My 2006 Top Ten PVs – One Year Too Late

Filed in American Wota 2.0

Before I begin my 2007 Top Ten PV list, I want to get some long-unfinished business out of the way. I did a Top 10 PV list for 2005, which I enjoyed. I intended to do a Top 10 PV list for 2006… and never got around to it. I had the list made up, I had notes for each entry, but being a new daddy kind of got in the way time and again. I could skip it, but I want a sense of continuation from year-to-year with these lists, a sense of how preferences develop, how favorite artists fare over time. So, here is that list and some highly-truncated explanations:

10. Amuro Namie, “Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick”. Amuro had a weak 2006, but this summer single sticks with me even now – it’s a lightweight effort, but handled with such style and joy. The video has Namie as a sexy schoolgirl in a sports car – so really, all that matters is the sexy schoolgirl part. That said, I still get the title mixed up – shouldn’t loss of appetite precede insomnia as a sign of illness?

9. Halcali, “Twinkle Star”. After stumbling in their major label debut, the duo returned with this explosion of sonic and visual surrealism. The use of the theme from The Magnificent Seven – which supposedly delayed the release by months, waiting for permission – makes it musically stirring in an unexpected fashion, showing how wise sampling can both pay homage to the source material and make one see it in a new light. Haruka and Yukari’s rapping is at the top of their form, and their singing is great too.

This video has long defied sensical interpretation for me, which I think is the point:. The use of various animals, size changes, and donuts (an obvious reference to their considerably less talented rivals) seem to be in the service of looking silly and interesting, and not much else. That said, the girls in those white boots… wow. Wow wow wow.

8. Kitade Nana, “Kibou no Kakera”. A high-velocity pop rock song defined by Nana’s distinctive voice, a very catchy hook, and a video featuring the three most punk rawk stuffed animals I’d ever seen in Japanese music. The interaction between Nana and the full-sized stuffed animals is both disturbing in a Shining way and adorable in its delicate evocation of a very strange childhood.

7. C-ute, “Massara Blue Jeans”. Mostly here because of the “Love me love me love me love me” pelvic thrusting. Okay, and there’s the fact that it’s a great song – their best single up until “Tokkaiko Junjou”, with a propulsive bassline and excellent singing by the leads. And there’s the way the PV does an excellent job of differentiating C-ute from Berryz by playing off the tension of having the youngest and cutest H!P Kids with some of the oldest and sexiest. (The moves that make Maimi and Megukami so hot look simply cute on Maimai.)

6. Bennie K, “Disco Senpai”. My first encounter with Bennie K, mostly because someone on MM-BBS noted how freakish and untypical the video was for Bennie K. The song is also pretty atypical for them, more rough-hewn and frenetic than their best singles, and guest rappers Alpha add to that mood without overshadowing the women. The focus of any Bennie K song is the interplay between Cico’s rapping and Yuki’s near-beatific singing, and that’s definitely shown off to great effect here.

The video is a strange Freudian high school melodrama about the return of the repressed: a teacher who can’t get past his nerdy aloofness is transformed into a disco god, then proceeds to save a similarly afflicted student who is in love with a girl who winds up being kidnapped by the Creature From The Black Lagoon in a UFO. It makes perfect sense as a psychodrama, but works just as well as a simple farce. Oh, and the closing pose is an incredibly funny homage to the first Star Wars film.

5. Kishidan, “The Aishiteru”. An excellent rock song with just a little bit of Spanish influence, the video doesn’t feature the members of the group but instead has clearly labeled proxies among the sailors that star in it. (Check the scarves.) The PV’s touching love story shows how deftly Kishidan are able to blend postmodern tomfoolery with a strong sentimental streak, a hallmark of their goofy “bad boys with a heart of gold” meta-narrative. Also, I can’t help but think the dance sequences are at least partially an homage to Morning Musume’s “The Peace!”. If you’ve never checked out Kishidan up to now, do yourself a favor and give them a try – they’re full of unexpected surprises and pleasures both musically and visually.

4. DJ Ozma, “One Night”. In its first year, this disco spinoff group from Kishidan was even more stridently pomo in how they handled themselves – it was a big wonderful joke, and they wanted everyone in on it. I Love Party People is a great CD and DVD, filled with surprises good and bad. “One Night” isn’t only a great dance song, but the video captures a dance club fantasia that’s actually appealing in its mix of nostalgia and Nippon. The odd part is, for or a group that focuses so much on dancing and getting naked and being surrounded by beautiful women, I never got a sense of raw sexuality in DJ Ozma’s early PVs the way I do in, say, Amuro Namie’s “Cant Sleep” or “Want Me, Want Me”. You often get the sense that everybody’d be just as happy to keep dancing the night away than getting laid. Sublimation becomes surface, the excuse becomes the raison d’etre: it is, in its own way, ridiculously subversive. And yet, doesn’t the very best disco make you want to dance all night long? Maybe I need to see Saturday Night Fever again…

3. misono, “VS”. The debut solo single from the singer of Day After Tomorrow and Koda Kumi’s younger sister, this absolutely kicked my ass when I first heard it and still retains much of its charm today. The song is excellent, her best single by far and an excellent showcase for her vocal skills. The use of a fairy tale motif was given a manic energy and comic psychological depth by having misono play both the evil witch and the innocent heroine. To me, misono here is so much sexier than her sister has ever been, especially when she dons boxing gloves and has a “come get me” look on her face. Oh, and I love the way the forest critters behave in the PV – they seemed less concerned with supporting good than just getting these freaks out of their neighborhood.

2. Berryz Koubo, “Warrachaou Yo Boyfriend”. To my mind, the best single released yet by Berryz, and a charming video in its own right. Thematically, the girls grow up enough to get summer jobs; musically, they go just retro enough to show how maturity in pop music is as much about a sense of style as anything else. (I never did agree with comparisons to second gen Tanpopo, however – Tanpopo was about recreating the Phil Spector wall-of-sound girl groups, which definitely isn’t the case here.) I especially love Chinami defying gravity – it seems so appropriate for her.

1. Perfume, “Electroworld”. This single and PV was what first caught my attention with the techno-pop trio, and I’ve been in love ever since. If someone had told me there’d be a Jpop video that makes use of motifs from William Gibson’s Neuromancer, I’d have scoffed – but that’s exactly what we have here, with evocations of meat puppets, Molly Millions style destroyers, ICE… And the song itself is catchy, as Perfume builds its cyberpunk aesthetic with vocoders and a singing style meant to evoke the computer age – yet still filled with warmth and wintermuted passion.

For me, Perfume has become as good as Bounceback-era SweetS – that is, they’re the epitome of what makes Japanese pop music great, a distinct genre and cultural experience from anything else. Thankfully, their streak is lasting longer than SweetS, and doesn’t look like it’ll fade any time soon.

If I were to revise this list based on my judgment today, I’d probably kick out the number ten and nine choices and put TRF’s “We Are All Bloomin'” and Younha’s “Ima Ga Daisuke” (looking back now, why the latter isn’t in the top three is a bit baffling – the me of 2006 has become a stranger, I guess). And knowing how misono’s career turned out, “VS” may drop a few notches – though for some reason I don’t feel the same way about DJ Ozma, despite his inability to release a decent single in all of 2007. (I don’t think the notoriety of last year’s Kouhaku spoiled him and his group; rather, they were a joke that just got tiresome.) I could also be persuaded to replace Bennie K’s “Disco Senpai” with “Joy Trip”, which came out at the end of the year.

If you want to watch all ten videos, it’s the newest episode of AmeWota TV under Wota Distractions. You’ll need to be an AW Forum member to get the password, though.

And now I’m ready to move on to 2007’s Top Ten.

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5 Responses to “My 2006 Top Ten PVs – One Year Too Late”
  1. jim says:

    Twinkle Star is visual shiritori.

    I can’t find the link.

  2. Ray Mescallado says:

    Wow! Very cool. (And I cover HALCALI day by day, which makes this a little embarassing.) Thanks for the head’s up!

  3. Gemma says:

    Awsome top 10 Pv’s!
    Electroworld was the first PV i watched of Perfume! and ever since then i love perfume xD
    Nd haha the pelvic thrusting on maasara blue jeans xD awsome!

  4. Japonaliya says:

    Hmm, just listened to Perfume for the first time based on your list…
    Sorry, but it sounds like 3 girls trying to be tommy February6 clones..
    If you like that techno-jap stuff, then I sugggest you dig out your old tommy F 1st CDA and listen to the master….
    And remember, TOMMY actually visited Hawaii, your home, so you have to give her the credit…
    Tomoko is the hottest teenager who is actually mid-30’s in the whole world!