As the host country of the Rugby World Cup 2019, Japan pulled off a major upset victory over powerhouse Ireland this past weekend. Now I'm no rugby fan, but I am a big fan of NHK's theme song for the World Cup – Little Glee Monster's ECHO
A sporting event support song should rouse up the fighting spirit of the listener, and ECHO does exactly that from the very first note. Written and composed by Imai Ryosuke, the song begins straight away with cheering and clapping that gets you fired up. The first verse rings loud and clear with poignant lyrics remembering the shared experience of sweat and tears: "The moment when our eyes meet, there's no need to exchange words, our heart's beating pitch is always perfect." The use of "pitch" in this line is particularly inspired as it alludes to both the heartbeat and the rugby field.
The song continues to build up with measured pacing to a soaring pre-chorus that leads into the catchy chorus. Though the melody progression of the chorus is a bit predictable, it's undeniably stirring and in sync with the theme. The refrain's melody also gets wonderfully transformed to a clean and gently harmonized middle eight that offers a quieter moment before rising to a throbbing cry of "one for all, all for one." While ECHO is a positive and inspiring song with lyrics that aim for the feels, the sound is quite edgy and aggressive. It has a power anthem vibe to it that I love.
The great B-side Classic is written and composed by Kobayashi Takeshi. This song reflects on self and life with thoughtful and whimsical lyrics that link to music itself: "People and street signs become notes and rhythm, learn from the various things around." The energizing pop melody and lovely harmonizing are sweet yet strong, and I've been humming the refrain ever since I heard the song. Classic has a particularly interesting middle eight that features an almost Disney-esque symphonic and choral sound, and then transitions into the "daba daba da" harmonies that also begin and end the song.
The two songs on this single really do a great job of highlighting Little Glee Monster's strong, steady and versatile vocals, and their potential to expand to harder and more mature music styles. As Little Glee Monster reaches their fifth anniversary benchmark this year, I hope they can develop their sound further and continue in the direction of this wonderful single.