Saturday, December 8, 2012

Whose Line is it Anyway? -The Best Line Distribution I've Seen in Idol Music-

So. Line distribution.

I think of all the many topics that fans in the idol world constantly argue over, the biggest one is line distribution. Left and right you get complaints of this girl getting too many lines and that girl getting not enough lines. It's quite exhausting! I admit, I've complained on more than one occasion when I dislike the line distribution for a certain song. And why not? Bad line distribution bothers me! Ever since I entered the idol fandom, it's bothered me! Sure, I've learned to tolerate it (to an extent) but it's still one of the things about idols (or the agency that manage them at least) that really bothers me. I think I wouldn't mind so much if there weren't groups and songs that showed yes, it is possible for idols to have good line distribution. Doing so gives me a little hope spot for a world with even line distribution filled with rainbows and flowers and glowsticks. Alas, that's not happening ever but I still would like to go over some of the best examples of good line distribution that I've come across! Now I'm not a walking, talking hard-drive so I can't cover every idol in the world so I went off the idols I follow and drew examples from their music or even the group itself! Naturally, there are probably lots more examples out there of good line distribution and if you feel inclined to let me know, just leave a comment! Or attempt to telepathically send it to me. I won't say that'll work but you'll get a star for trying!

10. AKB48: Initially, this one might seem kind of surprising, especially now that there's a great debate raging on about who should be the next ace of AKB48. The group has built itself up around having one "face" to get the center of attention and have a lot of focus in PVs, promotions, dancing position, etc. But I've looked up the color coded lyrics to their songs, and the line distribution is surprisingly even. You still have semi-leads but hardly anyone ever gets a solo and almost every girl gets to share a duet/trio/quartet at some point in the song. Now it's true that the screen distribution is incredibly uneven in their PVs but when it comes down to just the vocals, I was pleasantly surprised at how even it was. I think it's because the way AKB48's singles are done (selecting the most popular girls to represent the group) that they have such even line distribution. And don't get me wrong, it's not completely balanced; girls like Oshima Yuko and Watanabe Mayu get a slightly larger amount of lines than some of the less popular girls like Kitahara Rie and Minegishi Minami. And there have also been solos in the past, particularly in their early singles like Skirt, Hirari and Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru. But for the most part, AKB48 has some of the better line distribution out there, especially for being the top idol group in Japan.

9. Shabondama - Morning Musume: I love this song for a lot of reasons. The fact that the line distribution is good is one of those many reason. This song goes to show that just because Morning Musume has leads doesn't mean they can't give lines to everyone else! Long before the days of the reign of Ai and Reina and only Ai and Reina, they lead the 6th Generation's debut song. And they do a really nice job; they sound strong and powerful and have a lot of emotion. But do you know what the nice thing about this song is that sets it apart from other songs with Ai and Reina as leads? They're not the only ones with solos; in Shabondama, everyone got some kind of solo. Even Sayumi! And keep in mind there were fifteen girls in Morning Musume at the time this song was recorded and they all got solos. Not all of them were long but they were still solos! Besides they all couldn't lead the song otherwise it would be a 10-minute song at the least but still! It just goes to show that if you do it right, you can have a song with good line distribution that still has leads! It helps that this song is one of my favorites from Morning Musume and I'm still longing for the day they release another song with even line distribution. Oh well... I can hope for the 52nd single, right?

8. Chou HAPPY SONG - Berrikyuu: I love this idea; I loved it when the two separate songs by two separate idol groups were merged together to create one! Even better? Those groups were Berryz Koubou and C-ute? And even better? Those respective songs had good line distribution! Especially C-ute's song, Shiawase no Tochuu! Everyone got 3 or 4 solos lines which is nice compared to their older songs which had really sucky line distribution! Then again, recently C-ute's been doing well with even line distribution so I'm not terribly surprised! Because Happiness by Berryz Koubou is a little less uneven since Maasa and Chinami don't get any lines but they still get some duets here and there! And it's nice that Saki got some lines since she doesn't normally get any! But I think the best part is when you get the songs blended together to make Chou Happy Song. You get to hear so many different solos and voices in this fusion song that the effect is really cool! The sheer act of getting the Hello! Project Kids back together was a great idea in is own. I think the numerous amount of solos in Chou Happy Song helped to show how diverse these girls are in terms of vocals and how their voices blend together! It's just a great song that sprung from a great idea and has great vocal distribution!

7. Heroine ni Narou ka! - Berryz Koubou: So this was the first Berryz song that was released post-Inazuma promotions and already there was a change in line distribution. For all the Inazuma theme songs, they pretty heavily featured Miyabi, Risako, Momoko and Yurina (to an extent) and usually Maasa, Chinami and Saki got a solo every now and then in the collection of songs. Overall, Berryz probably has some of the better line distribution of the H!P groups but it could be better. You have front girls like Miya, Risako, Momoko and Yurina but everyone else is kind of pushed to the back. Personally, I thought it was kind of stagnant to have the same four girls sing lead even though it is quite impressive to have four leads in one song! Heroine ni Narou ka! pretty much doesn't have a lead. True, Yurina's Autotuned backing vocals give her the most lines total but it still feels more like everyone got a nicely even amount of lines. It was a nice change to hear girls like Maasa and Chinami (especially Maasa who never gets more than one solo line) having a chance to give a lot of vocals into a Berryz song! It was just really awesome listening to this song and being able to hear everyone a lot for a change!

6. Maji Desu ka Ska! - Morning Musume: This is another generation song that I think fits the quintessential generation song! I will admit, I've said a lot that I have to be in the right mood to listen to Maji Desu ka Ska! but something I've always admired about the song is how even the line distribution is! In terms of vocals, the entire 9th Generation gets showed off equally; each girl (even Riho the Ace I'm Not Okay With) gets two lines. Same goes for the older members; they all get two lines each. Except Reina and Ai but even then they get three lines each! Even when those two get a marginally bigger amount of lines, it still feels like a song sung by everyone and it's a great way to highlight the 9th Generation. Giving them all an equal amount of lines is like introducing them to the fandom! I remember I was so happy with the line distribution in this so to have that really good line distribution disappear so quickly was terrible. Ever since Maji Desu ka Ska! UFP's become hell-bent on making Riho the next Takahashi Ai and pushing everyone else to the back. It really stinks because in Maji Desu ka Ska! you could hear the potential in all the new members. At the level of line distribution right now, I highly doubt Momusu's line distribution will be like this again for a very long time.

5. Perfume: Okay, so technically speaking, Perfume pretty much isn't an idol group (my philosophy is indies Perfume was an idol group but after Polyrhythm, they transitioned into artists). But they're my number-one group I write about and naturally, if I have an opportunity to praise them, I shall do so! I love Perfume. That's obvious but one of the reasons I love Perfume is because each member is promoted equally and in their songs they get really good line distribution! It's a little hard to tell since their vocoded voices make each girl hard to distinguish but their vocals are pretty evenly spread out! Every now and then one girl might get one or two lines more but overall, they all get a bunch of vocals and that's mainly because of their size and how they're promoted equally. I think Perfume is one of the reasons I love smaller idol groups: because in a smaller idol group, each girl has a better chance of shining. In larger groups, you get girls who are shafted but not in Perfume. In Perfume, A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka all have attention and are recognized as individuals that make up a group. Now there is a faction of the fandom that has a bigger bias towards one girl or the other but let's not talk about that and just enjoy their really good line distribution!

4. Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~ - Morning Musume: I loved the concept for this song: putting the girls into color-coded teams and having each team sing parts of the song! There were no solos, no leads, just everyone singing in their respective team? Why can't Morning Musume do that now? It worked great back then, they could shuffle all the members and divide them into teams! How awesome and non-shafting would that be? Yeah, something I really like about this song is that there are no leads and everything is sung in groups. It feels a lot like what AKB48 does now except the vocals are even more evenly distributed! And it makes sense considering the Momusu lineup was about as big as the Senbatsu for AKB48 is today. The teams all get a nice amount of group lines each! I don't want to say it sounds like a chorus because it's not but this song reminds me a bit of One for All and One for All only with less girls and no solos! The color-coded teams were a really fun concept and the best part was they made way for some really well-done line distribution!

3. Edo no Temari Uta II - C-ute: Remember the days when C-ute's line distribution sucked? I don't but I can tell from past videos it did! At this point in time, C-ute had released five singles under a major label and they were all pretty heavy on using Airi and Maimi and sometimes featuring Maimai and/or Nakky with minor vocals. If UFA was in the right mood. The previous single, Namida no Iro, was especially heavy on Airi and Maimi solos and that song would probably be in my top 20 or maybe 30 songs with bad line distribution. This song was a completely 180 from the line distribution in Namida no Iro. Edo no Temari Uta II is a relatively short song (under 3 minutes I think) but in that time, everyone gets a solo line, even less popular members like Chissa and Kanna! In fact, this was the first C-ute song where everyone got a solo; it only took them 4 indies and 5 more singles to reach that point! Each girl gets just one line except for Airi who gets two because Airi is Airi but it's a great way to lay out all the solos! Everyone sings the chorus and everyone gets a line! It's a perfect balance! And then they released Forever Love which was 90% Airi and Maimi again. So much for even line distribution...

2. Buono!: Buono! was actually the first Hello! Project group that really caught my eye. I think it was because they were a trio just like Perfume and also their really rocking music but the nice thing was I could recognize each member! They all had really distinctive voices and it was easy to tell each one apart! When I started, getting into other H!P groups and began realizing how bad their line distribution was, I also realized how valuable Buono! was. Other than S/mileage, they were the only group in H!P that seemed to show off each member equally! I think that was once again, because Buono! is too small for anyone to get shafted. The only time I can remember the line distribution being really off was for Natsu Dakara! (one of my least favorite songs of 2011) which basically featured a lot of Airi and a little bit of Miyabi and Momoko. Luckily that was gone with their next single and every since then, the group gets really nice and even line distribution! It was incredibly refreshing to see no one left in the back or anyone without solos in comparison to groups like Morning Musume. You know, Buono! is a lot like the number 1 group on my list in terms of line distribution! Speaking of number 1...

1. 4nin S/mileage: Yeah, I'm saying 4nin S/mileage because the current S/mileage sucks in terms of line distribution. Oh, I miss the old S/mileage so much. The even line distribution is one of the many things I miss about old S/mileage. I was worried how adding new members would affect their great line distribution and unfortunately, the newbs really upset the great balance the old S/mileage had. Before there were more newbs than OGs, the old S/mileage was hailed as having the best line distribution in Hello! Project outside of Buono! And it was true; all four girls in S/mileage got a lot of lines and it didn't really feel like anyone was leading the songs. Sometimes, girls like Yuuka and Saki would get an extra line or two but most of the time, everyone in old S/mileage got an equal amount of lines. And I miss that. Now, S/mileage has members that get shafted! What happened to the days where no one got shafted? The smallness of the original S/mileage is another example of why I think having less members in an idol group is a beneficial thing! Oh well, I'll just wistfully stare out the window and think of a better, simpler time in which S/mileage had even line distribution...

Now wasn't that nice and positive? I always love writing positive things and I've decided to share the positiveness with a poll! Yeah, I'm actually doing another one! The poll question this time is Which idol group has the best line distribution? I put down a various array of artists (I tried to keep it current as there are a lot of old subgroups that could be in there). If you feel like spreading the positiveness, feel free to vote!

2 comments:

  1. I just think with Perfume, there is no reason for them to not have a bad line distribution. There is 3 of them who can sing well so they definitely need to be in the list.

    Totally agree with Buono! and 4-nin S/mileage even though I got into S/mileage when the new members joined. But they do try to keep it fair with the current S/mileage with Ayaka and Kanon getting a line or two more being 1st gen members.

    Also agree about Shabondama, Heroine ni Narou Ka? and Chou Happy Song.

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    1. Yeah, that's just one of the many things that makes Perfume awesome! Then again, I'm biased so don't take my word for it. I've always loved how well-promoted A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka are! If only other groups would look at them as an example!

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