A new single by Tommy February6 isn’t quite the same event to look forward to that it was in the early 2000s, but in a world where otherwise rational people are claiming with straight faces that Uza by AKB48 is interesting and different, even bad Tommy is usually better than nothing. Be My Valentine seems to be shooting for a sort of 60s girl group vibe, complete with a (typically dodgy) English language spoken word interlude and a cover featuring a scooter (as any Japanese pop fan knows, scooters are the ultimate symbol of the 60s). It’s built around The Supremes’ Can’t Hurry Love/Lust For Life/Town Called Malice beat, which should add to the bouncy, 60s vibe, but in combination with the smooth-edged 90s-style Takeshi Kobayashi-lite vocal production and the fact it’s six fucking minutes long (The Supremes did it in half that and Phil Collins in even less) means that it comes out sounding more like a late 90s J-Pop tune, an era in which many chart acts like My Little Lover (and even Tommy’s own band The Brilliant Green) would occasionally channel the sounds of the 60s into their MOR pop. That it still sounds like something a bit different is more a sign of the narrowing of the J-Pop field since the 90s than it is of any inherent qualities of Be My Valentine. The shift in sound from the sparkly 80s synthpop that defined Tommy’s early 2000s material towards something closer to her 90s roots is something that might work out in the future, but it’s going to need a bit more fizz than this if it’s going to succeed.
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