Houkago Princess - Lychee Red No Unmei

review - 02.13.2017 03:00

In this vivid retelling of one of ancient China's Four Legendary Beauties, Houkago Princess transform into the historical princess and consort, Yang Guifei, in their alluring fifth single release, "Lychee Red No Unmei".

Making their debut in August 2011, Houkago Princess began their career as an indie idol dress-up unit. Since then, the group has evolved, and in August 2015 they began a new story under Universal Music Japan as a major idol group. By day, they are a group of schoolgirls who perform in school uniform, but once the clock strikes 16:00, the eight members transform into beautiful princesses. With this image, the group has since released five singles and a mini-album, showcasing their transformations into various fictional and historical princesses whilst writing their own story in the process.

In their fifth single release, Houkago Princess begin a brand new story in the form of Lychee Red No Unmei, the first in their on-going princess saga to feature a tale from the East. Based on Yang Guifei, one of the four legendary beauties of ancient China, Houkago Princess sing of a powerful love between an emperor and his royal consort. Released in ten editions and featuring four tracks — Lychee Red No Unmei, Sennen Maika and their corresponding instrumentals — the single Lychee Red No Unmei proves to be an exciting, powerful addition to the group's ever-growing discography.

Opening the single is the title track itself, with an appropriately, albeit surprising, aggressive tune. A unique sound to Houkago Princess's current discography, Lychee Red No Unmei is passionate and enticing, one that seems to embody the spirit and strength of Houkago Princess as they tell us this passionate story of Yang Guifei and her lover, the Chinese emperor. This is a highly invigorating and memorable track, with strong leading vocals from self-proclaimed group diva, Maika, and newcomer Sekine Sasara.

Lychee Red No Unmei's accompanying music video, shown below, is just as vivid and mesmerising as the song is in sound, showing a new strength and unison in the choreography and solo scenes throughout this rich, alluring interpretation of ancient China. The costumes, one of Houkago Princess' strong points in both live performances and video interpretations, are their most elaborate yet, fitting the theme of Lychee Red No Unmei perfectly.

Sennen Maika — known in English as ‘Thousand Year Dance’ — follows as the single's coupling track, and holds as much of a unique sound as Lychee Red No Unmei does. Opening with a more traditional, folk sound, Sennen Maika quickly trickles into the realm of an upbeat pop tune, with flitters of the Chinese instruments playing throughout to keep its traditional feel. A fun, exciting piece, Sennen Maika will also include a powerful dance solo, courtesy of Maika, during the instrumental break when the song is performed live. Though the song itself does not have a music video, it is an undeniably vibrant and colourful song, lending well to the imagination of what the choreography might look like with twirling garments as the members hold hand fans.

Though the single is short-lived, Lychee Red No Unmei and Sennen Maika are both undeniably beautiful songs, each showcasing a unique and interesting interpretation of traditional meets contemporary sound. Where Lychee Red No Unmei brings a slice of ancient China to the group's look and sound, Sennen Maika brings Houkago Princess back to their roots in Japan, thanks to its energetic, almost theatrical sound. This is a mesmerising single overall, and Lychee Red No Unmei as a whole shows the continual growth of Houkago Princess as a group, as well as their remarkable ability to stay flexible in sound whilst keeping a consistent image of princesses who are also idols.

Lychee Red No Unmei will be available from February 15th, 2017, and comes in ten editions: Standard, Limited and eight solo member versions.
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