” Itooshikutte Gomen ne ” starts with a gag. It’s the Momoko gag. If you pay attention to Hello! Project, you might have mixed feelings about the Momoko gag. The gag does serve a purpose since unknown faces comprise Country Girl. I’ve been geeking over the Country Girls members for a while now (and you can read my first impressions here, and I am elated over what comes next.
What comes next is an overload of cute. To a person, Country Girls seem to be the idol group whose agenda is to be simple, pure, and CUTE as a CRAPPY SIMILE HERE. I love it. The idol world rapidly populated itself with idol groups whose gimmick seemed to be “let’s do things that idols don’t do”. We have or have had idol groups that rap, play heavy metal, cosplay in various genres, present a dark/twisted image, are chubby, wear hockey masks … etc. I do not have a problem with idols of every flavor. But, in this quest to stand out among the masses of idols, we seem to have forgotten that idols are at their core cute “every girls”. In this way and in this song especially, Country Girls’ ” Itooshikutte Gomen ne ” feels like a welcome throwback to a simpler time.
No one embodies this nostalgic feeling more than rising star Shimamura Uta. The Morning Musume 12th generation finalist sings OK and dances decently enough. Uta’s real talent is the ability to make every onscreen moment a clinic on adorable behavior. She can’t help it! Shimamura doesn’t do anything special in the PV: she does mainly completes het homework at a table, looks up and around thoughtfully, and giggles uncontrollably out of embarrassment. At least for the early going of Country Girls, the Shimamura Uta story, from failed Morning Musume audition to idol savior, provides the most compelling reason to pay attention to the group.
Even though I tend to write a lot about Shimamura Uta, my favorite young girl is Ozeki Mai. Even though she places last in the age category, Mai brings a fearless moxie to Country Girls. As cute, talented, or composed the rest of the girls are, Country Girls needed somebody to force her way to front, demand attention, and consequently turn heads toward the new idol group. Since Tsugunaga Momoko seems to take an elderly sister role in the group, Mai’s purpose becomes critically important. Ozeki-chan shines with personality. Much like how Uta -chan instinctively brings the kawaii, Ozeki-chan instinctively brings youthful exuberance. That’s just how she do.
Morito Chisaki is another of the Morning Musume 12th gen finalists. She has a small resume built up already. Like another Hello! Project talent, Chii-chan attended a dance academy prior to Hello! Project. Morito also has experience in the idol world as a member of the idol group CoCoRo Gakuen. We went over this already, right? Chii-chan has a very traditional idol look that should tickle many fancies.
Inaba Manaka … I just want to squeeze her. If Chisaki has a small resume, then Manaka’s previous works are downright impressive. Did you know she performed as EXILE’s back dancer in the 61st NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen? As of now, she is the last member of Hello! Project to perform on that year end show. Anyways, back to her cheeks.
She’s studying, too. I think she’s actually more of a studio nerd, though.
Just put on the bow, Manakan. You are cute.
And, of course, there’s Tsugunaga Momoko. It was smart to put her in this group for so many reasons. Primarily, Momoko is skillful enough to find airtime and facetime for each of the girls. She will also highlight their charm points at every opportunity. Oh, and she sings pretty well, right?
Musically, ” Itooshikutte Gomen ne ” treads firmly on the pop sounds of the 50’s. You won’t find a rap break or a gritty guitar solo, and the bass won’t drop. Expect to hear a great melody accented lightly with horn flares and a great electric piano solo. The background vocals and harmonies add the majority of the personality to the song. As an English speaker, I find myself irrationally drawn to the “I want to spend more time and be with you” vocal parts, mainly because I can sing them myself without awkwardness. If you take a good hard listen to ” Itooshikutte Gomen ne “, you will find vocals layered in pads, harmonies, and some good ole doo-wop. The Country Girls themselves get in on the vocal action by providing alternating vocal lines during the chorus. For being so young, the girls deliver their vocals with confidence and skill. I often liken the idol industry to the mid-century American music industry with its division of talent and artists, so this comparison to the sounds of the 1950’s really drives a point for me.
At the tail end of the PV, the girls draw hearts over (seemingly) the camera lens with markers. It’s very cute, and the marker choices seem to indicate member colors. Also, the shots give me another chance to go through their names.
Shimamura Uta, all around cutie
Young and talented Morito Chisaki
Ozeki Mai, the genki one
Chubby cheeks and industry experienced Inaba Manaka
Yamaki Risa, the elegant and smart one
Tsugunaga Momoko. You know her.
How long Country Girls can keep up their squeaky-clean image is anyone’s guess right now. Considering the young age of the girls, I hope we have at least a few years of cheery pop music before darker themes appear. I’m just glad Country Girls on the now can remind us vividly why many of us were drawn to idol music and the world of idols.
You can buy Country Girls “Itooshikutte Gomen ne / Koi Dorobou” at CD Japan