The week’s excitement, and the summer’s bewilderment, can both be attributed to the announcement, and now the release, of one of the most confusing compilations of late: V-Rock Disney. The reception of the album’s release-announcement earlier this summer seemed to be a mixed bag of reactions, ranging from brain leaking out of fan’s ears as their minds were blown, to the general headdesking of skeptics who already had the album cut out to be more beast than beauty.
Well, finally the anticipatory months have come to their close, and at last, the album is in our hands. Honestly, these are kind of the best albums to look forward to. I like watching the build up peak and blossom into a myriad of reviews all over the blogsphere; to see the difference in reactions among listeners. I like these, these albums that have as much potential to completely pitfall into failure and utter disappointment as they do to produce aurally induced nirvana.
When I first heard about the album, I decided to remain neutral, and I’ve been on the fence about it since. I generally approved of the artists chosen (not too many big-hitters, but not too obscure, either), but I had issues with some of the songs. I could see, for example, some of these bands belting out Jafar’s Song, but my brain was simply not able to compute Mary Poppins and Cinderella (I mean really? Really?). But in the end, it would seem, the proof was in the pudding, and I would just have to eat it before I could formulate a real opinion.
The album opens with two tracks from Nightmare— a Fantasia intro to set the pace that quickly dives right into the classic, heavy-shredding style of Nightmare‘s work. A strong opener, I appreciated the even balance of Disney melody and standard Visual Kei guitar-work. However, Nightmare’s brilliant ability to cover a song isn’t revealed until the second track, Aladdin‘s Friend Like Me.
An instant winner, Friend Like Me is really fun and funky with all the deep bassy lurch of Nightmare working harmoniously alongside the percussive lilt of the classic genie anthem. At first I thought the heavily slurred English (is it even actually in English?) of the song made for too muddy of an overall sound, but the more times I listened to the track, the more I decided that the slurred quality complemented (or was inseparable from, or maybe thanks to) Yomi’s thick vocals and the overall funky vibe of the track. As I mentioned previously, at first I thought What? to the song selection, but if the rest of the album can follow Nightmare‘s bold opening tracks, we’re good.
Beauty And The Beast was destined to be a winner for me from the moment I saw who was covering it. Thankfully this one was allowed to be in Japanese, and the resulting flow of the lyrics paired with Kawamura’s vocals is really elegant. Nobody was better suited to sing this than Kawamura Ryuuichi, and he pulls it off incredibly well. Even the weird electronica that comes in and brings us back to modern day rock’n’roll is impossible to dislike, however incongruous it seemed at first.
Honestly I didn’t even realize Penicillin was still making music. Although not crazy about the song itself, the feel of the band’s cover is solid, and the obnoxious punk pace is kept up well, halfway convincing me that I’m still listening to Jrock. Seriously, Penicillin is so annoying to listen to, and yet the song satisfies at the same time. Thanks to them, my sinus headache is now amplified ten-fold.
Chim Chim Chimeree is a nice R&R sesh after the hectic aural bludgeoning of Lilo’s world as interpreted by Penicillin. Slow and moody, something to throw onto late-night mixes for winding down from days as chaotic as the preceding song…
I almost feel like not mentioning the next song at all, seeing that it was a given that it would be one of the album’s crowning glories. Sadie always kills it, but they really did a number on This Is Halloween. The grungy opening guitar chords. The opening vocals. From the moment the track-list was released, this match-up was the one that made the most sense to me. The screamo, the darkness, it really works. Sadie pulls it off with all kinds of nightmarish panache.
I read and heard a few rather harsh reviews, one of which gave Aoi’s rendition of Can You Feel The Love Tonight something of a brutal beating. My question for the reviewer would be, what exactly is wrong with the song? Although never a huge follower of Ayabie, my biggest complaints towards the band were based around how underplayed Aoi’s vocals felt on every release. They’ve found center-stage here, and they do the song justice. The electronicky, Ayabie--oops, I mean Aoi– feel of the piece is undeniably catchy. His voice works well with the feel of the song. As a huge sentimental bastard and sucker for the sappy Disney ballads, I applaud Aoi’s melancholy, aching vocal work on the track.
The Kiddie‘s rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — which I can’t even spell, let alone expect this kid to be able to pronounce– is one of those experiences where you feel like you just ate too much sugar and want to vomit. By the first listen-through I expected a unicorn horn to sprout out of my forehead, and rainbows to pour from my ears by the third replay.I’m surprised that this didn’t make me dropkick an innocent kitten right into orbit.
That being said, some sick, cheerful, masochistic part of me actually listens to this song.
Another slow piece with When You Wish Upon a Star. Not crazy about this song even in the Disney world, and the cover didn’t change my mind.
Cascade‘s Heigh Ho actually did inspire me to commit extreme acts of violence and vandalism. Heigh Ho is such a profoundly obnoxious song that I want to do horrible things to the producer’s dog, grandma, and next-door-neighbor just in an attempt to avenge those forever lost 4 minutes of my life. To their credit, he does sound like a dwarf. I plan on never listening to this song ever again, unless to employ it as a perverse weapon of psychological warfare.
And it’s over all too soon. You’ll be In My Heart, already covered nicely for the Japanese dub of Tarzan has a precedent set for quality and elegance. Nothing else need be said. I just need to figure out whether I like this version or the original cover better. As a side note,I do like the Visual Kei “edge” to his vocals here, where the original cover was smoother and more regular.
Overall, although I’m aware that a lot of people will hate this album, I honestly can’t pinpoint any fundamental issues with it. Well organized, well produced, well-arranged songs; the lyrics were tastefully done, and the ratio of English – Japanese was nicely moderated.
I wasn’t sure how much of the lyrics would be in Japanese, but in the end I was pleased with the arrangements. It was more or less balanced–overall, I liked the songs with Japanese lyrics the best, but had no issues with the English tracks particularly. I enjoy how the Japanese feels with the flow of the melodies, in the same way I’m enjoying the chemistry between the hard-rock and the Disney tones.
I thought the album was a really fun change of pace from the super serious race for quality and marketable creations. An extremely dedicated fanservice offering, I wonder how seriously anyone can actually take this release… And remember, your opinion is your own, but if you didn’t give this release two thumbs up, you not only completely fail as a Disney fan, but your life as a Visualist is also futile.