Sunday, May 11, 2014

Under the Sea is Momoiro Clover Z

Okay, can someone explain to me what the hell is going on with Momoiro Clover Z?

It's like just when I decided to get into them, just when I decided to open up my heart and enjoy MomoClo, shrieking voices and all, they got... boring.

I mean, look at that single cover, that looks like something Dorothy Little Happy would release, not Momoiro Clover Z. Do you guys remember how when I last reviewed Momoiro Clover Z, I talked about how I was a little skeptical of all the criticism of them declining in quality? Well... those criticizers may have been right. The Momoiro Clover Z of today is definitely from the Momoiro Clover Z of the Battle and Romance era. But different doesn't always mean bad! Even idol groups can evolve (albeit it's probably a lot more calculated) and change their style, and that's clearly what's been going on with Momoiro Clover Z. The only problem is they're evolving into a much more toned down, smooth-around-the-edges group. The best and worst part of Momoiro Clover Z is how chaotic they are. Sure, their vocals sound like nails on a chalkboard, but musically speaking, their songs are always so chaotically entertaining, that it's kind of endearing. That and their weird, nonsensical music videos were what made MomoClo eventually grow on me. After I reviewed 5th Dimension, their follow-up single, Gounn had a great music video, but the song was a little boring. Now here we are at Naitemo Iin da yo.

And by god, this song is boring.

I have one simple rule when it comes to music: don't bore me. Oh, don't get me wrong, a terrible song is a terrible song. Hello Kitty by Avril Lavigne is a terrible song. But at least it's memorable. At least it leaves an impression on me, even if it's one of disgust and irritation. When I listen to music, I do it to evoke feelings and ideas, and a boring song doesn't do that. Naitemo Iin da yo is a boring song. It sounds like it's going to be epic a la Neo Stargate in the beginning, and even into the verse, but that's a sucker punch into a chorus so generic you could swap it with an AKB48 chorus. The thing is I feel like there are parts where Naitemo Iin da yo could be a really great song. Like there's this surprisingly cool saxophone break in the bridge between the second and last chorus. And there are parts of the song that carry this feeling of epicness, like the opening. But that potential is squandered by the fact that the chorus and verses of Naitemo Iin da yo sound like they came from two different songs. And the chorus, what is usually the biggest, most memorable part of your typical pop song is so generic. Okay, it's not the most generic thing I have heard, but it is the most generic thing I have heard from Momoiro Clover Z. This is the group that had Pinky Jones, Wani to Shampoo, Mugen no Ai for crying out loud! Hearing them sound this boring is... like being in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Maybe the reason Naitemo Iin da yo is so mundane is because it's the theme song for a movie. And you know, movie themes can be hit or miss! Like Perfume compromised their technopop sound for the ridiculously light and kid-friendly Mirai no Museum or as I like to call it, The Doraemon Song. Naitemo Iin da yo is the theme song for Akumu-chan: The Movie or in English, My Little Nightmare: The Movie. Now MomoClo previously did the theme song for the television show the movie is based off of; that song turned out to be Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi-yo. Which is a good song. So this still doesn't make any sense! And from the summary I read on Wikipedia, Akumu-chan seems like a pretty neat television show. It sounds like it's got drama, action, fantasy, horror, the kind of television show where the stakes are high! I don't know if that's true, but Naitemo Iin da yo doesn't sound like the kind of song that brings to my mind drama, action, fantasy, or horror. I don't know what to make of this song. It isn't good, it isn't bad, it isn't weird, it isn't anything that I'd expect from Momoiro Clover Z. So yes, Naitemo Iin da yo is different for MomoClo, but only because it is so painfully normal for them.

The thing is... the girls don't actually sound that bad in Naitemo Iin da yo. One of MomoClo's weak points has always been their vocals, but here they sound pretty decent. The squeak comes back at certain points (like the chorus), but individually, they all sound frighteningly passable. Even Kanako and Ayaka's voices aren't anywhere near as cacophonic as they've been in some of their previous songs. I mean, don't get me wrong, the vocals aren't anywhere near as good as say, Tokyo Girls' Style's or Fairies. But for Momoiro Clover Z, they're... better. And that scares me too. But despite the fact that the girls of MomoClo sound not-terrible in Naitemo Iin da yo, they don't have enough vocal power to pull off the truly epic song that Naitemo Iin da yo is trying to pass itself off as. You need someone like Mizuki Nana, she's got the pipes to pull off cheesy epic anime songs. Momoiro Clover Z does not. I don't now, I don't know what else I can really say about Naitemo Iin da yo other than it's big pile of nothing. There's nothing that stands out about it other than the fact that for Momoiro Clover Z it is embarrassingly normal. I don't now what the hell happened with Momoiro Clover Z on this single, but whatever it is, I hope it gets fixed by the time their next release rolls around.

Oh well, if there's something I can count on with Momoiro Clover Z, it's a weird, interesting PV. Even though Gounn was an average song, it had a really cool, fascinating PV that was fun to pick apart. And the promotional images for Naitemo Iin da yo look pretty cool. Maybe the PV will involve underwater sea goddesses or something crazy like that. Just something to make the song interesting... anything... oh god, please let the PV for Naitemo Iin da yo be interesting.

Okay, a futuristic room... that can be interesting. Now utilize it!

Wow, they're showing us a clip from Akumu-chan: The Movie! Boy, I didn't know Momoiro Clover Z was being featured in it!

Why are they all dressed like Christmas presents? It's a little early for their holiday PV.

So MomoClo's now doing underwater rituals in Wonderland. Okay then.

And now we're underwater! What happened to that futuristic room???

This is Kitagawa Keiko, main character of the Akumu-chan series. She also appeared in a TV Special as the 6th member of MomoClo.

And this is her costar, Kimura Manatsu.

Why are they in this music video? Why do you think, to promote the movie of course.

Okay, these outfits looked a little bit cooler in the promo pic. Here, they look very costume-y.

Boy, I didn't know that clouds and the sun existed underwater! This is mind-blowing!

There's a lot of power-posing in this dance. I can't complain, it makes screencapping easier!

For a PV by Momoiro Clover Z set underwater not much is happening.

Okay, new dance shot, I guess that's different-

Wait a minute, is that the dance set from Shabondama!?

Oh look, these two again. Still running, I see. From what? Who knows!

MomoClo, what are you doing here!? Go back to the sea!

I admit these close-ups are prettier but very... serious. And normal. And not-weird.

Mmkay, now they're singing at school. Great. Very interesting.

Ooh, now they're running through a school. And it's raining. Dunno why. Don't really care why either.

Now I'm not a professional writer, but in common storytelling, if you want to draw you audience in it helps to show what your characters are running from.

Can we get like a giant octopus in this shot or something?

Do these two ever take a break from running!? Surely they need a water break by now!

Oh good, they finally made it out of that building. Because I was so invested.

Who the hell are these kids?

What the hell is MomoClo doing here?

Why the hell did they steal Perfume's apples?

How the hell are- oh, forget it.

Ah, I contributed nothing to this PV. Now give me an Oscar!

We contributed nothing to our own PV. Now give us a #1 single already!

So... was this all a dream?

Thank you, future room, for serving no purpose other than to bookend the PV!

What in the wide world of sports did I just watch? This PV is confusing. Not confusing in the fun, "I have no idea what's going on but I'm having fun!" confusing. In fact, I wish the PV for Naitemo Iin da yo was confusing in that way. At least that would be more entertaining! I am not sure what the producers were trying to convey with Naitemo Iin da yo. When I saw the promotional image released, I thought that the PV would be underwater-themed. And it was. Kind of. But man, that idea was really underused. I mean, you can do so much with an underwater environment. And the way MomoClo's PVs can take concepts and twist them into the craziest directions, I thought they'd do the same thing for Naitemo Iin da yo. But the underwater setting is pretty much only used for the dance shot. The rest of the PV is devoted to either showing the girls in a school building, the two main characters from the movie, or the girls dancing in an other water-esque set. How are any of these scenes connected? Does it have something to do with water? What about the futuristic set in the beginning and that weird ritual with the apples? Why does nothing make sense in such a boring way? I practically need an instruction manual to figure out what means what in this PV.

Would watching the Akumu-chan drama help me figure this PV out? I know the basic summary of the drama is that Kitagawa Keiko is this teacher who's really apathetic until this new student played by Kimura Manatsu. And this new student dreams of terrible events set to happen in the future. So the teacher and student spend the series trying to prevent these disasters from happening. And that is a really cool concept. Maybe the drama is better than the PV. Actually, it probably is. The PV for Naitemo Iin da yo is all over the place. I think if the producers wanted to include the main actresses from the PV, they should have either minimized the scenes with MomoClo in them, or just create two separate PVs, one featuring the actresses and their story and the other featuring MomoClo. Trying to interweave these two together makes the final result jumbled and clunky. I kind of get the beginning where the two actresses are sleeping, since that ties in to the concept of the drama. But everything else? Why are they running through hallways all the time? What does MomoClo have to do with any of this? What's the point of having the girls be underwater? Does that tie into the lyrics? Are the other students at the end cast members of the show? I feel like this PV was just a big giant ploy to get me to watch the show and buy tickets to see the movie. Which I can't anyways because I don't live in Japan.

What could have made the PV for Naitemo Iin da yo cooler would be more supernatural elements. For a PV that features the girls dancing underwater, everything is surprisingly mundane. The only really surreal part is the ritual at the beginning with the apples then the girls showing up at the end with those apples appearing on that giant tree. And yet there are a bunch of really cool ideas that are shown in this PV, but none of them are ever explored or utilized to their fullest potential. Like that futuristic room in the beginning. We never see that again until the end of the PV. Why did they feel the need to include that room? Then it shows the teacher and student running, but what are they running from? Why are they running? I get that this is a PV and that they don't always wrap everything up in a sensical way, but if you're gonna throw out these ideas, then I'm gonna expect some kind of explanation behind why. But instead, a lot of these interesting ideas, like showing MomoClo running through a classroom in the rain, are just glazed over so we can get to the next idea that won't be fully explored. I'm not sure if Naitemo Iin da yo was trying to tell a story or just incorporate elements from the drama into the PV. Either way, the final result is a meandering mess.

What made Gounn such a fun PV was that all the imagery in it felt like it was there for a reason. The PV revolved around Buddhism, so the PV was rife with Buddhist imagery. I think Naitemo Iin da yo had a better budget than some of MomoClo's older PVs, but their older PVs at least explored concepts in a cohesive manner. I'd rather take something like Mirai Bowl or Mugen no Ai over Naitemo Iin da yo. When you come down to it, do the girls really do anything in this PV other than dance? Okay, they sit down at desks and run through rain and perform a ritual but other than that, what else do they do in this PV other than dance and look pretty in their close-ups? I can't see any of the girls' personalities in this PV. They're all so generically serious. And maybe that's because the song is serious, or because they're not given any opportunities to utilize their personalities. You could have switched them out with any other idol group, and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. In the end, I don't know what to make of the PV for Naitemo Iin da yo any more than I do the song. There are some visual effects that are cool, but visuals don't make up for the aimless storyline, lack of MomoClo-ness, and general feeling that I'm watching a prolonged advertisement for Akumu-chan: The Movie.

All in all, Naitemo Iin da yo feels like wasted potential. Two-and-a-half apples of wasted potential. I don't know what Momoiro Clover Z was going for with this PV, but I felt like I was reviewing a different idol group. Maybe they'll get a better single next time.


  1. The difference between this song and the other is that in the other songs they can do whatever they want.

    Naitemo Iindayo's lyrics have this "I'm sad, and desperate, but it's OK to be like this, and I have to do my best so I don't feel like this again" feeling, and it would be really strange if they weren't serious singing a song like this. The chorus is really look like another song, but it's the only part that the girls can sing and act as themselves.

    For me, it's an OK song from Momoiro Clover Z, but the B-sides were better.

    1. Even when Momoiro Clover Z's done more serious songs (like Contradiction, Lost Child, Kimi no Ato) they've worked better and had a more prominent sound than Naitemo Iin da yo. Maybe they were trying to make a song to fit Akumu-chan: The Movie but in the process lost all originality that makes MomoClo so interesting. The song isn't terrible at all, but it exists on this plane of mediocrity that doesn't fit Momoiro Clover Z.

    2. Well... at least it's a good song for their concerts.

    3. I'll take your word for it!

  2. PV is more like "I am your boring 48 sakura single PVs with sea dance set". Even their uniform looks like Baretta's Miona's seifuku
    I guess i liked them better when they had big white wig and when they stole Perfume's light-up xmas tree dress

    1. I don't know, it'd be quite the stretch to see AKB48 dance underwater. The school elements of the PV I could have done without though. They didn't add much. Then again, nothing really added together in this PV...

  3. この歌はつまらないから、泣いてもいいんだよ。
    It's okay to cry at how boring this song is.

    1. HA! Yes, it is okay to cry. Or just forget about this song, either one works.