Kumi starts off her Summer trip with “Lalalalala”, which is Kumi’s obligatory trashy rock song – in which she wanders around Venice beach looking like a rabid fan who had escaped from the set of Christina Aguilera’s “Your body” video shoot with a handful of her ‘My little Pony’ hair colour clip in’s. “Lalalalala” is wholly pedestrian, but it does its job. Whenever Kumi tries too hard with anything it falls. And just like a slow walker on a Zebra crossing, Kumi pedestrianizes all over the hood track “Touchdown”. The song is nothing special. Fans are already doing war on YouTube and Tumblr over whose version of the song is better (JoJo had recorded a version of “Touchdown” 2 years ago). But “Touchdown” works well because the song is simple and once again Kumi isn’t overtly trying to be too hood or wildly freaky. She’s just taking it easy over the beat and working it out. The same can’t be said for either of Summer trips‘ videos, but those are another story.
“Is this trap?” is the best song on the EP, yet the most flawed. It’s the one song which had the most potential to be that big killer song which this EP sorely lacks, but the structure never allows this song to truly get off of the ground. It sounds like a really loosely produced version of Rihanna’s “Who’s that chick?” and a RedOne leftover from Lady Gaga’s The fame. The hook is absolute fire, but the sparse, off-kilter vibe of the verses knocks the song off balance. And there’s no skirting around the horrendous whiff of Engrish in the song title. It’s a shame Kumi didn’t didn’t shoot a video for this song, because out of the 3 offerings on Summer trip, it’s the song which stands out the most and feels as though it could have been a stand alone single.
For each of these songs on Summer trip, Kumi has done a better version of it before. “Touchdown” pales in comparison to Trick‘s “This is not a love song”. “Lalala” pales in comparison to Universe‘s “Lick me”. And “Is this trap” doesn’t hold a pussy whiffed wine bottle to Trick‘s “Driving”. Which were all much better songs, done years ago. Whilst none of the individual songs on this release are amazing, collectively they work together nicely. But I just wish Kumi would move away from this tired formula, because she is becoming too predictable and this offering pales greatly in comparison to what many ladies in J-Pop have served up over the past couple of months.
Despite Summer trip being comprised of what Kumi has done countless times before, she sounds much more comfortable on this release and her vocals feel much more in line with the music. Kumi has a habit of trying to out-sing the production which is reigned in completely on these songs. Her sense of melody on hooks is much tighter than its ever been on anything she’s released before. She also rides the music differently in a way which makes you feel as though she is gearing towards singing a song in Engrish as Namie has taken to doing. But unless her Engrish has improved since those tragic versions of “Real emotion” and “1000 words”, she may want to stay tight with that Nihongo.
Summer trip is a cute collection of songs, but they aren’t memorable for shit. Of all the Summer singles to have dropped so far, this is ranking as one of the most boring and least care worthy. 4 times and 3 splash were much better than this and they were by no means all that good.
■ Is this trap? ★ J’s fave