I think I should start out with a reminder: you can see Cheeky Parade live in the LA Area this weekend October 16-18. Details here, tickets here. Real talk: we’re not going to get many idol events outside of Japan, let alone the Los Angeles area. $15 for an idol event is worth a look if you know nothing about Cheeky Parade or are even lukewarm on Cheeky Parade. I hope I see you there.
Let’s take a good look at the second release from Cheeky Parade, “C.P.U!?”. Oldsters like me recognize CPU as “Central Processing Unit”, but in the case of the Cheeky, they mean “Cheeky Parade Understand!?”. The hyperactive song fills itself with guitars, big beats, and retro-gaming sounds. The girls chip in with vocals that flit from member to member in a way reminiscent of Momoiro Clover. In fact, the wackiness of the whole thing once gave the (incorrect) impression of Cheeky Parade as a bit of a MomoClo knock-off brand.
Well, you can’t trademark energy, and Cheeky Parade deliver a focused package with “C.P.U!?”. To start, the song doesn’t really switch genres the way one might think. Sure, the feel of the song changes from part to part, but I think we expect that nowadays. The retro sounds from before fit together with a song named (cheekily) in reference to the brains of a computer or a gaming unit, for that matter.
The promotional video most notably ties everything together with its collage of retro-gaming images straight from a 1989 arcade. In keeping with that retro theme, the PV chooses to project the backdrop of the PV rather than use a green-screen (you can see this effect in Fairies’ PV for “Hikari no Hate ni“. The effect immerses the group into the graphics in a tangibly as the projection reflects off of the group in a way that can also be described as contamination. Is this contamination really a bad thing? Of course, the clear negative of this effect is the lack of lighting of the group. Thankfully, “C.P.U!?” provides us with solo shots of the girls to compensate.
“C.P.U!?” probably ranks as one of the more well-loved releases by Cheeky Parade. The group’s identity and this PV seem to wrap around each other like the serpent and the rod of Asclepius. Even now, the name Cheeky Parade closely associates with images of those preteen/young teen girls running and jumping feverishly around a dimly lit stage. Like all strong identities, the double edge of this association is the need to grow beyond those indelible images. Of course, that’s a discussion for another time.
You can buy Cheeky Parade “C.P.U!?” at CD Japan