Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One Two Three Give Me a Seizure!

Well, it's been 50 singles and 15 years of Morning Musume's existence. They'd had ups, they've had downs, they've changed lineups too many times to count, and people have loved or hated them for that. But the point is they've stuck around for awhile. And they've changed. Damn, they've changed. The most obvious is the lineup. From five young women who were rejects from an soloist audition to two young women and eight awkward teenagers, the group has drastically changed from their original foundation. And so has the music! Sure, their singles have been a little monotonous these past few years but with all the new girls in the group, Tsunku and UFA may have seen an opportunity to shake the group up a bit more!

Case in point: One Two Three.

One Two Three is definitely... different for Morning Musume. It's an upbeat, highly-catchy, Autotune-laced electro pop dance track! Do you know what else is? 95% of K-pop! Yes, there are definitely a lot of K-pop influences in the song but that isn't always a bad thing! Even though I can't distinguish most K-pop songs because almost all of them sound the same it's strange hearing this style from Morning Musume. Maybe because their songs are either extremely mature in and extremely melodramatic and way over-the-top or ridiculously upbeat and peppy to the point it's grating on my ears. I guess I'd just gotten so used to these two styles it never occurred to me that Tsunku would try something different. So when I first heard One Two Three, I was pleasantly surprised that he'd taken the chance to actually try something different for the group even if the concept itself wasn't new. And it only took him several years to catch up with the already dated trend of K-pop music! Is it dated? I don't know what the hell is "in" for K-pop these days but others have said it's dated. But even then I don't really mind! What I like about this song is that it has energy. One of the things I think makes a song a good song is the amount of energy put in from both the composer and the singers. The higher the input, the better the song sounds to me. It just makes me feel like the people making the music genuinely care about their fans so much they're willing to put in the effort! And I can hear the effort in the voices and the instrumentals which is something I haven't really heard much of since Maji Desu ka Ska! It's refreshing to know that after 50 singles there's still life in the group! And the song is also catchy! I mean... really catchy. Like "I hate this song but I still can't get it out of my head" catchy. Another element of K-pop but I still enjoy it. What appeals to me is the amount of electronics weaved into the track since it reminds me of Perfume and Kyarypamyupamyu. Okay, I admit I think those artists pull off electropop better but it's not bad for Momosu! It's really not that bad.

However, if I was going to chose a 50th single to commemorate the longevity of Morning Musume, I wouldn't pick this single.

Why? The last paragraph indicates I enjoy the song. Well, I do. I really do. But that doesn't mean it's flawless. Far from it actually. Let me start with the most glaring flaw of the song: the vocals. Or should I say Reina and Riho. Because no one else really sings in this song. Sure, every once in a while they pitch in something but half the group is probably just standing around feeling shafted during the recording of this song.  But anyways, I've said before (I've said it a lot actually...) I really don't like Riho's voice. I think it's screechy, dull and compared to some of the other singers in the group, I get mad that it's the only voice other than Reina's being pushed. It's like UFA thinks she's Takahashi Ai when in reality she's Kamei Eri. Good, but not great. And maybe that'll change with time. But I don't understand why they have to keep her in in the front at the expense of other more talented members. I mean, look at Haruka! She's only twelve and she has a great voice! Same for Mizuki! Sweet, non-screechy voice! Why can't they at least provide some soothing vocals? Oh, right. They're Eggs. They have to wait a couple years. But anyways, there's a lot of Riho used in this song and I really don't like it. Especially during the final chorus when she attempts to sing the "wow" notes akin to what Takahashi Ai did when she dominated Momosu. But unlike Ai, those notes sound terrible coming from her. The Autotune only makes it worse. Speaking of which, that's another problem with the song. There's a lot of Autotune added to the electropop. The difference between Perfume's electropop and One Two Three's electropop is that when Perfume uses Autotune, it's used to its full potential. Nakata crafts the raw vocals of Perfume, merging them with the song so that it's not just a lazy attempt to conceal or improve poor singers but simply an element that makes it full-on technopop. Momosu's Autotune is well... used on turning Riho into GLaDOS.

I shall call her RiDOS!

Along with the vocals being sub-par at best, the vocal distribution is terrible. Three of ten members get solos and only two of them really get to sing at all. Really, UFA? I know you love shafting your idols but really? Is it that hard to distributes lines equally? I know you can do it; Maji Desu ka Ska! the most equal Momosu's been in a long time. The people who did get a teensy bit of vocal limelight though surprised me. Mainly because of every girl in the 10th generation Masaki was the one doing the duets with Reina in the chorus. I didn't really follow the 10th gen. auditions but wasn't she not as good as say, Ayumi or Haruka? In fact, why didn't Ayumi get pushed vocally? I thought she was the ace! Well, I guess I'm not really mad about it just... confused. After all, does this imply Masaki has the chance to be one of the more prominent singers in Momosu's future singles? Or is UFA just trying her out? I don't know but I guess it's a relief that there's a small possibility someone besides Reina or Riho might be singing. Another girl who got a decent amount of duets/breathing noises was Mizuki. Now, I would have gladly swapped her lines with Riho's but I'm not UFA. I can't do that from where I am. But I am glad she's getting pushed a little bit since even though she's a bit bland I really do like her voice. It's very demure but also very trained, and not screechy. Anyways, I hope UFA plans on using her more or adding Miyamoto Karin to the group because MM needs someone at the front who can actually sing.

Well, a lot of girls got shafted for One Two Three. But the real question is... did they get shafted in the PV for one Two Three?

And this PV gets off to a sparkly start with a cheap font and actually showing each member equally! Yes, this is the only time from now on we'll probably see the group like this.

GAH! I'm blind! Blind! Too... many... sparkles... it's like someone took every sparkly effect in the Photobucket editor and just stacked them on top of each other O_o

Meh, I've seen the mannequin concept a gazillion times by now.

And Perfume still does it best.

I can't tell if this is Reina trying to look like a doll or Reina just not trying as usual

Seriously, would you rather have a smug, slightly bored Riho-mannequin...

...or a gorgeous, sweet Kashiyuka-mannequin? Be careful how you answer that.

Sayu isn't leader of MM. She's queen of MM. Don't deny it, you know it to be so!

Mizuki's also very pretty in the PV, albeit a little pouty. If she's not careful though she might turn into Risako!

Look at little Haruka, innocently scheming a plan to take over Morning Musume...

Thank god Eripon has screen time in this PV because she looks fierce and amazing.

Whilst Masaki looks rather adorable. Not sure if that fits well with the PV...

Oh... Kanon. You... you know what? Let's compare One Two Three Kanon with Maji Desu ka Ska! Kanon.

See the difference?

Look at Haruna. These shots were made for her.

I like Ayumi's hair in this! And her overall presence! Ironic since I didn't really notice her until now.

Haruka really doesn't look her age. Which is why I'm convinced she'll end up taking over the group. Just give her time...

Jazz hands all around! Woo hoo!

You know, I never really noticed Ayumi until this PV. Maybe because she's in the front. Or maybe it's something else...

Holy shit. Is that... is it... is that a CREEPER SMILE?

IT IS! Praise the lord, Momosu has a Creeper in it! Why didn't I make this connection until now!? Aki-P and Tsunku are scheming, I knew it! Soon Mayuyu and Ayumi will join forces and TAKE OVER THE WORLD!



One thing you need to know about Haruna: she's the eye candy of the 10th Generation.

While Masaki is the... something else of the 10th Generation.

Blargh. I guess a Riho center was inevitable but still. Do I have to put up with her screechy, Autotuned vocals too?

Bow to Queen Sayu! Because honestly, she's the only one who can work being in the back despite being leader.

No, Riho. Don't even try pulling off cutesy-cutesy winking.

Leave camera-whoring to Sayu.

And Reina.

Kanon... SMILE. Please. See what you've done UFA? Shafting Kanon has turned her into sad!Kanon. I hope you're happy.

Well, Haruna looks happy! And very, very physically attractive. It's a shame she still needs work on singing and dancing.

Creeper Smile 2.0! I can't un-see it now! But Mayuyu still pulls it off just a teensy bit better.

You know, I'm really surprised that Masaki duet-ed with Reina in the chorus. I mean, why not Ayumi the Not-as-Fantastic-as-Mayuyu Creeper?

I'm surprised there isn't a drinking game for every time Riho/Reina gets a line/screen time in Momosu PVs. Let me know when they make one.

Hrm. Eripon taking the same position Sayu had before? Could this be an omen of the future lineup of Momosu?

You know what these bright, sparkly mirror shots remind me of?

Chocolate Disco. The only difference is the singers in that got equal lines/screen time!

BWAH! Now I see why Masaki smiles the whole time in this PV.

Uh... are they doing the Macarena?

And so begins the transformation of Riho too... RiDOS! Run before her ad-libbing bursts your eardrums!!!

Let me say one thing: the only person I will accept ad-libbing in songs is Takahashi Ai. End of debate.

NO! Mizuki's turning into Risako!!!

Meh, whatever. Song's over. Sayu still reigns supreme.

And I'll leave you with the millisecond-long screenshot of the only time Kanon smiles in this PV.

Well, it's not a bad PV. But it's not an interesting one either. I think what I dislike the most about is that it's just so boring. I would have thought UFA would have but a little more effort into the 50th single's PV but once again, their cheapness has really outdone themselves! It's the usual dance shot, close up, and a little something else (this being the mannequin shots) added in for effect. I've seen it so many times before I expect it but that doesn't mean I don't want something a little more elaborate! I'm not saying they have to make Manatsu no Sounds good!-level of storyline/symbolism but it would have been cool if they'd done something like Everyday, Katyusha and had little shout-outs to their past singles interspersed throughout the PV. This bores me. True, it's a very pretty PV but that's it. And even then the sparkles get to the point where they're too overwhelming for me. The special effects are just so heavily layered on that you can tell UFA is trying to compensate for the lack of budget in the PV. But of every little flaw in this PV the only thing I outright hate is the seizure inducing camera shots. At first it's not so bad, the camera sorta jerks back and forth between shots but it's bearable. But then the song gets faster and faster and shots get shorter and shorter and by the end I'm lying on the floor blinded by the flashing sparkles and the rapidfire shot changes. So yeah, the budget sucks. Typical.

However, all the members look great. Except for Kanon because she's not smiling because she's sad at being shafted. I'm serious, I really think she's unhappy in the group. She just doesn't have that peppiness from when she first entered Momosu. It's like she's been deflated or something. Other than that everyone looked really amazing and worked the skanky Lolita outfits! Yes, even Riho looked a little less bored than usual. But enough of that "ace." Let's talk about Mayuyu 2.0! Ayumi! I don't know why, but she really stood out to me in this PV. Actually, I do know why: Creeper Smile. She totally has one! But I really like how she carried herself in this dance and in the close-ups she looked weirdly mischievous. I blame the Creeper Smile. Other members that looked really awesome were Haruka and Eripon, especially Eripon. Then again, she just gets prettier every single. And Haruka looks so much older! Now she just needs to get some solos! Of course Haruna looks beautiful but she always does. I get this horrible feeling from this point on she's just going to be there to look pretty... oh well, at least she does a good job at it! Reina is Reina. I can't do anything about it. And Sayu owns this group. And I'm totally okay with that.

So for a 50th single it's not bad. It could be better. But it's nice to know that UFA still promoted the hell out of it to the point where it sold 100,598 copies in its first week! Momosu hasn't sold that much since 2003! That's almost 10 years! But even if the song does have its flaws, I'm very happy they sold so well. I just hope UFA isn't stupid enough to assume that Riho and Reina are responsible for all the sales so they should be pushed even more... meh, who cares? I'll just enjoy the moment!

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