ERIKO IMAI: はなかっパレード (Hanakapparade)

By Paris365 on February 14, 2013

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Eriko Imai, who is known affectionately by her fans as Elly, is one of the uber-talented four members of the world famous Japanese girl group SPEED, who are arguably *the* best J-pop girl group in history.

Shortly after SPEED disbanded in 2000, Eriko released material under the name Eriko with Crunch until fans started calling her Elly. Since SPEED reunited in 2008, she's continued to release solo material as well, this being her latest single.

" はなかっパレード " -- or "Hanakapparade" -- is the theme song for the anime series "Hanakappa," hence the title. And it is quite the dazzling, up-tempo theme song, packed with bubbly electro-pop beats and all sorts of glittery synth. Elly sings it in a very light-hearted manner, which is what the relatively silly music demands, and it's hard not to compare it to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. (Honestly, the music sounds like something that could have easily been on Kyary's album. Clearly, her massive success has infiltrated J-pop at large.) That said, Elly's famous voice has a totally different tone than Kyary's and you're likely to stop thinking about Kyary once you've heard this a few times, at which point you're sure to be highly addicted, the spirit-lifting song never-failing to give off a delightful sugar buzz feeling.

The B-side, "はなかっパラダイス" -- or "Hanakapparadise" -- features more of a thumping, rapid-fire dance beat than an electro-pop beat, though there are little flourishes of electro flowers spread throughout the song, and it's no less contagious. I especially love how they've layered smaller, jittery beats on top of the song's main beat. Sparks really fly and it's clearly an instance where the devil in the details is sinfully delicious. But this song doesn't give off a sugar buzz quite so much as a caffeine-like rush that makes it hard to sit still while listening to it. That said, it's almost too fast to dance to.

Suffice to say that both of these songs are highly infectious and this is an absolute must-have for fans of fun, upbeat J-Pop! (This single also features instrumental versions of both tracks.) -Michael McCarthy

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