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Okai Chisato covers Love Namidairo November 29, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in C-ute, Hello! Project, Jpop.
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6 comments

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of when others cover Aya’s songs. This mostly stems from the fact that since I personally hold her in such high esteem I find it hard for others to live up to that standard.  For example this has caused me to rather dislike Reina’s performance of “The Bigaku” from the Platinum 9 Disco tour and Manoeri’s rendition of “Momoiro Kataomoi” from the ~Fankora~! tour, regardless of how technically proficient those performances might be.

That being said, I actually rather like this version by Chisato.

I think it all comes down to the presentation. It’s all very humble and unassuming, which makes it very different from any version that Aya has done in the past. She is literally just singing and dancing along in (what I assume to be) her room. If you look closely you can tell she isn’t even using a microphone; that’s actually a flashlight!  How cute is that? It’s actually kind of easy to forget that she is a professional idol. In a way she is the inverse “Beckii Cruel,” in that she is a professional trying to take on an amateur persona.

The crazy thing is that this is working for her. Really, really well. This is actually the fifth such video that she’s posted on the official C-ute Youtube channel, and at the time of this posting she’s accrued more than one and a half million views across them. One and a half million! Wow!

This one is slightly different though, in that this is the first time that she’s danced to (and thus sung) a non-C-ute song.  You can even buy her cover on iTunes, which is most likely a response to popularity of her videos.

Listening to the iTunes preview though takes me back to the comparison with Aya. The audio is cleaned up in the downloadable version and despite the fact that she really did a great job on the song, I can’t help but think that Aya’s version was superior. I actually greatly prefer the audio track in the posted video despite it being “rawer” just because it seems more genuine and has kind of a karaoke feel to it, which helps me from immediately comparing it back to Aya.  I really wouldn’t be surprised if the audio in the video was just the raw studio recording dubbed back over her dancing.

I actually kind of find it hard to believe that Chisato is the first from C-ute to have her own solo single (no, “Shock!” doesn’t count, well not technically at least).  She really has come a long way though, even in the last couple of years.  If I would have seen this video at the beginning of 2007 I don’t think I would have even recognized her.  To think she’s only 16, I imagine I might be saying the same thing again in three more years.

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The Other Side of Aya: MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU November 26, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in ayaya, Hello! Project, Jpop, Matsuura Aya.
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2 comments

Ahh, I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgivings yesterday! Seeing as how today is the dreaded Black Friday we can consider ourselves officially in the Christmas season! Yay! To help us all get into the Christmas spirit a little bit, I figured today would be a great day to continue my The Other Side of Aya series with “MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU,” her coupling track to 100kai no KISS released on November 28, 2001 (just two days shy of nine years ago!) :


Romaji Lyrics:

Merii kurisumasu merii kurisumasu for you
Merii kurisumasu merii kurisumasu for you

Yuki furu ibu ni wa
Negaimashou
Koyoi tanoshi ya
Merii kurisumasu

Ran ran ran…
Ran ran ran ran ran ran ran
Merii kurisumasu

Merii kurisumasu merii kurisumasu for you
Merii kurisumasu merii kurisumasu for you

Anata no mirai wo
Negaimashou
Koyoi anata to
Merii kurisumasu

Ran ran ran…
Ran ran ran ran ran ran ran
Merii kurisumasu

Merii kurisumasu merii kurisumasu for you
Merii kurisumasu merii kurisumasu for you

Subete no mirai wo
Negaimashou
Koyoi dare demo
Merii kurisumasu

Ran ran ran…
Ran ran ran ran ran ran ran
Merii kurisumasu

Ran ran ran…
Ran ran ran ran ran ran ran
Merii kurisumasu

Ran ran ran…

Translated Lyrics:

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas for you
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas for you

Let’s make a wish
On this snowy Christmas Eve
This is an exciting night
Merry Christmas

Lan lan lan…
Lan lan lan lan lan lan lan
Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas for you
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas for you

I’ll make a wish
For your future
I’m spending tonight with you
Merry Christmas

Lan lan lan…
Lan lan lan lan lan lan lan
Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas for you
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas for you

Let’s make a wish
For everyone’s future
Tonight, too
Merry Christmas

Lan lan lan…
Lan lan lan lan lan lan lan
Merry Christmas

Lan lan lan…
Lan lan lan lan lan lan lan
Merry Christmas

Lan lan lan…

Romaji and translated lyrics from Kiwi Musume via the Matsuurian Lyrics Archive

A very nice, if quite simple song. Since about half the lyrics are simply “Merry Christmas” or “Ran”/”Lan” not too much meaning is actually lost on those of us who cannot speak Japanese.

My favorite part of the song by far happens after about the 3:10 mark when she starts saying “Merry Christmas” in all the different funny voices. The second one she does, in what I assume is an imitation of an old man, still makes me smile every time I hear it.

Morning Musume — Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game (Close-Up Version) November 19, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume, Niigaki Risa, Takahashi Ai.
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4 comments

So just two days ago Morning Musume released their 44th single “Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game,” and if you happened to read my preview post from two weeks ago you’ll know I’m a pretty big fan of the song itself and the regular PV.

Strangely enough, I also really like the close-up version of the PV.

I say strangely because normally this version of the PV doesn’t appeal to me that much. Usually the close-up version is made just with cuts of the girls standing a fixed distance away from a static camera. And that’s it. Surprisingly (thankfully?) this isn’t the case with “Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game”, as we are treated to a completely different experience. Varying camera angles, non-static frames, the girls aren’t stationary, frankly it’s just an all around much more dynamic production.

I really do want to applaud the change in direction for this single, but instead of just droning on and on about how much better this one is than previous close-ups, I figured I would supply you guys with a few concrete examples on what makes this version of the PV so great in particular:

Reina Looks Great


Now, this single, like many previous Morning Musume singles, is pretty heavily Ai-Reina biased, but I really don’t mind that too much here considering how well those two girls work it in this PV (that is despite the fact that I would have liked to see the graduating members get a bit more fanservice =\). Back in June when I looked at the solo versions of “Seishun Collection,” I lambasted Reina a bit on the heavy silver eyeliner underneath her eyes, but I must say it looks pretty fantastic here. While I’m still not a huge fan of the dresses used in this PV, the light blue of her dress and the eyeliner is a very nice combination.

An interesting thing I noticed about Reina when I was trying to get a decent screen cap of her was that she seems to really flex her jaw muscles quite a bit when singing (or most likely lip-syncing here, but close enough). It actually made capping her a bit difficult since most frames I tried had her face look slightly misshapen because of that! 😀

Ai’s Ponytail Rocks


Look at that thing go. You want a point to draw your visual interest? Well, you honestly can’t do much better than that!


It might just be my prejudice after seeing the dance shot versions, but man, do I love to see her fling that thing around. It has “attitude” written all over it, and frankly its not like she even needs help pulling that off here. The ponytail just puts it over the top.

Speaking of the dance shots, I’ll probably make another post sometime just to post some gifs of her from that. She really is that amazing in those.

Risa Absolutely Owns Her Camera Time


Risa, bless her, gets one big solo line to herself in the second half of the song, and she totally owns that scene. It reminds me a bit of her solo in Nanchatte Renai, which she easily made the best part of that PV. Not that I would be biased or anything.

The thing I really love about these two gifs is how amazingly expressive she can be with her face, and especially her eyes. Without any sound, and just watching her lips move, I can clearly hear her saying “–sareru mo” in my mind. Enough to give me chills. 🙂

 

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These girls (and Tsunku, and all of their other staff) work hard to create this content for us. If you guys enjoyed this single or its PV please consider purchasing a copy to show your support and to reward their hard work.

 
If you guys particularly liked the Close-up version of the PV I showcased here you can get your own copy from the Jacket/Type B version!

Idol Retrospective: Moritaka Chisato – Kono Machi Live November 9, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Idol Retrospective, Jpop.
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19 comments

Tonight I’m going to talk about something a little bit different than normal. Instead of discussing the latest Hello! Project release/scandal/picspam, or even AKB48, I’m going to talk about something that happened nearly twenty years ago.

That’s right twenty years ago.

Cruising around Youtube a while back I happened to stumble across a couple of vintage idol performances, one of which I want to share with you guys tonight: Moritaka Chisato’s live performance of “Kono Machi.”

You guys might find that name a bit familiar as she was the one to originally write and sing “Watarasebashi” back in 1993, which is now more often associated with Matsuura Aya and Goto Maki who each released covers much more recently.

Now, I admittedly don’t know exactly when this performance was filmed. The song “Kono Machi” was released on Moritaka’s fifth album Kokon Tozai on 10-17-1990, almost exactly twenty years before this post. Using highly advanced Guesstimation™ techniques I would say this performance probably occurred sometime between 1990 and 1993 (Major hints come from this performance that supposedly occurred in 1993, showing her in significantly shorter hair). UPDATE: Thanks to bode1967, we now know that this performance took place during the “KOKON TOZAI ONI-GA DERUKA JA-GA DERUKA” Tour. This means that this performance took place sometime between December 15,1990 and March 4,1991.

Without further ado, I present to you Moritaka Chisato – “Kono Machi”

I honestly find this performance to be really fascinating. On one hand, you can see how much idols have changed since the late 1980’s/early 1990’s and frankly how similar they are as well.

The first thing that stands out to me is her costume. There’s no doubt that it was inspired by “magical girl” sailor uniforms, and it personally gives me a very Sailor Mars-esque vibe (I think this is primarily from her similar hairstyle and the predominant red tones). There is one part of this costume though, that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen worn by a modern idol: sheer nylons. It’s odd, but I really can’t remember any costume from the more recent live performances I’ve seen where the girls wear nylons. It’s possible that there have been a few, but they certainly aren’t commonplace.

Another neat thing you can see is that she is accompanied by a live band. This too is a bit of a rarity for modern idols. Matsuura Aya has performed with a live band on multiple occasions, such as her Aya The Witch Tour, but she only started doing this quite recently, arguably after she stopped trying to be an idol.

Another aspect of this performance that one can still see in modern idols is her para para dance style. Para para dancing is characterized primarily by the usage of arm movements with basic to no lower body involvement. For a solo idol this style is obviously beneficial in that it induces significantly less physical strain compared to traditional dancing that one would see in more Western music. For a modern equivalent one need look no farther than Morning Musume’s “SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~,” which while significantly more intricate a dance than what Moritaka performs, is still obviously an example of para para.

The greatest difference that I can tell between this nearly twenty year old performance and a more modern one has nothing to do with the idols on stage but with the crowd. The odd thing to me, is that Moritaka’s crowd is absolutely quiet. Now, we know it’s not due to them being edited out in post production, as you can here them roar slightly when she engages them at the 3:09 mark. As a H!P fan I’m thoroughly used to hearing loud, raging crowds screaming out their wotegei calls. For an example, take a look at Morning Musume’s performance of “Mikan” from Summer of 2008 Wonderful Hearts tour. Certainly a huge difference. This raises an interesting question though, when did wotegei start exactly? It’s certainly possible that other fans of other idols at the time practiced wotegei, but hers did not, but I would find this a little hard to fathom. Certainly something to look into. 😀

And what about the song itself? I think it’s rather enjoyable and quite cute. I really like the synth percussion beat they sprinkle here and there in the song, which is undoubtedly characteristic of it’s era and adds a bit to its overall charm. Another interesting fact was that this song, and the vast majority of her other songs as well, were all written by Moritaka herself. Now, I obviously cannot vouch for how insightful her lyrics are, but this is still quite the accomplishment, and something I would certainly like to see return again for many of today’s modern idols, even if just for a special fan club event or what have you.

As a final note, if you look closely at the 3:50 mark you can see her open her eyes very, very wide (I honestly tried to cap this, but I don’t think it can be done in an even remotely flattering way). This may seem like a really silly thing to point out, but I noticed that she displayed this very same quirk in several of her other performances and PV’s as well. Something neat to keep an eye out for if you plan to look into her other material at all.

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I hope you guys enjoyed this post, I certainly had fun writing it. I wouldn’t mind sprinkling a few more of these looks at past idols in between my future updates, so if that sounds like something you guys would like to see again let me know in the comments section!

Previews From Matsuura Aya and Morning Musume November 5, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in ayaya, Hello! Project, Jpop, Matsuura Aya, Morning Musume.
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4 comments

So this month we get to look forward to a new album from Matsuura Aya and a new single from Morning Musume.

Awesome, huh? 😀

So, we’ve been lucky enough to have been graced with three previews from Matsuura Aya’s new album Click you Link me and both the A and B side of Morning Musume’s “Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game.” Lets check them out!

“The Difference”

I’m really torn about this one. On one hand, I really love the style, but on the other hand, I don’t actually really like the song itself. The long English spoken verse in the middle seems really out of place compared to Aya’s voice, and I think it really ruins the flow of the song. I do think that this song could be pretty great live, and I do look forward to seeing that version of it.

Also, can you believe that this is a cover of Clyde Stubblefield? It really is. Try clicking on “The Walking Band,” they have their titles mixed up for some reason.

“Yokohama Rondo”

This appears to be a much more traditional style ballad that we by now should be pretty used to be seeing from her. Still, one cannot deny how beautiful her voice sounds here, so you certainly cannot fault the song for that.

Also, pay close attention to the little video they made for it’s promotion. It’s really quite simple, but darn, I really like it. It’s darn gorgeous. I don’t think you could ever pass it off as a “ready for TV” PV, but for its purposes to promote the song on Youtube, I think they did a magnificent job. Certainly better than what they did for “The Difference” (if you didn’t see it, look closely at the people’s faces in that one).

“only one”

I like how restrained the instruments are here, it really lets her voice shine through as the star of the song. It seems to have a very “soothing” tone to it, but otherwise, I can’t really say all that much about it.



“Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game”

I had actually started writing this post a couple of days ago, before this PV had even become available, so it might be a bit of a stretch to call this a “preview” anymore. Still, it’d be silly not to cover the full song when you have it available to you, eh?

So, to basically summarize my feelings toward this song: FUZZING AWESOME. I’m seriously racking my brain trying to figure out just why this song appeals to me so much, but I just can’t put my finger on it. I like the beat, it as it seems to be unique, but even then it seems reminiscent of “Kimagure Princess” and even features general pauses like in “Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai.” Still, I would have to say that all those elements are brought together to a much greater overall effect here.

Also, those general pauses? I love them. They seem to give the song a real sense of “attitude.”

I must say I also really like the PV. There are a decent amount of different sets, and surprisingly the “black pillow room” is actually kind of neat. The only thing I’m not a huge fan of are the girls’ monochrome dresses. They just look a bit silly to me. I’ll probably cap this and post about it again once a higher quality version becomes available, so look forward to that!

“Aisaresugiru Koto wa nai no yo”

As I imagine you could have told from the picture in the video, this preview is from the Rival Survival Concert Tour. I must say I also rather like this song. It’s very fast and very aggressive. The line distribution here also seems a lot more fair than “Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game,” which is heavily Ai and Reina biased, but it lacks a lot of the originality of “Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game” as well. As a B-side “Aisaresugiru Koto wa nai no yo” seems to complement its A-side rather well in keeping up with it’s rather aggressive pacing. I really look forward to actually hearing the studio version of this song and seeing how it compares to this live rendition.