Over at New School Kaidan, I write a few words about some of the recently released promotional videos. This is a collection of those write-ups, with a few words sometimes added after a week+ of viewing.
This week we have Promotional videos from: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Kamen Joshi, LinQ, Tokyo Performance Doll (Rewind Exclusive), Happiness, Batten Show Jo Tai (Rewind Exclusive), Appare! Harajuku, Maneki Neko from OS☆U, Spica no Yoru, 243 and Yoshizaki Aya, and Sentimental Wink
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Harajuku Iyahoi
Who ever said that becoming a grown-up meant getting less surreal? Not Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The sound of “Harajuku Iyahoi” features a decidedly more adult sound that the artist’s previous work, especially when contrasted with her iconic debut “Pon Pon Pon“. The autotune brought down to level 7, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu compliments a wistful keyboard melody with rhythms played on the off-beat and a confident vocal take. Visually, “Harajuku Iyahoi” plays like a saccharine-infused Salvador Dali parade in a darkened room. The trees dance, the hat racks march, and the motorized looking glasses keep Kyary within sight lines for the 3:40 duration. As I contemplate the Harajiku lanterns glowing red and blue, the idea of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu forging a career past her teenage “it-girl” status really interests me. If “Harajuku Iyahoi” is any indication, the poster girl for kawaii culture still has much in store for us.
This is a PV that grew on me. I’ve always been a fan of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, so this maturation process fascinates me quite a bit.
Kamen Joshi – ISUMI ~Shikisai no Machi de~
Although a few different versions of “ISUMI ~Shikisai no Machi de~” appear on their official YouTube channel, this choreography practice version probably is the first one you could call a promotional video in the proper sense. Even with the crunch of the guitars in the mix, the song remains planted in the pop realm. My favorite part of the song happens to be the simple Mellotron backing tracks heard under the weight of all those guitars. Really, there’s a lot to like musically with “ISUMI ~Shikisai no Machi de~”, which makes such a simple promotional video a bit more bearable. Let’s leave off with another mystery: where do the masks go at 2:15?
I don’t know if there’s much to add here. I think you know how I feel about the masks (set them free!), so I have a real problem supporting this production.
LinQ – Makenaizo (Short Version)
You know, I have a thing for girls dressed in white. LinQ play along with this perfectly as they visit local businesses in their home Kyushu. “Makenaizo” only gives us 2 minutes of LinQ, but in that time the girls visit: a dairy farm to nurse a calf, a haberdashery to goof hats with shop owner, a tomato farmer to harvest some nice ripe ones, and a jewelry to ogle precious stones. Musically, “Makenaizo” provides a great lift for those feeling glum with its guitar melodies and a steady pop beat. You can buy the latest from “Love in Kyushu” on February 22.
“Makenaizo” is probably my favorite song from LinQ. Maybe the winter affects my judgement, but a nice pop melody like this really feels appropriate. I also enjoy the scenes with the girls. I feel like I’m watching a live-action “Gin no Saji” … but with idols … in Fukuoka. What’s the problem?
Tokyo Performance Doll – Nagareboshi
I think you get the picture of my love affair with Tokyo Performance Doll. They’re an incredibly talented group of girls who should have a major advantage in the Western market with leader Takashima Nana’s English skills, but have a record company that restricts their videos in that market. It’s incredibly frustrating, and I’m not even in the group! “Nagareboshi” offers a break from standard dance shot/close up promotional videos. In what looks to be self-produced vignettes, the girls break into groups of three to tell three stories that feature an odd character. There’s a bit of humor in each of these stories of odd characters one encounters out and about the town. The final third of the PV smashes through the wall and we see the girls directing and filming the segments themselves. Meanwhile, the folk arrangement and subtle melodies do their best to restrain themselves from clobbering their audience. The homespun sentiment abounding, it’s a bit of a wonder that “Nagareboshi” looks so well-filmed!
Happiness – Rewind
In Happiness‘s new jam “Rewind”, the girls bounce police batons menacingly an inspiring chair dance. Actually, let’s back up a minute … the 10th single from Happiness sure plays tough with its rock inspired guitar riff. Being the dance and vocal group they are, the girls do things in military evoking black with “HPS” t-shirts and billy clubs. Actually, the set makes it look like Happiness just finished busting some perps in an alley on the bad side of town. And about that chair dance: it’s not that kind of chair dance. “Rewind” is muscle-baring and a bit sexy, and it goes on sale on February 8, 2017.
I’ll be honest: I haven’t really revisited this one. The glitziness of the production, while impressive, isn’t necessarily for me.
Batten Show Jo Tai – Special Day
Well, who doesn’t like a bit of ska for their day? I know, I know: technically “Special Day” is technically some ska-punk (really ska-pop/punk), but any ska loving rude-boy from the 90’s recognizes the offbeat rhythms put together for Batten Show Jo Tai. In a way, a song like this has some home field advantage with me because of the ska. Not that I wouldn’t tell if this was shit (it’s not). On the video side of things, But-Show (IKR?) go through the process of making chocolate for their special ones for the occasion of Valentine’s Day … that’s the titular special day. So to answer your question, Susan: yes, I like this release a lot! The girls put on some serious cuteness (those coke bottle glasses? adorable!) and deliver a great song. Enjoy!
Appare! Harajuku – Appareruya!! ~Live Video~
Perhaps to give you a taste of their energetic live performances, the girls of Appare! Harajuku bring you the live video for their song “Appareuya!!”. Usually there isn’t a whole lot to say about these live promotional videos except for the oft comment of how much fun attending one of the group’s lives would be on a subjective scale. Well, I won’t do that for you; I’m sure you can figure out whether you’d like to see the group on your own. One thing I can comment on additionally is the outfits for Appare! Harajuku: they’re quite flamboyant. Being fashion clueless, I couldn’t really tell you where these girls land on the fashion continuum. You can find “Appareruya!!” on the group’s December 20, 2016 album “Appare! World”.
Here’s more that I haven’t revisited since I first wrote about it. I just found it difficult to get too excited about the song without an investment in the group … I think you have to be there.
Maneki Neko from OS☆U – Amore Amore!!! ~Hitonatsu Koi~
OK, so this promotional video is from a release that’s about 5 months old … well, it just floated past my desk a couple of days ago. Owing to the much-delayed release of this full version, “Amore Amore!!! ~Hitonatsu Koi~” has the advantage of visions of summer in the throes of dead winter. The Osu Super-idol Unit subunit definitely got me with beach shots viewed in the middle of this rainy winter- that’s timing!. Even though I’m not very familiar with OS☆U, I found “Amore Amore!!!” very charming. The pleasant melody, variety of shots, and the cuteness of the girls really warmed me up. And, if I’m allowed a shout out, Takahashi Moe (the orange meganeko) is WAY cute.
After a rewind of “Amore Amore”, I don’t think my feelings have changed. There is something charming about this group and song! I also found myself mildly amused when the bizarre guy in PV started mixing around natto when he rapped “Hitonatsu .. hito natto”. I mean, that’s comedy for you.
Spica no Yoru – 22 Moji no Love Letter
Spica no Yoru’s new promotional video just hit the internets. While “22 moji no Love Letter” offers no more than a live shot performance, some really good camera work went into the making of this video pushing it just past many of the live shots that roll across my desk. Raura Iida (ex-Sakura Gakuin) and Yuika Shima (ex-Karen Girls) definitely show off the skills they acquired in their previous acts with sharp choreography and coordination – there’s nothing amateur about this performance. If you’re into the chiptune sounds, you’ll be rewarded with a blend of 8-bit sounds and the modern behind the catchy melodies. My only downside is a lack of links to their forthcoming mini-album release “Tokyo Days, Tokyo Nights”. For now, you can buy Spica no Yoru at Stolabo Tokyo’s online store. Should any more links materialize, I’ll definitely update this page.
“22 Moji no Love Letter” is a more than capable intro to this group, and I really would like to see more. Perhaps a product that isn’t just live performance, though. As much as I like the nostalgic sounds and the start stop rhythms, a bit more variety might be in order for future releases.
243 and Yoshizaki Aya – Ai ga Tomaranai
Mix together some 1980’s era music, faceless musical project, and a model turned singer; what do you get? What you get is 243 Project and Yoshizaki Aya’s cover version of WINK’s “Ai ga Tomaranai”. Even this promotional video is a spot-on tribute to the original. After 243 Project’s several 1980’s idol cover versions, this collaboration with model Yoshizaki Aya aims to cover some classic duo from that bygone era. “Ai ga Tomaranai” is the coupling track to the duo’s February 22 release “Koi no Romance”.
I love the 80’s. Don’t you love the 80’s? Give me more of dat 80’s sound! I hope that doesn’t sound too flippant or sarcastic; I mean every word of that! “Ai ga Tomaranai” puts the 243 Project on my radar and gives me Yoshizaki Aya to start … ahem … “researching”. I would say this product is a success.
Sentimental Wink – Expert
As I was making my rounds today, I saw this freshly released promotional video from Sentimental Wink, an idol act I know nothing about. I found something that felt fresh like a liberated afternoon after skipping afternoon classes: playful and innocent while at the same time an act that marks an end of innocence. Well, Utatane Ne is the last remaining idol in this once trio, and she takes us on a train ride far away from urban sprawl. The singer/songwriter/photographer/model waits for her train, boards her train, and plays coy on the train. I have to be honest here and tell you that the PV doesn’t offer very much in terms of variety of shots, captivating narrative, or interesting effects. In fact the single effect, repeating frames to make the PV play like a series of still photographs, gets a bit tiring. But, I find myself responding emotionally to this work, and that is enough for me.
On relisten, I can see why I was drawn to this release: the musical arrangement is fun and lively with the bass guitar zooming through counterpoint melody lines and a playful call-and-response between guitars and pianos. “Expert” may sprawl a bit too much for a pop song, but you know I’m used to that. What about Utatane Ne? Well, we should all be used to lightly sung vocals by now.
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