First of all, this should go without saying, but music is possibly the most subjective thing in the world next to comedy, so take this with a grain of salt.
Happy Party Train makes up for its fairly mediocre and lackluster music and cringey ass name with direction, visuals, and production values that by all means should have made it into the actual show. Never has an orange haired girl opening a mikan looked so strangely majestic, and in typical Love Live fashion, this music video sports some of the best CG in anime. It's still CG, but after witnessing some horrible CG in my life,
I grew to appreciate Love Live's relatively amazing CG quality. While it does suffer from FPS problems once in a while, it is still a visual spectacle. And that's all it is. The video consists of the Aqours members either dancing or looking out into the distance somehow. There's some sort of progression, with the characters looking either neutral or downright depressed at the beginning of the video, and starting to smile towards the end. Nothing majorly deep, but it's there.
As a music composition major, idol music has always been extremely hit or miss to me. While some Love Live pieces take me by surprise, usually through creative orchestration and rhythms, Happy Party Train felt like one of those anisongs that you hear over and over again. It's a fairly upbeat yet melancholic ballad, a genre that Love Live constantly uses. These are also known as "sentimental ballads." The chorus has the usual IV-V-I-V6-vi progression, something that a huge amount of anisongs have used to death. While I by no means find this chord progression distasteful, it is what the melody does that triggered a little pet peeve of mine. Anisong melodies usually resolve to the 3rd or 5th of whatever chord is playing in the harmony (unless its the end of a verse or chorus), and Happy Party Train doesn't do that in the first phrase of the chorus. It instead resolves straight to the root of the vi chord, something that anisongs don't normally do FOR A REASON. It sounds cheesy as hell. But hey, music is subjective, but I see a lot of people finding this particular song to be relatively cheesy as well, even compared to other idol songs. What sucks is that this type of resolution could have been done well! Thrilling One Way did it, how come HPT didn't? Then again, Thrilling One Way is more j-rock, and rock resolves to the root more so I guess it works.
Kanan as the lead was something she desperately needed and deserved, and while I love Kanan and Suwawa, it is quite unfortunate that her voice isn't that impressive. There were a few strained high notes, but even so, finally hearing Kanan sing without the usual over editing and filters was a breath of fresh air.
If there is any reason that I would desperately want you to see this music video, it would be one of two reasons: First of all, the loli forms of all the Aqours members make an appearance, and they are objectively the most adorable things in the world. Secondly, due to the fairly impressive visuals of this video, if you are new to the franchise and haven't even watched the original show, this video's production quality could peak your interest in the franchise. I know a lot of people start watching the show due to the music videos, with Snow Halation being a big trigger for a lot of newcomers, and I can see Happy Party Train's visuals being another hook for incoming audiences.
And of course, the beatmap for this song on Love Live! School Idol Festival is a bitch and I want it all to end.
I originally wrote a troll review for this music video, however I decided to write an actual one for a reason listed directly below this sentence. Hope you enjoy it!
Sometimes, I get a little bit too upset with the way some people handle things. While this has never really been something that's really applied directly to opinionated matters, what I'm writing here is a bit of a special case, as I am genuinely upset with the way someone decided to write a review for this very music video. Hope there's no hard feelings at the end of this all, but I do feel the need
to let out some of my frustration in the form of a review here. Hope you enjoy.
First of all, this should go without saying, but if you're gonna start your review off saying that the subject at hand is among one of the most subjective things in the world, you probably shouldn't be writing a review about it. Reviews are meant to be as analytical in nature as they possibly can be, as they should be written as an attempt to change your readers' opinions by way of facts and logic that they may not have caught onto upon their first experience with a specific piece of media. If you're surrendering yourself to the entire idea that something is extremely and entirely subjective, then what at all is the point of writing a review about it? Why do something if the entire purpose of doing it is completely gone?
Also, this is another thing that should go without saying but you did seem to let go completely over your head; this is an anime website, meaning that when you're judging something, it should revolve mostly around the 4 aspects that dominate anime; the story, characters, animation, and sound. If you wanna judge the song all on its own, you can do so at a music site, but in regards to something like this where story and characters barely exist beyond a few seemingly meaningless points, then animation and sound should be judged with fairness and balance, not prioritizing one over the other. It's a music VIDEO, not just music.
And I say all that I did in the above section because I find it extremely (and I mean EXTREMELY) hard to believe that something someone openly admits sounds mediocre/lackluster but shines light onto how amazing the production values would only give this specific piece a 5/10. That just, simply, makes no sense. Contradiction, or just not knowing to write a proper review? Or a mix of both, maybe? Who knows.
Regardless, Happy Party Train doesn't at ALL have a "cringey ass name," as the "train" in question is meant to be symbolic to the forming of a group and the adventures they go on that don't happen as expected but are still fun (or happy) regardless. Maybe you could read the lyrics before you instantly shit all over something for having a slightly weird name next time? Just a suggestion.
The art, including all of the animation and even the CG, is without a doubt amazing, and that isn't something I'm going to argue against at all because I agree with that 100%. So let's move on.
As I've said at least a dozen times in reviews in the past, anyone who tries to use professional/semi-professional accomplishments as a means of feeling "more qualified" to write a specific review probably should stay away from writing reviews. They do nothing to add to your credibility because someone who's done personal studies on something for half a dozen years will obviously be more well-equipped to talk about it than someone who's happened to go to school for it for a few months (and it's sad that there's even admittance to being a MAJOR here. Not even a graduated, but a freaking major. What are you trying to pull here?).
So, allow me to continue. As someone who hasn't studied a single music-related thing in any educational institution, but instead was once part of a band for an entire 6 years and dealt with many other bands, did very personal performances with at least three dozen other unique vocalists, and has in general been very musically involved for a majority of my own life, I can agree that idol music has always been extremely hit or miss to me as well. However, where I differ with the reviewer in question is in whether or not Happy Party Train truly deserves to be considered a miss. It doesn't, and for a very large plethora of reasons.
While I agree that the overall musical progression of HPT is similar to quite a few other Love Live songs in the past, where HPT differs is how it presents this kind of progression. Instead of attempting to completely flood the song in a barrage of overbearing layers of electronic madness, HPT takes a different route by not only being entirely natural in regards to its instrumental, but it also tries to handle things a far different way than typical of full guitar, drum, and bass Love Live songs. It does so by layering multiple guitars over each other, which becomes most apparent during Riko's introduction to the song. This difference in sound is huge because it adds a much more dramatic effect to the song that we've never actually heard come off NEARLY as strongly in any other Love Live song to ever be created, not even just including Aqours here... literally ANY song.
Okay, so HPT sounds more natural, what about it? This natural feeling being layered almost seamlessly over itself in multiple different ways makes the song sound MUCH more professional than, again, any other Love Live song created in the past. After thinking long and hard about it, the only other Love Live song I could really think of that was at all similar in this regard to instrumental presentation was Umi Sonoda's solo Watashitachi wa Hana no Mirai, which also happens to be the ONLY Love Live song as a whole that I like more than Happy Party Train (minus Self Control, but not everyone counts that since it's not µ's/Aqours). In short, HPT is literally among the most refined-sounding songs in Love Live's entire history, only surpassed by a rival group's alternative metal song and a traditional J-Rock solo by the best vocalist in µ's.
Many people want to continue criticizing Kanan's voice, and I honestly don't understand it. I've always thought from the VERY beginning that Suwawa's voice was among the 3 best in Aqours, only behind literally Aikyan and King, two extremely rich voices that have always been incredibly good at hitting every note that gets thrown at them.
You see, I understand damn well that Kanan's voice is very shrill and high-strung in a lot of ways, and many people have an issue with that. I understand extremely well where this all comes from, because I had an issue with it for Nozomi in µ's as well. The difference between Kanan and Nozomi, however, is one thing that changes everything between these two: how much range their voices have as a whole.
Nozomi was EXTREMELY high-strung and couldn't ever sing low notes properly, despite trying her hardest to in songs like Garasu no Hanazono and Shunjou Romantic. There was ALWAYS a ring in her voice that was unavoidable regardless of the situation. Kanan isn't at all the same way. As proven in songs like Daydream Warrior, Tokimeki Bunruigaku, and Koi ni Naritai Aquarium, Kanan hits low notes almost perfectly when she truly wants to, even without any kind of extra filtering or autotune. She is easily capable of doing so, which she DOES in HPT. I agree that yes, her voice is quite high-strung at times in the song itself, but acting as if she can't ever hit low notes with exceptional quality is just absurd because she obviously can, and does.
Granted, I'll admit fully well that HPT wasn't her greatest performance like it was for Yoshiko (minus her first line in Daydream Warrior), Hanamaru, and Riko. I thought Kanan in general sounded plenty better in the 3 songs I listed above, in addition to Lonely Tuning because even with the autotune, she sounded absolutely fantastic.
And honestly, what the HELL is with this idea that Kanan is just some kind of guinea pig for overediting and filtering? Yes okay, Kanan got autotuned to mad hell in Lonely Tuning. Let's just ignore the fact that it sounded good regardless of autotune or not, and let's just KEEP ignoring the fact that she's had parts in songs OTHER THAN LONELY TUNING! Have people seriously just never listened to any other song that she has a major part in? She sounds great, and isn't edited at all. I know that you were just trying to be assertive in the fact that she wasn't edited to hell and back in this song like she was in Lonely Tuning, but seriously, get over yourself and quit acting like Kanan gets filtered to hell and back in every song because she clearly doesn't. She doesn't need to be.
Now, to add in a few things of my very own:
1. The direction of this song was, as a whole, flawless. The 3 best singers in the entire Aqours group got the most solo time, which happened at the very beginning of the song and was one of the best things to ever put together in a PV of any Love Live song I've ever heard. You also have the fact that as the song progressed, you hardly heard bad voices the way you might have in past songs, as in Ruby didn't sound like a diseased child with 10 penises in her mouth and You didn't sound like she had the worst cold in the entire world. This happened because as the song progressed, the instrumental got more and more dramatic, which took the edge off of the bad voices. This song was very self-aware of what it was, and crafted itself to be as perfect as possible via said self-awareness. Because of all of that, every single vocalist sounded good, and there was hardly a single criticism for the instrumental because of the things I said above: it was layered so perfectly in a way no other Love Live song (minus Watashitachi wa Hana no Mirai) has ever been.
2. Like Music S.T.A.R.T!! did, HPT also tells a great story within its music video. I suggest you give the lyrics a few read-throughs and watch the music video afterwards so you can fully understand everything that's going on and the general purpose behind this video as a whole.
3. Sky Journey was very similar to HPT in terms of overall vocal direction and instrumental progression, despite how much more electronic it sounded. However, like with most Love Live songs that are similar to it, they tried to take the edge off of the electronic sound with stronger sounding melodic vocals (similar to Maki's solo Daring!!). I personally recommend you listen to it if you enjoyed HPT at all because the song is, truthfully speaking, almost just as good as it.
And of course, the beatmap for this song on LL!SIF isn't that hard and people need to quit complaining about KLab trying to do something unique with Aqours' most refined-sounding song.