A lot has happened with MIYAVI and the western world over the last 6 months. He moved to California, stole the show with his vivid role in the Angelina Jolie-directed film Unbroken, and has conducted a variety of English interviews on American television shows and websites, even appearing and performing on Ellen. As part of his promotional activities in the west, he quietly released Let Go. This track ditches the artist's usual slap-guitar work for a more traditional rock sound, and is incredibly catchy. Although noticeably lacking in the samurai style that MIYAVI is known for, Let Go is an excellent modern take on the catchy rock n' roll songs of old, and is sure to catch the attention of western audiences.

Let Go Cover
1. Let Go

I'll be blunt: this is a giant departure from MIYAVI's traditional form. There is zero slap guitar in the entire song. However, with Let Go, MIYAVI does something better than possibly any Japanese artist to date:he appeals to the western mainstream through their dormant love for rock n' roll music. Sung entirely in English, the song talks about dealing with internal turmoil and consequently being paralyzed by it. The solution is, of course, to simply "let go". The song uses a catchy guitar riff paired with an equally catchy drum tempo. When the song reaches the chorus, it explodes in energy: the drums intensify, backing synth music suddenly appears, and the catchy "Let Go! Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh" is sung repeatedly. Quite frankly, this song is the embodiment of catchy, yet it maintains its sound as a modern throwback to classic rock with a raw guitar sound and a brief but well-played guitar solo. Although I do prefer his slap-guitar sound in the long run, I was pleasantly surprised at how effortlessly MIYAVI was able to imitate a hit western rock song.

Let Go is a single that could easily be played on US radio, even though the English is still a little unintelligible at the beginning. I personally don't believe that this is MIYAVI abandoning his old sound for a more mainstream style: this song has received very little promotion outside of the U.S., and MIYAVI even preceded it with an abbreviated version of his famous "What's My Name?" when he performed on Ellen.  As a U.S. fan myself, I was delighted to see one of my favorite Japanese artists release a song with a familiar U.S. rock sound so easily and effortlessly. It's a very smart move on MIYAVI's part: get the new audience interested in something catchy and familiar to them, then reveal his unique style after they're hooked (many successful American artists have done this in the past).

The bottom line is that MIYAVI is intent on shaking up the U.S. music scene, and he is on the way to doing so. I believe he will retain his core style; his singles have always been the most experimental and have deviated the most from his traditional style. Depending on your interest in catchy songs and old-school rock n' roll guitar riffs, you'll either love Let Go or be bored by it. Either way, we'll have to wait until his new album drops in April to see what form MIYAVI's newest incarnation of guitar playing will take. Once it's released, we'll see whether he leaves it all behind in an attempt to appeal to a new market, or stays true to himself as an artist. Given his track record, I'm fairly confident it will be the latter.
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