‘Twelve’ album review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Before the Produce 48 controversy happened, IZ*ONE released their third Japanese single “Vampire” which sounded good but was cheesy at certain points in the song. After they came back earlier in February with their first album BLOOM*IZ, they were originally going to Japan to perform in KCON Japan and release their first Japanese album but the coronavirus pandemic interfered. Because of that, the group had to delay the release of it and instead still worked in South Korea during the pandemic and released their recent mini-album Oneiric Diary.
After a one-year wait, IZ*ONE finally released their first Japanese album, Twelve, named after the number of members in the group. An important thing to point out is that nearly all the group’s Japanese songs are written by the same person that produced AKB48 (where Sakura, Nako, and Hitomi are from) and the 46 groups: Yasushi Akimoto. The album has all of the group’s Japanese singles including my favourite Japanese single of the group “I Want to Say that I Like You” as well as two of the songs from the season finale of Produce 48, and new songs including Japanese versions of almost all of their Korean singles.
Out of the new IZ*ONE songs, the main single in the album “Beware” has the Japanese members being heard more throughout the songs, especially for Nako (who is the lead member in the song), and Hitomi. The song has the structure of TWICE’s “TT”; the music video of “Beware” reminds me of the music videos of TWICE especially the music video of “Heart Shaker.” In the music video of the song, Nako is waiting in a classroom with her suitcase which houses a miniature city and we see the members in various parts of the city as well the subway.
Other than the Japanese version of their previous hit single “Secret Story of the Swan,” this is the first time in a long time that I have heard Sakura, Hitomi, and Nako singing in Japanese. Like in BLOOM*IZ, my favourite member in the group, Yujin, is also heard a lot throughout the album and still sounds great. Because Akimoto wrote most of the songs in the album, it has the Yasushi Akimoto touch where it sounds like J-Pop and it is pop-y.
Akimoto’s use of “Wow” repeatedly is also heard in the songs and he also used it in the recent hit singles of the other groups that he produced including Nogizaka46’s “Route 246,” Keyakizaka46’s last single “Who’s Gonna Ring the Bell?” and Hinatazaka46’s “Azato Kawaii.”
Another IZ*ONE song I enjoy is “Yummy Summer” which has a J-Pop and sunny sound with a bit of K-Pop beats. One of the songs in the album that I like “What Should I Do?” has a jazzy sound but turns electronic in the second half. Another song in the album that I like, “Shy boy,” sounds like a usual J-Pop song but also sounds like an electronic song produced by Kenshi Yonezu similar to the song that he did with Yojiro Noda “Placebo” in his recent album Stray Sheep.
Twelve is an album that fans of the group in Japan, especially AKB48 fans including myself, were waiting to hear. While this might be their only Japanese album since the group might end next year they could still make another Japanese album.