Oh, it’s double feature PV review time here at TheNumber 244. I have been concerned about Juice=Juice since their last release “Senobi / Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa”. The future of Hello! Project looked like they could do no wrong for a good year-plus stretch. And, while most expected the group to land back on earth eventually, I don’t think anyone expected as rough a landing as their last single. With “Senobi / Date ja nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa” touching down with under 30,000 units and out of the top three slots, red flags and May Day calls went out to the appropriate services.
Back when I started really paying attention to idols, I rationalized my shift thusly- “I spent most of my life listening to music that speaks to the painful nature of existence. Isn’t it time for some joy in my life?” Well, “Wonderful World” speaks to that sentiment. Like the name suggests, the song provides an uplifting sentiment meant to brighten a cloudy day. Lyrics like “If you are here, when I think about you, then that alone makes this a wonderful world” give the impression “Wonderful World” is a pick-me-up for people feeling low or who want/need good things said about them. And really, who doesn’t need that in their life?
Hey, look. I don’t care- I have a long standing Karinfection.
Like most things in the “new” Hello! Project, “Wonderful World” lists no credits to Tsunku. In his place, we get lyrics and composition by Iijima Ken and an arrangement by gaokalab. I don’t really know anything about these people, but Iijima Ken matches credits to the first Scandal album “Best Scandal” from 2009. That’s his work you hear in the Bleach opening song “Shoujo S“. The composition features some nice chromatic runs in the verse’s B melody executed by Miyamoto Karin and Takagi Sayuki. These same two girls also vocalize the chorus melody near the end of the song while Miyazaki Yuka, Kanazawa Tomoko, and Uemura Akari provide complementary lyrics. As fitting for the song, the arrangement is lush with strings and pianos punctuated with flourishes on the harp. Background “whoo” and “aah” fill the soundscape like H!P hired the Disney singers to round out the arrangement. In fact, if I had video editing skills, you would see me dubbing the song over video from Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride. It’s that kind of song.
The PV fits in with most of Hello! Project’s works. A bright room with high ceilings with an ornate wooden staircase serves as the backdrop for “Wonderful World”. Radiant stain glass windows and doors glow behind the girls’ choreography while lens flares keyed to appropriate prismatic colors fill the air and space. We can’t escape the milky color effects in the PV, but with all the light pouring into the set, I think it doesn’t look out of place.
“Ça Va? Ça Va?”
Playing like the evening time to “Wonderful World’s” bright daylight, “Ça Va? Ça Va?” fills a twilight illuminated room with lanterns, lamps, and candles. The meticulously dressed set comprises desks, love seats, chairs, and an inescapable replica Eiffel Tower. I can’t actually tell if we are looking at a different room in the same house, or the same soundstage decorated to look like a subtly different locale.
The most striking visual effect in “Ça Va? Ça Va?” is the reality busting solo spotlight that shines on Akari first and then Sayubee next during the string accompanied transitions out of the choruses. It’s a blatant manipulation of lighting that supports the “sound stage” set theory.
Juice=Juice have a bit of a tradition releasing and performing genre songs from around the globe. “Ça Va? Ça Va?” continues the tradition with sounds and arrangements meant to evoke Parisian college memories. Aah, do you remember Françoise from that summer during Junior year? Françoise would be happy to hear the layered accordion and concertinas providing the backdrop to the verses. Timpani drums jauntily thump along with the percussion as snare drums play eights, then sixteenths, and finally sixteenth sextuplets to indicate the rising tension that finally resolves with the Akari and Sayubee spotlights I mentioned earlier. Perhaps the most interesting choice is the inclusion of a surf guitar in the intro sections of the song while the girls sing “Dabada” and unseen sound clip man croons “Bonjour!”. I’m not exactly sure how it all fits together, but at least “Ça Va? Ça Va?” provides plenty of interesting sounds to examine.
Lyrically, “Ça Va? Ça Va?” fills itself with the self-doubt lacking in “Wonderful World”. Chorus lyrics contain lines like “Where did I go? I used to smile with my tanned face, now I want to know what love is while I’m dreaming.” Firstly, you got all tanned because of the bright sunlight in the previous PV (244: I’m always self-conscious of getting too tan, blame my genetics). Secondly, while the protagonist in “Wonderful World” wanted to joyously frolic in the bright daylight, this protagonist wants to sleep and dream. I guess this introspection is a French thing? Or maybe it’s a hormonal adolescent thing. I dunno. I had breakfast this morning in my sun filled patio and it was brilliant- not that my breakfast has anything to do with either of these songs.
You can buy “Wonderful World / Ça Va? Ça Va?” at CD Japan