Hello!Project, Top 5 Series on June 3rd, 2008 2:44 by Henkka
Tags: berryz koubou, morning musume, tanpopo
(Top 5 menstruation instrumentation in H!P songs, my second new post within 24 hours. I had a total of two in the whole month of May. Crazy stuff, I tell you.)
In my constant uphill battle to prove to you guys (and myself) that I’m “just in it for the music“, it’s time to totally forget about the girls themselves and their vocals, get to the core of things and concentrate on what really matters: the actual instrumentation as well as arrangement of the songs, baby.
5th: Tanpopo – Seinaru Kane ga Hibiku Yoru (Iida/Ishiguro/Yaguchi version): Seinaru Kane ga Hibiku Yoru was the fourth and last single released by the original 1st gen Tanpopo. While I don’t think the surprisingly tame, Christmas-themed A-side is anywhere near as good as their first three singles, it’s the B-side I really enjoy. Actually, there’s three B-sides, it’s the same song but sung by different girls. I like the Ishiguro version best; Yaguchi alone can be a bit grating on the ears if you know what I mean, and Iida‘s is… well, a bit boring. Ishiguro’s version is just right. But anyway, that’s just the vocals and this is supposed to be about the instrumental.
Now, while I called the A-side tame and boring, they made significant changes to this version. Gone are the drums, excessive synths, bass… well, basically everything is stripped away and there’s only piano and some gentle orchestral instruments left. Orchestral versions of H!P songs can be boring; the “Grand Symphonic Version” of the song Tanpopo found on All of Tanpopo sounded a cheap and like they were forcing it into something it definitely wasn’t (excessively beautiful). Still, I guess that song too is fun to have for the fact that it’s the only song to feature all of 1st and 2nd gen Tanpopo… though Ishiguro had already left at that point in time, they most likely just took her vocals from an existing recording. Kind of like how the three remaining Beatles got together in 1995 and worked on some John Lennon demos, Free as a Bird and Real Love. Except Ayappe wasn’t and still hasn’t been murdered. Uh, anyway, getting sidetracked here…
As I was saying, this version is completely different and while I can see why they decided to make the A-side into the one they all sing on, I can’t help but feel a little bit bitter as I do consider this version better by a mile. I could listen to one specific part of it forever if I had to, one part that sounds mindblowingly good if in the right mindset. I’m talking about this:
To be honest, I just live for unexpected moments like that in music. I know it sounds surprisingly unexciting when you dissect it like that, but it’s all about the context, so listen to the full song, damn you. Something about that descending chord progression that really fuckin’ pleases my ears. I just wish they would’ve expanded on that, though. Make it into a 10 minute jam with only that particular segment. Bring in LOUD church organs, a massive wall of distorted guitars and a choir consisting of 80 males. Ones with large testicles. Not that there exist any male choir members with testicles. Oh, and some taiko drums to really knock your teeth out, and then just repeat it for 10 minutes straight. Mmm, now that would’ve been sweet. Should’ve had that as the fourth B-side track. “Seinaru Kane ga Hibiku Yoru (Large Testicles Jam Version)“.
4th: Morning Musume – Renai Revolution 21: Renai Revolution 21, one of the DANCE☆MAN arranged classics of the Golden Era Musume. I probably need not describe this song to you in much detail, you’ve all heard this a million times already. In any case, while time and the repeated listenings might’ve taken out some of the initial enjoyment from the song, I feel you can not deny the awesomeness of the backing track even after all this time. Organs, synths, wahwah guitar, piano, extremely funky basslines, and you can’t forget the DJ turntable scratching noise either.
Always with the goddamn DJ scratching noises…
3rd: Tanpopo – Otome Pasta ni Kandou: First of all, I have to say I love the sound of this song and I think the person to thank for that is one Mr. Rui Nagai. He was an arranger for Hello! Project for a very brief time but he accomplished four Tanpopo songs that definitely all have that distinct sound of his; Otome Pasta ni Kandou, Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru, I & YOU & I & YOU & I and, to a lesser extent, BE HAPPY Koi no Yajirobee. Out of these four, I think Otome Pasta ni Kandou is the best one. You might not immediately realize the greatness of the arrangement, but try listening to the instrumental version of this song. There’s constantly stuff going on and hell, it’s awesome. A hard-hitting beat, that sweet screaming 60′s/70′s lead guitar sound, backing vocals reminiscent a little of The Beatles and last but certainly not least, a shitload of harpsichord to keep me happy. Quite like the mellotron I always rave about, I love the harpsichord, man, and any song that employs it is nearly an instant winner to me.
2nd: Berryz Koubou – VERY BEAUTY: My love for this song, with or without vocals, remains undying. I believe I’ll keep preaching on about its awesomeness for a long time to come.
When you remove the admittedly awesome vocal lines, you are left with a simple but very effective and even beautiful backing track. Calling it “minimalist” might be going a bit too far, but there are no special tricks employed here: you won’t find much more here than drums that do little more than keep the beat steady, lots of soothing electric guitar, what sounds a little like an upright piano, a deep but mellow bassline and it’s all drenched in lots of synth violin. It’s a beautiful composition and there’s a simple, very basic set of instruments indeed, but it’s all used in a way that doesn’t leave anything to be desired. Like they say, less is more, and this song is definitely a fine example of just that. One of the most beautiful Hello! Project arrangements.
1st: Morning Musume – Shabondama: If you ask me, this one doesn’t even need any vocals. A complete opposite of VERY BEAUTY as to why it made this list, this is just filled to the brim with… well, everything! That said, though, of course the vocals only make this even better. But yeah, stuff is constantly happening in this song and you simply aren’t given a chance to take a breather at any point during the song. It aggressively throws the listener around with the crazy bass, intricate string arrangements, wailing electric guitar and all kinds of bleeps and bloops in the form of different synth sounds. This song grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let you go, entertaining you for the whole length of the song. Amazing. Less is more, yes, that’s often true, but sometimes it’s also good to go all out and kick some asses of us unsuspecting listeners, you know?
I’ve now reached the halfway point of these rankings. Eight done, seven more to go and after that, one final ranking to decide the winner of this whole thing.
Next time I’ll do the opposite of this one; I’ll judge the top five vocal performances.