Release Date: May 29, 2013
- Itsumo Soba ni
- Guuzen no Mikata
- Itsumo Soba ni (Instrumental)
- Guuzen no Mikata (Instrumental)
- Himawari (Instrumental)
AKB48 Team K’s Kuramochi Asuka’s debut solo single, Itsumo Soba ni, is the result of winning the second AKB Gachi no Uma contest. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a competition where members of AKB who are 20 years of age compete by betting on a horse race to become the main star of a JRA (Japan Racing Association) CM.
This single comes in six different editions, with 5 containing covers shot by famous gravure magazines in Japan. These magazines are competing to see which cover sells the most. There’s no denying that Kuramochi is a fine woman, so maybe that’s not exactly a bad thing.
This gimmick is great for collectors and Kuramochi fans but underwhelming for those who expect substantial differences in content. Nope, nothing different here except for Type A where you get the bonus track of Himawari, a stage song from Boku no Taiyou.
Itsumo Soba ni and its b-sides fall squarely in the adult contemporary territory. For those accustomed to genki idol music, this will be a huge letdown. The AKS brain trust apparently wants to promote Kuramochi as a more mature artist.
She does have a pleasant enough voice, and from what I understand, she does qualify to be in the “bitches who can sing” category of the AKS empire. Unfortunately, the songs given to her are boring and not very memorable.
I’m not sure if this is a trend with the horse racing songs, but maybe the precedent was set with Kasai’s Masaka? One would figure that songs associated with horse racing would be slightly faster-paced.
Regardless Itsumo Soba ni, while pleasing enough to at least warrant a few listens, is not something you should be putting on if you’re on a long road trip & need to stay awake. It seems more suited to a more calming situation than blasting out of your headphones or car speakers at maximum volume.
Recommended if you like mid-tempo, lite radio types of songs or are a Kuramochi Asuka fan. Otherwise, skip and wait for her next single if she gets another shot at one.