Notes from the Idol PV Couch– Week 11 2017 (03019 – 0325)


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:

°C-ute – The Curtain Rises


The third and final promotional video from °C-ute’s farewell single broke this morning. “The Curtain Rises” might seem the opposite title for a swan song of a single, but the optimist says that the second act for Yajima Maimi and co. is about to begin. The song is a dance track littered with the hook of a title line and synth leads that call to mind some of the group’s classic songs. I haven’t had time to sort out the steamy backroom that serves as the set for most of “The Curtain Rises”; perhaps the curtain rises on the hidden machinations of the group? The PV features some nifty “Vertigo” style dolly zooms on the girl’s faces. Though there is much to unpack with “The Curtain Rises”, I’m going to leave off here before you’re looking at one of my 2000 word blogs. ℃-ute’s final single will be released on March 29, 2017.
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Notes from the Idol PV Couch– Week 9 2017 (0305 – 0311)


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 – Morning Misoshiru (Campfire Version)

Say what you want about another version of “Morning Misoshiru”, but I really enjoyed seeing the campfire version. How many times do we get to see the girls act a bit goofy in a release? Not often. The other bonus for this PV is the audio track, which offers the sounds of the girls laughter and occasional wota chants. I’m I sick of it? Not by a long shot!

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Be Kind, (Promotional Video) Rewind – 20161127 to 20161203


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 Dempagumi.inc, SUPER☆GiRLS (Rewind Exclusive), Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku (Rewind Exclusive), Shinozaki Ai (Rewind Exclusive), predia, Moso Calibration (Rewind Exclusive), Especia, X21, dela (Rewind Exclusive), Shounen ga Milk, and Summer Rocket (Rewind Exclusive).

Dempagumi.inc – WWDBEST

Do you hear that? It’s the ghost of Dempagumi.inc’s greatest hits bubbling to the surface for their latest promotional video, “WWDBEST”. You will hear the familiar musical catch phrases for much of the group’s single discography throughout the PV. Also, your eyes are treated to a bit of a mish mosh of he group’s video discography. Just like it sounds on paper, “WWDBEST” is a glorious mess. While that doesn’t sound like much of a compliment, that descriptor I think accurately describes much of what transpired over the last 8 years with Dempagumi.inc. Like it or leave it, love it or loathe it, you can’t deny Dempagumi.inc’s presence in an idol world that’s grown increasingly eccentric. You will find “WWDBEST” on Dempagumi.inc’s 3CD “best of” set, “WWDBEST ~Dempa Ryoko!~” on sale December 21, 2016.

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Shinozaki Ai – “Hikari” [PV]


If you’ve been reading TheNumber244 for a while, you probably noticed the high praise I heaped upon Shinozaki Ai’s “A-G-A-I-N” earlier this year. In case you hadn’t, I can paraphrase by saying that Aichan’s voice is one of the most enchanting things to come out of Japan in 2015. In support of her new album, the “interestingly” titled “EAT ‘EM AND SMILE”, the gravure idol extraordinaire turned singer released a PV for her track “Hikari”. Honestly, it’s been burning up my playlist. The melancholy mood evoked by the song, the plucked string bass accompaniment, and Ai’s expressive vocal delivery … all of it pulls the heartstrings. The chorus hits, and I literally say, “Damn, this is a gorgeous song!”

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Shinozaki Ai – “A-G-A-I-N”


Sometimes, a release comes along that demands my attention. The latest of these comes from Shinozaki Ai, and I cannot believe it myself. I do not know where to begin with Shinozaki Ai. Mind you, I have known about the girl for quite a while from her modeling work. It is probably inevitable, and actually regrettable, but I should let the reader know that this is what I knew about Shinozaki Ai.

Yes, you could probably call her a gravure idol, although I do not actually know how such things work. You probably know where I am coming from now.

And, yes she did have a career as a singer in the idol group AeLL, which stood for “Activity eco Life with Love.” I did not get into AeLL for a few different reasons, some of which, I’ll admit, have to do with Ai’s image as a gravure idol.

After a little provocation, I gave Shinozaki Ai’s “A-G-A-I-N” a listen. It was love at first sight. The song begins with that persistent guitar lick looped over a half-time beat that grooves throughout the song. Sounds layer over each other and build toward a memorable chorus hook. Instrumentation added and subtracted from the arrangement provide a sense of movement. “A-G-A-I-N” sounds slick because it is a slick production. Whether these artificial grooves have anything to do with the PV (more on that later) remains to be seen.

The real attraction with the music, though, is Shinozaki Ai’s voice. I did not expect her voice. Ai exhibits great control a voice that plays expressively and with drama and emotion. Honestly, even though I think “A-G-A-I-N” is a solid release, Ai’s voice will be the one thing I will return to again and again.

So much of Ai’s work is tied into her visuals, that we need to talk about the PV itself. We do not get the scantily clad gravure model in “A-G-A-I-N”. We get an attractively styled Ai with an oversized pastel sweater and similarly hued knee socks. The knee socks does it for most people, and there is plenty of Zettai Ryouiki for a tease. Ai also does an outstanding job modeling the hell out of a lollipop. Ai is a popular, successful model: she knows what she is doing.

But, then there are the parts of the PV that seem pointed toward commercialism and the production of people. Much of the PV looks like product placement. Nail polish, glass beads, marshmallows, hair spray, and even Shinozaki Ai herself appear on rotating platforms like they are featured items in a QVC advert. Ai walks among the litter of products and peers into a heavily teased box where we see … another Shinozaki Ai. The NiB Ai comes complete with a clutch-able teddy bear (because nothing is cuter than a cute girl clutching a teddy bear). In the second verse Ai sings, “Even adult but like a kid, you are the teenage dream.” This is some real self-aware stuff! Ai knows she is a product unnaturally infantilized, sold among the air fresheners and party favors.

The identity crisis brought on by years in the public eye causes a schism that most of us will never know. As an entertainer, are you the same person that appears on you album covers, your photobooks, or your magazine layouts? In the public eye, will you do things, wear things, and say things that you would never say in private? Who is Shinozaki Ai? And, what relationship does she have with the 14-year-old(!) in those bikinis? From the PV for “A-G-A-I-N”, Ai seems to know that two of her exists simultaneously. To further that distinction, Ai acknowledges her factory produced doppelganger. Ai holds a sing-off with her plastic self! All the while, the silent agreement pervades- you can buy the Ai in the box, the one she keeps at a safe distance from herself. But, the real Ai? They are similar things, but they’re not the same.

Follow Shinozaki Ai on Twitter @shinozakiai_226

You can buy Shinozaki Ai’s “A-G-A-I-N” at CD Japan.