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:
Juice=Juice – Feel Kanjiru yo
Barely a week to go until their 9th single release, and Juice=Juice finally deliver a promotional video for “Feel! Kanjiru yo”. As if to add variety to the single, this song bounces along with some confectionery pop, leaving the around the world trip to the single’s other A-side. Visually, Miyazaki Yuka and the girls wear their Sunday best and frolic about the hillside like five Marias in the Japanese hills. The Vaseline smeared camera lens gives the girls an appropriate glow with the midday sun lighting up their auras. Lyrically, Miura Yoshiko pens the Juicers a song about the interconnections holding the universe together and opening one’s heart to feel said connections. Not for the cynically minded, this is the kind of song that will probably make Miyamoto Karin cry in its future performances. You can feel for yourself when “Jidanda Dance / Feel Kanjiru yo” hits store shelves on April 26, 2017.
Itano Tomomi – #iine!
D’ya ever get one of those days where all the little catastrophes happen on top of each other to orchestrate a symphony of despair? Well, it looks like Itano Tomomi is having one of those, to which she says “Ii ne” or perhaps “It’s all good”. “#iine” (really with the hash tag?) will give you the hilarity of random things breaking on Tomochin, Tomochin burning her breakfast, and Tomochin shrinking her “Rock ‘n Roll” tee to Lilliputian dimensions. It’s silly, it’s melodramatic, and I have to say that I kind of love it. “#iine” is the best kind of bubblegum pop: devoid of calories and existing only for fun. I’m sure your brain will immediately draw comparisons with other musical acts, so I won’t bother doing the same. I will instead make the point that Itano Tomomi seems well-suited to this kind of fun pop (as opposed to some of her other musical choices over the years). “#iine” will make its way to record shoppes on May 17, 2017.
The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY – Lady Baby Blue
“LADY BABY BLUE” sounds like nothing The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY have ever done. The cool midtempo alterna-something owes a lot to its songwriter/composer Oomori Seiko (who has been inside and upside the idol world herself in the last few months). You can practically hear Seiko’s distinctive screech across the melody singing “LADY BABY BLUE”. To be fair, the girls do a great job of vocalizing considering some of the stratospheric highs they are required to reach- I’ve always maintained that Rei and Rie are better singers than they get credit for. Consisting of off-shot from the Rie and Rei, the promotional video tries to give us a peek into the daily lives of Lady babies outside the manufactured images, which is a bit ironic considering the source. In any case, “LADY BABY BLUE” gives us a moment to catch our breathe and appreciate the many sides to LADYBABY. I think it’s a keeper. You can find “LADY BABY BLUE” on The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY’s “Pelo”.
Up Up Girls (Kari) – Upper Disco
Up Up Girls (kari) bring you a bath house fantasy for their 22nd single PV, and it’s every bit as steamy as you might imagine. We get our peep courtesy of the little boy protagonist who happened to find a knot hole in the wooden fence. The Up Up Girls, now swollen to 12 members, give the bespectacled kid a dance that he’ll never forget! “Upper Disco”, as you might have guessed, brings the disco sounds courtesy of composer/songwriter PandaBoy. There’s some funky guitar work and horn accents complemented by the ever present string background, just like it was 1977! Maybe you don’t approve of the expanded lineup, but I think the choreography looks great with the number of girls in the group. Then again, new members are always followed with graduations, and this gives Up Up Girls much more in common with the Hello! Project from which they broke free. Either way, if Up Up Girls (kari) are your thing, then you can pick up “Upper Disco / FOREVER YOUNG” steaming in the bath houses on May 9, 2017.
Up Up Girls (Kari) – Forever Young
Up Up Girls take a lap around the village in their latest promotional video “FOREVER YOUNG”. Well, more than a video, “FOREVER YOUNG” looks like a series of still photographs linked together to form a film. The Up Up Girls (2) make an appearance here, floating behind the main girls and sometimes passing up Arai Minami. The execution of this PV is very interesting when you think about the speed (or lack of) that music playback in order to get the lip sync close. Also, it looks like some of the girls (Saho Akari) barely break a sweat on this jog. Nothing says fun like ska, and here the Up Up Girls skank it up with the offbeats guitars and horns blaring. With two quality A-Sides, this latest Up Up Girls release should be one for the record books. You can pick up “Upper Disco / FOREVER YOUNG” at your favorite retailer on May 9, 2017.
Passcode – Bite the Bullet
PassCode work the stylistic mish-mash with the screamo vocals, processed raps, heavy metal guitars, and dance beats. The short version shows us the girls in separate locales: rooftops, trendy shops, crowded streets and school rooftops. I have to say that PassCode themselves look more mature in these settings than I remember. Maybe it’s the attitude, maybe it’s good styling and direction. Probably it’s all three. Whatever happened, I’ve never been more interested in learning about the girls. The song is a bit sprawling with an arrangement that doesn’t stick to any one style long enough to earn its hooks. I know this chop suey approach is the point of “bite the bullet”, but it’s hard to groove unless you have a groove (so to speak). You can bite the bullet with PassCode when their CD hits the shelves on April 19, 2017.
Guso Drop – Painfully Violent
Did you want some uptempo aggression? Guso Drop’s got your back. “Painfully Violent” rings out like early hardcore then breaks it down with the double-kick. But, what you’re probably going to be talking about is the promotional video. There are the expected live shots and some shaking, quickly cuts of the girls singing solo, and … well let’s say that Guso Drop are sprayed and gobbed with some questionable looking fluids. Look, I never thought I’d be here writing about idol groups getting shot in the face with extremely suggestive white goo, but here we are. If you want it, Guso Drop’s “Painfully Violent” mini albm hits stores on May 17, 2017.
dela – Akai Cardigan
Red is the color of fate and the string that binds people together. It’s a pretty well-known legend dating back to the Chinese, and dela taps the popular lore for their new single “Akai Cardigan”. The red string here is woven into a lovely titular cardigan that wraps each member of dela, indicating the group mates are fated to make history together. I like to think of the cardigan as a warm and comforting piece of clothing, and perhaps this means that dela members rely on each other in ways we cannot even imagine. They’re not given particularly much to do in this promotional video, but dela will give you heart warming smiles as they wrap their own pinkies with the yarn. “Akai Cardigan” the song presents a classic pop sound with some Motown rhythm section influences and the sounds of chimes to fill out the orchestration. If you’re looking for some face-melting metal riffs, you’d better go elsewhere. But, if you are looking for a pleasant uplift for your day, dela have the song for you.
Shiina Pikarin – Bababaababumukuuhen★
Shiina Pikarin frolics through an amusement park whilst singing through her witch’s staff and eating cake. The ridiculously titled “Bababaababumukuuhen★” sound’s a bit like an incantation, and certainly Pikarin lives up to the part with a stylistic interpretation that straddles the line between goth and kawaii. For all the roaring coming through between the sung verses, “Bababaababumukuuhen★” never sounds particularly threatening, especially when Pikarin smiles through her parts. Then there’s the hardcore cake eating. For me, the song seems stuck between two worlds- it’s not quite menacing enough and yet not completely kawaii. Pikarin’s definitely not helped by a director whose shot selection seems questionable. Shiina Pikarin herself seems quite the oddball case with her zany antics, offbeat fashion, and squeaky voice. It’s almost as if she’s fighting against herself to avoid becoming just another cute idol singer. Still, there’s something about Shiina Pikarin; I’m curious about where she’s headed with all of this. Shiina Pikarin’s “Bababaababumukuuhen★/Geboku GEBO GEBO !!” hits stores on May 3, 2017.
Mistress – Disturbing the Real
The official live clip of “Disturbing the Real” gives us a peak at the performance of the three girls, but not the actual live sounds of Aoi, Ameru, and Chia. On top of this, the footage used doesn’t exactly match up to the performances in many instances. I say all of this, but the young group gives some pretty energetic looking performances. It’s clear that mistress is on the right track in that regard. On the music side of things, “Disturbing the Real” doesn’t quite have the sheen of more polished (bigger budget) releases. Instruments and vocals pop in and out of a mix that doesn’t sound full enough. So, while “Disturbing the Real” keeps mistress’s name in public view, it doesn’t necessarily put the group’s best foot forward.
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