What? Is a Wizard of Oz reference too cliche for the title of a single review? Whatever, I'm a fan of the elegantly stylish Tokyo Girls' Style and I wanted to take a look at their latest single. The last time we'd heard from TGS, they had released the bland and mostly forgettable Tsuioku and then they'd taken off to train some more to prepare for their first concert at the Budokan. So did all that hard work and training pay off for the TGS girls? We're about to find out. With my ever faithful sidekick, the Apple Rating System, I will give each of the three different songs on this single (I'm not looking at the Bad Flower remix) a certain amount of apples, the most being five and the least being zero.
When I saw the outfits in the Bad Flower PV, I really loved them. The sheer black fabric looked so pretty when the girls danced and I liked how they were incorporated into the dance itself. The effect made the girls look very ethereal and ghostlike, like little spirits that happen to be really good dancers. However... I think I don't like them quite as much on the covers for the single. The problem with these outfits is that they look much better in motion than when they're still. On the overs, the beautiful black skirts more like awkward curtains and the badass leather jackets don't really match up with the flowy and soft skirts they wear. They're like... Gothic bikers from hell or something! I guess that works since it is Halloween but I don't think that's what Avex was going for with these outfits. I like them better than the outfits for Tsuioku and Rock you! but they're not at the Kodou no Himitsu or Limited Addiction level of good. Of the actual jacket covers, I like the diversity each one has and they all have a consistent dark look; my favorite is probably Type B (the one at the top of this post). What I love about this cover is the intricate background filled with elegantly Gothic mirrors and chandeliers; it almost makes the TGS girls look like they're sitting in some strange old antique shop. Speaking of the girls, I like how they're all positioned here too since this is the cover where the outfits look the least awkward. The CD Only version pretty much looks like Type B, just a closer shot of the girls in that same intricate setting. I don't like Type A so much because the weird lighting effects they shopped onto the girls look more tacky than surreal and it clashes with the outfits. Overall the covers are far from bad
Already Bad Flower is an improvement from Tsuioku; I can actually remember this song! My first impression of Bad Flower was how much darker it sounded compared the previous discography TGS has released. Sure, they had songs like Limited Addiction and Liar but they're not anywhere near as dark as Bad Flower sounds. I think it's because Bad Flower incorporates the frequent use of the guitar and other harder, more rock instrumentals. I wouldn't say the song is hardcore because compared to other songs, it's really not but for TGS it's pretty hardcore. Everything just sounds very deliberate, like the vocals and instrumentals are being slammed into your head. Hrm, that sounded much more painful than it did in my head... Speaking of vocals, the vocal highlight of the song is most definitely Hitomi, and oh my god, does she sound good. Before, I'd always been kind of on the fence with her voice since it wasn't terrible but still wasn't the best in the group. Clearly that extra training paid off, because this is the best I've heard of her voice! Her voice sounds incredibly powerful and strong, almost as good as Ayano sounded in Limited Addiction. In fact... I think Bad Flower did for Hitomi what Limited Addiction did for Ayano. Everyone else also sounds nice but vocals have never really been a huge problem for TGS! The one problem I have with this song is that it's a teensy bit too long for me; I guess that's kind of ironic since edge (⊿-mix) is almost 9 minutes and that's one of my favorite songs ever. But Bad Flower gets a little monotonous by the end; still, I like the song a lot and I like the dark direction Avex decided to take for this song!
The PV itself also matches the dark tone of the song perfectly! I've done a lengthier review here but I think I like the PV just a little bit better than I did when writing that review! My main problem with the PV is that there isn't really much going on but even then that's not a terribly big problem. The PV is essentially a dance PV with some fairly interesting close-ups but you can tell there's a lot of emphasis on the dance. That training really did pay off because the dance of Bad Flower is probably the strongest I've seen from TGS! I'm no expert but if it looks complicated, then it looks pretty awesome to me! There are lot of different formations and borderline-seductive moves and they really make good use of those flowy skirts. I love the way the outfits look in the PV! Why couldn't they have looked this awesome on the covers!? There are some other close-up shots in the PV like the ones that feature TGS as playing cards; I thought that was a rather cool effect! And then about mid-way through the PV the camera shows the girls lying down and doing some strange floor formations that make them look like bats that can't fly... Still, it's a pretty creepy-cool shot! The PV isn't as creepy as say, Limited Addiction, but visually it's still very dark! The PV definitely isn't groundbreaking or new material for TGS but nonetheless it's still a very tastefully shot PV with a strong dance from the girls!
Bad Flower gets four and a half apples out of five for being almost perfect. It's a little too long for me and the style isn't new for them but nevertheless, it's still a strong leading track for their return, showcasing vastly improved vocals and an even stronger dance!
Lolita Strawberry in Summer
Well, hello there, SweetS cover! So I think the big question for this song is who sang it better? SweetS or TGS? Well, for the record I've never listened to SweetS. With that in mind, I've now given both the original and TGS' cover listens, one right after the other. And of the two... I think I like the SweetS version better. It's mainly because I think the instrumentals for that group worked better and it felt like the song flowed better. The cover isn't bad but it doesn't work for TGS the way it worked for SweetS; I felt like it didn't flow as well and I'm not a fan of the arrangement. What I noticed about this song is that it's really long, over 6 minutes. I feel like the lengthiness of the song was unnecessary especially since the original song is only around 4 minutes and that really made it drag in my opinion. To be fair, I think Avex was trying to rework the song to fit the style TGS has but in my opinion, it doesn't have as much punch as the SweetS version. I will say I like the vocals better in TGS; from what I heard, everyone in SweetS sounds really squeaky, except for one of them (I'm not sure who). I've always been a fan of TGS for their deep, powerful vocals and those definitely show in the song. Mei got a lot of solos in this cover which is awesome in my opinion! I love it when other girls besides Hitomi and Ayano (great as they are) get to lead! Overall, the song isn't terribly bad since the original song covered was pretty good in the first place but I it's probably my least favorite track on the song.
I can sum up the PV in two words: it sucks. I probably should explain why it sucks because it really sucks. And not in the entertaining way in which I can fun of it like with PyokoPyoko Ultra. Usually, I try to keep my mind open when it comes to animated PVs because there are a few interesting ones (like Kikkawa Yuu's Koko Kara Hajimarunda). The problem with taking on an animated PV is that it takes a lot of time and effort so it won't enter the Uncanny Valley (look it up on TV Tropes). When I think of CGI, I think of Pixar/Dreamworks. This PV... is not either one of those. It has terrible CGI animation, the movements aren't fluid, and panty shots? Really? How old are the animators, twelve? I will admit some of the background scenes are cool and this PV probably would have looked much better if it were shot in live action. Instead I feel like I'm watching five Barbie dolls stare into my soul. These animated girls look nothing like the real TGS! Not to mention the dance looks jilted and awkward instead of fluid like the live performance. If you're going to do animation, you can't half-ass it the way it was done in this PV. Look, as a person who enjoys high quality animation I just have a lot of problems with this PV that I could go on all day about. It's frightening and not in the Halloween-y way that I enjoy.
I'll give Lolita three apples out of five because while it's not the best cover in the world, SweetS is always a pretty safe group to cover especially for a group like TGS. For the record, the PV would get one apple but I try not to take PVs into consideration when rating.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks of this Discord when I hear that word. Hello? I can't be the only one! Well anyways... you have no idea how much of a pain it was trying to find the audio for this song; everywhere I went I could find the Limited B version of the single which only had Bad Flower and Lolita on it. No Discord. It was quite... discording! HA! When I finally did find the song, I was thinking to myself that this song had better be pretty freaking good considering all the trouble I had to go through to obtain it. Luckily, the song didn't disappoint. Discord is probably my favorite track on the song and it's in the same dark style Bad Flower had except with more electronics and vocal effects. And no, it's not Perfume-level vocal effects though it's pretty obvious the vocal editing is there to enhance the song. It's got this kinda Japanese funk from the future vibe! Oh wait, Perfume's Monochrome Effect was called that too... well, maybe this is like a Perfume song! Discord is pretty much carrying on the dark edginess that Bad Flower had but it does let up a little on the hard instrumentals. I don't have much to say about this song other than I really enjoy it and it's probably my favorite track on the song! Which is really good because if this song hadn't been worth all the trouble I would have been so pissed.
Five apples. Discord totally gets five apples. That is all.
Bad Flower is probably the strongest single Tokyo Girls' Style has released this year. Each track stands out on its own yet they all have the same cohesive theme. It's definitely one of the group's edgier releases with a variety of different instrumentals. Other than the mostly pointless SweetS cover, each track stands out in its own special way to me! Bad Flower had the edgy guitar-fused sound, Discord had an electronic tinge to it, and Lolita... well, you can't go too far off track with a SweetS cover!
So I'll give it 4.5 apples. It's a pretty awesome single so go check it out or never return to the Wonderland again!