Erena Ono was a member of AKB 48 until 2010 when she left to pursue a career in acting. She was supposed to move to England, but those plans must have fallen through. Since then I'd heard very little about her until earlier this year, when the preview for Erepyon was released on Youtube. I wound up getting the type B and C special editions in order to get the second B-side track and video as well as the 30 page mini-photobook.
Erepyon is not only the name of the A-side track of the single but was Erena's nickname while in AKB. She wrote the lyrics to the song herself and it seems to comment on the trying times she's recently faced and the promise of a new and exciting career. It also calls on fans to support her as she steps out once more into the public eye. The music and arrangement were done by SmileR, who brings a mix of rock and synth that punctuates Erena's strong vocals without ever overpowering them. It's a striking departure from her undeniably cute role within AKB, further illustrated in the PV for the song, which features a tough looking Erena punching out her pastel-clad doppelganger. Unfortunately, Erena's new management has been rather aggressive in taking down the full music video from sites like Youtube, so here instead is her performance from Live B courtesy of Dailymotion. I'm pretty sure she's synced to a recording here, so the quality in that regard is comparable to the CD.
The B-side track of all but the type C special edition is a song called Sentimental Girl. It's another collaboration between Erena and SmileR and for me is the highlight of the single. It incorporates perhaps a bit more synth elements than does Erepyon. This extends to some use of autotune on Erena's voice, though clearly as a stylistic element and not one designed to correct a lack of talent. While I have yet to completely translate this track, the subject appears to be that of unrequited love, focusing on a girl who has difficulty expressing her feelings. In spite of, or perhaps due to, this subject matter, the song has every bit of as much energy as Erepyon. If this is the kind of sound we can expect from Erena moving foeward, I'm all in. You can hear the song in full here, albeit not in the best quality.
The last song is called キミがいれば, or I Need You, and strikes me as a "safe" song for Erena lest her new direction not pan out. It's a beautiful song to be sure, but doesn't share the same energy as the other two offerings. Set alongside the fun, lively beat of Erepyon, it comes off as overly serious and ultimately a step back into what Erena was doing before. It's also the only song not written by Erena, making any message it may contain seem less personal. To its credit, the softer music allows Erena's strong, clear singing to be the highlight of the track and any obvious use of autotune is gone entirely. Erena does a great job imbuing her voice with the appropriate resonance for the material as well. Still, I would rank this as my least favorite of the three and decry the fact that this song was given the PV treatment over Sentimental Girl. You can view the video here, though I imagine it's only a matter of time before that link is taken down.
Erepyon debuted at number 3 on the Oricon weekly charts for June11-17 behind KANJANI8 and Arashi, both well established and popular groups under the mega-popular Johnny and Associates talent agency. Erepyon was further used as the opening theme of the drama Legal High. Hopefully all this exposure will mean more excellent releases like this in Erena's future. I'd highly recommend this single to any fan of Erena, strong female vocals, or energetic pop/rock. As always, you can order a copy from CDJapan.