Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Sing the Heart Electric

Well, it's that time of year again! Right on schedule, AKB48 has released their fall single and I've started crying over the knowledge that their Janken single is inevitably going to suck! But at least I have the fall single to enjoy, because the fall single is always the best of their yearly A-sides, right? Right!?

Surprisingly, I really liked Koisuru Fortune Cookie. I know I didn't review the PV for it (well I did an Idol Smackdown featuring it so I guess I kind of did...?) but were I to review it, I'd have given the song three-and-half apples out of five. And I'd probably have given the PV three, but that's a subject for an entirely different blog post. What I'm trying to get at is for most of 2013, I've kept my hopes and expectations pretty low for AKB48. Their first two singles of the year sucked, but the release of KFC gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, they were finally starting to get not-sucky music again! That anticipation was only fueled by the prospective release of their fall single. Anyone who follows the group know that the fall single tends to be a little bit different, usually more serious sounding, but also deviating from the typical song styles and sounds that a lot of AKB48 A-sides fall into. Beginner, one of these fall singles, is one of my favorite AKB48 songs!

UZA on the other hand, is my least favorite of the fall songs. I don't think it's a bad song, but it was still pretty lifeless-sounding. So obviously a fall single doesn't guarantee 100% awesomeness. Still I crossed my fingers and hoped for a half-decent sounding song. And Aki-P answered me with Heart Electric. Or Heart Ereki. I prefer the English romanization. The first interesting tidbit about Heart Electric that I found was the center for the song was going to be Kojima Haruna. Since Aki-P has a tendency to write songs based on the centers for each one, I couldn't deny I was curious to hear how Heart Electric would sound, especially since Harunyan's other singles where she centered were Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka? and Romance, Irane. I got my first listen of Heart Electric during the Janken concert, but as always, I like to reserve my final judgement for a clear-quality version of the song. And now that I have that, I can finally give my verdict on where Heart Electric stands as a fall single! Does it suck as bad as UZA? Is it so amazing that it tops Beginner? Or is it somewhere in the middle along side Kaze wa Fuiteiru?

Honestly... there's not much I can say about this song.

I mean, Heart Electric is not a bad song. In fact, compared to some of AKB48's recent music, it's pretty good. I'd take it over So Long! or Eien Pressure. Heart Electric is more-or-less a pop-rock song. Not Scandal levels of pop-rock, more of a pop song that happens to include a lot of guitar. I said before the it sounds like a no3b song, and I still stand by that comparison. And that does make sense; Harunyan is after all a member of no3b. But is it a good no3b song that it sounds like? Eh... I guess so? I don't know, I'm getting any strong negative reactions from Heart Electric so that's a plus. But I'm also not getting any strong positive reactions. It's just one of those AKB48 songs that... exists. It's listenable and all, but I'm probably not going to remember it by next year, let alone listen to it that much. I don't know, I think the more I listen to Heart Electric, the more it grates on me. There's something about the vocal arrangement that sounds... I don't want to say whiny but something similar to that. The chorus in particular just sounds way too grating after the second or third time. It's almost like the girls are shouting instead of singing in the song.

I will say that Harunyan's voice sounds fine, which is good since she has a decent number of solos. Better than Paruru would have... Gee, I'm sorry guys, normally I try to give as much of a fleshed out opinion as possible of any of the songs I review, but I've got nothing for Heart Electric. I can't even really rant about this song, because it's not that bad or unoriginal. I guess I can say that it's the least serious of all the AKB48 fall singles they've released. Not as melancholic as Kaze wa Fuiteiru, edgy as Beginner, or hardcore dance-able as UZA. The song it actually reminds me the most of is Romance, Irane. Something about the tone of each strong strikes me as a very similar. So yeah. That's Heart Electric. A decent song by all means but not decent enough for me to generate a solid opinion of the actual song. I don't know, I guess at the end of the day it's a pretty all right song. Besides, at least Harunyan finally got to center a song!

The real reason I want to review Heart Electric is because anything I review by AKB48 always gets a boatload of views because I want to talk about the PV! Because if there's one thing I can expect from the fall single, it's a creative and interesting PV that often becomes one of my favorite PVs each year! Right? Right!?

Oh joy, the "band" is back. Because it worked so well in Give Me Five!

Yet they still haven't utilized the fact that Sayanee can play the effing guitar. their band really called the G. Fingers?

I'm sorry, the G. Fingers? It sounds like a double entendre from a 1960s porn movie!

Good to see the band looks just as awkward as the last time! At least the outfits are snazzy though!

And I can always count on Paruru's facial expressions to be unintentionally entertaining!

I was kind of hoping Sasshi would center this song...


Does the "G" in G. Fingers stand for Gratuitous pointing?

I will say Yukirin does all right on drums. She's nowhere near as good as say, Rina from Scandal, but she still at least looks into it.

Oh, look! Now they're doing The Airplane! NYOOM!

Man, think of how unintentionally hilarious it would be if they pointed with their middle fingers.

I guess the dance is supposed to emulate 60s go-go dancers? I don't know, it's kinda awkward.

You gotta love that Windows Movie Maker editing!

Sassy Miichan is sassy.

The whole set does give off a very retro 60s vibe...

...but this dance set looks really cheap, especially considering AKB48 isn't exactly strapped for cash.

And this is the part where Haruna... I mean Michelle introduces everyone else.

Yeah, I don't get the English names but I don't think the members of AKB48 do either!

I have to admit, Michelle... Haruna... she makes a very nice center!

Oh hey, clips from the Drama Version of the PV!

I'm sure it's utterly captivating and has the best storyline ever. All the AKS Dramas do.

Enough of that compelling drama! It's time for more finger pointing!

Jurina got bangs? Holy crap. I didn't even notice until now...

Okay, the dancing in this PV ranges from awkward but groovy to just awkward.

Something tells me the "G. Fingers" they're wearing are going to catch on.

Whatever, the PV's over!

Well, first Haruna's dramatically got to strike a final pose.

Annnnnd I gained absolutely nothing from watching this. Good to know!

So I feel the need to point out something about AKB48's PVs from last year. You guys remember 2012, right? Acchan graduated, the world ended, all that jazz! Yeah yeah yeah, what I'm getting at is even though I may have dislike a majority of the A-sides AKB48 released last year, I can't deny that at least the PVs accompanying said A-sides were interesting. The three highlights of that year were most definitely the PVs for Manatsu no Sounds good!, Gingham Check, and UZA. Manatsu was a little choppy with its tone and mood, but overall the PV had a very shocking and attention-grabbing story, combining guts and gore with beaches and sunshine. Gingham Check was a clever homage to several popular figures from Japanese film, with each girl of the Senbatsu playing her own quirky character in the PV. And UZA was a glorious display of Halloween themes, along with a powerful dance, together making up for the underwhelming quality of the actual song. And while Eien Pressure had cheesy special effects and a hokey storyline, even that was charming in its own weird, low-budget way. The only subpar PV from 2012 was Give Me Five! and that was mainly because the members of AKB48 were constrained to playing as a band, with many of the members being unfamiliar with their instruments.

So what's the lesson to be learned from Give Me Five! If you said don't force idols into doing things they don't know how to do... you're wrong! Oh no, clearly the formula was just off when they did Give Me Five! Instead, all we need to do is switch out some of the Senbatsu members, add some backup dancers, switch Acchan with Haruna, and change the band name from "Baby Blossom" to "The G. Fingers." Duh! Or at least that's the conclusion AKS must have come to when they got the brilliant idea to re-use the band gimmick fro another AKB48 single. Gosh, the sheer innovation of such a decisions makes my heart beat faster... or maybe that's just the sheer stupidity of  reusing a poorly executed gimmick from a single released over a year ago!

Yeah, I was not enthusiastic when I saw the the band gimmick was going to be used for Heart Electric's PV. I didn't like it the first time, and I don't like it now. I admit, it's slightly better in this PV because there's a little less emphasis on it but do I have to write in big glowing purple letters than making people play instruments they don't know how to play is AWKWARD. It's like watching a first-year piano student try to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on the piano! You can tell they're trying their darnedest but if they don't have the skill to play that wonderful and ethereal sonata, it's only going to end in disaster! The same can be applied to AKB48. They're idols. Dancing idols. Marketable idols. If I want to see idols play instruments, I will go watch Scandal or Silent Siren. AKB48 can stick to singing and dancing and still make a boatload of money. That is completely fine with me. And what the hell kind of band name is The G. Fingers!? Like I said it sounds like some dirty sex position... or maybe that's my desensitized, depraved mind latching onto a sexual mindset because of my own subconscious. Who cares? The name SUCKS!

 Okay... I need to calm down. I don't mean to be flipping my shit over a silly little PV but I just really have problems with this PV, and the band just happens to be one of the biggest. Don't get me wrong, there are other problems with this PV. Like how completely and utterly dull it is. For an AKB48 PV this looked... cheap. The set where the band played looked all right but the dance set? My god, I expect that from Morning Musume not the most financially successful idol group on the market right now. This is the kind of set I could understand if they were still unpopular but... come on. Is this really the best you can get? I mean, what's been up with all the AKB48 PVs this year? Other than Sayonara Crawl, all the other ones have just been... not that good. They're not creative, interesting, at least when all the A-sides from last year sucked, the PVs made for them were good enough that they at least distracted me from each song's suckiness!

What's my solution to this problem? We'll get Joseph Kahn to direct EVERYTHING!

I mean, the guy's not doing that much, right? Just directing things! We'll just somehow convince him that he should direct more AKB48 PVs and there! Problem solved! To say I am underwhelmed by the PV for Heart Electric is an understatement. Like I thought Koisuru Fortune Cookie was a pretty underwhelming but compared to this PV, it's a fucking fiesta. The only thing I think Heart Electric did well was making Haruna the center. I don't know why Aki-P just up and decided to make Harunyan center for a PV, but she basks in the limelight like a pro. And I guess the outfits for this song were all right, but they looked a little too much like marching band uniforms. Something else I don't get: why the English nicknames for everyone? What point did they have being used for only this song? Because I watched the drama version; still no valid reason to give all the girls English nicknames.

Speaking of which, the drama version adds absolutely nothing to this PV. It's just another cliched drama PV with little to no plot that even I can make out without the help of subtitles. In a nutshell: the girls need to do something together! But one girl doesn't want to do it! Then through the power of friendship, everyone convinces the girl to do the thing with them! Then they perform their song and finito. You can literally apply that plot to every "drama version" or at least all the ones I've watched. But yeah, the drama version bores me almost as much as the regular version. What the hell happened with this PV? Usually for every fall PV, I can always look forward to it having a distinct and interesting theme or storyline but this? It's a lame attempt at being retro that's too lacking in charm to have any sort of lasting appeal. And to think I was actually kind of excited for this release. The PV for Heart Electric is a huge disappointment; it's so uninspired. The sets are dull and cheap-looking, the revival of the band was a poor decision, and there's nothing that stands out in this entire PV. Man, you'd think I'd have learned by now to stop making any expectations for AKB48.

Two and half apples. That's my overall rating for Heart Electric. The song is all right, not the greatest song but listenable. The PV however is a huge disappointment, especially for AKB48. I found it to be completely boring, and should I be forced to watch it again, I'd still probably find it to be completely boring. Man, there goes my last expectation that AKB48 will get a really good single this year. The Janken PV's gonna suck.


  1. Meanwhile in the SME Nogizaka building:

    1. Good lord, the contrast is almost jarring. I have so many opinions about Nogizaka46's PV, but I'm trying to save them for the review!