Otsuka Ai’s double A-side single “Rocket Sneaker/One x Time” (in a CD and a CD+DVD version, each with two covers) will be released May 21st. “Rocket Sneaker” will be used as the theme for the Samma no Mamma television show, while “One x Time” is used as the CM song for Ponds.
During the summer, Ai usually puts out double A-sides with a past paced song matched with a ballad. “Rocket Sneaker/One x Time” is her first single of 2008 since releasing “Pocket” in winter 2007; I was excited to see what she would put out this time.
“Rocket Sneaker” is a past paced, pop-rock song, but it doesn’t seem as jumpy and lively like many of her other summer hits (“Smily”, “Peach”) and has a bit more of a mature sound. The sound is fairly analog, featuring a lot of gorgeous piano runs. I like it; the song is energetic and fun.
The music video isn’t something to be desired though. It has an imaginative concept: stop-frames, Otsuka Ai portrayed as a puppet, and using it to send a message about the Earth. But seeing Ai paused in midair, singing such an energetic song with a completely straight face, feels like such a discordance between song and video. There’s some smiling and movement near the end, seeing her numerous copies singing with somber faces at the first half was really disconcerting.
“One x Time” is, as expected, a slow and springy ballad. It’s soft, pleasant, but nothing very special.
Overall though, I feel like “Rocket Sneaker/One x Time” is one of Ai’s weaker releases. “Rocket Sneaker” is a fun pop song, maybe not as catchy as her other summer releases. “One x Time” sounds like a standard ballad, lacking the striking melodies or arrangements that she so often uses. Unfortunately, the whole single, including the PV and the cover art, seems rushed and unrefined. Otsuka Ai is one of my favorite music artists; I love the catchiness of her fast songs and the intricate beauty of her ballads, which both of the songs on the single seem to be respectively lacking. After waiting for a new release for half a year, I’m actually fairly disappointed by the quality of this single.
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