By Paris365 on December 04, 2012

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Warner Music Japan

FT Island -- sometimes written as F.T. ISLAND or FTIsland -- is a Southern Korean pop rock band which also releases material in Japanese and has a strong following in Japan accordingly. The group's members are Lee Hongki (lead vocals), Lee Jae-jin (bass and vocals), Choi Jong-hoon (guitar and keyboard), Song Seung-hyun (guitar and vocals), and Choi Min-hwan (drums). The group made their debut in 2007 and have been scoring hits ever since.

"Polar Star" is FT Island's ninth Japanese single. It begins with Lee Hongki singing over some fairly mellow guitar riffage but soon the lead guitar begins playing a metal-ish riff that reminds this listener of "Calling On You" but Stryper, though I'm sure that's just coincidence. After all, these guys weren't even born yet when Stryper was popular. Or maybe they were born but very young. Regardless, I'm just saying that I'm sure they didn't intentionally rip off Stryper, that they probably have never even heard a single song by Stryper. So... "Polar Star" is an upbeat, catchy tune that's ultimately more rock than pop. That said, it's got some infectious guitar hooks and the whole chorus is essentially one big hook, so it's likely that pop fans will appreciate it, too. I don't know if it's literally about a polar star or what, but it's clear that they're very passionate about whatever it is. The band plays the song with gusto and great precision while Lee sings it with raw enthusiasm. It's a thoroughly modern rock record with the clattering power of stadium pop.

The first B-side, "Fallin’ For You," is a heavy, mid-tempo rock ballad. The band delivers it with more than enough emotion to glorious effect and it's likely to suck you in much faster than anything on Aerosmith's new album. Perhaps it didn't quite tug at my heart-strings, but I suspect that's due to the language barrier, since the song doesn't contain any English at all and, sadly, I don't know any Japanese. That said, I do enjoy the song, it just doesn't make my heart skip a beat the way ballads often do.

The second B-side, "Beautiful World," begins with Lee singing softly, accompanied by piano. But around the 45 second mark the rest of the band begins playing, giving the song a nice punch and some interesting grooves. This one is another mid-tempo rock ballad, though it's much more mellow than "Fallin' For You." Don't mistake its laid back vibe for a lack of passion though. Of the three songs here, this is the track that affected me most. Perhaps it doesn't quite have the hooks that the first two songs have, but Lee's voice carries a greater emotional weight and it's a gorgeous, heartfelt, and even haunting ballad, something a lot of J-rock bands seem to fear lately. -Michael McCarthy

In addition to the normal version, there are two limited edition, first pressing versions of this single available. The Jacket A version comes with a bonus DVD featuring the "Polar Star" music video, two songs from their Saitama Super Arena concert and more. The Jacket B addition comes with a bonus DVD featuring footage of their Mezamashi Live concert.

Labels and artists interested in being featured here may contact Michael McCarthy at cinema365@gmail.com. Follow Michael on Twitter https://twitter.com/paris365.

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