After the 2016 disbandment of SMAP, the group’s members have pursued various avenues in life and the entertainment business. For Takuya Kimura, that has meant a little bit of everything. He’s active in dramas, radio, gaming and music. New single I’ll Be There comes from his second solo album, and was composed by members of popular J-rock act Man With A Mission.
I don’t always love when Johnny’s pairs their acts with buzzy talent from other corners of the J-pop world, but the results can be striking. My mind immediately goes to Miyavi’s work for Kis-My-Ft2 (Freeze) or, funny enough, his work with SMAP themselves (Otherside, Top Of The World). And in the case of I’ll Be There, we’ve got another epic track.
You all know I love when songs go completely over the top. I’ll Be There quickly finds that peak and pulls out an extra ladder to climb even further. It’s a fist-pumping, chest-beating anthem, arranged with the intensity of a battle cry. The song opens with its central refrain, perched over gentle guitar. This lasts for mere seconds before a choir of voices joins the fray. Stomping percussion gives the track incredible drive. After another lull, the full grandeur of orchestration fuels a secondary chorus. The song simply swirls with drama. This momentum pulls us into the guitar-heavy verse two, which is even more theatrical and rousing. I’ll Be There is the kind of track that makes you feel as if you can conquer the world. We don’t have nearly enough of those, and it’s fantastic to see an industry veteran embrace the bombast.