There is so much I need to write about. I just recently started back at my seasonal job, so time is at a premium for me. Before you castigate me for my perceived laziness, know that I am actually just paying the bills. Specifically, I am paying off my recent trip to New York. And, of course, a flurry of news hit the wota public right as I began work for the season. As they say: when it rains it pours.
Michishige Sayumi’s last single with Morning Musume has a release date of October 15, 2014. The triple A-side release starts with the puzzlingly titled “TIKI BUN” and contains the Sayumi solo “Shabadaba Doo” and the 9/10/11 homage to Sayumi, “Mikaeri Bijin”. The single serves to celebrate Sayu’s tenure in the group as well as peek into the future of the group. While “TIKI BUN” doesn’t stray too far from the familiar Tsunku’s electronica well, the other two songs on the release surprise with their diversity. But, before I get into “Mikaeri Bijin” and “Shabadaba Doo”, I’ll take a closer look at the lead song from the single.
Just what is a Tiki Bun? My Southern California upbringings led me first to the Hawaiian tiki dolls that featured heavily in the Brady Bunch “Hawaii Bound” episode from 1972. Let me assure you, the Brady Bunch have nothing to do with Tiki Bun. In the PV for “TIKI BUN”, the girls make an already infamous gesture where one hand cups an imaginary headphone to their left ear and their right hand pantomimes a DJ scratching and pulling a record. So, “Tiki Bun” is the onomatopoeia for the sound of a record scratch. Neato, right?
This works nicely with the lyrics in which the protagonist, likely a teenage girl (but in reality Tsunku), lists her daily distractions and annoyances. Our girl has the typical teenage ennui, self-doubt, struggles with her own limitations, and anxiety over the future of the planet. Every time she introduces a new lament, we hear a new incantation of “Tiki Bun”. In opposition, the chorus reads like a cheer song: “Even if it goes up in flames, I won’t be afraid” and “Don’t be hasty even if you make a mistake, Believe in the skill you’ve obtained”. I think our girl is trying to focus and trying to tune out the distractions she just listed in the verses. While the “Tiki Bun” is literally the sound of the DJ, it’s also the sound our girl enclosing herself in a bubble of thought and concentration.
The PV for “TIKI BUN” doesn’t stray from the Hello! Project formula. Like “Wagamama, Ki no Mama, Ai no Joke“, Morning Musume ’14 spend the entirety of the PV in a single set. This time, a gymnasium or auditorium serve as a backdrop for the dance shot / close up PV. But, look at these close ups! The girls look great in their solo shots. The limited color palette (blacks, whites, and red) accentuates the pale skin and black hair of the group. Having a controlled space also helps as the lighting used can be completely manipulated by the crew.
A focal point of the outfits is a long gauze scarf affixed to each girl’s collar. As the girls execute their choreography, the scarf adds a softly flowing element. While the choreography includes some military maneuvers, the scarves and the long flowing hair of Sayashi Riho and Michishige Sayumi (in particular) lend a suppleness to what might otherwise be an overly angular dance. In other words, there is some great hair-o-graphy in “TIKI BUN”.
I really need to complain a bit about the chorus choreography for “TIKI BUN”. The song sets us up nicely for something epic. The pre-chorus (typically) contrasts the chorus with a stripped down instrumentation that builds steadily to a quick call and response (“Lonely night; Lonely night”) and an epic sounding “HERE WE GO!” The choreography for the chorus? a lineup with the girls swaying left-to-right. The first time I saw it, I thought, “What a WASTE.” After seeing the group live, I admit that I had a good time copying the choreography with complete strangers in the audience. BUT STILL … I wanted something amazing.
Get the excite … ’cause HERE WE GO
I cannot end this review without talking about the light design, AKA the real star of this PV. Please notice the spotlights behind the choreography. As the girls dance, the lights pulsate and move in rhythm. Behind Morning Musume ’14 is a complex set piece that is every bit as coordinated as the girls. We see grids, gates, beacons, and a wave as great as any Houkusai (well, that last one is definitely hyperbole). The spots create a unique backdrop that is full of depth and interacts with the music. So, while we may not get a set as physically interesting as the stage in “Wagamama ….”, the lighting design fills the void with its well-meditated execution.
You can buy “TIKI BUN / Shabadaba Doo / Mikaeri Bijin” at CD Japan.