Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kago Ai's 1st single "no hesitAtIon"

The PV for Kago Ai's debut solo single "no hesitAtIon" has been released. The single will be released on June 24. BUY IT!

Lord have mercy, this girl is too fabulous to exist. I just need to keep listening to and watching this a couple of times.

10 minutes later

Okay, seriously, this is good. When I first heard about this, my thought was that I would buy it no matter how bad it was, because I love Kago. When I heard the preview I thought, this might not be too bad.

But this PV has turned that all around.

I want to just sit and a room and watch and listen to this for a day. No eating, drinking, sleeping, blinking. Just Kago.

The song
I didn't know what to expect from the song itself. I've been of the opinion that while Tsuji's voice never really grew beyond her little girl "Nono" sound, Kago was really becoming quite the singer before she was fired.

This song just shows how well she can sing. The backup vocals are doing just that: backing her up. They add a little audio interest to the song without overpowering her beautiful voice during every chorus. The instrumentals are actually really nice, too. Very flowing, and with proper use of dynamics.

I won't begin to act like I can translate the lyrics, which she wrote herself, beyond the obvious "no hesitation" and some references to the sky and other simple nouns like that. It will be so nice to see what the lyrics mean.

Hearing this song makes me excited to hear the b-side!

The video
Okay, my main beef with it is "did we really need to see your panties, Kago?" But let's put that aside for now.

Is it just me or does she look somehow timeless in everything she's wearing? I feel like this video could have been release any time within the last 40 years or so and look fresh. I'm really impressed at how they managed to make her look her age. She really looks like a 21 year old woman, not a teenager trying to dress like an adult. And her hair looks terrific! If there's one thing Hello! Project stylists consistently got wrong it's Kago's hair outside of pig tails.

The camera work is so clean and bright, too. There's not a ton of bloom or lens flair, which are both very popular right now. They might have overused the unfocused lens thing a bit much, but other than that it's just perfect.

The lip syncing is a bit off and she occasionally looked at a loss for what to do with her hands. But other than that she just showed such beautiful spirit throughout the whole thing. She looks really genuinely happy in the whole thing, and when Kago's happy, I'm happy.

Also, way to be sustainable with your glass water bottle!

I might have to do a second review of this once I've heard the b-side. Also, because I love Kago two much.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mano Erina's 3rd major single "Sekai wa Summer Party"

The PV for "Sekai wa Summer Party" has been released on Dohhh UP! This single will be released on July 29 and the single V will be released on August 5.

Link to video on Dohhh UP!

Overall, this track is like a glass of iced tea that's been sitting out a little too long: sweet and refreshing, but a little too watery.

The song

I love that there are real instruments and not just synth-crap for the backing. However, this is a little boring. I had the same problem with "Hajimete no Keiken." It's a cute song, but I probably won't be listening to it much. It doesn't sound terribly summery either :( Perhaps like "Nakimushi. Yowamushi" on her last single I'll end up finding the b-side "Jasmine Tea" to be an infinitely better track.

The set

This reminds me of old school Matsuura Aya. It's just her being generally adorable with sundry little props. Overall very sweet and fun to watch. The giant globe isn't my favorite, but at least it seems to be a physical object and not a green screen composition.

The dance

Oh, like everything else it's nothing terribly special. I like seeing S/mileage again as backup dancers.

The outfits

I don't care for the outfits. The plaid one isn't particularly summery, modern, or attractive and the yellow one is sort of age inappropriate. Neither of them look much like party clothes or vacation clothes. The little school girl outfits S/mileage has going on are just kind of boring.

Overall, this release seems a bit disappointing. I hope people who do like it don't a) get sick of it or b) get tired of it by the time it's released. Why did the PV come out so dang early?

°C-ute's 9th major single "Shochuu Omimai Moshiagemasu"

The PV for "Shochuu Omimai Moshiagemasu" has been released on Dohhh UP! This single will be released on July 1 and the single V will be released on July 8.

Link to video on Dohhh UP!

Like "Edo no Temari Uta II," last year's °C-ute summer cover track, "Shochuu Omimai Moshiagemasu" is near perfection!

The song

As you may know, this tune is a cover of the popular Showa-period female trio Candies' 14th single. (Bonus fun fact: the first three guardians in Shugo Chara! are named after the members of Candies). The arrangement of the °C-ute version is very similar. The modern vocals are clearer, but not as rich, because that's the modern style. I can't wait to hear this live to see if the girls are doing that pretty harmonization during the chorus themselves or not. If so, kudos! The instrumentation in this new version is synth-y but dynamic. I like it a lot!

The outfits

The red and white outfits are very cute! I'm sure it's hard to find a single style that looks good on six different girls, but they did a great job. It would have been nice to have a little more variation in the outfits so that the girls are more easily distinguishable, but over all a very sweet little throwback to the original song.

The outfits from the cover are even better! The girls all look beautiful and sophisticated yet youthful and summery. They look like they are ready for a fun night out on the town. Chisato's hair looks a little funny here though. Those stylists need to find a style that actually works for her with longer hair!

The beach outfits are... not as good. I realize they were going for a everygirl look, but they all look kind of sloppy. Chisato looks straight up dumb, in fact. The only ones that I would actually say look good with this styling are Maimi and Mai, but honestly it's hard to make either of those girls look bad. Still, they looked good for running around on a beach in.

The dance

Not a lot to say about it, I don't think they changed the choreography at all. I'm still having a hard time getting used to 6nin °C-ute. I hope Kanna gets better soon :(

The set

What a cute beach house! It looks like a really nice place to go on vacation, and I think it was the perfect setting for this PV. It's just so refreshing to see a Hello! Project PV without a completely computer-generated or made-of-cardboard set. Could we maybe see some more of that in the next Berryz Koubou PV, please?

Over all I think this is shaping up to be a great release! I can't wait to hear the b-side "Zansho Omimai Moshiagemasu," as it is an interesting concept. Hopefully Tsunku wrote a really good song if he's going to give it a title that similar to a super hit like the original a-side.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Return of the beast

Hello all,

I realize I took a surprise unexplained hiatus, but since I don't want to come off as emo and whiny I'll not explain and just say, "sorry!"

I've missed several releases in the last couple of months, so here are some mini reviewlettes for you all to enjoy. Later today or tomorrow there will be full reviews for Mano Erina and °C-ute's new singles, which have summer themes: my favorite!

MY BOY - Buono!
Wow, Buono!, What a great track! The guitars are really hot, and their voices sound so rich and mature. I love Momo's "it's so nice" line. What an understatement, darling! That girl sounds better and better with every release she's on. I love the cake thief thing in the PV, too. It's such a huge step up from "Lotta Love Lotta Love." I can't say that I love the "Warp!" but none of Buono's b-sides have been anything special, except possibly "Lady Panther." Gao, indeed.

Sadistic Dance - HANGRY&ANGRY
It's good to hear from the duo again! This is in the exact same style as their mini-album, which is fine. I like the goth-pop. You don't get a lot of that in Hello! Project. Rika and Yossie sound really nice. The cover is really ugly though. What is up with Rika's hat?

Shouganai Yume Oibito - Morning Musume
The newest Morning Musume single is great! What a pretty melody and such nice backing vocals. Everyone sounds nice on the track except Ai and 8th gen, who sound ridiculously good, and Sayumi, who sounds like herself. I can't say I love the dance in the PV, but everyone sure looks gorgeous.

The real star on this release though is the b-side. Oh my god, Ai-chan, could you for one minute stop being pure anthropomorphized HOTNESS? I've been listening to it every time I go for a run, and I just grin like an idiot through all 4.5 minutes of it.

Omakase♪Guardian - Guardians 4
Only three words can adequately describe this song: "holy shit Aika!" I think it's a little weird that she's in another four-member special anime unit with Nakajima Saki, but I'm fine with whatever gives me more Aika, especially with her adorably shouting "bui~!" The song itself is totally precious, even more than the Shugo Chara Egg! version of it! It takes a lot of skill to be cuter than something with Fukuda Kanon. On the other hand, the PV and the b-side are completely "meh."

Mecha Mote I LOVE YOU - MM Gakuen
Without at doubt the best thing to come out of TNX ever. I've been listening to both the a-side and the b-side almost non-stop for about a week now. The songs are great for everything: washing dishes, riding bikes, lifting weights, playing video games, dancing, riding the bus, grooming/primping, and everything else I've been doing this summer. Not the best for listening to while writing a review because I can't concentrate on writing due to how stupidly good the tracks are.

Seishun Bus Guide/Rival
- Berryz Koubou
In case you haven't noticed, I love Berryz Koubou. They are hands down the best overall in vocals in all of Hello! Project (unless you consider High-King to be an active group), and arguably the best overall in asthetic appeal.

On that note, I don't love this single. It's through no fault of the girls (excluding Risako maybe, because she sounds a little strained on both tracks), it's just bad song-writing/arranging. "Rival" is moderately adorable and definitely ends up as my number one song on the release, but "Seishun Bus Guide" is almost entirely forgettable. The PVs follow similarly.

Still, it's not a bad release, just not the best Berryz release. And obviously people like it because it's number 3 for Berryz as far as first week sales! Berryz, please come to the U.S., preferably my part of the country!

aMa no Jaku - S/mileage
This song is boring as hell. I'm glad the girls have something over than just b-sides on another group's release to keep them occupied though. 'A' for effort, maybe?

So yeah, I'm sorry I hibernated through the spring. Lots of exciting stuff coming up this summer though, so hopefully you'll be hearing a lot from me!