Friday, 30 November 2012

[PV REVIEW] Go for a drive in the snow with GACKT!

All opinion are my own and, if you an issue, keep it to yourself~ Otherwise, I will murder you. Or something to that effect.
GACKT - WHITE LOVERS ~Shiawase na Toki~
If you don't see how beautiful this man, then, I can only assume that you've had your eyes gauged out at some point in this past. That, or you've got some kind of horrendous eye infection. Or you've just got no taste, whatever -coughs-
Right, so, I was stunned when I first saw this video. Okay, it's not exactly anything special in the grand scheme of things but it was still really, really nice. You have to realise that all we've gotten from GACKT, regarding (non-YFCz) PVs, since last July is a bunch of animated shots, a one-shot PV of GACKT walking through the city ('m not bashig, I love that vid), him sitting around in armour whiel some video game clips are played and a rehash of an existing PV. I've enjoyed all his PVs in that time (okay, no, UNTIL THE LAST DAY was not a good PV, sorry - thank god for the song itself!!), but, this, this is much better! It's a new and totally endearing PV - I don't know how to tell you how pleased and excited I was when I saw the video. It's the best GACKT PV since Stay the Ride Alive, which was released nearly three years ago now (the single came out on New Year's Day, '10, but the PV came out mid-December '09). Take that into account and, now, imagine how happy this must make me. Seriously, the end of this year has been absolutely amazing, GACKT-wise! He's finally getting back into the flow of things and doing what he does best.
He's back. He's brilliant. Rejoice!
All that aside, let's focus on the actual video. The video, people, the video!
The main driving (pun not intended) point of the video seems to be GACKT going for a ride in his big-ass, fancy car in a dark winter's night. During his drive, he begins to reminisce about his love. So, sadness, separation, cars, lots of dark blue-ish colours and pretty lights - typical GACKTy stuff, only, this time, nobody dies! As far as I know, anyway. The woman in the video could be dead and that's why he's thinking of her. But, she's also in a non-flashback scene. But she is just standing there in the snow, looking wistful. Uh. I don't know. Let's just say that...mystery is a typical asset of a GACKT video, too? Over-analysation can come later, anyway. We're focusing on the basics right now.
This video is hardly appealing based on budget and production alone, though, as is the way with all things, money doesn't always make it. I've seen enough shitty Hollywood films and high-budget music videos that lack any substance whatsoever to know that. Now, I'm not saying it's low-budget or that the production is bad, but, rather, granted you're the kind of person who's convinced that all music videos have to be big and flashy and not much else, this may not be your thing. This video doesn't have much going for it in terms of special effects, as in there aren't too mnay of them. Of course, special effects aren't always necessary in some cases and this is one such case. I mean, there are still obvious special effects being used here but they're mostly used to indicate flashback scenes or, rather, GACKT's memories. They're nothing too extravagant, either, juts a few lightening and colouring filters to give them that kind of distant yet fond feel. It's a typical look for flashbacks, isn't it? There's a kind of warmth and coldness in these doesn't make sense in words but if you watch the PV itself you might just get what I mean. Anyway, the warmness kind of gives that fond feeling, a pure love kinda thing, while the coldness shows the distance, as it's something far away and out of reach. Something like that. And...well, I don't know how real that snow is.
Actually, on that note, the colour schemes in this video are very effective. What this video lacks in flashy appeal it definitely more than makes up for it with the more subtle little touches. Who cares how fancy it is or how many scene changes there are when you have a video with such sweet little touches that the mood of the entire thing is so clear just like that? There seems to be an over-ruling blue theme to this video, which, I think, really emphasises that wintery look the video's clearly trying to go for. Of course, blue is also a colour most associated with, as far as emotions are concerned, sadness. Now, this is a melancholic GACKT video - sadness is key. That kind of pained feeling of loss is quite strong in this video. On top of that, it's also a darker blue - darker colour schemes are pretty common in GACKT videos, granted they aren'tm one of his more upbeat songs (though, that being said, he has plenty of more emotional tracks with lighter coloured PVs). Darker colours are also a really good way to symbolise sadness - darkness isn't happy, after all, right?
What I think is really cute about the flashback scenes, though, is how happy some of them are. GACKT (or his character, whatever, we'll just call him GACKT for simplicity's sake, all right?)'s clearly trying to remember the more pleasant times, the happiest times. I also like how he doesn't appear in any of the flashbacks, and the way they're filmed. Like that, you really get the feeling that this is what he remembers seeing through his own eyes. The close-ups of the girl really get this feeling across, too. And, she has a really pretty smile, so I just end up being all like 'Aww, look how happy she is, aww, look how nice, aww'. Whoever she is, she does those scenes awesomely, so kudos to her.
However, I'm particularly drawn to the car scenes. Okay, no, they're most of the video, I know, scratch that. I'm drawn specifically to the car scenes that aren't in a bloody tunnel. That first tunnel actually pissed me off just because it was way too long. But, that was only because I was paying too much attention to it, stupid long tunnel. Aside from that, the tunnels were fine. However, I'm a total sucker for that kind of cityscape at night kind of look. The bridge he drove over, too - so gorgeous. The lights it was casting on the windscreen were beautiful. Actually, that one scene is probably my favourite in the whole video, as I was pretty stunned by the way the reflection of the lights were sliding across the windscreen as the pillars they were lighting disappeared into the distance. And the snow falling, too. Unf. And GACKT driving that very car, too. Unf. To be honest, a lot of why I'm so drawn to this scene, aside from the cityscape/nightscape thing, is that...I don't know, I just think things like that are really beautiful. I've always loved it on long car trips when you get to points like that and the lights are just bending and twisting inside the car while you sit there. The world is dark and light at the same time and I find it fascinating. I'm a fool for a light/dark contrast, I admit it. Beautiful.
Though, when I'm going through a tunnel in a car, I really love that, too. I'm really not interested in cars, so, when I first sar how car-orientated the video was going to be, I was a little unsure, but, in the end, all the video did was remind me of my favourite parts of long car journeys. This is sort of a personal attraction more than anything, to tell the truth, but it really made the video for me. To me, this is an absolutely gorgeous video, GACKT or no GACKT.
Now, onto the plot analysation~!
As I said before, I'm not actually sure what the backstory of this PV is. But, that's common in GACKT's PVs. I don't think it's poor direction, though - it leaves you to write the story yourself, just a little. Interpret in your own way. Something like that? Regardless, I personally love the enigmatic feel to his videos. But, now, here's the thing, I'm pretty sure the video would make a little more sense if you took the lyrics into consideration. Now, I don't speak Japanese (I only know some basic stuff, as far as vocabulary goes), and I'm at school and everything's blocked, so I can't provide any translations other than the horrendous mess with which Google Translate has kindly provided me. Having given the contorted English translation a look, it seems like the love interest in this video did, in fact, die as I had guessed. Okay, there's no specific evidence that it's the case, but, based on the lyrics, that's the idea I get. The line 'Your warmth disappears, Embraced by snow, Ah, leaving, leaving only memories' gives off that feel doesn't it. After all, if she's leaving and the warm is disappearing...well, death would be the most obvious conclusion, I feel. Besides, this song seems to be a heartfelt farewell and, if tis does in fact tie in with the video, why would she be crying if she had chosen to leave him? Well, there are many reasons, but I think it all makes the most sense if she's dead. It also explains all the lonely reminscing. It's a really beautiful video if you consider that. And,  granted my theory is true, I really like how they don't dwell on it, as such. They don't play the obvious cards and give you explicit proof of any death. A lot of music videos do that and it's a bit clichéd, I feel. However, the way this video is presented, there's definitely a heartrending feeling to it. Actually, suddenly, my appreciation for this video has increased quite a bit. Kudos to the video director. After all, I love sentimental thing like this. They're emotional and tragic without being mushy. For the record, I don't do well with mush. And certainly not fluff.
Of course, we'll have to look at the song itself. I think we've already established that I like the story that the lyrics are conveying. But, really, long-running snow metaphor? Yes, please. I like snow metaphors - it's lame but true. Seriously, it can signify a kind of delicateness but, it can be cold and piercing, too. Here, GACKT compares snow to tears a lot, too. I like GACKT's imagery in his songs, it's something he's really good at. It contributes quite a lot to my love of his lyric-writing. The melody of this song is really good and the arrangement is flawless. It's very reminscent of much older GACKT songs, but with a hint of his newer styles as well. What a fusion! Also, as always, the emotion conveyed in his voice...oh, it gets me everytime. I mean, it's one thing that he can sing beautifully (like, I'm not even being biased, he is a really good vocalist), but the emotion he conveys is unnaturally powerful. He's a truly fantastic musician. He never disappoints and, oh god, this is one of the best things he's produced these last two years. Absolutely brilliant. And I'm maybe a little bit biased. But, I have reasons. Actually, no! I just gave you reasons as to why I should be biased so why am I implying it's bad to be biased. Well, ignoring that, this is a truly fantastic song and, granted it's your kind of thing, I'd definitely recommend it, PV and all!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Ultimate Battle - Momoko vs Momochi

All opinions are my own. Please respect that. If you have Allodoxaphobia or something, then, why the hell are you reading ablog based on opinions, hm? Uh...anyway, my point opinion is mine and your opinion is your's. Obviously, our opinions will clash. I'm fine with my opinions being challenged, as long as it's in a civilised manner.
You don't like 'Momochi'? Yurushite nyan!
So, if there's one thing that any H!P fan knows, it's that 'Momochi' seems to be, generally, hated. However, what amuses me is that people don't seem to realise that 'Momochi' isn't real - she's a character, an enhanced version of Momoko. I wonder if anyone has noticed that, if anyone complains about Sayumi's based on her 'ichiban kawaii' act, they will blow a proper gasket trying to prove to you that it's all put on for the sake of entertainment, but, when the same accusations are made of our Pinky Queen, no-one appears to be nearly as quick to jump to her defense. Why that is, I'm not entirely sure but, regardless of the reason, here I stand, in protection of Momoko', maybe? Well, surely, you get my point.

Please love me, nyan~!
I believe it's basic knowledge that Sayumi's stint as the (self-proclamied) cutest girl in MoMusu, if not the world (though, isn't this all opinion? I find Reina cuter than Sayu, to be perfectly honest - she kind of reminds me of a cat at times and I'm extremely biased towards cats, and, she also has a kind of dainty, pixie look going for her) is all put on - some people believe that it's a little more than that seeing as it's been her default character since she joined the group (once she got past being the Tetris master, seeing as the appeal of that can only draw people in for so long), while others believe it's her own personal attempt to raise her self-esteem, due to the fact she didn't have many friends at school. Whatever the reason for it is, I don't really care, it's not my business, but, regardless, it's being used to her advantage as a selling point and nearly everyone seems to be aware of that by now. However, people are still accusing of Momoko of being annoying and vain. Is it because she's had less time for people to get used to the whole act? But, then, she hasn't even been 'Momochi' for her whole career. In fact, she's not even 'Momochi' all the time, which is something that makes her stand out from Sayu. If anything, the fact that she does make clear switches between these two personalities should make it more obvious that Momoko and Momochi are, technically, different people.

Momoko without the Momochi look. Face it, she looks far less creepy and somewhat endearing, too~

You have to consider that Momochi has actually done great things for Berryz Koubou, and Hello!Project in general. She's definitely brought attention to them, anyway. The 'Momochi' character makes for great telly, face it, and producers are aware of this. Why do you think Momoko's been getting so many TV shows lately? Viewers will eat the constant slapstick, sarcasm and tsukkomi-boke Momochi allows and provides right up, that's what the producers have come to realise. The moments where you can see her inner-Momoko slipping in through the cracks when Momochi is insulted or repremanded is also amusing, I find. I mean, this is an undeniable truth - do you see any other H!P members appearing as guests on VS Arashi, one of the (many) hugely popular show hosted by, y'know, only the most popular boyband Japan has ever seen? And just once! Twice, at least! So many people want to see H!P become more relevant in the world of J-Pop, particularly the groups that aren't MoMusu, seeing as theyre already a group destinied to go down in history, pretty much. Then, why, tell me, do they hate Momoko for her Momochi character? I mean, I get that they hate Momochi, but, why Momoko? Unless they disliked Momoko herself already, before the Momochi thing properly came about. That's fair enough.

Momo on VS Arashi - sure, I wanted a shot with her actually anywhere near Arashi, but the school's filtering system screwed that one up.

Though, I understand fully what the stigma towards the Momochi character is about - for a while, I wasn't too fond of it, but, now, I don't entirely care either way, granted I still get me some Momoko on the side. So, what's the deal with Momochi? Well, most people I've talked to about it find her annoying, creepy or both. She's got that weird, kind of forced smile and that squeaky-beyond-all-reason voice - the latter being an issue in that some people, who don't care enough about Momoko to pay her any attention yet bash her regardless, appear to have decided that this is her natural voice. Again, and I can't stress this enough, it's an act! Of course, there are some who do appreciate this but hate that squeaky voice because they find it irritating. Honestly, I think idol fans would be used to this by now. And, besides, at least you know it's meant to sound like it's put on. I'd prefer that to any of those god-awful idols who speak in soft and squeaky voices that are clearly fake without any kind of personality trait to pick it up. Of course, some people do just have squeaky voices but you can normally tell which ones are faking - they often speak in voices that only an awful fetish-tastic anime girl would have. On that note, the fact that Momoko's doing it as part of Momochi is a lot more appealing than what I just mentioned, seeing as Momochi's meant to be kind of annoying and not desirable or sexually enticing.

Okay, I admit, when she pulls things like this, I could see why people would find her a little creepy

Of course, a lot of the hate for Momochi appears to be directed specifically at her pigtails - why are they called pigtails anyway? I mean, just in general, pigs don't have two tails? To be honest, Momochi's pigtails look more like the tail of pony than any ponytail she's ever worn. That aside, the overwhelming majority of the H!P fandom, myself admittedly included, are bored to tears of seeing those bloody pigtails. Whether you thought they were kinda cute at first, or you hated them with a passion from the get-go, you're probably sick of them by now. Though, she very, very rarely wears her hair like that for Buono! - in fact, the Momochi act doesn't even touch Buono!, thankfully. As much as I love the girl, I want a break from the Momochi thing, too! Of course, she keeps up with the constant claims that she's the cutest but it's all clearly in good humour. The pigtails are a little scary, in their own right, in that they don't move. They're solid or something! Well, they move sometimes, I'm exaggerating, but, really, just watch the Be Genki! Naseba Naru video (which was, on a separate note, filmed in Minato 21, Yokohama, which explains why I thought the set was so pretty Yokohama, it's gorgeous).

My pigtails creep you out? Yurushite Nyan!
I swear, the Yurushite Nyan gag is pretty damn easy to catch onto. I won't lie - I do use this gag to piss my sister off. I don't blame Momo for using it so much, it's kinda fun.
I think one of the main issues with the whole Momochi thing is the obvious effect it has on her as a Berryz member. Now, I say Berryz member as, like I said, it doesn't really show up in the Buono! world. We were all sick of seeing her with the physics-defying pigtails and unnerving wide-eyed smile (eye-smiles are better on you, Momo!) in Berryz's PVs. Though, I'm sure the entire H!P fandom rejoiced when the pictures for their new single, WANT! were revealed, and, then again when the PV was dropped. No pigtails, no creepy smiles, nothing! Just 100% pure Momoko. The antics of Momochi were not able to taint this PV! I would even say that Momo looks the cutest she has in a long time in this PV. Yes, Momoko just showed Momochi how it was done. Yes, Momo just showed herself up.

Seriously, though, she looks lovely like this!! And purple suits her so well.
My personal belief is that they had her in the Momochi get-up for the last few singles, so that people who had seen her on TV could spot her easily. Maybe, if they had found her funny or entertaining, they'd become unwittingly interested in Berryz Koubou and, eventually, become a fan, however casual. But, since Momochi's been strutting her stuff for some time now, it's probably gotten to point where she's easily recognisable and distinct just on her own. Basically, as far as Berryz are concerned, Momochi's work is done. Though, I am in no way suggesting that Momochi will be taking the back seat. I imagine she'll remain on TV Screens, getting herself into embarrassing situations and confusing guests, for a good amount of time longer.

I have respect for Momoko, though. I'm honestly impressed by her ability to keep up the persona, but also switch to a different persona (unlike Sayumi, whom has, essentially, become her persona on camera). In this sense, she's a fantastic actor. On top of that, she's actually pretty talented. Sure, the Momochi voice distracts you from it, but she's a really good singer. When she sings in her lower, more natural voice, granted she's not doing that shouty thing she does, she sounds amazing. And, face it, regardless of what tone she's using, she's pitch-perfect. I still harbour much respect for Momoko, who was the person I admired greatly and wanted to be just like when I was between the ages of 12 and 14 (I'm currently 16, 17 on Saturday, so), and she's my favourite in current H!P (she's second overall - I can't deny the perfection that is Ai-cha, I apologise). I'd like to admit it, right now. I'm proud to claim that I am, in fact, an otomomochi!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Top 5 Korean → Japanese K-Pop Tracks

All opinions are my own, of course~ If you don't agree, then, well, meh, your problem. Don't make it mine ;D
And, here we have a lovely GIF of HyunJoong being a dork. Why? Because he's my favourite K-Pop artist ever yet he is in no way relevant to this article. He. Needs. To. Be. There.
So, any fan of K-Pop knows that it's customary for a Korean artist to test the Japanese waters by releasing a carbon-copy of one of their older songs, normally one of the more popular ones, only with, more often than not, shoddy Japanese. Some even go on to release more past their debut single, releasing about 3 or 4 carbon copy tracks before actually bringing out anything new and interesting. This process is the bane of many a K-Pop fan's life, too. However, from time to time, they come out with a remake that is actually listenable and, even more rarely, comes out better than the original! My god!
Okay, hugely sarcastic and critical tone aside, this post is dedicated to highlighting what I think is the very best of K-Pop's 'Japanese versions', basing it on pronunciation, how well the lyrics flow and how right it sounds.
Also, for simplicity's sake, I will be focussing only on A-Side tracks. And, also, only songs that were released separately from their Korean counterparts. Some are released together (all of BIGBANG's ALIVE songs, DBSK's Why? Keep Your Head Down and SHINee's Sherlock, for example).
So, let's get started~!

5. Shoujo Jidai - Genie

And Kanyon named this lot as S/mileage's leg rivals. Fat chance, Kanyon, their legs are in a different league.
Also, SooYoung is gorgeous. No arguments allowed.
Shoujo Jidai, Girls' Generation, SNSD, call them what you will, but I will be referring to them from her on out as SNSD (even though, in person, I normally call them Girls' Generation), for simplicity's sake. I'm too lazy for all those...ugh...words...
Anyway, I have to give kudos to the girls for finding their way into my heart with a remake of what is one of their biggest Korean tracks. Seriously, Tell Me Your Wish, more commonly known as 'Genie', was a huge hit back in Korean and became one of SNSD's most famous tracks, with a ton of dance moves that will go on in K-Pop dance history for evermore. Normally, when a group tries to tackle something like that, and for their debut Japanese single no less, it goes wrong. Terribly wrong. Okay, over-exaggeration there but it's difficult to make such an iconic song work when you completely change the worlds. To be honest, though, I always thought that, granted it was done right, Genie had the potential to work really well in Japanese. The lyrics flow perfectly and don't sound unnatural at all. It really does just sound like the original but in Japanese. Shame their second Japanese single didn't have the same success for me (Gee was a hot mess in Japanese, okay?)

4. KARA - Mister

Jumpin' jumpin' jumpin' now Jumpin' now - wait, wrong song.
Look at how cute Seungyeon is here, though!
Interestingly enough, Mister, despite not being a digital single or having a MV, was hugely popular in Korea, when it was performed alongside 'Wanna' as part of the promotions for the group's 2nd album, Revolution. The famed 'butt dance' played a pretty important role the track's popularity. Just over year later, the song was used as the girls' debut song in Japan with fantastic results. It seems the glorious 'butt dance' hit off with Japanese audiences just as well as it did on its home soil. The butt dance is loved by all, why deny it? And, honestly, this single landed, KARA have seen incredible success in Japan. Sure, they get #2 and #3s more often than they do #1s, but the #3 is still fanatastic. After all, MomoClo have yet to earn themselves a single #2 on the Oricon weekly, nevermind a #1 (and, seriously, based on sales numbers, MoMusu do better than MomoClo, generally), and there's absolutely no denying their popularity! As such, KARA's success cannot be ignored! Besides, not many Hallyu artists, aside from the obvious pair, BoA and Tohoshinki (or, DBSK, whatever works best for you), have managed to get #1s on the Oircon Weekly Chart.
Anyway, that aside, it's time to focus on the actual song. This version actually varies slightly from the Korean version in that the song's arrangement is slightly different and the verses are sung much higher - trying to pander to the Japanese audience, who are used to consuming singles by higher-pitched girlgroups, maybe? However, personally, I do prefer the Japanese version. It's cuter, I guess, and not just cause of the pitch. The lyrics are really cute and memorable, because of the simple syllables. The make-up of the Japanese language is nicely complimented by this song. Also, the fact they've included lyrics from the original version is really nice, too. The whole song's totally sweet but has a cool edge to it, as well. It's totally appealing. It's definitely one of the most memorable Korean → Japanese remakes, that's for sure.

3. BIGBANG - My Heaven

If you look can see people in TOP's glasses. Specular Reflection has failed you, Tabi!
My Heaven is the Japanese remake of an older BIGBANG song, from their 3rd mini-album, Stand Up. This track was actually called 'Heaven'. BIGBANG are probably the only K-Pop group I can think of, aside from KARA, of course, that decided to go with an album track as their debut, which I think was quite interesting. It was a way of showing what the group were actually like, without spending time on a new song which may or may not flop, and appealing to those who were already fans without churning out some remake of that one song everyone knows. I'm actually quite impressed that they didn't go ahead and just shove a remake of Lies in everyone's faces.
Now, I prefer this version to the Korean version but that's also probably because I heard this version first, and, as always, I prefer Japanese, but, the thing is, it's not any better than the Korean version. That is to say, they're really both as good as each other. But, thing is, it's such a good remake that it still has to be in here.
Everything about this remake just works. The lyrics are fantastic and still retain that soft yet catchy feel of the original. I love it when a remake captures the same feel as the original completely (though, I like it even better when the remake enhances it~).
This song is also very important to the VIPs, form what I gather. In their lives, this tends to be the song that's sung at encores, or just at the end of the concert, or whatever. The fans are invited to sing along and the performance really emphasises the bond BIGBANG have with their VIPs, which, I must say, is a particularly strong one.

2. RAINBOW - Mach

Surefire way to appeal to the Japanese market - dress up like Sexy Power Rangers (or Super Sentai, I suppose)?
Also, am I just biased or does JaeKyung look best in that outfit? Or is red just a more flattering colour? Who knows?
Mach never started out as a heavily promoted track with an MV - it was a Digital Single in its own right and it did get a few live performances on Korean music show though. When I first heard the Korean version of this song,  I really loved it. It sounded really slick and cool, I was immediately drawn to it. However, it didn't become one of my favourite RAINBOW songs. Okay, no, it was up there, but not quite high enough to get all that much attention from me. That being said, when I heard that their 2nd Japanese single was going to be Mach, I was ecstatic. It made me remember how much I had loved the song the first time I heard it. And, then, the PV landed and everything was perfect. Yes. The PV concept was seriously cool and the girls looked stunning! especially JaeKyung
However, an amazing PV and concept being given to a previously MV-less song is not enough for a song to become my 2nd favourite Korean → Japanese remake song. The Japanese lyrics really work with this song, more than I feel they did with the Korean. Like, in the Korean version, it still sounded really cool and, of course, it was still a fantastic song but the Japanese version just had that little bit extra. Just a little more oomph.
Actually, this was a seriously close 2nd place. But, since I'm a bigger fan of SHINee, I had to let bias win over this time round. It was the only option I had, promise!

Actually, this CD cover would make a seriously awesome poster!
Quite honestly, I'd take this version over the original any day. I seriously the Japanese language version of this song to the Korean one. In Korean, it's a nice song and I like it enough but I was never properly taken by it. However, when I first heard the Japanese version,  I instantly fell in love. Something about the Japanese version sounds slicker and cooler and, though I haven't got a clue what that something is, it makes all difference to me. I think it's really just down to the lyrics - the sharper sound of Japanese really works with this song. Like, seriously. It brought the song up. The flow of the Japanese language is more fitted to this song than the flow of the Korean language. The Korean version sounded, somehow, a little cheesier than the Japanese vesion which, in turn, sounded more powerful. Now, I do prefer the Japanese language, but I would like to stress that there is no bias on my part here as I think the Japanese version of Lucifer failed to do the original any justice whatsoever and that the lyrics in the remake were a mess, in terms of composition and flow. Furthermore, this version of JULIETTE has a much better line distribution than its Korean-language counterpart. The song started off as what seemed to be somewhat of a Jonghyun-fest, while this version is a lot fairer. Of course, there's still a lot of Jonghyun, regarding solo parts, but, here, a number of his parts were given to Taemin who had barely any lines at all in the original. Improvements all round~!

So, there ya have it. My Top 5 Korean → Japanese K-Pop Tracks. This was actually a pretty hard ranking to write up and, truthfully, the first 3 are all extremely close. Note that I didn't do it based on group-bias, though, since BIGBANG are actually my favourite group of the lot.
I'll just sum up what my Bottom 5 Korean → Japanese K-Pop Tracks would be, just because it's pretty easy to do so.
Secret's Madonna  and then all of T-ARA's Japanese singles thus far (i.e; excluding Sexy Love) -coughs-
Well, until next time~!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

[FILM REVIEW] Boxing, tragedy ((and plenty of shirtless Yamapi)) - it could only be 'Ashita no Joe'!

All opinions are my own, so-on, so-forth. Please remember that, in case of any Pi-ripping, I seriously love Pi and that he is also my 3rd favourite celebrity in the entire farking universe. Thank you~
Looking beauts there, Yamapi, looking beauts

Okay, so, this is my first proper film review, so, I apologise in advance if it turns out to be a ridiculous pile of shite.

Plot : 9/10

Characters : 8/10

Cinematography: 9/10

Humour : 8/10

Soundtrack : 9/10

Overall : 9/10

Manga!Drama! - wait, who are those other guys? They ain't in this film!

So, starting with the bare basics, Ashita no Joe (trans; Tomorrow’s Joe) is the 2011 live-action filmed adaption of Ikki Kajiwara and Chiba Tetsuya’s 70’s  boxing manga of the same name, known internationally as Rocky Joe or, quite simply, Joe. The famed manga series has also seen a televised anime adaption, an anime movie adaption, an older live action movie adaption, a Drama CD adaption and several video games based on it.



Plots? Drama? Dramatic Pi face? I think it all ties up

The plot follows titular character, Yabuki Joe, played in the movie by the fabulous (though…not necessarily in terms of acting, but I love the guy anyway) Yamashita Tomohisa, and the story of how he becomes a pro boxer. I know it’s a review and all, but I’d rather not give away the entire story. Besides, with the tangents I’m prone to going off on, that’d take way too long. Well, basically, after a street fight, Joe ends up in prison and, while he’s there, he receives a postcard from some old guy, who had tried to convince Joe to let him train him up as a boxer, he had met during that street fight which has the basic details on how to jab on it. After losing a fight against Rikishi, a pro boxer who was also in the jail, Joe makes it his goal to become a pro boxer himself and one day defeat Rikishi in the ring. And, yes, I left out a chunk of details, but, that’s all tedious and unnecessary.

Now, sports films/manga/dramas/what have you are not usually my think but the One Pound Gospel drama (and the manga, too, I suppose) and the DREAM BOYS musicals have made me more tolerant of boxing-related stories. Honestly, for reasons I’m not actually quite sure of, I find it easier to take boxing-related stories a little more seriously, too, maybe? Well, OPG and DB aren’t exactly serious but, y’know. Actually, no, I can’t take DB seriously, even if I do love it, but let’s just look past that for now. But, this film I can definitely take seriously. I think that most sports stories are, at least to me, verging on a little cheesy (which is totally fine if that’s the point), a bit too obsessed with those typical manga themes of friendship, teamwork and ambition (not a bad thing if it’s done right, mind you) or they just bore me. However, this film has a really nice plot and a touching dark undertone which I love. The story moves at a pretty steady pace – there are a bunch of time jumps, but they’re good time jumps; in fact, it would have been boring if they’d dwelled on the pre-jump times any longer. So, yeah, simply put, it’s a very well-structured plot. There are a couple of sub-plots too but not so many that the story becomes convoluted and plain bloody stupid.

There appears to be the beginnings of a romantic sub-plot, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. However, this shouldn’t be seen as an example of poor writing, as it’s a seemingly one-sided romance without all that much bearing on the plot. As to that, though, I’m not sure why it was included. It’s a more important issue later in the manga, I believe, but that’s the 2nd arc which never appears in the movie. I guess it’s just character development, then, right?

The commendable structure of the film’s plot pretty much keeps you hooked until the end. The build-up to the climax is so skilfully executed that I almost literally ended up on the edge of my seat (or, uh, couch, if I’m honest) during the entire climax scene. However, there are parts of the film that are a little lacking in development. Though, very few films are perfect and I'm really not one to give a bad review based purely upon something's not being the best out there. It was an interesting story with enough in there, in my opinion, to keep you drawn to it. I do have to point out, though, it wasn't anywhere near the most emotive film I've seen.

Lots of characters! Only two of the properly visible ones are even important characters! Joe doesn't count as visibile cause I can't see his face! D<
So, personally, I thought the characters were great. I found that there were no characters I actually properly hated, at least out of the important ones, and, that's a rare occurance for me. I normally always hate someone! (Okay, exaggeration, but, most of the things where I don't hate anyone without good reason are really, really well-loved by me - this isn't as good, imo, but it says a lot about the film). But, what several of the characters lacked was depth. Joe was certainly the most developed character and Rikishi was probably second but there were a couple of characters in need of a little extra fleshing out.

Yabuki Joe
Ooft, though, Pi, ooft
For reasons other than being totally biased towards the actor playing him (now, I say 'actor' but, what I really mean, is guy - I'm not a fan of Pi for his acting, though, that isn't to say I hate his acting), Joe was my favourite for the entirety of the film. He's not a hugely likeable guy, but he has charm and a certain charisma. By a fair bit the most developed of the film's cast, Joe has a very clear and apparent personality. He's brash, acts without really thinking and sarcastic yet he's got a good heart in him and, as such, he's charming, so to speak. He's openly very anti-establishment, too, which was a typical characterisation seen in older manga and, in fact, is still a pretty apparent trait in many series. However, there were some weaker parts in his development, such as his sudden moral epiphany during a fight with Rikishi. Now, the development itself wasn't weak, as such, but I have a feeling that this was a scene taken straight from the manga. This scene would have worked beautifully in the manga format, but didn't quite translate into film so well, probably due to how suddenly it seemed to have come about. However, it's of note that this doesn't really take away from the film or Joe as a whole.

Rikishi Tooru

He's shirtless for no reason other than this being the only decent picture I could find - I don't like his bod~
For the most part, Rikishi was a great character. However, in some respects, he was bordering on the shallow. He didn't appear to have much of a history, though, in the case of this film, it clearly wasn't necessary anyway, so the fact that he wasn't some amazingly, beautifully deep character isn't really of much importance - sometimes, a limit to these things is okay, and, sometimes, it works better. He has obvious affections for Shiraki, though whether or not they're platonic is somewhat unclear. It's hard to tell if Rikishi loves her or if he just cares for as if she were her sister. Another area in which he lacks is his relationship with Joe. Though it's quite clear that Joe harbours feelings of hatred (earlier in the film) and admiration (later in the film), it's hard to tell how he feels about Joe in return. Well, not too hard, it's kind of obvious that there are feelings of respect and even a little bit of care in there, but he's still harder to read than Joe. However, his personality comes across really quite strongly. As a result, he becomes a rather likeable character, in fact.

Shiraki Yoko
Kimi wa Venus, Boku no Karina~ (lame-ass pun on Pi's song, Carina, btw)
Shiraki was an okay character, I suppose. Well, she was pretty good in that her personality was clear and she was pivotal in the movement of the plot, but she was a little flat, too. However, unlike Rikishi, she has a backstory which influences her actions in story considerably. What was pretty cool, though, was her response to Joe's telling her to stop getting involved in men's business (i.e; boxing, the sexist little shit). I can't remember exactly what she did, she blocked his punch or he blocked her's, I don't know but I remember the line that followed, at least - 'women have fists, too'. You go, Shiraki, even despite the fact that most of what you do seems to be stand in the background and worry, you go!

Tangei Danpe
What a silly 'tache, though
Danpe wasn't a hugely developed character either, but, again, he didn't need to be. In fact, he propelled most of the plot, so, in that sense, he's a brilliant character. He had a very clear personality and was vital to the story. And, despite his being a creepy-looking old man, I still found him likeable! He was actually quite an amusing character in some respects, acting as the Tsukkomi to Joe's occasional Boke.


So, I'm not expert in this field, so there's only so much I can say, but I think the cinematography in this film was pretty nice. It was far from the best but it certainly worked and was still really nice. There are variety of colour schemes in this film and they change according to scene so I won't be analysing them, but, I can say, that they certainly got the moods across well. The lighting in this film was also pretty bloody effective, especially during the boxing scenes. There was also continuous use of the slo-mo effect in this film, which may put some off, but, personally, I think it worked pretty well. Admittedly, the fact they were used mainly to emphasise face blows produced some pretty minging results, with peoples' skin and lips twisting and contorting, saliva and bloody visibly mingling and so on. But, granted you can stomach that, not that's it's really that hard to deal with at all, it's a really nice effect and adds a good sense of drama to those scenes!


Admittedly, the majority of the humour in this film came from Joe - like I said, he's sarcastic, he's brash, he says things without really considering what effect his words will have. As well as that, there some tiny, little things clearly added in by Yamapi himself that added to this (as much as many may deny that Pi has any ability to act, there's no way of denying that he's fabulous at the subtle, funny, character-building, adlibs, which is why I believe he was so good in Nobuta wo Produce - that was most of Akira's role, after all). There weren't any laugh-out-loud moments in the film, of course, it not being the kind of thing where such a thing would work, but, even in the more light-hearted scenes, there weren't many examples of memorable humour and wit. Regarding humour, it was good enough but a little fleshing out on the wit front would have been brilliant and would have really added to the film. Though, I won't deny it, there was a certain scene that amused me so much I had to watch it again, just to giggle - during one fight, Joe lowers his guards and begins to dodge blows, hopping about just a little before wiggling his hips, mockingly. The combination of that wiggling action and his facial expression was something that made me giggle, but it wasn't really an example of substantial humour but rather, an example of Pi's subtle, little details.'d probably be far less giggle-inducing if you weren't a Yamapi


The OST for this film was, majoritively, of a kind of...American-esque style. Very, well, American-rock. If you get what I mean. Like, not rock that is American. American-rock....if you've seen the film, you might get it...or if you've watched Yamapi's Route 66, or if you've listened to Yamapi's SHIVER (it's similar to that track's intro). Or, if you've played Sims 2 for the DS! Well, it's hard to explain, but there's that feeling of old American rock music to it. This kind of music isn't to my personal tastes but it works really well with the film, especially the streetfight scene at the start of the film. It really gives off the right mood - kind of rough, kind of harsh, but has the potential to be a little fun at the same time. Sort of like Joe himself, maybe?
However, I must say that the Credits Song is absolutely beautiful. The song is Utada Hikaru 'Show Me Love (Not A Dream)' and it's a really powerful song. I don't really follow Utada all that closely but I know all too well how respect an artist she is in Japan - it's not like I don't see why, anyway. I don't know why I don't follow her, I just don't but I appreciate that she has some absolutely fantastic songs. In fact, this song right here has the potential to be my favourite of her songs. Well, no, potential to be second favourite - Prisoner of Love (the theme song to drama, Last Friends) will always be my favourite track of her's.

The fabulous Utada - I would have preferred it if the ending were a Yamapi song, but, then, maybe that's too much Yamapi for one film that was meant to be more of an adaption of a manga classic than a film starring Yamapi

Overall Review

Definitely not up there as one of the best films I've ever seen nor is it up there as one of my favourites but, nonetheless,  it's a worthwhile watch. It's a good film, honestly, and watching it would be a good use of time. I'd recommended to anyone who was into this kind of film or was a Yamapi fan, though, I'm not sure who else it would appeal to. It has a certain charm to it that I think anyone can fully appreciate, though, so I'd probably still try and recommend it to anyone who seemed interested. If you're a Yamapi fan, like myself, I'd definitely say that this was worth the watch. There's many a nice Yamapi moment and he has plenty of screentime. In fact, in my opinion, this is one of his better acting roles. Now, I think exaggerated how over-rated he is as an actor, considering how many people bash his acting and, at the same time, I think it's exaggerated how bad he is as an actor. Think about, he can pull decent facial expressions, though he's probably more of a voice actor if anything. Or a comedy actor, granted he doesn't go too OTT like he seems to be doing in MONSTERS. As Nobuta wo Produce kindly proved, if he does the right thing, he's pretty good as a comedy actor. On top of that, you kind of have to be familiar with Yamapi to get what he's doing - sometimes the way he does things is just the way he does them as Yamapi. Of course, that doesn't say much about his acting as it kind of distracts from his attempts to create a character separate to himself. Granted you're the kind of person who can actually watching Yamapi act without cringing, for whatever reason, then, yeah, this film's definitely worth checking out, but you probably won't be missing out on all that much if you never watch it~.

And, to conclude, another poster, featuring the classic Pi!Glare

Monday, 19 November 2012

October Top 5

All opinions are my own, deal with it, ect
Since I'm on the school library's PC, I can't make an actual graphic, so, have some amusing GACKT instead
Okay, I admit it's a little late to be doing this now, but, it's something I've wanted to do for a while now. A ranking of my personal Top 5 single releases of the past month, that is. For simplicity's sake, I'm limiting it to Japanese releases this time. I'll probably add K-Pop in next time, when I actually work out what I'm doing...maybe something else will make its way in there too? Doubtful, but, who knows?
5 . Sexy Zone - Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu
It looks like a Christmas card, cuuuuute!
Okay, so, I'm not huge on Sexy Zone - I like their debut single a lot but Lady Diamond didn't work for me at all - okay, no, I can listen to it quite happily but it didn't draw me to them as a group. They have some nice B-sides, though, and I realise I should pay them a little more attention.
Anyway, I've only listened to the A-Side once (need to check out those B-Sides) but it still deserves a place on this ranking. The reasons I only gave it one listen and the reason for it appearing on this list are the same...or, rather, there's only real reason (okay, no, it's a nice song anyway) - it's a Christmas song. I love Christmas songs and J-Pop artists handle Christmas songs so well! Trust me, this song will die of overplaying once December hits (I prefer not to get into the real Christmas mood until December - November's too early, you know, and, besides, my birthday's the 1st of Decmember, so I starting off the Christmas period with a celebration of my existence).
The A-side, despite its somewhat confusing title that had most people pretty stumpted when the single was announced (Was it a Summery song? A Christmas song? Neither? What?), is really fun and cute. And, yes, it's definitely a Christmas song, without a shadow of a doubt. The melody is Christmassy, the backtrack is Christmassy, it's all Christmassy. I especially love the use of church bells in the background - it's very reminiscent of old Christmas Carols. This is something often seen in British Christmas songs and, being British, that's what I grew up with. The fact that you hear these bells a lot in J-Pop, too, makes me feel quite nostalgic~! It's a cute song with a cute video!!

4. SHINee - Dazzling Girl

Now, Jjong, if you sit down, no-one will know you're tiny. Ignoring that you're still taller than a bunch of Japanese male idols.
When I said I'd keep to Japanese releases, I meant singles released in Japan on the Oricon charts, purely because it's easier to keep track of what was released this month in just one country and...well, South Korea don't seem to do singles very often. I wasn't just going to cut out K-Pop - It's a genre I love!
Regarding the A-Side, this is far from one of my favourite SHINee track - it's a cheesefest and there's nothing else to it. Well, cheese can be great. In this case, it's actually pretty good - I love the chorus and it's great to bounce around to. However, the verses are, at least for me, far less memorable. The chorus is ridiculously catchy and it took me about two listens of the short CM preview alone to have the tune memorised yet, until only recently, I couldn't remember the rest of the song past that. This song only loses out to me for that reason - even though it has a brilliant choruses, it simply lacks everywhere else. However, as I'm growing to know the song more, I'm simulataneously growing to love it. It is not anywhere near being a favourite SHINee track of mine, though.

The B-Side, Run With Me, is a beautiful track. Truthfully, I've listened to it less than Dazzling Girl, but it was a treat for the ears, I will tell you that. It's a sweet and emotional ballad song, with a fast-paced tempo and laid-back melody, a combination I love. At first, it sounds like nothing more than your painfully generic K-Pop boyband ballad, but, then, the verse kicks in and it all goes uphill from there. When I first heard this, I was going home late at night by car and it totally fit that environment, with the windows being all heavily condenced and the orange glow of the streetlights reflecting against the raindrops - okay, all that sounded well naff, but it fit perfectly with the mood created by the song. I love how the verse builds up to the chorus, and though the chorus shares melodies with that cheesey thing at the start, the choruses actually sounds really cool and powerful. This song also gets lots and lots of bonus points for all of Minho's singing lines - he does sing in Dazzling Girl, I know, but he gets more solos in this song than normal. I really love Minho's voice, it's actually my 3rd favourite voice in SHINee. His rap is awesome, too. Key's last solo is so powerful and strong - I needed to say it. And, of course, this song is rounded off fantastically by the fabulous Taemin, my SHINee bias (for the record, Jongyun is second on both the bias list and the favourite list, with Taemin topping both - Jjong can sing better but I prefer Taeminnie's voice - Also, these two lists are essentially the same but the bias list has Onew 4th and Key 5th while the voice list has them both tied for 4th).
3. Weather Girls - Koi no Tenki Yohou

Pretty in pink! Like, seriously, they're so pretty! And, hey, UFP, this is how you make your group look cute yet also cool. Also, hey, UFP, THIS IS HOW YOUR FARKING DO A DECENT GRAPHIC EDIT!
 Here we have the debut single of T-Pop girlgroup, Weather Girls - and I don't mean Japanese debut, like with all those K-Pop groups lately but, rather, actual musical debut. Regardless of that, I believe that they are actually, in fact, the first Taiwanese girlgroup to debut in Japan. Go them, paving the way for Taiwanese music in a way that UFP was never able to! Prior to the release of this single, these girls were just, quite literally, weather girls. Weather Girls started out reporting weather on Taiwanese weather and there were actually a huge number of girls involved, all revolving according to a wota, however, for the Japanese debut, in order to make things a lot less complicated, they limited the group to seven girls - one for each day of the week. They weren't even pop idols in Taiwan...just weather girls. Their weather reporting gig seriously wasn't for me - I'm not one for watching a bunch of girls in cosplay reporting the weather in overly-cutified voices and, often, broken English, but that's just me. The sexualisation of weather reporters has always eluded me, is all.
However, them as a pop group...that is something I can latch on to easily. The reason this song found its way on to this ranking...well, there isn't one straight reason, of course! In this case, as opposed to the weather reporting thing, the whole cute yet also 'sexy' image appeals to me a lot and, probably, because this 'sexy' is less blunt and more...well, it seems like a subtle kind of maturity, which is blended quite sweetly with a cutesy image. It's the balance I love. They're mature but not so much that they're just sexualised beyond all belief and they're cute but not so much that I end up with toothache. The girls make the PV extremely watchable - they have so much charisma and chemistry with the camera! And, with little doubt that'd it be thanks to their previous occupation, they handle close-ups so well. These girls are the queens of facial expressions.
On top of all that, the song is horrendously (and, I promise you, I mean that in the nicest of ways) catchy. It gets stuck in your head so easily - I listen to song once every so often and it finds itself stuck in my mind for ages after.
The dance is also eye-catching and looks like fun! The girls' actual execution of the moves is sharp and looks somewhat effortless.
This is an amazingly promising debut single, I feel. I also think that, soon enough, these girls could potentially gain a lot of interest in their slick tying together of Taiwanese culture and clear influences from both Japanese and Korean pop music (the latter being a hit in Japan, the former...well, same thing, obviously).
2. Morning Musume - Wakuteka Take a chance

GIANT RIHO OF DOOM, STEALIN' UP ERIPON AND HARUNAN'S SPACE - screw you, graphic editor, screw you. This is pretty shoddily edited, too.

I won't dwell on this one so much, as I already did a pretty in-depth review of this single. I seriously adore this single. This, like the #1 single on this list, is, in my opinion, the respective artists's best single since late 2009. I also adored the number of coupling tracks and the line-ups for said coupling tracks. There were some interesting combinations and all the songs were absolutely brilliant, being some of the best B-Sides in some time - all of them. This is one of the very best overall singles, tracklist-wise, in Morning Musume history, I feel. Also, yay for UFP using promotion and money to make things look, and sound, better! Most of all, that A-Side is farking love.
1. GACKT - 白露 -HAKURO-

Hello there, Baby Setsugekka

 Okay, the title needed to be in Japanese. Hakuro -HAKURO- is a stupid looking romanisation, and I like shoving in hyphens wherever possible, so, it had to be this way if you're wondering why...Hyphen = KAT-TUN fan, so, yeah).
Anyway, that aside, I doubt it's of any surprise to anyone that the GACKT single was the one to win me over - there are probably more than enough hints that I like GACKT scattered around this blog, after all (though, there does seem to be a common misconception among people I know that I prefer Kame to GACKT - sure, I'm more obsessed with Kame, but I have more love for GACKT).
Truth be told, this is my favourite GACKT single, as a whole package with B-Side included, since Setsugekka -the end of silence- from back at the end of 2009, with my favourite A-side track since Stay the Ride Alive which was, in all honestly, released on New Year's Day 2010. So, basically, this is my favourite GACKT release in 3 years. And, why? It's the most GACKT-y, so to speak. All of GACKT's singles are quintesentially GACKT, of course, but, this one is especially so. And why do I say that? I'd say that this song features more of the typically-GACKT details that we see in many of his older songs -  softer verses contrasted with heavier choruses, OTT drama with tear-jerking potential, flutes and other instrumentals that can be used to give a uniquely Japanese undertone (i.e; a bit of Japanese folk in there), gorgeous falcetto lines contrasted with deep and powerful lower vocals, ect. If you know GACKT, you'll know what I mean.
Regarding the A-Side, I have but one criticism - the theme of the video/single cover. It's like Setsugekka 2.0! I did come to the conclusion that this may just indicates  a continuation of a specific storyline, as GACKT has done before with the Moon Saga (Moon, Crescent & Diabolos) and Rebirth & RE:BORN. It wouldn't be anything new to fans if that were the case, after all. As such, this lone criticism is extremely minor.
The B-Side, Jounetsu no Inazuma also more than makes up for this. This is also my favourite B-Side since Setsugekka's B-Side, 斬~ZAN~ (stylised as such for the same reasons as Hakuro was). So, basically, yes, this single is the best thing in 3 years. That's the simple truth. Not that I haven't loved all the releases since then, of course. But, the B-Side is amazing. The B-Side really matches up to the brilliance of the A-Side, while setting an entirely different mood and tone. It's a perfect combination because of the differences. A truly fantastic single through and through, and, I assure you, deserved the #1 spot on this ranking for reasons other than biased DEAR love.
So, that's all for now. Until next time that is~
How will the November results turn out, then? Will GACKT claim that #1 spot yet again or will The Monsters and their single which is already well-loved by me try to challenge him? Will DIY♡ dance their way into my heart, or will I be forced to bow down and kiss the feet of a certain Johnny's septet? (lamelamelamelame).
Check back at the end of November (or, more likely, the start of October) to find out! ♡♡

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Top 7 Favourite Amazing Lyrics!

Yes, there's lots of piss-ripping and sarcasm, but I'm just joking around so don't get pissed
  1. 'If I died, would you come to my funeral? Would you cry?'
  2. 'Jidou hanbaiki kankoohi, atatakai no kau machigae tsumetai, demo futari atataka' 
  3. 'The wise men follow the star, the way I follow my heart' 
  4. 'looking for my heart, couldn't find it on eBay'
  5. 'You're my Kryptonite'
  6. 'Ai wa shinpuru na karee raisu mitai da ne?'
1. JLS - Beat Again
The sheer emotion with which this line is sung is what really gets me. It's so powerful and meaningful. It's like JB (the JLS member, not Bieber, not Im Jae Bum) himself said - these are beautiful and deep lyrics...or something. I'm sorry, but this line just makes me laugh a little everytime. It just sounds so daft. The continued death metaphor in this song doesn't quite work for me. Now, I'm not bashing JLS as a whole here - I secretly like that 'That's Where I'm Coming From' song. And there was another song I secretly like, but I only heard it like once because my sister barely ever plays that one.
2. ℃-ute - Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku
This line roughly translates as 'I got some canned coffee from the vending machine. I had planned for it to be warm, but, no, it was cold. However, together, we're both warm' (I took some liberties in the translation here so it made a little more sense). Wow. Touching stuff there, Tsunku. Nothing totally inane there, not at all. Okay, I like this song, despite being one of the only people who seemed to watch the PV without getting emotional (That PV was boring! These people clearly haven't been watching enough tear-jerking dramas about impossible and trouble romances! tattahitotsunokoi;A;), but this line is just stupid. The song isn't actually very emotional, to be honest, despite how it sounds. Okay, I thought the PV was about a break-up and I was like 'Oh, okay, that's kind of sad, but no-one's crying and there's no real drama, this isn't emotional', but then I was told it wasn't a break-up at all, they were just using different methods of transport in order to get home. Okay, no, that's not emotional in the least. I don't even feel the pain of any 'character' involved in this song or video. And that's what the song's about, too, by the way. It's a nice song, but it's not as sad as it sounds like it should be and this specific line has no emotional quality to it whatsoever.
3. Justin Bieber - Mistletoe
Okay, so I'm not a person who mindlessly hates Justin Bieber on the basis that he's Justin Bieber. I just hate most of songs and the ones I don't hate, I tolerate at best. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but this specific song is probably my least favourite of every single thing he's released. It's so naff and cheesey - I've never been fond of American Christmas songs (I know he's Canadian, but it's an American Christmas song anyway, if you get me - it was produced by Americans, most likely). British and J-Pop Christmas songs are more to my tastes, thank you. However, this specific line is just awful. I can't even tell what it's supposed to mean. Is that supposed to be powerful and touching? It just sounds like they were trying to fit in Christmassy phrases wherever they could. That's not how Christmas songs work, you know. It's about the mood, NOT SHOVING IN NATIVITY FIGURES IN PLACES WHERE IT MAKES NO SENSE TO.
Another JLS track, then (sorry, guys). But, really, Oritsé, didn't you know it's illegal to sell organs on eBay? (Ofufu, I'm hilarious...?)
But, really, okay, I get that it's meant to show that his hard is completely lost and so lost, in fact, that he can't find it on that one place online where you can find absolutely anything (which is a total myth, by the way, or else I'd have a KAT-TUN T-Shirt by now) sounds dumb. It doesn't fit the rest of the song and it's such a clumsily applied reference. There are so many other words or phrases that could have been used here and, even if they ended up sounding clichéd, at least they wouldn't sound daft.
5. One Direction - One Thing
Speaking of clumsily applied references...Yep, this is the third one, now. Again, I totally get the meaning of the line - the person being referred to is the only thing that can take the song's speaker down and truly weaken him - but it just sounds really quite silly. It's hard to try and accept the emotional value intended for these lines when you're busy trying to get past that there's a bloody Superman reference shoved in for absolutely no reason. I'm really sure something else could have been used, really?
6. NEWS - Ai wa Simple na Curry Rice
This lines translates as 'Love is like a simple curry rice, right?'
Now, NEWS, as much as I've never been in a relationship, I'm quite sure love probably isn't very much like that at all. In this case...I can't try and understand the intended emotional value because I'm just confused. But, at least, unlike the last three, this can get away with just being kind of cute and silly and I take it as such. It's a nice song, but the whole concept of the song baffles me slightly. But, the important thing is that I can listen to it without laughing at it. Granted, I don't know what the rest of the song's about, so, maybe it would make far more sense if I did know?
7. KAT-TUN - Never Again
More than anything, this is just some quality Engrish from Koki. It's not a bad line as such, since I can just ignore it since it's practically nonsense. But, really, I've always wondered what Koki by this? I can't tell if the line is referring to being frustrated as someone, or it's some kind of really weird way to describe having sex, or what. Oh well, I guess there are some things we'll never know.
Eheheh, this was just me filling space while I finish off another Top 5 Ranking post and a film review, both of which should be up soon! This came into my head and, somehow, I had to write it. It's just dumb, though, but oh well.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] From Smart to Colourful, what a character change!

aka, wow, what a cringe-worthy title there, Phob
As always, all opinions are my own. Not your's. Don't get upset if we don't agree on something.
It's a cruddy gradient-effect background, but I like the concept. I even don't mind that Riho's hogging centre-position again. But that's cause I like the shade of read she's wearing.
Okay, so, I'm a little late in reviewing this, but I have been planning to since it was released and have actually put off listening to most tracks on the album so I could listen to it while I reviewed. I had planned to ignore the whole album until the review, but I'm not the best at resisting temptation.
1. One・Two・Three
So, it opens with a single. This song is Jedward - overly-autotuned and either or loved by hated by all those who listen to it. I actually do like this song but I don't really want to review in too much detail. It's catchy, yes, and the lyrics are really easy to learn. I don't hate autotune, either, but there's a limit. Riho and autotune don't work as well as UFP thinks, basically. If you're someone who actually sounds good without autotune (which Riho does, in my opinion, as long as she's not singing live - she gets a bit shouty), you have to sound good with autotune, or else it seems pointless. Reina works it, in my opinion. Okay, okay, no, Riho doesn't sound bad with autotune at all, but her adlibs don't sound cool, basically. Maybe she just sounds strained and autotune can't fix it? I don't know. Whatever. Good song. Yep.
2. What's Up? ~Ai wa Dou na no you~
This is a really fun song, and parts of the backtrack remind me of Spyro BGM - something that is never lost on me. The shouty parts bother me, but only cause the weird whisper-talky voice is weird. I don't like soft, little voices like that, but that's just me. Also. Um. The rap. It's not the worst, but it's hardly commendable. Beats Miya in Loving You Too Much, though. Okay, it can pass, cause it's cute. If only Reina's rhythm was better, cause the Yankee voice works so well for rap. The line distribution is less horrendous, too. Not perfect, but that's asking far too much. I love the song's melodies, they're really catchy. And the instrumental break is great. It's so dramatic...seems like it could be used for some kind of montage.
Another plus point for this song is that I could totally imagine a PV for it. Okay, so, sometimes, I like to make my own PVs in my head and I really could for this song. For me, that's a good thing. It enhances the listening experience.
3. Be Alive
This is, quite possibly, one of the best Morning Musume ballads in a long time. It's definitely my favourite in some time, if not my hands-down favourite. This is another song where I could really imagine a PV for it, so, bonus points!
The melody and the mood of this song are perfect. I think that's why it's one of my favourite ballads. It has the right elements that make me like a ballad. The melancholic yet hopeful mood. I love that.
Another thing that really draws me to this song is the way that it's slow and mellow at first but it then picks up without effecting the overall mood any. It's really beautiful and part of me is angry that this wasn't a single. Ballads can be singles, after all! The instruments in the back remind me of Seishun Collection - this song basically has everything that Seishun Collection lacked, though, what it lacks in comparison is the powerful, lower vocals the group had at that point. Though, that being said, those vocals clearly aren't necessary because this sounds amazing just as it is. Thank you, Lord Tsunku-boy!
4. Lalala no Pipipi Michishige Sayumi
So, on the last album, we had that one track that annoyed me (Suki da na Kimi ga), but it grew on me, to that extent, I will give this song a chance. Again, Sayu's voice is...not for me, but it works in this song, I guess. It's not a bad song, really, but I don't like it. It's annoying. But, I can listen to it. It's annoying but listenable, and distressingly catchy. But, random Sayu-falcetto note? No, thanks. All in all, it's a song I would only listen to every so often. I won't deny, though, that this is the perfect song for Sayu and it is a pretty cute song. But that cute is too bubble-gum, candy-floss, sugar and candy love hearts-y for me, if you get what I mean. It's too sweet sounding for my personal tastes. I love a cute song, but, it all depends. It's not bad but, for me, it's not great, either~

5. Dokka~n Cappricio
This song is really awesome - reminds me of OK YEAH! from the previous album, only better. The backtrack is more to my tastes - it's a little harder, if you get what I mean. The song has a darker feel. That isn't to say, though, that it's a dark song. It really isn't.
It's really catchy and the chorus is really easy to pick up on, especially the 'Sara ni Sexy~' lines and stuff~ Those reminds remind me slightly...of a dance-y version of Pink Lady's Nagisa no Sinbad.
What I love about this song is that it catches me straight from the beginning. I'm seriously drawn in by that opening instrumental. And the slightly lower vocals, as opposed to normal, draw me in, too. I seriously can't wait to see the live performances of this song. It would be amazing live, which was Tsunku's intention, right? It is the perfect song for a live performance, though.

6. The Matenrou Show
Right, another single track, then~ The poor second A-side that was never granted a real music video.
My first criticism of this song came to me the moment I heard it - it sounds a bit too much like it should be by Berryz. And not old-school Berryz, but Berryz as we know them now. The instrumental at the start sounds a lot like Shining Power, if you ask me. It's not a bad thing, I have to point out, but, it's also not a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I love Berryz and their songs, but I prefer the groups having their own sounds.
That aside, I do like this song a lot. I did say I love Berryz's songs, so, even if it bugged me slightly, I can't help but like this song. Also, the 'Ai no Arashi' lines are fun. But only cause...y'know...Arashi. Eheh.
The chorus is really fun, though~ I love the melody! And, I have to say, the dance looked really awesome, too.
Another criticism of this would be, though, the line distribution was especially atrocious. Only two members got lines. But, fortunately, I can actually listen to a song with bad line distributions and love them. It doesn't ruin the song for me (for example, I love KAT-TUN's Bokura no Machi de...hell, I even love C-ute's SHOCK).

7. Zero Kara Hajimaru Seishun
This is one of the songs I haven't heard before and I can say...this was unexpected. From the title, I was really expecting another cool song. But, this is nice, too.
The vocals sound really pretty, everyone sounds nice. Yes, Sayu too. Actually, yes, I'm verging on liking Sayu's voice here (NB : I like Sayu, just not her voice sometimes). Except, Daishi still sounds out of breath, bless her. Zukki sounds adorable and I'm still trying to work out why Kuduu and Eripon don't get more lines (I have recently developed strong love for Eripon's voice).
 What I love about the backtrack, though, at least in the verses, is that it sounds like Sims shopping music! I love that music.
And, oh, look, decent line distribution. I think a perfect line distribution is when there are obvious lead singers who get more lines yet everyone else still gets a decent amount of lines. Which seems to be the case in the song - if not, I was too busy typing this up to pay any attention.
The chorus is really pretty and sweet. It's a cute song and, if it had a PV, it would definitely be full of pastel colours...either an assortment of pinks and blues, or the member colours. Or both, depending on the scene! Oh! But, yeah, it's an adorable song.

8. Ren'ai Hunter
Another single, and the only track on the entire album to feature any members of my favourite gen, the fabulous 5th gen -sniffs-
Anyway, that aside. the actual song, yep.
I atcually loved this song from the moment I heard it but I love it less now. Maybe because everyone underestimated how hard it was to sing and made it the next single in nearly all of their pros? I hate singing this. The words are really fast which wouldn't be an issue if it only it weren't for how hard the rest of it is, at least at the chorus. Exactly the kind of song I end up screaming through, here. And, truth be told, I think I've heard line one or two actually good dub of this and a couple of mediocre ones. No offence intended there. It's just, I mean, it's a hard song. That, or I'm doing something wrong here. I sign harshly, not softly, so, yeah. Not that any of that's relevant. It just sort of ruined the song for me, in terms of excitement anyway.
Other than that, ignoring my dubbing mindset, this is a really awesome song. I like the whole dubstep thing going on. This is how J-Pop dance should sound. Definitely. Even if I prefer Wakuteka. Combine them and maybe you'll have a perfect Morning Musume song, I don't know? Though, perfection, as far as MoMusu's concerned, requires
I apologise for that whole review there, but, since this song is kind of...old news compared to the rest of the album, I thought I'd take the opportunity to rant~

9. Chikyuu ga Naiteiru
This is one of my favourite tracks of the album.
The start of this song reminds me slightly of 2NE1's I AM THE BEST. Just the little weedly bits...if you get what I mean. You get it, right? And then the main guitars kick in and it sounds like Spyro music again!! Every song that reminds even remotely of the Spyro OST is a win for me, as I said earlier. The whole backtrack of this song sounds that way, too. I love it!
The verses are fun, I love the weird note-draggy stuff. And it's very catchy (I say that too much), but it is. And, thumbs up to the song, because I like Sayu's solo lines! They suit her. And Reina sounds properly cool in this. I generally think that Reina is cool, but, she's got a lower voice here. Low-pitch!Reina is actual love, guys, just saying.
The chorus is really awesome. It's got a really cool feeling and it's...sort of dramatic? Like, it would totally be an awesome theme song for something. Lost of raised fists and stamping and stuff, I don't know. But I really like it.
Furthermore, I generally adore this paticular style of song, Spyro-similarities aside. Well done, song!

10. Namida Hitoshizuku Tanaka Reina
This song is possibly tied with Be Alive for my favourite track of the album. I never expected that my favourites would be the two balalds as Morning Musume ballads don't normally impress all that much. They're normally a bit bog-standard and soppy. But these two do everything right.
I love that they keep giving Reina ballads and more mature songs. She really sounds her best in these. All the doubts I've had regarding her voice have been totally cleared up both by this track and Futsuu no Shoujo A. She sounds really pretty here and she's brilliant at conveying sadness. The melody of this song really sticks, too. I swear, about 3 or 4 listens of this song and I've got the tune pretty much entirely memorised yet, somehow, I still can't quite remember the tune of Ai no Honoo's verses...
This is easily my favourite Reina solo, too. I love seeing this side of her. It really adds to the image I have of her being really cool. I prefer the cool and mature Reina to the cutesy and sweet Reina. Also, this song is perfect for that vibrato-thingy she has going on. I am too glad Reina got this song and it more than makes up for my annoyance regarding Sayu's solo.

11. Waratte!YOU Qkies & 10kies
This is is another track I haven't listened to before, so let's see how it goes~
It kind of reminds me a little of older Ayaya tracks, in a way. I think it's the trumpets. But, in general, it's very reminsicent of certain older H!P songs, such as Ayaya ones, like I said, and some older MoMusu songs, from around the time 6th Gen joined up until 4th Gen left. It's got that same kind of mood to it.
I must say, it's also quite nice to hear all the younger girls (aside from Riho - not saying it's not nice, rather, it's nothing new)' voices. They're all getting multiple lines, it's great!
To be honest, I was a tad worried they might get stuck with an overly cutesy song or a mature song. I wanted to see a new side of them, but, luckily, that's what this song does! It's a really fun song without being stupidly cutesy. Really, I'm officially sad that this doesn't have a PV. I could totally imagine it having a PV...something like The Bigaku, but with better outfits.
Also, Zukki sounds awesome in this, as does Haruka I love those two~

12. PyocoPyoco Ultra
The last track, and another single. So, it opens and ends on a single. To be honest, that never really takes my fancy. I want to start with a song that sets up the mood for the whole album, so it has to be a new song, right? As for the end...I don't know, I just prefer if it ends on something new, for that lasting impression, you know? But, that's just me.
This song's really cute, though. But, a tolerable kind of cute. Fun cute. Not sweet cute. Fun cute is my kind of cute. Not that other pissh that's so innocent and sweet that it's just unnerving. I'm cynical, I do apologise.
And, personally, I don't care that they're dressed as chickens! It's stupid but it's cute and it fits with the song!! STUPID CUTE IS GOOD, TOO! But, really, at first, it pissed me off because I thought it was some kind of sign that Morning Musume were going to quit being the cool group and become all cutesy - they already had S/mileage for that!! But, it turned out to be a one-off, so I don't really care anymore. Right, no, I never disliked the song, it was a nice song from the start. But, the whole idea of mood and stuff...yeah. Also, the way the fandom errupted bugged me. Personally, I think it was a slight over-reaction on the part of many people.
Calm yo' titties, people


 Overall, this is a really nice album. There's a similar feeling, though mood, tone, style, energy, ect. does vary greatly, throughout the entire thing. This album is a perfect representation of the current Morning Musume. Like, if you wanted to say, 'this is what they are now, this is what they have become', you'd show them this. 12, SMART didn't so well in this respect, as it seemed like it was trying to find where it fit in - was it mature and sexy, or was it both cool and cute? It was a good album, and I possibly prefer most of the songs, but, as an entire package, it was a little lost in terms of theme, I feel. The album cover also pretty much adds to this album's feel. And, I have to say, there are probably few better ways to describe this album than 'colourful'. There's a great variety of song, yet they all blend together without clashing. That is colourful! Clashing is...garish! I probably, as an entire album, prefer 13 Colourful Character to the last few, but, for me, it still doesn't have enough power to defeat 2010's 10 MY ME.