Sunday, May 19, 2013

Invader Kyary

Well, the month of May (Did you catch that reference?) is upon us and Kyarypamyupamyu, the Harajuku fashion queen and resident weirdo of the J-pop industry has released another single! You heard me right! It's only May and already Kyary as released three singles this year! You guys think she's gonna reach five? Or even six? I heard she had just announced that she was releasing an album to boot. With the rapidfire rate that Kyary's been releasing singles, I wonder when she's gonna burn out... Because maybe then Perfume will finally- oh, sorry, you guys aren't supposed to know about my hidden agenda! Anyways, the latest Kyary single is called Invader Invader. I always knew that Kyarypamyupamyu would take over the world someday! Now I have proof! Seriously, I'm hoping there are some hardcore alien-themes on this single! I'll take alien abduction, strange lights in the sky, or little green men. Or all three. Anyways, I'd actually thought about reviewing the PV for Invader Invader because hey, it's a Kyary PV and it's bound to have stuff I can talk about in it. And even though the PV was released in HD (seriously, Warner Music, it was about time you got to doing that), I decided that I was going to review the single as a whole instead! I already have a bunch of summer PVs to look at this month, along with other material too! So guys, grab your tin foil hats and join me in reviewing the mindfuckery that always seems to accompany a Kyarypamyupamyu single!


Well, you all know by now that your typical Kyarypamyupamyu single cover is going to look a little weird, a little creepy and very likely a strange kind of cute. I've personally never been a huge fan of the album work used on Kyary's single and album covers; it's a little too strange for me. I like it when a cover looks pretty! Like Perfume's Limited Edition cover for Spring of Life! Now that was an awesometacular single cover! But like every other single cover Kyary has released, the one for Invader Invader is... wait for it... wait for it... WEIRD! Oh man, who would have thought? I would have thought for sure these covers would be normal this time around! I will say though, the covers for Invader Invader aren't the weirdest I've seen; believe me, there's much weirder out there. The regular cover (featured at the top of this post) features, as you can tell, Kyarypamyupamyu, surrounded by what I presume can only be watermelon-headed aliens from a very fruity planet. According to Wikipedia (please don't shoot me for using it as a source), the concept of the cover for the regular edition was for Kyary to be surrounded by "otherwordly creatures" holding spheres of magic whilst Kyary poses amongst them. I will say, I do like the color scheme used in the regular edition! The colors are very bright and summer-y and the hair on the aliens posed around Kyary is pretty awesome. I just don't really like the backdrop; it looks like the floor of a 1970s gym class. I guess the minimal background does draw more attention towards Kyary but I think something different would have worked better. The limited edition features Kyary looking relatively normal and holding a smaller "fairy Kyary" posed on her upheld index finger. Yeah... I guess mini!Kyary is invading giant Kyary? I don't know but it's a fairly interesting cover as well. Overall, I think the covers to Invader Invader are fine; they definitely stand out and they're pretty original. But you know what I say! Never judge a song by its cover! So let's get to how the actual songs on Invader Invader hold up!

Invader Invader

All right, starting off the wacky single is what else? The title track! And I have to admit, the opening of Invader Invader didn't really grab me. It didn't sound bad or anything but I think it could have used a little more energy. And I wasn't a huge fan of Kyary's "Wow~ Wow~ Yeah~ Yeah~" bits after the first chorus either. Luckily, after that the song started to sound better as it built up more energy and the instrumentals got crazier and crazier. I think a big part of Invader Invader that appealed to me was the instrumental itself because there was so much going on in it. What I also liked about Invader Invader is that the lyrics are very easy to single along to, which is a blessing when your Japanese pronunciation is horrible. And the song is catchy too, but most Kyarypamyupamyu songs are, for better or worse. So yeah Invader Invader sounds pretty typical for a Kyary track until you hit the instrumental break after the second chorus. And then the song goes to strange places... strange places... of Dubstep. You heard me right, a Kyarypamyupamyu song has Dubstep in it. That's like me saying a Batman movie has Harry Potter in it! I really don't think I ever would have put Kyarypamyupamyu and Dubstep together... Sure, maybe Perfume or even MEG but Kyary? Seriously? Well anyways, Invader Invader has a Dubstep break and while it's not very long, it is a little, well... odd. I guess it doesn't sound bad per say but it definitely does kind of disrupt the tone and style of the rest of the song. It sounds like it was just kind of thrown in there because hey, Nakata really wanted to try some Dubstep on Kyary! Then it just ends and the song plays on. I guess the Dubstep break isn't very long which is nice and it is one of the aspects of Invader Invader that stands out the most... Still, if it wasn't included in the song, I don't think I would necessarily miss it. But for the most part, I liked Invader Invader; it had a catchy chorus that I could bob my head to and easily memorable lyrics too!

Now as for the PV for Invader Invader... do I really need to say much about it? If you've watched a Kyarypamyupamyu PV for, you're gonna go in watching this PV and kind of having an idea of what's going to happen in it. Something I've found with Kyary's PVs is that you can always expect them to have strange themes, weird imagery that seems irrelevant but probably has to do with the theme of the song, and often features some kind of quirky mascot that parties with Kyary. Tell me I'm wrong. Does Invader Invader's PV have strange themes? Check. Weird imagery? Check. Quirky mascot? Check! If you find yourself getting very easily tired of this music video formula, I'd recommend you skip the PV for Invader Invader. And Kyary's PVs in general... Anyways, I thought the PV for Invader Invader was okay. Clearly I didn't think it warranted a screencap but I do think it was a better PV than Ninjari Bang Bang. Less green screens. Although I do think that Invader Invader and Ninjari Bang Bang had about the same amount of budget. Yeah, Invader Invader has a pretty cheap PV. However, I'm not sure if the PV for Invader Invader is intentionally cheap or not. In a video where Kyary was talking about the PV, she explained that the PV was about a secret organization of aliens trying to take over the world but unfortunately, the aliens didn't have a lot of money so their secret hideout is very shoddy. I admit, it makes sense and even if the PV is cheap just because the producer didn't have a lot of money to spare on it, it's still an entertaining explanation for it. What bothered me about the PV was that the lighting was very dark; it's not like I couldn't see but the main set had a lot of details that I wish I could have seen more of. Anyways, overall, I don't think the PV for Invader Invader is terrible but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it doesn't exactly stand out. It's just Kyary being herself (which is always entertaining) accompanied by backup dancers and a quirky mascot. But hey, if the formula works, why bother changing it?

I'm gonna give Invader Invader four out of five apples. If you're not a fan of Kyarypamyupamyu by now, then this song probably isn't gonna be the one to draw you into her music. Beyond the Dubstep break the song doesn't bring much new material to her discography but Invader Invader is still a nice-sounding song and as someone who's a casual fan of her music, I like it!

Point of view

So the B-side on Invader Invader served as a tie-in for the same company Invader Invader endorsed. And... yeah, I'm not a huge fan of Point of view. This song is way too cutesy for my tastes. The thing with Kyary's music is that it's always balancing on a line between tolerably cute and insufferably cute. And unfortunately, Point of view falls over the line into insufferably, I-feel-like-I'm-getting-cavities-from-the-sweetness cute. The instrumentals are much blander and minimal in this song than say, Fashion Monster of even Ninjari Bang Bang and the vocals are adorable. Irritably adorable. This actually sounds like an opening I'd hear to a children's show... maybe even Doraemon. In fact... I think Point of view could have been in the Doraemon movie! Yeah! Instead of Perfume getting saddled with a bland song, why not have Kyary already use the bland song on her Invader Invader single? Sound good? No? Ugh, maybe I'm still just frustrated over the Perfume and Doraemon collaboration... Anyways, there are a few little instrumental bits I do kind of enjoy in Point of view but for the most part, I think it's a pretty forgettable song. It's just way too... eh... kawaii for me. Blegh, I swore I'd never use that word in a review. But it's just a word that fits how Point of view sounds. Point of view's main lack of appeal for me is... wait for it... wait for it... the lack of energy! Surprise! I'll bet you never hear that criticism from me! But I do feel like if the energy was upped on Point of view and the instrumentals just had more... vibrancy in them, the song might be a little more tolerable. After all, a huge part of Kyary's appeal for me is how the instrumentals in her songs sound. What? Did you guys really think I was a fan of Kyarypamyupamyu for her mind-blowing, goddess-like voice? No. Point of view is definitely one of my lesser-liked B-sides. The song doesn't even have a good ending, it just stops playing really fast before you can even process the cutesyness you listened to.

As you may have gathered, Point of view isn't exactly a five-apples kind of song for me. I'll give it two and half out of five apples. I think if you're a fan of Kyary's cuter songs, Point of view will appeal to you but for me, it's too cute and too forgettable to stand out that much.

Fashion Monster -extended mix-

Ah, what a better song to get a mix than Fashion Monster? I have to admit, Fashion Monster has grown on me since I reviewed it way back in September. And personally, I could see it getting an extended mix; it's got the instrumental for it! However, I've always found Nakata's extended mixes to be pretty good but not really necessary. Sure, some of his mixes have been friggin' awesome (such as edge (-mix) or the JPN album mix of Glitter) but typically, the songs are already so good they don't really need a remix. I like Fashion Monster a lot so I was curious to hear just what was changed (or extended) in the extended mix. And after hearing the song... I can't hear much that was altered or remixed in the song. The vocals for the most part remain untouched; a lot of the big changes are unsurprisingly in the instrumentals. There's even some gratuitous Dubstep added in one of the several extended breaks in Fashion Monster -extended mix-! Luckily, it's not quite as gratuitous as the one in Invader Invader and it's much shorter too! I swear, has Nakata just been chilling with Skrillex lately? There a couple instrumental extensions and variations thrown into the extended mix of Fashion Monster but overall, the song is still pretty much the same. It took me a few listens to make put the differences between the original and the extended mix. So if I were to pick between the original Fashion Monster and the extended mix, I think I'd just stick with the original. The extended mix isn't by any means bad but it doesn't bring anything new to the table either save for some Dubstep anda couple extended bits of the instrumentl. What I like for a remix to do is enhance the original song and Fashion Monster -extended mix- doesn't really accomplish that very well. I wouldn't say the extended mix ruins Fashion Monster either but if you're looking for an enhanced mix, this is not it.

I'll give Fashion Monster -extended mix- three and a half apples out of five! Luckily for the mix, the original song is pretty solid so it's hard to really go that wrong with an extended mix. Still, I've heard better mixes before and I doubt Fashion Monster -extended mix- will be on heavy rotation in my music library.

The Verdict

I think Invader Invader as a single is quite the mixed bag. While I think the A-side is a pretty good song, the two B-sides garnered mixed opinions. Point of view, in my opinion, is a forgettable B-side; it's far too cute and far too unoriginal for me to really get into it. While I like the extended mix of Fashion monster, I could have done without it. The original was fine the way it is and the extended mix didn't really add much to it. If you're a fan of Kyary's style of music, then I think you'll like the Invader Invader just fine. However, I think if I were trying to get someone into Kyarypamyupamyu, Invader Invader wouldn't be the single that I would show them. No, I'd probably show them the video to PonPonPon. One the subject of that forever-infamous PV, I really wish people would stop comparing Kyary's current work to PonPonPon. She's never going to release another song like it and I wish people would just get over that. I don't know, it's just been nearly two years now and still I keep hearing complaints of "Well, this single isn't as good as PonPonPon." I know: it was a really good song and it'd be hard for any artist to top it. I almost wish Kyary hadn't released just so people would stop talking about it. Well, I'll get off my soap box now and get back to the Invader Invader single. Overall, I think this is an okay single. My one complain is I wish there were more aliens! Or at least more ethereal themes; I feel like Kyary and Nakata really could have gone crazy with more ethereal-type music and what a better style to do it with than on a single about aliens? Oh well, the single's out and I can't change what it's like.

I'll give Invader Invader three and half apples out of five. The single isn't the best overall single I'd heard from Kyarypamyupamyu but the A-side is an enjoyable listen. The B-side is pretty weak in my opinion and the extended mix of Fashion Monster is just okay. If you're a Kyary fan, I think you'll enjoy this single though. I mean, if for nothing else but the fact that it involves aliens!

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