As Live as It Needs to Be


When KISS released their album “Alive!” in 1980, Paul Stanley famously declared that the album was “As live as it needs to be,” implying that the album had been cleaned up and some parts (possibly) rerecorded. This is truth in advertising, as virtually all “live” albums that are released commercially are cleaned up before the consumer hears it. I remember listening to the “Ziggy Stardust” concert footage and thinking to myself, “how can David Bowie sing backup AND lead live?” (answer: he can’t).

Back to the idols, knowing about the trickery in live recordings softens up my stance on idols and the subject of live singing. One of the criticisms of idols is their lack of musical talent, or specifically their tendency to lip-sync in concerts. Personally, because I know that even an “artist” like David Bowie will touch up his recordings I do not see this as an issue (I suppose some people are hung up on artistry). Hell, I saw Lykke Li a couple of years ago, and despite having a band onstage with her, 30% of her sound came from backing tapes- much like idols.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. Microphone rips. Through the magic of Wota, mic rips of Morning Musume singing their newest single “Help Me!!” have appeared for everyone except Sato Masaki. I took more than a few listens and also edited all the girls together in this video. Basically, this version is MORE live than it needs to be.

Overall, the girls sound just like I expected them to sound. For the most part, they do not sound horrible! The girls sang well on all parts that were not choruses. Since the lines are broken up so much, I think it is difficult to find a groove while singing.

The biggest issue? All the girls had trouble holding the long notes at the end of the choruses. I’m serious; it was like a death trap for most of the girls. Some of the girls even “bail out” mid note. The ones who attempt to sing the note are mostly flat or strained.

Best throats?
Tanaka and Sayashi.
Reina has the best pitch among the current Musume. I’ve seen remarks about how bored she is looking of late, but I think this bored look is the visual manifestation of the responsibility carrying the group on her underfed shoulders.
Sayashi, without a doubt, has her shaky moments. But, her performance is consistent with her only gaff being a noticeably flat note at the end of the second chorus (the note of death). Remember how her solo lines with Oda were going to expose her as a second rate singer? It didn’t happen. Sayashi sings solidly.
Fukumura would have been right there, but she had a horrible moment after the second chorus.

Worst singer?
Ikuta. I don’t think she ever found her voice in this performance. This is probably due to her lack of singing time. She sings the ending note of the choruses, but is off-pitch every time.

How was the rookie?
Oda does not actually sing that much in this song. If she did not have her solos between the verses and the choruses, she would have the same amount of lines as Iikubo and Ikuta (as in: least). She is definitely still a newbie. Although I love the sound of her voice, she starts her lines at a different tempo than the song and also has a few squeaks here and there. She may be the future sound of the group, but the future is not here just yet.

Surprises?
Iikubo’s voice is deeper than I expected. She isn’t given much to sing, which is a good thing since she doesn’t not keep pitch constant.
Kudo’s voice is strong and in pitch. I specifically like the way she ends her phrases with a nice clear voice. Not to say that she doesn’t have issues- she is one of the girls who pulls the rip-chord on the last not of the choruse (the note of death).
Fukumura sounds very pleasant for the whole song until she gets to the end of the second chorus. You know her solo? She cracks her voice mid-note. It is horrible sounding moment that I’m sure she’s going to want to forget.

Fair representation.
Michishige. We know what we are going to get here. Given the right situations, her voice can be effective. Tsunku did a good job of choosing lines for Sayu, as she doesn’t sound like a horrible mess.
Suzuki. Probably the most capable singer that doesn’t sing much. She does seem to miss one of her lines in the first chorus. But, she shows that she is capable of singing the “note of death” as well as any of the other girls.
Ishida. Does not get much to do in this song and does not stand out either positively or negatively. She does attempt the last note of the song, but does not have the confidence or breath to complete the note. I think they could have pushed her more.
Sato. I think Masakissu was sick. She did have a “high fever” and was able to perform at one of the concerts, right?

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Recommended Reading: January 4th, 2013 | Idolminded

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