The ℃-ute PV retrospective #12 FINAL EDITION

In a matter of hours, ℃-ute is going to disband. Thankfully, the group gifted us with one last memorable single. I fully expect at least one of the songs here in this final edition of the ℃-ute PV retrospective to become part of the Hello! Project book of legendary songs. And, what a long trip it’s been for the group! They started as the “also-ran” girls to Berryz Koubou, shone with early promise and rewards, fell into hard times and line-up changes, and finally ascended to the top of Hello! Project and the idol world. In their final months, the group was given the option to continue as a non-idol group outside of Hello! Project. The girls chose to keep ℃-ute as a group belonging only to Hello! Project. This is how strong the H!P love burns inside these girls.

To Tomorrow

If ℃-ute are going to go, then I want it to be a sunrise more than a sunset. I think this is what we get with “To Tomorrow”. Seeing the girls on a hilltop in their white dresses, surrounded by the elements and bathed in the morning sun seems like the best way to go. Famously, this ℃-ute PV is intercut with dance shots of the group with leaders and subleaders of every current group as well as the latest and last crop of Kenshuusei trainees to tour with the group. I loved this idea: ℃-ute didn’t exist in a vacuum; they shaped and influecned Hello! Project as much as they were shaped by the forces within the Projects. “To Tomorrow” refers to not only the morning after for the girls of ℃-ute , but also the morning of their legacy within Hello! Project.
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The ℃-ute PV retrospective #11

Can you believe we’re almost done here? In this penultimate installment, ℃-ute deliver to us an absolutely classic- artistic, layered, and well-executed. Like “Summer Wind” from yesterday, I’ll put this song in a vault containing all my favorites and bury it for some intrepid intergalactic explorer to find after man’s eventual nuclear winter. Too dark? OK, well, that song is …

Mugen Climax

Before starting here, you should know that I am a huge fanboy of Oomori Seiko, the composer and songwriter for “Mugen Climax”. In fact, there is nothing about this song and promotional video that I find disagreeable. The costumes, those military inspired backs and rag dresses appear appropriately surreal. Then the choreography! The girls get plenty of opportunity for individual skills and solo appeal, while the group choreography fills itself with ripple upon ripple. The old European elegance of the set feels dreamlike to me living in sunny California- familiar, yet foreign. Put this one on the short list of idol classics. It’s absolutely brilliant! Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #10

Before the ℃-ute says its proper goodbyes, they released this look at where things might have gone if they chose to stay in Up FRONT as a non-idol act. We know from the girls that this option was on the table for them, so it’s likely that the tracks on today’s installment were a Starting with a notable album track from the FANTASTIC “℃maj9” album, we get the A-sides from the group’s 29th single today. ℃-ute get a bit experimental with this release, and the composers show their roots off with some send ups to the American music scenes of yesteryear. Also included is an absolutely sparkling production of Tsunku song for the mature set of ears.

Iron Heart

This album track from “℃maj9” (C Major Ninth) follows along the same lines as “Gamusha LIFE”, which should figure since SHOCK EYE is the man behind the composition and songwriting for both songs. You knew the budget for this promotional video was bound to be sparse given the nature of the release. That said, the song is full of good feelings with lyrics that feel as though ℃-ute are singing about ℃-ute. Even though the audio is not live audio (perhaps a pet peeve for some people), we get a look at a ℃-ute while they are at the top of their game. Energetic and full of smiles and with a minimum of choreography, “Iron Heart” feels like getting closer to the group than many of their showier songs.
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The ℃-ute PV retrospective #9

I have a rough time trying to rank my favorite ℃-ute singles, but if I ever did task myself thusly the 27th ℃-ute is a sure bet for the top of the list. The majority of the promotional videos today come from that impressive release. Notable today is the first inklings and hints that the group would not last forever. Hints as to the ℃-ute’s eventual demise litter these two releases. Well, enough with the talk; let’s get on with it!

The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~

℃-ute as sexy office ladies? Sign me up. You know, the girls wear those button collars, pants, and power skirts pretty well. The dance shot is absolutely inspiring with some odd body contortions that the girls make work. The real story with “The Middle Management” is the odd grooves that Tsunku gives the group. I have to admit that when I first heard the song, I was expecting something more accessible, perhaps more like the easy, face slams of “Crazy Kanzen na Otona”. Instead, we get a beat that sounds subversive, like the soul has been sucked from sounds yet it keeps pumping (much like office work, right?). This is one of the things that I love about Hello! Project: they don’t necessarily give you exactly what you want 100% of the time. They give you the things that you didn’t even know you wanted until the moment you pay attention to it: like dirty machine-like sex on the boss’s desk. Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #8

In today’s installment, ℃-ute get experimental! Included in the four promotional videos today is a ethnic mix-up of sound and rhythm, a daring harmonized dual vocal, an intense layering of vocal worked put over a multi-camera video, and a return to form. ℃-ute appear confident in themselves, and are able to pull out these performances with great skill.

The Power

By most accounts, things get crazy for ℃-ute from this point onwards. At first glance, you might think “The Power” is going to be another intense song in the same vein as “Crazy Kanzen na Otona” with its belly button baring outfits. There are elements of that here, but Tsunku goes on a strange journey with “The Power” with an Indian influenced production. To this day, I’m not sure if it worked, but after a few listens I just went with it in the same way I went with Tsunku’s madness on “The Manpower”. At the same moment I will rock out and make that lip-snarling, head bopping face AND exclaim “WTF is Tsunku even thinking?!” Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #7

We’ve reached the plateau of ℃-ute’s commercial success. The three singles in today’s installment work together as a trilogy and each sold over 60K. That used to be an unheard of number of sales for a Hello! Project group that didn’t contain a Morning Musume member. Honestly, there is nothing negative to say about any of these six songs, and you probably have a favorite locked up somewhere in this 7th retrospective. So, let’s get on with it!

Kanashiki Amefuri

Welcome to the land of double and triple A-side releases. From here on out, Hello! Project weapon of choice became the use of multiple A-sides with “Kanashiki Amefuri” and “Adam to Eve no Dilemma” being the first ℃-ute single to pack ’em in. Also, H!P began their subtitle policy with these PVs, so enjoy reading. Starting with this release, the group really started to look the part of the mature songs they were singing. There’s nothing particularly “loli” about the group any longer. Now, there are three things here that really heighten my appreciation for great rain you see. Firstly, I grew up with a love of Gene Kelly and the great American Movie Musical, and I perceive this as more of “Singing in the Rain” (I know, it’s a reach). Second, Yajima Maimi’s reputation as a rain bringing woman falls in line perfectly with “Kanashiki Amefuri”. Finally, I don’t know if it’s the split screens, the water hose rain drops, or the arrangement of the “oooh, aaah” background vocals but this single always struck me with a 1970s vibe that I kinda dig. Ya dig? Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #6

℃-ute is going to disband on June 12, 2017. But before they do, I’m going to run through all of the group’s promotional videos for you. During this set of singles, ℃-ute was firing on all cylinders and their sales numbers continued to increase. This is when non-H!P people started to really notice the group. And, let me say that “Crazy Kanzen na Otona” kills now, and will continue to take lives FOREVER.

Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku

Today, we start with some ballad work from the girls of ℃-ute. “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku” showcases the group’s vocal abilities greatly. The promotional video was a big gamble … there’s a boy in it! He actually touches Airi! This will shock you at different levels depending on where you fall in the “Love Ban” spectrum. The other memory of “Kimi wa Kitensha…” that doesn’t show up here was the actual release of the song. During the month leading up to the release, ℃-ute released a new version of the PV EVERY DAY. I don’t know where these versions exist now (maybe somewhere on the official YouTube Channel), but maybe I should take a watch one day. This single was the first time in the “modern” Hello! Project era that a group other than Morning Musume crossed the 40K barrier, so CELEBRATE! Your Queens have arrived! Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #5

℃-ute is going to disband on June 12, 2017. But before they do, I’m going to run through all of the group’s promotional videos for you. If I had to pick a set of videos to take with me on my deserted island trip, this particular set from ℃-ute might make the cut. If the group did not continue to bigger and better things, this set alone would put them at the top of the idol game. Did I mention my great affection for these PVs?

Dance de Bakoon!

Now we’re getting the spicy stuff! The group really finds its balance starting from “Dance de Bakoon!” The choreography may include the awkward “turn around and bend over” move, but I’m not sure many people were complaining by this point. Even thought the vocals mostly distribute like a later day “FOREVER LOVE”, Okai Chisato nails her lines solidly. Couple this with her enourmously popular solo dances (Chisato dances “Massara Blue Jeans” in her bedroom!), and you have the third leg of a tripod for group. Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #4

℃-ute is going to disband on June 12, 2017. But before they do, I’m going to run through all of the group’s promotional videos for you. The promotional videos on this installment are for some of the less well-received singles from the group (well, at least for me). Actually, they’re not all that bad. Not-so-coincidentally, this certain time period was probably the lowest point of interest for my personal Hello! Project fandom. Well, enough about me …

Shochuu Omimai Moushiagamasu

Honestly, I have nothing but good things to say about this song. “Shochuu Omimai Moushiagamasu” was a brilliant light for the ℃-ute during this stage of their career. I remember this came out right around summer time, and the images of the girls enjoying themselves at the beach with that watermelon set the mood for a great vacation. I love the red and white outfits- eyecatching and cute. The end bit with the girls delivering letters to mail box was thought to be the girls sending messages to Arihara Kanna, currently taking a medical leave for bunions. Well, that was a nice thought but we all know how Kanna’s leave turned out … Continue reading

The ℃-ute PV retrospective #3

℃-ute is going to disband on June 12, 2017. But before they do, I’m going to run through all of the group’s promotional videos for you. For these next four releases, the bloom was definitely off the rose. I have fond memories of these ℃-ute releases: this is where I started paying attention to groups outside of Morning Musume. In particular, I loved “Edo no Temari Uta II” although I think I was in the minority for that song.

Namida no Iro

This is where I officially enter the story. Although I was already a fan of Morning Musume by this point, I hadn’t really delved into the rest of Hello! Project until “Namida no Iro”. At the time I felt there was something a bit misguided yet endearing about a group of teenage Japanese singing a song with clear Spanish influence. I also didn’t think anything particularly about the PV that now looks like corners were cut everywhere. But, MAN that styling department went overtime on the girls. Saki wears the ski cap, Erika dons the fedora, and Airi puts on those hot pants. It’s crazy good. Continue reading