Young groups usually have their songs chosen carefully, since enough bad singles could cut promising careers very short. While this group had some promising indie singles, their major singles have been mostly hit or miss, meaning that those who are not die hard fans may begin to waver. Still, with only their fourth single recently released, there’s still time to solidify an image, though I’m not entirely sure this is the one they really want if it’s cuteness without quality.
Let’s listen to Black Butterfly by Juice=Juice.
Here’s the music video with English subs:
This song ventures squarely into the really creepy trope of “Not a girl, not yet a woman” songs, which are way more common in Japan than you would think. Essentially, it’s about a girl who wants to flirt with boys/men who are older than her but she’s clumsy and shy and trying to hide it behind a facade of sophistication that’s more a caricature than anything else. They try to come off as seductive and mysterious, because secrets are sexy, and so is trying to play off you’re more adult than you are, apparently. The “black butterfly” is meant to be a symbol of the dark, gothic, and mysterious, while still remaining natural and innocent, I think. Either that or “OOH LOOK AT THE PRETTY BUTTERFLY IT’S SO DEEP.” You know, either/or.
The video itself is pretty well put together. There are only two basic perspectives — one where they are sitting or standing amongst flowers or in the dance shot together as a group. It’s not a terribly complicated video, mostly just dramatic posing while mugging for the camera and moving to the beat of the song. The dance seems pretty simple, without the energetic pop that most of their other singles seem to have, meaning it just looks like they’re sauntering back and forth leisurely in a relative formation. It still looks like they are moving as a group, but there seems to be a distinct lack of effort, or lucidity for that matter. The pop of the neon pink and blue flower against the black background is a nice touch, as well as a clean editing. Their costumes are well designed, down to the butterfly detailing on their boots. It really is a shame I can’t say more about the video since it’s pretty bare bones, even for a J-Pop single.
The biggest problem with the song is that it’s basically made out of samples. Very little of the instrumental portion of the audio was designed in studio but rather combined from different songs. While it’s not weird to sample other works in J-Pop, it sounds really off when you realize they are playing the same 4 samples over and over again in an attempt to make a coherent tango-like melody. The vocals are as tight as ever, which is what you would expect out of Juice=Juice but it’s just not enough to save the song itself.
Black Butterfly is a catchy tune, but certainly not one that’s any good. Its instrumental is repetitive and annoying without the saving grace of being original. If you want to hear a Hispanic-sounding piece from this group, check out Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no Kiss and leave this particular song to gather dust in the discount rack where it belongs, or least buried deep down in your music library.
– Good vocals.
– Good concept.
– Good lyrics.
– Lackluster video.
– Oversampled instrumentals.