How is it possible that an beach scene with blue skies, crystal water, and pretty girls became the backdrop of an identity crisis for one of the most promising young idol groups?
I can’t deny that I enjoyed seeing Q’ulle on the beach for the 4:44 duration of the song. “Heartbeat” exists in a world far removed from the dramatic costuming of their first two singles. With the single, the girls don casual summer wear, and short pants and t-shirts rule the day. The blue sky and rolling sea behind the dance formations come straight from a location scout’s wet dream. Really, the scene couldn’t be more ideal for a summer PV featuring pretty girls in skimpy bikinis bouncing around the sand. So, what’s the problem?
I find myself frustrated with this release for a few reasons. Q’ulle never sold me on their credentials as bubbly idols. They are pretty to look at, sure. Their dancer bodies definitely suit the roles of idols in a beach PV. Are we to believe that Q’ulle’s ultimate goal as idols lies somewhere on the sand or frolicking in the waves? What about all that “Mic Check One Two” business? To what degree “Heartbeat” undermines Q’ulle’ss bid for serious consideration remains to be seen. One benefit of being such a young group is that early missteps are easily forgiven. At least they didn’t stoop to the level of bikini idols, right?
Since the PV is a beach PV, I should probably judge it as such right? Well, actually “Hearbeat” strikes me as the kind of release that attempts to play too many angles. The music hits heavy with distorted guitars and booming drum fills, but the melodies play like a nursery rhyme complete with a call-and-response chorus. OK, the song is more complicated than “Farmer in the Dell”. Like the PV, which takes you to the beach but does not let you swim, the composition brings the rock, but refuses to smash you on the head.
In a sense, I can’t blame the girls for wanting respite from their career trajectory. “Heartbeat” reminds me that Ikura, Yuzuki, Yakko, Manako, and Maamu come from a background of dance covers and vocaloid tunes. The work and music of Q’ulle (thus far) inhabit a world leagues away from the saccharine and Hi-chew world of dance covers. Looking at it this way, “Heartbeat” serves as the perfect summer vacation from the dark and moody subterranean Q’ulle planet. This single is a postcard from paradise.
The fear, of course, is that after “Mic Check One Two” and “Monster”, Q’ulle reconsiders their identity and never returns to their adopted home. I cannot really blame them for this; the role of “unconventional idol” does not afford much comfort nor does it promise much acclaim. Do their professional choices really boil down to either second-rate idols or first-rate nu-idols? Perhaps the girls just wanted to briefly live the daydream of another idol’s idyllic life and will return to kick our asses in the fall. I cannot offer answers to any of these questions.