Continuing my series: “Late to the Party”
Unless you’ve been burying your head in the sand (or burying your head in AKS or H!P), you’ve probably heard something said about Rev. from DVL. The Fukuoka idol group began life around sometime in 2003- you can read a great introduction to the group from Serenyty at Happy Disco. Their meteoric rise launched from the incredible internet buzz generated by their (now) most recognizable member- the “once in a 1000 year idol” Hashimoto Kanna. While I’m not expert enough in the group to tell you much about the group (read that Happy Disco post already!), I’ll certainly take a stab at writing about their major label debut “LOVE – Arigatou-“.
The song and PV practically radiate sunshine. “LOVE -arigatou-” hits you immediately with a stripped down version of the chorus “Love! arigatou yeah yeah yeah!”. It’s a sweet melody that leads the listener to believe that the song will be a little bit of uplifting but insubstantial fluff. And, while the song is meant to be as commercial sounding as possible, the song does some interesting things that may catch you off-guard. The mid-tempo, relentlessly upbeat chorus gives way to a verse that I would describe as … soft funk(?). The song spends the majority of its four minutes slipping between the straight ahead chorus and a pleasing funky groove. Brief moments of idol rap pepper the song with life and add a nice contrast to the insistent chorus. I think the arrangements punches up the syncopation of the rap parts too much, but that’s just me quibbling. Like most pop songs, as long as you are singing “LOVE, arigatou yeah, yeah, yeah!” by the end of the PV, Rev. from DVL have done their job.
Meanwhile, the PV shows us the girls in the appropriate pastoral setting with the morning sun behind them. Sunbathed smiles and goofball expressions do their best to illuminate the virtues of the girls. It’s clear that the morning is actually the morning of Rev. from DVL. I know it’s wish fulfillment, but I also know it’s important to fill your treasure chest with talismans of good fortune. Some standard shots of the girls mugging from the inside of brightly colored picture frames are also included. Really, it’s just pretty girls smiling at the camera in the morning sun. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The footage of the girls playing around in the morning sun intercuts with a dance shot of the girls. This set interests me with the studded texture of the walls accented with jewel-like studs. The plaid accented stage outfits Rev. from DVL energetically and enthusiastically perform their choreography like they are dancing for their lives. And, they do a great job. A great bit of arm choreography accompanies the refrain “Sekaijuu ga Love & Peace” like flags angled precisely and militaristically. The bridge of “LOVE -arigatou-” fills the screen with the girls turning and twirling and tumbling. The energy of these girls never goes below 9.75/10!
The appeal of the girls will either sell you Rev. from DVL as legitimate idol mainstays, or one-hit wonders. Unless they can get their hooks into the listener, the group will be doomed to the latter. So, there are two obvious ways of landing the listener with the PV. The traditional approach presents each girl in the group with nearly identical screen times. This is like baiting many hooks hoping to land at fish with at least one hook. With a new idol group like Rev. from DVL, this approach presupposes that the listener will take a liking to at least one of the many girls presented. Furthermore, the attempt to “oshii” their girl generates further interest, further commitment, and further sales. “Love -arigatou-” attempts to accomplish this during the morning scenes that I mentioned earlier. The girls get some face time in small groups; but frankly I don’t think we get a good enough look at the girls who aren’t named “Hashimoto Kanna”. If you’re a fan of Miporin or Nagichan or Miki, or even little Yukki, you’re pretty much out of luck with this PV.
More than the previous method, “Love -arigatou-” attempts to land new wota by barbing the wire liberally with Hashimoto Kanna. Like it or not, the girl strikes a chord with idol fans- she’s enthusiastic and good looking without fault. Some might say Kanna is a bit too enthusiastic, but I think she will learn to temper her expressions in Rev. from DVL’s second act. Back to my fishing metaphor, this PV takes extreme care to present a maximum amount of Kanna. She is the center of every one of her shots and seems to dominate the screen at the expense of the other girls. This tactic minimizes the exposure and effectiveness of the other members. Then again, in this- their biggest stage yet, it makes sense to utilize your biggest, most effective lure. Once the big fish are caught, then it’ll be time to diversify and expand your catch.
And, I don’t know what to make of Rev. from DVL and “LOVE -arigatou-“. I like the song well enough. I’m not indie enough (I shed those credentials years ago) or jaded enough (the fight of my life) to dismiss the song based on things like media manipulation or crass consumerism (Aside: I don’t think an idol fan has the right to strike out against consumerism and commercial music since consumerism and commercial viability is the whole point of idols). What I know, though, is idol fans need to pay attention to Rev. from DVL for the simple fact that we might be witnessing the birth of a superstar through a net grass roots campaign. I hope Hashimoto Kanna has enough charisma to sustain a superstar career. I hope the group develops enough of a personality to balance the presence of Hashimoto Kanna. And finally, I hope the Rev. from DVL members have enough aspiration and moxy to let the wave carry them without drowning in the waters. Should any of this happen, then we really just witnessed the dawn of a new idol age.
You can buy Rev. from DVL “LOVE -arigatou-” from CD Japan