‘Baton Road’: a shadow of Kana-Boon’s former glory

KanaboonKANA-BOON, the band that produced the all-time hit “Silhouette” as the opening theme for the Naruto Shippuden series, has produced a new song, “Baton Road”, for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, the sequel to the original franchise. With the band gaining much attention over their previous hit song, how will this new song compare?

Given that KANA-BOON seemed to only gain recognition after their one-hit wonder, “Silhouette”, the band knows that they have high expectations to live up to, for both the franchise’s and their own fans. “Baton Road”, the band’s latest single, is a prime example of why one-hit wonder bands rarely make it big in the long run, showing the band’s fear of failure keeping them from bringing a fresh offering to the table.

“Baton Road” is same-old, same-old, starting off with a standard, done-to-death teaser of the chorus, cut exactly in half to quickly hook listeners in while giving them a preview of what’s to come. This common formula is used to intro a song in many anime openings and even pop songs today that have no relation to anime. Following the short chorus intro, an even shorter guitar riff follows, which is another technique used mainly in J-rock songs. In contemporary openings, most J-rock songs sound pumped-up through the use of a rhythmic and repeated guitar riff, usually in the form of single-noted melodic lines with close harmonic relations to the root note of the chorus.

We move on to the verse of the song, in which the first 8 bars use a 2 note chord progression, the first note being F#, and the second a mere semitone down at F. The guitar plays a rhythmic riff on the same root note, with palm mutes generously included in the entire verse. This is another commonly used technique employed in many J-rock anime opening tracks to hype up the piece quickly without going overboard with the guitar. The bass is played running man style, most likely picked, as the notes are punchy and non-mellow. We return to verse, the chords progressing from F to F#, then D# and C#, ending the verse.

The pre-chorus is easily forgettable and feels throwaway, like it was inserted just to adhere to formula. Most songs nowadays feature a similar structure: Intro/chorus tease -> Verse -> Pre-Chorus -> Chorus -> Verse…. etc.  Then we move on to the chorus. Well…what should I say? The chorus sounds extremely familiar, like the chorus of “DIVER”, the song that the band produced for “Boruto: Naruto The Movie”.  I somehow get the sense that the band’s creative vibes have reached their limit and that they are now stuck recycling the same chords and melodic lines in their songs.

Comparing to “Silhouette”, their first song, “Baton Road” really feels like a recycled copy. The mega-hit seems to have cast a large shadow [Ed. I see what you did there!] over the band’s subsequent work. Sometimes, formula sells, but bands need to understand that saplings cannot grow beneath mature trees.

In conclusion, the new single is extremely generic, and doesn’t catch as much attention as compared their previous songs and that one big hit. The band really needs to take a break, create more diversity, and experiment and explore a lot more with their compositions if they want to scale up the ladder of musical awesomeness. Looking forward to that, KANA-BOON.

*This review is based on the abridged version of the song “Baton Road” from the anime Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. At the time of this publication, the full track is still pending official release*

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