Review: One Ok Rock - Renegades
These days, the term 'legend' is thrown around casually too often in music. In K-Pop, I'd argue only Seo Taiji and the Boys are full-fledged legends (though they are other Korean music legends). In J-Rock, The most recent legend is X Japan, but I would not be surprised if, within 5 years, One Ok Rock gets added to that list. In fact, they almost are full-fledged legends. They talk about what they want, and they do it their way. This is probably why they are Japan's most popular rock band.
Renegades is not only an anime theme, but it will be part of the band's 10th album. It also is written by Ed Sheeran, which surprises me. Don't get me wrong, he makes great pop music. Still, he is not the rock producer who you'd expect to write a stadium-ready anthem like this. I guess the rock edge is from co-producer Masato, who clearly is behind the harder edge. I guess this is where Sheeran comes in, as I think the slow, melodic moments, are possibly his.
Musically, Renegades starts out slowly and just sets its sights on a build, culminating in an epic rock chorus. We've seen this a million and a half times in anime rock, but One Ok Rock adds that emotional heft with a dose of heavy metal. The choir in the post-chorus is truly magnificent. Really, this song has its head in the clouds, but it lifts the listener to the clouds today in its hand.
Every time the chorus hits, the instrumental grows in intensity, and it is magnificent. The growing depth slowly sucks you in, and there is no coming out till the song is done. If only all slow verses led to massive moments like this. Taka does occasionally uses autotune, but that is a minor complaint. It is clearly an aesthetic choice (and a weird one at that), as Taka is one of the strongest vocalists currently active in the musical industry. His voice dominates in the "I'm here for you, are you here for me too?" line, adding some hefty strength.
Of course, all this slowness and melodrama is here to support the lyrics. The lyrics are about rebelling, growing, and helping the world. The lyrics are all about social causes, and the MV clearly shows that. The lyrics are very relevant to the current climate, and also just add enough ambiguity that generations later could use this song as a protest anthem. In fact, I feel it a waste if this song is not used at a protest, it is practically created for that. Really, this is one of the best lyrical pieces this year. Actually, one of the best musical pieces this year.