For big groups with multiple members, often people will leave without disbanding the entire group to pursue careers in music, modeling or acting. These revolving door groups tend to commemorate these departures with special songs that celebrate this bittersweet occasion, typically either giving the singer leaving her own single or singing a song about her. Morning Musume ’14’s Sayumi Michishige gets both, but since her solo single plays a lot on her cutesy-wootsey persona that makes my ears bleed, I’m going to go with the other one.
Let’s listen to Mikaeri Bijin (A Looking Back Beauty) by Morning Musume ’14.
Here’s the video with English subtitles:
As with standard graduation songs, it is very sappy and saccharine, but considering what a cutesy character Sayumi is, it could have been worse. The girls basically sing about what a great senior she was and how she’s still so calm and composed even as she gracefully says goodbye to everyone in the group. While it is an incredibly generic farewell song, it does show a lot of respect and the soft sad tone of the words does make for some nice contrast to the other song on the single, Tiki Bun. While the the lyrics are nothing special, they fit the tone very nicely.
The video is honestly very lovely. The shots of Sayumi writing letters, walking around the building and the grounds outside wistfully while the rest of the group sings to her. The setting is gorgeous, with lots of open space and allows for a lot of gorgeous shots from multiple angles, fitting them feel of the song perfectly. The dance is individual enough to keep you interested but also very graceful and interpretative in its movements, particularly with the hands gestures. The moment where the girls read their letters is also particularly touching. If there’s one gripe I have about the video, it’s the costumes. Michishige looks lovely in her orange kimono but the rest of the group is in the ugliest skirt-top combo we have seen in a long time. Who matches yellow with blue, coral green AND plum purple? They are so jarring and out of place with the scenery.
The song itself is actually quite beautiful. The harmonies are excellent and the usual peppiness is replaced with a longing and sorrowful tone that really cuts deep. The melody itself is wonderfully composed, with a gorgeous orchestration that makes it feel like an epic ballad for a goodbye. The chorus highlights all the song does right, with a sweeping guitar solo at the end that nails the bittersweet feel (best use of electric guitar). Honestly, if there were one aspect where the song shines, it’s this right here. I could listen to it for hours, if it didn’t threaten to make me cry when it gets to the end.
Overall, Mikaeri Bijin is a great song and a fitting farewell to the currently longest lasting member of the group. It’s gorgeous sound and near perfect video really make it an experience that should be seen and heard, just ignore the awful costuming. If there’s one word to summarize the whole thing, it would be “lovely.” A fitting end to a long career, and the perfect B-Side for an otherwise terrible single (seriously, don’t listen to Tiki Bun, it’s garbage).
– Great song overall.
– Good video.
– Beautiful melody/orchestration.
– Weird costumes.
– Generic lyrics.