Friday, January 18, 2013

This Town is... a Green Screen?

All right, I told you guys I was going to review something by C-ute and that it was one of my resolutions for 2013. Mainly because last year I reviewed nothing by my favorite group in Hello! Project so let me remedy that and give a PV review of C-ute's latest song, Kono Machi!

Kicking off 2013, C-ute is going in the same direction as Berryz Koubou and covering a popular song! Instead of Thai pop though, C-ute's cover is Kono Machi by Moritaka Chisato, a famous idol in the 80s and 90s. Now Before I heard the original, I'd only heard C-ute's version of the song because I wanted to develop an individual opinion about the song without the influence of the original. I admit, C-ute's Kono Machi is okay. It sounds pretty and it has good line distribution so that's always nice! As usual Airi and Chissa are the best sounding members of the group but that's nothing new. It is nice though to hear them take on a ballad, especially Chissa! I swear she should sing a power ballad some time; I really think her voice would be suited for that! This song is less of a power-ballad and more of a straight-up ballad and it's not really one of my favorite ballads out there. What I look for in a ballad and my definition of a "good" ballad is a song that can still hold my attention despite a slower pace. A lot of the strength in a ballad depends on not only good vocals but the emotion conveyed through the vocals. My favorite ballads are the ones where you can tell how the singer is feeling simply by how he or she sounds on the ballad.

Another aspect of a good ballad is being able to hold my attention despite its length; I like energetic songs and most ballads are lacking in energy because of the slow pacing. When I first listened to Kono Machi, it sounded like Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku only with less rock and the song itself doesn't really stand out among the many ballads out there. It's not a terrible ballad but it's kind of slow. Not only that but during the bridge, there's this really awkward bit where all the members are talking and it totally takes away from the tone of the song. However, I still thought the song was okay. After hearing all these people saying how much the original was so much better and how C-ute should have stuck more to it, I finally decided to open up and listen to the Moritaka Chisato's version of Kono Machi and see just what all the fuss was about.

And then I found out the original song sounds great.

At first, I didn't know what everyone was going on about saying that the original was so much better than C-ute's version. Only when I finally came around to listening to the original Kono Machi did I realize oh my god, this song is excellent. I'm serious, I love the happy sound of the original Moritaka Chisato song. The original Kono Machi is such a joyful and upbeat song and Chisato's equally happy voice with it is what makes the song stand out. Listening to the song makes me feel happy and joyful! And taking away that joyfulness from the song is a huge step back and I think that's what brings down C-ute's cover. Turning the song into a ballad only makes the cover sound sad and the music feels like it's dragging. After listening to the amazing original Kono Machi, I can't really enjoy C-ute's cover anymore. Is it terrible? Not in the least but compared to the original, the cover pales greatly.

I just feel really downtrodden when listening to Kono Machi as a ballad and I don't think it measures well up against the original. Now keep in mind that whenever approaching a cover song, I always try to keep my expectations at a realistic level depending on how easily the original song can be covered. Like nerve by Brand-new Idol Society? That's a hard song to mess up so I had good expectations for the Dorothy Little Happy cover of that song and it turned out their cover was nice. It didn't surpass the original but I enjoyed the cover almost as much as the original. But if Watarirouka Hashiritai's covering Perfume's Chocolate Disco? Yeah, I kept my expectations low for that and surprise surprise, I didn't enjoy Warota 7's painfully cutesy cover of one of my favorite Perfume songs.  I think if C-ute's cover had stuck with the same upbeat melody that the original song had, I would have enjoyed the cover a lot more. And C-ute is totally capable of  happy songs; just because they're the "mature" group of H!P doesn't mean they can't do a happy song! Overall, I find Kono Machi to be a lackluster ballad that's okay but doesn't measure anywhere near up to the greatness of Moritaka Chisato's Kono Machi.

Now when we last saw C-ute handling a ballad PV, Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku consisted of odd transitions, strangle lighting, an interpretive dance, and Airi riding a train. Will the group's second ballad feature the same type of strange PV? Let's take a look.

The opening title is cute, a nice representation of a town (the song translates to This Town).

Airi looks lovely and everything but I'm really distracted by those "Love and Peace" earrings.

It's like someone took a picture of their town and ran it through Instagram!

NAKKY! Gosh, you're adorable.

And Chissa's hair looks cute! But it looks blonder than it did before...

Instagram, Instagram everywhere!

I don't know why, but there are some shots in this PV where Maimai looks eerily similar to Yoshizawa Hitomi. I think it's the hair.

Ooh, you know what these vintage-y shots remind me of?

Macaroni! Maybe the PV will have C-ute wandering around with vintage effects and they will-

Oh my god, they green-screened them in... I have no words.

But why, UFP, why!? You can't be that cheap, can you!?

I'm not sure which is worse, the painfully blinding bright green-screen of Help me!! or the painfully muted green-screen of Kono Machi.

Let me predict the rest of this PV: we get this close-up, the green screen, a group shot and kapeesh, that's all isn't it?

Yep! Here's the group shot! Wow, this PV's more original than a Kyarypamyupamyu PV!

By the way, how many times have those Kanashimi Twilight cubes been recycled now?

Well... at least the outfits look nice. And everyone looks pretty. But god, this is a boring PV and I'm only one minute in!

Ooh, you put two shots into one! Now you're getting really innovative, UFP! You're a regular Stanley Kubrick aren't you?

Yeah, you're not gonna convince me into thinking that's real scenery, UFP... ugh, do you guys wanna see what the original PV looked like?

There! Moritaka Chisato's was probably just as cheap but which PV looks more fun and creative?

I love how they have them walking as if they're actually walking through an environment. Ha! If that's a real environment then I'm a synthetic girl from Mars. As far as you know.

-yawn- Is the PV over yet?

I know the girls are just trying to convey the emotions of a ballad but frankly, they look just as bored as I do.

But at least Nakky's adorable.

I guess I should be grateful that this PV doesn't have some weird, interpretive dance like Kimi wa did...

Not even Yossie Junior can keep me entertained.

Yep, this sure ain't Tokaikko Junjou...

...are Maimi's ears pierced? I just noticed it doesn't look like she has holes in her lobes so- what am I saying!? This isn't on-topic! God, this PV's making me distracted by the randomest of things!

And then the PV ends with a monologue that sounded much less awkward in the original.


Is there a nearby wall that I bang my head against? Or better yet, a pillow so I can go to sleep? Because this has got to be one of the most boring, uninspired, cliche idol PVs I've reviewed during my time as a blogger. Okay, okay, let me explain why I think it is one of the most boring, uninspired, cliche idol PVs I've reviewed during my time as a blogger. My first big disappointment was (surprise, surprise) the green screens. I was so disappointed when I found out UFP decided to go the same route as Morning Musume and give C-ute a bunch of green screens in lieu of putting effort into the PV and actually going out and shooting at real locations. I really hoped that they would have the girls of C-ute wander around a city or a town or some other place of that nature, much like Mano Erina did in some of her later PVs. Or even better: Macaroni. I said this in my screencap, but the green-screen backgrounds and their Instagram filters reminded me a lot of Perfume's Macaroni PV and I love that PV.

I was hoping that C-ute's PV would go in the same direction with the girls wandering around a city/town with the same vintage tones. It would have been slow but deliberately slow and nowhere near as boring as this PV. The green screens themselves are unremarkable; as much as I dislike the use of green screens in Morning Musume Help me!! PV at least there was a boatload of effort into giving them a lot of variety and locations and even colors. Kono Machi's green screens are dull and faded and don't catch my interest. I mean sure, the Help me!! green screens were so bright the viewers would need sunglasses to get through the whole thing but at least the background were somewhat cool to look at. Even though the girls look really out of place, those backgrounds were pretty damn cool. With Kono Machi, not only do the girls highly contrast against the vintage-toned background but not even the backgrounds themselves are that impressive. They're also extremely lacking in variety; I only counted five different backgrounds and that was it. It looked like the girls were standing less in an atmosphere or scenery and more in front of a painting at an art museum.

On the bright side (Get it? Because the Help me!! PV is... yeah, you got it), the green screens aren't the only shots that comprise the Kono Machi PV. There are still close-up shots and a group shot of all the girls standing together on some cubes. On the down side... that's even more boring than the green screens; at least those were slightly more interesting. The set is extremely barren with only a few cubes and the bright outfits providing anything to look at and it's boring. The entire PV basically consists of the same shots only with the girls singing different parts. Not a single thing that stands out. You know PV I had a same opinion about? Peaberry's Cabbage Hakusho PV; I called that PV pretty but bland. I'd say the same thing about Kono Machi but it's not even that pretty, just bland and cheap. And it had so much potential to be a really beautiful and sweet PV; the song is about a town, how hard would it have been to film C-ute wandering throughout a town. The PV could have played on themes a nostalgia, using vintage filters and outdoor scenery to really connect the song to the PV.

Instead, the effort feels half-assed and the result is something that's not only cheap but also very forgettable. I think the director was trying to go with a more minimalistic approach but that backfired because of one crucial thing: there is a difference between minimalistic and just plain cheap. Take Bump.y's Cosmo no Hitomi PV; I praised that PV for its simplicity and the use of plainer and simpler sets and shots. It's a cheap PV, but it looks clean and simple yet still retains a style and look. Another good example of simplicity is Perfume's Computer City PV; all that consists of is a black background and the girls dancing but the visual effects are what bring the PV to life. Kono Machi is simple but not in a stylistic or appealing way. I wouldn't call it a mess but more of... the opposite of a mess. It's a PV that lacks anything interesting and matches the slow energy of the song. The girls look nice but they're not enough to save the PV.

I hate to give the first thing I review by C-ute two out of five apples but Kono Machi is an absolutely lackluster cover, especially when you hold it up to the original. I highly recommend checking out the Moritaka Chisato's Kono Machi because it is a really good song and I wish it hadn't been turned into a ballad. The PV is completely forgettable and lacking in substance, let alone entertainment. C-ute, you're a great group, but maybe it's time you lay off the ballads and do something happier.

No comments:

Post a Comment