Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sayumi's Squeaky Swan Song

In the many years and many Morning Musume lineups, the group's had a number of divisive idols. Ishikawa Rika, Kusumi Koharu, Mitsui Aika, those are just a few of the easier ones to pick out. And of course how can I forget the ever-disputed Michishige Sayumi? With a narcissistic persona and a tragically tone-deaf voice, Sayu's reputation as a divisive idol more-or-less became her trademark.

So what a better end to Michishige Sayumi's idol career than a song and music video centered all around her?

Eleven years have led up to this.

Oh yeah. I'm reviewing Shabadabadoo~. Maybe a month too late, but I am giving Sayumi the proper farewell she needs in the only way I know how! Besides, what else am I supposed to say about Tiki Bun and Mikaeri Bijin that can't be summed up in two bullet points?

  • I find Tiki Bun not only boring but a dangerous foretelling of Morning Musume's electropop phase growing stale. Also, I feel like the song was improperly titled; "Cheeky Bun" would fit much better.
  • So all the younger members sang a farewell song to Sayumi? How sweet. And dull. At least the PV for Tiki Bun had some distracting lighting effects.

I will say, this is a very Sayumi-centered Morning Musume single. Even putting Shabadabadoo~ to the side, the other two A-sides on this single are varying levels of Sayumi-centric. Mikaeri Bijin, despite not even being sung by her, is basically an ode to Sayumi. Ditto for the music video. Tiki Bun is the most normal of the bunch, but even then, Sayumi gets a fair amount of time to shine. Sayumi's heavily featured on two thirds of the covers for this single too. So I hope ya like Michishige Sayumi! If not... wait until 2015. And the crux of this Sayumi Soiree Single is Shabadabadoo~, A-side #2 and Sayumi's solo graduation single. Giving graduating members a solo song became a precedent with Takahashi Ai and has continued since (except Aika because UFP cares little for Aika). Sayumi getting a little number of her own was expected. But was it wanted? Every Momusu fan knows that Sayumi's never been known for her angelic voice, and her solo songs on past albums very painfully show that. So what could Tsunku possibly do to give Sayumi a solo song without making the ears of listeners bleed!?

Simple: write a song about how Sayumi can't sing then have her sing it!

Shabadabadoo~ is a jokingly self-aware farewell song that is tailored seamlessly to Sayumi's personality, musically and lyrically. Thankfully, Shabadabadoo~ doesn't stray too far into electropop. There's some vocal manipulation done in a few parts of the song, but it's very lightly done. Think MEG's music, if MEG didn't know how to sing. I actually like the instrumental to Shabadabadoo~ a lot. It's fun and quirky and suits Sayumi's style perfectly. Because we all know Sayumi can't deliver powerful ballads or edgy pop rock numbers like some of her fellow Platinum era members. She's cute. She built an entire reputation around her obsessions with cuteness. Shabadabadoo~ plays off that cuteness without sounding saccharine. Likewise, the lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek. Everything about Sayumi is in there: her narcissistic persona, her longevity in Momusu, her arrogance, her bad pitch, her youthful 18-year old looking appearance, everything. Even Fukumura Mizuki and Iikubo Haruna make appearances in the song! Not for too long, both just say "Yes!" then Sayumi continues to sing her heart out. I guess because both were poised to take on future leadership roles in Momusu. Ikuta Erina probably didn't get the memo...

If someone else sang Shabadabadoo~, this song might sound pretty good. Don't get me wrong, Shabadabadoo~ doesn't sound awful. In fact, this song could have sounded so so much worse. I should be thankful Sayumi got a song that fit her vocally. Honestly, I don't find Sayumi's voice unbearably grating. She definitely can't sing, but she's self-aware. I think she tries staying on pitch to some degree, and even if she fails to more often than not, that effort is appreciated. However, four minutes of Sayumi singing alone, even with Autotune, is a long four minutes. I think the people who will most appreciate and enjoy Shabadabadoo~ are the fans of Sayumi. If you never liked Sayumi, Shabadabadoo~ is going to come off as a painful, off-key boost to her ego. I think this song worked a lot better than I thought it would have, and as graduation songs go, it's not bad. There's a definite perkiness to Shabadabadoo~, and it's kind of nice hearing something cheerful in lieu of something emotionally heavy. Maybe not the greatest song ever, but definitely an appropriate send-off song for Sayumi.

Remember how I was saying Shabadabadoo~ was tailored for Sayumi and that fans who didn't care for her would probably loathe the song. Well, that also applies to the music video. Maybe even more so with the music video, because then Sayumi's in her natural habitat: being the center of attention!

When I look into my crystal ball, I see a Sayumi PV with pink. Lots and lots of pink.

And from the look of it, I'd say I was right!

Shall we see just how pink and girlish this PV can get?

My only surprise so far is that Sayumi didn't insist a bigger bouquet.

That being said, this PV is 110% made for Sayumi.

You could give her a paper clip and she'd find some way to make it work.

Why de rien, Sayumi!

Over a decade in Morning Musume and she's barely aged. I blame witchcraft.

Sayumi peaks into her future love life after graduating Morning Musume!

So much of this PV is fluff, but Sayumi is so adorable...

Can my graduation dress be made of these flowers?

Seeing the world through heart-shaped sunglasses, the Michishige Sayumi Way!

Now you better not screw up, Mizuki, you're my last resort!

Solo graduation PVs get some pretty iffy outfits, but Sayumi's outfits are perfect.

Getting good screenshots for some PVs can be a challenge. This PV was a cakewalk.

Sayumi really is cute. The cutest idol ever? Well... she'd be a strong contender.

Definitely the most narcissistic idol ever.

Are those empty chairs for the other Platinum members?

What could Sayumi be reading? The novelized version of my blog perhaps?

Sorry, I think screencapping this PV is making me a little narcissistic.

Now you better not screw this up, Haruna, you're my last last resort!

Those shoes. I need a pair. Someone fly to Japan and buy me a pair.

I know, Sayumi, lollipops can be very startling.

Such sweetness. I'll probably have cavities by the time I'm done screencapping.

Cupcakes! Yum!

The title shows up multiple times in this in case you get amnesia while watching it!

See? I forgot how to spell Shabadabadoo~ while screencapping then it magically popped up and reminded me!

Sayumi looks like a princess in this shot. A fluffy pink princess!

Sayumi goes out with one final pose which is, surprisingly, not the Usa-chan Peace pose.

Well, this PV ends with about as much pink as it began with!

Watching the music video for Shabadabadoo~ made me think Sayumi would make an amazing solo idol if she could sing. Hell, she might even be able to be a solo idol anyways! Sayumi looks so confident on camera. Maybe a little forced at times, but she at least has some grace. I'll take forcibly adorable over forcibly awkward any day. And Sayumi plays up every bit of cuteness she can muster in this music video. All the props, the poses, the facial expressions, this PV is about as sugary and sweet as a sugar rush. Which suits Sayumi perfectly. If you're watching this music video, I hope you like the color pink, because that's 90% of the color palette. Personally, I love the color pink, and I also love girly things. So a music video full of both suits me perfectly. And I think the decor was handled well for Shabadabadoo~. I was a little worried Shabadabadoo~ would look boring and cheap like the PV for Tiki Bun. While the music video has very minimal sets, some good editing, a variety of props, and Sayumi's charismatic onscreen personality make for a very charming, engaging music video. Speaking of Sayumi, her outfits are perfect, and I want them.

The lollipops and bubbly pink edits are window dressing though. Shabadabadoo~ was intended to be a farewell music video celebrating Sayumi's career in Morning Musume. Does it succeed in that regard? I think Shabadabadoo~ perfectly captures Sayumi's idol personality and where she stood in Morning Musume. Sayumi's always been the eye candy, the devilishly charming member who can't sing her way out of a box but can work the camera like it's a mirror. That's the main strength of Shabadabadoo~ and why I highly recommend watching the music video instead of listening to the song alone. This PV is all about Sayumi and how cute Sayumi can get. Maybe it's a little overkill, but this is Michishige Sayumi we're talking about. I'd expect it to be overkill. Of all the graduation PVs I've watched, Shabadabadoo~ is the one that I think captures the graduating member the closest. Nope, not even Tanaka Reina's Rock no Teigi. When I watch this music video, I see Sayumi in a Nutshell, and then I can't help but smile.

Because seeing Sayumi, nearly a decade later and still not looking a day over 18, makes me appreciate just how far she's come in Morning Musume. She started out as the unnecessary 6th Generation member, the self-centered girl who can't sing. She spent so many years playing up that role while still remaining to the back in Morning Musume songs. Now here she is, captain of Morning Musume, going out as the member with the most longevity, and basking in the glory of her own music video. Sayumi devoted over a decade to Morning Musume; I think Shabadabadoo~ is a fitting reward for those eleven years of devotion. And now she's passed the torch on to Mizuki and Haruna; it makes sense they appeared in the music video. Also Ikuta Erina, but we'll just assume Erina was there in spirit. Overall, I like the music video for Shabadabadoo~. I like how well it highlights Sayumi's idol career and gives her an opportunity to shine alone. Maybe she can't sing, and maybe her idol persona could get forced, but at the end of the day, she put a lot of heart into Morning Musume. For that, I wish all the best for her in the future.

You will be missed, Michishige Sayumi. Not just by me, but by other fans. And yet I cannot give Shabadabadoo~ five apples. Just because I'm bittersweet doesn't mean I'm blind. Shabadabadoo~ isn't the best song, as Sayumi solely singing may have indicated. The music video makes up for it though, being the perfect sendoff for Sayumi. So my final verdict? Four apples.


  1. I love Sayumi Michishige and I'm going that Sayumi's cuteness and idol persona and I'm going to miss her!����������

    1. I miss Sayumi's cuteness and her idol persona! ����������

    2. Sayumi definitely had a very distinct persona; her not being in Morning Musume anymore is quite the change. But I'm excited to see Momusu with 9th Gen. members and onward!

  2. I still don't understand what went on with Shabadabadoo~. It sounds like Sayumi whispered the entire song during recording. I'd be inclined to praise Tsunku for promoting innovative vocal techniques if the song actually sounded better.

    1. I kind of like not being able to hear Sayumi half the time; it kind of makes the song more tolerable. I think composing a song for someone who really can't sing is a challenge, and Shabadabadoo~ is suitable enough for Sayumi. I can't see it winning any awards though.

  3. I actually liked this song, except for some stuff that I just couldn't ignore:

    1- Her voice is quite terrible there. She's not a good singer, and her cute-y voice only works when she talks. Here she's singing all the way, and it's clear why she doesn't get that many vocals.
    2- This song haves a heavy DRC. You know, loudness war and stuff. And the DRC plus the Autotuned-like-hell vocals don't work; in the chorus I just can't hear her voice or the song, just a bunch of clipping noises.

    Now, for Momusu's '15 era(the only good thing about the yearly name change is that now we can define precisely the group's eras) I just hope that they do like the '98/'99 era, giving focus to the singing abilities and giving the girls some harmony(Mikaeri Bijin is an insult for the enka genre because it lacks harmony. Even Edo no Temari had some, for goodness's sake). That's why the fans have that huge nostalgia factor, they are great performers but they're not in AKS, so good singing matters.

    1. Yeah, the vocals in Shabadabadoo~ are kind of terrible. They didn't bother me as much as some of Sayumi's other solos, but an entire song sung by her is not the most ideal listening choice. I'm not an expert on DRC, but I'll take your word for it. The volume levels did sound a little unbalanced when I listened to the song.

      I don't really have any preferences as to what next year's Momusu will do, as long as they utilize all the members. I get the feeling at least half the girls in the group are going to be pushed to the back. I hope Tsunku lays off the electropop next year, it's starting to wear thin, and the change of lineups would be a great opportunity to change the sound. Even the image! We're looking at a very new group of girls now!