Hello! Project Back On Track?

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

For those who haven’t read Ikimasshoi or Luna Tech yet, a new unit has been announced to do a song for the upcoming Sukeban Deka movie. That unit is Great Aya and Miki – GAM for short.

That’s right, Ayaya and Mikitty are finally uniting as a musical duo! Of course, they’ve worked together before on various DVDs, but this is just incredible news… perhaps even better than if Miki got her solo career back. It’s like the greatness of Gomattou, but without that big-nosed girl hogging the spotlight. (She’s too busy squishing her boobs anyway, nowadays.) Ayaya and Mikitty have always struck me as a perfect couple, watching them together and being goofy or affectionate or both has always been fun. Hopefully we’ll get a good dose of that as the release of their single approaches.

(It also helps that I like the word “gams” to describe legs. I guess I’ve read too much Hammett…)

On a related note, I also finally got to listen to the new Melon Kinenbi single, “Onegai Miwaku no Target” and the B-side “Crazy Happy”. What I enjoy most about this new single is that MKB have decided to go with a rock image and sound this time around. To me, both tracks sound like guitar-oriented New Wave, with the guitarwork from the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” coming to mind in the lead track.

The musicianship is great, production is top-notch, and of course the singing from the Melons is solid… but I must admit, I’m not absolutely thrilled. Both songs have a chance to be great rock confections but aren’t adventurous enough – or hook-laden enough – to do so. And they run way too long, to boot; you could easily cut each in half and get a better song as a result.

At its most pop perfect (as opposed to its most gloriously self-indulgent, like “In A Gadda Da Vida” or Sonic Youth’s “Diamond Sea”), rock and roll should work like a mugging: hit you hard and leave you dazed before you can figure out what happened, then forces you to recreate it in your mind over and over again. “This Is Unmei” is a preposterously constructed song that somehow manages to grab me and make me want to jump and shout every time. I don’t feel that yet with these songs, though that may be expecting something different from what was intended.

So I’m definitely giving “Target” a chance. After all, it’s been over a year since MKB have released new material and the song has great merits despite what I’ve noted. And with any luck, MKB can release more rock-oriented tracks in the near future – and do so in actual record stores, not just outside concert venues and in H!P stores. Really, they deserve better.

So let’s look at the big picture. Goto Maki’s “Glass no Pumps” is actually making a dent in the Oricon charts. C-Ute is finally making its presence felt, while Berryz continues to build on their momentum. Ayaya has a movie that may earn her a whole new audience. (Viyuden, too.) Morning Musume have their first great PV in almost two years and will soon drop to a very lean and talented 8-nin line-up. Miracle Girl Koharu will be making her solo debut and probably earn herself some anime otaku fans…

Oh, and Suzuki Airi is getting cuter and cuter.

I’m not going to say that Hello! Project is rejuvenated to the point where it will conquer the Japanese music scene again… But this has been a very good year so far, especially compared to 2004 and 2005. In those two years, Momusu hemmorhaged some of its best talent, minor and not-so-minor H!P units released almost no new material, there were a couple of notable scandals, and the musical track record for the major H!P Units were spotty, at best. I’d say that Berryz released the most consistently solid singles in the past two years, with W and Viyuden vying for second. Momusu scraped close to the bottom, with some of their worst singles and the occassional diamond in the rough to keep us hanging on… And Ayaya and Gocchin were doing the diva-esque ballad thing for way too freakin’ long.

In contrast, 2006 has had some very good news – that is, as long as you don’t think about Kago’s continued absence or the lack of news on this year’s shuffles. Even the losses that H!P have sustained – Konno, Makoto, and Maeda Yuki (with very unreliable rumors of other defections to follow) – seem to fit into a larger scheme of making the collective more dynamic and focused, of bringing a new sense of direction and control to H!P. Each unit is becoming more distinct, the musical offerings – and the videos that accompany them – are improving. There is a sense of a new gameplan afoot, though that may just be connecting dots that shouldn’t connect. Read the right way and from a certain angle, however, it looks like a minor renaissance for Japan’s staunchest bastion of girlpop.

Dare we seek out such greatness? Dare we consider a turn for the better with Tsunku’s young ladies? I don’t want to get my hopes too high… but it’s tempting. More tempting than it has been in a long time. The return of Kago and/or an excellent shuffle line-up may be enough to push me over the edge, I’ll admit. And would either be too much to ask for?

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5 Responses to “Hello! Project Back On Track?”
  1. Julia says:

    Not near too much to ask for.

  2. Chuck says:

    I’m getting really impatient for Kago to return. I have both “Miss Love Tantei” on my going-to-work playlist right now, and every time it comes on, I wonder what was next.

  3. GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!! was my reaction when I read about the Aya and Miki pairing and that picture..YOWZERS!!!we have truly been blessed by the HP gods…

  4. Steve/Japonaliya says:

    I heard that Sukeban Deka was supposed to debut at the Cannes FF. But nowhere was it listed on the official site…?
    Anyone know what happened?

    I agree about MM. I LOVED Osaka and Irropoi J but everything else was an embarassment IMO. HoHum singles at best (Sexy& Ambitious)
    I think Tsunku need to go back to his roots and gives us some real quirky singles like HSW, and Koi no Dance Site.
    Another direction would be to up the anti and have MM doing more hard-edge stuff, sort of like what Tommy F did with her “Heavenly” personna…

    About SweetS, my only solice is my Ayaka hand print in the PB. Here is something weird: I have my mp3 player set to random, and though I have tons of Jpop, even trad. Japanese music albums, the ONLY music my mp3 plays is SweetS !!!
    See. even my on board computer chip misses them!

  5. kagofeet says:

    For some odd reason “GAM” is a suited name for Melon Kinenbi’s new look. I don’t know why. It just does to me. They can pass as the rival members for the old school fem group “JEM and the Holograms.” what was there name? Ahhh! “The Misfits!!!” remember that cartoon? Sorry I’m just rambling…

    Anyways, GAM. Phew those legs!!! Might as well call the pair “Leg of GAM!” very sexy.