Review | FYA’M’ and Lil Happy “aoppella!?”

Lil Happy and FYA’M open the doors for acappella music in the 2D music industry with an impressive 1st CD.

Aoppella!? “is KLab’s latest original multimedia music project built on the themes of “youth” and “a cappella”!

The project counts with 2 groups specialized in performing acappela music and representing 2 fictional schools: Otowa Public High School (Lil Happy) and Kanadezaka Private High School (FYA’M’).

For reference: Acappela music consists on 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.


aoppella 1st CD
Title: アオペラ -aoppella!?-
Label: Klab
Release date: 21/05/2021
Genre: Acappella

Tracklist:

1 - はじめての合同ライブ(introduction track)
2 - Playlist
3 - Think About U
4-7 - 都立音和高校アカペラ部始動!(drama tracks)

Track by track analysis:

2 – 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 to 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, 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.

Peppy and upbeat, “Playlist” is a solid entrance to this CD.

3 – 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 you ears off of him.

This is a performance made for baritones with the song exuding a suggestive yet classy vibe.

Top marks.


Final considerations

Aoppella!?’s self-titled CD bundles the first original songs released by its groups Lil Happy and FYA’M with a couple of introductory drama tracks essential for worldbuilding and storytelling.

The music in this franchise is all created by voice only, a first in the 2D music industry. And both groups count with unique lineups that provide them with unique perks when crafting that sound.

Lil Happy has a lineup with most tenors – with different skillsets – and a baritone that can dabble as a bass singer, and due to that, they have a bright, youthful sound that will certainly cater to those fans of peppy, upbeat music.

Ryohei Kimura and Tomoaki Maeno were absolute behemoths in this song. They were the core of this performance in completely different ends of the spectrum.

Ryota Osaka has yet to impress me as the member responsible for the “top” parts for Lil Happy.

I didn’t feel like his voice was leading the song as he was constantly behind Ryohei Kimura – with a better emotional range – and Tetsuya Kakihara – with more power in his vocals – or even KENN – whose high notes were battling for the spotlight.

This was only but their first original song but I’m wondering whether Kimura won’t be the true “top” for the group or a smart “lead” to support Osaka instead of just the 2nd part (tenor).

So yeah, Osaka didn’t impress me at all in this song (contrary to the powerful performance he gave in the cover of “Pretender” by Official HIGE DANdism). But that may have been because of the astounding talent surrounding him, making it so that a slightly weaker performance is easily put in the background.

And while most people are fawning over Tomoaki Maeno’s bass notes – those are impressive, to say the least – Kakihara was delivering a beautiful performance.

As a solo artist, he’s had to perform songs with similar vocal direction and requiring similar tones. The gentle way in which he attacks the first note in every part he’s got to sing is really peculiar.

He fades into that note using his breathy singing technique – almost a half air, half sound technique – and then unleashes his power, having a full, robust take on the rest of the lyrics in those parts.

As I was listening to his performance in “Playlist”, I was getting strong vibes of Kakihara’s jaw-dropping semi acappella performance in “Hikari-Winter ver.”.

That churchy feel coming from his vocals shines and warms up the stage time and time again.

FYA’M go in the complete opposite way. They have a classic acappella lineup consisting of a top, tenor, baritone, bass, and percussion plus a lead supporting the top. Thus, their sound comes immediately across as robust and really bassy.

There’s a lot of groove in their performance of “Think About U” much thanks to Shugo Nakamura’s massive beatboxing and Daiki Hamano’s impressive contrabass-like bass rhythms.  

Although not in charge of the “top” part, Takuya Sato was in the spotlight for the whole duration of the song. He was exuding a lot of confidence and charisma that were riveting.

You can’t take your ears off his performance as he smoothly tackles his parts with his sweet baritone vocals, lowering the tone to give them an alluring twist and raising a bit them for the chorus to match the main melody. Skillful throughout, Sato was, in my opinion, the member of FYA’M that delivered the best performance.

Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Yuki Ono were sharing duties on the vocal end with their mix of tenor and high baritone working wonders into fleshing out the delicate twist to “Think About U”. Wataru Urata shines in those crystal clear high notes, further enhancing that delicate undertone to the song.

All in all, aoppella!? puts the focus on the “voices” of seiyuu and their skills, celebrating the niche yet beautiful music genre that is acappella. The doors are now open for what I hope will be a really successful project and I can’t wait to review + enjoy more music from this franchise.


aoppella!? is available for purchase (via proxy service) at CDJAPAN.


SUMMARY

aoppella!? puts the focus on the “voices” of seiyuu and their skills, celebrating the niche yet beautiful music genre that is acapella. Lil Happy have a lineup with most tenors – with different skillsets – and a baritone that can dabble as a bass singer, and due to that they have a bright, youthful sound that will certainly cater to those fans of peppy, upbeat music. FYA’M go in the complete opposite way. They have a classic acappella lineup consisting of a top, tenor, baritone, bass, and percussion plus a lead supporting the top. Thus, their sound comes immediately across as robust and really bassy. The doors are now open for what I hope will be a really successful project and I can’t wait to review + enjoy more music from this franchise.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Playlist
Think About U
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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