Thursday, October 13, 2016
Tomomi Itano -- Dear J
Tomomi Itano (板野友美) was never my favorite AKB48 member. She was an important member of the group, and one that was especially popular among young girls thanks to her fashion gyaru looks. Even so, nothing on her quite caught my attention. Things changed a bit when she released her first solo single, “Dear J”.
Musically speaking, Tomochin was one of the least talented singers in the group, something that became even more striking when she became the first member to launch a proper solo career, in early 2011. What’s even more surprising: since the time of her graduation, around the time “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” (恋するフォーチュンクッキー) was released (2013), Tomochin easily became the steadiest ex-AKB48 member in the music industry, releasing mildly successful singles and full albums (her second album, “Get Ready♡”, will be released next month).
Released in January 2011, “Dear J” served as Tomomi’s debut single, and it was a big departure from AKB48’s typical sound. In fact, the heavy Technopop sound is very reminiscent of what K-Pop veteran supergroups Girls’ Generation and KARA, but also J-Pop longtime reigning queen Namie Amuro (安室奈美恵), were releasing at the time. Actually, like one of my friends said, Tomochin must have had lots of Amuro’s posters around her room during her “Dear J” era, because everything in this release, from the song and music video to the looks and faces, screams Namie.
Since Tomochin can’t sing, the vocals in “Dear J” are heavily autotuned in a way that we almost can’t hear her true voice behind all the robotic singing. However, it goes well with the club-friendly arrangement, and even with the somewhat dramatic chorus.
In the end, even though “Dear J” may sound like another disposable J-Pop tune, it stood the test of time for me, as I still listen to it a lot after five years of its release. In my opinion, Tomochin has not come up with another great song like this one in the last couple of years, but I agree that 2015’s “Gimme Gimme Luv” comes close at a second spot. I’ll probably give her second album a spin to see what she has on the sleeves.
“Dear J” reached #2 on the Oricon chart, selling 216,781 copies. Lyrics were written by Yasushi Akimoto (秋元康), while music was compsed by Keyz and Carlos K. As for the arrangement, corin. was the responsible.