More and more J-Pop is absorbing and re-appropriating the trends of K-Pop, because it is simply the strategy that works. Well, with the exception of AKB48 that is. Still, it’s brave to go off in such a direction when some of the fans are rebelling against this new trend. The ways of the cutesy, over the top pinkness that was once J-Pop may be dying, but something else is taking root. Some bold. Something fresh. Something techno!
…nah, who am I kidding, this is just a phase. I’ll believe in real change in the J-Pop industry when toes become sentient.
Let’s take a look at another trend-rider, and debut for member Oda Sakura, Morning Musume’s 52nd single, Help Me!!
Here’s the dance shot video, with subs:
Let’s first talk about the lyrics. The song itself is about a girl who is crushing (or possibly dating) a boy but has left her to go hang out with friends in trendy parts of Tokyo and other areas in Japan. The girl feels lonely because, hey, who wants to chase someone all around Japan to get their love and attention. It’s interesting to see a new look on the strange world of young love, but this still falls into the same trap as they all do. I mean, they covered basically the same thing in One Two Three and it was more compelling because the guy was trying to please her with gifts. Here, it seems like the guy is consistently running away from her and avoiding her, for whatever reason.
The costumes aren’t fabulous but they aren’t the disgusting trainwrecks we’ve come to know and love from Morning Musume. The outfit itself is uniform for all the members, and is actually flattering on them. And if you think that last part is a no brainer, then you must not know about Hello!Project. I’m pretty sure it’s policy to push unwanted members out through shitty costumes and terrible hair. Hell, I know I’d quit. Each outfit is a little bit individualized, but the girls look more like a unit than they have in the last few singles and I honestly have no complaints about the outfits. Not even the scrunchies or the clashing fabrics. None at all.
As for the dance, I will say I was thoroughly impressed with the choreography. Yes, some of the moves are silly, but some of the moves are always silly and we cannot advance any conversation about J-Pop dances till we concede that parts look ridiculous. The synchronized movements, including the wave during the first bridge, and the intro. Personally, I think this song highlights how much the new members of the 9th and 10th generation have grown into their own and stand out both as singers and dancers. It really gives me hope for the future of the group, especially considering this is now one of senior Tanaka Reina’s last singles.
The video itself is pretty mediocre. I’m really not sure why H!P has decided that no one but C-ute is allowed to have real backgrounds anymore, but it is starting to get a little jarring. And by a little, I mean quite a lot. While the use of colors is nice in the video itself, the streaming city lights is way overdone. Thankfully, it fits in with the theme of the song, or otherwise it would be totally pointless. Personally, it looks just as fake and green screened as it actually is, and that’s never a good thing. There’s a difference between saving money and just being cheap.
The song makes good use of autotune, which a sentence no one in the world should ever write but there it is. There’s a great energy to the beat, it flows well from bridge to chorus to verse. The vocals are really strong – Oda Sakura really is shaping up to be the new lead as it sounds like Riho is slowly starting to strain her voice. Hell, even the sighs during the verses of the song sound perfectly synchronized. In terms of line distribution, the line up hasn’t changed much since the last single, but slowly it looks like things might change as Reina leaves. Still, every girl gets at least a sigh to herself, so that’s a start.
Overall, Help Me!! is a very strong single, and a good start to the new year. It’s catchy, it’s up-beat, it’s a good blend of the K-Pop-techno and the J-Pop-cutesy, and has slowly grown to become one of my favorite song in their repertoire. Check it out if you’re a fan, a casual music lover, or just intrigued by this idea that autotune can actually be used in not brain-meltingly-bad ways.
– Good costuming.
– Great song overall.
– Great dance.
– Cliche lyrics.
– Generic and fake looking music video.