Album review: KAT-TUN - Cartoon KAT-TUN II you

Album review: Cartoon KAT-TUN II youKAT-TUN are big in Japan. One of Japan's biggest boy bands to be exact. Their albums, singles and DVD sales regularly top the charts. To say these guys are a phenomenon in Japan would be an understatement. Shit loads of endorsement deals, regular acting gigs, sell out tours, their own TV show - they're like the Japanese equivalent of *NSync back in their heyday. However, the measure of popularity doesn't always equate to quality and KAT-TUN's music is definitely miles short of amazing. In fact, it's miles short of even being remotely decent.

KAT-TUN's second album (their first of all new original material) kicks off with "Signal", which is easily the best song on the album: sounding alot like a Darkchild or Underdogs production. All of the guys get a solo moment on the song, though as per usual Jin and Kazuya get the lion's share of the lead vocals. "Signal" is a hot and solid song. Tighter vocal production would've been better though. Many of the backing vocals heard on the song aren't by KAT-TUN at all, which I think is pretty ridiculous given there are five of them in the group - each of whom have a decent enough voice. But still...this is a solid song and there are much, MUCH worse songs than this on the album.

Quite evenly for a boy band, each member gets their own solo song on the album, which gives the individual members a chance to shine on their own and really showcases themselves.

KAT-TUN lead man Kazuya Kameneshi's solo song "Someday somebody" is pretty nice: complete with its mix of R&B drums and bass lines, with a sweeping Japanese melody and orchestrated strings. It sounds like the kind of song Janet Jackson would've done with her long time collaborators Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It's a strong song, but it would've sounded better had Jin sung it, as his voice is less nasal and smoother. Still, Kazuya does a good job. It's definitely one of his stronger vocal performances.

Koki Tanaka's song "Make U wet" is the album's second attempt at an R&B joint. Unfortunately unlike "Signal" it sounds like it's trying to mimick a US R&B club banger and comes off badly. Fans of Kumi Koda's club tracks ("Juicy" comes to mind) may dig this as it sounds exactly like the kind of shit she usually does. KAT-TUN fan girls will undoubtedly be besides themselves listening to Tanaka implore how he's going to make a girl wet, but in all honesty there's not much to this song and it's far from sexy. Tanaka's vocals are all over the place. It wouldn't surprise me if he was jacking off whilst singing the song. Either that or the studio he was in was being attacked by Godzilla or an earthquake whilst he was laying his vocals down. The song could've been hot if it had a stronger melody, better lyrics and a decent vocal performance - but as it is it's rubbish. Ain't no girl getting wet to this song unless somebody blasts her p***y with a water hose.

Beat boxer Yuichi Nakamaru actually has a song where he sings! I was expecting his solo effort "Key of life" to be 3 minutes of beat boxing and vocal record scratches, but he actually sings. I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard this song because Yuichi has a really nice voice. It's always the way with boy groups: the dudes with the good voices get pushed into the background and little air time. "Key of life" isn't amazing, but it has a nice laid back vibe you can chill to. One of the albums better songs. Yuichi gets bonus points for writing the lyrics too.

Junnosuke Taguchi's "Samurai love attack" is as terrible as its title. It's no wonder this dude rarely gets a chance to sing because his voice is really irritating. 1 minute into this song and I was wishing I was tone deaf. Between the frantic thrashing of the beat pounding its way into your head and Junnosuke's horrendous vocals - this song is the pits. You'd have to have it bad for KAT-TUN and love Junnosuke something chronic to like this song. I could just about tolerate it if it were a theme to an anime, but as a stand along song it's absolute garbage with a capital G in italic bold.

Tetsuya Ueda's solo song is as dark and as moody as you'd expect from him and is all out, no holds barred J-Rock. I'm not too keen on this song because Tetsuya's vocals aren't strong enough to really sell it, particularly on the chorus where his vocals are drowned out completely by the guitars. In the hands of a more powerful and emotive vocalist such as Gackt this song would've been hot, but with Ueda it falls short. As with Yuichi, Tetsuya wrote his own lyrics which he gets a browny point for.

Overall this album is rubbish. As if the album title wasn't stupid enough, the songs are too. KAT-TUN's music is incredibly cheesy. I cannot believe that fan girls are so besides themselves with how kakkoii these boys are that they fail to hear how bad the music is. The limited edition comes with a bonus CD which features a bunch of songs that KAT-TUN had performed at live concerts and shows for years, so fans will be glad to finally have them in physical format - but they're all rubbish too. The song "Freeze" has some of the worst lyrics I've heard: "Do you wanna have fun? Give me a big smile!" What the f**k kind of lyric is that!? Who wrote it? A 4 year old!? It's a complete joke. KAT-TUN need to start making serious music. Their lyrics are crap and their sound is too inconsistent. The whole package lacks cohesiveness. The album is made even worse due to the lack of Jin Akanishi, the one dude in the group who has a more than decent singing voice. I don't think he would've single handedly saved the album, but I would've liked to at least have heard his solo contribution. Jin fans will be disappointed, but he at least features on "Signal".

There are too few good songs on Cartoon KAT-TUN II you to warrant a purchase. Do yourself a favour: just buy the "Signal" single and watch their performances on YouTube if you must hear their music.

KAT-TUN's 'Cartoon KAT-TUN II you' scores itself a 1 out of 10
Album highlights:
■ Signal J's fave
■ Someday for somebody


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