If you guys are wondering why I’m not reviewing PSY’s new song this week, it’s cause do have a schedule set up and these songs were all ready to go. Also I’m not sure what to think of it yet, but it will be coming out next time around so please stay tuned til then!
Today, we have a very special treat! While Momoiro Clover Z has not been able to release any new singles due to member Ariyasu Momoka’s extensive throat surgery. But with a new album dropping soon, we have two new songs with music videos to accompany them. Luckily, however, these videos are part of the same narrative so I can actually judge them as one, which saves me quite a bit of time in dealing with video analysis. But man, are we really in for an unexpected turn from this 5-nin group that are now top J-Pop superstars.
From their 2nd full studio album, 5th Dimension, let’s take a look at Neo STARGATE and BIRTH Ø BIRTH.
Both songs, Neo STARGATE and BIRTH Ø BIRTH, are not meant to be viewed as singles, but rather as filler until they can produce another single when Momoka’s voice heals. After all, they are also doing to theme song to the new Sailor Moon reboot coming in the summer, so the group won’t be remaining inactive for long. It also acts as a strong promotion for their album 5th Dimension which climbed to the #1 spot of the album sales chart for last week, followed closely by their first album, Battle and Romance (which was released 2 years ago in 2011 but peaked only at #2 this week).
First off, here are both of the videos with subs (I couldn’t find a single version so you’ll have to watch it in parts):
The lyrics are about two somewhat different topics, but tie into each other well. Stargate is about not being afraid to come out of your shell and achieve great things in this mess of a world, even when things are rough. But the great thing is that it uses more grandiose language to convey it, rather than being the spelled-out version you get in a lot of other songs. Birth is part of a very small sub-genre in J-Pop called “Things that are wrong with my boyfriend,” in which the girls point out how unambitious, bratty, lazy, or otherwise bad their boyfriends are and how they should man up (though sometimes it’s more a general “do better things with your life”). I like this song less than Stargate but it makes sense on a lyrical level since both are about reaching for new goals and trying better oneself, so they do fit.
I’m going to start the video analysis portion off by saying I have zero clue what the video is supposed to be about other than the most basic part of the premise. I couldn’t find any translations of the dialogue in the beginning of the Neo STARGATE so I can only speculate that these scientists must have created something akin to the PowerPuff Girls with Momoiro Clover Z, either for good or evil reasons. The members of the groups are some sort of weird science experiment that has been put into a deep sleep to be taken out into space. What their function is, if there are a super planet killing machine or just a weird interstellar dance troupe, why science is involved at all, why they wear those terrifying face masks and weird tutu skirts with bedazzled tops is anyone’s guess.
I admire the budget put into the videos, because it looks fabulous. The dance is fantastic with lots of energy and great synchronization considering that they can barely see in those masks. The costuming is dead on, the sets are stunning and clean, and really showcase the dance. However, this is also part of my problem with it. The video feels cold and robotic, devoid of life and color besides their outfits. I’m all for edgy sci-fi in popular media, but this feel more hospital rather than Star Trek. It’s cold and off-putting, even occasionally too visually boring to keep all of my attention on re-watches of the videos. That’s not to say it was a bad idea, but it’s not as effective a tool to keep viewers hooked on multiple viewings.
Both songs are incredibly similar in tone and instrumentality. They are grandiose and dark, with heavy techno and dubstep beats mixed in with rock opera (for Stargate) and pop (Birth), creating an ominous, almost angry sound to the songs, and I am loving it. This fits best with the music videos more so than the lyrics themselves, and if I were to judge them on just this aspect, they’d probably get a five. We’ve seen a darker Momoiro Clover Z with Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi-tachi yo and it’s a trend I hope they continue. Their former image was very cutesy, and while they can retain that for some songs, the more rock-esque music seems to work better for their dynamics and their vocals. This is probably one of the darkest videos they’ve ever produced and really showcases their depth and range.
In the end, both Neo STARGATE and BIRTH Ø BIRTH highlight what’s great about Momoiro Clover Z – they’re young, fresh, quirky, modern, and unafraid to try new things. While I am not a big fan of these two songs in particular, your mileage will vary as many others have fallen in love with the tracks. Still, this is a strong effort on their part and I look forward to their new single, whenever it should appear.
– Strong dance.
– Great visuals/costuming.
– Amazing vocals and instrumentals.
– Video feels cold and almost robotic.
– Strange, confusing plot for video.