Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Can't Pin Heel Surf in High Heels!

Okay, first of all, what the hell is a pin heel surfer? Anyone got an answer? Anyone? Hello? I guess I'll just have to look it up and find out myself, won't I?

Look guys! It's Scandal! And no, I don't mean an idol scandal, I mean the girl band that's kinda-sorta like a reincarnation of Zone! Remember when I wrote about them? If you don't, that's completely understandable because it's been months since I reviewed anything by this band. I think it was around February or March... but anyways, I've decided to once again take another look at this idol band and review the PV to their latest single, Pin Heel Surfer. This is actually a PV that's been out for a month or so now but since I'm almost done with my review of their latest album, Queen are Trumps -Kirifuda wa Queen-, I thought why not review Scandal's latest single too? I figured it would be a good idea to see what musical style the band has been doing lately and I thought checking out their last single before the release of the album would help! So we're taking a brief break from Halloween-related things and going back in time to September 2012! One of my favorite things about Scandal that sets them apart from other girl groups is that they're a band and they play their own instruments. And they're good at it. Okay, they're not Jimmi Hendrix-level good but they're still good enough to hold their own at concerts. You can tell that they enjoy playing their instruments and it's a huge part of the band's image. Personally, in an industry where most idol groups just sing and dance, I like that a lot. AKB48 tried and failed miserably with the playing their own instruments concept, but in my opinion, Scandal reigns supreme as the best idol band on the market. Now whether Scandal is an idol band or just a band is debatable, but as someone who reviews idol music, I'm going to squeeze them into the idol band category. Besides, their current music is pretty idol-y compared to some of their older stuff. Weird, huh? You'd think that as they got older, their music would get more adult but it appears to be going backwards! I'm not saying they turned into a pop group but I feel like I hear less hardcore rock from them now and more pop-rock.

Speaking of pop rock, that's pretty much the category of music that Pin Heel Surfer falls into. In fact, I might even call it a pop song with rock-infused elements. You can still hear the guitars and drums but they're not the most prominent part of the song and the song feels like it's carried more by the vocals than the instruments. Now when you're listening to really good singers like Mizuki Nana and Utada Hikaru, that can be a really strong aspect. It's great to carry a song with just your voice and the song can sound really powerful thanks to vocals. However, Scandal's vocals in this are... not powerful. I will say, Haruna's sounds pretty powerful at some parts but then there are other bits in the song where you can hear the strain in her voice, particularly the high notes. I do like her voice so overall she doesn't sound bad in the song, just a little strained at some parts. And then there's Tomomi. I said before that I've always found Tomomi's voice to be ridiculously squeaky and that's not different for Pin Heel Surfer. I do think it works better in this song though since it's a happy sounding, pop rock song but man, she has a high-pitched voice. Rina and Mami do less singing and more playing instruments but all four girls do sing in the chorus. And honestly, I think the chorus is where the song sounds the weakest. I think it's mainly because of the vocals; they just don't sound... interested. Maybe it's because the vocal arrangement of the chorus is pretty generic; okay, the vocal arrangement of the entire song is pretty generic but the chorus is the most generic part! I think that's my biggest problem with Pin Heel Surfer: it's too predictable. The guitar is good but not innovative, the vocals are typical, it's just a generic rock song. I guess overall, Pin Heel Surfer is and okay song but I feel like I've heard better and more rock-ish songs from Scandal.

Well, even if the song doesn't jazz me, another element of Scandal that I like are their PVs! I always love how Scandal plays their instruments in their PVs because they make it look so fun and effortless. And I'm sure Pin Heel Surfer has a lot of that... right? Right!?

See? Mami's playing the guitar... in fishnets? Odd outfit choice but okay!

Where's everyone else's instruments?

I guess Haruna has a girl posse instead of a band now!

And I guess she's a dancer now! I suppose it makes sense; before forming Scandal, Haruna was a dancer!

Yay! There's the instruments they play!

I'm tired of playing instruments with you people! I'm gonna go hang out with my dance posse!

Well you know what, Haruna!? I can make a dance posse too! SO HA!

I don't know why, but do you know what all this strutting reminds me of?

Natural ni Koishite of all things! But Perfume has a little more swag.

Oh. I guess they're all part of the dance posse now!

So why is that one background dancer wearing a nurse's hat?

Does Mami have like magic tunnels or something? She keeps popping up everywhere at the randomest times!

You're really pressing on that wall, Tomomi! Are you an earthbender or something?

Rina's so adorable! But she looks even more adorable playing the drums!

Haruna, where are you going?

I wanna be with my dance posse!

I don't know why but seeing Scandal dancing in fishnet tights and pencil skirts feels really surreal.

Maybe because this is what their earlier PVs looked like.

Wait a minute... is that a... FOOT DANCE?

A foot dance with three girls in heels!?

Oh no, you did not just rip off the foot dance from Nee!

It even has the foot swinging move!

What a rip-off... and it's not even a good imitation of the Nee foot dance!

Oh hey, someone in the band other than Mami is actually playing her instrument!

I love how into it Rina looks when she's playing the drums!

Now can we get the rest of the girls to play their instruments too?

I guess they're just gonna walk and dance. Oh well...

I have to admit, I do like the fishnets and red shoes but it just doesn't fit with the image I have of Scandal.

I mean, the girl look great and everything but this just looks... weird.

And the backup dancers look good too but this entire PV still feels off.

Well, I can't change it so let's review this thing!

So... who are these people and what have they done with the real Scandal? I'm just kidding! But seriously, what happened to Scandal? Last time I saw them they were rocking out with instruments and being a rock band and all. Now they're dancing with backup dancers and it's... it's definitely a weird direction for them. I mean, this image just isn't something that I'd associate with Scandal. I figured they'd eventually shed the schoolgirls with guitars image since they're all grown women now but this is still just a very odd style for them. Don't get me wrong, the girls all look nice in their fishnets and pencil skirts and red heels but... it still feels weird seeing Scandal like this. I mean, I'm legitimately curious as to how and why this decision was made to market the band this way for Pin Heel Surfer. It's a pretty different image than normal for Scandal and I'm scratching my head as to why there had to be a change in direction. I mean, I thought their band-image was pretty cool and in this PV you barely see them playing their instruments, save for Mami who's playing the guitar a lot in the PV. Even so, there's a lot more time focused on the girls dancing and strutting and posing, especially Haruna and Rina. Personally, I would have liked this PV better if it had focused on Scandal playing as a band. Well... okay, let me set one thing straight: I am all for experimentation. I think it's great if an artist tries something different compared to their usual schtick. I can applaud them for attempting a different look or style even if that doesn't work for them. And I totally get it if Scandal was just experimenting with a different style for this PV. I'm aware that in the past, the girls of Scandal were dancers to if they want to incorporate some dancing into a PV?, I can understand why and I can acknowledge that. But on the other hand... just because I can acknowledge a change in direction doesn't mean I have to like it.  

And honestly, I'm not really liking this PV. One of the most defining elements of Scandal is that they're a band and they frequently incorporate their instruments into their PVs. I love that because I can tell that they're really comfortable with their respective instruments. The girls know how to play them in a PV and they have a lot of fun doing so. Some of my favorite PVs have been the ones where Scandal's just jumping around, rocking out and playing their instruments. So in in the Pin Heel Surfer PV, when you take away the instrument gimmick, what are you left with? Four very attractive girls singing and dancing. In other words, an idol group. As much as I hate to say it, this PV reminded me of a lot of idol PVs that I've watched. In fact, parts of it even remind me of some K-pop, particularly the outfits Scandal wears. I've seen the "sexy office look" a lot too! The biggest pitfall for Pin Heel Surfer is just how un-Scandal it is. It lacks a lot of the elements that I enjoy about Scandal; sure there are small moments where I can see the girls playing instruments, but they're scarce. My favorite part in the PV was when Rina was just playing the drums. And the rest of the PV was... okay, I guess. I think if this wasn't a Scandal PV I was watching, I might enjoy it just a bit more but even then it's a pretty generic PV. The background dancers are kind of neat (but again, very un-Scandal) and it is cool having the girls walk around a building singing and dancing. But it's not enough to keep me entertained for five minutes. Overall, Pin Heel Surfer is a peculiarly lackluster PV that's too generic and cliched to stand out. Again, I understand if Scandal wanted to try a different style but I hope that they don't explore it again and that it was just a one-time thing. I admire Scandal for experimenting with something different, but for me, it just didn't work for them.

So, I'm afraid I have to give Pin Heel Surfer two out of five apples. The song didn't impress me that much and I've heard much more interesting work from the band. The PV is weird in that it lacks a lot of the signature features of Scandal PVs and personally I don't think it works out. I really hate giving such a negative review on this single... hopefully I'll give a better review of the Queens are trumps -Kirifuda wa Queen- album!


  1. After reading the english translation of the lyrics, I conclude that Pin Heel Surfer refers to a girl/woman who struggles with a shaky self-image, a nasty heartbreak or other issues of life. It is as though she is surfing through life while wearing pin heels--an extremely difficult feat, yet she keeps her pin heels on to maintain her image.

    The song encourages Pin Heel Surfers to keep fighting, enjoy the world and to continue surfing upon the waves of life.

  2. its an ode to poweroffice girls. and your review aint a review. and you still didnt answer the question, "whats a pinheel surfer?" despite saying you research on it. overall your article suck ass.