Jul 27 2010
Here’s Part 4! And by the way, I’m officially not in Japan anymore. =( Some of these summer concerts have some really good and seldom-performed songs in them too.
Jul 27 2010
Here’s Part 4! And by the way, I’m officially not in Japan anymore. =( Some of these summer concerts have some really good and seldom-performed songs in them too.
Jun 24 2010
I’ve finished part one of my redone top 100 project! Now with all live performance clips, easier to read titles, new songs, lots of changes in ranking especially in the bottom half, and more! Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t make the original version with live performances. I just find them so much more interesting to watch. So first, the video, then some musing about live singing, so stick around for that if you’re interested. IMHO, it’s some of my better blogging.
I’m at 64,000 video views now. I’m hoping to hit 100,000 with completion of this latest project. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Recently, I’ve been wondering why it is that I dislike lipsyncing so much. I mean, idols are entertainers first, singers second (acting, modeling, or other things might also rank above singing), and I realize that many of them just can’t sing very well. And singing while dancing is hard! I know it is. You get out of breath, you’re trying to concentrate on the dance moves at the same time as you’re trying to control your voice, the stage lights are hot, and the crowd is loud and distracting. Far from ideal conditions to produce the best possible sound. Try it. You’d be surprised how difficult it is. So yes, lipsyncing often sounds “better”. And shouldn’t I prefer listening to better singing?
There’s no way to discuss this topic without bringing up AKB again. See, I’ve heard AKB fans actually criticize h!p for not lipsyncing, saying that it’s better to focus on one task at a time so you don’t do both of them half-assed. But, all that said, I still hate the fact that AKB lipsyncs most of the time. In fact, if they switched to mostly live singing, I’d probably consider becoming a fan of theirs. The lipsyncing is the one major barrier standing in the way of that, and I just can’t get around it. It’s not because I think it proves their inferiority as singers or anything like that. It’s really that I flat out don’t enjoy watching a lipsynced performance as much as I enjoy watching a live one.
I think the major problem is that in a live performance, a girl can put the emotion she is feeling into her voice. She can reflect the energy of the crowd and her excitement and joy at being on stage. She can really “get into” a song in a way that she can’t in the recording studio. With a lipsynced performance, though her dancing and expressions might say she’s totally feeling it, her voice will have been recorded in a calm studio environment. That mismatch just feels off to me as a viewer. It’s frustrating when I watch a girl giving 100% with her performance, but the energy level in her voice is stuck at 50%.
Another big issue is the “sameyness” of every performance. Every nuance is the same. There are no bad performances, but there are also no extraordinary performances. I can’t get excited because, “Wow! So-and-so sounded great on that solo line tonight!” because she always sounds exactly the same every time. And when AKB performs the same stage for over a year, and every time a girl opens her mouth to sing a certain solo line, it sounds just as she recorded it over a year ago, it honestly just gets boring. I don’t mind watching the same song performed multiple times if it’s actually a different performance.
And lipsyncing removes the pleasure of seeing your favorite idols struggle and improve, at least in the vocal category. And even if singing is not the main point of being an idol, it’s still an important one. If a girl messes up on a line, I can forgive her, especially if she totally nails it the next time. That’s part of why we cheer for idols, isn’t it? Because they’re not perfect, and we love them anyway. Lipsyncing removes the risk of excruciatingly bad singing, but it also takes away the opportunity for “shivers down your back” heart-touching singing. The kind of experience you have as an audience member knowing that that music you are hearing has been created once, in this moment, and it will never exist in the same way again. Imagine if LinLin’s fantastic solo version of Aozora had been lipsynced. Could it have still had the same impact? I’d say definitely not.
End of musing.
Now if there are any AKB fans out there bristling with defensiveness, don’t try to tell me AKB doesn’t lipsync their shows. I’ve been to a couple of them. I’ve seen many LODs, and in recent times, live singing is very much the exception, not the rule. Really, I don’t know why they don’t drop the farce and do it “PV style”. No microphones. They’d have another arm free for dancing! And yes, I realize that MM lipsyncs occasionally too. But in their case, it’s lipsyncing that’s the exception. Live singing is the rule. And I have also heard the argument that AKB performs so much that singing live all the time would be too much strain on their voices. I find that hard to buy, but even if that is truly the case, how about singing live at least half the time? Even just singing the solo and duet lines live would be a major improvement. I don’t believe that AKB lipsyncs because they are terrible singers, at least not by idol standards. They do it because it’s safe. It’s predictable and controllable, and that’s how management likes things. However, by taking that route, I believe they are doing the fans, and the girls themselves, a great disservice.
May 01 2010
Before the main post, a bit of news.
1: I finished my letter to Risa. I ended up rewriting it about 5 times though, since every time I thought a kanji didn’t look neat and pretty enough, I’d end up starting that page over. Who knew I was such a perfectionist?
2: Was debating about going to two concerts at the Sun Plaza or getting really a good ticket for one. Went for the second option. I’ve got 4th row, center. The center part was mostly just luck since you only know a range for where your ticket might be before you buy it. Well, I’m sure my last Momusu concert is going to be an amazing experience! I’ll probably cry.
And now on to today’s topic…
There seems to be a recent epidemic of H!p girls chopping their hair short. Well, there have been a bunch recently, but the sudden “cut off all my hair” makeover is hardly a new concept for h!p or the idol world. In fact, I theorize they have some kind of rule that at least one member each of Berryz and Cute and at least two members of Momusu must have their hair short at all times. That means that when one of the girls with short hair grows it out, another girl has to cut hers. Morning Musume had an imbalance when Ai-chan grew her hair back out and Aika was the only short haired member, so it was Gaki-san’s turn to cut hers. Chisato grew out her hair, so Maimi had to cut hers. It all makes sense.
But clearly, some girls can pull off the short hair thing much better than others. As a broad generalization, girls with sharper, more angular features look better with shorter hair than girls with softer, rounder features. So here is a comparison with some girls who have had their hair both ways and my opinion on which looks better. Feel free to share where you agree or disagree in the comments.
Winner: Short Hair. She’s adorable with her new haircut! And as the youngest member of the group, I think it gives her a bit more maturity.
Winner: Long Hair. By a mile. This is absolutely the WORST haircut catastrophe I’ve ever seen from h!p. The way it’s all slicked back like that….. It’s a man’s haircut, done by a half-blind barber. Kanon is so cute. She just doesn’t deserve this. Besides, S/mileage only has 4 members. Isn’t Saki having short hair enough to meet the quota? My conspiracy theory is that management was afraid that Kanon could overshadow Yuuka as “the prettiest one” so they took action.
Winner: Long Hair. I have heard it said before that Chisato looks like a little boy. A cute little boy, but still. Now that she’s growing her hair out, suddenly she’s starting to look like a young lady.
Winner: Long Hair. Maimi had such such pretty hair. It just pains me to see her cut it off. What a waste! Her short hair is looking better lately than when she first got it cut, but I still miss the way it used to be.
Winner: Short Hair. Miyabi is one of those girls with strong angular features (see above) who can really work a short haircut. I think it gave her a more “rock” edge that was great for Buono. Her extensions are just too much. It’s like they’re trying to take over her head.
Winner: Long Hair. Chinami is the opposite of Miyabi in that she has a rather round face, so in her case, long hair is much more flattering.
Part 2 will be Morning Musume, past and present, but I’m sure my final Morning Musume concert review will be coming before that.
Mar 02 2010
Last month, I asked Hello Project fans to send me ten votes, to be distributed however they chose among H!p’s considerable song catalog.
Nowvoting has come to an end, and I’m very pleased to show you Part 1 of the results. Don’t get too excited though. I’m saving the best for Part 2.
First, some info on the voters.
Total Number of Participants: 124 (and 1,240 votes)
Countries Represented: USA, Australia, Canada, Philippines, Switzerland, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Finland, Poland, Norway, Netherlands, Brazil, China, Peru, Denmark, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Lithuania, Mexico, Sweden, and Japan.
If you participated and you don’t see your country listed, it’s probably because you didn’t tell me what country you are from, but if you let me know, I’ll add it to the list.
Gender Breakdown: 55 Females, 31 Males, 38 Not Reported
% of Votes By Category: I tried to make a graph, but it looked too messy with so many categories.
As you can see, Morning Musume wins it by a large margin. However, keep in mind that those votes are spread out over a lot more songs than the other artists have.
For the song ranking, I have decided to make two videos showcasing the Top 40 songs. Where there were ties in pure number of votes, the song with more people voting for it (as opposed to less people using multiple votes) was ranked ahead. For a couple cases in the Top 40, two songs still had the same score, so I just left it as a tie.
So here is part 1 of the results! Numbers 40-21. I used different clips than I did in my own countdown. I’ll have the video for 20-1 as well as the full results in my next post. Enjoy!
What do you think?
EDIT: Ack! I can’t believe it, but I made a small mistake in the numbering. Very Beauty and Yume to Genjitsu should be tied for #32.
Feb 11 2010
I haven’t been writing much about the recent happenings in the h!p world lately. Starting with the disappointing and working up to the fantastic.
Oh Cute. I used to like them so much. I still do, but lately I don’t like a single thing they’re putting out. “Bye Bye Bye” was okay for me. Not their best, and the PV sucked, but I enjoyed the early 90′s sound because it reminded me of the music I listened to growing up. Then came a cover song. Bleh. Then “Everyday Zekkouchou”, a total snooze fest. And then, “Shock” which officially surpasses “Lalala Shiawase no Uta” as my least favorite C-ute song ever. It’s not the fact that it’s pretty much an Airi solo. It’s the weird and disjointed melodic lines. Not pleasing to the ear at all. And from the album previews so far, I’m hearing a bunch of boring mid tempo ballads. There’s nothing I like much except maybe Maimi’s solo.
If Cute keeps up with crappy song after crappy song, it’s going to be hard for me to like them anymore, no matter how adorable Airi is. And by the way, I hate Maimi’s haircut. Sorry, but it makes her look like she belongs in Johnny’s.
Okay, first of all, I think “Onna ga Nande Mezatte Ikenai” is total fail on all levels. It’s not catchy, it’s not special, it’s not interesting. The costumes are dated, the PV involves my least favorite idol PV cliche (putting on makeup), and the B-side is totally forgettable. I kind of like the meaning of the lyrics, but that’s it. Frankly, I am not surprised that sales look weak so far. Morning Musume was on such a high with “Shougani” getting number 1 and “Nanchatte” achieving their best sales in years. Then there was “Kimagure”, which I personally liked, but I can understand why it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. At least it was different. At this point they could either hold off on a new single until Tsunku could come up with something fantastic, or they could quickly release a sub-par single and totally kill what was left of their momentum. Guess which they did? I just hope that the new album is good.
I’m totally behind this new group and their upcoming official debut. Recently I’ve been listening to “Suki-chan” all the time. If I hadn’t finished my countdown list before it came out, you can bet it’d be on there.
How is it that C-ute keeps getting such poor songs while Berryz is getting enough good material to put out a slew of double A sides? Not only that, but all of them have at least one really good song. ‘Rival’, ‘Watashi no Mirai no Danma-sama’, and now ‘Otakebi Boy WAO” all make my frequently played list, and the other songs aren’t bad either. No surprise that their sales are on the rise, while certain other groups are showing the opposite trend.
Also, I loved watching them do Special Generation dressed as fish, complete with flaily fish-like dancing.
I am totally IN LOVE with Buono’s new album. There’s hardly a bad track on it. You know, I’ve heard people say that about their other albums, but somehow they never really clicked with me. This one though, I could listen to “Blue-sky-Blue” and “Koucha no Oishii mise” all day.
And that’s all for recent happenings.
!!!!!!!!!PLEASE SEND ME YOUR TOP 10 SONGS IF YOU HAVEN’T YET!!!!!!!
Dec 10 2009
I couldn’t resist making one last video for my top 100 series. This is 20 songs that I really wanted to include, but I just didn’t have room for. It’s shorter clips, but more songs, and they’re in no particular order. It’s the also rans. I just know there’s going to be someone out there who’s all, “Those are all my favorite songs! How dare you not include them!”. I really do like these songs, and a bunch that aren’t going to be featured at all, but there’s just too much competition.
I didn’t use the VUDen version of “Nanimo Iwazu ni” because I think that song is really best with a large choral arrangement, not just 3 girls.
Nov 28 2009
We’re almost to the end! Here are the “runners up” for being in the top 10. Lots of great stuff here, I promise.
#20- Pineapple skin! Nom nom nom.
#18- It’s a really good song, but it might have ranked higher if I weren’t so sick of hearing it in concert.
#14- I admit it. I’m a sucker for sappy feel-good idol songs.
#13- One of these voices is not like the others. One of these voices just doesn’t belong….(sesame street ref. FTW)
#12- Their best single is paired with their ugliest PV. Oh the irony.
Nov 20 2009
Have I really made 8 of these already? Looks like it.
#30- Oh Gaki. Everyone is like “Angst!” and she’s all, “I’m so thrilled to be here!”
#29- Surprise pick maybe? Hey, I even timed the pictures to the music.
#28-27- Nice transition right?
#27- I’ve always wondered: why do the “other” girls pretend to sing the background vocals? It sounds nothing like them and it just looks silly. Adults did those vocals, not a bunch of little girls.
#23- Why is this so small? Sorry about that.
#22- Yes! I got in both moments of Momo “specialness”.
#21- Moved up quite a few spots on the list since MM’s latest concert tour. So fun!
Nov 14 2009
Closer and closer to the top we go. The further up the list I get, you may notice things getting a bit Momusu heavy. Well, there are two reasons for that. 1. Morning Musume has more songs to choose from than anyone else, and 2. I just like Morning Musume the best, so that’s how things worked out.
And on with the video!
A bit of commentary.
#40- Love the echo. Why do they keep picking the wrong one to be the first A-side?
#38- Even if it hasn’t been a huge seller, I still like it.
#35- Needz moar Maimai. She’s the best singer out of this trio, but unfortunately, this is the only performance recording available.
#34- Well, it’s not number one, but yeah, it is on the list.
#33- Such a slow tempo… way to hog more than your allotted one minute, number 33.
#32- Same costumes, very different song
Only three more to go!
Nov 05 2009
Oh boy. This is getting difficult now. The list is undergoing constant revision, because I keep changing my mind about where certain songs should rank. We’ve gotten high up enough now that I start to feel like every single song ought to be ranked higher, but of course, that’s impossible. It just goes to show how much I love h!p that songs really like are getting pushed down to the 50′s because there are too many songs I like even more!
Now with more bonus snark commentary.
#60- Hey Miya. Merlin called. He wants his shirt back.
#59- Got to include the one non-Airi or Maimi solo line in the song. And I quote, “Aaah!”. Seriously, why did they even bother?
#58- Still don’t understand what’s so sexy about being covered in sand. Not just this PV either. Every photobook has at least one picture where the girl has sand all over her. Oh, ah, yes, it’s so abrasive and grainy.
#57- Gosh. There’s so darn many of them. Also, I demand Nakky does her hair like that again.
#55- Yep, a song that’s not even out yet. Clearly, I’m quite taken with it already.
#54- OMG! I only just now realized that they have takoyaki in their hair.
#53- I wish I could use a recording from the current concert tour, because they both sound ten times better singing this now than they did back then. Also, hey, remember when Mittsi had long hair and bangs? Good times, right?
#52- I like how they made this look like they’re having a conversation
#51- Squeeee! So young and tiny! And of course I had to end with the single most likely to get stuck in my head song in all h!p land.