Do you know what a shampoo hat is? I didn’t. I don’t know if we didn’t have them when I was young out of neglect, lack of knowledge, or if my parents were too broke buy something ultimately deemed mostly unnecessary. Since babies seem to be greatly distressed by the thought of shampoo in their eyes, I suppose a shampoo hat might make a bit of sense. Really though, I would probably be a hard ass and refuse to buy one for my future progeny.
Now, I probably don’t have any business writing about Team Syachihoko. I’ve listened to the music and followed the group only casually. For a while, the group’s only sticking point with me was the fact that one of their members, Ito Chiyuri, once auditioned for S/mileage. They are the little sister group to Momoiro Clover Z, and this is probably the way that most people will know them. The music produced by Team Syachihoko is typical for most Stardust Promotions group: hyper, spastic, and genre clashing. Yes, I spent some time and interest on Momoiro Clover Z (who have become a bit of a snooze-fest lately). I don’t know if my interest in the group is going to change much, but I really enjoy their 7th single release “Shampoo Hat”.
The song begins with a lovely exposed vocal section backed by some interesting string arrangement. To be honest, the string arrangement piqued my interest right then and there. The way the violins interact with the cellos really works for me. The strings provide a backbone, texture, and melodic reference for the “Shampoo Hat”. The vocals for the song are unusual for most idol music in that the girls spend a decent amount of time singing solo without much digital effect. This means that it’s easy to hear and isolate Honoka, Chiyuri, Yuzu, Haruna, Nao, and Yuzuki’s voices. Once the song gets going, the electronic instrumentation doesn’t get in the way of the melody. Mostly, the electronic buzzing and whirring stays beneath the surface only occasionally bubbling up. And this is a good thing, because the melody is lovely, and the girls sing with some real conviction and a fair amount of skill.
Comic relief provided as Andou Yuzu dribbles a shampoo hat wearing basketball.
And, the youth rains down.
For my money, Sakura Nao is the star of the PV.
Nao finds her shampoo hat in the darndest of places.
The green shampoo hat charm catches Haruna’s eye
Something else about this release sticks out, if you’ve been watching the other releases from Team Syachihoko. For the first time that I’m aware of, Team Syachihoko are wearing age appropriate school uniforms. Usually we see the girls in elaborate get-ups that sometimes overshadow the girls’ looks. Watching “Shampoo Hat” was the first time that I ever said “hey, these girls are pretty!” Not to imply that I thought the girls were ugly, they just didn’t feel like real people until this release.
The PV begins with Team Syachihoko asleep at their school desks. Over the course of the PV, we see all of them with a shampoo hat-shaped accessory in their individual color in their possession. As the PV progresses the girls find another faceless person (future boyfriends, gasp!) with a corresponding shampoo hat. There’s a strange dance section with some off-beat choreography (everyone, let’s do the shampoo dance!), and an “olde tyme” film section that reads like the girls reviewing their life. My favorite parts of the PV are the solo shots of the girls through center of their color-keyed shampoo hat. Using the shampoo hat to frame the girls adds an interesting pop of color to the frame, and more importantly concretes the impression of looking at each girl through the lens of youth.
Make no doubt about it: a shampoo hat is a child’s implement. It’s an article that provides security. When Team Syachihoko find someone else with their shampoo hat, they’re not just finding a boy. It’s much deeper than just finding a boy. They’re finding the sense of security and protection that a shampoo hat once provided. But don’t worry, like true idols Team Syachihoko seemingly choose to forego their shampoo hats for each other. Choosing the group over their shampoo hats is the figurative equivalent of their choices to become idols. As idols, they’ll need to hold on to their youth just a little bit longer. More importantly, they’ll need to hold on each other a little tighter.
You can buy Team Syachihoko’s “Shampoo Hat” at CD Japan.