Saturday, May 28, 2011

[REVIEW] Morning Musume- Only You

             Fact 1: Hello Project is not known for spectacular PV quality.
            Fact 2: Morning Musume’s “Only You” is perhaps the “only” exception to the rule in recent memory.

            Okay. So fact 2 is arguable. But regardless, I have come to sing the praises of Morning Musume’s Only You.

            I was pleasantly surprised by Only You’s radio leaks from a few weeks back, but honestly, I was waiting with baited breath for this PV, and it sure as hell delivered.

            Here are a number of things that I think are wonderful about this PV:
The costumes are pretty nice and reserved, which compliments the aggressive song in a good way. Seriously, white works, and fact that they are simple just makes the dance stand out more.

Speaking of the dance, I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it was because of the fact that the sole action in the PV was the dance (which works, with enough variety in shots), but I personally really enjoyed the dance.
The alternate backdrops are easy on the eyes and diverse while still keeping with a rich, dark tone that makes the white backdrop and costumes pop when they appear. The crystal backdrops were also quite nice to look at. It’s rare to get so much eye-candy in one PV, honestly.

The CG used is a lot better than usual, making the ‘emo stare’ scenes a lot more palatable and easy on the eyes.
Hairstyles and makeup were on target for most of the girls, with the exception of poor Zukki who got stuck with a god awful greased-back ponytail horror of a hairstyle. However, she definitely rocked that hair as best she could, bless her heart. Ai and Risa on the other hand, looked particularly stunning. 

However, I really think the editing is what makes this PV what it is. On its own, it’s just three different dance shots with one shot of the girls with their emo faces on. Sure, there is plenty of eye-candy, but I think they way the PV was edited, without ever lingering too long on one type of shot and introducing each shot evenly throughout the PV, really worked to its advantage and created a PV that was both beautiful and that kept my attention for the duration of the song.
The whole intersplicing each type of shot evenly throughout the PV really is a crucial part of the continuity and flow of the PV, because this was a major problem I had with the Momoiro Sparking C-ute PV, where the ‘narrative’ shots of the PV were thrown in at the end, and felt a lot more haphazard than they should have been.

Even more than the PV however, I love the Only You song as well, perhaps because it’s a return to the Morning Musume I was first introduced to.

At its core, the song is Emo Musume in all its tearstained glory. The heavy synth that dominates the instrumental gives it a very distinctive sound—a sound, I’ve realized, that I’ve sort of come to associate with Morning Musume, since I became a fan during their emo phase back when Naichau Kamo was all the rage. Thinking about this made me sort of go back to thinking about how Morning Musume might regain traction in the casual fan market, which I recently wrote about (but that’s a train of thought I’ll save for another post. Back to the subject at hand.) Also, although the heavily processed vocals in the verses was barraged with negativity on H!O, in the context of such a synth-heavy song, I thought it worked really well—and it’s something brave and new for Momusu to be doing, which is, above all, why I’m happy to hear it.

            What’s also been pointed out early on, when the radio leaks popped on Youtube, was that Morning Musume has broken its formulaic idol song structure for something slightly more experimental. Instead of your typical Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Chorus, the line between the chorus and verse are slightly blurred. The song starts with a bang on the solo Chorus (really something I would like to see around more often in the idol scene), and then transitions into unison verses. The chorus is extremely powerful and catchy, and I think having it to pull the listener into the song just in the first verses is a great game plan for Momusu in this song. The verses are once again, a little change of pace—slightly more processed than what we usually see from H!P, and honestly a little on the creepy side, but in my opinion still doesn’t detract much from such a hook-worthy chorus. The verses definitely grew on me after a couple listens, although the mechanical, doom and gloom feel you get from the melody in the verses certainly takes some getting used to.

            Of course, one cannot talk about this song without talking about its controversial line distribution (well. More controversial than usual, because honestly, when is idol line distribution not controversial?). Although many fans have already expressed their headdesk feelings about another “Reina/Ai song”, I sort of see Tsunku using this single to re-establish a sense of order in Morning Musume that he shook it up in the previous single with the Kyukkie members opening Maji Desuka Ska!. He’s sort of telling fans that Maji was a one off, and he is still looking for an ace. And while it’s sort of difficult to tell whether this is the correct business strategy (again, a subject for another post), I personally think that putting the vets up front while they are still are available and recognizable to the public at least keeps the ship afloat.

And plus, it’s not like he’s not trying to push any new faces at all (ironically, the second part of the controversy)— 9th gen. Fan favorite Sayashi Riho has plenty of time in the limelight in this single, while other kyukkies seem suddenly pushed to the background.

Since jedimastertrunks over at Airii~n deshou?! Has posted a great piece that I agree whole-heartedly with. Apart from the fact that she is in fact, a talented dancer and a decent singer, Riho has shown incredible and noticeable drive since day one to become the best she can be. It takes an incredible amount of self-confidence to be able to stand in front a crowd of screaming wota and say, “yes, I want to become the leader of Morning Musume.” Yes, the other girls are all adorable and their shy, wide-eyed wonder is part of their appeal as new members. But as a newcomer, Riho has shown a rare professional attitude and knows how to act like she’s constantly got her A game on. Yes, she may come off as cold, or maybe even arrogant. But just seeing her personality on screen, I would have to say that she is the most ready out of the Kyukkies to be able to stand unflinchingly under the spotlight, and I’m glad that she is getting rewarded early on for this kind of go-getter attitude.

With that said, I think just two singles into the Kyukkies’ career is too early to judge who will be pushed permanently to the background (especially with Ai’s graduation and tenth gen. Auditions on the horizon). Who knows? It’s possible that UFA is experimenting with putting different Kyukkies in the spotlight with each single, and just because Kyukkies are relegated to the background now doesn’t mean they won’t be given their time to shine when the lineup changes or when they are given a little more time to develop. Let’s be optimists people.

So in conclusion: I’m happy with the direction Morning Musume seems to be heading in right now, which seems like a little bit of a braver path than what they have been sticking with for a couple of years. 

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