If you are a classic fan who thought that the golden age of Hello!Project is long over and hasn’t tuned in for quite a few years, then you missed the brand new formation of S/mileage, made entirely of Hello!Pro Eggs, who are the new cute faces of hyperactive pop. For those of you who don’t know, or care, about Hello!Project, they are group formed of members of a “training group” if you will, pop-stars-to-be, who got the chance to become their own unit.
For three years, the group has had its share of line up changes and awards and lots of fun, cute, age appropriate singles. For me, their singles are hit or miss, and sometimes the ones I don’t like grow on me little by little. I don’t own their entire discography, and I don’t want to. While I do give them more of a chance than I ever gave C-ute (who I only like two singles out of their 18), every new single is a surprise – will I like it? Will I hate it? Is it original, or just a rehash of the same thing? Will the theme and concept be good, or just bizarre?
Now, their 11th single, Suki Yo Junjo Hankouki, finally with a very stable line-up, it’s the time of judgement. Will this be another smash hit, or will it be just be another single to pass over?
Here’s the music video with English subtitles:
The lyrics, as you can see, are about being in love with a less-than-honor-student boy who encourages some bad behavior, like sneaking out at midnight, lying, wearing makeup and having rumors flying about your “scandalous” relationship. Apparently, being a little rebel for love is just as silly no matter what language you try and express it in. The title essentially means “I love you, pure-hearted rebellious age” or something like that, my Japanese is very limited to single words and some phrases so I trust the Internet for these answers. The biggest issue I have with the lyrics is that they are very age-specific. If I was, say, a fifteen year old girl, having never had a boyfriend, I would find these lyrics sweet. But it’s been six years since then, and as a college student I find them a little childish – every girl goes through this, whether it plays out in reality or not. There’s nothing wrong with the subject matter persay but it’s not one an older audience might relate to.
The video has no plot and is pretty simple, which is pretty usual for their videos. The theme of being “a bad girl” is not really present in the costuming. The red-white-blue color is their standard fair, but the design has nothing rebellious about it. At least in Dot Bikini they wore swimsuits. I wonder if maybe they didn’t want to have anything too scandalous for a group whose central age is pretty young and deal mostly in hyperactive cute songs? Not to mention the background is just a ballroom of some sort, which has nothing to do with the song whatsoever. I’m not sure what exactly they were thinking but this makes a weird disconnect between the song and the video that isn’t common to see. Before I found the subs, I thought this was about maybe a ball, or a dance, or even something to do with school. Japanese high schools might be mad-swanky for all I know.
The dance at least tries to fit the theme better, looking the standard cute fair, but with some more sexy moves thrown in there. The girls are occasionally shown just slightly looking off into the distance and singing with darkened lighting, which seems to me like a weird choice. They look sort of dead in the eyes that way, like they’re incredibly depressed, absentminded, or just got caught for all the stuff they did…maybe all three. Not sure why this was added, maybe fore dramatic effect, but it just feels out of place for such a upbeat song.
The vocals are actually pretty strong for this particular number. A lot of their numbers recently have relied on choral strength and less on individual, but lots of the girls have displayed their ability to emote and really hit those key notes. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t point out any single one for hitting a new bar – the level was raised unilaterally, which is really great for a budding group. The tune is catchy and you’ll find yourself humming it to yourself after a listen or two. It’s also not very original, but this song doesn’t seem like something that’s meant to be ground-breaking – it’s a cute little diddy about rebellious love, and it doesn’t need to strive for anything more.
In the end, Suki Yo Junjo Hankouki isn’t what I would call a slam dunk of a single, but it certainly has its charms. It’s catchy, sweet, and while it doesn’t stand out as strongly as one might hope, at least it’s not standing out for being bad or weird. Whatever points the song lost for it’s lack luster music video were regained in the strength of the vocals and the dance. While I’m still not sure whether I’ll end up buying it or not, something tells me this song is going to grow on me like an adorable fungus.