New PVs – 18 and Under Division

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

Looking at the new PVs from the 18-and-under division, I’m surprised at how much catchier the songs are. With the exception of Otsuka Ai’s “Neko ni Fuusen,” the actual songs from the Clearly Legal idols suffered from blandness to varying degrees… The three songs below, however, I can imagine myself listening to for months to come. They’re bolder, more aggressive songs, with better hooks.

First up is Berryz Koubou’s “21 ji made no Cinderella”.

Really, I should hate this song and PV. It doesn’t match up to the last two singles, especially not against “Special Generation” – still the benchmark for Berryz, both the song and the PV. The first thing that strikes me is: these poor girls, forced to wear such horrible, ugly outfits. They look like pastel-colored street beggars, and not very skillful ones at that. Real underage street beggars would invoke pity, not derisive laughter. One has the urge to scoop the girls up and take them to an Old Navy – even that’d be better than what they have on.

The song also shouldn’t work: it’s kitschy, sounding retro and gimmicky instead of smart and sophisticated. Is this a step back for Berryz, then? A reminder that they’re just a kiddie group?

Well, they are a kiddie group, still maturing and allowed lapses into silliness, and so they can get away with this, as far as I’m concerned. The girls are quite strongly vocally here, after all, and the song has grown on me quickly for its energy and risky forays into goofball instrumentation. It’s a dopey song, but a good kind of dopey. I find myself singing that odd “yoroshiku” to myself, kind of like the way Ogura Yuko’s “Vitamin Love” crept in my head and beat against my skull – unbidden, but pleasurably so.

The PV has the girls go to a diner to eat and laugh and have fun – typical Berryz PV fare – as a clock reminds them of time marching along, like something out of an Eliot poem. The girls are adorable despite dressing so horridly, and I’ll also admit: I’m beginning to like Momoko more. I’d encourage Yurina to be moved to Morning Musume – except, you know, that’d be more of a demotion nowadays. But damn, Yurina towers over Saki, she’s already looking more mature than all the other Berryz even though she’s the second youngest (after Risako, still my favorite), and she’s got the best voice in the group. She’d be doing Morning Musume a favor by joining that unit.

W’s “Miss Love Tantei” is fabulous. Like Nacchi’s “Koi no Hana” this sounds like it could be Avex, which is meant as a compliment. Tsuji and Kago are in excellent vocal form here, both solo and when they harmonize. The song itself is very catchy and a marked improvement from… well, everything they’ve done since “Robokiss”. This also marks a swing towards a more mature image, balanced nicely against the shenanigans of the PV.

The rapping on the song is okay, but it’s more along the line of the “Yo yo yo / yeah yeah yeah” method from 7Air instead of the wordplay and rhythm of Salt5. I know Tsuji is capable of more than that, and Kago has done better – but it’s not like they’re Halcali and rely on their mad skillz, so I can live with it.

There’s too much to love about this PV. The girls are back to doing silly costumes and multiple personalities, including a remarkable foray into ganguro ko-gal-ness. The detective shtick is still fresh to me, but I don’t watch Oha Star clips. And Kago’s looking incredibly lovely now that she’s mostly given up the pig tails.

A scary-ass dog is running around in the PV that I want to beat repeatedly over the head and across the back, especially since I know there’s a man underneath and it’s not a real dog, making it battery and not animal cruelty. Because animal cruelty would be wrong, of course.

Special love has to go out to Tsuji. I used to be afraid she’d become Andrew Ridgeley to Kago’s George Michael, or John Oates to Kago’s Daryl Hall, but that’s clearly no longer the case. She’s become a beautiful young woman with a confidence and persona that matches anyone else in H!P right now. If she decides to go skanky in future photobooks, she may even surpass Kago Ai as my favorite H!P. She can strike those really obvious come-hither / backdafuckup poses and make them work, and she’s one of the few H!P girls who I want to show more skin.

And best of all, she’s funny as hell. She’s definitely the more interesting personality in this PV.

Maybe she should’ve beaten the dog over the head and back.

Last but by no means least, there’s SweetS’ new single and PV, “Earthship Uchuusen Chikyuugou”. This is great, of course, and everybody should support SweetS because they made the greatest Jpop album ever two years ago and they’re still pretty good now if not nearly as good as when Bounceback was taking care of their songs… and… and…

Ah. Who are we kidding? I’m still smarting from the “Mienai Tsubasa” PV. The pain is still fresh in my heart.

Imagine a music video by your favorite idol and you recognize the setting as your front yard… then the street where you work… then the bus stop you go to every day, followed by the mall where you do your shopping. This is pretty much what it feels like when I watch the “Mienai Tsubasa” PV in my more vulnerable moments: “They’re walking down Kalakaua. Hey, that’s Iolani. They’re performing on that tiny stage at Ala Moana. And where was I during all this…?” And okay, they might not have been right at my front yard, but they were maybe a five minute walk from there.

Luckily, “Earthship” takes place in a CGI-created cityscape. Buildings and idols flash in and out of the shot like a video game with very, very bad draw-in issues. Unfortunately, the dance moves aren’t as strong as in other recent PV’s – I didn’t really like “Countdown” but the dance solos were a lot of fun – and there’s something oddly… generic about the video overall.

The song itself is very solid. It’s the same kind of soaring, upbeat song as “Mienai Tsubasa” but with a spacey marimba-esque sound laced throughout. And if I’m hearing right, are they saying “knight on” in the chorus, like in “Lolita Strawberry in Summer”? Repeated listenings make this song more and more of a must-listen, just like “Mienai” – which is a satisfying reversal from their second phase.

And did Haruna really want to show off her bra straps? I know they’re see-through, but I thought it kind of odd.

Wouldn’t it have been cool if Miori’s T-shirt read “Don’t Fuck With Mister Zero”? Has anybody ever actually seen a T-shirt that read that? Even better, does anyone know if such a T-shirt even existed before When Harry Met Sally immortalized the phrase?

This is the last single from Aya and Aki for the next six months. I’m going to miss Aya’s voice and all, but by the time she and Aki return to SweetS, they’ll look considerably older, perhaps even legal. What the hell, most of the girls look sixteen at this point, though I may be a horrible judge of such things. (Actually, I know I am.)

That said, I’m thinking in six months, Yurina of Berryz will look older than everyone in H!P except the Puri Puri Pink ladies. Chomping on a cigar and downing shots of whiskey. Or maybe not.


Comments (Comments are closed)

9 Responses to “New PVs – 18 and Under Division”
  1. Chuck says:

    Kago and Tsuji amaze me. They’ve gone from the goofy-twins thing they had going on in Morning Musume to actually being two distinct and stylish chicks. I don’t know how their sales are going, but they should get a platinum record just for making the transition so well.

  2. niji says:

    21ji Made no Cinderella is the best song Berryz has done so far. Special Generation was just plain overrated.

    Anyways, it took you long enough to appreciate Momoko and her role in Berryz Koubou. Without her, Berryz wouldn’t be a cute bubblegum kiddie group and would be branded as a poor man’s SweetS — a very poor man’s SweetS.

    As much as I adore Berryz Koubou though, I’m restless to know if C-ute is just a name change for H!P kids or if they’re actually planning to release something. With the exception of Risako and Momoko, the C-ute members are actually much cuter than those of Berryz Koubou. Plus, they’ve got Airi of Aa! fame. Release something, dammit! (Digressing from your article, I know, but it just had to be said. 🙂 )

  3. Wapiko says:

    Oooh, that PV makes me want to download the new Berryz song. I loathed Special Generation though. Boring.

  4. JPope says:

    What’s even more amazing about Nozomi’s transformation into one of the best overall idols in the H!P is the fact that she was kind of a throw-in pick — an afterthought — when the 4th generation was announced. She basically rode in on Kago’s coat tails, but the situation has done a complete 180 as far as I’m concerned. She’s right behind Miki Fujimoto on my H!P depth chart.

  5. niji says:

    I thought Kago was the one who got into MoMusu because she had heart or something like that.

  6. Chuck says:

    Nope, I’m pretty sure it was Tsuji (well, and later Konno Asami).

    From the HPDB:
    “The fourth generation audition was originally planned to produce three members, but seeing Tsuji’s potential Tsunku decided to pick her as the fourth new member.”

  7. JPope says:

    I’ve read that Tsunku was set on adding Kago, but decided that he couldn’t have one without the other.

  8. I’m a bit surprised by the dislike of “Special Generation” – I still like it best, though “21” is growing on me more and more…

    Definitely agree about C-Ute and especially Airi.

    And Tsunku deciding he couldn’t have Kago without Tsuji (or vice versa?) just shows how on-the-ball he was in those days. I can’t imagine Kago being as interesting without Tsuji being around her all these years.

  9. Alice says:

    Tsuji needs to wear her hair down more often. She’ll get my vote of confidence if she does that. Then again the first time I recall seeing her with her hair down (on a recent episode of Hello! Morning in the shill segment) I swore she looked a lot like Yaguchi (so maybe I’m delusional).

    Does anyone find it ironic that the two futsal goalkeepers are the two girls who were put into Momusu on willpower but were otherwise failures? I’m sure this has been pointed out before.