Tasuku Hatanaka‘s “DYING WISH” started off an ambitious release however, not everything went down as planned.
Title: DYING WISH Label: Lantis Release date: 28/10/2020 Genre: Pop / Ballad
１ - DYING WISH ２ - Pray ３ - Brand New Day ４ - DYING WISH (Instrumental) ５ - Pray (Instrumental) ６ - Brand New Day (Instrumental)
Track by track analysis:
１ – DYING WISH
Strings in crescendo light the way for DYING WISH with a whole orchestra behind in the intro. As the song progresses, the timpani beat goes EDM, blending in with strings and choir hits.
The changes between verses and chorus are dramatic and a bit anticlimactic but it’s the chorus that really doesn’t sit well with me.
The EDM-meets-orchestra mix is nothing new – quite enjoyable when done right – but the progression in the chorus is odd and doesn’t sound well, not even after a couple of listens.
Instead of keeping the same key for the whole chorus and, perhaps, one of the instruments changing the key, the whole instrumental is raised in the pitch – which takes all instruments as a bundle to an octave higher –, something that not only threw me off but also completely messed up the progression and dynamics in the chorus.
As the instruments were taken an octave higher when the pitch was raised, there were elements that started sounding off-key and off-tempo in the chorus, which, ultimately is a big mess on the production side of this track.
I am aware this may have been a question of composition/production style but if the intention was to raise the tension in the song, there were other – effective and more subtle – ways to enhance tension in the song. Pretty unusual stylistic change in the chorus.
The beat for this song – the sample – is also as generic as you can get which is, once again, weird.
Tasuku Hatanaka’s songs usually have good quality and are far from using common, low-quality elements that, let’s say, you could find as a “stock option” in a music-producing software library.
The vocals however are on point. Tasuku Hatanaka is not shy of using his gentle falsetto and vibrato to give a lot of flair to his performance.
All in all, not the most inspired song by Hatanaka.
２ – Pray
Changing gears, Tasuku Hatanaka introduces the listener to Pray, song that brings a melancholic piano melody to the spotlight.
This is the first time Hatanaka’s fans get a sweet piano-accompanied ballad. And what a song this is.
Stripped from fancy EDM or any attempts to sound edgy, Tasuku Hatanaka is at his natural, belting, going for this full, confident head voice notes, a bit of falsetto, all while showcasing complete control over his vocals.
Sweet, gentle, and almost lullabyish, Pray is the ballad I wasn’t expecting I’d find in his repertoire, at least this soon, but that I fell in love with.
３ – Brand New Day
Wrapping up this release is a chill-out EDM track with a dreamy twist provided by the delicate piano melodies and ethereal atmospheric synths.
“Brand New Day” is a really awesome take on Tasuku Hatanaka’s usual intense dance sound, sounding more contained, gentle, and mature than ever.
There is a lot of English in the lyrics, something that Hatanaka tackles with some comfort, sounding mostly clear through those sections.
His vocals in this song are exactly the reason why I love to hear Tasuku Hatanaka singing.
Raspy tenor vocals with gentleness and warmth that are characteristics of him, a beautiful falsetto, a lot of control over his upper range, and mastery over his mid-tones.
He’s a skilled singer and, in this minimalistic, sweet chill-out EDM track, he showcases all of that with a lot of confidence.
DYING WISH started off as an ambitious release with a lot of promise but somewhere down the line, something went wrong on the production side, and what fans ended up getting a single with lots of, unusual, hiccups.
DYING WISH, the song, sounds like was way too focused on sounding “cool and edgy” that completely forgot was it was going to do. With an orchestral sound at its core, focusing on sounding cool with EDM in the mix was thoroughly odd to find.
It doesn’t help its case that the EDM beat sounded like those presets that come with music production software. It sounds like it was plastered there just to give it a danceable, edgy twist, and… it sounds amateurish from a production standpoint. I will assume it was intentional and not just a mistake that went unfiltered to the final version which, honestly, doesn’t make the situation sound any better.
The chorus is odd and far from tasteful, at least in my books. Dramatically changing the pitch of the whole instrumental midway through the chorus was the oddest thing I’ve heard this year.
It completely messed up the chorus that, all of a sudden, starts sounding off-key and off tempo.
Despite the awesome vocals by Tasuku Hatanaka, which were brimming with energy, the weird composition and production choices held back what was a song that had a massive potential to be good.
“Pray” is the ballad I didn’t know I needed from Tasuku Hatanaka.
I am particularly fond of stripped-down ballads in which the singer is left with a piano or acoustic guitar as an accompaniment. Better yet, the acapella.
In this case, we all got a sweet ballad with a piano as accompaniment and, with Tasuku Hatanaka’s outstanding performance, making great use of his emotional range and technique, this song turned into this single’s highlight with a lot of ease.
“Brand New Day” proved yet again that Tasuku Hatanaka shines when performing songs in which there is no clutter behind him.
No fancy, upbeat EDM, no attempts to sound “edgy” or “trendy”, just a massive effort in creating an enjoyable experience for the listener in a rather simplistic and ethereal fashion.
The instrumental was already good to begin with but Tasuku Hatanaka’s vocals really upped the quality, with his confidence showing in every note he tackled.
Good way to wrap up a release that kicked off on the wrong foot.
If there is one thing I can take from this release is that Tasuku Hatanaka doesn’t need all that glitter behind him to show that he is a good singer.
The only thing missing is consistency in his sound and good composers/producers that can steer him into a successful streak of quality releases.
At the same time, the search for a middle ground, a trademark sound of his continues, but to no avail.
Although in the single, Tasuku Hatanaka is credited as the “performer and creator”, I really wonder in what did he have his hand. May have been the concept or the set of songs – mood, tempo, etc. – for this release.
However, besides that remark in the single’s booklet, we will never know what exactly did he do in the creation of this release.
In my opinion, Lantis should hand him full control over his music. Let him compose, let him choose who to work with.
It really pains me that such a talented singer is being wasted at a music label that doesn’t really know which direction to take with him, instead of making him try everything and, 3 years since his debut, he is yet to have a sound that his fans can call him, a sound that even non-fans can associate to him.
DYING WISH kicked off on a really wrong foot, however, it got back on its feet and almost made up for the composition and production blunders in the title track.
Interesting release that had the potential to be much more than what it ended up being.
This review was possible thanks to a sponsored copy by reina.
DYING WISH is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.