Groovy and addictive, aoppella!?’s “A” (read “Ace”) showcases all the trumps that the franchise has at its disposal while flaunting the ridiculous technicality of Lil Happy and FYA’M’.
A brief introduction
aoppella!? “is KLab’s latest original multimedia music project built on the themes of “youth” and “a cappella”!
For reference: Acappella music consists of group or solo performance without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way.
To get to know all there is about aoppella!?, check THTFHQ’s original feature on it.
Title: A Label: Klab Release date: 15/06/2022 Genre: Acappella
1 - アオペラの「ア」-introduction song- 2 - Follow Me 3 - キセキノウタ 4 - Think about U 5 - Playlist 6 - Come on up, Baby 7 - リルリルHappy! 8 - Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow 9 - RAINBOW
Track by track analysis:
1 – アオペラの「ア」-introduction song-
Lil Happy and FYA’M’ team up to perform the groovy “aoppella「A」-introduction song-”.
In relay fashion, members of both groups take turns in the spotlight, mixing growly and crystal clear high voices in a tasteful melody.
During the song, the tenors team up as the perfect backing vocals, harmonizing between them, performing canons, and overall supporting the leading vocals.
In the solo parts, there is a lot of vibrato and head voice going, contrasting with the high-pitched backing vocals and the punchy bassline – courtesy of Tomoaki Maeno and Daiki Hamano – and the unstoppable beat by Shugo Nakamura.
When the bass and percussion members take the lead, the song takes on an R&B form, getting even groovier and melodic than ever.
With long verses and a brief chorus, this song ends up being one that I feel like it shouldn’t end at all. All members get quite the long solo parts within it, the tenors are always in use throughout the song (either in the background or as leads) and even for those that don’t get much time to shine in the verses, the bridge appears to give them the spotlight they deserve.
So, as I was listening to this song, I was actually wishing it would continue for, at least, a couple of minutes longer. The fact as well that the song sounds like a couple of friends got together and started improvising to a song and actually grooving together with it helps leave that feeling of wanting more of it.
The bridge invites the listener to clap and sing along to the groups, asking you to join in and be immersed in this impressive relay.
2 – Follow Me
A vocal crescendo welcomes you to “Follow Me”, song that brings the charm and elegance of FYA’M’s harmonies to the spotlight.
One of the very first things you notice when the song kicks off is how insanely good the bassline is. It is bouncy and punchy at all times, something that will make you dance along to it. Then, the groovy mid-tempo snare + hi-hat beat adds the final touches to the intoxicating sound you’re now immersed in.
Daiki Hamano and Shugo Nakamura did an outstanding job making this groove come to life, driving the song forward in a way that I was honestly not expecting from them.
The verses are more than enough to make you want to hit the dancefloor but when that chorus hits? The vocal harmonies, the technical high notes, and the seductive low ones mesh and the beat gets more intense. It’s time to hit the dancefloor for good. It’s tasteful and insanely addictive.
This song has the most addictive beat + vocals combo in the whole aoppella!? franchise. It is sexy and full of allure while being groovy and catchy at all times.
On the vocal end, it is a marvel of a song. From the mid-toned harmonies to the high notes, the bass vocals spreading their charms, and even the little solo parts – with Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Takuya Sato standing out in their solo parts -, there was variety, quality, and a whole lot of reasons for you to play and replay this song.
Just listen to it and let yourself be infected by the addictive beat and envelop yourself in the sexy lyrics + performance. It’s too good to pass up.
3 – キセキノウタ
Lil Happy kicks off this CD with the beautiful “Kiseki no Uta”.
Right off the bat, the group impresses with their high notes and contrabass percussion, this one courtesy of Tomoaki Maeno.
The tone is warm with some shades of youthful excitement noticeable in the performance in the verses.
The canon parts in the verses give a delicate, almost ethereal touch to the performance, with a lower key than the vocals taking the stage one by one.
The chorus is sweet and slow-paced focused on the raw emotions in the vocals of Ryota Osaka, Ryohei Kimura, Tetsuya Kakihara, and KENN.
It is worth mentioning that Tomoaki Maeno has a really neat solo part, leaving percussion behind – as the resident bass singer – however, never forgot to blast those robust low notes as he stylishly tackles his part.
4 – Think about U
The gears change for “Think About U”, song performed by FYA’M. For starters, this is an acappella song with an R&B flair and a punchy bass core.
The mix between the melodic clean vocals by Yuki Ono (2nd and lead), Wataru Urata (tenor) and the R&B riffing by Takuya Sato (baritone), Toshiyuki Toyonaga (top), Shugo Nakamura (percussion), and then Daiki Hamano’s bass notes and rap creates a unique harmony that will have you jamming along to it in no time.
The song has a suggestive tone right from the start and from the very first seconds into the song you can tell that Takuya Sato is going to take over this performance with his alluring mid-tones mixed with a couple of bassy notes.
But that’s not all that makes his performance stand out. Sato’s natural charisma shines throughout. In a song meant to be alluring, he’s not only that but he does so in a charismatic way that you won’t want to take your ears off of him.
This is a performance made for baritones with the song exuding a suggestive yet classy vibe.
5 – Playlist
“Playlist” is Lil Happy’s first original song, a track that draws inspiration from barbershop a cappella, something easy to tell apart from the churchy undertones in the group’s harmonies.
Their sound is clean throughout but it is worth mentioning the ethereal way in which the group makes their entrance. That is quite the intro with Ryohei Kimura leading the way.
One thing that will also stand out for most listeners is how low Tomoaki Maeno is on his bass role.
He’s like a real contrabass which is really impressive. He gives a pulse to “Playlist”, driving the song forward however when the time comes to sing, he delivers a clean, sweet performance that showcases his range.
KENN breathes life to this song with his sweet tenor vocals, contrasting with the punchy bassline and baritone vocals by Tetsuya Kakihara. Ryota Osaka doesn’t stand out much in this performance which is odd considering his top role for the group.
Although all members have their moments to shine in this song, when listening to this song I couldn’t help but notice the massive performance that Ryohei Kimura and Tetsuya Kakihara gave.
Ryohei Kimura actually leads the group better than I believe Ryota Osaka does. He drives the song forward right from the start, he’s always in the backup supporting all singers, and when goes in front he’s always ready with a stunning note or melody.
He’s confident throughout and is showing a massive vocal range. It’s difficult not to have your ears all over his performance because he is everywhere in this song.
Another singer that was equally everywhere in this song, standing out a lot due to his sweet, breathy singing tone is Tetsuya Kakihara.
Kakihara was undoubtedly in his element for this song. His unique breathy singing tone has a warmth, a gentleness that you really can’t shake off, and, in acappella fashion, it shines even more than usual.
6 – Come on up, Baby
A booming bassline and a groovy beatbox beat shine in the groovy intro to “Come on up, baby”.
One thing that will instantly stand out is how, with vocals-only, you have a bass, groovy beat, and vocals that resemble a strings section in the verses. The group’s tenors – Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Wataru Urata – did an awesome job sounding like a chamber strings section.
In the individual parts, you’ll find a singer taking the spotlight and, in the background, a heavily contrasting voice tone will complement it.
The best example of that – and a mix I wasn’t expecting I needed to hear at least once in my life – is Takuya Sato (bass) and Toshiyuki Toyonaga (tenor) in contrast. That part takes the cake for me.
This is really a strong presentation right off the bat and I absolutely love it. The tempo is slow and melodic, giving way to the R&B-inspired vocals to take center stage and absolutely dazzle you.
The chorus is insanely groovy and catchy, sounding more stripped down than the verses but the focus on the bass sound is an absolute delight to listen to.
This time around you’ll find interesting details going on, the best example being the whistles working in contrast with the punchy bassline in the chorus. It was unexpected but the perfect accent the song needed to let that tension in the chorus tone down a bit.
7 – リルリルHappy!
Lil Happy performs “Little Real Happy!”, song that channels strong barbershop acappella vibes.
This time around listeners can expect this song to channel strong Holidays vibes, with a pounding, deep bassline and, as its percussion, it counts with claps. Those alone will have you jamming to the song almost instantly.
There is a warmth seeping through this instrumental, it doesn’t come exclusively from the performance but more from the bassline. Truly, Tomoaki Maeno is doing a godly job in the background with that steady and warm bassline lighting up the soundscape.
The verses strongly focus on the harmonies – in the background – as well as canons. At center stage, listeners find quite an interesting set of performances.
This time around the focus wasn’t too much on sounding youthful or bubbly but on presenting a fun performance in an old-school style.
Once again, Tetsuya Kakihara arrives to steal the show with high notes – head voice + vibrato – however, this time around KENN does join him on that stage, take quite a lot of the spotlight to himself, finally showcasing what he’s all about, delivering a sweet, high toned performance that will put a smile on your face.
Ryohei Kimura and Ryota Osaka this time stay quite a bit in the background, harmonizing and being in charge of the canons, accommodating to KENN and Tetsuya Kakihara’s mix of high and mid-tones. Although it may go unnoticed to some, Kimura and Osaka’s work in the background is insanely solid and a good reason why this song sounds this good.
When “Little Real Happy!” wraps up, you’re left with a smile on your face. This song is that good.
8 – Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow
Wrapping up this release is none other than FYA’M’’s “Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow”. Now, this is quite the impressive performance kicking off with the low, reverberating vocals of Daiki Hamano.
Following him comes Shugo Nakamura with a warm and smooth performance. At the same time, the song welcomes the bassline to it. As soon as the tenors join in, the instrumental changes the song’s dynamics, introducing a deep bassline and sweet beat.
Toshiyuki Toyonaga brings R&B riffing to his performance, cranking up the good vibes in this song, with Yuki Ono and Wataru Urata taking over from there.
Takuya Sato does take a prominent spot in this song alongside Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Wataru Urata. Once again the contrast between Sato’s sweet, low riffed vocals, Toyonaga’s head voice notes, and Urata’s crystal clear high notes is something you will want to pay attention to.
This is really a performance that strays away from what FYA’M’ had been doing up until now. There’s no mature allure to their performance this time around, just warmth and good vibes. The soundscape they created by voice alone is one in which you’re sitting by the fireplace, blanket over your shoulders. It is cozy and welcoming, it has a bit of a jolly feeling but doesn’t exaggerate.
Also unique – or should I, surprising – in this performance was Yuki Ono taking a background role. He’s barely in the spotlight for this song. Still, alongside Daiki Hamano and Shugo Nakamura, he’s breathing life into this song either by supporting the high tenors with awesome harmonizations or giving an extra punch to the bass sound for this performance.
9 – RAINBOW
Lil Happy wraps up this album with the emotional “RAINBOW”. Leading the way on vocals is Tetsuya Kakihara, bringing his breathy mid-tones to the spotlight and setting a gentle and passionate tone to this track.
The song counts with finger snaps and a bassline – provided by Tomoaki Maeno – as the percussion that slowly lullabies you.
The vocals are quite technical with an interesting set of vocal canons in the verses, courtesy of the tenors within the group – Ryota Osaka, KENN, Ryohei Kimura, and, in some way, Tetsuya Kakihara – as the bass/baritone of the group, Tomoaki Maeno ensures the beat is steady and the bass is warm at all times.
Harmonies shift from being focused on mid-tones in the first verse to the high tones in the chorus and following verses. Tension rises as the scale rises for the vocals and it is fascinating to notice the song evolving into a full-fledged emotional ballad by the time you get to the outro.
With a gentle tone and a highly technical performance delivered in perfect harmony, Lil Happy showcases its skills and vocal prowess in what is a memorable performance.
aoppella!? flaunts its insanely technical vocals and groove in a set of songs by Lil Happy and FYA’M’ that will leave you begging for more, much more.
Lil Happy’s trademark crystal clear and youthful sound has evolved quite a lot since the group’s debut, something you can tell by the way their songs are now structured and how technical they’ve gotten. Their harmonies are more powerful, their teamwork shows and their individual parts are as impressive as they can get.
One thing I’ve been enjoying a whole lot in the most recent song releases by Lil Happy is how Tetsuya Kakihara has taken the lead in both songs “Little Real Happy!” and “RAINBOW” and basically showed everyone that he’s got the vocal chops to be in the conversation as one of the best singers among male seiyuu.
KENN has also started to shine within the group’s songs, something that didn’t happen early on.
As a whole, Lil Happy is now in a really good place, delivering performances that will have you glued to your seat, jaw dropped in awe by their technicality.
FYA’M’ is absolutely relentless with its groovy sound and alluring R&B performances. With a lineup that is literally perfect covering all vocal ranges and counting with several singers with wide vocal ranges (thus, with a versatility that is important to the group), FYA’M’ continues to stand out as the best group in the aoppella!? franchise.
As far as the group’s development goes, the group kicked off activities already with a really high-quality level and with a harmony between all members which was quite surprising to come across given how most of the members didn’t have experience performing together. The group’s sound is alluring, incredibly melodic, and with a lot of passion in its delivery. As a result, you’ll find yourself more than once jamming to their songs – or even feeling like dancing along to them.
Takuya Sato, Yuki Ono, and Toshiyuki Toyonaga are the members that have impressed the most either with their growth and untapped potential – Sato – or with their versatility and resourcefulness – Ono and Toyonaga. But as a whole, FYA’M’ has a lineup that, as I’ve said before, is literally perfect on all fronts.
While Lil Happy put a smile on your face with its sweet and gentle sound, FYA’M’’s intensity and vocal prowess make you gasp time and time.
Out of all new songs FYA’M’’s “Follow Me” ends up being the song that doesn’t leave my head. It’s groovy and tasteful at all times, not to mention that Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Takuya Sato are unstoppable on the vocal end for it. This is also the song with the most addictive beat in the whole aoppella!? franchise.
Lil Happy’s “RAINBOW” is a fantastic song that shows just how technical the group can be and the talents of all members. It made me wish the group would venture more towards this type of emotional performance instead of just a bubbly, youthful style.
And, of course, the most impressive of them all is “aoppella「A」-introduction song-”, song that features all groups taking turns in the performance. Not only does it sound like an improvised song but it also shows just how varied the talents within this franchise are and how perfectly they all sound when working together. This is a song that highlights just how good of a casting was the one that KLab pulled off for this franchise.
All in all, the aoppella!? franchise continues to give its cards and shows that seiyuu are awesomely talented as singers, being able to grab your attention without any distractions or while performing songs that are “trendy”. The voice is king.
“A” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“A” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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