If you guys are wondering if I am going to cover every single Morning Musume song that comes out, the answer is yes, because all critics have their favorites and this one’s mine. In the wake of Tanaka Reina’s graduation (one of the oldest members currently in the line up), Hello!Project has begun another round of auditions, so this might be the last single before a whole new wave of faces come in who I don’t recognize. That being said because it is the graduation of one of the most popular members, we get to have double A-side, meaning I get to review two music videos at once! Yay…?
Anyways, let’s not hold off any longer, let’s take a look at Brainstorming and Kimi Sae Ireba Nani Mo Iranai.
Because this is a big double A side, and because they are essentially polar opposites, I’m going to review one, and then the other, and have two different scores rather than averaging them out. We will first tackle the first A-side track to premiere, as well as the first one on the listing: Brainstorming, also referred to as Brain Kakumei. Here’s the video, with an official translation from Hello!Project themselves (which is a miracle):
The lyrics fall into a minority category I like to call “Inspiration songs”: songs about living life to the fullest and never backing down from a challenge, and really going out there with all your courage. It’s not the type of song that’s common with lots of other groups, but there are a surprising handful in Morning Musume’s general repetoire. That being said, after doing this review song for however many months, it’s nice to have a change of pace and not focus solely on the romance aspect of J-Pop. I think it fits surprisingly well for a graduation single, even though Reina will just be jumping into a new group.
The song itself has surprisingly strong vocals with an upbeat tempo. The newest member Oda Sakura really shines in the few parts she has, and there is actual line distribution among all the girls within the group – it’s like a springtime miracle! In terms of instrumentation, it falls squarely into the techno genre without relying on any autotune at all, even for Sayumi who tends to be autotuned even when the song doesn’t call for it. It really is an earworm and will remain firmly implanted in your brain after hearing it.
The costuming is some of the best I’ve seen in a while – for one, all the girls look good in their outfits, not just the taller, thinner ones. In terms of design, it’s simplistic but clean, with the colored jackets that flare out to create shape. The use of gold is sparse, but complimentary and none of the hairstyles look like they did it themselves (and no more ugly side-ponytails for Kanon Suzuki!). There’s not a ton of make-up or accessories to distract from the overall look, which is good considering Aitai Aitai Aitai Na and Loving You Too Much from sister groups C-ute and Berryz Koubou were makeup disasters.
The dance is simply phenomenal. It’s high energy, there’s an integration of all members, lots of position changes and rotations. The “brain wave” motion is pretty cool, though when the back of the chorus some of the girls are doing a weird velociraptor kicking motion. I’m not sure why they’re doing that rather than pointing, but there must be a reason. Overall though, the newer generations have improved their dance skills significantly, and it really shows here. It’s one of my new favorite dances.
While having an actual set piece would have been nice (I’ve been spoiled by all the K-Pop groups having nice backgrounds) the video itself does look pretty good. It’s a collection of cuts from the dance shot and different closeup shots of the individual girls, but that’s more artistry than we’ve gotten in a while. The background does have lights that change during the dance and add depth to the scene itself, though it still doesn’t make for the fact that there’s no actual background. Well, at least its not shody CGI again.
Guys, I never give 5’s. Seriously, you can look back on all my reviews, I have never given out a five. But if there’s any single that deserves it, it would be this one. It is well rounded, with a strong dance, costuming, video, concept – hell, I could wax poetic about it all day. This is the standout single for this new generation for me, really establishing them as a new era and one I look forward to seeing more of. This will be a hard one to outdo.
– Strong dance.
– Great use of auto tune and line distribution.
– Good costuming.
– Video is a little lackluster (but it does get points for not being CG).
Next, let’s take a look at the second A-side, Kimi Sae Ireba Nani Mo Iranai, which translates to I Don’t Want Anything But You. Here’s the video, with official subs:
The lyrics are about, say it with me people, having a boyfriend. Yes, we couldn’t stay off the romance trope for long, could we Tsunku? It falls into the similar veins of One, Two,Three and Renai Hunter wherein the girl says she doesn’t need anything but said boy and how when they are together, she feels truly free and happy. They’re not bad lyrics – in fact, they are pretty typical, but it seems like a cheap rehash at this point of the two better songs. Still, it’s not something I’d take off points for as this one genuinely seems more heartfelt and does ask bigger questions about life, youth, and limitations.
I will never know what possessed these people to take the same designs from Pyoko Pyoko Ultra and somehow make them even more unattractive and hideous. Some of the girls look consumed by the dress itself, as if they were the Big Bird Back Up Dancers. While I do appreciate the attempt to accessorize, there are members whose little touches seem to clash even more with the oversized flapper dress, specifically Haruka’s hat and Riho’s giant bow. Mixing it with the black was a smart idea, at least to an extent, to try and drown out some of the bright canary fringes flying everywhere. Still, really bad judgement on the costuming.
I won’t say I’m in love with the dance, but I’m glad to see that the choreography is as difficult and synchronized as the other A-side. There’s a lot more movement in this song than is typical , and the girls again move as a group, rather than just having equal-non-interacting parts. I think the autotuned parts that begin the verses are the weakest in the dance, but I certainly couldn’t think of a better way to choreograph that part. Overall, it’s one of the saving graces of the video, adding some sense of excitement.
The video is otherwise very lackluster. The background is just a large curtain and some stage lights. It’s a pretty lazy video for this song, though considering it’s the second A-side, it would make sense that they spent less money on it. The editing itself is also lazy, as we only see cuts of the dance shot and then close up shots of the girls during said dance shot. There’s not a whole lot here in terms of what makes an interesting music video, which is a real shame.
As for the song itself, the instrumental portions do sound pretty good, good use of techno and dubstep. If they hadn’t used that terrible autotune in the beginning of the verses, it would have greatly improved the song. However, vocals are still strong, with good line distribution, and a solid melody. If they had only refined it a little more, this song could have been one of the better techno songs they’ve done, but instead is one of the worst. I still like some parts of it though, and it remains somewhat catchy, so the single isn’t a total loss.
You may think my analysis of this song is a little extreme, but it is probably hindered by the fact that Brainstorming is so good. Where as the first seemed like a stroke of genius, Kimi Sae Ireba Nani Mo Iranai looks like they tried to use all their other leftover ideas into one song, because it was going to sell anyways, why not cram it in there? Personally, had I only heard the song without the music video, I would have given it a higher rating, though not by much. It really is the video that does a disservice to this song and it really is a shame. Overall, it will still be a strong EP, which should please the Tanaka Reina fans about to lose their favorite member.
– Strong song, ignoring the autotuned parts.
– Decent dance.
– Decent lyrics.
– Poor costuming.
– Lackluster video.
– Terrible use of autotuning.