Arena rock is a genre that hits every single time. I know it’s specifically made to appeal to the widest range of listeners possible, usually trading in subtleties for bombastic qualities to cater for large audiences. It’s inherently designed for mass consumption and built off tried-and-true formulas for maximum effect. So despite how some of these songs just feel like commercial bait, I just can’t help but always offer myself up for a good time.
Japanese singer-songwriter milet‘s music is of a similar vein. Instead of arena rock, it’s arena pop. A quick dive into her discography and you’ll find a sea of powerful ballads that tug on heartstrings, but more importantly, they would sound absolutely pristine in stadium-size venues (which is precisely the reason why she’s one of my favourite Japanese artists right now).
“Wake Me Up” is the 4th single of milet’s sophomore studio album Visions. The lead up to the record so far has been largely great. “Checkmate” drowns her voice under abrasive drums and grating electronic guitars that make the track tough to stomach; while “Ordinary Days” is a bright and hopeful pop banger that features a whirlwind of a chorus; “Fly High” is another similarly dominant ballad that shows how milet was able to captivate the Japanese audience and charts in only 2 years.
So with 2 bops and 1 flop, the pressure for “Wake Me Up” to knock it out of the park was on…and, fortunately, it barely manages to hit it to 3rd base. Once again, milet sticks to her strengths with another ballad. However, unlike the previous 2 singles, “Wake Me Up” is relatively subdued. The song doesn’t build towards an immense chorus, instead choosing to pull back right before milet takes off – placing a renewed focus on her verses, which is sung in both Japanese and English.
Maybe I’ve just gotten used to milet’s showmanship on her previous work or it could be that this track would work a lot better in the context of Visions‘ tracklist. Regardless, “Wake Me Up” comes across as lacklustre due to verses that are slightly obscured by the pompous pop production, which makes the choice of using an understated chorus even more baffling.