This post is going to first in a series I’m calling “Late to the Party”, where I write about songs and topics that are not exactly fresh. First up: PASSPO’s “Perfect Sky” release from March 26, 2014. It’s not that old, but I haven’t written about it, yet. So here goes nothing!
This is probably a strange question to begin a review of a pop song, but I’ll ask it regardless: what is a song? What does it represent, and to whom does the song speak? Is the song meant for us the listeners, or the writers, musicians, and performers? I know these are strange questions, and the average consumer probably doesn’t take the time to consider these things. Not only that, the truth behind these questions probably changes from song to song and from listener to listener.
Passpo released “Perfect Sky” released on March 26, 2014, making this review obsolete as soon as it is published. As is well known by now, for the first time the members of the flight attendant idol group play their own instruments during live performances of “Perfect Sky”. The music geek in me becomes immediately suspicious: who wrote the song, who played on the recording, and what input did the girls have in the production of the song? These questions are born from musical snobbery. The production and credits of a song does not inherently raise or lower the measure of the song. Plenty of people love The Ronette’s “Be My Baby” even if they had little to do with the production of the song. It’s still a classic.
So why is “Perfect Sky” compelling? I don’t know what you might think about the song. It doesn’t radically deviate from the Passpo formula. The song treads the commercial rock/pop sound that Passpo fans love. The stripped down and simplified (compared to other Passpo songs) arrangement serves to clarify the song and gives the girls a song that their neophyte skills can deliver competently. That’s not meant as a slight- it’s obvious to me that Passpo worked extremely hard to bring their skills to their present level of performance. This shouldn’t stop the listener from loving the song- “Perfect Sky” is no less musically layered than any of your favorite rock songs. In fact, the anti-autotune league should be quite happy with this production.
And I love these outfits. Actually, I like all of Passpo’s outfits. Maybe this stems from my love affair with commercial flight and flight attendants when I was a tiny person.
Yeah, flight attendants are just so glamorous! (Don’t spoil the illusion for me, please)
So why is “Perfect Sky” compelling? In a real way, the song is the fulfillment of a dream. The group had little reason to challenge themselves with musical instruments. Nobody reasonably expects idols to perform the instrumentals to their songs. The ability to perform as a band does not necessarily add value to a group of idols. In fact, one might argue that performing the song’s instrumental hampers Passpo’s ability to perform the song’s dance and vocals (the standard idol fare). The most logical explanation for the group’s evolution is they /wanted/ to play. I get it. No feeling in the world compares to coordination and synchronicity of a band performance. A performance is the culmination of hours upon hours of practice and rehearsal. Furthermore, the paradox exists where although the poor performance on an individual can sink the group like the Titanic, the superb performance of an individual will not necessarily coincide with a stratospheric elevation of the group. Everyone plays an important part in the creation of the group sound, and no one person is superfluous. If a band is ever going to work, all members must dream the same dream and work together to fulfill that dream. I get it.
“Perfect Sky” is compelling because the song perfectly captures the emotions and dreams of a live performance. It’s a perfect sky above us, and we on the ground can only raise our hands up to try and grab a piece of the ephemeral perfection. Yes, the song is about stretching toward those dreams. Passpo realized their dream of performing as a live band. Listen to their first performance as a band. No, they do not sound like Led Zepplin; but, in my years performing as a musician I’ve heard worse. That statement doesn’t sound like a compliment it is meant to be; I’m not about to sit here and tell you that Passpo performed like masters. While not amazing, Passpo performance was remarkably competent. Isn’t that amazing enough? Should they continue as band idols, I could only imagine they would become more and more suited to the task. Rather than be content with their status, Passpo are challenging themselves in ways that most idol groups would not even imagine. Passpo are living their dreams. As you, the reader, go about your daily life, think about your dream. What is it that you desire? Let the thought of these girls, this group of (admittedly) second-class idols achieving their dreams lend you the strength to work toward your own dream.
Ai on elec piano. Something looks supremely right with her behind the keys. It really fits her!
Mio on Bass
Here’s another perfect match. The bass guitar makes Mio twice as sexy as before. Of all the girls, Mio looks like the one who took the band performance to heart the most. I mean, look at her!
Naomi on guitar
Makoto on keyboard. My feelings on Makoto are well-documented by now.
So cute, here she is twice!
Natsumi on percussion. I’m not sure what to say about this. Tambourine? I suppose someone has to do it.
Anna on drums. I think this is the most pivotal instrument in the lineup. A bad drummer would have been a dealbreaker for Passpo. While she has a couple of gaffs on the first live (linked below), she did right by recovering and playing on.
Shiori vocals. Did they run out of things for her to do? Doesn’t she play guitar? Regardless, I still love her smile.
Saki on guitar. I feel like I’m saying this with every Passpo post I make: Saki really blossomed into a beautiful girl!
Yuki on DJ
I think it’s a bit of a ruse. At least she gets to SING!
You can buy “Perfect Sky” at CDJapan