Friday, October 30th, 2020

ARASHI – Whenever You Call

A warm welcome to the band behind the world’s best-selling album of 2019. Well, lukewarm…


Alex Clifton: My first thought was “oh my god, a 90s boyband song!” Then I looked up ARASHI and realized they’ve been around since 1999, so that makes perfect sense. There are some more modern flourishes in here (obvious autotune, for example), but it’s really nice to hear something that sounds vintage. I feel like a boyband connoisseur as I get older and listen to more music, and I can tell when I hear a good group — this is one.

Thomas Inskeep: The J-pop stars called on Bruno Mars to write and produce their first English-language single (with D’Mile), and it sounds like, well, watered-down Bruno Mars. This mid-tempo ballad is saccharine sweet to a fault, and utterly average. (Much like, unfortunately, ARASHI’s vocals.)

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Huh, it turns out that “Bruno Mars co-writes a J-pop boyband song” sounds exactly how you think it would.  

Jessica Doyle: The video doesn’t do much to showcase or distinguish the members, which is fair; if you’re intrigued there’s plenty of background information to find. (A lot of it, sadly, got pulled from LiveJournal and is probably unrecoverable, but here’s an overview that survived.) More of the problem is that the music doesn’t do much to showcase or distinguish anything; it just drifts. I’m not sure if I would’ve liked the song more had it had a third-act key change, but I would have appreciated its effort more.

Tobi Tella: This is straight up “she took off her glasses and we found out she was beautiful the whole time!” music. It takes a certain amount of bravery to release something this Troy Bolton-esque, but it’s hard to support something so limp.

Alfred Soto: The synths, soft and wet, dampen ARASHI’s vocals, but it’s probable Bruno Mars couldn’t have enlivened this product. For himself he’s a sharper writer. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Stately and boringly romantic in the way that pop acts tend to get after two decades in the fray — this could be some British rockers taking a Diane Warren assist circa 1986-89, or an alt-leaning pop star bringing in Jack Antonoff circa 2017-forever. Instead it’s a Japanese boyband working with Bruno Mars in 2020, which is at least a novel combination. And to ARASHI’s credit, Mars makes them sound great, lush harmonies running up against a chugging synth-pop backing that is so slick it has no distinguishing characteristics. It’s a best case scenario for late period boyband material, but it’s still not all that interesting.

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2 Responses to “ARASHI – Whenever You Call”

  1. Wait, I thought Arashi was disbanding. Instead they’re trying to go overseas????

  2. sad i didn’t get to blurb this