J-pop performer Koda Kumi’s best day, both in terms of sales and visibility, are behind her and unless she pulls an Utada Hikaru (which is to say, vanish for several years and then come back with renewed interest) she’s facing a continued shuffle downward. That’s pop music, and she still has plenty of spotlights on her. Yet on latest single “HUSH,” she tries pivoting towards youthful trends, regardless of how they might not mesh up best with her style. Watch it below:
Kumi tried this earlier in the year, too. August’s “LIT” announced its how-do-you-do-fellow-kids intent right in the title, before diving into a number referencing Migos’ “Bad And Boujee” but with five-times the clunkiness. Musically though “LIT” carried itself well, delivering an up-tempo pace expressing energy better than the words. “HUSH” follows this blueprint closely. Nothing comes out as jarring as the biggest lyrical missteps on “LIT,” yet Kumi seasons the song with “swag.”
She should let the music speak for itself (and really just avoid wading into English slang whatsoever). “HUSH” moves at a quick clip, allowing her space to showcase her deeper-toned singing which sounds solid here, adding some intensity to a song that clearly wants to convey just that. Her vocals get warped into menacing sounding choruses of Kumis, while the start-stop nature of “HUSH” makes for good tension.
The places where “HUSH” works - the sound - only illustrates just how awkward other areas of it can get - the words themselves. This appears to be Kumi’s present musical vexation. Yet she should worry less about courting younger audiences via forced stabs at nowness that guarantee to date this song by 2018. Rather, she should simply focus on making something high-energy, and letting her best attributes shine through. “HUSH” gets halfway there.
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