By Kya Brogdon | 2 February, 2024
Photo by James Baxter
My first introduction into the world of J-pop (besides Japanese tracks from K-pop groups) came when I saw ATARASHII GAKKO! perform at Head In The Clouds in 2021. Despite being one of the first acts on stage, they absolutely captured the audience's attention and had everyone jumping and dancing along with them. ATARASHII GAKKO! means “new school” in Japanese (新しい学校の), and the four member group is truly a new style of J-pop. Rather than focusing perfection, ATARASHII GAKKO! bring influences of hip hop, head banging, and traditional Japanese styles of dance into their self made choreography to separate themself from other groups.
2023 was an incredible year for the group; they made their US late-night television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, had sold out tours and festival spots, and dropped one of my favorite songs, “Tokyo Calling.” Now, after the announcement of their spot in 2024’s Coachella lineup, they have made their mark in 2024 with their first single of the year, “Toryanse.”
Opening with an action-calling chant, ATARASHII GAKKO!’s take on the classic Japanese children’s song of the same name is nothing short of adrenaline pumping and danceable. While childrens’ song is generally used to signal a safe crossing at intersections, ATARASHII GAKKO! use the lyrics to talk about their own crossroads、 and how they will prevail despite the things life brings one day at a time. The lyrics of the rap verse show this off best; “止まない雨でびしょびしょ / そんな日でも skip, skip, skip / メンタル限界いよいよ / そんな日でも skip, skip, skip / 人生模様は色々 / このトンネル抜けてみよう / This way ほら道あけて” (translation: “Even on days like that, I skip, skip, skip / When too much happens and I reach my mental limit / Even on days like that, I skip, skip, skip / There are so many aspects of life / So let's pass through this tunnel / This way, look, open the path”)
The instrumental is an upbeat, percussion heavy track that zaps energy into your body, and the melody of the lyrics is addictive and ear-wormy in the absolute best way. The music video is bright and colorful; and while some music videos might struggle with finding a balance between showing off the choreography and showing the storyline, “Toryanse” is a perfect cutting together of storyline scenes that show the girls doing chores on an early morning and scenes showing off their incredible dance and synchronization skills. The choreography is explosive, and I can easily see it taking over TikTok with how fun it looks to do. As soon as the video ended, I had to play it again to soak up all of the details and the fun little things they had throughout it.
Even through the screen, the girls’ presences in commanding, and it immediately brought me back to the awe I felt seeing them on stage in 2021. I can’t wait to see how the crowd at Coachella jumps and dances to this beat, as well as all of ATARASHII GAKKO!’s other hits. I truly adore this song, I think “Toryanse” has replaced “Tokyo Calling” as my favorite ATARASHII GAKKO! release. Whenever I need a burst of energy to get through a rough day, I know this will be my go-to.
Photo via The Oriel Co.