Over at New School Kaidan, I write a few words about some of the recently released promotional videos. At times, this is a bit of a grueling task, and all of my thoughts can get a little scattered when multiple PVs are released on the same day. But, I always try to present the promotional videos in the best light possible, and I try to remember that each of these pieces of entertainment for your a me is actually the manifestation of a dream for some young girl or girls out there in Japan. Here then 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:
Morning Musume。’17 – Jealousy Jealousy
Looking like an elegant slumber party before the actual slumbering, “Jealousy Jealousy” rounds out the promotional videos for Morning Musume’s 63rd single release. Things look very black and white, although it’s not particularly clear which side is actually which (metaphorically speaking). What I do know is the group makes great use of their anchors: Oda Sakura and Fukumura Mizuki sing with an increasing presence from Nonaka Miki while Ishida Ayumi rightfully anchors the dance team and provides legit skills to the rap interludes (you should also stick around to hear Miki’s English in the rap- always a treat). Perhaps “Jealousy Jealousy” rests on foundations that are more predictable than its counterpart A-side, but man is the song smooth. For those put off by the mortar shells in “Brand New Morning”, “Jealousy Jealousy” feels like coming home to groove laden J-pop butter. “Brand New Morning/Jealousy Jealousy” goes on sale March 8, 2017.
Over at Twitter I ran a poll, and the opinion seems pretty split about the favorite track on this 63rd Morning Musume single. Do I like “Jealousy Jealous” or “BRAND NEW MORNING”. Right now, I think that “Jealousy Jealousy” has longer legs than its counterpart. Which is to say that I’m going to be listening to this song for a long time after its release. As for insight, I think people are really sleeping on Nonaka Miki. While she’s not getting the particularly sexy parts of the vocal duties, Miki is solid and everywhere on this track.
Nogizaka46 – Influencer
If I had to pick my favorite group now over at the 48/46 family, I’d probably say Nogizaka46. Now, I’m not sure about the Latin grooves of “Influencer”, I’m always suspicious when I hear the sound appropriated like this. I like the location of this promotional video: stark and a bit post modern. The camera work with its dynamic movements also elevates this work beyond simplicity. I can imagine the use of color lights might drive some people crazy, but there is no quicker and cheaper way of making a room look more glamorous than a few optical distractions. The excessive arm choreography also looks great when done with the tight synchronization seen in the smaller group shots. So, while the song leaves me a bit on the cold side, I’d gladly watch this PV again.
Wa-Suta – Just be yourself
Promotional Videos formatted for the cell phone screen are a thing now, aren’t they? Wa-Suta’s latest employs the screen dimensions of your smart phone with their Opening Theme for the “Idol Time PriPara” anime. Looking like they were sucked into the animated stages of the show, Wa-Suta make use of the screen with shots that appear as though one is video-chatting and other shots that split the frame. “Just be yourself” is a cheerful song, as expected from the theme to a children’s anime. The song refrains from mashing disparate styles together like other Wa-Suta releases. Give “Just be yourself” a listen; it’s probably the most accessible introduction to The World Standard to date. (note: watch on your mobile device!)
All that talk, and I’ve never watched “Just be yourself” on my phone. Rather than talk specifically about the PV, I feel like stating how much I like the vocals of Wa-Suta. I appreciate the group trying to use a bit more soul rather than the typical idol vocal delivery. This is none to surprising since iDol Street always seem to have incredibly talented girls in their lineups. Don’t get me wrong: I like the idol vocal style. But, a bit of variety never hurts.
The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY – Easter Bunny
The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY are back with their second single, and here is the promotional video for one of its c/w tracks. To my ears, “Easter Bunny” sounds more pop that I remember Ladybaby sounding. Perhaps the particularly strong chorus melody has me in its grasp. For its visual equation, Rei and Rie bring their twin dance to the apartment complex. Their hijinks include a nasty looking egg fight, plates of fried eggs, and Easter time cuddling that would probably make the pastor blush while he disapproves. As the girls grin winningly whilst hurling raw eggs at each other, I find it difficult to dislike “Easter Bunny”. Yes, I’m a bit won over by its charms. We can all go over and buy “Easter Bunny” on The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY’s “Pelo”, due on April 12, 2017.
Confession: I’ve listened to this song like crazy since its release. I like the twin dance, I like the vocal work, the egg fight around the apartments, and even the normal looking apartment location. The thing I don’t particularly is the Ladybeard proxy vocals: totally unnecessary. Really … this is a FUN song 🙂 and the PV reminds me a tiny bit of “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (a great movie you should seek out).
BiSH – Promise the Star
The Brand-new Idol Society SHiT release more songs for misfits. You know the misfits: always walking in the wrong direction and drawn to the lights that no one else can see. In “Promise the Star”, the group leaves the acting to Tanaka Makoto while the group perform on a helicopter pad atop an impossibly tall skyscraper. Our heroine runs away, and it doesn’t matter who from or to. BiSH perform closer to the star than the earth as searchlights wave frantically as if to signal an arrival. “Promise the Star” is a glossy production, so much so that the members lips glisten reflectively like beacons. The song plays more mainstream than perhaps expected, which makes me believe the group is after big numbers for this second release. From what I see, I think BiSH deserves those numbers: “Promise the Star” puts together a total package that demands attention. “Promise the Star” comes in three editions on March 22, 2017.
No, I’m not tired of Aina’s voice, Ling Ling’s hair, or Atsuko’s glasses. As this iDOL SHiT quickly approaches legendary status, I’ve got to wonder that the group will do for its second act, because a second act must be quickly approaching us.
Tsuri Bit – Get Ready Get a Chance
Tsuri Bit have themselves a Shibuya Day in their new promotional video “Get Ready Get a Chance”. With a pop sound that leans towards funk, the song provides much more than I imagine. Verse melodies receive lively accents and the arrangement is filled with soft strings, brass interjections, and a glockenspiel bubbling under the percussion. I actually love the composition and arrangement of “Get Ready Get a Chance”. The “Girl’s Day Out” rounds out nicely with some karaoke and parfait desserts, while the dance shot in front of the Shibuya Modi store is visually stimulating. Hell, I even like the white laced-up performance outfits a lot! In summary: check this out, for real.
While Tsuri Bit doesn’t trade on the bluster of the last two groups (and an increasing number of alt-idol wannabes), the group stands as a reason why most of us started with idols in the first place. Cute girls and cute songs playing with melodic themes that are outside the Western pop music vocabulary. And, I really love seeing Tsuri Bit dancing in the middles of the Shibuya streets in their fantastic costumes.
Yukueshirezutsurezure – MISS SINS
Trapped amid blue strings, Yukueshirezutsurezure bring you their latest hardcore idol crossover release. The group is trapped in the forest, alone in the city, alone in a classroom, and pixelated. Perhaps this pixel play means to symbolize a fragmentation of the mind that certainly makes sense with a title like “Miss Sins”. Musically, I’m not often blown away by the blasting beats and scream vocals; consequently I personally had a bit of trouble connecting to the melodies. That said, the imagery of “MISS SINS” prove interesting to me: composited images over the girls’ silhouettes and sunlight beaming through the trees always keep me occupied. You can buy “MISS SINS” on March 1, 2017.
I guess I should get used to “Not Secured, Loose Ends”; they’re going to be using that name to the Western crowds. As for “MISS SINS”, I still like the blue web of entrapment out in the forest. I feel strongly that the song itself gives no leaves for the melody to breathe, and this makes the whole affair as difficult to swallow as a 65 minute lecture on periodontal disease delivered using a single run-on sentence.
Q’ulle – DON’T STOP
Q’ulle step out of the darkness for their major debut “DON’T STOP”, due on April 5, 2017. The solid rock arrangement kicks off with some tasty guitar licks and the girls strutting in front of a live band. Intercut with this performance shot, the girls show a wild streak that includes a bit of trespassing and some explosive arson. While I admit it hard to take this faux attitude too seriously, I also have to say that things look great for the girls in this nicely shot promotional video. The group looks glamoured up, tightly coordinated, and ready to play with fire. With tons of experience first as Danceroid then as independent idols, the group put their indie days behind them. Partly in shadows, partly in sun Q’ulle are ready for their prime time battles in the idol wars.
What makes “DON’T STOP” a bit difficult to swallow is a disconnect in attitude. As idols, I expect the girls to smile through the entire song. But, the smiles kill any of the badass attitude that seems to be the theme of the promotional video. Basically, you can’t smile your way through first degree arson without looking like a psychopath. That’s the opposite of fun.
Terashima Yufu – Tenshi no Telepathy
“Tenshi no Telepathy” looks like a first person dating sim with some of the standard tropes (running smack into Yuffy as she rounds the corner?). I can feel the frustration as Yufu transforms herself into the conventional idol she always saw in herself. In keeping with that analysis, “Tenshi no Telepathy” comes across as amazingly middle-of-the-road. While its pleasant to listen hear, it doesn’t really inspire much in the way of crazed devotion. And, if you’re not going to oshi and idol then what’s the point?
callme – Bring You Happiness
callme’s 4th single release has a March 22, 2017 release date and gleaming new promotional video. “Bring you happiness” features the threesome in a strange fabricated set with color pallet stacks and sugar cube-like boxes with the group’s name painted boldly and, strangely, roughly. From the short preview, callme dabbles a bit in mannequin-esque scenes and a few visual tricks. I suppose the theme here is a distribution center gone a bit awry as the girls bring you (guessed it) happiness. Musically, “Bring you happiness” sounds to my ears like classic callme: a bit electro and a bit jazzy. Some interesting acoustic guitar licks under the big beat really catch my attention. Choreography as sharp as ever, look for the latest callme in about a month.
Probably the most dangerous thing about callme is that they make their work look effortless. The other problematic part of “Bring you happiness” is the short version pv. Really, I’m tired of short PVs that don’t give you chance to get into the song being previewed. It’s not a great promotion tool, and if it doesn’t promote the group, why are we bothering? I to use the ink here to write something other than callme, but there’s literally not much to write about.
BRATS – Nonai Shokyo Game
Brats slams another song at us with “Nonkai Shokyo Game”, the theme to the upcoming movie “Slaveman”. “Slam” is truly what I mean when I hear the song; despite not being particularly fast or brutal, the song is filled with attitude and licks. I hear real fury in the chugging guitar rhythm and that monstrous sounding bass. As I watch this PV I marvel at how much more I like Kuromiya Rei in this setting (as opposed to Ladybaby)- her voice sounds unleashed- free of the kawaii aesthetic. I should mention the promotional video, which features the group rocking a warehouse while Rei leads the viewer on a tour. But, really the PV doesn’t matter much when the song has this much flair.
Did you feel me having an identity crisis trying to reconcile my feelings for BRATS and LADYBABY? That’s what’s going on here. Rei’s groups are so different. I love the Kuromiya sisters working together, and I love the sense agency and ownership in BRATS. Also, you’ve got to face it: Rei’s become a great vocalist. OK, the PV looks a bit like a mid 90’s grunge video, but isn’t that what we’re going for here?
Jyu Jyu – Kuro Ito
The group that creeped me out with its series of first person murders comes back with a haunted mansion of a promotional video. With blacks and frills, Jyu Jyu present a more conventional promotional video that still retains the macabre that I’ve grown to love. Mirrors are possessed, picture frames take on their own life, and the very fabric of the artifice rends itself. Oddly, the effect I found most spooky was the ever present shadows of the chandeliers despite blinking candelabras. More upbeat than Noroi Hajime, Jyu Jyu works for me despite its clearly limited budget. Maybe that’s my internal 14 year-old goth boy screaming for release. You can buy “Kuro Ito” on March 14, 2017.
“Kuro Ito” makes the group look a bit more like idols, doesn’t it? You know I don’t mind. Still there’s something a bit rag doll in the group’s choreography that does not sit right.
ophelia 20mg – Shuten no Tsuki
Idol metal fans with a penchant for the unknown, here’s your chance! The Osaka idol Ophelia 20mg made her stage debut in 2010, but looks to be set on releasing her first album on April 9, 2017. Or, maybe it’s already out. I can’t really find any links for you to purchase “Dokusai teki Euphoria” (Poisonous Euphoria), so maybe the release date doesn’t really matter. Regardless, the dark-voiced idol’s promotional video fills itself with montages of the idol in various settings (is that a cemetery?) and in outfits that go from traditionally inspired to the little black dress. Yes, the image quality isn’t HD, but does that really matter to you? I find the package very appealing, so hopefully we’ll hear more from ophelia 20mg. MORE!
Admittedly, it’s a bit difficult to see where ophelia 20mg is going with “Shuten no Tsuki”. Which of these looks and sounds is the girl I am getting when I decide to throw myself into her fandom? It’s not that I like one more than the other. I just want to know what I’m getting into here.
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