Release Date: November 24, 2021
- Take A Picture
- Make you happy
- Wonder Dream
- Twinkle Twinkle
- Poppin’ Shakin’
- I AM
- Super Summer
- Step and a step
- 9 colors
- Need U
- Take a picture (English version)
- Poppin’ Shakin’ (English version)
There has not been much to gush over regarding mainstream female Japanese idol groups over the past couple of years. The aftermath of the idol bubble bursting has had several groups disband, the 48 groups lose their death grip on the public and made much of what made the scene exciting return to the basements of various small fire hazard level venues.
Enter NiziU, a group formed from a collaboration between JYP Entertainment and Sony Music Japan via an idol survival program.
Their pre-debut song Make You Happy breathed new life into a stagnating idol world, sounding less like the stereotypical genki J-Pop and more like a slick K-Pop production.
Their follow-ups, Step and a step, and the double a-side Take a Picture/Poppin Shakin, were also breaths of fresh air, even if they were not as instantly captivating as their pre-debut.
With momentum behind them, NiziU dropped their highly anticipated debut album titled U in the final quarter of 2021. It contains their single releases from their pre-debut to their most recent digital releases in November. So that leaves you with four new songs to fill out the rest of the time.
Before I get to the album cuts, I would like to discuss the two lead songs from U briefly.
Chopstick is a take on the piece of music that most people learn when studying to play the piano. It’s a song you will either love for its quirkiness or hate because it sounds like a mess.
Need U is more accessible since it’s an ode to the group’s fans. Its uplifting feel helps the lyrics hit the feels of the most adamant supporters of NiziU.
With the more recent songs out of the way, it’s on to the four album cuts. FESTA and Wonder Dream are high-tempo songs; Twinkle Twinkle falls in the mid-tempo, chilled-out territory, and 9 colors completes the circle of life by slowing things down.
Of all the songs above, Twinkle Twinkle is the one that impresses the most. The music box melody and the simple swing beat make this catchy love song something worthy of repeated plays. It’s unlike any of the other songs on the album in a good way.
While NiziU may not fit the popular stereotype of a female Japanese idol group, they still are one. And given the wasteland that the current environment is for these groups, the timing could not be better for them to continue to elevate themselves.
U should help in that case. Even if it is mainly a collection of previously released singles, it’s still an excellent representation of the harmony between the J-Pop and K-Pop worlds to create fun music.