RIRI, KEIJU, Nariaki Obukuro – “Summertime”
Japanese pop/R&B singer RIRI is destined to become a major star.
Take a listen to her show-stopping pop banger “HONEY” and flirtatious anthem “That’s My Baby,” and it’s easy to see the reasons why SONY Music signed her onto their label so early on. It’s hard to believe that RIRI, who has a beautifully expansive vocal range, is only a mere 19 years old. Blending R&B with pop sensibilities, RIRI’s impressive albums RIRI (2018) and NEO (2018) call to mind a very early Utada Hikaru–only with more polished production tools and a flirtier sense of style. Like Hikaru, RIRI also has a very international appeal–often inserting catchy English phrases into her songs to win over her Western audience (she even has full English versions of her songs!). It’s interesting, then, that RIRI’s “Summertime” diverts from that almost entirely.
Produced by Nariaki Obukuro and supported by rap artist KEIJU, “Summertime” simmers and sizzles with R&B flair. There’s not a huge booming pop moment here–you won’t find RIRI and her collaborators hitting you hard with euphoric phrases like “THAT’S MY BABY!” or “I WANNA BE YOUR HONEY!”. Rather, the production on “Summertime” is understated, but still shows off RIRI’s vocal range. What’s amazing is how Obukuro is able to turn some of the strangest sounds on the track (an off-kilter vocal loop, sparse backing beats, chopped vocals) into music that doesn’t follow a conventional song structure. However, as the song twists and turns into new dimensions, RIRI still shines even in the presence of KEIJU’s cool rap verses. There’s even a chopped vocal breakdown that serves as a semi-EDM drop (the closest thing to radio-friendly pop on the song), and it somehow sticks the landing.
“Summertime” invites the summer season in with unconventional pop bliss, proving that RIRI is even more than just another pretty voice in the music scene.
Li-Wei Chu is the chief editor of From the Intercom. When he’s not editing drafts and searching for new artists to cover for the website, he loves watching cult films, cooking, and listening to his ever-growing collection of vinyl records. You can follow him on LetterBoxd and make fun of his taste in movies here!