Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Evolution of 9nine

So guys... how about I review something from a group I've never reviewed before? That sounds fun, right? Of course it does! Everyone loves new things! So let's talk about 9nine!

Is it just me, or does Evolution No. 9 sound like some brand of perfume? Speaking of perfume, the only reason that I've even heard of this idol group is because A-chan's sister, Nishiwaki Sayaka, is in it! Small world, huh? Beyond that interesting little tidbit, I've never really looked into 9nine as a group; I know at one time they had nine members but their numbers have shortened down to five. Personally, I don't mind; I like smaller idol groups anyways! I also know that they've been around for a pretty decent amount of time, but they're also one of the less recognized idol groups in the pool of idol groups clamoring for success right now. Honestly, 9nine has never stood out to me; I'm sure they're a fine group and all, but I've never taken a close look at their material. Okay, there's like one song I really enjoy by 9nine but other than that one song, I've never really felt the urge to review anything by them. I probably should since I don't see them getting a lot of attention in the blogsphere but what can I say? I've had other idol groups that I've been more occupied with. But after listening to their latest single on a whim and realizing that hey, I could actually make a single review out of this, I have finally decided to give 9nine some attention. Sure, I only recognize one member of the group, but nevertheless, I shall proceed to review this group to the best of my ability! And who knows? Maybe like Perfume, this group will find a special place in my heart. But probably not since they're both two very different groups... still, let us go into this review.


So something I've noticed about 9nine is that they get some pretty nice looking album/single covers and outfits. Like I would legitimately consider wearing some of the clothes the girls in 9nine get to wear. I haven't seen them wearing really shitty costumes, but then again, I'm not reviewing a Hello! Project group so perhaps that's why. So the outfits for Evolution No. 9 follow that same trend of looking very nice and stylish, and I like them! But I did notice that they looked a little bit similar to another group whom I write about extensively. Can you guess? They start with a P and end in "erfume." Yeah, maybe it's because I'm a Perfume fan, but is anyone else getting huge GAME vibes from the outfits on the covers? I mean, look closely at both outfits. Does anyone else see it? Maybe it's just the styling in some parts of each group's outfits... But hey, if you're gonna imitate an outfit, Perfume's are great to imitate! I will say though, I love the tights the girls of 9nine are wearing. I love how the stripes are aligned at different positions; it just makes for a very interesting image! I'd totally buy those tights if I could find them, but I know you guys don't want to hear about Nia's Shopping List so what else stands out about the covers for Evolution No. 9? Beyond the outfits, the covers are actually pretty simplistic with a white background and black text. Each cover shows the girls positioned differently with their poses slightly altered, and a briefcase with the number 9 is shown in the Regular and Limited B editions of the single. Beyond that, there isn't much that stands out with the covers beyond those kickass outfits. But then again, I think that works! As I always say, simplicity is not a bad thing. After all, the minimalistic background allows the viewer to focus more on the outfits and the girls themselves! And like I said, the styling for Evolution No. 9 is very cool and very sleek. The outfits alone for this single were enough to get me interested; I didn't even know what the songs sounded like until I downloaded the single. But hey, a good single is more than just nice looking covers! How do the actual songs hold up anyways?

Evolution No. 9

Well, this is the A-side that compelled me to review something by 9nine so naturally I must think it's a pretty awesome song, right? Something interesting that I didn't find out until I started writing this review was that Evolution No. 9 is actually the opening theme for a drama that Ono Erena is in! Sure, I don't really follow Ono Erena but I still thought that was pretty interesting! I've noticed that 9nine has a lot of songs that have been used as openings, particularly some anime called Star Driver. I counted at least two or three songs that had been used in that anime, but I digress. How does Evolution No. 9 hold up then? Well, I like this song! I think the opening makes for a great hook and the rest of the song keeps me listening! It's definitely one of the more mature idol sons out there, but I have a tendency to lean towards more mature-sounding idol music. I don't know why, but that love for mature idol music makes me enjoy listening to Evolution No. 9 a lot! I like the guitar riffs in the song too, especially during the parts where the girls aren't singing! I like the vocals too! The girls of 9nine clearly aren't remarkable singers but they can all carry a tune and hey, I finally got to hear what A-chan's sister sounds like! She seemed to have a decent amount of solos which was nice! There's a part between the second and final chorus when the song switches to this... choral type of singing. Depending on my mood, the change either sounds really neat and ethereal or really jarring and weird but hey, I can give that little bridge brownie points for trying something different! Even if it felt really random and out of place. In fact, how is it that choir-singing never seems to work in idol music? It always sounds really off. But I'm starting to nitpick and overall, I really do like listening to Evolution No. 9. I like that it has darker and more mature sound while still maintaining a nice level of energy, and I think the arrangement is pretty solid.

The PV for Evolution No. 9 fits the song nicely. It carries over the same tone the song had and also provides an entertaining plotline and sleek visuals. In fact, you know what this PV reminded me of? Perfume again! Funny how I keep getting Perfume vibes from a group with a member that's related to one of the members of Perfume! Yeah, the PV for Evolution No. 9 reminded a lot of the PV for Laser Beam. Both feature the girls of each group wandering around barren buildings in stylish and elegant black outfits and the plots of each PV revolve around a briefcase. Of course, in Laser Beam, the girls of Perfume are simply trying to find the briefcase; in Evolution No. 9, the girls of 9nine are trying to avoid people who want the brief case. Not to mention the PV for Evolution No. 9 doesn't have anyone randomly transforming into a polar bear or apples or giant laser beams. And the briefcase in Evolution No. 9 doesn't contain a music box; it simply transports the girls to another dimension. Maybe. That part of the PV wasn't very clearly explained. But still, it's a pretty well-done PV, especially for an idol group! I like that there are a lot of shots in the PV revolving around the cat-and-mouse chase between the girls and the mysterious super-evil secret agents that are pursuing them. Yeah, you get your standard dance shot and close-up but they aren't shown quite as much. Of course, I liked the dance shot too; the set went with the rest of the PV nicely, and the dance itself highlighted the song! When watching the PV, I realized that Evolution No. 9 is a very... dance-able song, the chorus in particular. Beyond the dance and the plotline, there isn't much else I can say about the PV for Evolution No. 9, although if I wanted to do a PV review, I probably could have squeezed out enough material. Still, I'm glad I'm doing a single review over a PV review, because I do want to talk about the other two B-sides on Evolution No. 9. For now, the PV for the title track is nicely done and has good pacing, good lighting, good imagery, just all around goodness!

I will bestow upon Evolution No. 9 four and half out of five apples! Is it the best song I've ever heard? No, but it caught my attention enough that I wanted to review it! It's a song with very cool vibes and holds up very strongly as an A-side!

Just a Koi

The first of two B-sides on Evolution No. 9 is Just a Koi which (very awkwardly) translates into Just a Love! Despite the rather odd-sounding title, I really liked this B-side, and of the two on this single, it's definitely my favorite! Just a Koi actually sounds like a song Tokyo Girls' Style would do to my ears, especially in the "Ah" bits of the song; they took me back to W.M.A.D. Of course, this song sounds a lot less nineties than TGS's songs and isn't quite as funky. Still, I liked this B-side! And hey, I freaking love Tokyo Girls' Style so to hear another idol group have a song that sounds like their style is right up my alley! Just a Koi has a nice blend of synths and other sound effects that really make the song stand out, along with the vocal editing. It does carry that same mature vibe Evolution No. 9 had, but Just a Koi is a little bit more fun, and a great track to dance to! If you like dancing, that is. Both songs have pretty close energy levels, and I like that Just a Koi isn't some huge mood whiplash song. The song still stands out on its own, but it compliments Evolution No. 9 nicely, which is what I think a B-side should do. What I also love about Just a Koi is that it's a really catchy song; like the only part of the song that doesn't get stuck in my head is the chorus. Just a Koi was stuck in my head after the first few times I listened to it, not that I really minded. Unlike some B-sides like Communication by Perfume this song is catchy in a good way! Another element of Just a Koi I should acknowledge is... the Engrish. Yep, the dastardly Engrish strikes again! Yep, there are a couple random English phrases thrown around and they sound just about as cohesive as you'd expect from Japanese idol music. Okay, in perspective, the English bits aren't that bad, just a little odd sounding; believe me, I've heard much worse. Then again, I've been surrounded by so much Engrish for such awhile now that I'm not sure what constitutes as "good" English in foreign-language songs are... Anyways, the Engrish didn't bother me and most certainly didn't take away my enjoyment of the song! I think Just a Koi was a great B-side for Evolution No. 9!

So like the A-side, I will also give Just a Koi four and a half out of five apples! Wow! Two good songs on the first 9nine single I've reviewed so far! I wonder if the second B-side will keep the good streak going, hrm? Well, let's take a look and see...

Anemone mo ne

So the next B-side has a title centered around... anemone? The poisonous ocean creature? Eh... yeah. Gee, I wonder if this song is about anemones? I will come up front and say that Anemone mo ne is my least favorite song on Evolution No. 9. It's a cute song and all, but it just doesn't work on this single. So Anemone mo ne is without a doubt the safest of the three songs on this single, with a lighter and happier melody along with chanting, a formulaic vocal arrangement, and a major tempo. If this song were on another single, then I might like it a bit better, but on Evolution No. 9, Anemone mo ne doesn't work as a B-side. A big part of why I'm not a huge fan of this song is probably because the first two songs on this single are just so cool. You've got Evolution No. 9, the cool A-side, and Just a Koi, the equally cool B-side and then... this song. Hearing Anemone mo ne after those two very strong, very mature-sounding songs is a huge mood whiplash, and only makes the song sound extremely childish. On a different, more upbeat single, Anemone mo ne might have blended better, but on Evolution No. 9, I feel like Just a Koi could have stood alone as a B-side. Anemone mo ne feels extremely unnecessary. Is it a bad song? No, I've heard much worse, but I've also heard much better as well. I will admit, I feel like this might have been a good song... for another group. I feel like a group like Momoiro Clover Z would be able to pull off this song really well, but for a group like 9nine, Anemone mo ne falls very, very flat. A big part of why Anemone mo ne is so unappealing to my ears is the lack of energy coming from the girls themselves. If the energy had been upped, this might have at least been a more memorable song. But no, this B-side just... plays. And then it's over. Thankfully, Anemone mo ne is a pretty short song, clocking in at roughly three minutes. So yeah, I guess that's a plus? I don't know, I really think this B-side dragged down Evolution No. 9, especially in terms of style and tone. I'd recommend skipping this B-side unless you're die-hard happy idol music fan.

Because I'm feeling benevolent, I'll give Anemone mo ne three out of five apples. It's an all right song, just not a song I would have put on Evolution No. 9. Again, if you're looking for a happier and sweeter-sounding song, you might want to give this B-side a listen but for me, I can do without it.

The Verdict

So that's what 9nine's music sounds like, huh? All right, I'm joking; I know generalizing an entire group's music based on one single is incredibly stupid. But still, I'm glad that I picked Evolution No. 9 to be the first 9nine-related material I review. For the most part, I found this to be a pretty strong single. The A-side is more mature-sounding fare which is hugely appealing to my tastes and I thought it had a nice riff and a good amount of energy. The accompanying music video matched with the song nicely, and I liked the sleeker and more polished visuals of the PV. Just a Koi carries over those mature vibes and as a B-side, it holds up pretty well on its own, enough that it could even stand on its own as an A-side. What Evolution No. 9 lacks in catchiness, Just a Koi makes up for, and as I said before, the two songs compliment each other nicely. They have similar tones but also enough differences that each song feels distinct, as if one adds on to the other. And then there's Anemone mo ne, which you all know I thought was pretty much the only fault I really had with Evolution No. 9. I found the second B-side I found to be unnecessary due to its whiplash in tone from the other two songs. That song deviates so harshly from the darker sounds of the first two songs on Evolution No. 9 that I wish it simply hadn't been included on the single. Without Anemone mo ne, I would say that Evolution No. 9 is overall a very strong single, but I simply can't ignore the fact that it is included on the single. So my verdict is check out the A-side and Just a Koi and skip Anemone mo ne. It doesn't bring anything interesting to the table and only takes away from the mature vibes of the single. For the most part though, I enjoyed listening to Evolution No. 9! It was about time I reviewed something from the group with A-chan's sister in it, and I think I picked a pretty good single to review! While that last B-side is iffy at best, I like the first two songs on this single. I don't know what 9nine plans on releasing next, but I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled and see if whatever they do next is worth reviewing or not. For now, Evolution No. 9 as a whole single gets...

...four out of five apples! See? That's still a pretty good ranking! Evolution No. 9 and Just a Koi are pretty awesome songs, but I'm forgetting about Anemone mo ne as soon as I publish this review! So 9nine fans, any other good songs you'd recommend checking out?


  1. Nia - aaaaa!! _Perfume is releasing a new album Level3 this fall!!!

    1. I know, beautiful Anon! I know!! Isn't it exciting!? I'm totally writing a news post about it when I get my sanity pieced back together!