We are kicking off BanG Dream! in Review with Roselia’s new single, ZEAL of proud along with its coupling track Blessing Chord. ZEAL of proud was composed and arranged by Ryutaro Fujinaga, Blessing Chord was composed and arranged by Yusuke Takeda, and the lyrics for both tracks were written by Asuka Oda.
As a side note: in the interest of maintaining the (fairly thin) wall of musical kayfabe, and also because it is easier, when we talk about the singers in these reviews we’ll mostly refer to them by their character names, with the performer’s name indicated in parentheses.
Dorian: “ZEAL of proud”’s exuberance reminds me a bit of Roselia’s earlier track “- HEROIC ADVENT -”, and the two songs do share some lyrical DNA as well (thank you to both the Bandori Wiki and to Madi for translation work). Despite its textual emphasis on coming together to face adversity, though, ADVENT leaned almost entirely on Yukina (Aina Aiba) for its vocals, which somewhat undermined the message. In ZEAL, there is significantly more ensemble singing, and every band member gets a spotlight line in the superb prechorus, helping propel the listener right into the explosive energy of the chorus proper. Yukina’s high range can sound strained at times, but here she’s in her element, navigating the leap into head voice with aplomb. The track is not without flaws—the “light will take us to the right place/keep going, going on the road” refrain is a little musically inert, and the guitar solo midway through the song is far from their best—but overall it’s an upper-tier entry in what was already a strong catalogue.
Madi: Ooh, I love that lil bass in the intro! I’m always happy when the bass gets a highlight, although I think the drums actually steal the instrumental show in this track. They’re big, they’re crashy, they’re classic Roselia and I love it. The guitar solo later in the song is Fine but what I like about it most is how much it allows the drums to shine. However! My favorite things about this song are not actually the music, but the lyrics and vocals—it’s always a treat to hear the other girls sing (the power of that prechorus! whoa!!), and it’s very fitting with the lyrics, which sound like they could be a new Roselia anthem. If we’re getting into the diegetic significance of BanG Dream! songs (and I always am), “ZEAL of proud” is very much a song about how far Roselia has come, and how far they intend to go. It feels like Yukina communicating directly with her bandmates; this band started out as a vehicle to carry Yukina’s singing to new heights, and the vocal interplay in combination with the lyrics really works to illustrate their development as a band and how dear they have become to each other. Pride has always been a primary trait associated with Roselia, and ZEAL of proud does that image justice.
Dorian: “Blessing Chord” is Yusuke Takeda’s second composition & production credit for Roselia, after last winter’s “Yakusoku”. With only two songs for the band, it’s a bit early to start talking about compositional hallmarks, but both show a fondness for spacey synths and church-bell tones. Blessing Chord, though, is far more adventurous than Yakusoku — its chord progressions and musical structure are less predictable, and Takeda has much more fun with the piano part, particularly with the ascending line that underscores the chorus and the staccato trills that drop in and out at various points within the song. The vocals keep pace, though, and it’s a particular pleasure to get two extended passages by Rinko Shirokane (Kanon Shizaki). Several actresses in the franchise struggle to sing well while maintaining a character voice, but Shizaki finds a beautiful dark placement that conveys her character’s reticence while still producing a rich and resonant tone. I very much hope to hear more of both her singing and Takeda’s composition in future.
Madi: Roselia’s music is characterized by their darker and often minor-key sound, so a song with such a bright texture an enjoyable step off the beaten path. I think of the two tracks, this might actually be my favorite off this single—I’m a big fan of those big lovely bell sounds, and that zippy piano sting in the intro is just, chef kiss! The vocal rhythm has a compelling forward momentum that keeps you on your toes even as you bask in the dreamy harmonies. At first I wasn’t super into the slow-down right before the chorus, but the more I listen to “Blessing Chord”, the more I like the rhythmic journey it takes me on, and once we are in chorus territory I am air drumming SO hard. We also get some featured vocals from Rinko—it’s not quite a duet, which is a shame, because behind Yukina, I think Rinko is Roselia’s second-strongest vocalist. Her voice lends beautiful contrast to the rest of the band’s vocals and I’d love to hear more from her!
(Note: I wanted to translate this song along with ZEAL of proud real bad but I ran out of time 😭)