1830m to Tokyo Dome

AKB48's 1830m

cover

AKB48 is going to Tokyo Dome! It will be probably what they consider their biggest achievement yet. Tokyo Dome is a special venue to a lot of Japanese acts. It’s where they can really say they’ve made it Big in Japan. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the group has released a new album, 1830m.

The album’s title 1830m is named after the distance from AKB48′s theater in Akihabara to Tokyo Dome. It’s not that far of a walk really, just a little over a mile. The album is jam packed with everything an AKB48 fan could hope for: a DVD with extra content, a 48 page photobook, a poster, and two, TWO discs worth of AKB48 music goodness. Pretty good deal, isn’t it?

Actually, the two disc set is a bit misleading, as the first disc is more of a compilation album, where the second disc is all new content. I’ve never been a big fan of AKB48′s album releases. Last year’s Koko ni Ita Koto wasn’t so great aside from one or two songs, and some fans even said it was “pretty bad”. Kamikyokutachi from 2010 was good however that was a compilation itself. I’m pretty glad to say though, 1830m is quite a decent album.

The first disc houses all past stuff including: singles, coupling tracks, and some of the most recent stage songs(recent being 2009). The disc is well-rounded enough for an idol album. The opener First Rabbit starts off with the innocent twinkling of a music box, before launching into the ever-familiar chugging rock-inspired idol pop of AKB48. It has all the characteristics of an AKB48 anthem of recent years, similar to Shojotachi yo before it. Few unique tracks stand out among the rest. Yasai Uranai is a silly but festive song about your very important veggies. Ougon Center, performed by the group’s Kenkyuusei, is fun and funky, akin to the style that was popular with Hello! Project back in their heyday. Romance Kakurenbo‘s mid-tempo oldies style performed by young upstart Omori Miyu is a nice surprise, as not only is it a solo, but also it’s sang quite well. That said, there are also some bland and generic stuff thrown in there too. Jung ya Freud no Baai is middling and just… bleh, I don’t know how else to put it. And other tracks like Renai Sosenkyo and Lemon no Otoshigoro, while not too bad, are just stuff that’s been heard and nothing spectacular. The first disc is pretty much anchored by the group’s successful singles such as summer hit Everyday, Kachuusha and Maeda Atsuko’s election winner Flying Get. 1830m‘s first disc has a number of good and unique idol pop, but it’s also balanced by some generic and boring idol pop.

The second disc is where the real stuff is at. This is where all the new content resides. There are team songs, duets, solos, and other fun things. Team A’s song Hate opens disc two quite strongly. Hate is a pop-electronica track that’s a little bit on the darker atmosphere. The synths that accompany the song could be something you would hear out of Perfume. It’s often joked when fans talk about team songs, that Team A ALWAYS gets the best song. Well, it’s true here. Shinoda Mariko follows up the electronic start with a progressive style pop track Plastic no Kuchibiru. If Hate is reminiscent of Perfume, then Plastic no Kuchibiru is capsule. Cascading synths run through the whole song and Mariko-sama stylishly sings her lines on autotune. Plastic no Kuchibiru is perfect for Shinoda Mariko. I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting song for such a stylish person.

The second disc’s two opening tracks are probably the strongest on the album, but there are a few that are still good in their own right. Gu~ Gu~ Onaka is cute, child-like, and should be some kind of nursery rhyme. Team B’s No Kan is just what you would expect from them; kind of silly and dumb, but cute because that’s how they are. Team K gets a usual chugging pop-rock piece with Iede no Yoru, but it’s a good choice to showcase their strength and drive. Chokkaku Sunshine and Sakuranbo to Kodoku by Teams 4 and Kenkyuusei respectively unfortunately doesn’t have the same pull like their senior teams, and just falls into the generic idol pop we’ve all heard.

Kojima Haruna and Oshima Yuko’s duet Scandalous ni Ikou is a fun pop-rock number; while not very different, it sounds good as the duo are having fun with the song. It’s similar to what Buono! would release. Really, Kojiharu as a Hello! Project fan probably wanted a song in their style, and Oshima of course follows along because of her love for the Nyan. If you’re looking for the most “idol” song out of this whole album, look no further than Avocado Jane~shi by Sashihara Rino and Watanabe Mayu. The track is straight up IDOL—singing about fruits and being cute, cute, and cute. Maeda Atsuko and Takahashi Minami’s duet was the most anticipated by fans, but Omoide no Hotondo is just your usual mid-tempo idol ballad. The duo sings the piece very well though, and they sound great together. And then, there’s that other ballad, Bokutachi wa Ima Hanashiau Beki Nan da by Itano Tomomi and Kashiwagi Yuki. What the hell were they thinking with this one? It’s well known that Kashiwagi is one of the better singers from not only her Team B, but all of AKB48 in general; and Itano, well she’s the total opposite and doesn’t sing very well. These two do not complement each other at all; they’re somewhat an anti-pairing and definitely clash when they sing. Kashiwagi blows Itano out the water when she sings. Did I mention it was a ballad? Yeah. Nope.

Just like with disc one, disc two has a number of good tracks, but it also has it’s fair share of shortcomings. Aozora yo Sabishiku Nai ka? which features EVERYONE from the 48 family(except JKT48, sorry Japan only) is a boring mid-tempo ballad. I don’t know what it is about these kinds of arrangements, but I can never enjoy them without starting to fall asleep. Disc two fortunately ends it off on quite a good, but solemn note. The group’s ace Maeda Atsuko, who is leaving AKB48 subsequent the release of 1830m, sings her last solo song in the form of Sakura no Hanabira(tachi). AKB48′s debut single gets a re-arrangement tailored for Acchan. The tempo is taken down and only single notes of the piano opens the song. As the piece progresses a group of strings back the instrumental, and pretty much by this point, you’re misty eyed. It’s quite the heartbreaking piece, not only because of the brilliant re-arrangement, but also what the song is representing. Maeda Atsuko, the face of AKB48, is leaving. Who knows what’s gonna happen next? Big changes are coming to the group, and this is the first test to see if they can survive.

1830m is a huge release. Two discs worth of music, along with a bunch of extra stuff. The music is good and bad, there are highs and lows, but as a whole it is a pretty decent album. 1830m pretty much has all the styles you would find from AKB48: slow ballads, energetic pop-rock, electronic-inspired pieces, and cute stuff kids would love. To established fans of AKB48, 1830m is probably nothing special. They’ve heard this many many times already. But this is a nicely packaged album that would serve well as an introduction to not only AKB48, but idol music in general.

 
AKB48
1830m
2012.08.15

Disc 1
01. First Rabbit
02. Ougon Center
03. Miniskirt no Yousei
04. Ue kara Mariko
05. Anti
06. Lemon no Toshigoro
07. Renai Sousenkyou
08. Yasai Uranai
09. Everyday, Kachuusha
10. Hashire! Penguin
11. Romance Kakurenbo
12. Tsubomitachi
13. Jeung ya Freud no Baai
14. Flying Get
15. Kaze wa Fuiteiru
16. Sakura no Ki ni Narou
17. GIVE ME FIVE!

Disc 2
01. Hate
02. Plastic no Kuchibiru
03. Omoide no Hotondo
04. Iede no Yoru
05. Scandalous ni Ikou
06. No-kan
07. Avocado Jane~shi
08. Chokkaku Sunsshine
09. Bokutachi wa Ima Hanashiau Bekinanda
10. Sakuranbo to Kodoku
11. Daiji na Jikan
12. Itsuka Mita Umi no Soko
13. Gu~Gu~ Onaka
14. Yasashisa no Chizu
15. Itterasshai
16. Aozora yo, Sabishikunaika?
17. Sakura no Hanabira

http://www.akb48.co.jp/