Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spending All My Time Being Disappointed

Edit: This post is a little late due to the shitty Wi-fi at the place I'm staying at but I still felt the need to post it anyways. 

You readers all probably know I'm kind of a huge Perfume fan.

But just because I'm a fangirl doesn't mean I have to like everything they put out. As a fan, I always try to keep critical ear for each song they release and it just so happens a majority of their songs are really good in my opinion! Your opinion might differ from mine along with your thoughts on Perfume. For instance, I really don't like Voice! It's okay by far but for me it was just a little too slow and a little too boring for Perfume. And there are some indie singles I don't enjoy that much by them either like... Oishii Recipe and Secret Message! And 23:30, Speed of Sound, Zero Gravity... and Toki no Hari! Okay, it's not like I outright hate any of those songs but compared to some of Perfume's other music, these just tend to be less spectacular! Some of them just bore me and others don't appeal to me in terms of sound or musical style. You can look at my full ranking of every Perfume song ever made as of Spring of Life here, here, here, and here to see what kind of music I like best from the lovely techno trio. But I think one of the most important aspects of being a fan is not only supporting your group but also keeping a grounded and critical eye at what they do. Just because some song slaps Perfume's name on to itself doesn't mean I'll automatically love said song! It just so happens I like a lot of Perfume songs. Hell, I actually tend to hate when I dislike one of their songs because it just doesn't feel right. But it happens. Not very often, but it happens. The last time was with Voice but even then I find that song okay. My point is I don't lap up everything they put out like some techno-loving zombie fan. Hee hee, zombie fan... ANYWAYS.

That brings me to Perfume's latest single: Spending all my time. In case you've yet to convert to the Perfume fandom, I'll bring you up to speed. Spending all my time is Perfume's second single under Universal Music Japan, the first being Spring of Life. The label change from Tokuma to UMJ was exciting, like a fresh start for Perfume and hopefully more foreign access for fans outside of Japan. With Spring of Life being released on iTunes and talk of international performances it made me think maybe, just maybe I might be able to see this lovely group live. And a lot of other fans felt the same way. So the Spring of Life hype has come and gone and now we're into the next phase of Perfume: Spending all my time. On July 23rd, Perfume LOCKS aired the song much to the delight of the fans and I was ecstatic with the anticipation of hearing the song for the first time. So I listened to it. Then I listened to it again. I listened to it several times and I had the strangest feeling. A feeling I hadn't felt in a while. I was psyched to hear this song but after actually listening to it my hype and excitement died down as I realized something.

Quoting one of my favorite bloggers: "Doom to my ears- yes, I don't like this song."

My reaction after hearing said song.

Yes, Nia doesn't like a Perfume song. Crazy isn't it? It's just so... Western. Or American. Let's face it, Canada and Central America aren't exactly who Perfume's trying to pander to with this song. It's clearly meant for my home country, the United States of Generica. And the scary part is it would fit perfectly within the Billboard Hot 100. So why am I so sad? Isn't that a good thing? I have always wanted Perfume to reach international success, right? Of course I do, I wish them the best in anything they do but not at the cost of selling their originality for a few bucks in a foreign country overrun with songs that have the exact same rhythm and beat as over half the trash festering on the Hot 100 right now. Don't believe me? Take a look! Club music is everywhere in the US with it being the most overused genre of music the public eats up the way wotas in Japan eat up idols. That's the entire reason why I started listening to Japanese music first place: I was sick and tired of the club music I'd find at school, on the radio, in stores, at my own house, everywhere. And then I found Perfume. They were the first Japanese artists I really got into because they were the polar opposite of all this American music I'd grown to avoid like the plague. They were different, clean, polished, beautiful, interesting, and I loved their music. It was like nothing I'd ever heard. Sure, I knew of the technopop genre, I just never imagined I'd get interested in it. But Perfume did that. They got me to care about music again and for the next few years, they were my musical solace, a breath of fresh air. Soon I looked into other genres and slowly expanded my musical tastes but I always hold a special place in my heart for Perfume because they reminded me that you can be different and kind of weird and people won't always hate you for that.

Sweet Jesus, why do I always end up preaching about them? I've got an A-side to dig my claws into! Back on topic, the reason I dislike Spending all my time is because it just sounds... soulless. That and it's a carbon copy of nearly every dance/club track that's popular in the US right now. On the up side, at least it doesn't have lyrics filled with getting drunk and having sex with the first person you see! Instead, we get Engrish! So. Much. Engrish. That was what surprised me the most when I heard this song; I never thought I'd hear so much Enrgrish in a Perfume song. To be fair, the girls do a pretty decent job with the pronunciation and emphasis on certain syllables but the lyrics are so repetitive and so bland. I only heard three, maybe four, Japanese phrases in the song with the rest being the same thing over and over again with variations on the notes. If someone were to play this song to me without me having any prior knowledge of it, I wouldn't even think this was a Perfume song. It sounds like something I'd never hear from them and not in a good way. Let me say I'm not trying to sound like I'm against Perfume trying any new sounds; I love it when Nakata experiments because some really good Perfume songs have come from it (like 575!). But this isn't experimenting: this is copying a popular style of Western club music and coming out with song that could have been a unique and interesting take on certain style of music (call it "Perfumifying" a song) but instead I only get a half-baked song that I can hear if I merely turn on my local radio. I guess I'm just miffed that Perfume stated they wouldn't change their style in appealing to a foreign demographic but they did that anyways.

I'd honestly rather have them stay in Japan than sacrifice their creativity just to sell a couple bucks in a foreign country that will probably just peg them as "those weird Japanese girls." I hate saying that but it's true. Of course I still want them to succeed. I'd love to be able to walk into a stadium and see them performing right before my own eyes. But I know that's probably never going to happen and I also realize I probably won't ever meet them since I'm not as creepy as Perfume444. But as a foreign fan, I'll do anything I can to support them. I bought Spring of Life on iTunes and I have every intention of buying SAMT on iTunes (the B-sides at least, I'm still hesitant on buying the A-side). Who knows? Maybe one day I'll even be able to buy a physical copy from them. By the way, it is a fucking war zone over in Perfume City. Everyone is divided on this song; some people feel the way I do, others love this direction of music, and some downright hate it. I've seen so much division over a song since Kasuka na Kaori and the SAMT arguments are even worse. Oh well, what can you do about it? It's better to have fans that are critical than mindless fans that lap up everything their favorites put out.

And thus I can only wait for the final phase of Perfumania: the PV. Maybe, just maybe, they'll have such a mind-blowingly awesome PV the song will magically grow on me and I'll fall in love with it like I did Spring of Life. Or I can just cling to Hurly Burly and Point. Those two B-sides already sound pretty awesome to me. And most importantly they sound like the Perfume I know and love.


  1. it seems as you were reading my mind on this one!!I really like your blog, specially the Perfume entries since I´m also a huge fan of their music and I felt the same way about their new single.thank god the PV is still the Perfume we all love..i thought Id die if they did a PV in a club dancing with men in a provocative way.I hope you write your thoughts about the PV too cause youre very good at it.

    1. Thank you! It's nice to know there are Perfume fans out there reading this! But yeah SAMT is... not good to put it simply. But the PV does improve it a bit. I'm currently in the process of writing my PV review, I've screencapped it and written a bit of the intro but hopefully I'll finish it by tomorrow! Thanks for reading!!

  2. I LOVE your blog! Lots of funny and insightful comments. I have to agree with you that when I listened to SAMT, the words that crossed my mind were "sell-ouuuuuuuuut!" At the same time though, to be honest, I did dig the lower-toned voices -- very new to me coming from Perfume -- and the fact that their English wasn't flat-out Enbrish ("Crazy gonna crazy," anyone?)

    It might interest you that Perfume said in a JP interview (somehow they're always at liberty to talk shit about Nakata in interviews) that the girls initially weren't thrilled with this song at all, and lobbied hard to make it a B-side to Point or Hurly Burly...anyway, they didn't think the lyrics were good, they thought it shouldn't be a single. But Nakata convinced them in the end. And you know what? It really is a pretty melody when played on the piano. Just the title screams "B-side" to me. But as long as it gets them global fans, I don't really care. Just don't want them to follow Utada's footsteps and release a vapid and generic album in English which may have been commercially OK but an artistic flop. Just a humble opinion.