ZAQ's new single, "Alteration," is the new opening theme song for the anime Chunibyo Demo Koi ga Shitai!. And I'm sure it's a great theme song. It totally has that vibe. But this one just didn't grab me. It feels like it's trying too hard. She sings much of it so fast it's like she's auditioning for AKB48. Eminem doesn't even spit out lyrics that fast. Of course, it's probably not her fault the song is 170 beats per minute (or whatever it is). The beats don't sound very original either. For the most part, you just have a very simple, rapid beat that's seriously lacking some thunder. If you crank your stereo (or computer speakers) up to 10 then I'm sure it will have a little punch, but, listening to it at a normal volume, it's rather lackluster. And the drum rolls sound like they're done by an old drum machine Kylie Minogue threw away in 1995. Which wouldn't be so bad if the song was retro all around. Unfortunately, it's just suffering from unimpressive production.
The B-side, "ONE WAY ROAD!!," is much catchier. The beats still sound out-dated, but at least there's a healthy dose of synth to brighten things up. It also feels a lot more vibrant all around. At times it does feel like they're trying too hard to mimic AKB48 but J-Pop has become so fast in general that that's probably not deliberate. As for ZAQ's vocals, I do have to give her credit for keeping up with the super fast tempo and she's clearly a more than capable singer. I'm curious to hear more of her work now. I'm assuming she's a new artist because I couldn't find a Wiki or GenAsia page on her. And the only other release I could find on Yes Asia or CD Japan is another single, entitled "Sparkling Daydream."
There's a second B-side, which is called "Alteration -feel-." Basically, it's a slower version of "Alteration" with more of a piano pop vibe. The funny thing is that it sounds too slow after hearing the original version of the song, this even though I found the original to be too fast. But if you just heard this version without hearing the ultra-fast theme song version then you'd probably find this to be a catchy mid-tempo number. Only it's probably not a mid-tempo song. I think it's up-tempo but just sounds mid-tempo when compared to the other version. My suggestion would be to listen to this version first and look at the other version as the highly caffeinated remix. And if all of this sounds too confusing, well, this single was so fast that it's literally made me dizzy. -Michael McCarthy