Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Far Will Perfume's World Tour Spread?

I refrained from writing about this news when it came out not only because I was bogged down with final projects/papers/exams for school but also because I knew if I did, the post would just consist of me bitching and moaning about how Perfume had yet to tour in the United States. What? My envy is very capable of overcoming my rationality, especially when it ties into the techno group that I devote time to praising and blogging about at any chance possible. As you have all heard, Perfume, the most amazing J-pop group ever (in my eyes at least), is embarking on a second world tour. Unlike their first which was based entirely in Asia, the second one is based entirely in Europe; or three parts of Europe at least. England, France and Germany are all the lucky countries that Perfume will be gracing their presence with and fans around the world have been dancing for joy and throwing hurly burly parties. Now when I, an American fan who lives in The South, heard about the news that Perfume was going on another world tour after their first in Asia only to find out that they were touring in Europe, I was angry. Well, I think, "angry" is a bit too strong of a word to describe how I was feeling at that time; I think I was more... anguished. I'm a huge fan of Perfume in case you couldn't tell by the banner I always have of them and the sidebar with a picture of them and the monthly post in which I review one of their old PVs. Although I long ago came to terms with the fact that I was very likely never going to see Perfume in concert, the chance that I just might be able to, especially since their talks of internationally touring, has been tantalizing. And I've always been secretly crossing my fingers and hoping that by some convoluted miracle, I would be able to see the group that changed my life so much in concert. So predictably, when the announcement that Perfume would be touring in Europe came out, I was both ticked and saddened. It felt like Perfume was so close but so far away.

But, being the rational person I am, I got over it. For the most part. I'm very happy for whoever is able to get tickets to see Perfume live and I hope all you Europeans have the best time of your life watching the glorious techno trio perform. As much as I wish I could be there cheering with you all, I'll just stare out the window and continue scheming up ways for me to see Perfume live. Anyways, I'm not writing to talk about my own personal feelings about Perfume's 2nd World Tour but I do want to add in my own speculations and theories about it. After all, I'd never entertained the idea that Perfume would embark on another world tour; in hindsight, it seems inevitable but hey, hindsight's always 20/20. I guess I was just too busy shaking my head and laughing over the fact the their 1st World Tour only took place in Asia. Never did it occur to me that there would also be a 2nd World Tour. But now that it's been announced, I've began to wonder... how many more are to come? Is this going to be a series of world tours? And how many will there be? One for each continent? I actually think it would be kind of awesome if Perfume had a separate tour for each continent like one for Australia, one for North America, one for Antarctica- well, maybe not Antarctica. I doubt there are many penguins that are die-hard fans of Perfume. But one each continent, the group could go to some of the major cities on each one and perform; kind of what they're doing right now. Do I think it'll happen? I'm not sure. I'm really trying to figure out just how far Perfume plans to go with this "world tour" idea; do they literally mean that they're going everywhere around the world? All power to them, but I don't know how they would going to pull off a tour of that size and span. Still, Perfume is known for their love of conquering challenges (i.e. getting to Tokyo Dome).

But I will say I think a concert in the United States is very likely.

And no, I'm not just saying that as an American fan who would backflip out a window to see Perfume perform live. I'm saying that because even though the country I live in has a boatload of problems, it is still a very well-known country especially in terms of the music industry. Hell, the United States has the largest and most profitable music industry. With Perfume's talks of international expansion, I think performing in the US would open themselves up to new fans part of such a large music industry. A concert in the US, especially in an urban area like New York City or Los Angeles, could bring old fans together to cheer Perfume on, letting them know that there is a niche that the group can appeal to internationally even if Perfume doesn't ever reach mainstream international success. I think it would be a smart move to perform in the United States, especially since I know there are a lot of US-based Perfume fans, along with fans from other countries too! Of course, I also think performing in Europe is another smart marketing move especially since from what I've heard, Perfume's techno style would be more easily accepted in a European market. Perfume has even expressed a bit of interest and enthusiasm for performing in the US along with other international areas.  Honestly, I'd be very surprised if Perfume didn't do at least one concert in the United States. I mean hell, Kyarypamyupamyu's done an international tour and she's only been on the market for two years! I actually really like the locations Kyary went to for her tour and I think if Perfume had done what Kyary did and had just one international tour in a variety of countries, that would have worked just as well as spreading out this series of world tours. There wouldn't be such ambiguity about where Perfume was going to tour and how far they're planning to take this whole "world tour" idea.

I think I'm very 50/50 on the possibilities for the idea of multiple world tours with each tour focusing on a separate region of the world. But then again, we don't even know if that's a possibility; for all I know, Perfume could stop at the 2nd World Tour and just go back to performing in Japan, never to return to any other country. I hope they keep going but part of me is scratching my head at just what Perfume is aiming for with all these world tours. Like how many are they going to do? Where are they going to be? When are they going to be done? Keep in mind, the more world tours the girls embark, the longer it's gonna take. Not only do these world tours have to be fit around Perfume's already hectic performing schedule in their home country but it also has to be worked around their promotions for singles/albums/DVDs/tie-ins/etc. If Perfume does even announce a third-world tour, I doubt it'll happen this year. Their 2nd World Tour finishes up in July and I don't think that brief time between then and November (when end-of-year stuff starts happening) is going to be enough for Perfume to begin another world tour. Especially if they decide to release an album, which I am crossing my fingers and hoping that will happen. So say by early to mid-2014, Perfume goes on a 3rd World Tour; would Tour #3 be the one in which they finally go to the US? Or is that saved for Tour #5? And for that matter, just what regions of the US would Perfume even go to? The United States is effing huge and traveling to some parts of it is the equivalent of traveling to another country without all that passport fuss. I think what would be best for Perfume if they did decide to tour in parts of the US would be to perform in Los Angeles and New York City; they're both two big cities on two separate coasts. That way the east-coasters and west-coasters can have a shot at seeing Perfume without having to drive miles and miles and burn a ton of gas.

Personally, my ideal Perfume World Tour would be on in which they hit the four points of the United States: the West, the Midwest, the North and the South. Like I said, the US is huge and believe me, sometimes I really hate how huge it is. I pretty much know that there's a 99.999% chance that Perfume isn't going to get anywhere near the South; no cool artist ever does! Besides, I think they'd find the most success in urban areas such as New York City. It would actually be somewhat convenient for me if Perfume performed in New York City since I have relatives that live in an area in New Jersey that's close enough to NYC that I could take a train from Jersey to get there. That way I wouldn't have to worry about lodging, just transportation and finding a plane ticket! See, when you live in The Sticks, you have to find ways to improvise seeing your favorite artists, which is one of the reasons why the only concert I've ever been to is Hillary Duff. What? I was seven years old! There's also the matter of when would be a good time for Perfume to tour in the US; personally, the best time for me would be in the summer of 2014. Why the summer? Because 2014 is the year I finally graduate from high school and by summer, I'll have nothing to worry about. No final projects, no tests, no college applications, summer will be blissful. And I think seeing Perfume live would be a great graduation present, if I could convince my parents to let me see them. But then again, that's even if Perfume decides to perform in an area that I can actually get to. This is all really just speculation right now. And honestly, I don't really want to get my hopes up too much in case Perfume never does reach the United States. I hate to be a downer, but the only thing worse not being able to ever see Perfume live is believing that I will see them live when that never comes to fruition.

For now, I'd like to think that Europe isn't the final stop on Perfume's series of world tours. Hopefully, they'll go to other countries and other continents, particularly the USA. I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed at the moment!

A Juicy Debut for Juice=Juice

S/mileage, get lost. You've been replaced by Juice=Juice.

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. After all, I wouldn't just drop a group I try to regularly review from my review list completely just because another similar group stole their thunder! Of course not! It's not like I neglected to review Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita because of how boring it was! Or that I've generally been giving less and less of a shit about S/mileage especially in the wake of a new Hello! Project group finally being introduced into the mix! Seriously, how long has it been since a new group was formed? Four years? Feels like longer, especially since I became an idol blogger... Seriously, I think we can all agree that Hello! Project has been due for a new group, especially after S/mileage's... de-evolution to put it nicely. But I'm not writing a whole post to bitch about S/mileage. Let's talk about the juicy new group known as Juice=Juice!

Ah, Juice=Juice... okay, I'm not gonna lie, that has got to be one of the silliest idol group names I've heard in my brief time as an idol blogger. It's not as silly as say Sexy All Sisters or Baby Gamba but it's definitely one of the less appealing idol group names out there. Not to mention the loads and loads of perverted jokes you can make about a group with the word "juice" in its name... But I'm above such bawdy humor! Get thee to 4chan if you wish to seek out crude humor of that nature! Anyways, Juice=Juice has been a rather juicy topic among the Hello! Project fandom mainly because for the first time in four years, a new group is being introduced into the H!P lineup. That's kind of a huge deal; hopefully JuJu won't suffer the same fate as S/mileage though and get screwed over by a series of unnecessary and unfortunate lineup changes. Again, that's an idea long in the future and hopefully we'll never have to experience that with this new group. Anyways, a lot of people, myself included, have been crossing their fingers and hoping that H!P would come out with a new group because it would bring a nice and refreshing change. A new group means a new style, a new look, new members, new songs, all of which can be distinguished from the current H!P groups. And to make things even better, Juice=Juice is a new group that consists mainly of Kenshuusei that have been lingering to debut in H!P for a variety of time. With fan favorites like Miyamoto Karin and Otsuka Aina along with newcomers like Kanazawa Tomoko and Uemura Akari, the member lineup looked promising too. I think everyone was on the edge of their seats to see and hear just how this new group would turn out. Would Juice=Juice be able to live up to all the hype and high expectations placed upon it? After all, potential didn't always mean that the payoff would be worthwhile. What if Juice=Juice burst with failure much like an overripe orange bursts upon splatting onto the ground?

Luckily, I don't think Juice=Juice is going to have that problem.

Believe me, I was a tad bit skeptical when Tsunku described Juice=Juice as a group that would be true to themselves and try to adopt a "cool and sexy attitude." Cool and sexy, huh? So Miyamoto Karin and Takagi Sayuki are supposed to look cool and sexy? Good luck trying to pull that off! I didn't want to say I was completely against the idea of a more mature and cool group but with the lineup and the fruity theme of the group, I wasn't sure how it would be executed, especially when it came to the group's music. After hearing a  concert rip of Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (aka the song with the really long title), I still wasn't completely sold. But when I got my hands on a clearer and better quality rip, Juice=Juice's first song started to grow on me. I think part of Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne's appeal is that it sounds different from the songs the other H!P groups are releasing right now. With Momusu riding on the electropop wave, S/mileage fading away from my view, and Berryz being Berryz, it's kind of refreshing to hear this type of sound. I almost want to say Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne could be a C-ute song since it does have a fairly sensual vibe to it. But I feel like this song is more playful than C-ute's sexy direction, more... fun. And I think that's what I like about the tone of this song; it's a nice combination of fun and mature. The song isn't PyokoPyoko Ultra levels of cuteness yet it also isn't Kimagure Princess levels of maturity either; it balances itself perfectly. When the song wants to sound mature, it does! Particularly in the chorus. I think the instrumental though is where the playful aspect of the song really emerges, mainly in that flipping awesome saxophone. I said in another post that I love saxophones and their versatility, they make a song sound badass, cheesy, mature, retro, fun a whole variety of sounds and styles. Sure, you can do that with other instruments but the saxophone just adds a certain level of flair to a song!

Those opening saxophone notes for Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne were what grabbed me and that's good. A great song should have the ability to get the listener interested within the opening notes and/or verse and that saxophone just bursting in sets a level of energy for the song. From then on, the song is upbeat and really energetic but it also maintains an air of coolness. The song actually reminds me a lot of Morning Musume's Sexy Boy ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~ only with the para-para instrumental replaced by a saxophone and the annoying background vocals cut. Honestly, there's only one aspect of Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne that I'm kind of iffy about and unfortunately it's kind of a big aspect: the vocals. For such a maturely and borderline-sensual song, some of the girls of Juice=Juice sound, well, adorable! And in another song that would work great but in this song, it does kind of feel out of place. Even Karin, whose voice I adore, sounds a little bit strange in some of her solos like her voice was taken from another lighter cuter song and thrown into this one. Same goes for Aina, especially Aina. I don't know what happened; she sounded great live but in this song she's sounds even more nasally than Fukuda Kanon! And Tagaki Sayuki's high-pitched voice doesn't work well in this song either. Let me emphasize that I'm not saying anyone sounds bad in Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (well... maybe Aina). In fact, all the girls have nice voices but some of those voices sound out of place in this song! I think to really carry a song like Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne, you need stronger voices; I could see a group like C-ute pulling off this song or maybe even Platinum-era Morning Musume. I will say Kanazawa Tomoko's voice works great in this song and so does Uemura Akari's but I don't hear her voice enough.

Honestly though, the flaws in Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne don't take much away from my enjoyment of the song. The song may be a little too mature-sounding considering the age average of Juice=Juice, but I don't think that's a huge problem. The more I listen to Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne, the more it grows on me; I could easily see it becoming one of my favorite songs by the end of the year! Overall, I think this song is a promising start for this new Hello! Project group; it stands out and has a lot of punch to it. That's not something I can say about that other H!P group that was composed of Eggs- oh sorry, am I beginning to sound bitter again? My apologies! Now I'm interested to see what future songs Juice=Juice is going to get; I know Tsunku said he wanted to present them as a cool and sexy group but still. That's only an intention and who knows? Maybe the group's image will evolve over time, much like Morning Musume's did along with S/mileage's... um... de-evolution? I actually am kind of curious to see how Juice=Juice will continue handling the "cool and sexy" image but I'd also like it if they experimented with other styles, maybe something happier and lighter! Right now I feel like there are so many possibilities for this new group and Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne is just the start. And hopefully this is the start of a group that I'll really enjoy in Hello! Project. I love the lineup, I love the style and I love the potential. I know they're releasing another indies single, Samidare Bijo ga Samideru, but that's only going to be released at some H!P Kenshuusei event. It may leak but I doubt it's going to get too much limelight shined on it anyways. Still, if it does leak to the general public, I won't be complaining!

When it comes to the PV for Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne, I actually didn't think there would be one. I hadn't heard much about it. But much to my pleasant surprise, this song did get a PV? But is it a good PV? Or does it blow like S/mileage's current group chemistry? Let's find out!

Wow. Six seconds in this video already reminds me of another H!P PV.

Nice to see you again, set from Mano Erina's Onegai Dakara!

But who cares? Because Juice=Juice is in the house and they brought JAZZ HANDS! YEAH!

And now they're doing half of the walk like an Egyptian pose too!

I guess UFP was in a particularly cheap mood when shelling out the budget for this PV...

Seriously, look at that individual shot. That's about as barren a close-up you can get!

Look at Yuka's puppy dog eyes. She's adorable!

Oh, Karin. You poor dear. J-pop's formidable nemesis, the Evil Engrish, strikes again!

Snazzy dance move is snazzy! Just like the equally snazzy saxophone!

Borrowing dance moves from Perfume's Glitter?

I like your style, Juice=Juice!

I'll just say right now I'm starting to like Tomoko; not only can she sing, her expressions in this PV actually fit the song!

Pity you can't hug any real boy thanks to the dating restriction, huh girls?

I love Karin and all but man, she looks so awkward in this PV.

You know, even though this set is really barren from the obvious lack of budget, I do kind of like its simplicity.

It's a shame I didn't see/hear much of Akari in this PV. She looks really good on camera!

I think it's weird how in the dance shot, the girls look and move really confidently...

...but in the close-ups they look awkward as fuck.

Who's got spirit? JUICE=JUICE DOES! Who's got no spirit! S/MILEAGE!

Oooh, a move from DIY's Fore Fore ~Forest for Rest~ A nice choice!

Even if the DIY girls have better legs than you do.

It wouldn't be an H!P PV without a random and gratuitous body shot, would it?

Thank you, Akari, for not looking terrified and/or confused in this PV.

You should take some facial tips from her, Sayuki!

Yeah, can all the close-ups just be of Akari and Tomoko?

Karin's face here is similar to mine when I saw the GIF of Tsunku's flower-covered junk!

And the PV ends with absolutely no fruit references. I gotta say I'm a little bummed about that...

First of all, I think we should all take a moment to appreciate the fact that this is not a cheap and tacky PV with a bunch of editing effects that look like they were swiped from Photoshop. Seriously, I've been worried for ages that the dreadful mess of special effects from some of Morning Musume's recent PVs are going to leak over into other group's PVs. So while Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne certainly doesn't have a tacky PV, it definitely has a cheap PV. Then again, what do you expect from the Mr. Krabs of J-pop companies? I think I did pretty strongly consider that Juice=Juice's first PV would probably be cheap (if they even got one at all) but as always, I was also hoping that by some miracle more than $20 would be used to make the group's first PV. I've really got to stop doing that pesky thing called hoping, don't I? For the most part, I've learned to keep my expectations low when it comes to Hello! Project PVs but I mean, come on. Don't you wanna splurge just a little bit on your new group's first PV? You don't have to recreate Thriller or anything but just a little something to give it some... some juice! Yeah, when I say this is a bare bones PV, I really mean it is a bare bones PV. There are two shots a la typical H!P PV format and that's it. You get some varying cinematography and different levels of close-ups in the individual shots but that's it. It is truly one of the simplest, most barren PVs I have seen from Hello! Project. There is next to nothing in either one of these shots too; the dance set is a white stage and the close-ups are a black backdrop. Outside of the accessories the girls are wearing, there's little color in this PV. There's honestly not much of anything in this PV; no props, no special lighting effects, no tacky edits. Honestly, the lack of anything in this PV is kind of jarring, especially for a group like H!P. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne is simple to the point it's minimalistic.

Right now I'm not sure if I find the minimal style of Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya sleek or just boring. I remember watching the PV for the first time and waiting and waiting for something interesting to pop up but nothing ever did. There's just not much to talk about with this PV. There's a dance and there are some close-ups. That is literally all this PV has to offer. So while yes, this is a PV that doesn't have much going for it in terms of eye-catching imagery, at least it isn't tacky as hell. Remember, Hello! Project isn't notorious for just making cheap PVs; they're notorious because they make tacky PVs. The kind of PVs with cheap costumes that look like rejects from the Halloween stores that pop up at malls around October and sets that look like something taken out of a theme park from the eighties. What I'm trying to say is Hello! Project PVs have a tendency to look cheap in the most gaudy and flashy way possible, much like the jewelry your typical douchebag wears. So for Juice=Juice to have a PV that's cheap but in a more simple and barren way is strangely kind of refreshing. Because while there's nothing good I can really say about the PV, there's nothing about the PV that actively makes me want to bang my head against my keyboard. The shots are done well and while the set is bland, there's nothing bad about it. It's just a white-colored backdrop and white ceiling. I will say the one thing the PV does have going for it is a strong dance; I think the dance for Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne was choreographed well and with such a minimalistic set, a lot of my focus drifts towards the dance. I'm not one to notice dances outside of Perfume's, but I think the girls did a good job expressing the tone of the song through the dance.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about the close-up shots. The thing with the Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya PV is that because the visuals are so simple, it's up to the girls to make the PV interesting. And during the dance, they succeed in that. Like I said, I like the dance and how sharp it was. But when the close-ups start appearing, that's when the PV starts getting awkward. The fact that none of the girls in Juice=Juice have ever been in a PV before is never more painstakingly obvious in the close-up shots. Two-thirds of the girls in the PV look either awkward or uncomfortable or both. The only girls that actually look good in these close-up shots are Akari and Tomoko, especially Akari. For the other four girls, it varies on levels of awkward with each girl. Sayuki and Karin are vying for the title of Most Awkward Close-ups though; seriously, why did both these girls look so freaked out? It was like they didn't know what emotions to make and were internally freaking out over said fact that they didn't know what to do. Any movement they try to do only feels forced and awkward, like they don't know what they're supposed to do. The close-ups were probably my least favorite part of the PV just because of how awkward girls like Yuka and Karin looked. Their facial expressions didn't match the cool and mature vibe of the song at all. For that reason, part of me hopes that for whatever PV is next for Juice=Juice, the girls will have a better idea of how to act on camera and that they'll be more comfortable. Beyond the close-ups, the rest of Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya is fine with me. Although the PV is simplistic and can get boring after awhile, the dance is nice and it's just nice to see some of the Kenshuusei girls actually getting to do something with their talents beyond lingering in the background forever. I'm still looking forward to seeing what lies in store for the future of Juice=Juice and how their next single will turn out!

And now it's time for the mini-idol smackdown that no one asked for! Which group had a better independent debut? Juice=Juice or S/mileage?

I know it's a little unfair to compare two different groups from two different eras in Hello! Project but I also feel like a comparison would be interesting. I think S/mileage and Juice=Juice parallel each other a lot; both were formed from the Kenshuusei/Eggs of H!P, both started out with indies singles and both got a lot of hype around the time they were formed. Of course, S/mileage's former position as the shiny new toy of H!P has now been replaced by Juice=Juice. But I'm certain that back around their debut, S/mileage was the bomb. Hell, even I like their indies songs and I wasn't even around when they came out! I'd really been getting in to S/mileage around 2011 so when the graduations and auditions were announced, it was like I had missed out on this really awesome party and had to attend the really lame after-party that no one cared about. But I will say of the four indies singles S/mileage released, aMa no Jaku was always my least favorite; it's by no means a bad song but it's just a little too slow for my tastes. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne is just a much more entertaining song to listen to and has a lot going for from the tone to that bitchin' saxophone. But while I do think Juice=Juice got a better first song, I definitely think S/mileage got a better first PV. The aMa no Jaku PV had great outfits, nice sets, a variety of different shots, and some nice locations; in terms of H!P, it's was very nice, almost high-budget PV. By H!P standards, that is... Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne is so simple that it borders on dull even though the dance is pretty cool. aMa no Jaku just had a better budget and a better concept; then again, 2009 seemed to be a year when H!P PVs looked a little more high-budget than they do now. So the winner of this idol smackdown is... Juice=Juice based on the music and S/mileage based on the visuals. I think that's a nice draw!

So overall, I'm gonna give Juice=Juice's debut song and PV four out of five apples! Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne is a standout song with a catchy saxophone and beat. I like the mature sound it has and I think it's a strong song to debut with! The PV is nothing special (and I mean literally, it's a barren dance shot and equally barren close-up) but the PV isn't tacky or anything. My advice is just to skip the PV and listen to the song! That's what I've been doing!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Let's Talk about 5th Dimension

I would like, if I may to take you on a strange journey. A journey through time and space and the strangest and farthest of the cosmos. The things you are about witness will shock you, confuse you, and maybe even frighten you. For the world we are about to enter is not for the hesitant or the cowardly. Today, I am asking you to cast aside all your rationality and sanity and enter a world of madness. My lovely readers, we are about to enter... the 5th Dimension.

No, I'm not talking about The Twilight Zone! I'm talking about something much stranger and much crazier: Momoiro Clover Z!

Only a few days ago did this bat-shit crazy idol group release their second album titled 5th Dimension and personally, I have been really excited to hear this album ever since I saw the promotional images for it. I thought the costumes looked awesome along with the futuristic and surreal cover art. With the release of Neo Stargate and Birth Ø Birth's PVs, that's only fueled my excitement even more! I think another reason for my excitement is because 5th Dimension is the first Momoiro Clover Z album that I've listened to! I've only been a fan of Momoiro Clover Z for a very brief period of time now (about two months) and the only other thing I reviewed by them pre-5th Dimension material was their Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi-tachi yo PV back in October. I'm really hoping their new album will give me an idea of just how diverse MomoClo can be musically, especially since I've heard tons of praise for their Battle and Romance album. Now something I want to point out is that I have not listened to Battle and Romance. Not yet anyways. Partially because I can't find a DL link but also because I don't want to listen to Battle and Romance yet, not until I've finished reviewing 5th Dimension. I'm trying this new thing where I review an album and don't compare it to the group's predecessor. I pinkie-promise I'll listen to Battle and Romance once I'm finished reviewing 5th Dimension but I want to be able to review 5th Dimension without any preconceived notions of how a typical MomoClo album sounds. Besides, there's always something I find exciting about listening to my first album by an idol group. So enough with this intro, let's open the Neo Stargate into the world of madness that is Momoiro Clover Z's 5th Dimension!

1. Neo Stargate

Well, I did a whole review of this song, including its accompanying PV so if you want a fuller opinion of Neo Stargate, just drop by my Review Index! But my short opinion of this song? I think Neo Stargate is a really stellar album opener! The song is pretty serious compared to some of MomoClo's other songs (Neo Stargate ain't no Pinky Jones) but personally, I don't mind that the song is more serious... as long as it's interesting! Neo Stargate plays out like the overture to a grand, sweeping space opera. The song is a brilliantly crafted blend of techno and classical, mixing music from the opera O Fortuna with techno elements. And the song isn't 100% doom-and-gloom super serious; the chorus is very upbeat and energetic too! I don't know if fans of the sillier and quirkier MomoClo will like Neo Stargate very much, but personally I think it's a great strong and a strong one to open 5th Dimension!

My Rating:

2. Kasou Dystopia

Following the epic album opener that is Neo Stargate is Kasou Dystopia, the most cheerful song I've ever heard with the word "dystopia" in the title! I don't know why but I was kind of thinking that Kasou Dystopia would be like Perfume's Electro World, still upbeat but also a melancholic and depressing tale of a dystopian society. Surprise, it's not! Or maybe it is; I won't know until I can get my hands on the translation. But just because Kasou Dystopia doesn't sound like one of my favorite songs ever doesn't mean it still isn't an awesome song! I really love this song because it's so energetic and upbeat, like many great MomoClo songs. The chorus sounds very hopeful, almost pretty at times, and I like how the song just keeps building and building up its energy. The final verse before the last chorus is when the song gets really quiet and then it comes back in with such a punch! I think Kasou Dystopia was a great follow-up to Neo Stargate!

My Rating:

3. Mouretsu Uchuu Koukyoukyoku・Daiaana Gakushou ”Mugen no Ai”

Space pirates! I think that and the insanely long title are what people immediately notice about Mouretsu Uchuu Koukyou... I'm just gonna call it Mugen no Ai! This song was sort of a turning point for MomoClo in terms of their popularity; Mugen no Ai sold extremely well and has been the first in a series of successful singles the group has been releasing. So for such a well-known song, it must be pretty awesome, right? To a lot of people it is! At first for me, I didn't like this song that much. I thought the vocals were too high-pitched and sounded annoying, the song was too fast, and just... too overwhelming! But after awhile as I got used to the ridiculously fast-paced nature of Mugen no Ai, I really started to like it and I can see why other people do too! It's just such a weird song with the metal combined with the idol vocals but for some reason it works. Mugen no Ai is a great song that displays all the craziness you can find in Momoiro Clover Z!

My Rating:

4. 5 The POWER

Does anyone else find it kind of humorous that a song with the number 5 in it was placed as the fourth track on the album? No one? Okay then... Now I'm just going to go ahead and say that 5 The Power is my least favorite song on the 5th Dimension album. Why? Well... I don't want to say it's too weird because believe me, I've heard weirder idol songs. Okay, so MomoClo's music has reached a point where it can be really awesome or really annoying for me. Unfortunately, 5 The Power kinda falls into that annoying category for me, or one part of it: the rapping. I can take the girls of MomoClo rapping a little bit but there are verses that just have them rapping and rapping and... Look, I don't like rap that much already but badly done rap is not something I enjoy. I'd give the girls a gold star for trying t because I can tell they're trying... Other than the rapping, not much about 5 The Power sticks out to me.

My Rating:

5. Roudou Sanka

Next up is the oldest A-side to be featured on the album; Rodou Sanka was released way back in 2011, a time in which I was barely getting into idols! I actually read a PV review of this song and I just didn't connect the PV in the review to this song until I actually looked it up on Youtube. But I ain't doin' no PV review; how does the song stand on its own? Well... I swear to god this song should be a Quentin Tarantino movie. Preferably Kill Bill Vol. 1 but I also think the song could fit in Pulp Fiction and maybe Jackie Brown. Maybe. The reason I say that is because the opening of Rodou Sanka sounds like the intro to a 1970s B-movie or a show like The Mod Squad or Charlie's Angels. Honestly, I like Rodou Sanka; it's not the best MomoClo song I've heard but I think it's pretty fun and has nice and cheesy vibe to it. It kind of reminds me of a more lighthearted Show Fight!, if Show Fight! sounded more like it was recorded in the 70s.

My Rating:

6. Get Down!

I don't know what it is about this song, but Get Down! kinda grew on me. I mean, when I first listened to the whole album, I liked it and all but over the days I've been listening to 5th Dimension for my review, I've started liking this song more and more. I don't know what it is about this song but I really, really like it! I like how bouncy and catchy it sounds, especially in the chorus! I think that chorus is what I like most about the song; it reminds me of something I'd hear from a 90s movie from some reason... I think I like Get Down! because it's a fun song to dance to, even if you suck at dancing. Not that I suck at dancing or anything, what would make you think that!? I also like the xylophone used in the instrumental for Get Down! I don't know why; I guess xylophones just make songs sound better! Overall, Get Down! doesn't bring anything new to the album but it's one of my personal favorites!

My Rating:

7. Otome Sensou

Here's another MomoClo A-side that charted for months and months after its release! Seriously, their singles have been charting for ages lately... So how does Otome Sensou hold up? Well, what I always notice about Otome Sensou is that it is a long song. Like it's nearly seven minutes long. Now just because a song is long doesn't mean it's necessarily bad! Neo Stargate is eight minutes long and I think that's a great song! Perfume's edge (-mix) is over eight minutes long as well and it's my favorite Perfume song! Unfortunately for Otome Sensou, after about four minutes in, this song starts to drag. Not so much that it's unbearable to listen to but when I first heard this song, I kept looking at my iPod to see when the hell it was ending. It's just one of those songs that sounds like it should be a certain length but then it goes on and on and on and... Bottom line is I think I would have liked Otome Sensou better if it was just a little bit shorter, like five minutes long!

My Rating:

8. Tsuki no Gingami Hikouki

Okay, this is gonna sound a little strange but... I can't come up with an opinion for this song. I mean, it sounds nice and all but that's pretty much it. I don't even think it's bad song or even a bland song, I just don't have enough of any sort of opinion to write it out. Well... Tsuki no Gingami Hikouki has a nice flow. The vocals even sound pretty decent for MomoClo, save for a few shaky high notes. And there are a few parts where I kind of like the instrumental. I guess one part I enjoy in the song is where the girls are speaking and not yelling like they do in some of their other songs. That worked pretty well. I think the reason I don't have much thought towards Tsuki no Gingami Hikouki is because it's one of those psuedo-ballads where it's kind of ballad-y but still upbeat. I've never been a huge fan of songs like that and for Tsuki no Gingami Hikouki, it's an okay psuedo-ballad but nothing special for me.

My Rating: 


So the other promoted album song off of 5th Dimension is Birth Ø Birth! Isn't it nice when an album promotes two songs? Like Neo Stargate, Birth Ø Birth got its own music video that comes with the album; the PV is even a continuation of Neo Stargate! So how does the song hold up on its own though? Well, I noticed that Neo Stargate and Birth Ø Birth have similar tones in that they're both more mature sounding with some techno thrown in. Though I think Neo Stargate was a little more operatic... Anyways, you all know I loved Neo Stargate and I really enjoy Birth Ø Birth too! The only weird thing about this song though was the mood whiplash between the verses and the chorus; the verses are all dark and edgy but then the chorus pops up and it's much happier and upbeat! I got used to it after hearing the song a few more times but it's still a little jarring. Overall though, I think Birth Ø Birth is a solid song to promote the album with!

My Rating:

10. Joukyu Monogatari -Carpe diem-

Chai Maxx? Is that you!? I can't believe Chai Maxx was reincarnated in the form of Joukyu Monogatari -Carpe diem- for the 5th Dimension album! Okay, okay, joking aside Carpe diem (yes, I'm abbreviating it) sounds a lot like Chai Maxx. Like the song isn't a carbon copy but there were many moments while I was listening to this song, I thought, "Did I accidentally play Chai Maxx?" Like the part before the chorus where the girls sing really fast and the chorus in general being similarly structured just screamed Chai Maxx. Luckily for me, Chai Maxx is one of my favorite MomoClo songs, and even more luckily, Chai Maxx is one of those songs in which I don't mind if another song sounds like it. I flipping love how Chai Maxx sounds and even though Carpe diem may be a near-carbon copy, it's just as awesome as the original! Both songs are energetic, fun and just put me in a great mood when I listen to them!

My Rating:

11. Soratobu! Ozashiki Ressha

After I listened to this song, for awhile I was trying to think about what it reminded me of. It was quite frustrating as I just couldn't quite put my finger on what musical style Soratobu! Ozashiki Ressha reminded me of. And then a few days later, it hit me: Soratobu! Ozashiki Ressha sounds like a musical number you'd hear in a Broadway musical! I don't even know what specific Broadway musical (maybe Hairspray?) but can you not see this song being performed as some big grand musical number? With all the different sound effects in this song, the cheesy announcer, the energy of the vocals, this would be a great musical number! Maybe I'll write a musical around this entire song! I kid, I kid but as you can tell, I enjoy Soratobu! Ozashiki Ressha a lot! It's a really fun song and I think it displays that boundless energy that the girls of Momoiro Clover Z have! It's not my favorite song from the album but nonetheless I still like it a lot!

My Rating:

12. Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi-yo

Oh look, it's the first MomoClo A-side I reviewed! Actually at the moment, it's the only A-side I've reviewed... Back in October and the glorious month of Halloween, Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi-yo was on of the many glorious Halloween PVs I've reviewed. So like with Neo Stargate, if you want a fuller opinion of this song I'd pop by my Review Index and check it out! Anyways, I think Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi-yo is an effing awesome song, especially for Halloween. If you like MomoClo when they're lighter and sillier, you might not be a huge fan of this song since it is one of the darker songs I've heard from them. But damn, does it sound cool. It's incredibly catchy and that instrumental is to die for. The song is a great blend of weird, eccentric, and creepy infused with rock and I love how much stuff is in this song. Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi-yo is dark in the most twisted and awesome way possible.

My Rating:

13. Hai to Diamond

And closing the album is... a ballad? Wow. For some reason "Momoiro Clover Z" and "ballad" are two terms that I never thought I would put together in a review. I think because... the idea of such a spastic and energetic group taking on a slower song seems like it wouldn't really work to their advantage. And Hai to Diamond doesn't have any of the musical strengths found in MomoClo's stronger and more vibrant songs. It's a very downbeat, slow song (nearly 7 minutes actually) and very... well... ballad-like! Hai to Diamond is more or less a pretty typical ballad, the only odd part being that it's a ballad done by Momoiro Clover Z. The song sounds nice and everything but if it wasn't on the album, I wouldn't be saying that 5th Dimension is a terrible album because this song wasn't included. The bridge you hear about 4 minutes into the song is absolutely beautiful but other than that, Hai to Diamond is an okay closer to a mostly energetic album.

My Rating:

The Verdict

Well, that was a fun album! I have to say I really enjoyed listening to 5th Dimension because there was an amazing variety of differently styled songs! I know that a few bloggers were speculating whether or not 5th Dimension would be a more serious album considering the cover art and two promotional songs. And while 5th Dimension does have a few more serious-styled songs, there's also just as many fun and energetic songs. There are even a few slow songs thrown into the album! What I always think makes for a great idol album is when the songs all have their own style yet blend together at the same time. That's why I love albums such as Brand-new Idol Society's Idol is Dead and Perfume's Game so much. I think 5th Dimension for the most part, played to MomoClo's strengths and had a lot of upbeat and energetic songs that were distinguishable from each other. I think something else that also helps with 5th Dimension is that the A-sides were all really strong. Even Otome Sensou, the weakest of the A-sides was still an enjoyable song. I also liked that there are a lot of new songs on the album and not as many A-sides. There's a nice balance between old and new on 5th Dimension. And most of the new songs I thought were really good! My favorite tracks were Neo Stargate (which I thought served as a great opening), Kasou Dystopia, Get Down!, Birth Ø Birth, and Joukyu Monogatari -Carpe diem-. The only tracks that I could have done without were 5 The Power and Tsuki no Gingami Hikouki but even then I can still appreciate both songs for trying out different styles. In fact, one of the strongest aspects of 5th Dimension for me was that all the songs didn't sound the same; each track had a different style and although that style may not have necessarily worked I can still give the songwriters props for placing so many different styled songs in the album. Each track on 5th Dimension stands out on its own and for that reason, I think 5th Dimension is a pretty awesome album.

So overall, I will give 5th Dimension 4.5 out of 5 apples! For my first MomoClo album to listen to, I'm really happy that I ended up liking the songs! The album has great variety and a ton of energy which I always love; it makes me happy that I finally decided to give Momoiro Clover Z a chance! I'm also happy that the album is doing well commercially; the album's sold over 150K copies at the moment! Anyways, now that I've listened to 5th Dimension, I think I'm gonna try and find Battle and Romance now and finally give it a listen!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

10 K-pop Songs I Actually Listen To

So. K-pop is a pretty hot thing right now.

Or maybe I should say Gangnam Style is a pretty hot thing. Back in 2012, people from all around the world went crazy over the song with the horse dance, including many people I personally know. It was quite surreal seeing all my friends jam so profusely to a genre of music I never thought would catch on in the US. As of now, Gangnam Style is slowly losing momentum internationally but that's an entirely different topic that I could make a whole editorial out of if I wanted to. The point I'm trying to make is that Gangnam Style was such an insanely successful and popular song, that it more or less opened the international doors for K-pop. I know that K-pop had its very vocal niche international fandom like J-pop does but I didn't realize just how listened to K-pop was with international audiences until I saw a parody video in which Anna Kendrick joined some K-pop group whose name is a math function. It was at that moment, I started thinking, "How popular is K-pop anyways?" I always thought it was a niche market like J-pop was but looking around and knowing English-speaking people who listen to the genre, I've got to think that it's somewhat relevant in the US market, especially thanks to Gangnam Style. The song opened a door (a small door) for other K-pop artists and while I personally think K-pop has as much of a chance of breaking into the US market as J-pop did, I can't deny that Gangnam Style did introduce a lot of Westerners to K-pop. Personally, I've been in my little J-pop bubble when it comes to music so I don't really follow K-pop. The musical style has never really appealed to me; it reminds me to much of Western pop music, a music genre that spurred me getting into J-pop. But here are a few little tidbits I know about K-pop:

1. Everything is labeled as a "comeback" even when a group isn't on hiatus.
2. Each fandom has a group name and these fandoms fight. A lot.
3. Plastic surgery accusations fly left and right but it's no big deal.
4. "Oppa", "hwaiting", and "aegyo" are common terms used in K-pop.
5. Crazy K-pop fans scare the shit out of me.

In other words, I know jack shit about K-pop. I don't know who's popular, what singles are selling well, how the sales and charts are structured, zip. Believe it or not, around the time I had gotten into J-pop, I tried to get into K-pop. I listened to a few songs, watched a few videos, but I never really got into it. I think I was just distracted by all the J-pop groups I'd been getting into. I also learned about a few more K-pop groups thanks to the Hallyu wave back in 2011 and early 2012 but the only group that I really got into was Kara.  Beyond them, K-pop has never really interested me and I think that's partially because the image of a K-pop group is so different from a J-pop group. I wouldn't say that K-pop is sexier then J-pop (because J-pop has plenty of sexy PVs) but the image that most K-pop groups portray feels more... mature. I think that's partially because from what I've seen of K-pop music videos, they're much more polished and sleek. One of the defining traits of the quintessential Japanese idol is that the idol in question starts out from scratch and the appeal of her is watching her grow as a performer. With K-pop, the idols have already grown as performers thanks to training; what you see is the full package wrapped up in a shiny manufactured bow. I know it's a little harsh to call K-pop "manufactured" especially since you can argue that J-pop idols are just as manufactured but with K-pop, it feels a little more obvious. The girls in K-pop groups I've seen just look so much more polished and... pretty. But that prettiness doesn't feel natural; it's too perfect, too artificial-looking. They almost look more like singing, dancing mannequins than real people. Again, a rather harsh comparison, but it's the only way I can describe how K-pop idols appear to me. Thus I think one of the main reasons that I don't really follow K-pop idols that much is because they're too... perfect.

Weird, isn't it? You'd think I'd be all over that considering how much I bitch about talent and whatnot on my blog. But I guess something I like about J-idols is the little quirks and appearance flaws each girl has; sure, not every girl looks drop dead gorgeous, but they each have their own "look" that belongs to them and only them. There's something about following an idol group and watching the girls in it grow and improve that just really appeals to me. With K-pop, you don't see much of that because the idols have already grown and improved; what you see is the final result of all that growth and improvement. So while I don't necessarily think K-pop is a bad genre of music, it's not really a genre of music that I feel inclined to get into. Musically there isn't much appeal to me and I follow enough J-pop groups already that adding K-pop to my review list would be too much for me to handle. Nonetheless, there is a small handful of K-pop song that I surprisingly enjoy listening to. I don't know what it is about each song that separates it from all the other K-pop songs I don't give a shit about, but these ten songs are pretty much the only K-pop songs I actually listen to. I've found each song on this list through a variety of different ways, ranging from Youtube to other blogs to even scandals. So let's take a segway from my usual repertoire of reviewing the latest J-pop idol PV, single, album, etc. and dive into K-pop land!

10. Dr. Feel Good - Rania

Annnd I'm starting the list with a guilty pleasure. Seriously, I almost thought about not putting this on the list just to hide my embarrassment. You know that trashy erotic novel your best friend hides under her mattress because she's too embarrassed to let anyone know she read it? That's kind of what Dr. Feel Good is for me! I mean seriously, there is no explanation that I can type cohesively to explain what I enjoy about this song. It's not even that original! The opening is ripped off from more successful American pop songs like Just Dance by Lady Gaga and the song sounds like something I'd hear from The Pussycat Dolls or some other Western pop group. Dr. Feel Good has little to no originality, even for an idol song, but there is something about it that makes me keep listening to it. You know whose fault it is!? All those idol blogs I followed that kept bringing this up in reviews and best of lists! It's their fault I discovered this song! Thanks, Wota In Training and Fly in the F***ing Wine! Well anyways... I think that part of Dr. Feel Good's appeal to me might be that even though the concept has been done a bajillion times in pop music... the members of Rania just kind of go with it. There's never a moment where it seemed like they were nervous or hesitating, they gave off an air of confidence in the music video that really makes the song enjoyable. And Dr. Feel Good is so. Damn. Catchy. In fact, something you'll notice about many of the songs on this list is that they are all extremely catchy. Mainly because of English lyrics. The English scattered through Dr. Feel Good has the magical ability to latch onto my mind and have myself humming it for days. Dr. Feel Good is a shameless guilty pleasure of mind, a raunchy but strangely awesome song thanks to the conviction of Rania, sexier than SDN48 could ever hope to be.

9. Gee - Girls' Generation

SURPRISE! I'm sure no one's ever heard of this song; I mean, it's just so obscure! Don't worry, guys; it's okay if you can't find this song because really, it's just so underground. Sarcasm aside, yes, I am one of the many fans of Gee by Girls' Generation... or SNSD... or Shoujo Jidai. Gee, this group has like ten different names! I'll just use their English group name for now! Anyways, isn't Gee like... the most popular K-pop song ever? I only know Girls' Generation from their Japanese releases as Shoujo Jidai but I know that the reason that they got so famous in their home country was thanks to Gee. The music video for this song has lot of views on Youtube in comparison to some of the other songs on this list so I was just wondering! Actually, during that brief time in which I made a half-assed effort to listen to K-pop, Gee was the first song I listened to! And to my surprise, I really liked the song! I remember having this song stuck in my head for several days after I watched the PV. Gee is a ridiculously catchy song; there are so many part of the song from the opening English lyrics to the repetition of "Gee" like... everywhere and the sheer tempo and styling of the lyrics is catchy! I don't know any of the words to this song beyond the (really good) English thrown around in the chorus and the verses yet somehow this song always gets stuck in my head! Normally a catchy song stops getting stuck in my head after awhile but nope, not Gee! Luckily, this song is catchy in a way that I still enjoy it. I don't know what it is about Gee's musical composition but it sounds like such a likable song. Sure, it's pretty generic but there's something about the enthusiasm of the music and how happy the vocals are that really makes me like this song.

8. Secret - Poison

Two words: Saxo. Phone. You see, the use of that glorious brass instrument in this song is so great that I have to emphasize its greatness by splitting it up into two words. The thing with saxophones incorporated into pop music is that the effect can either sound really cool or really cheesy. Like Juice=Juice's Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne handles the saxophone well. And so does Poison. In fact, I'd say that opening saxophone solo is what got me to listen to the entire song. I found out about this song from some post on Idolminded last year (can't remember which but the Youtube link to this song was embedded in the blog post). I think that saxophone is what gives Poison a kind of retro/noir feel to it, and that style is only amplified in the accompanying music video. I love the video for this song since it combines my personal love of vintage film noir with a really fun and engaging storyline. Like many of the other songs on this list, Poison also has really catchy English lyrics. On the subject of English, I've noticed that the English used in K-pop songs is really well-done, both grammatically and verbally. I don't know if that's because I've spent so much time listening to Engrish in J-pop but it's refreshing! I think Poison is a really fun song because it's pop with a slightly retro feel to it and I really enjoying listening to that type of music! My only complaint about Poison is that I think it's way too short. The song is a little under three and half minutes but I think the song could have gone on for another minute or so. I remember when I first listened to the song and it ended I was like, "It's already over?" It was just a really enjoyable and fun song to listen to that I didn't want it to end! But overall, Poison is a catchy pop song with just enough saxophone thrown in to make the song stand out!

7. Shampoo - After School

Guess how I found out about this song! KIOKU! Yeah for idol bloggers leading me to find songs I like listening to! Your prize, Kioku, is... the satisfaction of knowing that you indirectly lead to a song you really like getting on this list? Back in early January, she posted a list of the most played songs on her iPod and amongst the boatload of K-pop songs I didn't know/care about, Shampoo was her second most played song! And since she called it, "one of the best songs in K-pop ever," I figured Shampoo had to be a pretty kickass song to earn such an esteemed title from such a talented and critical idol blogger! And I really ended up liking the sound of Shampoo; it's a very happy and light song, perfect to listen to on a sunny morning! I even liked the cheesy sythesizers in the intro that sound like they were ripped from and 80s song! I think the instrumental of Shampoo is the best part of the song because it just sounds so light and pretty. Shampoo is just such a happy and relaxing song that I can't help but calm down every time I listen to it! I almost want to say it's good stress reliever! The only part I don't really like about Shampoo is that there's this rap sequence about midway through the song; the rapper didn't sound bad but it clashed with the light and airy tone the rest of the song set. It didn't ruin the song or anything but the mood whiplash was little jarring the first time I listened to Shampoo. Still, I love how pretty and joyful this song sounds and it's a song that I never get tired of listening to! By the way, here's a fun fact about After School: they covered Love Machine by Morning Musume! How awesome is that!? The cover's not the best in the world but I still think it's pretty sweet that they covered such a classic and iconic song by Momusu!

6. Get Out - AOA

Wanna know how I discovered this song? CHIIMA! In a way! Give yourself a pat on the back, Chiima! The PV for Get Out was requested by one of her readers in PV Review Chronicles (which she still hasn't finished yet... get to work on that, Chiima!). We were chatting on Facebook and decided to look up some of the music videos that were requested by her readers for her to review! I looked up the music video to Get Out and surprisingly, it was really entertaining! At first, the music video seemed pretty normal but I decided to keep watching because the song was decent and about thirty seconds in, the video got awesome. The music video consists of mainly a few dance shots intertwined with close-ups and shots of some of the girls playing instruments, pretty typical idol music video stuff. But then the movie references started popping up and Nia started geeking out! If there's one thing that rivals my love of idol music, it's movies and when you put them together, I'm a happy camper! The music video shows each member of AOA dressed as an iconic movie character such as Hermione from Harry Potter to The Bride from Kill Bill to even Mathilde from Leon the Professional. As someone who is a huge fan of movies, I enjoyed this PV a lot. The song is also nice too; it has a very upbeat and happy sound to it! I admit, it's not the most original or innovative pop song I've ever heard but like Gee, it's still a very likable-sounding song to my ears. What surprised me about AOA is that I learned that a portion of the group's members actually play instruments and form a little band within the group. Sure, they're no Scandal, but I thought that was interesting! Ironically, the song doesn't really sound like a song that would be played by a band but nonetheless, I still enjoy Get Out a lot!

5. Day by Day - T-ara

Hoo boy, T-ara... I wonder, are they still around? I know that they were pretty famous as a group before that bullying scandal but what about now? Did that affect their popularity at all? Because back in August I remember all over the idolsphere all everyone would talk about was T-ara and Hwayoung. The news about them was so prevalent that even I, someone who pays little to no attention to this group, caught wind of the scandal. Funny enough the last time I heard about T-ara was through another scandal between their fans and Berryz Koubou. But that's another story from another time. As for Hwayoung and whether or not their was bullying... I can't really comment on that. I'm not a fan of T-ara nor do I know about the inner workings of the group. But one good thing that did come from this scandal is that I found a really great song by T-ara! It's just unfortunate the circumstances that lead to me discovering the song were so so bleak... Since T-ara had been all over the news in August, I thought why not look up some of their music? At least I'd have an image of what this group released and maybe I could find that Hwayoung girl! Via Youtube (isn't it always) I found Day by Day and surprisingly, it really grabbed me. I love the sound of this song; I don't know much of else of what T-ara sounds like but Day by Day sounds so pretty. I think what makes this song so pretty is the simple and repetitive instrumental; that flute sounds gorgeous and the minimal use of other instruments works great in the song. Even the rapping works! I like how Day by Day isn't loud but softer and more melodic but still has a lot of energy! I don't know how T-ara's fared post-scandal or Hwayoung but regardless of the group's current reputation, I still enjoy listening to Day by Day a lot!

4. Bloom - Ga In

I think Bloom is the most recent song on here; you might recognize this song if you read my year-end post from 2012! If you managed to plunge through the paragraphs and paragraphs of text, I put the PV for Bloom as one of my favorite PVs of 2012! Much like T-ara, I only discovered this song because of controversy! See? Good things can come from scandals, like finding awesome music! I remember back in 2012, this PV got a lot of backlash for covering a sensitive topic: no, not homosexuality (leave that to SKE48) but sex! Sexual awakening to be exact. The PV's controversy stemmed from the fact that it was a visual representation of sexy and showed the singer, Ga In, very clearly having sex and enjoying it. From what I remember there was so much discussion about whether the PV was "slutty" or not that I couldn't help but take a look at the PV to see just what all this was about. And I'm glad I did because not only did I think the PV was a great interpretation of sex but I thought the song was also really good! Bloom reminds me a lot of a Madonna song and I think where the song really blooms (I promise I'll keep my puns to a minimum) is in the lyrics. Something I've noticed about K-pop is that... there lyrics tend to translate better into English than K-pop. I don't if it's because the lyrics are just more relatable to Western culture than Japanese lyrics but I feel like I can understand what K-pop lyrics I trying to convey more than J-pop songs. What I love about Bloom's lyrics is that sexual awakening is compared to a flow blooming. It's a great metaphor and makes for a very joyful and happy song about celebrating sex, not condemning it. The topic of sex is handled incredibly well in both the PV and the song and despite the controversy, I'm glad this song was released!

3. Pandora - Kara

Another fairly recent song, this is actually the only K-pop song I've listened to by Kara! Those of you who've been around the Wonderland might remember that Kara is a K-pop group that I've actually reviewed stuff by Kara. I've only ever really looked at Kara's Japanese releases though; I didn't even discover Pandora until I decided to review their Electric Boy single. Thank god I decided to go through with writing that review, otherwise I never would have found this awesome song! When I first listened to Pandora, it was during my process of writing my Electric Boy single review and what struck me about the song was just how different it was, especially compared to the other two tracks on the single. It doesn't sound at all like a J-pop song but it doesn't really sound like a K-pop song either, at least not a K-pop song I've heard. I almost want to say it's... it's a very ethereal song, with a lot synthesizers and echo-y vocals. The vocal structure of the song is just as strange as the instrumental yet somehow the weirdness of this song works. I don't know how but it does! I think Pandora sounds extremely cool and it's really unlike any other Kara song I've heard. I usually hear cuter and sweeter music from Kara and Pandora is a darker and edgier contrast (but not too dark!). It makes me wonder if Kara has any other songs like this in their K-pop discography. What I love the most about Pandora is the energy of the song; it's like there's this tension running throughout the song that just explodes when you hit the chorus. Listening to Pandora is very exhilarating; it's like you can feel the excitement in the song when you put in your earbuds and press play! You know, if Kara's K-pop discography consists of stuff like Pandora, maybe I should follow them more closely...

2. Bad Girl Good Girl - Miss A

This is one of the small amount of K-pop songs that I listened to during that brief time I mentioned earlier in which I tried to get into K-pop. Much like Gee, Bad Girl Good Girl was a song I surprisingly enjoyed. I thought this song was catchy, had a great vocal hook and a nice message in the lyrics. In fact, I think a big part of why I really love this song is because of the insanely relatable lyrics. And again, this is another case in which I'm really happy that the lyrics translate so well into English. The song is basically talking from a girl's perspective of how a boy judges her only based on her appearance and outward demeanor. She shoots him down for only seeing her as a "Bad Girl" when she's more than just a stereotype he's narrow-mindedly slapped on her. I really love that message because I think it's something that relates to the way a lot of girls feel. And I don't even think the message of the song has to be aimed at just a boy; the message of not judging someone based on his/her outward appearance can be directed towards anyone. I know that there's been more than one occasion in which I felt like I've been judged by only my outward appearance and I remember how I just wanted to scream that I was more than a stereotype people were trying to force on me. The applicability of this song's message. I also like that the song feels very... genuine. I know that idol music isn't the most sincere of music genres but when I listen to Bad Girl Good Girl, I feel like the girls singing it really understand what they're singing about. And beyond the lyrics, the song just flows really nicely. The vocals kind of sound like they could be in an R&B song and I think that works for the song. Overall, Bad Girl Good Girl is an appealing song to me not only because of its musical structure but also its lyrical content!

1. Cleansing Cream - Brown Eyed Girls

Of all the songs on this list, Cleansing Cream is the one that I never get tired of. I absolutely love this song and I love the music video for it just as much. I feel like my love for this song is half because it's just a genuinely good song and also because the music video for it is wonderful. Cleansing Cream is a ballad and one of my favorite ballad songs; if I included K-pop on my top 10 ballads, this song would absolutely be on there! What I think makes Cleansing Cream such a beautiful ballad is the perfect balance of the vocals and the instrumental; the song starts out soft and stays pretty soft until the final chorus. I love how the vocals just flow so beautifully and practically melt into the instrumental; it's a great balance makes for a very, very pretty song. I like how the music video for Cleansing Cream sort of matches the energy of the song too; for the most part, the video conveys a very subdued and tense air and then the final chorus hits along with the climax of the PV. It's absolutely perfect. Overall, I thought the music video for Cleansing Cream was overall just really well done even if the members of Brown Eyed Girls aren't in the video at all; the video focuses on three completely random people who in no way relate back to the group. But the story the viewer sees about this group of people is compellingly eerie and conveys so many different emotions and meanings in the span of just three and a half minutes. When I first saw the music video, I was actually a little confused as to what the story was about; don't get me wrong, I was intrigued but I was also really confused at what I was supposed to take from the PV. But as I watched it more, I was able to pick out my own interpretation of the story. I think the music video for Cleansing Cream is what really made me love the song.

So hey, readers who happen to listen to K-pop, do you have any particular songs you enjoy listening to? And do you have any opinions on the handful of songs I listed? Feel free to comment, I'm really curious! Or you don't have to comment... we have freedom of speech for a reason, right?