Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Help Me Find a Better PV Director for Morning Musume

All right, Morning Musume's first single with Oda Sakura in it is coming and the Help me!! PV has finally been released! Contrary to my initial belief that the PV would be released some time in early January here we are at the middle of January and it has finally come. Maybe I shouldn't predict when PVs come out anymore, huh? 

Anyways, I was excited to hear just what kind of sound Oda Sakura's generation song would have. Would it follow in the vein of Morning Musume's recent songs and be another eletropop song? After all, that genre seemed to work really well for them and it doesn't feel like that style is going away any time soon. Or would it be another style, like a ballad? Well, as it turns out, Help me!! turned out to be another electropop song to add to Morning Musume's list! Now if you're like me and spent your time immersing yourself in Capsule and Kyarypamyupamyu and Perfume, electropop is right up your alley! And personally this is an electropop song that I can enjoy; I like it a lot! At first the arrangement felt a little messy mainly because there was simply so much going on in each part of the song. The verses sound complete different, the chorus sounds totally different, there's one musical style piled on top of the other and it takes a little while to get used to.

When I listened to the song for the first time, I though the song was choppy and that the transitions into all these different styles and arrangements were awkward. I know at first I felt like there was too much but over time my ears adjusted to it and I managed to make out the flow of the song. Is it a little awkward at times? It can be, especially if you haven't listened to the song before. But in the end, the variety is nice even if I think it could have been handled a little better. And the song has a ton of different parts that are all insanely catchy from the dubstep intro to the first verses and then the chorus. There's a lot going on in this song and I like all the different parts! It makes for a really cool and really upbeat electropop song! I think even fans who aren't so keen on Electro Musume can enjoy this song too mainly because it's less electro and more pop this time around. Now something else to note is there are a few parts of the song that are little too similar to One Two Three but for the most part, Help me!! is a fun and catchy song that manages to be another well-done electropop song for Morning Musume!

So I think one of the biggest questions for this song is... does it successfully showcase the debut of Morning Musume's 11th Generation aka Oda Sakura? After all, this is a generation song and as I've said in the past, I think that a generation song should showcase the new members. Songs like Maji Desu ka Ska! and Shabondama are perfect examples of generation songs not only in quality but in terms of showing the new members. As for Help me!!... I didn't really feel like this was a generation song. If I wasn't aware of that information, I probably wouldn't have even thought it was. That might be because the size of the 11th Generation is only one person; Kusumi Koharu's generation song also didn't have a lot of Koharu in it. Then again that might be for her lack of... vocal ability. Goto Maki however did get a lot of spotlight in Love Machine and I just sort of figured Sakura would get that same level of attention she did in her generation song. Don't get wrong, Sakura's there in the song but she was used a lot less than I estimated she would.

Does that subtract any enjoyment from the song? No, I still like the song but I wouldn't have complained if there was more Sakura in it. Because when she does get her big solos... she sounds great. Maybe it's because I've set the vocal bar so low for Morning Musume that I can enjoy anyone that doesn't screech their lines but Sakura sounds really, really good. Is it her best? No, and I think an electropop song isn't the best choice when you want to showcase good vocals but she sounds better than over half the other girls in Momusu right now. Like when she sings her first solo and Riho pops in to sing after her you can just hear the difference of quality between those two. Speaking of RiDOS... yeah, she doesn't sound good. Not even a little bit. I'm serious, am I crazy or something? Why do so many people think she sounds good right now? 2011, yeah, she sounded decent but here? It's obvious she's straining her vocal chords thanks to UFP's stupidity to only use her and Reina for half the song.

But that's not such a huge gripe for me because electropop isn't a genre that exactly requires the vocal ability of Mizuki Nana. Speaking of good singers, Fukumura Mizuki gets a great solo! I swear, I wish I could hear her voice more in Momusu's songs because she really does have a nice voice, better than Riho's anyway! I'm quite happy that Mizuki's getting more vocals with each song because I really do think she's one of the better singers in Momusu right now! Who knows? Maybe she'll replace Tanaka Reina after Reina graduates! Did I mention I'm excited about Reina graduating? As for everyone else... I guess they sound all right. It's a little hard to tell considering there are so many group lines that I can't really give verdicts on everyone. But for the singers who did get solos, they sounded decent with the exception of Riho. Speaking of vocals, as an electropop song, Help me!! does have Autotune so for you Autotune haters out there, that might be a bit of a downside to the song. Actually, there isn't a lot of Autotune in this song (well, not as much as One Two Three anyways) but I think the Autotune that is present works in the song.

I am happy that Tsunku's finally got the gratuitous Autotune under control, even if he can't ever match up to Nakata's level. Then again considering how much Perfume's newest song is lacking in Autotune, I hesitate to even call it an electropop song because stupid Doraemon can't handle the electropop awesomeness of Perfume so Nakata has to drown out all the creativity in his songs and... I'm sorry, who am I talking about again? Oh right, Morning Musume... eh heh heh, anyways Help me!! is a pretty good song. Is it my favorite song by Morning Musume? Absolutely not but it's still a good start to the new year. Everyone who gets to sing sounds decent and even though the arrangement feels a little hectic at first, I actually really like the sound of it. It's better than One Two Three but not quite as good as Wakuteka Take a chance. Still, a good electropop song that's a whole lot of fun to listen to!

Now I've already seen a few preview of the PV. But how does the entire PV mess up? Is it a sparkle-filled mess like Momusu's previous two PVs? Nope! It's a green-screen filled mess!

Despite the green screen, this is a very cool back ground to open the PV.

If only it looked like Mizuki was in the background.

I mean seriously, no one looks like they're really outside in some big city.

Oh well, at least the dance is cool!

I can't help but applaud Haruka for somehow making that hideous cheetah print outfit look good.

They green screened them into a church? Oh yeah, because I know I'd wear those outfits to church!

I don't know why, but some of these shots remind me of Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru.

Only Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru had more regular people in it...

Poor Sakura. You can tell how much of a hard time she's having figuring out what to do in the PV.

As for you Riho, you're damn lucky you're such a good dancer because your singing in this is... blegh.

That glowing... I knew it! Haruna's a celestial entity!

And Eripon looks awesome, even though I wish she had straight hair like in her profile pic!


Nia approves of the copious amounts of screen time Haruka gets.

I'll be right back, I gotta put on some sunglasses if I'm gonna make it through the rest of this PV.

Haruna, it's probably not smart to be standing on train tracks; a green-screen train might come barreling toward you!

You know, UFP, if you wanna make Mizuki a lead I would be completely okay with that... hint hint.

Ouch. That dance move looks way too flexible.

Really? Are you really using the multi-dancers green screen effect? I know you're cheap, UFP, but this is ridiculous!

You know, I think if the outfits were less buys, the girls might actually look marginally better against the green screens.

Oh my god. Mizuki as center? YES! YES YES YES!

Can I further emphasize the fact that Mizuki is a fucking awesome center?

The effects however, are not. Even with the lights in the studio turned out these green screens still don't look convincing.

Hey guys! Here's a drinking game: take a shot for every time you see a close-up of Zukki in this PV! By the times it's over, you'll be completely sober!

What the hell is happening to Reina? Is she turning into a celestial deity too?

Yeah, I think I like center!Mizuki better than center!Riho.

And so we get one more unnecessarily bright lighting effect to finish off the PV!

Oh yeah, Ayumi's in this PV. I guess I didn't notice her because of her lack of Creeper Smile.

This dance move looks cooler in motion but take my word for it, it's pretty cool.

You know, I just realized the Help me!! PV is like a low-budget version of NMB48's HA! PV.


Well. That was... that was... yeah, I've got some ranting to do about this PV.

Okay... the One Two Three PV was bad. The Wakuteka Take a chance PV was also not so good but at least they tried to have some more variety with the shots and sets. And compared to those two... the Help me!! PV isn't much better. I tried to like it. I tried to find something redeemable about this PV, but when I came back to watching it, I couldn't find a single thing that I liked about the Help me!! PV except the dance. Say what you want about Momusu's past PVs but at least they had sets. At least there was somewhat of a backdrop even if it was extremely simple and bare. But this? This PV doesn't even get that. It's nothing more than a bajillion green screens and the real kicker? They'd bad green screens, like the kind you'd see in a low budget movie or hell, a student film. Actually, I did a film class in fourth grade and I think our green screen was the same level of quality as the one in this PV. It's blatantly obvious that the girls aren't standing outside in a city or dancing in front of a lighted central city square and they starkly contrast to the green screen backgrounds. It looks bad, really bad and I hate that they used green screens in lieu of real locations.

I mean, I know it's harder to obtain real locations to shoot PVs on and requires more time and effort but still! Mano Erina had several PVs that were shot with her wandering around real locations and those PVs looked beautiful! Is it really that hard to just shoot the girls running around Tokyo? Or anywhere else for that matter? Oh wait, that probably just requires way too much effort on UFP's part. My bad! Let's just stick to giving them really crappy green screens and an even lower budget than usual! I'm serious, I can't even begin to accurately describe how much I abhor these green screens; honestly, I'd take a simple low-budget set over this mess of special effects! I'm not sure which one I'd prefer now: a bajillion pointless and heavily layered sparkle filters over the shots or no real shots at all and just a bajillion poorly done green screens!

And I'm not saying that I'm against green screens; a green screen can be used to create some really awesome effects! I am against the use of bad green screens that make Morning Musume PVs look even cheaper than usual. The thing is, they've had PVs with green screens that worked in the past like Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai and 3, 2, 1 Breakin' Out! But what worked for the green screens in Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai and 3, 2, 1 Breakin' Out! was that the worlds created in them were highly childish and surreal. You knew that the atmosphere wasn't supposed to be realistic and that was what made the PVs so fun! But with this PV you don't have that; instead the green screen sets are all supposed to look like real locations around a city but it fails so much. The city backdrops look unrealistic and they clearly aren't going to fool anyone into thinking "WOW! They went to a real city to shoot this! It looks so real, I mean seriously, you've totally outdone yourselves, UFP!" Instead, the effect that's created is more like someone cut out paper-doll images of the Morning Musume girls and glued them onto various photographs. While that idea sounds cooler in print, when translated to screen in the way it is in this PV, the end result is a cheap mess that looks like little to no effort was put into it.

As much as I hate PyokoPyoko Ultra, the one thing I can't deny it did was pick a theme and go all the way with it. Yes, I still think highlighter yellow chickens is one of the stupidest themes out there but I will acknowledge at least UFP stuck with a theme for that song. This PV is all over the place. One of the many problems with it is simply the fact that there's too much stuff. For one thing, the costumes have this very busy cheetah print and hot pink tutus that look even tackier up against the equally tacky green screens. You have two patterns clashing against the other and your eyes don't know where to look. Do you focus on the cheetah-fied girls or the bright, flashing background? It's practically visual assault and as a viewer, I don't like that.

Also, that visual assault quickly dies down because once you've recovered from the initial shock of the bad green screens and equally bad costumes, the rest of the PV is pretty boring. It pretty much features the girls standing around at different locations, looking bored out of their minds while Riho screeches her heart out. If you honestly replace the backgrounds with the original green screens, then a majority of the shots in this PV are pretty much the same only with different girls. The only aspects I like about this PV is the dance and the attitudes of the girls; most of the the members give it their all to look cool and badass, particularly Mizuki. She looked really good in this PV. It's just a shame the rest of the PV falls so flat for me. I also think the dance is awesome. You have a lot of energy from all the girls and a nice mix of variations and even a brief moment where Mizuki gets to be center! Of course, then the choreographer awkwardly shoved Riho back to the center but still! It's a strong dance and honestly, I prefer the dance shot over the actual PV to Help me!!

You know what's tragic? I think if Momusu was given a better budget and/or a better PV director, this could have been a pretty cool PV. I compared the main dance shot to the one in NMB48's HA! PV, which I think is how this PV could have looked if given the proper budget. But like most Morning Musume PVs, there's no budget to be seen in this PV. Now I'm aware that a cheap PV is nothing new to a group like Morning Musume. I'm aware that UFP loves to be fucking cheapskates on Hello! Project. I'm aware that I'm not going to get a PV that's the level of quality a Perfume PV is. I know to keep my expectations low when it comes to the quality of their PVs but not even I thought I'd have to bring my expectations to such a low point. The sheer mediocrity and effort put into this PV is pathetic, and saying that about a company notorious for churning out low budget PVs like a Pez dispenser churns out candy, I don't use that term lightly. There is absolutely nothing I find interesting about the Help me!! PV. It's just a bad PV and not bad in the PyokoPyoko Ultra way where I can at least make fun of it.

So overall I'm giving Help me!! three apples out of five. Something to note is separately I'd give the song four apples and the PV two apples but together this is their rating. UFP, I know you guys are cheap but this a low even for you. Who knows? Maybe they'll actually put effort into Reina' graduation PV... but knowing them, I'm not counting on it. If you wanna listen to Help me!! you don't need to watch the PV to enjoy the song; it's a good song on its own and I'm very disappointed that such a lackluster and cheap PV was made for it.


  1. Little idea I made when there still was no PV,and just based on the title:

    Half of them are trapped on the highest tower.

    The other half,none of them on the same place,get together on the city's center and go to the tower rescue the other girls.

    Some guys do the same but to get the girls that are free.

    The FG(a.k.a. the free girls a.k.a. the ones that no time to shine are given to them) free the trapped girls and try to escape the bad guys.

    They get to the roof,and when the bad guys are almost getting them,they jump from the roof.

    In some magial and cool way,they get to the ground and dance and sing together the last chorus.Then,they split up and the PV ends.

    And you can do this just using a building.

    1. Now THAT would be a cool idea. It kinda reminds of the Tsupparu Riyuu PV the Sukeban Girls unit from AKB48 had. That was another fairly simple but entertaining PV. Still, I don't expect storylines from H!P PVs, but god, even so this was such a lackluster PV.

  2. For me, I liked the PV but not loved it. I wasn’t expecting much and I thought all the members had quite a lot of shots individually except of course a few. I especially like the parts for Haruna, Haruka, Erina and Kanon as well.

    1. I will admit there were a lot of shots, I just wasn't very entertained by them. I feel like Haruna, Haruka, Eripon and Zukki are all being pigeonholed into this little quartet that sings the part before the chorus just to give the girls something to sing outside the chorus.