Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Top 10 Perfume Music Videos

Look at that. They're holding paper clips. Actual paper clips. How am I supposed to make any puns when Perfume already made one too perfect for me to top?

This week, technopop trio Perfume is releasing their first music video collection on DVD, aptly titled Perfume Clips. This will make many people happy, myself included. Okay, that's an understatement, I'm ecstatic about the release of Perfume Clips. The DVD features 22 high-definition Perfume PVs from Linear Motor Girl onwards, including alternate version of PVs such as Macaroni, I still love U, and Kasuka na Kaori. The fact that this is the first time Perfume's releasing a DVD consisting solely of music videos excites me so much. Even if I probably won't be able to buy the DVD, just knowing high definition Perfume music videos will exist is enough to make me happy. The release of Perfume Clips naturally got me thinking, "What are my favorite Perfume music videos anyways?" One of the many things I love about Perfume are there music videos. Ranging from cold and robotic to raw and expressive, their music videos are always a spectacle to watch. They've had some great concepts, some killer choreography, and some wonderful costumes. Picking my favorites is one hell of a challenge! But it is one I was willing to take! Besides, I haven't written a Perfume-themed list in awhile, and my top ten Perfume music videos is one that I think is long overdue! Why top ten? Because as of February 2014, Perfume has released thirty-five music videos (not including concert videos like the Butterfly and Handy Man interludes or the 575 Tokyo Dome Special Video Clip). I think ten of thirty-five is just the right number to include in this list! But I do have some honorable mentions. Five to be exact. So I'll just give my abridged opinions about them:

- Nee: The dance was the highlight of this music video, mainly the effect of showing multiple Perfumes in one shot. Special mention also goes to the kickass foot dance.
- Polyrhythm: Dinosaurs, apples, and plants, what do they all have in common? I'm not sure. But they are all in the music video for Polyrhythm! I think this PV's adorable.
- Spice: Interesting plotline, albeit a little hard to get into at first. The transition from faded pastels to more vibrant colors was also neat to watch. And there was table dancing!
- Spending all my time: I had such a hard time figuring out this video, but I don't think I was supposed to. Even then, watching the girls Perfume move objects with their minds was cool!
- Magic of Love: This video was so, so close to making it into the top ten. Magic of Love is spectacularly colorful and vibrant,and another great artsy Perfume music video.

10. Natural ni Koishite

Why can't all advertisements about shopping look like this? Actually, it's probably good that they don't, otherwise I'd be constantly broke. Anyways, Natural ni Koishite is one of the coolest advertisements for clothing that I have ever seen, and it's a three-minute music video.!The entire PV takes place on one set, but that one set is utilized to its fullest. Like a giant, stylishly decorated treadmill, the sidewalk moves with the girls dancing on it, one of the coolest parts about the PV. There are a bunch of other nice little effects too, mainly through some nice editing and clean cuts. The dance is also adorable, and I like how it correlates with the moving sidewalk. And beyond that, who doesn't love a music video about shopping? I think what I love most about Natural ni Koishite is how utterly fun it is. Not many of Perfume's PVs give the girls a chance to act more naturally (see what I did there?), instead opting for more serious, intricate dances and concepts. But in Natural ni Koishite, the girls look so carefree and relaxed. Even when they're dancing in high heels! My favorite part is the very end when the girls all grab their shopping bags and start running down the sidewalk. The camera pans away to reveal the entire set and surrounding studio. Then the girls run off out of the set laughing the entire way. It's this weirdly touching moment to watch and the perfect way to end this PV.

9. Macaroni

Macaroni is probably Perfume's most different music video. There's no dance, no elaborate set or special effects, just a grainy video of the girls wandering around Japan. It's a lot less boring than I'm making it sound. Kasuka na Kaori kind of did the same thing that Macaroni did, but Kasuka na Kaori was much cleaner and lighter, whereas Macaroni has a very gritty, nostalgic feel to it. I think it's mainly because of the camera filters; sure, now they look a little overused what with the rise of Instagram, but I still like the look they give the music video. Like I say, the feel of Macaroni makes me feel like I'm looking into the past, and in a way, I guess I am. This video is six years old now, and the Perfume of the Game era is no the Perfume of today. But that's not the sole reason why I love the music video for Macaroni. I just love the happy, carefree way in which the girls wander around, smiling and running and laughing. The colors and the way the girls act in this PV make Macaroni feel very warm, almost like a bowl of freshly cooked macaroni... I think the sweetest part is when the girls all come together at the very end in that field. And everything before that where they're wandering around individually is also really nice too. What makes Macaroni such a great PV for me is that it's such a stark, refreshing contrast to the polished sleekness of many Perfume PVs. It's wonderfully simple.

8. Electro World

Ah, a PV from the CGI era. For the record, that's not an actual era in Perfume's career; I'm just referring to the three PVs they released around the end of the Complete Best era and beginning of the Game era. Those three PVs being Linear Motor Girl, Electro World, and Twinkle snow Powdery snow. Of those three, my favorite has always been Electro World, partially because of the song. Electro World is about the end of the world (or at least a world after the end of the world). That concept alone practically gift-wraps ideas for a cool music video. While the music video for Electro World doesn't touch on apocalyptic concepts quite as clearly as I thought it would, the PV is still very impressive. What works so well in Electro World's PV is there's this wide scope of emptiness in the PV's environment. Despite the fact that mostly everything is probably green screen, the girls still look very small and dwarfed by this large, hollow shell of an "electro world." In hindsight, I like that this music video didn't blatantly shove down your throats the fact that this PV was about a dead dystopia. And for a PV from Perfume's more obscure days, the PV for Electro World is amazing. Sure, it's all CGI, but there are still some spectacular visuals in this PV, and a variety of green screens and imagery. Electro World remains my favorite music video from Perfume's Complete Best era and the oldest PV on this list!

7. One Room Disco

This is the most fun one room disco I've ever seen! Come to think of it, it's the only one room disco I've ever seen... Still, watching this PV makes me think there should be more of them! This is a fun PV, a really fun PV that perfectly matches the tone of the song. Like Natural ni Koishite, One Room Disco incorporated the use of only one set, but boy, does this PV use it to the fullest extent. The PV for One Room Disco has so many different shots, so many different special effects, but I like that it's all contained in one set. I think that nicely reflects the feeling of isolation in the song! One Room Disco is a very fun PV, this weird hybrid of one-person dance party and mind-screw special effects. The dance for One Room Disco is one of my favorites, and the first Perfume dance that stood out in my mind. That opening dance intro is such fun, and the rest of the dance keeps adding on to that fun! I also loved the special effects in this music video, mainly the changes in size depending on which room the girls were in. I have no idea how that was done, but it looks really cool. Like the apple of many sizes! Yes, the best part about One Room Disco was no doubt the apple. Well... okay, I'm joking (as far as you know). One Room Disco is always one of the first PVs I recommend to newcomers of Perfume, because it encompasses the fun sides of Perfume's songs and PVs so well.

6. Laser Beam

When I say Laser Beam, I'm referring to the full version found on the LE copies of JPN. Not that the shorter version isn't a nice PV to watch, it's just... the last minute of Laser Beam is the best part of this PV. Don't get me wrong, seeing the girls walking around in badass black heels pursuing a mysterious man with a briefcase is extremely cool. I mean, the concept of Laser Beam was female spies, which adds to the coolness factors. And "laser beams" incorporated into the dance shot again pump up the coolness levels. But my favorite part of this PV is the confrontation between Perfume and the masked man. It's ridiculous and insane, but in the most hilarious way possible. It all starts with Kashiyuka firing a laser beam (big shocker, huh?) at the masked. He falls to the ground, and Nocchi grabs the briefcase. But all is not over yet, and while her back is turned, the man gets up and turns into... actually, you know what? I'm not gonna tell you what happens in case you haven't watched the music video. Just... watch the music video all the way through. I swear it's worth it. If you've seen the full music video, you know full well what I'm specifically talking about. The last minute of Laser Beam is over-the-top fun, veering into cheesy 1960s spy drama territory. Of course, the time before that is also pretty awesome to watch, just a little more serious and sultry. Overall though, this PV is awesome.

5. love the world

Yep, Perfume's only black-and-white PV until Mirai no Museum! Personally, I find love the world to be an immensely more interesting music video than Mirai no Museum. Like with One Room Disco, there is a lot going on in this PV, and it's all very fast-paced. I had to watch the PV for love the world several times to catch all the little effects put into this PV. And believe me, there are many! This is another one of Perfume's artistic music videos that relies heavily on visual editing and special effects. What works so well with love the world is the level to which those effects are taken. You've got the girls spinning in rubix cubes, sitting on each others shoulders, crumpling each others faces in paper. It's easier to watch than explain the effects put into this PV. I noticed there's a lot of panning outward and panning inward in this PV. You know, that same effect in Magic of Love only taken to a farther extreme. It's actually very mesmerizing to watch since the effect is repeated so many times. The music video for love the world never goes too far with all the artsy visuals though; there's always this air of fun, especially from the girls. Love the world is a happy song, so why shouldn't the music video be equally happy? I always smile when I watch this music video; there's so many interesting, fun shots in it. I almost wish the effects in love the world actually worked in real life! Especially that rubix cube...

4. Spring of Life

The most recent PV on this list, Spring of Life brings back the robotic/futuristic feel of some of Perfume's older music videos like Linear Motor Girl and Electro World. Personally, I like this. As much as I love Perfume doing artsy videos, I also love when they embrace sci-fi concepts too. And androids is a concept deeply rooted in sci-fi. In the music video for Spring of Life, the girls are androids learning how to function (and possibly love?). Their fate however is a sad one though, as they finally develop the capacity to love, they unplug themselves from their power strips. Little do they know that doing so more-or-less ends their lives. It's probably the bleakest ending for a Perfume music video, even if their fate was revisited in the music video for Mirai no Museum. In my opinion though, that's a pretty lame way to include the dark and ambiguous storyline in Spring of Life. I don't know if this was supposed to be a statement about Perfume's standing as entertainers and how they act as robots trained to sing and dance. Probably not. But they've always been criticized for their overly processed, sometimes robotic vocals. It makes sense to make a music video having them play androids. That's what's so great about Spring of Life's music video; there is so much left open for interpretation, and whether you can take everything in it at face value or not! Me though, I love theorizing about Spring of Life.

3. Fushizen na Girl

Another PV that employs visual trickery! Honestly, I could watch Perfume's artsier PVs all day; they're very entrancing! The most entrancing of them is definitely Fushizen na Girl. This entire PV is a series of clever transitions through the use of shapes and other geographical figures. What I think is amazing about Fushizen na Girl is how fast the transitions flow! They just glide right on top of each other so effortlessly. There's never a dull moment in this music video, but the imagery is never overwhelming. It's just this perfect balance of creative visual effects and dancing. I'd love to see what kind of editing went into making this music video. I think it was also really cool that this PV had backup dancers; it's so rare Perfume PVs have other people in them, especially as many as Fushizen na Girl does! The dancing in this music video overall is just top-notch, both the backup dancer's and Perfume's choreographies. It looks so complicated, but I'm saying that as a person with zero dancing skills. I really love the colors in Fushizen na Girl to. They're all very bright, rich colors that pop against the black background. There's no real plotline to Fushizen na Girl, just artsiness with style. I feel like all the Natural Beauty Basic music videos were really artsy and visually engaging. Even Nee was, even though it didn't make it to the list. Maybe Perfume should do a tie-in for them again!

2. Voice

It's amazing how far apart my love for Voice the song and Voice the PV are. Voice is one of my least favorite Perfume songs; it's not terrible, but I still think it's dull, especially compared to the B-side 575. The music video on the other hand... how do I count the ways in which I love this video? The dance is great, the editing is great, the story is great, the visuals are great, everything about this PV is just great. I was blown out of the water when I first watched the PV for Voice. This music video takes the concept of visual trickery and turns it up to eleven in the cutest, happiest way possible. Every time I think I'm watching one thing, it turns out to be something different thanks to the way the viewer's perception is played with in this PV. But it never goes too far, nor does it ever get annoying. You just kind of sit there thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I thought X was Y, when it's really Z!" The best part is the very end, when that giant set starts to fall forward, and you think for a split-second it's going to land on the girls. But they end up passing through three holes blended into the backdrop! It's a moment that's both frightening and hilarious! And the dance is one of my favorite parts in Voice. I love the way the girls seamlessly pass through each moving set, and the way it's done is so neat to look at. Perfume has involved a lot of visual trickery in their PVs, but for me, Voice is the PV that does it best.

1. Secret Secret

I knew before I even created the draft for this post that Secret Secret would be my #1 music video. It's just... perfect. There isn't a thing I would change about this music video. Sometimes I forget that the music video for Secret Secret was created to be an endorsement for Pino Chocolate. Unlike Natural ni Koishite, which just advertised a brand, Secret Secret goes beyond that, weaving a symbolic story within the promotion of chocolate. Chocolate and symbolism, who doesn't love that!? Secret Secret is an abstract retelling of Perfume's rise to fame, only with a lot more chocolate. The Perfume in this video are mannequins only brought to life by chocolate to perform on television. As time goes on, the costumes get fancier, the sets get bigger, and the group's fame grows. But the price of that fame is the loss of their own identities. Throughout the PV, the girls are shown escaping to a public place where they wander around in normal clothes. The last time they're out in public, they're all wearing shades trying to hide. They've finally achieved success, yet in their last "TV performance" they come off as very wistful, almost sad. Maybe I'm just overly interpreting this music video, but Secret Secret always came off as a visualization of both the joy and sadness Perfume found when they finally became famous. Joy at the achievement of their dreams but also sadness at the price such fame has.

And there you have it! My top 10 Perfume videos as of February 2014! Who knows? Maybe in the future I'll have a few more I'd want to put on this list. But for now, what are your favorite Perfume music videos? Any on this list? None? I made a little poll listing all of Perfume's music videos (both on and off Perfume Clips) so go ahead and vote away!


  1. Very nice article. I've been following Perfume's activities since 2008 after I watched precisely Secret Secret PV and Polyrithm PV. Until today I also believe that Secret Secret is one (if not THE one) best of their videos. I also love VOICE video and for some reason I love the song too. It makes me always wonder why that song was not included on Little Big Planet video games, this song itself is so cute and funny that should be a stage based on that video in that game. Anyway, your insight, thoughts and interpretations on Perfume musical videos are quite interesting and give a nice many approaches to the themes in them. ^_^

    1. Thank you! Funny you should mention 2008; that's about when I started following them too! I was so blown away by Secret Secret back then, and today the song AND PV are just as wonderful! I've never played the Little Big Planet games but from the description and some screenshots, Voice would fit nicely into the game... or maybe even something like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon... But anyways, it's sweet of you to say that! I just really love Perfume, especially their music videos!

  2. A nice list! SPICE and 1mm have got to be some of my favourites MV's, they are just wonderful. Totally love Laser Beam and Secret Secret though!

    1. Thanks, NyNy! I was close to putting Spice on the list, but I just happened to have several videos I liked a teensy bit better... But Perfume's got so many great music videos, it's hard to pick just ten!