While Korea has been having a rather underwhelming year of music, Japan has been going through one of its strongest in recent memory. Not only have they managed to keep up the strong streak of songs that saw popularity in 2019 but some of the countries biggest acts have been coming back with material that actually lives up to the hype. Songs like Mazy Night, Imitation Rain, Winding Road, Relationships No Way Way, Laughter and Answer are all brilliant pop songs that honestly eclipse almost everything we’ve seen coming out of Korea this year. This flawless streak continues with Sexy Zone’s sensational Run.
Out of all the Johnny’s groups, Sexy Zone are the one that I think have gotten better with time. Of their pre-2019 work, I only really enjoyed Unforgettable Flower and while much of their material was solid, much of it never really connected with me. But after 2019’s brilliant Kirin No Ko and this years equally great ‘Pop x Step’ album, I decided give a bit more attention towards the group. And with Run they’ve delivered their best song yet.
Run opens with one of the most instantly striking musical moments of the year. The combination of celebratory brass and that incredible guitar riff is pure catnip to my ears and just feels like pop euphoria. It gave chills the first time I heard it and that’s always a great sign. It’s so satisfying when a song lays out its intentions in the first few seconds and boy does Run follow through with this grandiose introduction. The entire first verse is a masterclass in build, powering forward on an invigoring guitar strum and percussion backbone. The boys attack every single line as if their lives depend on it and that kind of desperation really goes a long way in making me fall for the track. The brass that dominated Run‘s opening moments can be heard as we power towards the pre-chorus.
It’s a moment that strips back much of the brass and guitar to unveil a glorious string and percussion segment which sets up perfectly for the gargantuan chorus. It pulls back the momentum ever so slightly to let the hook hit you with full force. And boy does it. Run‘s chorus slams in like a full on hurricane. The melody and arrangement is structured as if to seem you’ve been thrown right into the middle of a typhoon and is the kind of larger than life pop sound that I’ve been dying to see more of. The swirling strings and rousing percussion come together to transform the chorus into a pure pop spectacle. It’s a goosebump inducing moment. And if you thought it couldn’t get better, the resounding brass comes roaring back for an absolutely breathtaking post-chorus.
Similarly Run‘s second verse makes great use of dynamics whilst still maintaining its riveting sense of build. I especially love the brief moment where most of the instrumental fades out to shine pure light on a sexy bass line. It’s one of those moments that feels rather inconsequential but small moments like these really help differentiate the good from the great. And Run firmly belongs in the great category. It’s the first time this year that a song has completely floored me and boy is it a great feeling.
Final Rating: 9.75/10