If you read through lyrics enough you eventually start to realize that although the lyrics seem like love songs to a boy or a girl, they’re really written about something else. There’s a joke that all the love songs written in the 1980’s are really about cocaine, while the love songs of the 1990’s are all about heroin – think about that the next time you listen to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. So while “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi” seems like it’s written about a love interest boy or girl, Sayashi Riho and the members of Morning Musume ’15 could just as easily be singing a song of unrequited love to Morning Musume itself.
Almost 20 years into their history, Morning Musume is now more of an institution more than a group of girls. Although the 13 current members comprise Morning Musume ’15, the group exists beyond each individual girl and casts shadows longer and more detailed than anyone single Musume past or present. It’s almost certain that the girls of the group have at one time interfaced with Morning Musume as though it was an living and breathing entity. Maybe it’s just the company line, but many of the girls talk as though Morning Musume is a very real first love. Sometimes, the members sounds like Morning Musume is the love of their very young life.
Looked at through this filter, when the girls sing the lyrics “I have a crush on you, I don’t think you’ve noticed it yet”, they’re clearly speaking to the idol dilemma/quest for more screen time. Think about all the work the girls do to improve their performance skills and their personal appeal and then think about a line like “I want you to compliment me so I tried so hard”.
So, what does all this unrequited love and all this uncertainty have to do with Sayashi Riho and her graduation? Well, everything. Riho begins the chorus by singing “When the cold wind touched my cheek softly I suddenly got sad.” The rest of the group join her in singing “My heart started to ache. Ah, notice me”. The uncertainty of her graduation comes to the forefront. The cold wind is the winding rushing past her as she leaves the group. Of course she feels sad as she leaves behind her home for the last five years. And then, in a final moment of despair, the true emotions, the need for attention, rise to the surface.
After each instance of the chorus, Riho dances the solo spotlight we’ve been waiting for her entire career. Sayashi executes flowing forms punctuated with turns, gestures to the sky, and gestures made at her chest. I like to think she’s asking questions from this unseen love- “Has my life turned enough?” and “Is my heart ready for these changes?” or equally “Can you feel my heart?”. In a song where uncertain rules, Riho chooses to express herself through dance- the constant that she has carried with her throughout her life.
Do you see the enveloping spirit?
The single light is always evocative of a conversation
Unadorned, exposed lighting- like the best existentialist sets.
I love Riho’s hand movements in this part. Beautiful, angular, and precise.
Look again at that second chorus. “In the cold wind I walk home, but I want to hear your voice. I want you to hold me. Ah, notice me.” The need of love is desperate. That love from Morning Musume, the institution, means gaining a place among the legends of the group. Has she done enough to stand next to the greats of the last 18 years? Will her graduation induce more buds to flower like the pruning of a spring garden? Nobody knows. Morning Musume could just as easily fall into ruin as it could rise up phoenix-like once again. Nobody knows. Welcome to uncertainty. Welcome to the rest of your life.
I’ve only really listened to “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi” a handful of times since it’s release. The heartbreaking essence of the song is too much to take this close to Sayashi Riho’s graduation. The moody, mid-tempo song worries me since many would dismiss it as “boring”. Like “Toki wo Koe, Sora wo Koe” before it, I find the atmosphere and the emotion of the song exciting and interesting. The steady bass tones anchor the song without interfering with the important melodic lines. Throughout the song, a filtered guitar lays down a subtle funk groove that lends a melodic response to the vocals. The guitar is like the God frequency permeating, imbuing, and coloring the entirety of the song. The guitar might as well be the voice of Tsunku answer each one of the girls’s doubts with feelings instead of words.
I’ve talked about this on Twitter a few times, and God knows I ran my mouth with it during the 9th generation auditions, but from the first moment Riho stomped her foot on the ground I knew she would be the one to bring Morning Musume back from the depths. That’s a lot of weight for a then 13 year-old girl. The more we learned about her, the more we saw her in the auditions, the more we knew Riho was the one. When Riho began to take the lion’s share of lines, spotlight, and center position, it was always for the good of Morning Musume; and, we celebrated.
Now that Morning Musume sits atop an uncharted peak, this angel of destiny enigmatically takes her leave. Perhaps Riho dreams are taking her elsewhere these days. Maybe she did not want to become another career Musume. Perhaps Riho wanted to be a part of Morning Musume but didn’t want to become Morning Musume. The group before Riho enjoyed an unprecedented stability that may have damaged the group as much as it helped- no doubt for some people, Morning Musume is still (and will always be) Takahashi Ai and company. Riho may know that state of affairs leads to the crushing vortex she worked tirelessly to escape. Before her star stamps out the glow of Morning Musume, Sayashi Riho burns red for a final time.
All my love to Sayashi Riho.
You can buy Morning Musume ’15 “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only” at CD Japan
Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only [w/ DVD, Limited Edition/Type A]
Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only [w/ DVD, Limited Edition/Type B]
Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only [w/ DVD, Limited Edition/Type C]
Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only [Regular Edition / Type A]
Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only [Regular Edition / Type B]
Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only [Regular Edition / Type C]