Monday, January 30, 2012

Give Me a Better PV

A few days, ago AKB48 released a PV preview for Give Me Five! along with the full PV shortly after. I've said my opinions about this song before but I'll say them again. I really do enjoy the genki slightly rock-ish feel to the song and it's pretty catchy. To me it sounds like a combination of a bunch of their older singles! I'm also really happy that Aki-P's broken away from the usual sakura/graduation single he's so fond of releasing around this time. Does the song blow my mind and rest in the pantheon of godlike music right next to Perfume? No, but it's a pretty fun song and generic without being too generic... if that even makes sense. I suppose I'll take anything after the snoozefest known as Ue Kara Mariko but even so I still like this single! So there I was on my merry way, content that maybe Aki-P would break the singles formula this year like I had so hoped! Then we got some more news about Give Me Five! The music to the song would be performed by members of the AKB themselves! It's really cool concept for and idol group and the idea held a lot of potential. Naturally I got excited about this too!

Then the PV came out.

And the "band" for the single is... well... let's just look at the PV. I think that sums up how the band turned out.

Wow. Did they use too much PV money for Flying Get and Kaze wa?

Yukirin? Drums? I thought she played the trombone!

Yuko looks ecstatic and probably maintains the most energy throughout this PV...

Rena! Miichan! Brass instruments? Oh well, I'll go with it!

And here's Tomochin with the easiest instrument in the world and Mariko with the second easiest instrument in the world (unless you count the triangle).

Takamina! With her kickass ponytail and kickass red guitar!

Oh Harunyan, even when you play the keyboard you still look dreamy-dazed!

I wonder if Yuko's side-eying Acchan for stealing her center spot again...

Mayuyu the Fantastic Creeper is surprisingly subdued in this PV (I blame the instruments).

That set. I swear it's my high school gym.

I feel bad for the chorus girls, they don't even get to perform (and Sayaka can actually play an instrument!).

Poor Mayuyu. She tried to flash her Creeper Smile but is burdened with the instruments. A sad day for creepers around the world.

Even Acchan looks more bored than usual...

In fact, I think the brass section is having more fun!

Takamina looks like she's having a blast whilst Acchan struggles with the guitar.

We then get to the (very poorly pieced together) storyline involving Acchan being... Acchan.

Why does Yukirin always remind me of her character from Majisuka Gakuen every time she's acting?

It appears Yuko's also a prostitute/call girl/slut in this PV but for noble reasons.

Is this what the Senbatsu did while the others were promoting Ue Kara Mariko?

Not sure why this happened. Tragic, emotional storyline in the long PV, perhaps?

BWAH! Yukirin, you're reaching Mayuyu levels of creepy!

This is a pretty shot... really, that's all I have to say.

Thank god Yukirin looks normal in these shots.


Okay? I'll go with it!

This is what I love about Yuko; she can switch from goofy and lovable to tense and delicate in just a moment!

Gee, I wonder who this is. Definitely not Acchan, the only member who ever gets a backstory!

I will say the guitar solo Takamina pulls here is pretty decent.

I wish I could be as enthusiastic as that crowd...

Okay, did they just use stock footage from Majisuka Gakuen?

I haven't mentioned Jurina yet but she looks awesome in this PV and so does Mariko!

And the PV ends with high fives all around because... why not?

They had to find some way to have the title make sense.
I have to admit... I'm really disappointed with the PV. I think they had a great concept but when it came to execution I don't think the girls were prepared enough for it. As I was watching the PV, I just kept thinking how awkward and out of place everyone looked. The gym scenes looked very cheap but to be fair, their is a whole backstory to the cheap set. From what I can gather via the Internet, the story is about a bunch of high school dropouts who decide to form a band as a route to some way of happiness. Not that we get to see any of that; those bits and snippets from the drama will later be shown in a 34 minute PV. Although the idea and plot sound promsing I'll probably have to skip on it because of the language barrier. So I'm stuck with this with its cheap set, choppy scene changes, and awkward storyline. The biggest problem with this PV is the fact that they're playing their own instruments; I know I gushed about how awesome it could be but it decided to go the other direction. What I think is... well... I think I can explain this better through examples. Meet Scandal.

And the outfits AKB hijacked from them

They also happen to be an all-girl group/band who plays their own instruments as seen here and here. Now I'm no music expert but from what I can tell they happen to be girls who know how to play instruments and play them well. In their music videos, they seem to really be connected to their instruments and use that skill to their advantage. Love or hate their actual music, they definitely know their craft. And that's where AKB falls short. I think one of the keys to playing your own music, singing, or just about... anything you have to know what you're doing. The members only had time to learn a freaking instrument for what? Four months? Three? You can't exactly turn into the next Zone in such a short amount of time unless you have an insane amount of talent. But they don't; a majority of the main players hardly touched the instruments they were handed. Hence they're desperately groping around trying to remember not the only the music but how to play the instruments, handle them, sing at the same time. So they don't have the time or extra energy to add in the fun charisma usually found in their PVs and that really drags the PV down. All in all, this concept was really a let down for me because of how unprepared the girls were.

Please let me explain that in no way am I saying that AKB should never play their own music. I would love that. I think it would be a cool spin on such a large idol group. But if they're going to do that, they have to be prepared for it. And for Give Me Five! they're still trying to figure out the right notes. So the song is good but the execution is poor. If you can understand Japanese, tell me how the long PV is. Maybe I'll like that better.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Give Me Five! Covers and a Surprise!

I actually did not see this coming.

In my brief time as a AKB48 fan, I had pretty much come to expect from them and any other idol group, that the idols sang the songs and dances and that was it. Other people always wrote the songs and performed the music. So here I was once again finally beginning to accept the lack of Akimoto Sayaka in the Senbatsu and replace of Undergirls with Special Girls when Aki-P dropped even more shocking news.

AKB48 will be playing their own music.

Has this ever happened? I think I only know of one other group that plays their own instruments and that's Scandal. Then again, they might be a band and not an idol group but I really don't follow them (but maybe I should...). The Baby Blossom lineup consists of six core members (Takamina on lead guitar, Acchan on rhythm guitar, Yuko on bass, Yukirin on drums, and Mayuyu and Harunyan on keyboards). The other twelve members do stuff ranging from trombones to percussion to chorus to... shakers? Poor Tomochin, it must be embarassing to play the easiest instrument in the world. I saw a live performance of Give Me Five! and I was really amazed at how everyone played. Granted it wasn't Jimi Hendrix-level but factoring in the short amount of time they had to learn, it's still pretty good. Special points go to Takamina for her awesome guitar solo! The only problem was the six main members were so busy concentrating on their instruments their vocals were a little soft but I can understad that.

In the radio preview the instrumentals sound even better. It might be just studio enhancements, but I'm still very intrigued at the idea of a big-band concept for AKB. It's a new and fresh idea so it's bound to garner sales for the group and I hope it sells really well. Maybe Aki-P will let them do a single like this again if Give Me Five! succeeds! As for the song, I enjoy it! It sounds like a combination of their past songs (Heavy Rotation, Iiwake Maybe, 10nen Zakura, Chance no Juban) and the genki sound is a nice contrast to last year's sakura single! Is it anything special? No, but for what it is and the amount of effort put in from the girls, I'll take it! The covers are also pretty neat but very simple. Still, I like the black and white contrasting with the colored background they were photoshopped into! Actually, it's quite stylish and polished!

In other news, it was also announced that Aki-P was hiring other songwriters to help compose the songs for the other 48 groups. I can see why considering he's writing for 5+ groups and at this point he's written all the songs. But I'm actually kind of happy other people may help write the songs because maybe it can provide some diversity and different styles! And Kitharie Rie is getting to write a song for Not yet, the subgroup she's in! Which is totally awesome because if she's getting to help out with the songs maybe some of the other girls will get to as well! I admit this could be very hit or miss depending on their songwriting skills but there has to be at least a few members who are competent at writing decent songs! And who knows? Maybe some of the other members could provide instrumentals and others could write lyrics and it would be like a giant effort of idols!! Again, that could be hit or miss but if it succeeded, that would be awesome.

Perfume JPN Tour Setlist!

Kashiyka's wearing pants?

Because I am a devoted fan of Perfume, I've been trying to follow how the JPN tour has been going via Perfume City forums but I just wanted to give a brief opinion about the setlist! It came out a few days ago but I've been dragged down to the mountains of West Virginia so I've yet to write about it! I was so happy the setlist did come out considering I can't go to the concert so at least I can imagine how they'll perform each song. I also saw some promos and the outftis they wear and what the concert hall looks like! Here's what the setlist looks like:

M01 The Opening
M02 Laser Beam
M04 Electro World
M05 One Room Disco
M06 Have a Stroll
M07 Toki No Hari
M08 Kasukana Kaori
M09 Spice
-Costume Change (Nakata Song)-
M11 Medley (Secret・Fushizen・Take me・LTW・IslU・575・BcL・Secret)
M12 Polyrhythm
-PTA Corner-
M14 Nee
M15 Jenny Wa Gokigen Naname
M16 Chocolate Disco
E01 Dream Fighter
E02 Kokoro No Sports


- The medley. Because I'm too far away and too broke to attend one of their amazing concerts in Japan I found a reproduction of the medley on Youtube! And I'm impressed at how well done it is; all the songs just effortlessly transition in to the next You've got slow songs like I Still Love U, sensual songs like Take me Take me, hit singles like love the world, and my favorite track from the GAME album! I'll bet it's amazing live!
- FAKE IT is being performed!! It's one of my favorite B-sides and I think this is the first time it's being performed live!
- The new album songs are being performed! I suppose it was given Perfume would have these in the setlist but I'm still really excited to see what they're doing with each new track from JPN.
- Jenny wa Gokigen Naname! I really love it when Perfume sings live since they can't do that a lot since they're a techno group and Jenny is so catchy!!
- A lot of their really good singles are on their including their breakout hit Polyrhythm, the ever-peppy Chocolate Disco, the dance song One Room Disco, the inspirational Dream Fighter... let's face it, 95% of the songs in the setlist are amazing. Then again, I'm biased.


- No Computer City, The Best Thing, Macaroni, or Natural ni Koishite. That's not terribly disappointing but those are still some of my favorite songs by them! I'm most bummed about Computer City because I love that song almost as much as Electro World! But at least Electro World's getting performed and I supposed of the first three major label singles they released that one would be the most fitting for the concert!
- VOICE is being performed. I've said my opinions before about VOICE. I still find it lackluster and think Perfume could have done something much more energetic as a follow-up to Laser Beam. I also don't really enjoy the lives of this song quite as much as others.
- No edge (⊿-mix). I'm not terribly disappointed about this mainly because I'm not sure how they'd top their performance of edge (⊿-mix). Still, I'd like for them to perform it again it's so mind-blowingly amazing to watch!
- I can't see the concert. That's more selfish than critical but I'll have to wait until they release a concert DVD or part of it on Youtube. Still, I think it would be amazing to see a concert live, holding a glowstick and squawking out the lyrics with them!

Overall, I'm very excited about their concert tour! Even though I can't go... but still I always look forward to seeing their concerts even if it's on a DVD or my computer! The only thing I'm a little bummed about is they'll probably just release one single this year, two if we're lucky. But I hope it's a really good single like One Room Disco was! If anyone who reads this does happen to one of their concerts have fun! Becase I'm sure it will be a lot of fun

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Finally a Serious Song

I never thought they'd be able to pull it off.

When I think of SKE48, my mind drifts to their peppy, energetic singles that make me want to jump around my house like a spazz on crack. After the rather lackluster Okie Dokie and their preview for Kataomoi finally, their next single seemed promising. After waiting about a month or so for the song to come out I kind of forgot about it until the PV was released. And now I'm trying to figure out why the hell I forgot about it because this song is amazing. It's dark but not too dark, catchy, and very energetic. I think the best element to this song, is it isn't totally dark and doom and gloom. It still has a very upbeat feel to it (a signature element to SKE) so it doesn't seem out of place for the group to sing. It's still much darker than some, well all of their past singles but not so much that it seems angsty. I would actually really like it if they did another single like this because it's so well done. The execution, the instrumental, the vocals, the lyrics, and don't get me started on the PV yet. Because that's the best part about this single.

I'm glad I screencapped this before it was taken down. I've come to learn the 48 group PVs tend to drop like flies if you're not careful. So let's take a look at it!

The PV opens with Rena in a white dress lying a field, symbolizing her initial innocence.

And then cuts to (possibly) her stumbling through a city.

A flashback begins with Rena walking in on a private moment between two girls (Kuumin and Kanon) at school.

Making this the first time she's seen a lesbian relationship.

I really do love the roof they're dancing on.

But don't forget my favorite AKB song did that too.

Rena rushes out in surprise only to be watched by an unseen face.

That happens to be Jurina... I could see her as a stalker.

Awww, that's so sweet! She's giving Jurina a necklace of... eh... friendship?

Meanwhile Jurina gets a little bit close to Rena.

I love the look on her face in this shot. It's so playful and deceiving.

Poor Rena. She doesn't know where that necklace came from.

I really like how this scene shows how oblivious Jurina and Rena are.

Rena's body language is also very well-done. I can practically see how much tension she's built up.

I think Rena getting up is supposed to represent her loss of innocence in the PV.

A party. What could possibly go wrong?

I don't like the look on the girl on the left's face.

It also cuts to Jurina's... friend? Lover? Possibly waiting for Jurina?

Back at school Rena cuts her finger on what has to be blade-paper.


NO. I am not making a Twilight joke.

Either way, this girl doesn't like it.

Somewhat startled, Jurina does the only thing to cover up her lying, scheming tracks.

Ditch Rena and hang out with someone else!

I really like how this scene is done. It's very fast paced and choppy.

And during this scene Kinchan and Kanakana decide to experiment!

Along with these two!

I'm not sure who this is. I think it might be Churi. But I'm not sure.

And so a shot is fired in the night. But I didn't know bullets were fireworks too...

Is that Kanon? Agh, I need to learn the faces of SKE now.

And so Jurina slaps Rena in rage, adding to the list of bitchy things she's done in this PV.

But having been toyed with by Jurina, Rena slaps her right back.

No offense Jurina, but you so had this coming.

I haven't mentioned the outfits until now, but they're pretty stylish.

And the PV ends with Rena leaving the field symbolizing her loss of innocence. The end.

I love the PV.

Really, it's amazing. I think one my favorite thing about this PV is the theme itself. The main theme of this song is meant to be sexual awakening. The PV mainly focuses on Rena and her transition from the innocent, sheltered girl in the white dress on the field being shown the world of sexuality. Slowly, her eyes are opened and she's tossed into this rough, lesbian relationship with someone who's just using her. It was a promising storyline and they really took it in the right direction. Homosexuality is a difficult topic to cover in a way that doesn't seem offensive or reliant on sex appeal, especially for an idol group with such a genki, innocent reputation. I think that's what I was afraid of; I really didn't want them to think "Wow! We can use girl-on-girl action to pander to the guys who buy this song! And that will make us money!" In this PV, the idea of homosexuality isn't showcased in this glitzy-glamorous way but merely displayed. The girls in this are young, unsure and I really think that was a good way to take this concept. Their actions are awkward, unknowing and a strange kind of curious. None of them know where they're going and that's what I find so wonderful about this PV. I think it's very relatable to how a lot of teenagers feel, especially about sexual relationships.

I think what really drives the PV are the girls' reactions. Rena's reaction to experiencing love from another girl is amazing and a lot the actions taken are very deliberate. One of my favorite parts is when the two cars collide and Jurina and Rena don't notice because they're so consumed by this infatuation of something Rena's never experienced before. Speaking of Jurina... she's kind of a douchebag in this PV. I know that's an crude way to describe it but she's deceptive, mean, playful, and probably one of most stand-out parts of the PV. Then again, it was intentional but I'm still impressed at how well she pulled it off. Rena also impressed me; she has such an innocent look and that worked well for the "deflowered innocent" she played in the PV.

Once again, I can't emphasize how much I love this PV. This is like Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou to me. It has a dark theme but it handles it so well. I'm serious. This is my favorite song from them and so far my favorite PV of the yearl The rest of 2012 better pump out some pretty damn good music because the bar's been set.