I had been waiting for yesterday for a few months now. No, not the highly over-rated 12/12/12 at 12:12:12 seconds (cuz’ when you think about it, 12:12:12 at 12:58:06 will only happen once in your lifetime as well). The 52nd Morning Musume single! Oda Sakura debut single! First MM single of 2013! There were so many questions to be answered with this single. What is the song going to sound like? Are they going to continue with their electro sound? Will the leads be Reina/Riho again? Will the other girls get more than a grunt? What role will OdaSaku play in the new Morning Musume? Will Riho get kicked out of the center in favor of the new girl? Is the PV going to look great or craptastic or just crap? WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO WEAR?
Finally, some answers
Yes- they are continuing the electro sound that Morning Musume sported in 2012. One of the more notable thing in the instrumentals was the interplay between the electronic blips and whizzes and the strong melodic violin. The violins are not anything new (see Shounagai Yume Oibito), but the dubstep-inspired electro sounds being used as a melodic counterpoint is definitely something different. While I’m talking bout the sound effects, this “Help Me!!” also features the panned heavy breathing found in “Wakuteka Take a Chance”, but to greater effect. At one point in the second verse, all instrumentals rest leaving only the sound of the breathing . I want to think that the breather is Sayu and/or Mizuki; I’m sure it’s just Tsunku. Gross, Tsunku. However, I enjoy the way that Tsunku starts the chorus with sparse instrumentation and gradually layers sounds until he reaches the next melodic section.
No doubt there will be much talk about the Mizuki monologue sections. They are lovely. The monologues are also a great way to give the young princess face-time without giving her actual lines. I think she sings just fine, but she seems destined to take a back seat in the vocal bus. There seems to be six vocal sections in this song. When the singing starts, we get a Sayu backed Reina singing a mysterious ascending minor scale melody. Then we get the girls trading off singing the names of places in Japan(?). This section is not terribly melodic, as the girls just sing rhythmically over the same pitch.
The moment we’ve been waiting for comes next: OdaSaku’s first solo vocal line. Fittingly she gets the most demanding lines of the song as she needs to sing intervals rather than ascending/descending lines. She nails it. Her voice sounds as powerful as advertised. I’m looking forward to hearing more of this. The first time through, she is followed by Riho singing the same melodic line. I won’t make any comparisons.
After the Sakura and Riho/Reina lines comes a breakdown before the chorus, and then the chorus proper. The chorus is broken up melodically into two sections. The breakdown and the first part of the chorus are sung in a rapid rhythm. The chorus then ends with a lifting melodic line that sounds remarkably full voiced. I think the chief virtue of these chorus sections is the rapid, repetitious cadence of the vocals. There’s not much melody, by the rhythm is a bit addictive.
So, do I like it? I don’t like the lack of melody. I do like the instrumentation and rhythms. I don’t know if it’s a pattern, but the chorus for the last two Morning Musume singles have been the least interesting parts of the songs. I don’t think that this is a good sign.
Do I like? There are definitely enough interesting bits to hold my attention, and I’m a fan already. So yes. I like it.
How about some solo pictures?