New PVs – Over 18 Division: Otsuka Ai, Ueto Aya, Viyuden, Natsumi Abe

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

There’s been a bunch of new PVs out lately worth mentioning. As I’ve stated time and again, I usually don’t give Jpop singles much of a listen until I see the video attached to it. I’m a shallow bastard and want eye candy to go with the pretty noises; considering that Jpop is such an overtly manufactured kind of entertainment, I also prefer getting as full a package for the latest products as possible.

First, a belated mention of Otsuka Ai’s “Neko ni Fuusen”. When I heard this was a slow song, I decided not to pick it up at Hakubundo last month. I should have, because this is a beautiful, haunting song – just listening it brings tears to my eyes. The good cathartic kind of tears, mind you, like watching the end of Titanic while snuggling with a loved one – not the bad kind of tears like Zone breaking up and wishing the world would explode in sharing your pain.

The song and PV are so distinctly Otsuka Ai in its sensibility, but it’s not the Otsuka Ai I think of immediately, not the happy-go-crazy helium-voiced sexpot diva lunatic of “Happy Days” or “Smily”. Her voice, for starters, remains recognizably hers but has a subtlety and vulnerability that contrasts to the powerful music. The CGI cats look very cat-like, but also mildly alien – they’re anthropomorphized while still remaining distinctly feline. And the title of the song is delivered in the PV in a literally uplifting, strangely surreal manner, only to return to Otsuka Ai as a kind of stray cat in her own world.

I’m tearing up just thinking of the song again. Let’s move on…

Ah. Speaking of bad tears. Ueto Aya’s “Kaze wo Ukete” is kind of ska… well, not really. It has a ska sound, but it’s a very tame, bland kind of ska. I can’t help but compare it to Morning Musume’s “Koko ni Iruzee”, which at least sounded wild and brassy and loud.

What’s important, then, is how does Ueto Aya look? Well, she’s beautiful as ever in the video. That said, her hairdo during the stage performance sequences is kinda… ugly. I mean, she’s beautiful, but that hair just seems like a bad idea taken two steps too far. At once too retro scruffy and too… poufy.

The sequences of Aya walking along and looking sassy are better, if all too brief.

I wish I liked Ueto Aya’s songs more, but they just don’t have as much personality as she does.

Next up is Viyuden’s “Hitorijime”: again, my stupid bias against Jpop ballads (which I seriously need to rethink) made me discount it from the start. Then I downloaded the PV, watched it… and found the song enjoyable. The thing is, Viyuden songs have a way of creeping up on me – I had a negative initial reaction to the last two singles, and now they’re two of my favorite H!P songs from this year.

That said, “Kaccho Ii Ze! Japan” and “Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari” had very distinctive sounds – in contrast, “Hitorijime” is a nicely layered girl group number, but doesn’t have the same kick as those other two songs. But I can see it grow on me.

As always, the main eye candy for me is Miyoshi Erika. She looks fine here, but nothing distinctive – not the surprisingly sexy moves in the last PV, not even a distinct outfit.

Overall, the video is pretty bland – you’d have thought they were doing a Morning Musume PV – but the song itself is nice enough. And along with Berryz Koubo, Viyuden’s the most consistent of H!P units – something that still astounds me when I think about it, but there’s no denying the results.

Last, and perhaps most surprising, is Abe Natsumi’s new single, “Koi no Hana”. I haven’t really cared about Nacchi’s solo career, and last year’s plagiarism scandal was followed so quickly by other disasters and watershed changes in Morning Musume, a return to normalcy feels quite recent to me, even if her punishment ended over six months ago. Some even wondered if she could resume her career – but apparently, she’s done so, and looks to be taking a new direction.

One thing that struck me – and many others – about “Koi no Hana” is how much this sounds like an Avex Trax song. It does have that hip urban vibe, but it’s also the diva lite kind of sound that fails to make a lasting impression for me. It’s better than anything released by a solo H!P artist since at least Goto Maki’s “Yokohama Shinkiro”. And comparing it to Avex solo artists, it’s better than Hiro and Ueto Aya’s latest singles, though pales to the less generic songs of Amuro Namie, Otsuka Ai, and Koda Kumi.

The big thing for me, though, is watching Nacchi perform for the camera. While I’ve always thought Nacchi was cute and understood why so many fans love her to death, I think this is the first time I’ve been completely captivated by Nacchi’s presence. I found myself regretting not having her on my silly Top 10 Geinou Girlfriend list – like right there at #3, at least.

She dances a bit, wiggles a little, strikes clumsy poses… and makes it all work. All of it. She’s finally struck the magic balance between sexy and playful, alluring and accessible. She’s the girl next door and the moistest of wet dreams, and she does this while singing and laughing and flirting with the camera.

Like I said, I’m not sure if this song’ll stick with me too long… but I’ll definitely pay closer attention the next time Nacchi releases a new single. This is the direction she should be taking, and she looks more vibrant, more alive, for it. And the PV is worth sitting through to watch Nacchi in action.


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4 Responses to “New PVs – Over 18 Division: Otsuka Ai, Ueto Aya, Viyuden, Natsumi Abe”
  1. Wapiko says:

    I don’t know what it is about Nacchi songs, but a few of them sound as if they were made for other singers. Datte Ikite Kanakucha should’ve been given to Maki, and that crazy telephone song just screamed Ayaya. @_@;

    Not that I’ve really been listening to any H!P in the past 4-5 months, but oh well.

  2. Akiramike says:

    Its never too late to edit your list or publish and updated version! Nacci’s solo songs and she should have been Asami’s songs. Time to look for Koi no hana PV 🙂

  3. Jarret says:

    You may seen this, but awhile ago Ikimasshoi reported that Nacchi’s new single, “Koi no Hana has been produced at all -writen, composed and arranged- by the same guy: Bulge. He’s well known in AVEX, where he composed for Hitomi Shimatani and Folder5 among others.”

    Maybe it’s all the hype that surrounds her, but I can’t bring myself to listen to anything by Otsuka. She’s cute enough, but from what I have heard, it sounded pretty standard. Same goes for Biyuuden.

  4. awesome says:

    Jarret is right on his second paragraph. I like Otsuka a bit more than he seems to, but it’s all really nothing special and pretty standard.