JPOP HALL OF FAME: Yuzu – Hyori Ittai

Year Released: 2013

When considering many people’s modern musical leanings, much can be traced back to the sounds that they experienced during their formative or adolescent years. Though we like it or not, those years are some of the most fundamental for shaping who we are. In almost every aspect of our being. And that’s no different for me. My taste is one that’s heavily indebted in early 2010’s pop and especially 2000’s J-pop. Pop-rock influenced backings, tight production and most importantly, rousing chorus melodies supported with a hint of melancholy. A simple yet highly effective collection of traits that perfectly describe the music of that era and in turn, my music taste. And though many songs from that era hold fond memories and are mainstays in most of my playlists, fews songs have defined an era of my life as strongly as Yuzu’s Hyori Ittai.

As the fifth and sixth ending of the incredible 2011 version of Hunter x Hunter, I first encountered the song during my first watch of the show in 2015. Being a young kid who had barely just started high school, I had no idea who Yuzu were nor the massive impact they had in their home country. All I knew was that those 1 minute and 30 seconds I heard at the end of each episode were magical. Pure, undiluted, brilliance, And 7 years on, that sentiment still stands. And despite my love for it, I surprisingly haven’t talked about or even mentioned this song on the blog yet. Well, with the release of Hyori Ittai on Spotify after (so) many years, that ends right here and now.

Opening with an incredibly quiet, atmospheric soundscape that’s soon assisted by whispered echos of the central melody, Hyori Ittai takes its time to unravel before those whispered echos return with the full brunt of the production, briefly foreshadowing the majesty of the soon to be post-chorus before once again stripping back to a delicate, guitar strum assisted verse. And while the songs sudden tempo shifts should theoretically seem jarring and technically shouldn’t work at all, there isn’t a single moment that feels disjointed. Hyori Ittai is so immaculately produced that even when the entire tempo and atmosphere suddenly change, it feels like a natural progression rather than a haphazard shift, resulting in a listening experience that remains consistently interesting and engaging throughout its rather lengthy run time.

And then there’s the chorus, which is just flawless. That’s it. I have no other words to really describe it. It’s perfectly calibrated, harnessing a melody that feels suitably emotional when supported by a constantly growing production that’s enhanced by an incredible performance from both Kitagawa and Iwasama. It’s a stunning piece centrepiece that only grows more and more stirring throughout the songs run time, melding so seamlessly with the verses and bridge that during its second repetition, it almost feels as though the pre-chorus is part of the chorus. A technique that once again, shouldn’t nearly work as well as it does.

But amongst all of these standout moments, my absolute favourite is the transition into the second verse. Personally, this is the gold standard for second verses. It (once again) grows so effortlessly from the chorus that when the sudden ascending melody line hits, you’re instantly taken aback. I love how the song actually ups the intensity here instead of slowing down. It maintains its already dynamic energy and elevates it to thrilling heights that are only matched during its stirring climax, which is just one killer melodic line after another. I don’t think I would ever be able to rank my favourite songs of all time but If I ever did, Hyori Ittai would definitely be near the top. And that’s why it rightfully deserves a place in the J-pop Hall of Fame.

Verses: 10

Chorus: 10

Production: 10

Performance: 10

Final Rating10 / 10

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