Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Nerve-Striking Final Dance

Dammit, this is the last BiS single I'll ever be able to review. If I'd known they were gonna disband sooner, I could have taken time to review more of their singles... But oh well, the past is in the past, and I can at least review their final single. Or should I say... final dance?

Released on May 28 was BiS's last single, Final Dance/nerve. It was a very sad day for many a BiS fan, myself included. Luckily, we still have their best-of album, Uryaoi!!! to look forward to in July, but after July 8, BiS is going to that great concert hall in the sky. Figuratively speaking, I have no idea what any of the current members have planned after BiS, sans Pour Lui. I'd like to think that they all have future plans in the entertainment industry though, whether it be as performers or behind-the-scenes jobs. I am but a simple J-pop reviewer, so all I can do is give the group's last single a review. I may also review Uryaoi!!! even though technically it's a compilation album. I've just been very sad lately about the prospect of not having anything by BiS to review anymore, save for Time Capsule Reviews. They're one of my favorite idol groups, and it's always such a treat to review anything by them because at the very least, I can count on it being interesting. So here we are to Final Dance/nerve, a single consisting of a new final swan song and an old callback to BiS's earlier days. Is is an appropriate single for BiS to go out on? Or could they have done more? I'll be the judge of that. Let's do this!


I already went over in my PV review of Final Dance how the Limited CD cover parodies AKB48's Manatsu no Sounds good! covers, but did I mention the rest of these covers? There are a lot of them, another facet of idol groups being selling ten different version of the same single. But all the covers for Final Dance/nerve are stealth parodies of the common idol summer single. In fact, if you didn't know who BiS was, these covers would probably look perfectly normal. But that's what makes them so hilarious! It's just context that makes the covers of Final Dance/nerve so amusing. I think mainly the group BiS is satirizing is AKB48 and all its sister groups, but I'm certain other idol groups have done the same type of covers. It features all the members of BiS doing fun summer things and fun idol poses, as if they were a regular idol group. I mean, honestly, they kind of work as regular idol covers too. The members of BiS all look strangely normal, but they also look cute!

Final Dance

The covers for Final Dance/nerve may be deceptively cute, but the first A-side has all the punch that you can find in a BiS song. Oddly enough, Final Dance is actually pretty tame for the unconventional idol group. When I first heard it, I was actually a little taken aback at how nice it sounded. Don't get me wrong, Final Dance still has all the energy that I love about BiS songs, but compared to some of their other A-sides, it's surprisingly conventional. Final Dance is BiS's take on a summer song (unless you count PPCC), and it sounds like a summer song. The chorus is fun and catchy in the way that so many idol summer songs are, and even the vocals are very idol-y. There's no screaming or strange vocal effects. It's one of the most straightforward idol songs BiS has released in a long time. It doesn't reach the same degree that the parody version of Idol does, but Final Dance is still pretty idol-y. Which makes since I suppose. BiS is an idol group. And Final Dance isn't a generic, lifeless summer song unlike several summer songs that I've reviewed that start with Sayonara and end in Crawl. The instrumental to Final Dance is very loud, even if the vocals are a lot more docile compared to other BiS songs.

What prevents Final Dance from being a forgettable song is the delivery. The girls of BiS sing their hearts out in Final Dance. Vocals have never been the strongest point of BiS as a group, but I love the way they sing Final Dance. I'll bet it's an even better song at concerts! I don't quite know how to explain it, but when I listen to Final Dance, it feels like a goodbye song. The vocals, the arrangement, hell, I'll bet even the lyrics have a sense of farewell-ness to them. Actually, I wonder what the lyrics to the song are. If anyone has a translation, I'd love you dearly if you'd share it with me. Not knowing what the lyrics are about, I still think Final Dance is a pretty strong final song for BiS. I wouldn't have expected them to go out on a summer song (especially one as tame as Final Dance), but BiS rocks Final Dance. And I guess I kind of like them going out with a more energetic song than a ballad or something really super weird like StupiG or BiSimulation. Because at the end of the day, BiS is an idol group. In that respect, having them release a slightly more conventional song like Final Dance feels like a callback to their roots of being an idol group. I think once BiS has disbanded, I'll look back on this song with nostalgia and maybe even a little sadness.

For real sadness though, I'll just watch the PV for Final Dance! I already ripped my heart in two in my full PV review of Final Dance, so I'll redirect you to that. If you were too lazy to actually click on that link, here's a brief recap of the music video for Final Dance: it's a trip down nostalgia lane disguised as a summer PV. And it will crush you. To elaborate, the PV for Final Dance compiles clips from all of BiS's previous PVs from Nerve onward along with several concert performances. Personally, I like this touch. I wanted the PV for Final Dance to include some kind of callback to BiS's previous songs, and including clips is an good way of doing that. Maybe not as creative as Kyarypamyupamyu's Yume no Hajima Ring Ring, but arguably more effective. Seeing clips from the BiS of the past alongside the BiS of the present is especially poignant when you think of all the lineup changes they've been through and how far they've come in the past four years. I think it's crazy that BiS has only been around for four years, and they've released so much material. At least they're leaving the idolsphere with a good number of memorable songs and PVs under their belt, and Final Dance's PV helps emphasize that.

But Final Dance's PV isn't just a glorified clip show! There's other stuff to it. Mainly Final Dance is a summer PV BiS style. Actually, if it weren't for the clips Final Dance would be one of the most conventional PVs BiS has ever done. Like the covers, the PV for Final Dance also satirizes the traditional idol summer PV. You know, the music videos that often take place on the beach and feature idols doing ridiculously simple dances in bikinis along with several pandering shots that highlight said bikinis. It's a staple in the idol industry, and it makes sense that BiS would poke fun at it at some point. It's a little weird that they chose their last single to do it, but I guess it fits. After all, BiS is still an idol group at heart. And it's weirdly refreshing seeing BiS act so normal. It's also extremely funny seeing them reenact the popular idol summer PVs, such as AKB48's Ponytail to Shushu. If this PV had just been satirizing a summer PV alone, I'd still think Final Dance was a good music video. But combining that with all the clips from older BiS videos (and a very heart-rending shot of the iconic spiked baseball bats falling down one by one) make Final Dance a touching (and heartbreaking) sendoff for BiS.

So with all this mind, I stand by the same rating I gave Final Dance in my PV review and give the song four and half apples. It isn't my favorite BiS song, but as a last song, I think it's pretty good. I'll probably cry listening to this song once BiS has finally disbanded. As for now, I still have a few weeks to cope with the inevitable. So I'll just listen to Final Dance and enjoy it, along with all of BiS's other songs!


What is this, Nerve #4 now? Or is it Nerve #3? If you wanted to argue what BiS's most popular song is, Nerve, in all its renditions would be a good contender. So it makes sense to have a re-recorded version on BiS's final single. Honestly, I'm a little split on the decision to have yet another recording of Nerve, especially in lieu of a different song. I mean, I think Nerve is a great song, one of my favorite idol songs in general. But I do get the smallest vibe that it's starting to overstay its welcome. It'll never get past this point, because BiS is disbanding, and I don't think I'll grow tired of Nerve. But I've heard two different versions of this song already, and I didn't really need a third. However... it's still a great song. The arrangement is still intact, and it has all the fun of the past recordings. The only thing different about this recording is, once again, the vocals. This version of Nerve features Tenten, Uika, Saki, and Megumon. They all sound fine on the recording too. It's not like Hide out cut where the new vocals awkwardly replaced the old ones. Everyone fits. Even Tenten, whose vocals were the most forced on Hide out cut, sounds really good here. And as always, Uika rocks her parts. And Pour Lui and Nozomi's vocal are still on the track.

I think final opinion of Nerve boils down to which version of the song you like best. If you were around when BiS first formed, and this was one of their first songs, you probably still like the original version best. I, however, became a fan of BiS a little before their major debut, around the time Yufu was added, then Wacky and Michel. When the re-recorded Nerve was released on Idol is Dead, that was the version that my ears grew used to. Hence that version of Nerve is my personal favorite. Even then though, I like all the different renditions of the song. I guess that says something about the quality of the song. Nerve is just one of those songs that works for whomever sings it. I mean, unless you can't sing Japanese. Who knows though? Maybe even then, Nerve would still sound good! Nerve is just one of those songs that works astonishingly well. I can see why BiS re-records it so much, besides just to accommodate the member changes. Nerve is a playful, catchy song and one of my personal favorite BiS songs. This version of Nerve isn't much different from all the other versions, but objectively, it's still pretty darn good.

Contrary to my own assumptions, Final Dance ended up not being the final music video for BiS. Nerve got a PV! And I think there may be one more new music video on their upcoming best-of album, but don't take my word for it. In spite of Nerve giving me one more opportunity to review a BiS PV, I've opted to just go over it in my single review. Because there's not really much material for me to write into a full-blown PV review. I still like the PV though! I think that's more out of sentiment though. The music video is pretty basic. Tt's just a dance shot with a few different angles. Even Hello! Project has music videos with a little more than that! Anyways, in the PV for Nerve, girls are dancing on a plain white background in two different outfits. They don't even show clips from previous BiS videos! What they do instead is callback to several costumes from BiS singles and albums. Other than a completely new outfit (which they used in a TV performance of Final Dance) BiS wears the swimsuits from PPCC. The only difference is the members wearing them and which member gets which color. It's a nice little callback to BiS's previous summer single. Even if there's no fighting and no spiked baseball bats. Nothing's perfect.

The best part of this PV for Nerve is the final chorus. Nozomi and Pour Lui sing in the center wearing their old outfits from the original Nerve. See this for reference. It's a sweet moment seeing how Nozomi and Pour Lui are the only original members left in BiS. Then after the song is over and it looks like the PV has ended, there's one last little part! All the girls are lined up wearing various costumes from older releases, including Idol is Dead, Mura-Mura, Primal, Fly, and StupiG. That was a pleasant surprise enough, but you know what was even more pleasant? They sang the opening choral bit from Mirror Mirror! For those of you who have no idea what I just mentioned, Mirror Mirror was a song BiS recorded with orchestra band Vampillia for their album, The Divine Move. Other artists featured on that album include Tujiko Noriko and coolest singer on earth Togawa Jun. Anyways, Mirror Mirror is a really good song, and you should all go listen to it. Especially if you're craving BiS music. The inclusion of Mirror Mirror at the end of Nerve was one hell of a surprise, but an exciting, jubilant one. The review in me wants to say that the music video for Nerve was simple and basic with not much to it. But the fan in me wants to say that this was a sweet, sentimental music video. I guess it can be both!

I am still gonna give Nerve four apples. I get the sentiment of having Nerve on BiS's final single, but I've heard Nerve so many times now. And my favorite recording is still the Idol is Dead version. It is nice hearing the final lineup of BiS cover one of their more well-known songs though. And they do the song justice. In the end, how much you like this version of Nerve is up to you.

The Verdict

I don't know about other BiS fans, but for the most part, I am satisfied with Final Dance/nerve. I think the only real thing I'd complain about it is maybe not as much new material as I would have liked. I love double A-sides, and I'm not against having Nerve be one of those A-sides. But I would have liked maybe one B-side on this single as well. If there was one thing I liked about BiS's older singles it was the abundance of songs on them. You'd get three or four different songs along with the A-side. Then again, I'm complaining about things that aren't there. The material that is present on Final Dance/nerve is pretty solid. I wasn't expecting BiS to disband so soon, and I definitely wasn't expecting their last single to be a summer single. Not that I'm against summer singles, but I do feel like they leave more constraints than an idol single released at some other time of the year. Then again, BiS is BiS and I doubt they'd let the conventions of the average summer single dictate what would be on theirs. Final Dance is definitely one of BiS's safer songs, but I think there's enough heart and conviction in it to be a suitable goodbye song.

As for Nerve, what else can I say about it that hasn't already been said? I think it's a great song, regardless of which lineup of BiS sings it. And while I'd have preferred a new song in lieu of a re-record, I still think this rendition of Nerve stands well. Now I have to figure out which version of Nerve to listen to though! I think what works with the A-sides on Final Dance/nerve is that they both represent BiS well. Final Dance is the fun, enthusiastic farewell song that balances the more conventional idol sound with BiS's unrestrained unconventional sound. And Nerve is a staple in BiS's discography, so it's perfectly appropriate that they'd have the song they started with on the single they're ending with. Listening to both songs makes me realize how much I'm going to miss BiS. Okay, I've been feeling that with every BiS song I've listened to lately. But Final Dance/nerve is the last single. As soon as I hit Publish on this review, this will be the last new BiS single I ever get to review. And I'm gonna miss doing this. I'm gonna miss anticipating what crazy thing BiS will do next, how their next song will sound, what's going to be in their next music, I am gonna miss BiS so much. And I know all their other fans will too.

And so I bring out my apples one last time for BiS and give Final Dance/nerve four and half apples. This single isn't their best, but it is pretty darn close. Both A-sides on Final Dance/nerve are worthwhile listens, for new BiS fans and old. All I can do now is dread July 8. Until then, I'm gonna do everything I can do enjoy BiS while they're still around, and I highly recommend you do the same.

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