Song Review: Naniwa Danshi – Diamond Smile

Naniwa Danshi - Diamond SmileI saw a headline somewhere that referred to Naniwa Danshi as “glitter idols,” and that’s probably the best moniker you could use to describe them. Johnny’s has opted to give them a classic idol concept, complete with over-the-top costuming that’s popped right out of a manga. It’s not remotely trendy, but that’s the point. A song like Ubu Love is so brilliant because of its timelessness. It makes no apologies for its schmaltziness. That cheesy sentiment is its purpose, and Naniwa Danshi deliver with conviction.

The group’s first full album is filled with that same Ubu Love energy, stacked with intricate, orchestral arrangements and bubblegum melodies. It makes sense then, that pre-debut anthem Diamond Smile (ダイヤモンドスマイル) would act as its promotional track. If you thought Ubu Love brought the candy-coated bombast, you ain’t heard nothing yet! Diamond Smile is a hulking piece of maximalist pop. It’s turned up to eleven – a veritable assault on the senses. But, it succeeds because it’s so singular. There is no other music market on earth where you can hear a track like this from a chart-topping act.

Like I often say with Johnny’s acts, this song will not be for everyone. Sometimes, I’m even surprised it’s for me! But I can’t resist a great chorus, and Diamond Smile is 100% concentrated chorus — no dilution. This almighty refrain opens the track and repeats often. In fact, the song is so indebted to this sky-high hook that it forgoes a second verse entirely. And, how could you blame it? Naniwa Danshi and their producers throw every bit of energy they have at this melody. Nobody writes forty-second-long choruses these days, but Diamond Smile’s centerpiece just keeps growing – each exclamation more effusive than the last. Schmaltzy? You bet! Heartfelt? Most definitely. There’s something almost punk rock about how unrelentingly POP this is.

Granted, I’ve been familiar with this song for well over a year now. It’s practically become a modern Johnny’s standard. I’d be curious to flash back and see how I felt about this glittery bauble the first time I heard it.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9

(video does not include the full song)

3 thoughts on “Song Review: Naniwa Danshi – Diamond Smile

  1. This song sounds like the concept pitch for the next Disney parade “Smile!” at Magic Kingdom, to be played on a circular repeat for 20-some minutes.


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