By Paris365 on December 17, 2012No comments
Infinity 16 describe themselves as a Japanese reggae sound system. Let's do a track-by-track rundown of their new Christmas mini-album...
1. "LAST CHRISTMAS"
I've heard so many covers of this George Michael classic over the years. I think my favorites are Butch Walker and Billie Piper's versions. Or at least they were my favorite renditions until I heard this version, which is a gorgeous, synth pop take on the song with some funky and slightly punchy beats that call to mind Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, though this song is obviously not nearly as fast as her stuff. (Maybe ClariS would be a better comparison.) Speaking of tempo, Infinity 16 have retained the mid-tempo pace of the original version. The singer -- unfortunately, I don't know her name -- has a very pretty voice as well. Not surprisingly, her accent sounds a bit Japanese, but her English is flawless.
I trust that this is a Christmas song, since this is a mini-album of Christmas songs, but since it's in Japanese I would have never realized that otherwise. Musically, it's something of a pop and R&B hybrid. The same girl seems to sing most of the vocals here, though there's a male that does some hip-hop as well. It's a catchy song, to be sure, but I wish there were a few lines in English that mentioned Christmas so I could feel like it's a real Christmas song when I listen to it.
3. "CHOO CHOO TRAIN"
This track starts off with a lot of synth and some bilingual vocal harmonizing, though most of the lyrics prove to be in Japanese. Its beat might be ever-so-slightly in the reggae vein but to my ears it's just very well produced J-pop. "To the paradise, take me please, choo choo train," goes the end of the chorus, giving me the impression that this song is about trying to get home for Christmas. The only thing I didn't like about this song is that they use air horn in it and I hate air horn. It's like having a fire alarm go off in the middle of a song or your alarm clock going off. It's just not a pleasant sound at all.
4. "WHITE LOVE"
Now, here's their reggae side, though it also sounds rather R&B. "I miss you," the girl sings, plenty of yearning in her voice. Alas, the rest of the song is in Japanese and it's another one that doesn't quite feel like a Christmas song to my ears.
5. "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU"
This Mariah Carey song has been one of my favorite Christmas songs for something like 15 years now. I've heard a lot of covers of it during recent years and I'm usually not super impressed with them. My Chemical Romance did a good job, totally making it their own, but most artists have just tried too hard to copy the original. In terms of the vocals, this version is pretty faithful to the original, but the beats are much, much faster. It's definitely an interesting interpretation and probably the best one I've heard thus far.
6. "WINTER SONG"
This is a Japanese Christmas song, being that it was written in Japan by Japanese songwriters. But the lyrics are actually in English. Musically, the group has put their reggae stamp on it, but it also has that Christmas music vibe as well. Very well done, one of my favorite new Christmas songs this year, in fact. "The greatest gift I ever had was you," she sings. Priceless.
7. "HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER)"
They've totally put the reggae twist on this classic Lennon track, but it actually works beautifully. It's a song that's basically about wishing the whole world a happy Christmas without any wars and they've gone and given it something of a world music vibe with their delightful reggae beats. There are so many versions of this song that I love that I couldn't even begin to compare them, but you can certainly add this wonderful take to my list.