Today we are taking a look at one of the hottest pop bands sweeping the nation in Japan. Official HIGE DANdism (Official髭男dism), or as most people say Hige Dan. Now, prepare yourself for some controversy because, except for a few songs, I’m not fond of Hige Dan. We’re going learn about the origins of the band, rise to fame, discography, and lastly, my personal thoughts on why I think Hige Dan isn’t living up to their potential.
The Origins of Official HIGE DANdism
Higedan formed on June 7th, 2012, and consists of 4 members:
Initially, they started as a cover band and expanded into their own music. It wasn’t until April 22nd, 2015 that they released their first mini-album. Love to Peace Kimi no Naka (ラブとピース君の中).
If we are being technical, this was their indie debut and didn’t have their first major debut until they switched to music label Pony Canyon. They released their first single “No Doubt” on April 11th, 2018.
In addition to the release of their new single, the song was used for Fuji Televisions Confidence Man JP. This was a major accomplishment since Confidence Man was on the prime time slot of Japanese TV, and it was the first time that an indie artist song was used as a theme song for a prime time show.
With the combination of releasing a successful album and getting publicity through Confidence Man JP, the band’s popularity skyrocketed.
Rise to Fame
From this point, Hige Dan was releasing one hit after another. In October 2018, Hige Dan released their 2nd EP, Standby By You, and on May 15, 2019, they released their 2nd single, Pretender.
On July 31st, 2019, they released their 3rd single “Shukumei（宿命）“, and later that year in October, released their major album, Traveler.
Moving on to this year, Higedan released their 4th single in February, I LOVE, and recently released their third EP, “HELLO”, on August 5th.
Now that we talked a little bit about Hige Dan’s origins and rise to popularity, I want to explain why I’m not a fan of the band.
The Potential of Official HIGE DANdism
The Positive of Hige Dan: Wonderful Music Style
Let me start with the positive. I enjoy the sound of Hige dan. And by sound, I mean the instrumental aspect of it. When it comes to musical diversity, Hige Dan’s sound covers a wide spectrum of pop.
Each song seems to have a different feel and style. For example, if I were to only listen to the instrumentals of “115 Man kiro no Firumu” and then listen to “I LOVE”, it would be hard for me to realize it’s the same band.
For some people, this could be negative if they are hoping for a similar sound in their favorite artist songs, but this is generally a bad practice.
The first band that comes to mind is, UVERWorld. During their infancy, many of their songs had a similar and distinct sound, and people began to complain. Eventually, they found a new style, however, they are beginning to experience the same issue they had before.
The Negative of Hige Dan: Great Music Style, But Vocals Lacking
Now for the reason why I’m not a fan. It all comes down to Fujihara Satoshi. Honestly, I don’t like his singing style. Now let me emphasize SINGING STYLE. In many of Fujihara’s songs, he tends to sing in the higher key range. This is probably one of the things that distinguish him from many other singers out there.
The problem for me isn’t that he sings entirely soprano, the problem is he doesn’t use his vocal range to give Hige Dan songs variety. If we listen to I LOVE, the song starts on the higher end of the mezzo-soprano range. This is already decently high for any male singer. Then we reach the main chorus and from this point nearly all soprano throughout the rest of the song.
My problem with this isn’t any variation in this song. The only thing we learn is Fujihara can sing high notes very well. But singing is not always about the high notes.
I love hearing a beautiful high note, but it should be woven in with the rest of the singer’s vocal range, giving a song more depth. Fujihara continues this trend in multiple songs, “55”, “shukumei（宿命）” “Saigo no koi urusai（最後の恋煩い）”, and many others.
The frustrating part is, I know that Fujihara has an amazing vocal range. When I listened to itan na star (異端なスター), I was surprised by his vocal capabilities. The song starts with your typical high pitched vocals, and it isn’t until the 3:20 mark that he spreads his wings.
He starts by hitting an incredibly high note and goes down to his normal singing range. However, he gives a wide array of pitch variations as he works his way down.
Then near the end of the song, he hits another high note, but drops down with a beautiful grunt sound, then back to his normal pitch.
Official HIGE DANdism’s Future in the Music Industry
That’s when I realized, that Fujihara has the capability, but for some reason, he doesn’t utilize his entire vocal range in his songs.
If he brought more variation as he did in the ending of itan na star, then I would be keener to Higedan’s music. Until then while he does have a “pure” voice, I find myself annoyed with the same standard singing style.
I can only hope that we hear more songs where he shows us what he can do with his singing. I honestly believe if he can’t bring something new with his singing style, then Hige Dan will fade away; which would be unfortunate since I do believe this band has the potential to become legendary.
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Enjoy Life, Enjoy Music!