Bea's UP feat. Otsuka Ai
Artist: Ai Otsuka
Product Code: AVCD-31412/1
Release Date: 2008.05.21
Highest Ranking: #4
Label: avex trax
Five months after the under appreciated Pocket was released, a new single Rocket Sneaker/OnexTime was announced. Rumors started early March, with a variety of bizarre names appearing, the most common being ‘Ai no Kagaku/STAR’. Ai’s official site would announce the new single in April, effectively silencing all rumors.
Near the release of the single, Ai was featured on non.no sporting a new hair color and cut, giving her a more ‘grown-up’ look. Over time, Ai has gradually become less squeaky as she matured into her current image. Her once hyper active spring singles have all but calmed down and while many may still enjoy her lighthearted, eccentric songs, her recent releases have all been focused on the poignant side.
Rocket Sneaker/OnexTime is Ai’s 17th single, or 19th if you count the LOVE releases. Unfortunately, the presentation for this single could be among the worst yet, having the air of being rushed. The cover artwork and booklet images are plain and uninspired, featuring Ai in clothes with an ugly pattern over a plain background. This lack of innovation could well prove to have been the biggest pitfall of this single.
1. Rocket Sneaker (ロケットスニーカー/Roketto Suniikaa)
Rocket Sneaker is a bit of a departure from Ai’s usual releases. While the lyrics carry Ai’s usual playfulness, the music is a unique mix of the guitar and piano. Ai states in her interview with Excite, “At first, there were no plans to include the piano. However, Ikoman and I got lost trying to arrange a part for the guitar.” The mix of the two is very fresh and bouncy, giving the track a one-of-a-kind sound.
Taking a step off this Earth
I’m lighter now, I’m floating
Haa I’m a child of the Earth
We met when you bore and raised me
I went out on a lot of walks with you
Obviously, it hurts
Obviously, I’m touched
Obviously, I wanna live on
With you, with you, with you
The lyrics are just as creative as the arrangement with Ai taking a very fun and cute perspective on life. According to Ai, many of her co-workers found the lyrics humorous, particularly the phrase, “child of the Earth”.
Overall, Rocket Sneaker is a fun piece carrying Ai’s creativity and playfulness and is a great opening track to the single. The song (or maybe Ai herself) may be heading in a new musical direction, but it sure doesn’t fail to impress.
The first A-side of this single is bouncy and playful, but this track is laid back and well…a little erotic. The arrangement is quite similar to Rocket Sneaker, but it makes a prevalent use of strings. The use of violins and the like, sooth the tone of the guitar and piano, giving the single yet another unique song.
Despite this, perhaps what makes this song the most unique are the lyrics itself, being something very unexpected from Ai. A voyeuristic angle is created within the lyrics causing a lot of seemingly innocent things sound quite suspicious.
Letting you play with my fingertip
Running all over your body
Below the centre, below the centre
So that it slips, it slips
Our eyes met
Then suddenly below that, below that
You trailed a series of kisses
The song is once again, a peculiar one from Ai but it fails to rival its peers, Rocket Sneaker and Sora to Kujira.
3. Sora to Kujira (空とくじら/Sora to Kujira/The Sky and the Whale)
Sora to Kujira was the first track on this single to really strike me. It starts off solely with the acoustic guitar, accompanying Ai’s relaxed vocals. The electric guitar joins in afterwards and the from there on, the song starts to bloom.
Ai’s vocals are quite relaxed, and when paired with the arrangement, it has the atmosphere of the end of a movie. Even through such relaxed vocals and arrangements, there is a strong feeling within the song.
As a B-side, Sora to Kujira is yet another example of Ai’s ever-progressing musical talent. The constant moulding of her music into something new and unique is a rare feat amongst today’s J-pop artists, so there’s no doubt that all Ai fans around the globe will gladly stop to enjoy this breath of fresh air.
Musically, Rocket Sneaker/OnexTime is a unique package. It may take a little time to grow on some, but it’s high quality material. On the other hand, packaging of the single was less than satisfactory. With online mp3 stores like iTunes, it is imperative that avex works harder with the design in order to make hard copies of Ai’s products more appealing to her fans.
'Rocket Sneaker' cover
- Rocket Sneaker
- Sora to Kujira
- Rocket Sneaker ~instrumental~
- OnexTime ~instrumental~
- Rocket Sneaker PV