Saturday, July 12, 2014

Perfume... 3.0?




Well. This is Cupitron.

You know what I need to write an editorial about? Rip-offs. Because I have very mixed opinions regarding rip-offs. Back in my younger days, I dismissed anything that remotely copied something else as complete and utter garbage. Now though... I think rip-offs can be sanctioned into 2 categories: bad rip-offs and good rip-offs. This is particularly so in the idol industry. Let's face it, idol groups copy music and concepts from other idol groups as if they're trading cards. Blame management! Idol groups eventually reach the point where something's so overused it reaches saturation. Luckily for our little technopop trio that is not Perfume, idol technopop isn't quite as overused as it was say, four or five years ago. When Perfume first made it big, a plethora of other artists such as Sweet Vacation, 80_pan, immi, and Altima popped up in the wake of Perfume's success. But now, the only other technopop idol trio is Kus Kus, and visually, they focus more on the idol aspect than the techno. On the other hand Cupitron here, produced by Tobeta Bajune, seem to be a heavier mix of technopop and idol pop, if there's anything to go by in the teaser trailer they posted. They also seem to be very influenced by Perfume. So is Cupitron a blatant, worthless rip-off or worth listening to? I'll be the judge of that.


Well, Summer Kaijuu translates to "Summer Monster" hence the cute little dragon on all the covers. Seriously, is that thing from Dragon Tales? Because nearly everything about Cupitron is in Japanese, it's a little hard for me to tell how many covers there are. I'm pretty sure there are two. Possibly three. There's the one at the top of this review, and also this one. I actually like the other cover better than the one I used, but the latter actually shows the girls in it. Still, it's a pretty cheap-looking cover. Even the font looks like something from Microsoft Power Point. Weird how the promo pics looked so futuristic, but the covers look very idol-y. The outfits are very... Spring of Life-y as I've already pointed out. Well, these outfits don't light-up! The outfits are all right, but they'd look better with a less cheap-looking single cover. I do wonder... are those outfits stiff to move in? Because they look stiff. My final verdict on the covers: not a Perfume rip-off, but low-budget nonetheless.

Summer Kaijuu

As Summer Kaijuu is only a digital single, the titular song is the only one on it! Unfortunately, that makes gaging Cupitron's sound a little trickier. I mean, I can tell from Summer Kaijuu Cupitron is very much a technopop group. But it would be nice to have a B-side to see just how consistent Cupitron is. Oddly enough, Summer Kaijuu starts out sounding more like your typical idol song. There's even a little bit of a fantasy vibe to it like something out of Kyarypamyupamyu's Pikapika Fantajin. Then Summer Kaijuu gets to sounding like the idol technopop song I was expecting! My first impression of Summer Kaijuu was that this did not sound like something Perfume would do. It sounds more like something I'd hear from Aira Mitsuki if she hadn't disappeared in a flying train. Hell, I might even see Kus Kus working well with a song like Summer Kaijuu. Summer Kaijuu is a bubbly little technopop song, with a nice instrumental. I'm no producer, but to my ears, Summer Kaijuu is a nice blend of idol pop and technopop. I like hearing more of that on the idol market. These days, I don't hear of many new techno idols emerging, and Summer Kaijuu isn't half bad!

The weakest aspect of Summer Kaijuu for me are the vocals. Say what you want about Autotune and vocoders, but Nakata Yasutaka has a way with editing vocals. Well... except for Kyarypamyupamyu's, but I think that's more to do with Kyary's vocal talent. When I listen to Perfume and Nakata's other projects like capsule and Suzuki Ami and MEG, there's this smoothness to the vocals. So they sound like they blend in seamlessly with their respective electronic-heavy instrumentals. Yes, that does give the vocals this almost inhuman quality, which can be off-putting. But still, there's finesse. Cupitron's vocals sound very, very robotic. They remind me of some of the Autotune Morning Musume's suffered from in their more recent A-sides, particularly Password is 0. The delivery of Summer Kaijuu is flat, even for a technopop song. I'm not sure if that's the producer's style for Cupitron, but I am not warming up to it. The girls sound like they all have nice voices! But underneath all that Autotune, it's a little hard to tell. Still, Summer Kaijuu is a very listenable song, and I don't mind more idol technopop on the market! Doesn't give Perfume a run for its money though.

In the end, Summer Kaijuu isn't a Perfume rip-off, which is good news! Bad news is that the song's a little lackluster and doesn't leave a very clear impression. Combined with some less-than-stellar vocal editing, that leaves Summer Kaijuu with 3.5 apples from me.

The Verdict

So Cupitron: rip off or fun technopop group in their own right? That's probably more of something you have to decide for yourself, but if you like idol technopop, I'd at least give Summer Kaijuu one listen. Everyone who so much as looks at this blog knows I have a soft spot for Japanese technopop trios, so another one on the market is something I can't really complain much about. In spite of their Perfume-esque image, I don't think Cupitron is anywhere near as much of a rip-off as I thought it would be. Musically, Summer Kaijuu doesn't sound much like something Perfume would release now. In their indie/early major label days maybe, and that 's a big maybe. The closest technopop unit I can compare Cupitron to would be amU, but even then, there are still differences. Summer Kaijuu is a technopop song, but it doesn't sound like something Nakata would produce. Personally, I didn't take as strongly to Cupitron's debut single as I did Kus Kus, and I think that may have to do with the vocal quality of Summer Kaijuu. This is a decent song, but there's just nothing about Summer Kaijuu that grabs me. It's a cute little technopop song. And... yeah, that pretty much sums Summer Kaijuu up. If you like cute little technopop songs, then I think you'll at least mildly enjoy Summer Kaijuu.

Do I consider Cupitron a rip-off of Perfume? A little bit. Image-wise, they're leaning pretty hard on Perfume's look. I wish that Summer Kaijuu had a music video; that would give me a better idea of what kind of image Cupitron is going for. There is a little preview video on their record label's Youtube channel, and again, that gives off a Perfume-y vibe as well. To my relief though, Cupitron doesn't sound as much like Perfume as I thought they would. And their debut single, while not the best, is a fun listen. And let's face it: Perfume's not going to be around forever. So I invite as many mini-Perfumes into the idolsphere to take their place. I think Cupitron has the potential to be a decent group, if their management can just try and give them a less Perfume-influenced image. Their first physical single, Unicorn Parade, will be released in September so I may also review that, if it leaks in a timely manner. Maybe Unicorn Parade will come with a music video! Until then, I will tentatively wait for whatever comes next for Cupitron. I think they can be a really good technopop group, but only time will affirm my speculations.

In the present, I'll give Summer Kaijuu 3.5 apples. That's pretty much a giveaway considering this single only consisted of one song. Curumi Chronicle still reigns as next-best technopop idol on the Wonderland, but Cupitron put forth a good effort! Despite several glaring similarities to Perfume, their debut song was all right. Besides, I always enjoy some Japanese technopop!

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