Osaka Koi no Uta Performances on Music Station and Music Fighter

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

Had a chance to watch Morning Musume’s performances of “Osaka Koi no Uta” on Music Station and Music Fighter, both aired on April 22. The big difference is that Music Fighter was taped before the Mari scandal and so she’s performing in it. As for Music Station, they congratulate Yossi on becoming leader and Yossi mentions that Mari’s resignation was typical behavior for her, addressing the problem directly and quickly (or so my wife translated for me).

I’m mildly surprised at how Ishikawa Rika’s upcoming graduation seems to be underplayed – but I think part of that is in comparison to the send-offs given to Natsumi Abe and Tsujikago last year. Their graduations received numerous retrospectives and special attention from the different music shows – but then, Nacche and Tsujikago are three of the most popular members of Morning Musume ever. No one in the current line-up – and not even Mari, truth be known – have the starpower and appeal as those three and Goto Maki. All the departures from here on out will be anticlimactic in comparison, in my opinion. Rika didn’t even have much to do in the song! She doesn’t have lead and the extra camera time on her would seem unusual if we didn’t know it was her last song.

That said, this is the second straight graduation spoiled by a scandal of some sort. Nacche’s absence during Iida Kaori’s graduation was particularly noticeable, as the most popular of Gen 1 wasn’t present for the last Momusu performance of a Gen 1 member. And now Mari’s absence will haunt the final Momusu performances of Rika. There’ll be more talk and speculation on that than on anything else, including Rika’s departure (after all, she’s still going to be in Viyuden, so it’s not like she’ll be gone).

Mari’s status with Hello! Project is still unclear, as there are signals that she may still be a member in solo capacity but nothing concrete. I’m not sure if I’d want to see Mari stick with Hello! Project if it means not working with Morning Musume – what’s the point, really, as it’ll only add to the line-up of second-string solo artists who just about never get attention? No offense to Kei and Yuko and Yuki Maeda and Inaba Atsuko and Ayaka, but they often seem superfluous to Hello! Project and there’s no sign that this will change.

Back to “Osaka Koi no Uta,” the song’s grown on me in the past few days and I’m liking it more now that I’ve seen some lives. It’s not a very distinctive song in itself, but it’s a couple notches above the last two Morning Musume singles and the lead vocals are strong as always. Yossi gets the opening spoken lines but it’s Takahashi Ai driving the vocals – she’s now the star of the line-up with Mikitty coming in second. The white outfits in Music Fighter were nicer than the gold ones on Music Station (and on the CD cover), though it seems a bit too ethereal for the song itself, too ballet fairy when I’m thinking the girls should be “Shabondama” or “Joshi Kashimashi” hip.

And the choreography… ah, why bother to speak of it? Typical group Momusu moves, neither exciting nor distinctive. I’d been watching SweetS videos – PVs and lives – lately and sharply reminded how well they dance. For that matter, Dream’s recent PV had some nifty dance moves by the otherwise unremarkable second gens. It’s difficult to imagine such moves happening with Morning Musume – they shake their arms and flap or strike semi-martial arts poses or move in synch like a theme park chorus line, but it rarely gets beyond that. W have had some interesting choreography based off their being a duo, but it’s hard to imagine anyone in Hello! Project getting down the way SweetS does in the middle of the “Countdown” PV.

And for me, at least, what’s more interesting than the Hello! Project intrigue is that Amuro Namie performed “Want Me, Want Me” at the start of Music Station and looked visibly upset… At the end of the show’s usual sweep of all the guests gathered together, she’s off to the side, still looking disturbed and not wanting to be noticed. I’m hoping it’s only a temporary snit or something, she deserves her happiness.