There’s no Ban on Love Songs!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Disco readers! Whether you’re single or in a relationship, I hope you’re having a nice day. Even though love is a common theme in many idol songs, here are some ones that I find outstanding, and fitting of the day.

Valentine Kiss – Kokusho Sayuri

If you don’t listen to this every Valentine’s Day (either original version or Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 version), I don’t know where your priorities are. Seriously, this is THE quintessential Valentine’s song of idol music. It’s hard to say much more, because it’s pretty clear. I’m personally fond of the Warota version (understandably so, given the fact that I’m very fond of Oota Aika and Iwasa Misaki), but this song is just a classic song about Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate Damashii – Matsuura Aya

Another song that’s completely about Valentine’s; in Japan, chocolate is really the only gift given on Valentine’s, and it’s given only from girls to boys (who reciprocate on March 14th, White Day). I am super fond of Ayaya, and while this isn’t my favorite song by hers, it was a late single released right before the Elder Club graduation as a gift to her fans. Ayaya’s voice is beautiful as always, and it’s a beautiful song for Valentine’s.

Choco no Dorei – SKE48

I debated on whether to include this in my list, because the lyrics are a bit suspect. However, it’s one idol song that’s very directly about Valentine’s Day. The title literally means “A slave to chocolate” and it directly deals with the custom of giving chocolate as a way of confessing your love. It’s direct, but “A slave to chocolate” sounds kind of suspect, like SKE48 are forced to work in the chocolate factory (Gasp, so is Watarirouka Hashiritai 7!). However, I do get the meaning, and there’s no doubt as to the meaning.

Hashire – Momoiro Clover

One of the things that really sets Momoiro Clover apart as an idol group is that they don’t really focus on romance quite as much as other idol groups do. It honestly makes a lot of their music refreshing to hear; even songs that have love in the title aren’t really about confessing love to a boyfriend or anything, but feel more like large, grand declarations. However, MomoClo does have a few romantic songs, and my personal favorite is Hashire. The first lyric “I can’t stop smiling, my dancing heart isn’t stopping, I’m moving to you, Run! Run! Run!” is honestly one of my favorite idol lyrics. Even despite the lyrics, however, the whole song has a feel of a genuine expression of feelings. It’s a very sweet song, which makes it one of my favorites.

Hyadain – Hyadain no Kakakata Kataomoi – C

Speaking of sweet, genuine feelings! Hyadain’s first two singles he did are duets, and they’re both fantastic; however, the first one is the romantic one. Even though it’s a duet with himself (yes, the female voice here is actually Hyadain, but with pitch changes), this is a really cute song about first love ,suddenly falling for someone, and realizing your feelings. In my opinion, the duet aspect really adds to the song, in a way I don’t normally hear as an idol fan. It’s one of Hyadain’s best, and given the fact I consider him to be the next big idol composer, that’s saying a lot.

Ki ga Tsukeba Anata – Matsuura Aya

OK, I love Ayaya. But there were honestly too many songs I wanted to put on this list that weren’t hers. Do I go cute, happy earlier route and go with Momoiro Kataomoi? Or do I go with the later, serious route with stuff like Only One (from her most recent album, Click You Link Me). I honestly love both super idol Ayaya and more serious singer Matsuura Aya, so it was tough to pick. So, I went in between with something from what was kind of the transitional phase. The one thing that kind of amuses me about this is that this song was primarily used for iced tea ads, but yet it’s one of the most sweet, genuine love songs from Hello!Project. The lyrics are about realizing that the perfect person for you has been by your side all along (a trope I’m absolutely a sucker for), and the song itself (both Ayaya’s great vocals and the instrumental) fits the theme perfectly.

Akai Sweet Pea – Matsuda Seiko

Another classic! Not much to say about this, other than it’s one of Japan’s classic love songs. Matsuda Seiko is one of the most famous idols of all time in Japan, and this is one of her most famous songs, and for good reason.

おめでとう、Happy Disco!!

People who read my blog (I love you!!) I have some news.

This is my 100th post on Happy Disco. Yaay!!

This is the first image you get if you search Happy Disco on Google Images. 

My infatuation with idol music isn’t going away anytime soon! Usually when I start up projects/blogs like this I get bored quickly and stoop doing it, but I really do enjoy what I do here on Happy Disco.

First up: If you guys read this and have read my blog before, what types of posts do you like? Would you prefer more straight up reviews, more lists, more rambles about the nature of idol pop? I’m just curious to see what people would want to read from me.

Secondly: I’m still continuing my 30 Day Idol Challenge and Tokyo Idol Festival series’, but I’m thinking that since the 30 Day Idol Challenge will end soon that I will start a new regular segment. What do you guys think I should do? Reader feedback yay.

And since I want to make this a fun 100th post, in honor of my long posts here on Happy Disco I’m going to do a list of my top 10 idol PVs. (in no particular order).

Note: This list is largely personal, and I’m also betting that in a day or two I’ll find a PV that will make me wish I included it in this list. Also it’s only idols, nothing else.

SKE48- 1! 2! 3! 4! Yoroshiku! 

I feel like, if anything, this PV is proof that you don’t necessarily need to have a story to make an interesting PV. This is in my opinion a perfect idol PV. It’s shot well, edited interestingly, and even when they’re focusing on things like the dance shot, it’s not shot at some unmoving flat angle, but moves around and really makes it interesting. This is the first of SKE48’s “Let’s hire the entirety of Aichi prefecture to be in our PVs”, and while I really like Banzai Venus, I think that the extras had a better role here. They really do a lot to add to the excitement and really keep the energy up high.

Finally, the PV really plays to the strengths of the girls which is always something that a good idol PV should do. This one plays to the fact that SKE48 has really strong dancers by having the dance-off scene as well as focusing a lot on the dance shot, since they have an interesting dance.

This PV is just a joy to watch, and I absolutely love it.

v-u-den: Kurenai no Kisetsu

In my opinion, this is the forgotten v-u-den PV; the one that no one really knows or thinks about. However, it’s one of my favorite PVs of all time.

Again, there’s no story except Rika, Erika and Yui all have to look sad. However, the scenery and set pieces in the PV are absolutely gorgeous. I’m not very knowledgeable about cameras, lightings and settings for those things, but I’m curious about what they did with the color with some of this. I think they might have changed something? But the colors do seem warmer some places and cooler in the dance shot, and whatever it is it looks cool.

The part that just wows me and that I love about this PV is all the playing around with mirrors. In addition to being great set pieces (the cracked mirrors near Erika are particularly stunning), the way that shots play around with them is amazing. I’m particularly fond of whenever they look into the mirror so that it looks directly at the camera. Also, from what I know of filming, I know that mirrors have their own set of issues, since they tend to reflect things which often can include the people filming the thing. When the PV director inevitably went “alright, this PV will center around MIRRORS” they were obviously taking a bit of a chance, but it totally paid off.

Beginner (original ver)- AKB48

I’m so happy that AKB48 released this PV on DVD so I didn’t have to use the low quality PV obviously filmed by a phone that I first saw this PV from.

This PV is very well known among current idol fans as the one that got banned, that AKB wasn’t allowed to air on TV so they had scramble and come up with their PV that got on the DVDs and could be aired places, a mix of the dance shot and the making of.

However, the original PV is now in high quality thanks to new DVDs and it totally deserves the praise it’s given. It has a really interesting Matrix-like story of the girls being plugged into games and banding together to stand up and stop fighting each other but fight the system, the machine they’re in. The moment when Acchan finishes screaming, tears away from her old arm and evolves to be able to fight the system just sends shivers up my spine, as well as the moment when Yuko hugs Takamina so Jurina can pull the plug.

This is a PV where I desperately want more, so I can know a back story. And that’s why it’s up there among my top ten PVs.

Top Secret- Hangry & Angry

This is definitely a bit of a personal choice for me, but a year and 9 months or so later (wow, it does NOT feel like that long ago) I STILL love this PV and watch it on a regular basis. This is another one with amazing sets, good design, and it’s really edited interestingly.

However, in my opinion the biggest strength is the performance of Yossy and Rika. Like I said in my Reconquista review, one of the biggest strengths with Hangry & Angry is that Yossy and Rika have been active idols for over 10 years now, even though they were probably the most famous back at the start of their careers. They both have a LOT of experience and as such always give really fantastic performances live and in PVs, and this really reflects that. The way that the two of them act in the PV, interact with each other and the camera, it really speaks wonders of their experience.

So while the PV is made very well, Rika and Yossy are really the stars of the PV, as they should be.

Enkyori Poster- AKB48’s Team PB

However, despite the experience of Rika and Yossy lending well to their performances, the girls of Team PB do really well. So well that, after I saw this vid, for a while I decided that I was a “Team PB oshi” and that I would support all the Team PB girls forever. That’s not so true right now (though I do love all the girls in Team PB), as I’d probably, if anything, would classify myself as a Watarirouka Hashiritai wota.

HOWEVER, the point still stands that all the girls are outstanding in the PV. It solidified my bias towards Oota Aika and it definitely moved Maeda Ami and Miyazaki Miho up further in my ranks. Myao in particular.  She basically nailed this PV.

The one thing that eluded me for a long time, though, is WHY I thought Enkyori Poster was so brilliant. It’s fun to watch because the girls all look like they’re having a blast and they all do very well with their energy. But why is this PV considered one of my top 10, with such simple backgrounds and props?

Well, after thinking this it really hit me how brilliant this PV is. The song itself is pretty simple; it’s about the feelings of a fan who loves and supports their idol. The lyrics have in the past made me tear up with things like

    “though it seems that i can’t quite meet you you are there by my side more than anyone else
    at times I make mistakes and about to give up I will just gaze and dream of you meeting me face to face” (taken from Stage 48’s Studio 48.)
Those words are really particularly meaningful to me and a lot of idol fans; who hasn’t gone through a rough patch at school or work, and come home and just watch things with idols to self-medicate? I know that when I’m feeling down and when I feel like I can’t do anything, what I really do is watch something with Rika, Lovetan, Wasamin or one of my other favorites and just imagine them.

This PV takes those lyrics and takes that thought, and moves it to one guy’s room. Now, he’s fantasizing about the girl(s) (he’s totally Yukirin oshi) in his poster, but then we move to the posters. As we would expect from this being a PV, the girls sing and dance like usual. However, we sometimes see through to the other side of the room from in the poster, to see that it is really a poster, to remind us of what we’re watching. Furthermore, whenever the girls sing and dance around the room, the posters are blank, so we know that this is about the girls of the posters.

There’s more to it, though; one of the things that I liked a lot about the PV originally were the different angles that we see the girls at in the dance shot. However, the camera rarely moves during the dance shot; it moves once or twice panning the girls. But the thing I realized is that the angles that we see the girls in the dance shot, the unmoving shots, are really the angles that might be in a poster, further cementing this.

The other parts of the PV are close up shots and the girls dancing in the guy’s room. However, during the close up shots, nearly everything that the girls do is straight up posing in ways that would be seen on a poster. They only move freely in the guy’s room when the fantasy is at its peak. When the fantasy is confined to the posters, every move is a cute pose, reminding us that these girls are just on the poster and not in reality.

Finally, we see a shot of the man staring at Yukirin, cementing the fact that the PV was his fantasies of his 
idols, not reality.

Mirai Bowl- Momoiro Clover

First off, if you haven’t seen the extended version, do so now. You’ll be glad you did.

This is gold. It’s set up like a cheesy old-fashioned sitcom, with the introduction at the beginning and a laugh track and cheesy music. The story is an obvious Grease parallel… only that there’s a relationship between a girl named Sandy (Kanako) and Danny (Akari). Two newsies are there to get them together (Shiori and Momoka), I guess? Also, Danny is a super amazing bowler, so that’s important for the music part of the PV. However, Leader (Ayaka) wants Sandy too, with Reni as her assistant. In the drama part of the PV, I have to say that I love Ayaka and Reni’s part the best. Ayaka’s deep gangster voice and Reni figuring stuff out by going “give me chappa chappa etc.” is just amazing and hilarious. They kidnap Kanako by going “It’s a UFO” and pointing.

I love all MomoClo PVs dearly, but I had to pick this one because it has the most hilarious plot of all of them. The girls know how to ham it up in these roles and it’s just funny because it doesn’t begin to treat itself seriously. These girls are also really great dancers and performers and that in itself makes it really fun. The comics-style effects are also really fun, and the break where they actually have the bowling game over Kanako’s heart is just super fun to watch.

Not putting Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo, D’ no Junjou and Pinky Jones on this list was super hard,  but just by PVs Mirai Bowl never stops being really fun. It’s one of those PVs that seems like it must have had a fairly small budget, but made the most of whatever budget it had and then some. No matter how high or low MomoClo’s budget is, they totally make up for it and then some.

Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou – AKB48

Yes, I picked the suicide PV.

Keibetsu never fails to make me emotional and cry. You just feel the hopelessness of the girls throughout the PV, and the images of Yuko going to commit suicide are just heartbreaking.

This PV, even though it was in AKB’s early years, has a lot of depth and maturity to it. The way they act, when you see Sae leave the school because of bullying, leaving Yuko alone, you feel like there’s more to it than just what you see in the PV.

The color scheme is also dark, fitting in with the rest of the PV, and the looks of the girls at the end, almost going “You know what you did” just never fail to be haunting. I know people who miss AKB48 from when they were less popular because of stuff like this, and I honestly don’t blame them. I love the current happy idol music that AKB and co do, but songs and PVs like Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou are certainly missed in the current lineup.

Meguru Koi no Kisetsu- C-ute

This is definitely a big change of pace from Keibetsu. XD

I love this PV so much, you guys have no idea. On the one hand I really really like C-ute from a visual standpoint (if that makes any sense) because I love how they dance and perform with such energy. This is super apparent here in the dance shots, close up and other shots, where C-ute is in high form, doing very well.

The reason that Meguru Koi no Kisetsu is on my list and not any of the other C-ute PVs, however, is that this is a perfect example of how a budget isn’t anything. This PV doesn’t look like it cost  much of anything; a few backdrops, a few props, nothing radical that would cost a lot of money. However, the seamless way they move between all the backdrops and use them creatively is really something. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about the budget in H!P videos, when this PV would seriously counter that. PVs are a lot more interesting when they take whatever budget they have and use it creatively, like they did here.

This PV is fun, really enjoyable, and overall really well done.

Watarirouka Hashiritai- Gyu

Guys. I love Watarirouka Hashiritai. So much.

This is probably my most subjective pick on the list, but I don’t even care because I love it. The whole PV is like a drama; I can imagine that this is some romcom drama about five girls with their own problems and relationships and it’ll be one of those things where they all bond over their relationship troubles and stuff. This is something I want.

But anyways, they all have their relationship things:

Harugon (Nakagawa Haruka) doesn’t have any relationship issue. She and her “boyfriend” (which is one of the MSN messenger “people”; was this sponsored by MSN?) are all happy and in love. Good for her, I guess.
Lovetan (Oota Aika) has an unattentive boyfriend who flirts with other girls and not her, even though she’s the girlfriend. This is where you have to suspend disbelief in the PV, because who would choose other girls when there’s Lovetan. Though her slap is kind of my favorite moment ever in any PV. When this came out I watched that slap about 10 times in a row.
Nacchan (Hirajima Natsumi) is basically playing me, because she has a thing for her teacher. In the PV she hugs her teacher in what could potentially become harassment? Teaching the English word for hug, yeah right. And the whole classroom claps, which makes me think that the classroom is writing Nacchan/teacher fanfiction.
Ayarin (Kikuchi Ayaka) gets confessed to by a guy but then turns him down. Which makes me believe that this is the final test after her scandal; if she decided to get with the guy then she’s gone for good. But yay, Ayarin stays.
Mayuyu (Watanabe Mayu)… runs? Mayu, running isn’t acting, oh wait, for you it is, OK. I’ve heard theories that she’s romantically involved with another girl because they take Purikura together with some other girl (which is usually just with girls) and I like this theory a lot.

This is a fun PV with a fun story and it’s about hugging. I love hugs. So, it’s a favorite.

Zutto Suki de Ii Desu Ka- Matsuura Aya

The rest of the list is in no particular order, but this is my #1 favorite PV ever. I think it’s ridiculously well-crafted, creative and beautiful. The way that they use a continuous shot through all the beautiful sets is really well done. If you watch the PV making of it isn’t editing trickery or whatever; they really did do most of the filming in one fell swoop, with Aya running around the backs of sets to get where she needs to be. It reminds me a bit of one of the scenes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that involved the main actors running around the backs of sets to get places. If I think “Oh, maybe Michel Gondry directed this PV?” then you KNOW it’s a great PV.

It’s not only doing the continuous effect, but it also has really gorgeous sets; I particularly like the one with the clocks. It has a twinge of a surreal feel, too, since you see the way it gets to all the different sets that are clearly fabricated.

Still it’s gorgeous and I love it.

A very subjective list (that took forever to write), but there you have it! Happy 100 posts, Happy Disco!!!

30 Day Idol Challenge Day 23

Day 23: Your favorite ex-Idol.

I kind of really want to be contrary and go “ah, but what does it mean to be an ex-idol?” when that’s actually a valid question. Can I count Ishikawa Rika, my favorite idol of all time, to be an ex-idol since she isn’t in a regular idol group? How does Dream Morning Musume count into this equation? Can they still be active in some regard, not just “idol” activities? What if they’re still doing some gravure (or AV) idol work, just not singing in an idol group?

Furthermore, when thinking about celebrities, I actually put idols and singers into a separate category. Idols can transition into being singers (which happens with soloists, I’ve noticed) and even from singers into idols (what happened to Morning Musume), but they’re just different.

And because of that reason, I have to say that my favorite ex idol is..

The ever wonderful Matsuura Aya.

I LOVE her idol stuff, don’t get me wrong. I think that all of her singles in her early days in H!P were excellent, and she really was an excellent idol.

However (regardless of the break she’s on) Aya is now a singer. She’s always had a beautiful voice, but there came that point where her singing and her music became more of a priority and she stopped doing straight up idol stuff. She started performing live, too (Aya the Witch is one of my all time favorite concert tours).

I know a lot of people who do write off her post-idol work as being boring, and I think that if you put it to an idol standard that yeah it could be considered boring. It’s considerably slower and less straight up exciting and happy than idol music, and lacks a lot of the things I love about idol music. Yet I still love a lot of her post-idol work; Double Rainbow is in my opinion one of the best albums released under the Hello!Project label, and is such a joy to listen to. I think it’s also material that is something that needs to be sung by someone focusing on their vocal skills, which is honestly not a priority for idols. Even though I do love my idol music a lot, occasionally I do want music with a great vocalist, and Aya is PERFECT for that.

Nevertheless, I love her music. Even though I didn’t find it up to par with the wonderful Double Rainbow (seriously, I love that album), I thought that Click You Link Me was quite excellent, and it really deserved better treatment from UFA. UFA, remember back when Ayaya was huge and selling up there with MoMusu? How about you promote her!

Though if you consider ex-idol as someone not in the public eye fairly regularly, here:

I really really like Ishiguro Aya (another Aya!) and I’m honestly really bummed she didn’t stay with Hello!Project/MM longer. She is honestly (IMO) the most enjoyable member to watch in the Love Machine PV, and I would have liked to see her do more idol songs, because Ayappe is really TOO fun in that PV.

30 Day Idol Challenge Day 11

Day 11: Your favorite solo Idol.

Ayaya’s still the queen of soloists. Aya has a perfect voice, hilarious personality, good looks, everything. Honestly, even though she’s been off my radar for a while (though I do have her newest album on my iPod), I still listen to her stuff like crazy just because her voice is that good. It’s kind of disappointing that she’s currently not all that popular and not doing that much. UFA is wasting all kinds of talent, especially since Ayaya used to sell as much as MM.

Matsuura Aya is definitely still my favorite idol soloist. <3

Hello! Project Fankora Concert Review- pt 6

Momoiro Kataomoi

Now we’re at the Mano Erina section. Oh ff. She’s doing Ayaya.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind ManoEri. I kind of like her, and she seems like a fine girl. However, why do they do this to us? I get that the whole point of the Fankora concert is that fans get to help pick songs that they want to hear again, but Mano Erina is no Matsuura Aya and whenever they have her perform these songs it’s a HUGE reminder.

Now this doesn’t make ManoEri bad, persay, that just makes her NOT Ayaya, who was one of the highest selling and most beloved H!P acts of all time. Ayaya was also one of the best singers and performers of H!P history, which is not something that we can say about Mano Erina. The difference is huge, and is seen like crazy in this performance.
ManoEri gets REALLY pitchy here. Like, not a little; it was pretty easy for me to discern how off pitch she was. Her energy level was also not as strong as it could be, even though that’s the type of song this is. To me, I can tell she’s trying her best, but it’s just not there.
Basically, my final verdict is that if you are unfamiliar with the original version or ADORE ManoEri, you’ll probably like this; it’s a good song and ManoEri’s pretty cute. However, as a fan of the original and a fan of Ayaya’s, this just sounds like a poorly done knock-off; having a weak voice sing a song by the best voice of H!P’s history is not really the best idea ever.
On a separate note, this concert’s really making me dislike Momoko a lot. I know she has a ton of fans, but man, the way that she keeps dancing on the sidelines is just annoying as hell to me. There’s a difference between dancing/jumping along on the sidelines and doing what Momoko is doing, which is holding a fake microphone and going out of her way to draw attention to herself. Drawing attention to yourself is fine, but this is not the time/place for Momoko to do so, during a ManoEri performance.

Haru no Arashi

This isn’t one of my favorite ManoEri songs ever, but I like it better than Onegai Dakara, so that’s good.

ManoEri’s voice is really not the best this concert, is it? It’s all over the place in this performance, even clashing with the background; are those just supporting vocals or are they doing the thing where they play the actual song in the back? All I know is that there’s some really iffy clashing of vocals here, and it’s not very pretty. Mano Erina’s not the worst vocalist H!P has to offer; far from it. However, it’s times like these where I have to wonder about her legitimacy as a soloist.

I mean, ManoEri’s not as bad a vocalist as H!P’s had, and she seems like a sweet girl. But I honestly don’t know what Tsunku/UFA found so compelling in her that they decided to make her the one soloist in H!P. Her vocals here are iffy at best and she never seems too energetic. Her performances thus far aren’t too compelling. She was fine back when she was in Gatas, but I don’t know how strong she is without a group to support her.
To her credit, she does get pretty fierce here and I can tell she’s getting into it, which is usually the thing I like most in idols. I don’t know; I guess if you’re her fan, you’ll like it, and if you don’t particularly care about ManoEri, like me, you’ll probably wonder why she’s a soloist, like me.

"Click You Link Me"- NEW AYAYA ALBUM

Again, the “Serenyty wakes up and sees news” cycle has proven correct; I wake up, check my sites, and lo and behold, at her 9/11 concert, Matsuura Aya announced that she was releasing her 6th album!!

I’m really excited; As a fan of all of Aya’s previous offerings (even her slow things; Double Rainbow is one of my favorite H!P albums ever), I am ecstatic. A while earlier Aya announced she was taking a break (after her Omoi Afurete tour) but that apparently doesn’t include recording.

The album will be released 11/24.

I don’t really know what else to say other than that Ayaya is amazing. And share some videos.

Oh! I really have high hopes for this album. My ideal album would be a mixture of upbeat songs (her earlier stuff, Ki ga Tsukeba Anata, etc.) with some ballads that show off her beautiful voice. My hope is that they actually promote this album and UFA does a good job with it, to try and bring Ayaya back. She was as big as Morning Musume back in the day, and for good reason. I wish her the best, and hope that this album does well so there will be many more to come!