With Takahashi Ai‘s impending graduation date just around the corner, Morning Musume fans are turning the other cheek at the thought of a Musume line-up without their beloved leader, whilst hotly debating amongst themselves as to which member(s) will take her significant amount of singing lines in the group’s tracks after her departure. Many reasonably argued that 6th generation member Tanaka Reina would not be the solo member to carry the group, and many even speculated that the 9th generation shining star prodigy member Sayashi Riho will take the reigns after Takahashi’s departure. Up until today, the answers were very much up in the air…That is until the release of the second of the double A-side 47th single radio previews was released!
Late last month/early this month, a clear radio preview of the first of Morning Musume’s 47th single “Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! / この地球の平和を本気で願ってるんだよ! / I’m Seriously Praying for Peace on This Earth!”
Perhaps not the sincerest deviation from the typical RenAi lead single that the producers at UFA could muster, but with this A-side came a revival of an almost hectic, no clear-cut cookie-cutter musical sequence regarding the background instrumentals in vein of their last single “Only You.” It was as if the producer had taken bits and pieces from various tracks and managed to somehow put them all together, and arguably make it work. The funky disco beats and the scattered quality are almost reminiscent of the Hello Project days when Dance Man was still around, but not quite as memorable of course. Mind you, after the emo-esque 46th single was released, this new track is much more genki, per se, in comparison and has much more variety in terms of members’ vocals, though definitely nothing to cry over.
While many fans moaned and groaned over another single they deemed to be lack-luster, it seemed that with the release of the concept pictures for this particular single had changed their minds, if only for a little while. With the sexy Egyptian-meets-Princess-Leia-slave-outfit (don’t judge me and my Star Wars references), fans could find their interest at least being piqued slightly more so than with the single preview. With the heavy discotheque theme the single seemed to be pushing musically, fans were curious to see how these outfits would mesh with the single whenever the PV would be released. Thus far, the only information fans were given is that the videos have been filmed and are currently undergoing editing and touch-ups. Patience is a virtue, folks.
Today, however, marked an interesting curve-ball, so to speak. While the aforementioned A-side stayed primarily on a disco, generic RenAi led theme, the second single offered something fans everywhere did not see coming. Check out this short radio preview for “Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai / 彼と一緒にお店がしたい / I Want to Have a Shop with My Boyfriend!”
Your ears are not deceiving you folks, that is indeed 6th generation member Michishige Sayumi leading this single. I released a sigh upon the first playback of the song, simply because it was a refreshing surprise. Her voice wasn’t as painfully grating as it was during her Otome Gumi days. Need I mention that scathing introductory verse of hers during “Yuujou Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!“? Just for shits and giggles, I’ll post the video so you can compare and contrast yourselves ;D
Christ, I miss Miki. Without a doubt, no matter long one stays in denial, the girl has improved.
Straying for a moment from Sayumi, the introduction to the single offers something much more genki in comparison to the other A-side, with its prominent drum beats and guitar intro riff. The song then transitions into a simple and Maji Desu Ka Ska/Koko ni Iruzee sort of genre (heavy on the genki, trumpets, and guitar riffs), which will always be something refreshing after the long streak of emo-musume songs fans had to deal with for some time.
The vocal distribution for this song is primarily Sayumi, Reina, and coupled members singing lines together, with gokkie members Niigaki Risa and Takahashi Ai, along with Riho taking on the pre-chorus, all before transitioning back to a Sayumi-Reina dominated chorus. Indeed, quite refreshing! But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cringe the first time I heard the song. Now, mind you, I don’t have anything against Sayu; she’s a sweetie, I’m sure. I just never had much expectation for her voice, especially after that nail-to-the-chalkboard experience my ears had to deal with during her Otome Gumi days. The girl can hardly hold a note, much less tone down on the nasal quality of her voice, but hey, at least my ears haven’t bled out yet. Even if her improvement is minuscule in comparison to other members, at least it’s an improvement in the end.
Although foreign to the ears, the Sayu-Reina led single was a breath of fresh air for the long-time Musume fan, or even those fans that recently joined during the RenAi domination days. Also, it is interesting to note that the ending for the first A-side transitions into the beginning of the second A-side; go back and take a listen! Though definitely not noted for her vocal prowess, Sayumi is one of the more relevant members for the media, often being featured on various variety shows and radio programs, creating a persona of a sickeningly cute, poison-tongued member of that one idol group, Morning Musume. Without her out-of-this-world persona, I doubt many media blogs/papers would really bother giving the group a second glance; Sayu does an excellent job of keeping the group under the radar. Which leads me to speculate that this imperceivable move to make Sayu a lead for the 2nd A-side was made to accomplish two things:
- Utilize Sayu’s media popularity (or infamy) to the group’s advantage. With her several solo opportunities, she will have more of a chance than any other member to plug the group’s latest single. Even if she is prominent for her sharp, but witty tongue, exposure is exposure, and there’s surely no such thing as bad exposure.
- Help fans make a musical transition from heavy RenAi singles to Reina + [insert member here] singles.
Sayu may or may not be the new co-lead with Reina for the 48th single, and so on and so forth, but because no fan even began to flirt with the thought of another type of lead vocal coupling, this is just ground-breaking stuff! It opens the doors for other members in terms of vocal time. While it can almost be guaranteed that Reina and Riho will have a significant amount of lines in the future, fans can only hope that with this decision to make someone as vocally weak as Sayumi is a sign that the UFA is finally trying to expand their horizons with vocal distribution. To utilize a relevant member like Sayu is a smart move by the company, to test the waters for post-Ai times. If a popular member like Sayu cannot boost group sales, then it’s obviously back to the drawing board. The girl has her voice against her, but her character and relevance does nothing but keep everyone in Japan aware of who she is and of which group she belongs. Although we were only given a very slight preview for the second A-side, we can also hope that the rest of the 9th generation members are given some solo vocal time as well, but that might be stretching it for now. Also, I can imagine this must be something frustrating for Gaki fans; even if she is the new leader of the group, she still has not had a significant lead in any of the group’s songs. Though, being a leader never necessarily means prominence in music/PVs. One step at a time, I suppose.
BUT MAN, IS THIS EXCITING OR WHAT?! My mind is still trying to wrap around a single that isn’t being carried by the ever-prominent Aichan, much less a single that is being carried by friggin’ SAYU! SAYU! It still blows my mind. The group’s manager has been teasing fans with tweets, stating that there is a gimmick regarding the PVs for the double A-side, adding further fuel o the comeback fire! As I previously mentioned, the first A-side transitions into the beginning of the second A-side, implying that there is a possibility these two PVs can be tied together. Will fans finally get a PV with a plot? We might be asking for too much for now, and I’d rather have 0 expectations, so as to not be disappointed in the near future. Some fans even went on to say that the PV has the potential to be like SNSD‘s mash-up MVs for “Oh!” and “Run Devil Run.” But I’ll stop with the speculation for now and leave you readers with some Sayu-led goodness. Here’s a video from the group’s Fantasy DX tour, with the group singing a personal favorite song of mine “Fantasy ga Hajimaru.” Let the Sayu lovin’ go on~