The popularity of Ashida Mana works like a Chinese Finger Trap – at first, you have no idea how the dang thing works (“what’s the big deal, she’s just an adorable seven-year-old kid given a stupidly catchy albeit annoying song?”) then you realize the solution is way easier than you ever could have imagined (“oh I just reread that last sentence again”). Though I don’t think any child should be hoisted into a media-heavy position like her and “Maru Maru Mori Mori” will probably end up the year’s most acceptably annoying song of the year – a friend told me that he had to sit through a four-year-old kid sing that song THREE TIMES at karaoke – I’ll admit a bit of a soft spot for Mana. Mostly because she’s inspired the minor trend of J-Pop stars doing the “Maru Maru” dance and it is cute…you can see KARA in the red-velvet-cupcake-sweet clip above, and I’ve seen one with Perfume. Also, her reactions are stupid adorable.
A friendly reminder that being famous really does make life better. Onto the music!
AKB48 Special Medley
I should really be burned out on AKB48 by now, right? First there was this, then I went onto the Canadian Broadcasting Company program Q to talk about the giant group (go here, click the October 26 episode and jump to the hour mark!). And to some degree I am…though I don’t think I’d ever subject myself to an AKB48 medley at any time in my life…but I have to admit they really are the most interesting musical act in Japan at the moment (emphasis on “interesting”). I can’t pull my eyes away. So, to meet our weekly quota of terror, let’s focus on one of AKB’s sister group’s songs that recently topped the Oricon charts…
NMB48 “Oh My God”
Osaka represent. Unfortunately, not much to say about this song beyond what gets written about every single AKB track…this sounds like everything that came before it, the name of the group really not mattering because that Akihabara sound manifests itself in everything associated with this group. Even all the dumb guitar solos are starting to blend together.
They also shouldn’t be holding microphones so close to a pool.
KinKi Kids “願う以上のこと 祈る以上のこと”
KinKi Kids’ latest opens not as the “immediately terrible Johnny & Associates pop song” nor the “immediately terrible Johnny & Associates ballad” but rather the Articuno of the Johnny’s singles family…the “oh my, this actually sounds like it has potential for a Johnny & Associates song.” This opens with some surprising minimalism – throbbing beat, slightly chilled keyboards, nothing too sparkly to ruin everything. Then everything gets a little dicey – some horns kick in, which for a Johnny’s song usually signals the beginning of cheese galore. And here it sorta does, as the new KinKi Kids suddenly sounds like some long-lost Olympics anthem. Yet they manage to pilot the pop ship away from smashing into the ground, and the following verses retain some traces of restraint that sounds kinda nice. The chorus chokes that goodwill away a bit, but overall the brief clip here seems…kinda OK. Since it is only a sample it is probably smarter to not make any big statements, but take what you can get with this company.
Uggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhh, this song/video combo makes me want to give up on love completely. The song ends up being the less offensive of the two…typical goopy balladry, here courtesy of a duo so uninteresting that I’m completely stunned to learn that the only other time they teamed up ended up being a huge hit. Which partially explains the existence of this track, though nobody should be granted forgiveness.
Still, the song pails in comparison to the accompanying clip. OK, real talk…have you ever sat through Love Actually for a girl (insert the equivalent for a woman here, The Expendables?)? Well, I have and let me tell you watching this video comes close to matching the sugary-gross treat of sitting through that film. Except I brought this on myself. Just a stupidly “cute” idea full of disturbing questions…chief among them, how did the guy get in her apartment to do all that stuff…that exists in some Hallmark Card of a parallel universe. To the monastery!
Sonar Pocket “365日のラブストーリー。”
Everything I know about Sonar Pocket I just learned from Wikimon, the Internet’s go-to Wiki for all Digimon-related info. Just going to end this there.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of Perfume’s forthcoming single “Spice” – when the thing leaked online in the form of a radio rip, I compared the slowed-down pace to Washed Out. Which I stand by a bit…though now with more time I admit that isn’t quite as strong as I first thought. At first I thought “where is Perfume, the ones zipping through Lifesaver-clored synths and pulling awesome choruses out of mid-air?” “Spice’s” change in speed caught me off guard.
Now? I think “Spice” is pretty damn good. Perfume appeared a bit vulnerable when they released that terrible AKB-aping ballad, but “Spice” proves they can do solid work at a moderate walking pace. Yasutaka Nakata’s production comes off like a giant Katamari slowly rolling over the countryside, each new roll revealing a fresh addition as Perfume make the giant ball move. I think the jubilant “Laser Beam” remains the trio’s best single of the year…and we haven’t even heard a full version of “Glitter”…but “Spice” is the first song of Perfume’s in 2011 that sees them inching into something different for them (in a good way). A song that surrounds you in the best way.
Winner Of The Week – “Spice”