No time for intros, let us get into this.
AKB48 “Give Me Five!”
At long last AKB48 have done what once seemed impossible – they have contributed something good to the music world. This “Give Me Five!” stands as the group’s best single to date and their most important addition to musical discourse ever. The actual sound of “Give Me Five!” isn’t the reason for this of course – the actual sonic experience of “Give Me Five!” isn’t much different from the usual audio candy caning the group inflicts on the world, all dumb horn blasts and guitar chugging. No, this single stands as AKB’s crowning achievement to date because it serves as the ultimate counterpoint to any “authenticity in music” debate, a pop Golden Gun capable of killing stupid conversation in its tracks.
Lots of people complain about how music today “isn’t authentic,” how it isn’t like “the good ol’ days” which is code for an era of (mostly white) rock ‘n’ roll bands, how everything today “is manufactured” or how performers “aren’t really artists” mannnnnn. This was on full display during last weekend’s Grammy Awards when people took to Twitter and other online commenting alleys and harped about how bad music today, what with its Exorcist-themed numbers and Bonny Bears. Despite featuring appearances by the likes of Paul McCartney and the Beach Boys, this year’s award show – not to mention the recent Super Bowl halftime show – served as another convenient excuse for those who cream themselves at the site of a factory-faded Rolling Stones’ t-shirt at Target to complain about “music today.”
Yet here’s the ultimate counterpoint. The marketing and music video for AKB48’s latest focuses on the members holding guitars and playing the drums and being a band, to the extent that you could get free AKB guitar picks at JR Shinjuku station. Note the word “marketing” – that is what this is, a shrewd move by the string-pullers above the band to simultaneously give super fans the equivalent of a new action figure while also trying to win over naysayers via “authenticity.” I’ve already seen people on Twitter saying “at least they are trying to play guitar now,” ignoring the fact the noises coming out of my speakers sounds as putrid as ever.
So next time somebody tells you rap isn’t real music or whines about how computers aren’t bass guitars, point them to “Give Me Five!,” a lovely reminder that music is entertainment and always has been no matter what instrument (or lack of) the person held. Then remember the actual music should be the only aspect of a song or album focused on, which is why this single blows. Then listen to Perfume or something.
The Bawdies “Rock Me Baby
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/36043079 w=400&h=233]
Funny that following the above rant, The Bawdies end up being the next band featured. They also reinforce the above point pretty well – The Bawdies aren’t good just because they look the part of a bygone era of rock music, all guitar pop and matching suits. They are a decent group because they make good songs using 50’s and 60’s rock as a guide. If one is to level a complaint at The Bawdies, is that they sometimes rely on this blueprint too much – “Rock Me Baby” sounds like practically every other single they’ve released before and, though that isn’t a bad thing (they do this act pretty well!), everything they put out is starting to blur together. Still, a nice slice of throwback rock. Ultimately, your opinion of The Bawdies will probably be shaped by the lead howling – I like it, but plenty of folks don’t.
Naoto Inti Raymi “君に逢いたかった”
UGGGGGGGGGH this guys is from Mie Prefecture, where I used to live. Shame that lovely country area has to be saddled with someone responsible for such glimmering dreck as the above song. I won’t allow it though! Here are some famous people from Mie who are cool in my book:
– Matsuo Bashō, dude wrote haikus!
– Ranpo Edogawa, this guy wrote lots of mystery stories!
– Yasujirō Ozu, one of Japan’s greatest directors! He made Tokyo Story which is an amazing work of cinema.
– Nishino Kana! I like her!
– Jesse Ruins, originally from Mie! Pop-Office too, I think.
– Uhhhh ninjas?
FUNKY MONKEY BABYS “この世界に生まれたわけ”
FUNKY MONKEY BABYS are complete hucksters, the J-Pop equivalent of the politician who tells folksy stories to distract from the fact they are blowing up Middle Eastern villages. Nearly every song the release comes sparkled in unflappable optimism, all twinkling sounds and triumphant choruses. The accompanying music videos focus on upbeat life moments, like playing with your kids or getting married. The world of FUNKY MONKEY BABYS is one giant ice cream cake with a Hallmark card on top. They are grating every single time. I’ve said it before but I reiterate – for all their faults, I would much rather listen to AKB48 than FUNKY MONKEY BABYS.
V6 “Bari Bari Buddy!”
So, how about that “Bari Bari Buddy!”? It is bad.
Know what isn’t bad? Rayons! Especially when Predawn tackles the vocals – then they are downright beautiful, like on the gorgeous “Halfway.” Chilly minimalism leading to a flower-breaking-through-the-snow climax. Listen below.
Winner Of The Week – The Bawdies