Let’s take a break from Brave Girls to give NiziU the small artist spotlight for April!
If you haven’t already heard about or even listened to a song from NiziU, where you have you been?! Formed from reality competition program Nizi Project (and no, you’re reading it correctly… there’s no A), crafted by South Korea’s very own *whispers* JYP of JYP Entertainment, NiziU made a huge (and by huge, I mean 300,000 sales worth) dent in the Japanese music industry, effectively turning the group into… well, the nation’s girl group, lol (though that’s up to how you wanna see it; that’s just me).
NiziU makes their return with their second major single, a double A-side with two tracks that has JYP makings written all over it. Titled “Take a picture / Poppin’ Shakin’“, each track is bound to get the Japanese public going, but are these selfies going to turn out just right on the first try? Will they be poppin’ and shakin’ or are they just poppin’ chicken (so stupid, I’m sorry)? Let’s take a look!
“Wanna, wanna, wanna take a picture now? Take a picture now?” the 9-member group tell us with enthusiasm; frankly, I’m gonna, gonna, gonna.
“Take a picture” is catchy with every bit of its being, featuring a funky guitar meshed with that typical pop nearly-inspirational sounding organ melody that turns itself inwards for a booming dance-pop sound. The girls here all sound great, and no one is particularly grating. It’s got Korean pop production value written all over it, with a formula of vocals-to-rap that is incredibly familiar (TWICE, anyone?). I almost have to wonder if these are TWICE reject songs… but that aside, this is a track that is incredibly suited for the girls, with a countdown bridge that will have you counting along with them. My only hang-up is Rima’s rap, which just sounds a little bit cringey, but apart from it, this is a song worth feeling your oats over; so go ahead, take that picture! ⬛
The second A-side of the single, “Poppin’ Shakin’“, was previously released in February as part of its promotional campaign for NiziU LAB as part of Softbank (if I’m not mistaken), and I didn’t actually listen to this track up until the end of March when the full single was basically announced. It’s a bop, straight up.
Let’s break it down – it merges everything you know about J-pop with K-pop production quality, opting for an infectious la-la-la melody that is joined by the pulsing, booming beats of dance-pop. It has all the sorts of vibes of a cutesy J-pop TWICE track (never fails) but it just suits NiziU more. Every girl is given a chance to shine vocally (and boy, these girls have great vocals), and again, I mention it before that I’m not the biggest fan of Rima’s rapping, but it is just so much better here as it merges into more vocal territory. It’s a sugary sweet pop track that will have you singing along, no matter how much la-la’s you can get in. It’s fun, it’s poppin’ chicken in a good way, and it’s my favorite song on the single. ⬛
The B-side of the single is “I AM“, which has ITZY written all over it, though it doesn’t quite contain the punch that ITZY songs have. However, the message is there in full bloom, from the song to even its title. “I AM” is a be-yourself anthem that is basically TWICE’s “Touchdown” with its drumline melody that transitions into cheerleader pop sounds. Unsurprisingly, there’s a sort-of trap breakdown part-way through that is brief but adds that sort of Korean-pop-like feel to it. These are not shortcomings of the track, just familiarities that sets itself apart from its Japanese pop contemporaries; “I AM” is a catchy jam that is fun and feels like it could potentially be an A-side itself (though the A-sides are much better in comparison). If you like to be who you are, then “I AM” is surely for you. ⬛
A fantastic release from JYP’s Japanese pop group, NiziU is certainly taking J-pop to new heights with a freshness (at least, in Japan’s sense) that is surely going to keep going with each new release. “Take a picture / Poppin’ Shakin'” is a great single, filled with songs that have so much catchiness and fun to them, it’s hard to believe I’m not heavily invested just yet (once an album comes, just be prepared, lol).
I definitely recommend this single through and through. Each song is fabulous, including “Poppin’ Shakin'”, with its hyper-catchy dance-pop sound and vocal delivery. If you find yourself in a bad mood, you are bound to feel much better with that track’s composition. And if you’re feeling yourself, definitely listen to “Take a picture”. And if you’re feeling just you, listen to “I AM”. There’s a little something here for however you’re feeling, and it’s worth the listen.
MUST-LISTEN: Take a picture, Poppin’ Shakin’, I AM
For more NiziU reviews, visit the archive!