You know that I’m not on the AKS payroll by now. I only write about the group when I feel like it. And, for some reason I feel like talking about the new AKB48 release “Mae Shika Mukanee”. The song makes a stab at a straight-forward rock instrumentation. Electric guitars are layered thickly on the arrangement, and the girls often break into air guitar dances throughout the PV. The girls spend a good amount of time swinging mike stands around like they were Steven Tyler. Even with an energetic performance, is the song worth a listen?
That was a silly question: OF COURSE it’s worth a listen. The song is simple enough and should appeal to a broad swath of listeners. The best comparison I have for this song is a school fight song. Maybe not “Academy Fight Song“, but the song definitely makes one feel like it’s encouraging one to take up arms in defense of …. well, something. If you are coming to TheNumber244 from Hello! Project Land, then you might liken this song to Buono’s “Hatsukoi Cider“. But really, I can’t emphasize enough how thickly the guitars are layered. Someone made a concerted effort to ensure the main sonic impression is guitar guitar guitar! I expect we’ll hear a band cover of this song any second now.
Probably the worst one can say about the song is that “Mae Shika Mukanee” is predictable. We start with a guitar and vocal intro of the chorus, which breaks into an instrumental with the girls dangerously flailing microphone stands. Sound familiar yet? Like the best songs with some punk sensibility, the verses are a palm-muted affair that leads to a half-time transition. I could not have written that better myself. Finally, we get the cheerful chorus that overstays its welcome with an extended “whoa, whoa” section. Mind you, this isn’t a criticism. I like the song just fine, but I cannot help pointing out the recycled nature of the song. That sounds negative, too. Well, I guess it is all in the way you read it. I would take exception with you if you describe the song as “amazing”, “mind-blowing”, or some other hyperbole. “Mae Shika Mukanee” is a solid song, but not much more.
The odd thing about the PV is the staging. We get a PV shot in a single soundstage; This is rather unusual for an AKB48 PV. On the New School Kaidan podcast I hear @rockliao describe the set as reminiscent of Weezer’s “El Scorcho” PV, and he’s not wrong. It looks like someone cleared a space in the middle of a storage room for the girls to perform. Or, if you prefer, the set looks like school revolutionaries erected a French Revolution-style barricade in front of a checkerboard stage. Whoever decorated the stage, he was thoughtful enough to plug in the chandelier, but not thoughtful enough to straighten or assemble the crowd control barricades.
I have not even written about the strangest part of the staging. The PV hints that AKB48 are performing for an audience, but there appears to be only two rows of concertgoers. There is no attempt to make the audience shots look expansive, or even impressive. Going back to the emptied out storage space theory, I think the room only had limited space for the audience. Maybe this was an EXTREMELY limited performance. How did they decide on the audience for this PV shoot? I’m guessing they did not have an open casting call for extras.
What about the members themselves? Here is my self-professed weakness: I don’t know as many of the girls as some of you. I can talk about the outfits, though! What we have here is a colorful blazer and skirt combo. The strangest part about the outfit is the skirt. The girls are literally wearing food wrappers. You may have something like these skirts on Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or some other J-fashion icon. The outfits are certainly colorful and the girls wear them well. I actually like the way the individual packages move when the girls jump and twirl. While watching this PV (for an hour straight), I found myself looking for a bag of Funyons.
In all seriousness, you must admit that the girls are literally wearing trash. The girls are surrounded by trash. The girls are singing … a lovely song. Back to the trash thought, though. Is AKB48 making a comment on the nature of idols? Are they confirming that even though they sell millions of albums and sell out the largest venues in Japan, AKB are a disposable piece of pop-culture? I wonder if they sense they are outstaying their welcome and are trying to beat everyone to the punch. There is a joke here that’s not buried very deep, and perhaps the girls are in on it. In any case, I think we can refer to this release as the “mountain of trash” release and not be very far off the mark.
Open it up.
Some dangerous mic stand flails
Gotta admit, that’s some pretty impressive microphone stand choreography
I love Mayuyu. Step off.
Oh, Sayanee. Look at her singing with her bangs haphazardly on her face. Sultry, right?
A little bit of air guitar never hurt anyone.
Here’s that skirt effect I was talking about earlier. The girls jump, and the wrappers levitate
It’s just cute.
Shallow audience is shallow.
Hands in the air.
Let’s all get together and sing the bridge!
More Sayanee twirls
I’m liking Miichan’s look.
This is Oshima Yuko’s last single, so it’s only fitting that the song begin and end with the girl.
You can buy “Mae Shika Mukanee” at CDJapan.