Another day, another Perfume single to review... All right! Bring it on! Or should I say... Cling it on?
Perfume's latest single is not only a verb repeated once but also the sound you get when you bang two spoons together! Ah yes, Cling Cling has been out for nearly a month now, and admittedly I'm a little late to the party to review the entire single. But I haven't forgotten about the lovely Perfume, especially after waiting seven months for their next single! Sweet Refrain was kind of a lame song (although Koi wa Zenkei Shisei was decent). That single left me wanting more from Perfume, something with a little more energy and a little more variety. And so Cling Cling came along with its glittering promises of four singles and some pretty amazing promo pics. Cling Cling is the most B-sides Perfume's ever had on a single. So with four different songs, does Cling Cling prove to be a balance of the best of Perfume's sounds? Or did the single turn out to be a mix of mediocre songs that don't mesh together? You all know the drill by now, and today, I have the privilege and pleasure of delving into Perfume World yet again and taking a look at Cling Cling!
The two outfits for Cling Cling have been described as Oriental. And yeah, they are! I love both outfits. Of the many different Perfume styles, I haven't seen Perfume go down the Oriental route, and I think it works for them! Both outfits look like they had a lot of detail put into them, especially the red and gold outfits. I love the overall concept for Cling Cling; it's refreshing seeing Perfume in something with a little more flair as opposed to their colorful but uniform promotional outfits (see: Magic of Love). The blue outfits aren't quite as decorated as the red and gold, but they look great too! There are three covers for Cling Cling, the Limited ones being pretty much the same save for more filtering on the Limited First Press edition. The Regular Edition looks a little awkward, but it's not bad either. All three covers have a colorful, Oriental look that the outfits do! Again, it's a nice, different look for Perfume.
I've been over Cling Cling more thoroughly in my review of the music video, so everything here is basically a summation of what I said in the PV review. My overall opinion though is that Cling Cling is a fun Perfume song and makes for a great summer A-side. I love the energy Cling Cling has. There's this hectic bounciness to the song that makes Cling Cling a great song to dance to. As the promo pics suggested, Cling Cling also has an Oriental vibe, but nowhere near as heavily as the covers and outfits would lead you to think. There's even some Dubstep in Cling Cling that thankfully works much better than the Dubstep used in Sweet Refrain. Speaking of that A-side, Cling Cling is so much better than Sweet Refrain. An even longer break between Level3 and Cling Cling would suck, but I wouldn't have minded Cling Cling being the first post-Level3 single. Seven months after that lackluster A-side, Cling Cling brings life back to Perfume by being a fun, energetic dance song. It's the kind of song I was hoping to hear from them without sounding like a reject from Level3.
As I said in the PV review, Cling Cling does sound a little bit like something Kyarypamyupamyu would release. I think it's the higher pitch of Cling Cling. And you know, both artists being produced by the same person. Anyways, this similarity bothering you depends on whether you're a Kyary fan or not. While not the hugest fan of Kyarypamyupamyu, I do still enjoy Cling Cling. If you find yourself on the fence with Cling Cling, I'd recommend listening to the instrumental. The instrumental is so good, especially the hidden melody where the chorus would be. I really get a mystical vibe listening to Cling Cling's instrumental. Perfume's instrumentals are always a treat, but Cling Cling has one of my favorites. I wasn't sure about Cling Cling when I heard the short version on Perfume Locks! Then I heard the full song and ended up liking it a lot more. Then I listened to the instrumental, and I'm pretty much sold on Cling Cling. It's not one of their strongest A-sides, but by no means is Cling Cling a weak A-side either. If you like Perfume's upbeat dance songs, then you're probably jamming to Cling Cling already. For me, Cling Cling is a wonderful bounce back after Sweet Refrain and a thoroughly enjoyable song to boot.
The music video for Cling Cling is also a treat. Before the PV even came out, I was excited thanks to the gorgeous promo pics and cover art. Cling Cling follows up on the Oriental look of the promo pics with an equally Oriental pic. Admittedly though, the PV seems to show a mix of cultures. A lot of the signs in the set are in English, Arabic, maybe even French? I think it's pretty cool. The PV for Cling Cling is a little different from what we normally expect from Perfume. First big thing being there are other people in this PV! Yep, an entire horde of hooded figures wondering around, stealing things, causing havoc. Speaking of people, there's also a little story in this PV! That story revolves around a little girl who wanders into the Cling Cling market, run by the lovely Perfume. She finds a telescope, a hooded man steals said telescope, then A-chan pules a lever, and that somehow makes everything better. Yeah, the storytelling in Cling Cling isn't exactly the strongest facet of the PV. There's a fine line between leaving plot devices to the imagination and just straight-up not explaining anything!
What makes up for a weak storyline though is a gorgeous set. The aesthetic for Cling Cling is a mishmash of different cultures, mainly Oriental. The PV takes place in a market that looks like something you'd see out of Chinatown or Canal Street with a variety of goods on display like food, goldfish, shoes, etc. There are a lot of great details in this PV, and I think someone put a lot of love into creating this set. I love seeing a set with a bunch of little embellishments. And it's so refreshing seeing Perfume do a PV that's atmospheric the way Cling Cling is. As I said in the PV review, the setting of Cling Cling reminds me of something I'd see in Spirited Away or Firefly. There's this messy, urban atmosphere of Cling Cling combined with a healthy dose of quirkiness and magic. Perfume does so many sleek, clean music videos, and Cling Cling really stands out. As always, Perfume's choreography is perfectly on point. It matches up well with the bouncy feel to the song! Combined with an intricate set, beautiful costumes, and just enough quirkiness, the PV for Cling Cling is one of my favorites from Perfume. It's nicely distinctive from their other PVs; definitely watch this!
So I'm settling on four and half apples for Cling Cling. I think it's a pretty strong A-side for Perfume (maybe not their strongest but better than Sweet Refrain by a long shot). The music video really brings out the fun of Cling Cling, so maybe watch that when listening to the song for the first time.
Hold Your Hand
Here's the song that we all thought was going to be the next A-side! Really, I even planned on reviewing this imaginary single in April/May. We all had good reason too! Hold Your Hand was used in J-drama Silent Poor months before Cling Cling was even mentioned. Hell, we even knew what Hold Your Hand sounded like before Cling Cling. It reminds me of the Point/Hurly Burly situation back in 2012. Anyways, I'm glad that Hold Your Hand was not selected to be Perfume's next A-side. I think coming after Sweet Refrain (aka the lame Perfume song that nobody remembers), Hold Your Hand would have been an extremely lackluster A-side. Because it's very similar in sound to Sweet Refrain. Both songs were used in dramas and both have that laidback ending theme song sound. Although thankfully Hold Your Hand does not have gratuitous Dubstep. For that reason alone, I like Hold Your Hand better than Sweet Refrain, but I was not looking forward to this song being a potential A-side. Luckily, the stars aligned and proved that dreams do come true.
Even as a B-side, Hold Your Hand is still a pretty weak song. It doesn't help that the song starts off on such a flat note. I think that's Nocchi singing in the beginning. Whoever sings that opening verse, she sounds like she was just hit by a car. A very dull car, that tapped her from behind and sent her into a catatonic state... I'm not sure where that simile just went. Point is, Hold Your Hand starts out with a very weak impression and doesn't pick up much momentum from there on out. I do think that this is a genuinely sweet sounding song though, especially the first half of the chorus. The only part I can't stand is when Perfume's singing those drawn out English verses. They sound just as flat as the opening verse and really drag Hold Your Hand down. Everything else in the song ranges from decent to surprisingly pleasant. Hold Your Hand is the lightest song on Cling Cling, and while light doesn't translate to bad, there isn't as much to Hold Your Hand that impresses me. Like with Sweet Refrain, Hold Your Hand sounds like a remnant from JPN. Also like Sweet Refrain, I've actually found myself liking the instrumental to Hold Your Hand over the original.
While there's not a music video, there is a lyric video for Hold Your Hand. About a month ago, Perfume's management allowed fans to submit drawings of the characters from Hold Your Hand's lyrics. What you did was draw a character/word on either your left or right hand, snapped a picture of said hand, and sent it in for submission! The final result can be viewed on Perfume's Youtube channel. The lyric video is really neat, showing some very artistically talented Perfume fans! Of course, my submission isn't in the video, so you may as well not watch it. I'm kidding, the lyric video is a really fun, creative idea and makes for a nice project to involve the fans! I do find Hold Your Hand growing on me when I watch the lyric video... The adorable choreography helps matters too... Oh heck, Hold Your Hand may be my least favorite track on Cling Cling, but it's such a harmless, fluffy little song. If you like Perfume lighter, JPN-esque stuff (or if you liked Sweet Refrain), you might find Hold Your Hand more appealing than I do. I'm still happy Hold Your Hand wasn't picked as the A-side! I can't imagine having to do a PV review then review an entire Hold Your Hand single.
I'll hand three and half apples to Hold Your Hand. Along with a forced pun. I think a major bullet was dodged by making Hold Your Hand a B-side. Cling Cling is a much stronger A-side, whilst Hold Your Hand sounds like a lighter, Dubstep-free Sweet Refrain. So yeah, Hold Your Hand may not be the best song on Cling Cling, but it's not an intolerable song either.
So next B-side coming up is Display! As with Hold Your Hand, we also had an indication of what Display would sound like before Cling Cling was actually released. Not quite as early as Hold Your Hand, but a good month or so if I remember correctly. The reason we heard part of Display in advance was because it was used as a promotional song for Panasonic. Hence also the reason it got a short music video which can be viewed here and in mind-blowing, wonderful HD here. I recommend the latter. I was completely psyched when I saw the short music video for Display. The effects used in the music video were mesmerizing, and the song itself sounded promising. Sure, the preview was only around a minute-and-half, but that much time can give you a pretty good indication of what a song sounds like! And with Display, that one minute and thirty-three seconds turned out to be... basically the entire song. Oh yes, the full Display is three minutes and forty-three seconds long. But most of this full version consists of either A) Repeating the same vocals we heard in the preview or B) A lengthy instrumental that is nowhere near as interesting as Nakata could have made it to be.
Actually, the instrumental version of Display isn't that bad. Like with Cling Cling, I'd recommend listening to the instrumental version if you've got the time. What disappoints me more about Display is the lack of vocal variety. Don't worry, it's not Spending all my time-levels of repetition. But if you've heard the short version of Display, you've heard the vocals for the rest of the song. Which is kind of disappointing. Luckily, the existing vocals sound great, but vocally, Display ends up sounding a little bare-bones. Display overall came off as more underwhelming than I thought it would be. I was banking on Display being my favorite song on the entire single. And it is a good song. Display's better than several of the other B-sides I've looked at this year. Maybe I am complaining more than justified. Because Display still has its strong points like again, the instrumental, and a very well-done chorus. I'm not even sure if Display has verses. Again, because there are so few extra vocals in Display. Overall, Display is a mixed bag, but I think Nakata could have done better.
If Display makes it to Perfume's next album as an extended mix, I'll consider bumping up the apple rating to four and half apples. Currently though, I'm sticking with four apples. Display is a good song (and again, watch the super-duper HD music video), but compared to my reaction to the preview, my overall opinion of Display is much more lukewarm than I'd predicted it would be.
Ijiwaru na Hello
And here we are to B-side #3 and the final one off Cling Cling. Going in, I had absolutely no idea how Ijiwaru na Hello sounded. No one did. Of the four songs on Cling Cling, Ijiwaru na Hello was the only one that wasn't revealed prior to the single's release. So basically, this was the wild card. I had the feeling that Ijiwaru na Hello was either going to be a really great song or the worst track on Cling Cling. Once again though, the stars aligned and Ijiwaru na Hello turned out to be my favorite track on Cling Cling! So why is Ijiwaru na Hello my favorite track? For starters, it's catchy! When the songs first starts, you don't think it's going to be but that chorus... The chorus first sold me on Ijiwaru na Hello. Then the instrumental break came in! And oh, how I love this song's instrumental. The instrumental on Ijiwaru na Hello is just as good as the original song; there are all these pretty synths in it. It might even be my favorite off Cling Cling, between this and the title track. Ijiwaru na Hello also is much wordier than Display which is a refreshing change of pace. And there's this breeziness to the vocals; it brings me back to the GAME era.
Actually, Ijiwaru na Hello sounds like something I'd hear from GAME era. Obviously, it's not a completely flashback, but I do get serious GAME vibes when I listen to Ijiwaru na Hello. I was trying to figure out what makes Ijiwaru na Hello appeal to me. And GAME has always been my favorite Perfume album and favorite era (between that and JPN). Ijiwaru na Hello could fit right in on GAME. The song sounds like a blend between Plastic smile and Ceramic Girl, two songs from GAME that I adore. And Ijiwaru na Hello sounds light without sounding too pop-y. Maybe Nakata found the data for Ijiwaru na Hello way in the back of his drafts folder from 2008 and decided to make it into a full song! Other than that, Ijiwaru na Hello is one of those songs that I just like. I like the general sound along with the vocal arrangement. The instrumental sounds grand and sweeping at some parts and then cuter at others. There's a great dynamic in Ijiwaru na Hello. So maybe that's what makes me like Ijiwaru na Hello so much? Whatever it is, Ijiwaru na Hello is my favorite song on Cling Cling. I guess you could call it the dark horse song on Cling Cling, considering we knew nothing about it!
So I'll give Ijiwaru na Hello five apples! What do you know, I've given four different ratings on Cling Cling. I wonder how all those will effect my final rating... Well, Ijiwaru na Hello is a great song. If you're craving a GAME-style Perfume song, then check Ijiwaru na Hello out. I think you'll be pleased!
It's kind of a bummer that very likely Cling Cling will be the only single Perfume releases this year. Not as much when I remember they're coming to America and I'm freaking seeing them live, but still. I would also be more crestfallen if Cling Cling were a bad single. Luckily, with four songs and only one of them being slightly weak, Cling Cling is a strong turnout from Perfume. First of all, I love that they decided to release a single with three different B-sides in the first place. The more Perfume songs on a single, the happier a camper I am! Actually, I hate camping, but I love all the songs on Cling Cling. Well, I just like Hold Your Hand, and Display could use improvements, but I love Ijiwaru na Hello. Of all the songs on Cling Cling, Ijiwaru na Hello is the highlight. I can't recommend that track enough. In turn, Hold Your Hand is the weakest song on the single, but even then, it doesn't bring the single down too much. Display is also weaker than I was hoping it would be, but it too is also a thoroughly enjoyable song and a worthy inclusion on Cling Cling. Then the title track itself has all the zeal and energy that I was hoping for hear in Perfume's next A-side. Together, each song has its weaknesses, but together, all the songs on Cling Cling have a really great dynamic.
I think that's because all the songs on Cling Cling sound different from each other. The title track's the upbeat, catchy dance track, Hold Your Hand is the airier light song, Display is the more hardcore, instrumental-heavy dance track, and Ijiwaru na Hello is just Perfume being Perfume. There's a song for every Perfume fan to like on here (unless you're looking for something a la Complete Best). Cling Cling I think is a single where everyone will have their own personal favorite track, mine being Ijiwaru na Hello. I will say listen to the instrumentals on Cling Cling. I know I don't really devote much time to going over instrumental songs, but the ones on Cling Cling are definitely worth a mention. Particularly the instrumentals for Cling Cling and Display. There are a bunch of little embellishments that you can't pick up as easily in the original songs. They add a nice alternate angle to the songs on Cling Cling. Overall, I am satisfied with Cling Cling. For a single with four different songs, to have them all work to some degree is a blessing. Cling Cling is a great mid-year single for Perfume. While it may be the only new material they release this year, I can jam to these songs for a good several months.
Technically, the songs on Cling Cling average out to four apples, but those instrumentals are making me bump up my final rating to four and half apples. Cling Cling is the kind of single I wanted to hear from Perfume after the lackluster Sweet Refrain, and I couldn't be happier. My only complaint is the fact that I may be in store for another seven-month waiting period between this single and Perfume's next single. But I can cling to the songs on Cling Cling until then.