2009 was the year that both of Momoiro Clover’s indie singles, Momoiro Punch and Mirai e Susume came out, and I really think that they are the best example of how far Momoiro Clover has come. However, it’s not the singles themselves that show it (though they do show their age), but the videos that came from Momoiro Clover events around the time of the single releases, where management tells Momoiro Clover the oricon rankings for these singles. If you like Momoiro Clover and you haven’t seen these videos, you owe yourself to watch them.
Now, these videos mean a lot to me – they were two of the first videos I watched when I became a MomoClo fan a year later in 2010 (they also were really the first ways I learned more about the personalities of MomoClo). But I think they show just how far MomoClo has come – starting from tiny street lives and freaking out at peaking at #11 on the Oricon daily chart, to performing in the largest stadiums and arenas in Japan. These girls have come a long way, and it’s incredibly exciting to see them thrive.
As for these songs and PVs, I think they do an excellent job of setting up MomoClo as a group. While Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo grabbed my attention in 2010, Momoiro Punch and Mirai e Susume solidified for me what a special group Momoiro Clover really was (and still is).
For Momoiro Punch, the song is pretty perfect for an intro song for an idol group, and does a lot to introduce Momoiro Clover specifically. It’s just about a perfect mix of idol pop with some traditional sounding instrumentation. In a way, it’s a great thesis statement for what MomoClo was at the time – idol pop meets traditional Japan, but in a totally accessible way. The song is perfectly paced, as well; it rarely drags (apart from the overly long intro section) and it moves along nicely. It’s a really great intro son gin that regard; it’s catchy, fun, and says what MomoClo intended to do (idol meets traditional).
As great as the song is, the PV is an incredible introduction to the group. While the intro of the song might be long-winded to listen to, it allows for the PV to take a nice amount of time introducing each member without breaking up the song to do so. It also takes time to show some behind the scenes shots, showing the members working together, practicing, and spending time together (something pretty much all idol fans enjoy seeing). The rest of the PV is very simple, but it uses what it has in a way that not all simple PVs do. There is always something visually interesting going on – different shots, new (simple) visual effects, etc. While I think most of this PV is very well done, what I think is really brilliant is the use of the different takes with peaches and bananas replacing microphones. They start this late in the PV, when you might be relaxing into the rhythm of PV. Then, all of a sudden, you see they’re holding peaches, but it only lasts for a shot or two before going away. These shots are never dwelled on, but pop up infrequently. Additionally, the editing is so good that the shots match up very well, to the point where you might not realize that it’s a different take. This makes a bit of a visual illusion, like peaches and bananas are appearing and disappearing. This makes you want to pause and look again or, ideally, rewatch the PV. That’s the genius of it, really – Momoiro Punch’s PV is almost entirely engineered to make you pay attention all the way through and perhaps watch more of it more closely. All this for a fairly basic PV.
Mirai e Susume’s song is a bit less immediately intriguing than Momoiro Punch’s, but it’s still a very solid idol song. It’s transitioning a bit more to the idol image than Momoiro Punch, but still retains a bit of traditional sound in the instrumentation. It’s hard to really say much other than it’s just a fun, high-energy idol song. The verses allow for more variety in small-groups as well as allowing for four members to get a solo line. It’s hard to give Mirai e Susume a lot of credit, given that it’s sandwiched between Momoiro Punch and Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo, but it’s all the same a solid idol song.
PV wise, Mirai e Susume is what I like to call “Personality: the PV,” in that it really lets MomoClo’s personality speak for itself. While you might wonder if this is an excuse for a super low-budget PV, I think it speaks to how much energy and personality MomoClo has. This PV is carried on the strength of the members of the group; if MomoClo was any less compelling, this would fall flat. That could be said about a lot of idol PVs, but man I have watched this PV a LOT because the members of MomoClo are just so much fun to watch here; seriously, what is Reni even doing? There isn’t a lot visually beyond that, but I do like the contrast between costumes and scenes. Half of the PV is on a white background with bright, colored costumes, and the other is with plain school uniforms on bright colored backgrounds. It adds a nice visual contrast.
Also, while Momoiro Clover can’t claim to have come up with the concept of member/image colors (I know Morning Musume has been doing that for a while), they certainly drive it home. A lot of Stardust PVs and costumes rely heavily on the color-coding in a way that has become pretty common-place in recent years. And for good reason – it’s a very easy way to follow members. It’s super easy to go “I like the pink member of the group” after watching a PV and go look her up by the color later. It’s an easy way to follow a specific member when you start following a group. Again, while MomoClo didn’t invent image colors, they certainly have utilized them well.
MomoClo’s early singles, while unpolished and simple, are honestly really great, and I personally think it’s super easy to see why they’ve had so much success. Both PVs and songs ooze with personality, and are ultimately a ton of fun.