky with an extra side of plonk. The vocals are pitched way too high and occasionally clash with the instrumental. The production is more percussive than melodic. The catchy chorus and standout rap cover some of these criticisms – especially when orchestral flourishes swell in the background. And honestly, Chopstick gets better as it goes on. I can fully understand why some fans might love this. But sadly, it’s another NiziU song that just isn’t for me.