So remember back in August when I said that S/mileage might be on the road to redemption if UFA, now UFP, didn't fuck up their next single? Well, here we are three months later and thank god their next single sounds pretty good.
Here it is! The first Christmas single of 2012! And it's only November. Yep, it appears S/mileage is following in the incredibly popular trend of idol Christmas songs with Samui ne being kind of a spiritual successor to C-ute's Aitai Lonely Christmas. Yep, this time around there are no peppy and upbeat songs for S/mileage like Dot Bikini or Chotto Matte Kudasai! And if you're like me, you might consider that a blessing; their first two singles of 2012 were pretty blah to me and just didn't work the same way they would have for 4nin S/mileage. Call me a purist but still. You just can't handle the TRUTH! Anyways, Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki was an improvement over Dot Bikini and Chotto Matte Kudasai! but it definitely could have been better. Over time, I even grew bored with that song though I applaud UFP for trying a more serious direction for the 6nin group. 4nin S/mileage had tackled already serious song with Yume Miru 15 but that still had a lot of energy behind it and maintained an upbeat, dance-able tune and Suki yo did too albeit to a lesser degree. Samui ne is neither Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki or Yume Miru 15: it is a straight-up ballad, albeit an energetic ballad. The one thing I can't stand about ballads is that most of them sound pretty soulless to me; they're pretty but if an artist isn't careful, I won't remember them in a week or so. To make a good ballad takes a certain amount of energy and the ability to manipulate that energy into the typical sound of a ballad without it sounding lifeless. Does that make sense? Anyways, Samui ne falls into the category of nice ballads that stick out in my memory! The opening notes in the chorus are especially memorable but that might be because it's the title of the song... The song sounds a lot like As For One Day by Morning Musume and even a little bit like a slowed down Namida Uri no Shoujo by AKB48. I guess that's okay since I do enjoy those two songs.
But... I do have a few criticisms for this song. One, actually, but it's a big one for me. As pretty as the song is, it just doesn't feel like a S/mileage song. And when I say that, I don't mean to imply that they should only stick to happy and cute songs and never attempt to experiment with other genres of music. I think experimenting's great, regardless of whether the end product is good or not! However... when I first heard this song, I thought the musical style and the arrangement would have worked better for C-ute. It might be because they released Aitai Lonely Christmas and this would have made a great sequel but I think it's mainly because it would have worked better for a group with such diverse vocal talent. And again, S/mileage doesn't sound bad in the song; in fact, a lot of the girls have improved, especially Meimi and Kana! But the thing is they sound like S/mileage aka they sound freaking adorable. For songs like Please Miniskirt Postwoman! and Uchouten Love those sweet, high-pitched voices work because they match the song but for Samui ne, it's a little bit harder to listen to. They sound good but for the song, it took me awhile to get used to hearing such cheerful sounding voices over such a wistful and dreamy ballad. Even now I think the song would have worked better for a different group. Still, I think it's great that we're finally getting some variety in new S/mileage's music considering for a long time, the group has stuck to a cuter and more light-hearted style of music! It's a nice ballad even if it's nothing special and it has grown on me over time. Could it have been better? Maybe, but for what it is, I'll take it!
But enough of the song. Let's take a look at the PV and figure out just why the S/mileage girls are so cold!
Oo!! If I had some paint, I could draw little pink hearts on those cubes and make them Companion Cubes!
Oh god. I hate these outfits so much. Possibly even more than Wakuteka Take a chance.
See? Now this is a pretty close-up. Very simple, but elegant!
Although it's a little difficult to see everyone because of those lights...
Oh, Meimi, you're so adorable! Even when you're not bouncing off the walls!
I mean, TAILS? Really!? How could anyone have thought these outfits looked good!?
So is Dawa's necklace like a Horcruxe or something? Because I'm just saying, that would make for an awesome PV.
Okay, despite the hideous costumes, Dawa's hair looks to pretty! Everyone's hair does actually...
Wait... a minute. These close-ups are pretty but I feel like I've seen some just it...
Naichau Kamo! That's what they remind me of! It's like the snowy version of Naichau Kamo!
So Kanon has the necklace too? Gee, that thing's really going around!
And Akari has it!?
Even Meimi! What is this!? Is it the same necklace? Different copies? ...You're never going to explain that, are you UFP?
Why are you so sad, Rina? Did the necklace rob your house, steal your groceries and kidnap your dog or something?
Ew. Just... ew ew ew. They're like... rip-off Sailor Moon costumes! With tails!
Even when Meimi's tries to look sad she's adorable!
Hey... these shots don't just remind me of Naichau Kamo. There's another PV...
Oh yeah! Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow! Best winter PV EVER! Then again, I'm biased so don't take my word for it.
Yay! Rina got a line! She's so cute!
And Kana too! Her voice sounds so much better compared to their last song!
Dawa's happy because she knows that the necklace truly belongs to her! Mwahaha!
Poor Kana. No gorillas in this PV for her...
I just realized there's no dance shot. Hrm. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing.
What in the hell is everyone looking at? Is there a cat on the ceiling or something?
And Meimi's looking down because she's a special snowflake! Get it? 'Cause there are snowflakes in the... the... nevermind.
Whoa. Akari should totally model... stuff. Maybe necklaces!
I'll bet Dawa just realized she'd much warmer if she went inside!
Yeah, if it was snowing outside, this would totally be the outfit I'd wear to stay warm!
Really? You write a song titled It's Cold, give the girls impractically skimpy outfits, and you don't expect anyone to point out that they'd be a lot warmer if they put on some goddamn sweaters? Oh no, you were totally baiting yourself up for this, UFP! I'm onto you.
Now on the subject of those outfits... yeah, I kind of hate them. I hated them when I first saw the concert pics and my opinion still hasn't changed seeing them in better quality. And that's mainly because they don't match at all with the tone of the song and the overall atmosphere of the PV. The video opens with this very luminescent and slightly gloomy opening, with these white Companion Cubes and flowy text. It sets you up for a very ethereal and winter-y music video when BAM! It's the Sailor S/mileage Senshi! Smile Prism Power! Make up!!! First Wakuteka Take a chance costumes and now these? What is wrong you, UFP!? Can you not design two stylish costumes in a row or something? Do you have a secret contract with Aki-P in which you design good outfits for one single and AKB48 gets bad outfits and vice versa? I like the pretty white dresses they used so much better in the close-ups for the PV; won't UFP ever realize that sometimes simplicity is a good thing? With all the crap going on with the main outfits, it takes away from the emotions that the girls are conveying throughout the PV because I'm too busy gaping at those hideous clothes. The mood whiplash in this PV is even worse than Manatsu no Sounds good! But that's not the only thing I dislike about the group shot. You can't see it in the still screencaps but every so often when the camera is focused on the full shots of Sailor S/mileage, it does this... movement? The camera will sort of jerk up then back down and go back to filming a still shot. It's annoying, really annoying and it drove me crazy the whole time I was watching the PV! I honestly think that UFP just hired a really clumsy cameraman that was constantly tripping during the filming and UFP, being the cheapskates they are, decided not to re-shoot the shots and deemed it to be "art." Well, it's not. It only adds to my dislike of these shots.
Now, there are parts of the PV that I enjoy: mainly, all the close-up scenes where the girls are wearing the white dresses. Once again, I liked them because of their simplicity and they made me focus less on the outfits and more on the girls themselves. Now due to the lack of a translation yet, I'm not sure what the lyrics are about but knowing what Tsunku writes about, I think it's pretty likely that Samui ne is a song about lost love. If not, I will be very, very surprised. So because idols can't date yet somehow they still sing love songs, I can only imagine what the directors suggested to the girls to make them feel sad. Maybe the fact that they'll never feel the embrace of another person until age 20 at least! Anyways, whatever they did, it worked. In the close-ups, every girl looks sad to some degree, some more than others but still, they managed to match the tone of the song pretty decently. I highly doubt any of them are going to win an Oscar anytime soon but standing there in the fake snow, for a moment I felt a little sorry for them. Then again, I'd feel sorry for anyone that had to wear those costumes- oh my god. I just had an idea. Instead of just standing around in those horrendous costumes, why not just have them wandering around a maze in those white dresses? You know, like they're lost in the cold or something? Come on, how hard would it be to make a maze, UFP? Surely it couldn't cost that much! It would be just as simplistic as this current PV but I think it would work better with the song and probably more intriguing than having just stand around in Sailor Moon outfits! What I'm hoping for is that UFP will release a version of the PV in which the group shots are cut out and they probably will with a close-up version or something like that! I'll be eagerly waiting.
But for now I'm giving this song and PV 3.5 out of 5 apples. I appreciate S/mileage dabbling in a different style of music, even I feel like the song would have worked a little bit better for a more mature group. The PV is nice but would be nicer without those god-awful costumes. Overall, it's a decent single, that's slightly better than their previous! And remember: if you're cold, don't be like S/mileage. Put on a freaking sweater already. I know I'm wearing one!