My Top 25 Songs of 2013- Part 1

Alright, now that we have those honorable mentions out of the way, here’s my top 25 songs of the year! I’d just like to remind everyone that this is a personal list, and one that’s intended to be a list of my favorites, not what I think is particularly best. On this list I generally limited groups to a couple of songs each, otherwise it would be dominated by just a few groups. These are my favorite songs spanning my entire idol fandom.

25. Oyoge! Shirasuchan! – KAGAJO*4S

After having very little interest in Takoyaki Rainbow, this year I wondered if my Stardust Promotions fandom was just contained to Team Syachihoko. However, I was very surprised and pleased by what I’ve heard from KAGAJO*4S so far and their first single’s main song, Oyoge! Shirasuchan, is quite excellent. If the name doesn’t tell you, it’s a take on the classic song ‘Oyoge! Taiyakikun’ (which is the highest selling single ever on the Oricon). However, it took me a while to really get that the melody is in there and it’s not just a reference to the title, because they do such a good job of making this children’s song from the 70s sound fresh and exciting.

Oyoge! Shirasuchan is one of the lesser polished and lesser interesting songs of the year, really. It’s pretty standard idol stuff, though the way it gives new life to an older song is wonderful. That’s why it’s at #25 on my list. However, this and the other early KAGAJO*4S songs were what got me into the group, which is why I imagine this is going to be a favorite for years to come.

24. HANABI – LinQ

I’ve known of LinQ for a while, but 2013 is the year I took notice of the group, and I think my interest in LinQ is only going to grow in the year to come. While I debated over whether to include HANABI or CHIKU-TAKU in this list, I ended up going with HANABI because it’s so good and I’m a sucker for idol songs incorporating traditional sounds in there. And HANABI did, in a completely nonsensical break that used festival music. Besides that, though, the chorus is completely catchy and fun, and the entire song has a great beat. The song is also mixed so that while it has a mature sound it also has the energy and fun of a younger/cute idol group, which is something we unfortunately don’t get all the time.

The one thing that unfortunately brings this down is that unfortunately the verses can be a bit slow and aren’t quite as interesting as the fantastic chorus. But really, for the most part it’s serviceable, and while the chorus is the section that shines the rest isn’t bad, either.

23. Ee Ka!? – S/Mileage

Last year S/Mileage put out Suki yo Junjou Hankouki and Samui ne, two of my least favorite S/Mileage songs. I was losing interest in the group when this year they came out with Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita, Yattaruchan/Atarashii Watashi ni Nare and then, finally, Ee Ka/Ii Yatsu. After losing two original members and gaining a new set, S/Mileage hasn’t been a cohesive group, not really. They had to find a new identity after these big changes. And fortunately, they did so with their last few singles.

Ee Ka!? appeals a lot to me personally because I do like some hip hop influence in my idol music and I prefer it on the light-hearted side. Ee ka!? is a fun song with a lot of attitude. I love all the attitude the girls have in the song. But almost more than that Ee ka!? feels almost like a culmination of some of the experiments that S/Mileage has had with songs lately. It has a mature feel to it, but it’s silly. It has a hip hop influence of sorts but has a cute chorus. It’s also one time where I feel like the entire group feels cohesive and utilized. Even Katsuta Rina, who often seems to be shoved in the back, gets some solo ee kas and gets to participate in the rap duets. Every member feels right here, and like a valuable part of the group. If S/Mileage continues like this, they will definitely keep improving a lot as a group.

21. Zenryoku Banzai! My Glory! – The Possible

If you told me last year that one of my favorite songs of 2013 would be from The Possible, I would have laughed at you. However, it happened; Zenryoku Banzai! My Glory is a great song, and probably my favorite song to come from the TNX/Nice Girl Project groups, at the very least my favorite in years. Even though it wasn’t written by Tsunku, it reminds me of the best songs written by Tsunku during that era where he wrote a lot for his TNX groups; it’s very catchy and is a very well paced song. It’s not the most interesting song of the year and I feel like I’ve heard songs like it before, which is why it’s so low on this list despite how much I adored it. However, it’s very polished, very well made, and is overall a great pop song.

21. Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke – Morning Musume

Again, if you told me Morning Musume would have a huge boom in quality and in sales in 2013, I would have laughed. Yet here we are, with Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke one of my favorites of the year. Some people aren’t really hearing the electronic Morning Musume sound again and again. And really, I get that. I’m not into the Platinum era of MM, and it does get a bit annoying when the same sound gets reused. However, I really like the direction that Morning Musume has been going this past year, and I feel like they have at least some variety with songs like Ai no Gundan which sound different. The thing about Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke is that it feels like the polished electronic Morning Musume sound; it has the elements that Morning Musume has favored over the past year or so and has just run with it. The song is just one big ball of energy that doesn’t let up, and there’s something good about a song that packs that much of a punch. And I have to say that “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke” might be one of the best lines to say from an idol song this year; it’s just a fun lyric. This is Morning Musume at the best its been in a number of years, and I’m thrilled that the sales are reflecting this surge in quality.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013 – Honorable Mentions Part 2

This is the last section of Honorable mentions, I swear! These are songs that I wanted in my top 25 and might have put in there if I was writing this at another time, but unfortunately I can’t make work in there. But they’re still some of my favorites of the year.

Te wo Tsunagou – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku

Ebichu had a good year; Ume, Te wo Tsunagou/Kindan no Karma, Mikakunin Chuugakusei X. Even though they don’t hold my interest as much as the other Stardust groups, they have a lot of excellent songs. Te wo Tsunagou is one of the most hard songs to put on this list because of how emotional it made me; I cried the first few times I listened to the song and watched the PV. This song is just really pretty and focuses more on emotion than Stardust’s default of weird, which I liked. It’s not quite something I’ve listened to as much as I thought I might, and it doesn’t really break new ground, but it’s a beautiful song that was made quite well.

Get Down! – Momoiro Clover Z

One thing readers may not know about me is that while idol music has definitely become the music I listen to most, I like other stuff. Specifically I listen to a lot of indie/alternative rock/power pop, and I love going to see live shows. I haven’t listened to too much OK Go, but Damian Kulash really channeled what I love about this type of music, the sound of it, and put it into MomoClo. Get Down doesn’t sound a lot like a lot of idol music because it sounds like some of the alternative/indie music I listen to. This makes it really unique and fun to hear MomoClo’s take on the genre. I hope other idol groups get in on this type of sound.

Ijime Dame Zettai – Babymetal

Ijime, Dame, Zettai is fantastic. Honestly, I think the fact that I first heard this song in 2012 hurt it a little (though it came out in 2013); it’s just been a bit overplayed for me. However, it’s still probably the most metal Babymetal song out there. It shows off Suzuka’s fantastic vocals, and it has the right level of seriousness to it without being too dark; it’s not difficult to listen to, but it still feels like a big step for Babymetal in terms of doing stuff that could legitimately be enjoyed by metal fans. Ijime, Dame, Zettai was the first idol song of the year (or so) that I heard, and it definitely started the year off with a bang.

Kamonegix – NMB48
While another NMB48 song is getting higher on the list, NMB in general did wonderfully this year. Their sales were great, they finally made it to Kohaku. Kamonegix is an amazing song; it’s fun, fast-paced, and a very cool dance track. However, it’s just not as good as the other NMB songs I placed higher, and just didn’t make it. This is one of the songs that I’m bummed didn’t get higher on this list, because it’s really a top song of the year.

Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita – S/Mileage
Yattaruchan – S/Mileage
S/Mileage had a wonderful year (my top 25 might have some in there). These songs are both VERY different, but are both very S/Mileage at the same time. Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita is a very sweet song; the strings in the instrumental are just beautiful. The song is clearly aiming to be pretty and succeeds. Yattaruchan is slightly (or not just slightly) hyperactive and energetic in a way that I feel has defined the current era of S/Mileage, and it’s a whole lot of fun while simultaneously being a nice song to listen to. Both are songs I listen to regularly, and they’re both songs I’m sad can’t be higher on this list.

Sekaichuu ni I Love You – Rhymeberry
I was SURE I was going to put this on my top 25 list; it’s so weird and fun. It mixes rap with 1920s-1930s era swing/jazz. I think this song is wonderful and it totally deserves to be one of the most lauded songs of the year. However I think that another Rhymeberry song ended up being a better song and I didn’t feel like I could justify both of them on my top 25 list.

Never Ending Voyage – Aso Natsuko

Both Never Ending Voyage and Moonrise Romance, Nacchan’s two singles this year, were excellent. They aren’t quite Nacchan’s best but they’re worthy entries into her collection of singles. Unfortunately I didn’t like either quite enough to put her into the top 25. Which is a shame; I really wanted to fit an Aso Natsuko song into my top 25 songs of the year. However, I didn’t think it’d be right to put her in my top 25 just because I love Nacchan. At the end of the day, Never Ending Voyage and Moonrise Romance just didn’t make the cut.

Sansei Kawaii – SKE48
Usually SKE48 releases impress me, even though all my favorites from SKE48 have graduated. The past few weren’t my favorites; Choco no Dorei was fine but not quite the caliber of release that SKE really deserves. However I was surprised and impressed by Sansei Kawaii pretty recently. I think by itself the melody/song isn’t that extraordinary, but it’s the arrangement that makes it sound so stellar. There’s a really epic feel to the arrangement which lends itself surprisingly well to the song.

=Melon Juice – HKT48
Yes, I know, I’m not putting Melon Juice on there, I’m a terrible person. Honestly, Melon Juice was super hyped up. A lot of that was me hyping it up to myself; I was so excited about the song even after a 20 second clip of it. I love the rock feel it has and the high energy; it took me a while to really open up to Suki Suki Skip, but Melon Juice felt like the single HKT48 needed. However, as the hype down, my enthusiasm for it did as well. I still think it’s a great song, but it’s hard for me to be super excited about it anymore.

Den Den Passion – Dempagumi.inc
This honestly SHOULD be in my top 25, but I didn’t want to put too much Dempagumi.inc in there because they’re already very prominent in my top 25 songs. Whoops.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013 – Honorable Mentions Part 1

Whoops, thought I posted this on Monday! My bad! Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Yes, part 1. I recently sat down and thought of all the songs that I’d consider to be my favorites of the year. I wondered if I’d be able to get to 25. I hit 47.

As such, I’m doing a fairly lengthy honorable mentions section. These are all songs I think are good, but not quite the best of the year. These are songs that made an impression on me, perhaps due to their artist, but never reached the top 25 level. This section in particular is songs that I wasn’t really considering but are good or memorable in one way or the other.

Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu – Doll Elements
This song is pretty typical idol, and the verse isn’t particularly great. However this is one of those songs that gets stuck in my head all the time, and the chorus is catchy enough that it’s remained memorable. Even after covering all 111 Tokyo Idol Festival acts, this song remained memorable for me. While I try to cover each act as well as I can, there gets to be a point when all the groups start to bleed together. Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu isn’t even particularly interesting, but it’s just catchy and fun, and made me remember an otherwise not that memorable act.

Toshishita no Otoko no Ko – Candy Macchiato

I would have actually put this on my top 25 list, but realized it’s a cover. Nevertheless it’s a cover of a fantastic song and a really well done cover, modernizing the song without trying too hard. It’s really great, and impressed me.

Ume – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku
Ume came out at the beginning of the year. It seemed like it would be a given for me; Hyadain plus a Stardust group. And this is really a great song. However, there was just so many good songs this year, including great Ebichu songs, that I couldn’t even fully consider Ume among the top. Still, it’s energetic, fun, and fully Hyadain. So naturally I approve.

Ichigo Hakase – Tochiotome25
GYO-ZA Party – Tochiotome25

Tochiotome25 was one of the groups I discovered this year during my Tokyo Idol Festival coverage. And I’m pretty impressed by how fun these two songs are, and I’ve listened to them a fair amount. However, they aren’t quite good enough to hit that top 25. They aren’t really polished and they’re not interesting beyond being super high in energy and utterly fun. So while I adore Ichigo Hakase and GYO-ZA Party, they don’t quite make it into my top favorites.

Asian Celebration – Berryz Koubou
It seems like every year a Berryz Koubou song makes my honorable mentions list. Asian Celebration is just fun, energetic, and very danceable. Even though Berryz is the group I follow least in Hello!Project and I’ve lost most of my interest in the group, Asian Celebration was the one song that made me buy it (off itunes) and play it a lot. And since I have such a low interest in Berryz, that’s significant in itself.

Samurai Girls – Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari)
Up Up Girls is one of those groups I want to follow more. I mean, Sekine Azusa is in there. However, to be honest, most of the music I find to be underwhelming at best. I like some of it but I’m rarely wowed. Up Up Typhoon was the song that got a lot of people’s attention, but Samurai Girls was my favorite Up Up Girls song of the year. I like the mixture of the electronic sound and the heavier beat; this is a type of thing we don’t often hear from idol groups. I mean, the whole electronic/dance song has been popular, but this heavier beat/darker sound feels unusual. It’s much more of a dance track than a lot of the other electronic idol songs out there. I normally don’t gravitate to this sort of thing, but something about Samurai Girls appeals to me.

Birthday Wedding -Kashiwagi Yuki
I didn’t think I liked this song. I’m not sure if I even do now. But I’ve gotten “Tanjoubi ni kekkon shiyou” stuck in my head countless times since Birthday Wedding came out. It’s one of those songs that I have a weird affection for, even if I’m not sure if I think it’s any good.

Yoropiku Pikuyoro – Bakusute Sotokanda Icchoume
While Bakusute’s best song will always be, IMO, Produce, their second indie single Yoropiku Pikuyoro is also up there. It’s just so manic and frantic in its pace and energy level that I can’t help but love this.

Nogizaka46 – Girls’ Rule
I liked a lot of Nogizaka stuff this year, but there was nothing that really grabbed me like Hashire Bicycle (which was in my top 5 songs of last year!) However, Girls’ Rule came pretty close; it has a great chorus and the arrangement is quite good. I’m also very fond of the PV, but hey, separate lists. The way that the instrumental leads into the sung parts, though, is pretty great. It’s not quite enough of an earworm or interesting enough to

List Friday: My Top 10 Favorite Classic Idol Songs

While it’s an area I’m a lot less familiar with, there’s something appealing about classic idols. I love seeing the evolution of idols throughout the years. Plus, there’s a lot of fantastic music from earlier eras that often gets covered, to various levels of success. These are not only 10 fantastic idol songs, but songs that are pretty representative of the earlier idol years. This list is all music from before Morning Musume debuted; I’m not using Showa/Heisei as a divider. This is because Morning Musume really feels like the cutoff of the modern idol era to me.

10. The Peanuts – Koi no Vacance

Ah, The Peanuts; doesn’t get much more classic than this. I’d imagine most of you know this from the H!P group W, which is where I first heard it. However, I think it’s a fantastic song and the original is very much worth a listen. While the W version gave it a bit of an update, it’s not a very big one. Even though at parts Koi no Vacance sounds pretty old fashioned (it WAS from 1963) it still holds up today. Perhaps more than anything vocals are the the focus here; everything else is a lot quieter. So you hear the lovely harmony more clearly. There’s a lot about the way this song sounds that makes it feel old school, but it’s still a fun listen.

9. Koizumi Kyoko – Nantettatte Idol

Kyon Kyon is one of those idols I know a bit about, but I’m much less familiar with. Still, Nantettatte Idol is one of her most memorable and notable songs. The beginning is especially great with the build up, but the entire song is a lot of fun. It’s also fairly rare to have idol songs about idols, but Kyon Kyon has you covered. “Scandal nara No Thank You” is probably my favorite lyric. Still, this song is just a bundle of energy, with the chorus full of Kyon Kyon shouting “YEAH” and the whole thing moving forward quickly. It’s a high energy song about idols, so it is one of my all-time favorite classic idol songs.

8. Candies – Haru Ichiban

Candies were a very popular group, and there are many songs I could choose to put up here that I like. A Super Girls Subgroup recently covered Toshishita Otoko no Ko, and did so quite well. However, Haru Ichiban is probably their big song as a group, and its my favorite. Much like Koi no Vacance it totally feels like an older song. It’s also fairly repetitive, and it’s song all in chorus. However, it’s still a very compelling song, especially when they start singing with harmony. The guitar solo also does a lot in adding to the character of the song. The song wouldn’t be bad without it, but some of these little things make Haru Ichiban SO memorable.

7. Onyanko Club – Seifuku wo Nugasanaide

This song is my guilty pleasure. I really can’t help singing and dancing along. I love just how bold this song is; it’s cute and catchy, but essentially it’s an idol song about thinking about having sex. It’s the type of song that, when covered today, people still gasp when idols sing “tomodachi yori hayaku ecchi wo shitai kedo.” Also, did I mention it’s seriously catchy? The back and forth between the main song and the repeated “nyan nyan nyans” and such make this a fun and catchy song to listen to. This song is catchy and addictive, and has the bonus of having really bold lyrics, something I like.

6. Nakamori Akina – Shoujo A

I think there’s a bit of a perception that idols have been goody goody, and it’s only recently that idols have started being a bit more daring. However this isn’t the case! While Matsuda Seiko was the pretty standard idol, Nakamori Akina was a bit of the polar opposite; she played a much more mature role. Shoujo A, her second single, encompasses that perfectly. Akina’s deeper, slightly husky voice fits the bold brass sound and the driving beat. This song is intense and mature, not necessarily what you think of when you think of idols. I do like the sound a lot, though, and I admire Akina for breaking the mold.

5. Minami Aoyama Shoujo Kagekidan – Sweet & Toughness

OK, again, I assume if you have already heard/watched this that you know it because of the Canary Club song. Which is how I know this. However, it’s one of my favorite idol songs. It’s a very fun upbeat track that at some points sounds very much like it comes from the early 90s. That’s not a detractor, though; the song holds up. I much prefer the original to the Canary Club version, personally, so if you haven’t heard that version I suggest you give it a try.

4. Yamaguchi Momoe – Cosmos

Ah, Momoe, one of THE greats of the idol world. Even though Momoe is one of the most famous idols of all time, she really doesn’t have a typical idol image, which is interesting to me. Her mature songs and her deep voice make for an interesting time. Cosmos is really her best song; her deep voice sounds absolutely lovely, and the piano intro is almost hauntingly beautiful. As someone who doesn’t listen to a lot of ballads, this is one of the best idol ballads, period.

3.Pink Lady – UFO

When I talk about Pink Lady, it’s usually in the same breath as “Pink Lady and Jeff,” Pink Lady’s failed American variety show attempt. However, Pink Lady had a lot of fantastic idol music in the 70s, and there are a lot of classic songs remembered today. It was tough narrowing it down, but I ended up choosing UFO; it’s arguably their most famous track. From the spoken “UFO”s to the great harmonies, this is a track that still holds up. I think another thing I like about it is that, especially in the original, it always feels like it’s taking things seriously. It’s a silly subject for a song, but they give it their all.

2. Moritaka Chisato – Watashi ga Obasan ni Natte mo

Yes, the song I’ve been lamenting for making me feel old as a 22 year old person. Slightly iffy lyrics aside (that Chisato herself wrote!) Watashi ga Obasan ni Natte mo has fairly recently become one of my favorite songs. I think a lot of it is because of how much emotion the song has, as well as the energy that Chisato puts into all of her live performances. This song is at the tail end of my time frame (early 90s) and you can hear the difference; the arrangement feels very modern. That said, even among modern songs, Watashi ga Obasan ni Natte Mo would stand out among the best.

1. Matsuda Seiko – Natsu no Tobira

I knew a Matsuda Seiko song would stand at the top; however, picking was tricky. At one point the list had three Seiko songs on it, but I cut it down to Natsu no Tobira. Everything about this song is perfection to me; Seiko’s voice, the strings, just the way that the song leads into the “Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!!’ line. This is one of the best idol songs ever, and my personal favorite classic idol song.

Idol Thoughts: Time Management

I’ve been really busy lately. This week I started a new job, after a couple of weeks of temping in various places. The Pure Idol Heart indie idol tournament is underway,  and Gaki and I have been hard at work  doing that. Idolminded’s end of the year coverage has gotten underway, and I want to contribute quality stuff to that. I’m trying to figure out presents for online gift exchanges as well as gifts for my family. And in addition to all of that I’m keeping up my Happy Disco posts (starting to think about end of the year stuff there!) and I’m trying to figure out how to fit Happy Media (my other website) and writing fiction in there.

Yeah.

I’ve had a bad tendency in the past to just drop blogging when the going gets tough in my personal life. Which I don’t think is unreasonable. I was busy with college-y things, so that took precedent over Happy Disco. However, a big part of why I put Happy Disco on a schedule was to avoid this sort of thing. I don’t want to have to make a post every once in a while going ‘lol oops, I’ll do better later;’ I want to do better now. But I’m at that point where I have to start figuring things out.

This isn’t an announcement post; I’m not quitting Happy Disco, Idolminded or Pure Idol Heart. Hell, I don’t want to quit any of them. I wish I could post more to Idolminded and PIH because I think they’re both excellent sites I’m proud to be a part of. I also have no intention of 100% abandoning Happy Media or my other writing. Writing about idols is honestly one of my favorite things; on the way back from work today all I could think about was planning Happy Disco posts.  This is the type of thing (blogging) I’d love to do professionally, but it’s just something I need to figure out and make sense of.

Still, I think things will even out a bit after the holidays. And then, I should be able to kick off Happy Media and my sort of novel that I’m working on. It’s just hard to fit everything in one schedule. Which is why, as much of a bummer as it is, it’s easy to see why so many idol  bloggers go MIA for a while or aren’t very regular about blogging. Getting caught up in life happens to everyone, and I know that I’ve hardly been a paragon of keeping up with my blog.

So yeah. If things seem a bit short or cut up into bits, I’m just trying to work out the kinks of this full-time job thing  plus all the hours I put into blogging/writing. This is why my Suzukake Nanchara single review is cut up into three parts; because I just don’t have time/energy to write those long reviews with a full-time job. Honestly, I think that has the potential to be a good thing. I got kind of burnt out writing that NMB48 stage review because it was SO long. Also,  I have a tendency to get long-winded,  which isn’t always the best writing. If this allows me to be concise but still get my opinions  across, I think I’ll be a better writer.

So yeah. Self-improvement. Is there anything you’d like to see me do with Happy Disco? Anything you see me do that you think I could 100% do away with or rework? Let me know!

Review Monday: AKB48 “Party is Over” + SKE48 “Escape”


Last week I reviewed the title track and main B-Side to the latest AKB single. Now it’s time to take a look at the other tracks, the individual group ones!

AKB48 – Party is Over

Song: This title makes me NERVOUS. Since AKB48’s first song they ever performed was “Party ga Hajimaru yo,” the idea of doing a song talking about the party ending immediately makes me a bit anxious.

Still, if this song is indication of the party that’s ending, it’s a party that I’m glad is over. This is not a very good song. I’m hardly a big fan of a lot of slow songs, but I do like a good ballad if there’s emotion to it. This is slow, emotionless, and drags on far longer than it should. The instrumentation is quite nice, and I wish that there could be a more interesting song for this type of instrumental, but there isn’t.

I feel like the biggest tragedy here is the intro of the song; it sounds really cool, like it would be an interesting idol song… then nope, you’ve got Party is Over. I even had hope for the song once it changed styles, but then the verse went on too long and with an uninteresting melody. Again, there’s potential in the arrangement and instrumentation, but this song is the definition of dragging.

The chorus is better, and hints at a more interesting song, but that’s the one part that goes far too quickly. There’s also an out of place dubstep break which is OK on its own, but baffling here.

Like always, AKB48 songs are polished and this is no exception. There are elements here that, used in a better song, would be fine. This is just not that good of a song. Add to that that this is really not my type of song, and I can’t see myself listening to this for fun. Ever. 3/10

PV: Despite my feelings about this song, the PV is quite nice. It’s not really a PV based on a story, but it’s well shot and generally fits the tone of the song.

partyisover1

The dance shots look great. They aren’t silhouettes but the dark outfits and the light background make a very striking appearance which adds a whole lot to the PV. It’s overall a really nice looking dance shot.

partyisover2

 

I know I’ve railed against flat lighting before here but, H!P, this is how you do flat lighting. It’s used to create a somber mood that fits the song, but it also looks  good. It feels like it was intentionally shot this way, to give it that mood. The background does a lot to make it look interesting, too. So I don’t necessarily hate flat lighting  techniques, because when it’s done well and with a purpose it can be really nice. It’s just not always used well.

partyisover3

partyisover6

 

The whole PV was shot very nicely in terms of framing. I like the use of the set/props as well as how they never seem to be afraid to use asymmetry in a shot. Too often most PVs center the idol, whereas this one tended to have some interesting shots. There’s only one shot I really thought was particularly poor, and that’s this shot of Kawaei Rina.

partyisover7Because generally putting the chin on the bottom of the frame and the top of the frame right at the top of the head isn’t the best technique. But this shot isn’t used that much (and it’s Kawaei Rina, so I’m inclined to let it slide).

The only thing that baffles me is the editing; at some points it feels like they’re just trying to fit in all these shots. There are some weird cuts, it goes a bit too fast for the song at times, and there are occasional fade in/fade out transitions that don’t really make much sense.

Overall, though, this is a really lovely PV that just happened to be put with a less than lovely song. 7/10

SKE48 – Escape


I tweeted about this which got featured on Idolminded, but I’ll say it again. I am still disappointed that this isn’t a cover of the Pina Colada song.

Song:  This is another cool, electronic song, which fits my image of SKE48 well, especially since they use to make a dance-heavy PV, which is nice.

This is the type of song where, in a different year, I  might find interesting and refreshing. However, in a year where both Kamonegix and Mosh & Dive exist, this is not quite as impressive.

I like the arrangement with keyboard/piano in there, but for the most part it’s not quite as good as it could be. I feel like it could use more bass or a heavier drum beat in back of the higher pitched stuff.

The melody is fine, but a bit basic; in the chorus it mostly rests on one note. It’s not terrible, but it’s not memorable or particularly interesting.

Nitpicking aside, this is a fun track that fits SKE48 very well. I’m just not as enthralled as I could be, given what the 48 groups have put out this past year. The use of the piano ina cool song like this stands out, and I like this song,  but it’s not extraordinary. 6/10

PV: Escape feels like a completely different PV to, say, Party is Over. Here the entire focus is on the dance shot. There are very few shots that don’t involve dancing. And it works. The song is tailored to be more of a dance track, and this is what people are generally going to be interested in, so I’m inclined to be OK with it.

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Overall, the dance shot is shot well and edited well. I do think the lighting is a bit too dark and could use more contrast to avoid being just dark, but it felt like they were going for that with the PV. There are sections where there are more lights, so they do play around with it some, but the lighting doesn’t play up any chiaroscuro/exaggerated shadow type things. Which is a bit disappointing, honestly.

escape2 The shots with the keyboard were pretty fun, and basically the only thing breaking up the dancing.

Overall, it’s hard to say too much about this PV because it’s basic. It’s essentially there to service the song and the dance, which it does, but  it’s hardly a remarkable PV by any stretch of the imagination. 6/10

List Friday: My Top Christmas Idol Songs

This was a list I wasn’t certain I was going to make. I have done this before on Happy Disco. However, with a bit of reflection, I realized I wrote that list in 2010 and things have changed. While this is before Christmas (though that’s coming soon enough!) So with that, this is a list of my favorite holiday/Christmas themed idol songs. In the past I’ve included songs that fit in the season but aren’t necessarily Christmas songs. This is a list of songs that are JUST about Christmas.

Pittari Shitai XMas – Pucchimoni

Seriously, this is the first song I think of when I think of Christmas songs and idols, and I’d assume this would be the case for most idol fans who have had a period of being a Hello!Project fan. Creepy PV aside (that Santa man), this is a quintessential idol Christmas song. It’s upbeat and happy and is generally a lot of fun. I personally prefer happier Christmas songs, and this fits in as a very merry Christmas song.

Santa-san – Momoiro Clover Z

If there was an award for how many times you could sing the name ‘Santa’ in one song, this would win hands down. Speaking of fun Christmas songs, Santa-san is pure fun and goofiness. Full of goofy lyrics and weird tempo/style changes (of course, this IS a Hyadain song after all!), Momoiro Clover skip over any idea of wanting a boyfriend to an almost child-like ode to Santa, food and presents. Part of me wonders if there are too many MomoClo references for this to be a Christmas song for the ages (especially when they decide to sing Coco*Natsu), that just makes it whimsical and fun for the rest of us.

Christmas? Nani sore? Oishii no? – Hyadain

*Insert excuse for why Hyadain is on an idol song list here* I’m generally not a very cynical person. However, as a single person, I can totally understand Hyadain’s frustrations with being alone on Christmas (even if Christmas isn’t as much of a couple’s holiday over here). Whereas Santa-san is all happiness, presents, and the childlike glee of Christmas, Christmas? Nani Sore? Oishii no is the adult version, where all the magic of Santa and presents has been stripped away and you’re celebrating on your own. In true Hyadain style it mixes in various Christmas songs very successfully, and ends up a very catchy song that will make you forget how much cynicism it presents.

Yoyaku Shita Christmas – AKB48

Usually, the last AKB single of the year has a senbatsu-heavy Christmas song, to offset the odd lineup of the Janken senbatsu (but not this year). While these are good songs, Yoyaku Shita Christmas is my favorite. It’s such a sweet, sentimental song that isn’t boring. I have a hard time describing why I love this song. Perhaps it’s the little Jingle Bells section in there? The electric guitar? AKB sounds great, and this is a more relationship-focused Christmas song after the earlier upbeat songs.

MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU – Matsuura Aya

If you’re looking for depth in lyrics, you’ve gone to the wrong song. However, Ayaya’s lovely vocals against a fairly simple background make for a gorgeous Christmas song. This isn’t a big song, but instead feels small and personal, wishing you a Merry Christmas. While the song itself is soft and pleasant, Ayaya’s vocals are what really make it a fantastic song.

Jin Jin Jingle Bell – Moritaka Chisato AND Twinkle Bell from Super*Girls

I prefer Chisato’s version, the original. It’s a fun, jazzy Christmas song that is an unusual take on a Christmas song. It’s still a very listenable track today; even though some idol tracks may age considerably over time, Jin Jin Jingle Bell still holds up. However, the reason I include the Super*Girls version on here as well is because I think they did a fine job of updating it. I don’t think it quite has the charm of the original, but it does a good job of keeping a jazzy feel while bringing the instrumentation to the current era of idol music. So while I prefer the original, the new cover is worth your time.

Wa~Merry Pin XMAS – Rainbow Pink

…. yes this is my guilty pleasure inclusion. The whole Rainbow Pink schtick was that they were super exaggerated cutesy idols, but this ends up a very catchy earworm of a song. When coming up with this list I couldn’t stop from thinking “Merry pin merry pinkurismasu.” And you know what, I stand by it. It’s not something I’d play for friends but it’s a fun, energetic, cute song.

Anata to Christmas Eve – AKB48

There are some fantastic stage Christmas songs out there; Christmas ga Ippai is one of my favorites. However, Anata to Christmas Eve is just a lovely song. It utilizes a deeper register than most idol songs and some harmony to make a beautiful, piano centric Christmas ballad. As someone who’s not a ballad person, this song is lovely. IT’s just beautiful.

Idol Thoughts: End of Year Reflections

Since Ray took a look at one of my posts, I’m going to respond to his!

The end of the year is coming up, and I’m starting to work on my end of 2013 lists for Happy Disco (best songs and best PVs) as well as thinking about what I want to write for Idolminded. I like a lot of idols and I’m interested in more than I like, so I have my work cut out for me.

There are a lot of difficult decisions to make, based essentially on how I want to run my blog and how I want to present myself on Idolminded. Here on Happy Disco, I feel comfortable being more biased. And while Idolminded isn’t supposed to be objective, I still feel like the end of the year posts are supposed to be a culmination of the idol world. Team Syachihoko at the top of every category doesn’t cut it.

This leads me to think about how I write all my lists here. While I do think I feel comfortable being biased on Happy Disco, in reality I do think about how I want to do lists a lot, especially with rankings. For example, I try to avoid duplicate groups on one list. Yet, I generally try to hold back and make mixed up, interesting lists.

It’s also divided between ‘favorite’ and ‘best.’ These can be totally different things, but a lot of people take them to mean the same thing. Essentially, a song could be my favorite, but I could view another as the best. Is Happy Disco aiming for a “favorite” or “best” model? It’s a tough call. This even brings up the question as to determining what is really the best, and if it’s possible to be at all objective about this sort of thing.

These lists are also interesting in that it puts idols against idols in ways you don’t really see. How do I compare a Babymetal song with an NMB48 song? This reminds me a bit of the current awards show races and best of the year results for movies and TV. How do you compare a comedy and a drama? I notice that dramas almost always get picked ahead of comedies. How possible is it to compare certain idol groups, if they very much are different.

Really, I think I tend to try to go a middle route between best and favorite; I throw in stuff I find legitimately interesting, but it wouldn’t be on a list if it wasn’t my favorite (as well as one of the best).

What do you think? Leave a comment and you too can be featured in next week’s Your Thoughts post!

Your Thoughts: BiS – Avant Garde Idols?

Got a lot of great feedback on my last Idol Thoughts post from last Wednesday! I’m really happy that people seemed to enjoy it!

This comment comes from Skoban!! Thank you!

In the glut of idols we presently have, it’s refreshing to see such counterculture idols such as BiS.
Personally, I’m not a fan either, but when you hear news about BiS, you know that it’s likely to be something out of the norm.
A member in her seventies? A Ryogoku Kokugikan concert that bombed? A music video making fun of the Miichan scandal?
Say what you like, you can always expect BiS to push the boundaries. And in that unique way, it’s interesting to just keep up with whatever ridiculous thing they’ll come up with next.
It breaks up the monotony of “Here’s idol group with gimmick X”, where the gimmick can last so long. {Tangent: Remember the days when MomoClo’s schtick was their yukata (as opposed to AKB’s school uniforms back in the day) which they eventually discarded once they débuted? Although I guess you can argue Babymetal did well by sticking with their ‘gimmick’, though they treat it with respect}
Sorry about the tangent. But I guess all in all, my stance is the same as yours: I may not be a fan of BiS, but I appreciate that they exist.

I completely agree, especially about them being interesting. Even if it’s only a gimmick, it’s just interesting. Of course, it’s not something that makes me a fan, necessarily, but BiS does a good job of pushing the boundaries. Which, again, is what BiS is about.

I also agree that this seems to be lasting longer than most idol gimmicks, and that this oddness is at the core of BiS. Say what you will about them as a group, but they have stuck to what they do. And yes, I very fondly remember the days of Momoiro Clover wearing only yukata. They even made it work for Ikuze. I was disappointed with their Pinky Jones costumes and wanted them back in the yukata, which didn’t happen. But yeah, I liked that schtick and it’s sad to see that go. But really, most gimmicks can only go so far. BiS just don’t have a gimmick, instead having a unique aesthetic.

Next up, Ray from Idolminded wrote a post in response to mine! Here’s the link to that, which you absolutely should read if you found what I wrote interesting.

Essentially, he shares why he isn’t fond of BiS, going off of my post. And while I generally think I do respect BiS a lot more, I can totally see where he’s coming from. In fact, I have another friend who sees BiS exactly the same way, and didn’t want to read my BiS post because it was THAT abhorrent. Really, for the same reasons that Ray has.

And really, I definitely respect that opinion. This paragraph in particular is my favorite:

“And to me, that’s what BiS feels like. They’re an exercise in difference for its own sake, an exercise in mockery at something they can’t quite measure up to. (Which is ironic, since Pour Lui by herself would make a wonderful mainstream idol.) They seem to offer an emperor’s new clothing of hipster cachet, letting fans have their cake and eat it too by saying that idols are stupid and we’re the anti-idols, but wait you can treat us like idol and we’ll heap scorn on you and make you love us for that scorn… And so really, we just get the idol dynamic turned inside-out by self-loathing from all involved, but basically functioning the same way it does for the rest of the idol industry.”

It is sometimes hard to reconcile the fact that BiS are idols but are seemingly anti-idol. And I don’t know how to reconcile that myself. The only way they can really break boundaries is if they are subjected to the boundaries themselves (this COULD be arguable, but I’d say it’s accurate). So being idols is kind of necessary for this avant garde non-idol thing. Yet, they don’t act like idols, and are often kind of the anti-idols. So it’s a odd balancing act they have to do. Could any idol be critical of the idol industry and do something ‘anti-idol,’ but still be an idol and be more successful at this than BiS? it’s hard to ask.

I also find it hard to be shocked by BiS. I think at this point they have Lady Gaga syndrome; they started out too weird, and now people just expect it. Really, the only thing I would not expect is if BiS suddenly did a cute song with nothing that makes them really BiS.

The biggest reason I was wondering this is a couple of questions – how could BiS improve (or how could Bis have been better from the start) and are there any other avant garde idols?

For the first one, I think they would have been more effective as counter culture idols if they started out that way. Their first PV was My IXXX, the infamous “nude” PV. It establishes them as weird group, even as an avant garde one, but it doesn’t leave too much room for future weirdness. However, if BiS had started out as a relatively “normal” idol group and did that before or even during their cuteness. I think the most surprising BiS news ever was their collaboration with Dorothy Little Happy. There’s just not much of a baseline for BiS. It’s hard to even think of them as idols. I think if they embraced being idols first and then weirdness second, they would be a lot more shocking, interesting, and would cause more impact.

As for the second one, MAYBE Bellring Shoujo Heart, but that’s pushing it. Babymetal gets close, but I still don’t think they’re quite there for being avant garde, not yet.

Ultimately, I still think BiS is an interesting group worthy of respect. However, despite being avant garde, I don’t think they’re perfect by any means and still have a long way to go.

Review Monday: AKB48 – Kimi no Hohoemi wo Yume ni Miru + Mosh & Dive

” Suzukake no ki no michi de “Kimi no hohoemi wo yume ni miru” to itte shimattara bokutachi no kankei wa dou kawatte shimau no ka, boku nari ni nan nichi ka kangaeta ue de no yaya kihazukashii ketsuron no you na mono” is the title of the new AKB48 single. Yeah. So with that out of the way, let’s review the new PVs that have come out! I’ll be reviewing the main single PV as well as Mosh & Dive. Next week I’ll look at the group exclusive PVs.

Suzukake no ki no michi de…..

Song: You know, for being a giant gimmick, I enjoy the long title. I think the sentiment in the title is nice, and while it’s not necessary it’s a pretty title. I’ve been actively trying to memorize it, so I can rattle it off at people in the future for fun.

The title is pretty much the most memorable thing about the song, though. The winter/Janken singles have always been AKB’s least interesting, song-wise, so this isn’t too much of a surprise. However, in a year that started with So Long and Sayonara Crawl, Suzukake stands as one of the more fun songs of the year, if a bit unimpressive.

Of all the songs in AKB’s main single output, this actually reminds me of some of the more rock-inspired stuff. Probably the closest comparisons come to Give Me Five, with a bit of 10nen Zakura. The “suki!” shouts are also straight from Oogoe Diamond. I like this type of song, though; the energetic guitar-based slightly rock-inspired AKB song. Give Me Five isn’t my all-time favorite AKB song, but it’s fun to listen to. I imagine that’s how this song will go down, as well. People will remember the long-title, but when they listen to it they’ll remember that it’s not a bad song at all.

So yeah, in a year where the AKB48 singles haven’t impressed me that much (except for Koisuru Fortune Cookie), this is a good song. It’s not AKB’s finest, but who expects that from the winter/Janken single? 7/10

PV Oh here we go, another long drama version. Honestly, I don’t think this adds a lot to most PVs. It’s an easy thing to advertise; “this comes with a 22-minute PV” but it doesn’t necessarily add much meaning to the PV.

Basically the plot is that in 2003, the members buried a time capsule as students, and this is their reunion 10 years later (which is honestly the plot of the song 10nen Zakura) after they’ve gone separate ways and started new lives.

Going on a bit of a rant here, but long drama versions of PVs for AKB have stopped being interesting or something that’s exciting. No one’s surprised anymore that a single song has a 22 minute PV. Instead, it’s become a crutch for some pretty lazy PV making. You might be wondering how a 22 minute PV, which surely took a lot of time to make, could be considered lazy. Well, what I ask you, is what about this drama PV in particular couldn’t be told within the context of the song, or, at most, with a minute or two of prologue/epilogue? The story isn’t particularly complicated, and it doesn’t even focus on all the members. Instead, they drag out the whole thing across the PV, which lends itself to a not particularly interesting PV in general.

The short version of the PV shows the issues this has. The short version has essentially three types of shots that comprise the majority of the PV.

The main dance shot…

suzukake2

The bad dance shot which they, according to the story, did at school…

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Aaaaand close-ups.

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There are a few past flashbacks and clips of them just standing around, but other than that not much happens. Which isn’t a terrible thing; the first Janken senbatsu PV, Chance no Junban, was a fairly straightforward PV and I think it’s just fine. But when there’s been so much filmed, the fact that none of it gets into this short PV is irritating. They also threw in some hints to the overall story, but nothing that gives it a context.

None of the elements that went into this PV are bad. The dance shot looks fine (I quite like when the members are in silhouette and whenever the background is multicolored), the close-ups look fine. The story is even moving, focusing on Oya Shizuka a lot more than I thought it would. But it just doesn’t have to be in this 22 minute long PV.

Also, you’d think that for a long PV it would focus more on more members. The majority of the screentime is on Jurina, which is understandable. Kitahara Rie, Oya Shizuka, and Oba Mina get some screentime. Kameida Emika gets a speaking part, and Hirata Rina gets a speaking part in English (which is the most delightful part of the PV).

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But other than that, the members who aren’t immediately popular and recognizable don’t get that much time. I mean, Emika and Hillary don’t get THAT much screentime, and they ranked 2nd and 3rd in the tournament! Usually I don’t rant about the popularity structure in AKB48; for the most part, it generally works. However, the Janken tournament is about giving any member a chance at making it into the AKB48 senbatsu (despite accusations of it being rigged), and this is a bit frustrating. Not entirely unexpected, but frustrating nonetheless.

Ultimately, the pieces of this PV are fine. It’s well put together, like AKB’s PVs generally are. However, putting it into a long form PV when it really should have been shorter ended up hurting it. 6/10

Mosh & Dive (leftover senbatsu)

Song: Initially I’m a bit disappointed; I like AKB’s Christmas songs quite a bit (Yoyaku Shita Christmas is still the best, though) so I was hoping to hear another one!

Disappointments aside, I definitely like Mosh & Dive! It’s a dance track with some good guitar in there, but it feels like a lighter song than something heavy like UZA. A lot of AKB’s “cool” songs (read: the rock-inspired, often dance focused tracks with a lot of guitar) tend to be heavier and darker. Stuff like UZA, Beginner and River are loud and intense. That’s not a terrible thing, but it’s not what I’m always in the mood for. Mosh & Dive goes for a lot lighter singing, an often poppier sound in the chorus, and it generally feels like a lighter cool song. The verses are not quite as good as the chorus, but they’re still pleasant enough.

This is a type of song that I don’t know if I hear a lot of from idol music, but it’s one I’m glad to hear now. I’m not blown away, and I still kind of wish there was a Christmas song on this single, but I’m not disappointed in Mosh & Dive, itself. 8/10.

PV Uh, guys…

moshdive1

What are you even wearing? The short outfits are fine, but those plastic coats? I usually avoid the mosh pit when I go to concerts, but I don’t think that’s what you wear there. Is it to avoid getting beer spilled on you? OK that’s actually a pretty legit excuse.

Questionable outfit choices aside, this is a decent, serviceable PV. All the girls are made up well, especially Minegishi Minami. Something about Miichan’s short hair, that hat, and her makeup make her look fantastic.

moshdive2

While the PV is just a collection of dance shots and close-ups, it’s shot well and lit well. I like how the lighting embraces color in this one, as well as in Kimi no Hohoemi wo Yume wo Miru.

I also like that the PV is shot with a camera that’s moving. It would be easy to do the majority of this with a still camera, but this gives it a really excellent sense of movement.

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The only thing I was unsure of with this was the large words thrown on the screen, but I think it fits pretty well. Stylistically it matches the rest of the tone of the PV, and I like that it adds a little bit of flavor to an otherwise standard PV.

Mosh & Dive doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it’s relatively well-crafted and is a nice, easily enjoyable PV. 6/10

Join me next week as I take a look at the AKB48, SKE48, NMB48 and HKT48 songs/PVs on this single!