Thursday, February 28, 2013

Time Capsule Reviews: Spice

Well, now that I've reviewed Mirai no Museum's PV and the entire single, finally I can get to my monthly Time Capsule Review! Just to refresh you guys on just what a Time Capsule Review is, it's when I review an old Perfume PV that I drew out of my magic hat! I delayed my Time Capsule Review of last month to review a song Chiima dared me to review. In fact... I've delayed this PV not only once but twice; back in December, I wanted to review a wintery Perfume PV so I selected Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow and saved the PV I'd drawn out of my magic hat for January. Then the dare came along and... it looked I was never going to get to review this song! Luckily, two months later, I can finally take a look at this elusive Perfume PV! Oh, which one am I talking about? None other than Spice!

Unlike the other two older Perfume PVs I've reviewed, Spice is... fairly new! Okay, it's not as recent as Spring of Life or Spending all my time, but Spice was the single to conclude the JPN Era! And the single is a little over a year old so it's really quite new in comparison to the 2004 Monochrome Effect PV and 2007 Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow PV. In contrast, Spice was released in late 2011; in fact, it came out just a few months before I opened the Wonderland! I almost even thought about reviewing it but I opted to review JPN instead. Still, it is nice being able to come back to Spice and take a closer look at it since I didn't talk about it terribly much on my album review. And it's also nice to be able to review something not related to Mirai no Museum since I have such a lukewarm feeling towards that single as a whole. That's right, I like Spice! I like Spice a lot actually! In fact, I think the entire single, Glitter included, is one of the better overall singles by Perfume. Maybe not as a good as say, Love the world or Electro World, but still a pretty strong single! 

I will say about the Spice single that I think the A-side itself actually gets a little more overlooked than its B-side, Glitter. Then again, when you're talking about Glitter, the best freaking Perfume song of 2011, that's probably going to get looked at more than Spice. Glitter was not only used as another promotional song for Kirin but it was also featured in a contest where fans could choreograph part of the dance. Sure, Spice was used as the theme song for a J-drama Sengyoshu Tantei but come on. Which is gonna grab you more, a drama or a fan contest? Glitter was also previewed sooner and generally there was a just a lot more hype for this B-side than the single's A-side. I feel like I hear a lot more praise for Glitter than Spice from other bloggers too; generally, a lot of people seem to like and have either fairly positive or lukewarm opinions of Spice. Even I love Glitter a lot; it's an awesome B-side with a beautiful instrumental and really well-choreographed dance. So which song outshines the other more? The youthful, energetic Glitter or the calmer and flowy-er Spice?

Here's a little bit of advice that I try to remember about these two songs: SPICE IS NOT GLITTER.

Spice doesn't even have the same style as Glitter. The song is much slower-paced, with echoing vocals and a rather low-energy feel to it. And I think that lower energy level is what makes the song forgettable to so many other people. Unlike Glitter, which is a pretty standout song with the opening notes and engaging chorus, Spice just kind of flows along and takes its time, if that makes sense. It doesn't really grab you in the same way Glitter does. But does that mean it's a bad song? Well, when I first heard a preview of the song via the snippet aired on that J-drama, I was unimpressed. I thought the bit I'd heard (which turned out to be the main chorus) was too slow and subdued. The song didn't sound that memorable either; I almost want to say Spice sounded bland but compared to Mirai no Museum, it's Bohemian fucking Rhapsody. Even when the full song came out, I still didn't really know what to make of Spice, especially compared to the much more musically appealing Glitter. Even when the PV came out, I still wasn't sure how I felt about Spice. 

So then I kind of forgot about Spice until JPN came out and I proceeded to download the whole album and repeat it on shuffle for several weeks (you have no idea how crazy I go when a Perfume album comes out). And in the process of repeating the album, Spice started to grow on me. Spice grew on me a lot and now I really love the sound of Spice. I think it's one of those few songs where the lack of energy actually works. Weird, huh? Usually when it comes to energy I'm the one screaming "MORE! MORE! MORE!" but with Spice, the slow and downbeat nature of the musical arrangement works really well. And upon listening to the song more, the song doesn't sound quite as plodding as I originally thought it sounded and even has a nice, consistent beat! What I love most about Spice is that it's a pretty song; I can't say that about a lot of Perfume songs but god, this song sounds so pretty. I think it's how flowy the instrumentals and vocals are; Spice is one of those songs that helps me relax when I'm stressed out.

So here's my advice when it comes to Spice: don't dismiss it immediately. Listen to it a few times in different scenarios, like when you're about to fall asleep or you're reading a book. You might find yourself liking it... or not. But I'm trying to be optimistic here! Spice is a great song if you want to just wind down and relax. It almost reminds me of one of the songs you'd hear in a nail salon commercial, even though the song's lyrics have nothing to do with fingers! Not that they would or anything... Speaking of the lyrics, I think the lyrics to Spice are really well-done too! The song is basically about the curiosity and desire for something "spice" up the atmosphere, hence the title. Something I've always liked about Perfume is that their lyrics cover a range of different topics from the obsessive love heard in edge edge to the concept of being alone in One Room Disco to the dystopian theme of Electro World. I like that Nakata doesn't just write a variety of songs about one topic and the idea of spicing up your life is new for Perfume. 

I also really love the arrangement of the vocals and I think they match perfectly with the song. My favorite parts are when the vocals echo back and forth; I think it adds to the flowiness of the song. Overall, I think Spice presented a more mature and laid-back style of music that Perfume hadn't really tackled. The song does take awhile to grow on you but when it does, I promise it's worth it. I love Spice and I think it's one of the many great songs of the JPN Era. So back to this whole debate about whether Spice of Glitter is the better song of the single... I think both songs are equally good in their own ways. Each song has its own distinct sound and they excel in that sound. Glitter is an amazingly upbeat and vibrant song and Spice is an amazingly downbeat and beautiful song. I do think that Spice gets overlooked though in favor of Glitter though and I think a lot of people would say they prefer Glitter over Spice. But personally, I enjoy Spice a lot. Besides, what if Spice had sounded like 23:30? Now that's a slow song... but I digress.

Ah, it feels good to be reviewing a Perfume PV, even if it is one of their slightly older ones. Something else that drew me into Spice was the PV and I'd love to go back and take a look at it! So let's spice up this review and look at Spice's PV!

Well, I sure hope you guys like pink because there is a boatload of pink in this PV...

FOOD! Glorious food! Just look at all that pink-tinted food!

...actually, is that expired food? Is that what happens when you leave a bunch of food out on a Perfume set?

Oh, who cares? A-chan looks beautiful! I love it when she wears her hair down!

Kashiyuka too! She's sporting some flippy bangs! I haven't seen those since Baby Cruising Love and Macaroni!

...I have nothing to say about Nocchi's hair. Cool dance though! I like the way one member moves and then the next moves after that! It's kind of like a machine!

Kashiyuka stares at the ceiling trying to comprehend the meaning of life...

... meanwhile Nocchi mentally struggles with the idea of eating an entire whale.

Oooh, pancakes! There's nothing more delectable than pink pancakes!

Time to call Kyary and tell her to get the hell off our Nakata!

...not sure where this is going but the colors are nice!

Oh hai, fishy! My first pet I ever had was a fish... then it died three weeks later.

God, I love this dance so much...

I don't think that turkey would meet EPA standards of health... unless it was cafeteria food! Anything goes with cafeteria food!

Cool dance shot! But how are they dancing without stepping on the-

Nevermind, there goes all the food! You just couldn't dance on the floor like normal idols could you, Perfume?

Noooo!!! Not the cake! What a waste of a perfectly good cake...

After a long night of hardcore partying with Kyarypamyupamyu, it's nap time for A-chan!

Only Kashiyuka has the ability to lye on a table with a book on her head and look that cool and collected.

Nocchi listens to the sounds of bleating alpacas to put her in a calm mood!

Look, a tiny door! Does it lead into Wonderland?

Nocchi's about to find out!

Or maybe the tiny door leads into Nia's Wonderland! Because yeah, I access the Wonderland through a tiny door.

Yeah, good luck getting into that door, girls. I think you fit one hand in there at the most.

Now doesn't that fancy-schmancy candy look delectable! More so than all that other food in the other set!

So do the candy balls grow or shrink the girls?

...or they bring bright colors to their costumes. Sweet!

Nice! They got new hairstyles too! Kashiyuka's hair is pulled to the side, A-chan gets a bun and Nocchi... did Nocchi's hair even change?

Perfume finally gets to live their lifelong dream of swimming with the fishes!

It's weird, despite the colorful outfits, they still look kind of muted against the faded pink backdrop.

I love the colors in these shots and I like the minimalistic scenery!

The girls peek one last time at the old set, too big to get back now.

Yeah, I don't think they're gonna miss all the expired food that much.

And I wouldn't eat those candies anymore either!

Wow, surely all that stuff in the PV doesn't symbolize anything, right? Of course not! The PV director just included that stuff because he thought it looked cool! Yep, Spice is more than just an artsy PV like Fushizen na Girl or Nee. This PV has SYMBOLISM! Glorious symbolism! I always love it when Perfume does PV that present visual content that allows the viewer to really think. So you know what that means don't you? It's time for Nia to put on her intelligent glasses and act like she knows how to interpret this PV! Yeah, you can interpret the symbolism of Spice in any way you want but personally I think the theme ties to the song's lyrics. Spice's lyrics talk about reaching out and adding "spice" to your life. Some of those lyrics include, "If the door opens, everything is seen," and, "I want the excitement that comes with the unexpected." The PV only magnifies the theme of the lyrics. The basic of the PV is the girls of Perfume go from one setting to another and live happily ever after! 

The specifics of what is in each setting add to the theme of the PV. The initial setting the girls are in is very faded and dreary. The decadent food covering the table looks stale, the girls listlessly lie around toying with dated machinery, and time seems to go by slowly. The only time the girls get really active is when they dance on the table and step on a lot of the food and other dishes. But that changes when Nocchi happens upon a teeny tiny door a la Alice in Wonderland. The girls open the door and find a room containing a martini glass filled with colored candy. The girls each take one and doing so gives their neutral and faded clothing bright and vibrant colors. They now enter the door and find themselves in a world much different from the place they were previously inhabiting. This world is simple but colorful, with fish swimming by and blurred imagery. The girls begin to dance in this new world and the PV ends with them peering back into the old world they left behind. In place of the once-colorful candy and martini glass is a glass filled with candy that's just as pink and muted as the girls were before they entered the new world. 

Now I love the idea of this PV and I think that idea was executed incredibly well. I especially love the first set and not just because it's so elaborately done. The table is the centerpiece of the main set, along with the many objects and food stopped above it. It's practically a feast yet the girls don't look happy; in fact, they look incredibly bored and dull despite being surrounded by so much stuff. They try to stimulate themselves with music and the telephone and little hand gestures but they still give off a very weary and tired vibe. They have so much stuff in this little pink room but not matter how hard they try, the girls can't get happy. However, in the more colorful world beyond the door, the girls are much more energetic and curious, almost lively. Yet that world is simpler and has none of the physical objects that the old world did. Yeah, you've got some fish swimming around but Perfume can't really touch those. 

So maybe the contrast between the large amount of stuff in the first setting and the minimal amount of stuff in the second setting is trying to convey that you don't need a lot of material possessions to be happy. Except colored magical gumballs of course! Speaking of that candy, maybe it was meant to be a visual symbol of the "spice" mentioned in the song itself. The object was presented as a change in the girls' lives. Their clothes changed color along with their hairstyles and they entered a new world. The only reason any of that happened was because the girls weren't afraid to take a chance and eat that candy despite not knowing what would happen. I think what the PV was trying to get across was that you can't live in a bubble all your life. You can't be afraid to take chances and accept the "spices" of life. If you refuse to accept them, you can't move forward in life but only stay in one position, never changing and growing restless with dullness. Only when you can live a life unburdened by fear and monotony can you be truly happy.

Whether my interpretation of the PV matches with the director's, I love Spice's PV. I think it's beautiful both visually and figuratively. The symbolism is rich along with both the subtle and more prominent motifs. Like most Perfume PVs, the video has nice production values too which is a blessing for someone who reviews some pretty damn cheap PVs. I love how elaborate the first set is since it gives the viewer a lot to look at. The girls look pretty too, but they always do! I'm happy that Kashiyuka nixed her straight bangs for this PV too! I swear, I don't think she's changed her bangs since 2008 and it was refreshing to see her go back to the flippy style again, even if she went right back to the straight bangs for JPN. Still, I loved seeing her forehead visible again; it makes her look much younger! A-chan looked lovely too, especially with her hair down; the bun was okay but I think her hair looked pretty just hanging. And Nocchi looked... fine! I feel so bad, I never really comment much on Nocchi's appearance! But she looks awesome, as always! 

They all look great in the costumes for Spice; I love the way the belts/corsets look and the brightly colored outfits featured on the single! What I really liked about the PV was that those costumes were colored different for each scene: faded and more neutral for the first half and brighter and more colorful in the second half! The bright outfits looked especially good but what was weird was that despite the brighter colors, the outfits still looked kind of muted in the first set. Then again, that might just be the filtering for the PV. The dance is nice and fluid, looking both effortless and intricate at once! That's what I always love about Perfume's dances. Spice's dance has a nice flow to it and matches with the slowness of the song. Overall, Spice is one of my favorite PVs because of its visuals and the way they relate to the song. It's one of my favorite PVs of the JPN era and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven't done so yet!

I would totally give Spice five out of five apples! I think it's a stellar (if not somewhat overlooked) Perfume song for its soothing flow and downbeat energy. The PV is fun to look at and interpret and definitely one of my favorite Perfume PVs. So, do you guys have any of your own interpretations of Spice's PV? I'm really curious since you really cant interpret the PV in so many different ways!

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