With NEWS BEST on the way I cannot help but think as a fan about placing it in the context of the history of the group. It is the NEWS’ first best of album and it seems to come at a fitting time for the group, even more so than if it was for an anniversary.
Now that we have more information about the release I can see this release to be more of a final release of the group as a six member unit even though Yamashita Tomohisa and Nishikido Ryo will not be a part of the promotion of the release. But with the songs keeping their original versions, as in the versions put out on the CD singles, it is difficult to see this without them, or even the other two earlier members Uchi Hiroki and Kusano Hironori.
It is most likely that Johnny’s is just being cheap with not bothering to re-record the songs, which is not surprising. Johnny’s has always been known for being on the cheap side of things. It is disappointing but it would cost extra to have all the songs rearranged for the remaining four and then recording them and Johnny’s probably does not expect the group to sell well enough to warrant that with two of their most popular members no longer in the group.
It is surprising that they are using the original versions of the songs with Uchi and Kusano, as they were kicked out of the group because of their scandals. But I guess since they both went through their punishment phases without incident and have not caused further scandal Johnny’s no longer is willing to press a complete ban on them when it comes to associating with NEWS. Though I would not be surprised if the only evidence they were in the group with this release is just their voices in the tracks.
For Yamapi and Ryo, considering they left the group voluntarily, there really is no reason to hide so much they were a part of the group. In fact all members have had plenty of chances to talk about what happened and the reasoning for it since the split. So it would make sense they would not be erased from NEWS’ history. They will probably be played down though, especially as they all work to establish the new status quo of NEWS as a four member unit, Yamapi as a solo artist and Ryo as Kanjani8 only now.
For these reasons this release feels less of a comeback and more of a way to put the past group behind the new NEWS. Which is not a bad thing as it gives a sense of closer to the loss of members with everything that they did before is being released on this album before the new incarnation of the group gets to move on with a new release. This also gives Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa and Tegoshi Yuya the chance to release those solo tracks they never got the chance to do in past releases even though Yamapi and Ryo did. And as the group moves on it feels better for them to release those with an album like this than on something new as still have that connection to the past group.
So for me this album is more as a way for NEWS to separate themselves from the past before they move into the future together with their new formation. It should also help draw attention to them with promotions for the album to remind people that the group is still around and releasing. And I think that will be the most important aspect as it should help for when they truly start their new era with the release of their new single with songs for just the four members of the group.