ONE N’ ONLY is a Japan-based boy band whose name reflects its unique style of music that’s not just J-pop or K-pop, but a combination of the two they’ve coined “JK-pop.” The currently six-member team released its new song “LUCKY” on Friday (June 17), a track born from the members’ heartfelt desire to “give a bit of strength to those facing various difficulties” in today’s world where good things are overshadowed by the bad.
The group is also set to travel to South America in July to perform at Anime Friends São Paulo, the biggest anime festival in Brazil where the stage will be the group’s first live performance outside of Japan. On behalf of Billboard Japan, writer Kana Yoshida caught up with the rising group to chat about their latest release.
Your new song “LUCKY” is an ambitious track sung almost completely in English.
TETTA: (Loudly) We see you, global audiences!
REI: I had a really hard time nailing the English pronunciation. Thanks to the influence of TikTok, we’re now realistically looking to expand our activities outside of Japan, so we did put more effort into this song. As artists, we thought it was important to sing with a clear understanding of the meaning of the words even when they’re in English. A lot of our songs always reach out to people and have strong messages, so we sang this new one with the hope that our message reaches people everywhere.
What was the message that was important to you?
REI: I’ve often felt that little things become greater joys by being proactive in my daily life. So that was something I kept in mind when I recorded this.
KENSHIN: I had a lot of trouble pronouncing the lyrics of this song, too. I couldn’t get close to native English by any means and it felt like a huge wall, but I did my best because I knew it was something we had to overcome. With the times like they are now, I’m sure there are many things that make people sad or depressed, so we hoped we could encourage them a little with “LUCKY.” If it helps people feel a bit lucky, it’ll make us happy.
But you all managed to sing the “super-hard” Portuguese version of “L.O.C.A (PT-BR ver.).”
KENSHIN: [After everyone laughs] That was so hard. English and Portuguese are both difficult, but they’re both fun to do and were both good experiences.
Do the rest of you have anything to add about “LUCKY”?
HAYATO: Since the theme of the song is “lucky,” the music is really upbeat and there are lots of parts where we sing in unison, so I see it being a real party tune. It’s in English because we want it to reach outside of Japan, and the lyrics are full of phrases that we’d feel a bit shy singing in Japanese. The bit of Japanese in the chorus is also fun, so I can’t wait to sing it together with everyone.
EIKU: I spent a lot of time on each phrase for the English, discussing it with the music producer JUNE, so I was really happy when it was completed. The song cheered me up when I heard it, so if you’re having a kind of bummer day, I hope this song uplifts you when you listen to it. The sound is really pop and cute.
NAOYA: In a good sense, I thought it would work better if I focused on the groove when singing it rather than thinking about it too much. It went surprisingly well, which I found interesting. It’s the kind of song that we’ve never done even though it suits our style, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the vibe will change when we do it live.
TETTA: The English was hard and it reminded me of the importance of focusing on the pronunciation of each sound. I also just really liked it when we first got the demo. I like it so much that I listen to it all day and can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I also definitely want to do this number when we perform in Brazil and other places overseas. It’s got a groove that anyone can enjoy and also perfect for summer.
You must be looking forward to seeing how your fans overseas react to it. Now then, in relation to the lyrics of the song, can you share some lucky things you’ve experienced recently?
REI: I have a lot of hobbies and especially like martial arts and baseball, so I feel lucky when the people I root for do well. So I’m frequently lucky in that sense, but I do get a little cranky when they lose. [Laughs] I try to comfort myself by eating really spicy foods or cooking when that happens.
KENSHIN: I eat a cup of Häagen-Dazs green tea ice cream every night, but forgot to buy one the other day. I was thinking how unfortunate that was, but then I opened the freezer and found a pack that I’d bought the day before and trembled from happiness. [Laughs] That was lucky.
HAYATO: I do stretches before performing live, and there’s this position where I squat on one leg and move the opposite leg to keep my balance. I feel lucky all day whenever I can do that without moving my torso. It helps me think that things will definitely be OK because I was able to do that.
EIKU: I ran out of facial cleanser yesterday so I left a new one in the living room intending to switch it later on. But I forgot to bring it to the bathroom and began washing my face without it. I suddenly remembered that when I reached for the cleanser but didn’t want to go to the living room, so I managed to squeeze the very last bit of cleanser out of the old one! That was lucky. [Laughs]
NAOYA: I feel lucky whenever I manage to catch a train that I wanted to take because the operation schedule happened to be off a bit.
TETTA: I frequent a certain curry chain almost every day and always ask for no cucumbers in my salad. When I went the other day, the salad didn’t have cucumbers in it even though I’d forgotten to ask for it to be removed!
Almost every day means about six days a week, so they probably remembered you.
TETTA: OK, six is a bit of an exaggeration… twice a week, maybe?
EVERYONE ELSE: That’s not every day! [Laughs]
But you’ll go six days a week from now on.
TETTA: I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best to go seven days a week this summer.
Sounds good. HAYATO, could you wrap this up, then?
HAYATO: Sure. [Laughs] There’s a lot of bad news these days, but I think if you hear this song and feel a bit lucky, it’ll make your day more enjoyable. We hope you find lucky things, sing and dance together with us, and make the song a fun part of your lives.
–This interview by Kana Yoshida first appeared on Billboard Japan.