I say I probably won't do another single review after Perfume's Spending all my time and look where I am now! Typing a single review! I've decided to give Gingham Check one final hurrah before moving on to bigger and better things. Mainly for the same reasons I decided to review SAMT: in order to fully judge the single, I felt like I had to analyze every aspect of the single as a whole. I hated the A-side so would the B-sides fare any better? Using my trusty Apple Rating System, I will go through each song on this track and see if there's anything that makes up for the blandness of Gingham Check: Nante Bohemian, Do Re Mi Fa Onchi, Show fight!, and Yume no Kawa. I'm excluding the theatre song because I'm lazy. Five apples means I love the song; it's a bright, shining red apple glistening in sparkling sunlight! One apple means it's a rotten, worthless song I'd rather kick under the gutter than bite into. Everything else in between... I'll let you figure that out! Now let's check out Gingham Check!
I am not a huge fan of pastel. I think that draws back to an incident from when I was eleven in which I was invited to an all-pastel birthday party and I didn't get the memo so I showed up wearing black. Childhood trauma aside, pastel just washes everything out. It's nice in small amounts but too much of it and I can't stand it. So considering the backgrounds to these covers are light pink, mint green, and pale yellow... I don't like them at all. The covers do have a nice retro-feel to them but other than that they're incredibly dull. The problem is there's nothing that catches my eye in them; Flying Get had a kickass movie-poster theme to it and even Ue Kara Mariko had interesting, albeit poorly Photoshopped, covers. This one is just them stand around doing cutesy idol poses I've seen a million times already. They don't even bother to shoot different covers for the different editions, just changing up the font colors! The outfits are better but the lavender white gingham patterns make me think of Dorothy or the checkered tablecloths little old ladies play bridge on. If these were for a group like, Nogifail46 then I'd be a little more happy with the outfits since they'd be the only good ones they've gotten all year, but this feels more like a downgrade for AKB48. No golden uniforms, kickass, military jackets, or iconic schoolgirl get-ups for this song. Just... so much gingham... I think I'm going to drown in it. If I never post anything else on this blog again, you'll know it was the gingham that did it!
Gingham Check is a song that's familiar AKB-style music when Aki-P's in a lazy mood. Think Ue Kara Mariko, which won the titled of most loathed song of 2011 for me. So yeah... I'm not a fan of these types of songs. My biggest problem with songs like Gingham Check is that they're fantastically bland. There's simply nothing new presented in them. At least with songs that are bad for attempting a style and failing miserably, I can at least say "Well... you tried." Aki-P didn't try at all in making this song a memorable A-side and I think he knows that! Maybe. I have no idea. I will admit, after awhile, the chorus gets a little catchy but all songs like this are meant to be catchy. Bland yet irresistibly catchy is the allure that draws hungry wallets to buy singles like this. It's not experimental and won't polarize the fandom; Gingham Check is safe, albeit painfully safe. And in hindsight, I think I know why. With Acchan leaving, what else to do than present something already familiar to keep the fandom's attention after her graduation? Aki-P probably didn't want to take a chance with this song out of fear that the fans would leave seeing Acchan's graduation as the end of an era and style of music. Maybe. I'm just BS-ing this whole theory. I really have no idea. What I do know is that I can firmly say the only reason this song has grown on me at all is the PV and there's no way I'd listen to it alone without watching the PV. I'd already have forgotten this song if the PV hadn't been so entertaining.
So let's talk a little about that PV! I will say the PV is a completely different story. I've already done a lengthy PV review and screencap praising it for its fantastical quirkiness and ode to old Japanese B-movies. I didn't think I would like it that much though considering the amount of effort it would take to get me to willingly listen to this song again. So my adoration for the PV only clashes with how much I loathe this song and it's really annoying! Do you know how hard it is to try and struggle with two complete different ends on a love/hate spectrum? My blogger friend Chiima calls it my own "personal West Side Story" between my hate for the song and love for the PV. And yeah, that sums it up pretty well, just less snapping and random musical numbers and suicide. What Gingham Check's PV has is randomness, and not in a bad, immature "lol we're so random!!!" kind of way. There are lots of flashy images and high-budget effects thrown at you that it can be overwhelming for some but for me it's really fun to watch. Every time I watch this PV again I always feel like I find something new I hadn't noticed before! It's an eye-catching PV that thrives off the high budget and the concept its director decided to go with and is the only redeeming factor of this song. If you like movies (particularly old B-movies) then I think you'll enjoy this PV. I know I did; hell, I went in thinking I'd find the song to be a hot mess but was happily mistaken!
For being nearly worthless to me, Gingham Check gets two apples. The PV would bump it up to three apples but I'm not factoring the PVs into my ratings. As a stand-alone song, Gingham Check is a bland Gingham Mess whose catchiness can't save the song from fading into obscurity for me.
I admit, I'm a little biased since Akimoto Sayaka's in this song and she's my favorite member of AKB48. But it wasn't like she was singing a solo or anything so I decided to approach this in the most unbiased way possible. Besides, I don't know half the Undergirls in this song. I was hoping the Undergirls song would fantastically outshine Gingham Check and... I guess it did. But it's not my favorite song on the track. Nante Bohemian is like wine; the more you have of it, the better it gets. Not that I would know or anything. The first time I heard this song, it was really, really weird, especially from AKB48. I'd never heard this sound from them before and it was a little shocking at first to hear such a song with such a distinct sound. It made me think of Morning Musume's Koi no Dance Site, except a little more hardcore or maybe even Happy Summer Wedding minus the annoying. At first, I was a little "meh" toward the song, trying to figure out if it was fun or extremely annoying. At first I leaned toward the latter but every time I listen to it, the song just grows on me! It's feels like Aki-P stepped out of his comfort zone putting this on a single! You'll either love the sound of this song or find it to be the most annoying thing you've ever happened upon
There isn't much to the PV; it's just a bunch of glamour shots. I guess they really did blow the budget out on Gingham Check! It isn't necessarily a bad PV but it's pretty boring if you're not into girls standing around looking pretty. And since I'm not, the PV's pretty boring. Don't get me wrong, everyone looks lovely (especially Sayaka!!) and I'm happy Akicha's the center but I can't really say much about the PV. Hell, I don't even know half the girls in it since the Under Girls were dominated by SKE48 this year. My only complain is where the hell is Akimoto Sayaka? She's number four in the Under Girls and in every close-up she's always shoved to the back where I can barely see her! For shame, for shame! I wished they had incorporated like an Indian theme into the PV so it would match the song but oh well. The song's good enough, everyone looks lovely so I'm a pretty happy camper with or without the PV!
I'll give Nante Bohemian four apples out of five. Although the sound might shock you at first, after a few listens, the Indian-type sound can grow on you. Also, Akimoto Sayaka. What else does this song even need to be awesome?
Do Re Mi Fa Onchi
I first heard a preview of the chorus of this song in a CM featuring them dressed as nurses (yeah, just don't ask) and I was already stoked for it. From that little snippet, it seemed like we would be getting a powerful, and maybe even inspirational song for our Next Girls. With a Wasamin center, I was getting pretty hyped on this teeny tiny little preview. Now I've heard the whole song and realized I really need to stop doing that. I mean... Jesus Tapdancing Christ, this song is a mess. And I'm not exaggerating, this song has got to be one of the messiest, cluttered songs I've ever listened to. And I listen to Kyarypamyupamyu. Parts of it, sound like choir scales (and I think they are singing the typical Do Re Mi scale a regular chorus practices with), other parts they're chanting like cheerleaders on Walter White's crystal meth and then somewhere in the mix is that chorus I loved so much. The closest song I can compare Do Re Mi Fa Onchi to is Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~ by Morning Musume but this song makes that one look like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. There's just too much going on in this song for it to sound good to my ears. It makes me think Aki-P hired some slaves to write this song and none of them could come up with ideas beyond little ones so they thought "HEY! We can combine them! If it worked for Chou Happy Song, it'll work for us! We're AKB fucking 48!" Well it doesn't. Maybe I'll just end up looping the chorus and creating my dream song to match it in my head. Even then, the chorus alone can't save this god-awful mess.
The PV doesn't help either. At least for Gingham Check, there was so much going on in that PV that I was able to forget about the song and watch Mayuyu get chased around by ghost!Rena. This PV's brings nothing new or entertaining to the table for me. Just a bunch of idols dancing around in idol outfits doing idol stuff... I can only take so much of one cliche at a time! Jamming them all together into one PV is simply too much! There was a decent transformation sequence but I'm just grateful it didn't turn them into the sex kittens in NMB48's Mousou Girlfriend PV (that PV still gives me nightmares O__O). And I think there might be a little shout-out to Wasamin's attempted pursuit of an enka career that may-or-may-not still be something her agency's letting her explore further. There might be other shout-outs to the other girls' personalities but hell if I know; I only know the names and faces of AKB48 and a few other girls outside of that and even less of those personalities stick out to me! If you like PVs that consist of nothing but every cliche in the Great Book of Idol Cliches then I'm certain you won't have a problem with this video. Personally for me, I find it absolutely boring and it does nothing to improve and/or distract from the god-awful song. And to think I was so excited for a music video with a Wasamin center...
This gets one apple for a promising chorus leading to some of the shittiest composition I've seen in a long time. It's a hot mess that doesn't know if it wants to be cute, serious, or something in between. Next please.
This was also another CM song I was stoked for. This chorus sounded badass, energetic, badass, awesome, and badass. Did I mention it sounded badass? But after listening to the steaming mess of Do Re Mi Fa Onchi, I wasn't going to fall under the CM Spell a second time! I was going to learn from my mistakes and view this song as rationally and neutrally as it would allow me. And when I did, I came to the conclusion that... it beat the other songs to a musical pulp just as I suspected it would. Maybe CMs don't always lie! Show fight! is definitely the most energetic of the songs on Gingham Check, and if you read this blog, you know I'm a huge fan of energetic songs! Already, the beginning sounds badass with the whispered repetition of the song's title and the feeling of something huge about to go down. The verses continue that anticipation, building up the tension until you hit the chorus. The chorus is definitely the best part of the song as it's where the energy and the vocals reach a climax. Show fight! also is playful, but not in the childish way, more like when you're repeatedly hitting a punching bag! It's a great song to just do stuff to, like working out, taking notes, writing a single review you should have written weeks ago... anything! I'm still confused as to why the hell this wasn't the Senbatsu single; it sounds like one and it's ten times better than the title track! Oh Aki-P, your mind works in mysterious ways. But you're probably sitting in a pool of money drinking money juice so who am I to complain?
There isn't much to the PV but it's still incredibly entertaining! I thought I wouldn't really be interested in the PV considering I only knew like four of the Future Girls for this single but I was happily mistaken! The best way I can put this PV is that... it's AKB48 Fight Club. I can't talk about it though. Just kidding, that joke has been around too long to be interesting anymore! The PV is girls beating the crap out of each other, complete with blood and bruises and cheesy but still badass combat scenes! I guess there's some kind of wrestling match to determine who gets to be center of the Future Girls and the plot doesn't get any more elaborate than that. We don't know what they're doing in some random boxing ring, how they got there, who they are, and it doesn't really matter. The song rocks and the PV matches the badass tones of the song perfectly. Hey... this PV is also a competition for a center position? Doesn't that sound awful familiar to you guys? I'm on to you, Aki-P. When I finally canoe to Japan, I'm going to figure out just why this song wasn't used as the Senbatsu song!
Show fight! is the only song I can eagerly give five apples to. It's got a catchy hook in its chorus, the verses are strong, and the whole song is filled with energy and power. Why the hell wasn't this the Senbatsu single anyways?
Yume no Kawa
I had the feeling that Aki-P would find some way to squeeze Maeda Atsuko on AKB48's last single before her departure from the group. Not that I'm pissed about that or anything, I just saw it coming. Anything to squeeze a few bucks more from her wotas, right? Unsurprisingly Yume no Kawa is a melancholic, almost nostalgic ballad... isn't it always? I actually would like to see another graduation song with a more energetic, happier sound;an upbeat song worked for Takahashi Ai's graduation song and she has about as much personality as Acchan does! The song is okay but it's plagued with a lot of problems your typical ballad will have. For one thing, it really drags. It also doesn't really stick out for a ballad, although it's a rather nice sounding song. The one interesting thing about this song is how much emotions I hear in the girls singing. Everyone, especially Acchan, sounds like they're about to cry in this song. And not in the way where everyone is breathy and blubbering and the vocals sound like a teary mess; like in the movies, where people sing emotionally but don't actually let their emotions affect their vocals! Does that even make sense? No? Well, at least Acchan has some emotion in her this time! Nice job for putting emotion into your voice Acchan! Is it because you know your career is screwed after you're out of AKB48? I kid, I really do like Acchan and it's nice that she had such a sweet, heartwarming sendoff song, even if it's a little slow and cliched for me.
And then there's the PV. It pretty much consists of Acchan riding off in a boat away from
I give it three apples out of five. It's an okay ballad but nothing's special or unique about it. I expected it for a farewell song and that's the only thing it is. On the up side, it isn't a bad song and everyone sounds genuinely sad in it, including Acchan the Drama-less Queen herself.
Gingham Check was a highly polarizing single as a whole for me. Half the songs I liked, and the latter I pretty much loathed. Same goes for the PVs. So what lay in store for this single? Gingham Check or Gingham Mess?
I've decided to give it three out of five apples. So Gingham... Median? Show fight! was stellar and Nante Bohemian was interesting to listen to. Yume no Kawa was a pretty but bland ballad that was overall okay for me but nothing special. Gingham Check and Do Re Mi Fa Onchi can both drown a bucket for all I care. I won't miss them at all. So if you're an AKB48 fan looking to buy a single, I'd recommend the Limited B since it has Show fight! and Nante Bohemian to balance out the half-assed blandness of the A-side. If you're looking for a last hurrah for Acchan, Limited A edition has Yume no Kawa. And naturally I think you'll like either edition if you're just buying it for Yuko finally being center. Lastly, if you don't give two shits about any of these songs... what the hell are you doing reading this? Go wait for their next single to be released or something!
As for myself, I'm going to go listen to Flying Get. Peace out.