Choice Is Yours

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Somewhat revolutionary for their mix of genders, AAA is a pop group that uses some elements of the idol-heavy, female J-pop world as well as elements of the boy band J-pop world. To finish off the mix, elements of J-rock find their way in from time to time. As a miniature album and perhaps something of a marketing test, Choice Is Yours leaves behind the female group members (Misako Uno and Chiaki Ito) in favor of a men-only recording. The album opens in a relatively standard boy band format with "Crash," with the group working in tandem for the majority of a straightforward pop arrangement, but allowing periodic breaks for rap outbursts. For "Hasta La Vista," some slightly more industrial instrumentation is added, while the group vocals head closer to a harmonized a cappella format, making for an interesting juxtaposition with the heavier arrangements. "Zapper" comes out as a bit of a Frankensteined number, alive with instrumentation (à la Peter Gabriel), but taking very clear melodic and vocal cues from a pair of big American boy band hits -- the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody" and *NSync's "Bye Bye Bye." The tone turns more hip-hop in "Bet," with an odd mix of Beastie Boys and Petey Pablo influences seeming to pop up en route. Unfortunately for the band and the album, the set ends with a horribly standard slow ballad, a staple of the boy band repertoire. After the energy and surprising creativity shown off in the preceding track,s however, a basic ballad is a strong letdown. As a whole, the album is an excellent shot from the male half of AAA. Just be sure to hit stop one song before the end.