This is probably one of the things that I should’ve written back in 2021 with how dated the songs are as of this writing but I decided to give them a fair and unbiased review now that the hype for both songs have kinda died down.
BABY BLUE and R RULES. One is a sub-unit of a much larger group, the other is a rebrand of another group because said group’s former recording label decided to screw with them. Apples and oranges really but we’re not here to compare and contrast the two groups, that’s for another day.
We’re here to talk about each group’s last 2021 releases: Head Up and Don’t Need Ya (DNY) respectively.
Let’s start with the one from MNL48’s sub-unit first.
Head Up follows the trend of Stuck On You, with that trend being a slowed down RNB song. I don’t know why but the melody reminds me of a lo-fi version of Tatsuro Yamashita’s “Love Space” with how the instrumentals really hit that notion that whoever composed Head Up’s instrumentals used Love Space as an inspiration in a positive way, not in a Kenji Yamamoto plagarizing kind of way.
The message of the song is short and straight to the point, and that is to keep your head up and that your friends are there to help you.
It also follows Stuck On You’s “let’s subtly end the song” because while I was listening to this song for this review, I didn’t even notice that the song already ended. Unlike the last three BABY BLUE songs, I think this would be the least memorable one so far. The cover art for Head Up reminds me of YMO’s Naughty Boys mixed with any early 1990s J-Rock album art.
From Tatsuro Yamashita, we now go to MC Jarbo. We now come to R RULES’ DNY.
First off, you might be wondering what the hell does DNY even mean? Demon’s New Year? Democrats of New York? It means Don’t Need Ya stupid because poor literacy is kewl.
Stealing a bit from the great Linkara aside, DNY is what would you expect from four ladies whose names start with the letter R. It’s heavy on bass, heavy on synth, and it’s a typical pop song.
What makes it different is that it has the R RULES formula (basing on their past stuff from a different recording label) mixing both English and Japanese in a PPOP song.
Comparing this song to their other works, the closest thing to this would be their song Count Me Senpai wherein it’s not your typical radio friendly Pinoy pop song, no no no no. This is one of those PPOP songs zoomers would be playing on their TikTok accounts.
Anywho, if Head Up reminds me of a City Pop song from 1977, DNY reminds me more of the wave of KPop songs that got released somewhere around 2017-2019. I think it’s the “boomer” in me who thinks like this but it’s…not for me maybe because it’s too synth heavy but hey, at least the chorus is memorable.