Be honest, everyone: How many of you heaved a sigh of relief when you heard that 5th generation member Niigaki Risa wasn’t graduating with that KFC-promotion fodder single? How about when you heard the concert previews of her real graduation single? Yeah? I’m not the only one, right? Did those teaser previews lead us to a pleasant surprise for Gaki’s last hurrah as a musume, or did they simply mislead us into only thinking so? Let’s check out what the girls have in store for us with the release of their 49th single “Renai Hunter!”
Many fans may or may not admit that they were worried (possibly even angered by the fact) that Niigaki would be leaving her 10 year stint with Morning Musume with Pyoko Pyoko Ultra as her grad single. Oh the rage! The shock and horror! I’m sure those fans knew better, but simply wanted reassurance. I mean, that literal chicken shit single (apologies to the many fans that actually liked it. It will never go down in my books as a good single) came to incredibly polar reviews from fans and non-fans alike, and its sales records according to Oricon and various other music charts seemed to give some numerical evidence that even the die-hard wota seemed to agree with me on this one.
You can only imagine the look on my face when the first few concert rips of the group’s 49th single Renai Hunter first leaked. I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only fan out there that was forced to have a double take when they heard that intro beat. Morning Musume meets modern and trendy dubstep? What? After convincing myself that I wasn’t drunk or painfully hungover, and after reading other people’s comments, I got my confirmation of sorts that the intro did indeed have a bit of dubstep. Yep, sign #1 that this was going to be a great song. Or at least an improvement from their last one. Personally speaking, I think it’s kind of interesting to hear some American flavors being laced with Morning Musume songs. Not just with this single in particular, but if any of you all listened to the B-side of PPU, you would have heard what I’m talking about. “Kanashiki Koi no Melody” sounded strangely like it was something out of Ke$ha‘s recording studio. It makes you wonder if the producers are going to keep up with this type of trend in the group’s singles…
Only recently did the full, actual single audio come out, and to be completely honest with you all, it was kind of underwhelming. That’s not to say I dislike it or anything, but compared to the powerful display of vocals you heard from the concert rips, the official recording just struck me as bland in comparison. Thankfully, we can at least hear the dubstep-ish instrumentals much better in the official recording, but it would have been nice to hear the girls sing with more gusto like they do in their lives. Despite my disappointment in the actual recording, I will applaud the girls on their amazing lives and their vocals during those concert performances. The members take pride in their total live performances and their complete lack (or at least minimal use) of backtracks and lipsynching, and that just makes for quite a good show.
The line-distribution seems fairly predictable. We’ve got Reina, Gaki, and Riho taking a huge chunk of the song, sprinkled with some auto-tuned Sayumi in the mix, with a dash of 9th and 10th gen vocals thrown in for obligatory good measure. Predictable, yet tastefully done. The vocals are fairly strong on this one, and although I need to brush up on my 9th (sans Riho) and 10th gen voices, the new kids sound pretty great as well. I’m sure Sayumi is pretty happy she can sing more lines and not have to simply sigh and moan onto her microphone during lives. And is anyone else addicted to Reina’s “Stay with me” line?
So far, the song gets two thumbs way up from me! Already doing a helluva lot better than PPU by a mile or two. But then we come to a minor roadblock known as single covers. I will always have a bitter relationship with the UFA’s creative branch when it comes to these covers and PVs. Always. Kpop has spoiled me shitless and I know it’s not fair to compare the two, but sometimes you just can’t help that sort of thing. Anyway, let’s take a look at what they managed to pull out for this single:
And people wonder why I have quite a beef with those guys. Honestly though, you’d think I’d be used to these half-assed paint copy-paste covers by now, but nope! There’s nothing really bad about the regular, A, and D versions, but there’s absolutely nothing that makes them particularly special. B and C are rather boring, and did anyone else think Sexy Boy covers when they say limited B? Single V just made me think of a Piet Mondrian piece with a modern jpop twist. And even Gaki’s solo cover managed to disappoint me a bit. She looks lovely indeed, quite a beautiful close up shot. It’s just a shame that they didn’t even bother giving her her own original solo song (maybe her own decision, no one will ever really know, but even that sounds unlikely to me), but they couldn’t even provide her with her own special outfit for a cover! This is one of those rare occasions when I applaud the creative branch on their works on the Pyoko Pyoko Ultra CD covers; at least those were remotely creative compared to these slightly disappointing covers.
The outfits for this single deserve some applause, though. At least the girls don’t look like KFC representatives anymore! We’ve got 10th gen clad in blue, 9th gen in red, 6th and 8th gen in black, and the lone member to rock the gold is the last gokkie standing. Not bad, for the most part. I can’t even find much to complain about…well, maybe some girls’ hairstyles, but I think I’m just forcing myself to find something wrong at this point.
Is it time for the main course yet? The PV for the 49th single dropped TODAY!!!!
I never though I’d honestly live to see the day, but damn, I am pretty pleased with the outcome of this PV. All fangirling aside, seriously, this is some pretty surprisingly quality stuff coming from H!P and UFA. Although there’s the whole possible problem area that comes with being “cheap” using one recording location and one set of outfits, I seriously can tell you that it’s ok. For once, the creative department took what they got, had some direction, and made it work.
And damn, did they make it work!
I’ll add screen shots later because I love adding completeness to my spaz attacks, but man… Where does one even begin? Let’s with the four main scenes we’re given. First off, we’ve got the typical close-up shots with the girls looking pretty, singing for the camera with a sequin backdrop. Not too shabby, but nothing terribly creative or eye-catching. The girls looks rather pretty though. A little more contrast would have made it a bit less bleach-y on the eyes…and did I just miss something, or did Sato not have a solo for this one?
Then we’ve got another set of awesome solo/group shots. It’s kind of a mega group mashed up with solo shots, slow motioned down with the epic wind-blowing all tied together with a really soft camera effect that just makes all the girls look like something out of a Victoria Secret fashion shoot. Ok, maybe that’s a little over-exaggerated, but I seriously cannot stop raving about it. The only real complaint I have is that the gray backdrop kind of made things really washed out and well…gray? But that’s like a minute problem, and one that hardly takes anything away from the beautiful schematic of those scenes. It reminded me of all those lovely beauty shots kpop fans are often spoiled with in their types of MVs.
Third is perhaps one of the more creative parts of the PV and it’s a shame to note that they last about a millisecond in comparison to everything else. The girls pose prettily for the camera and *FLASH* we’ve got ourselves a custom magazine cover with their names and random tidbit titles on the cover, all regarding their new single, Gaki’s graduation, and other Morning Musume related stuff. Simple, but it’s so different, so “out of the box” from the general crap we’re thrown. My God, I don’t even care how straight-forwardly simple it is; it’s a novel concept coming from a company that’s usually settled for the mundane, that I will eat it up and savor it for all its worth!
Finally, we’ve got the dance scenes. Let’s get something down: the dance is so-so. Some parts of it are fantastic and amazing, and others are…well, yeah. Let’s call it uninspiring to be fair. Those parts of the choreography were pretty hard to watch, because no matter how much of a fan I am, I can’t even help but laugh at those moves. For as cool a song as Renai Hunter is, when it’s paired up with some laughable moves, you can’t help but chuckle or wonder what their choreographer was thinking when they made them. It’s kind of like a mix of that finger dance from Kimagure Princess meets Michael Jackson‘s Thriller, and as laughable as the combination may be, the song/dance combo kind of make it work. Kind of. Still makes me laugh though!
And I suppose there’s no better way to end this graduation PV for our last rokkie than to feature her solo. It was interesting that they quite literally tattooed her face with “Morning Musume” while she smiled and mouthed out the words “Morning Musume, Daisuki.” Kind of weird at first, but it was a nice touch and once again out of the general spectrum for the usual PV formula. I mean, for a girl that’s spent 10 long, hard, and hopefully happy years in a group she had loved so much, I suppose all those years of effort might be summed up and personified in a single tattoo.
So do we have a winner? Pardon my language, but fuck yeah we do! Despite how similar the general PV formula was, and the lack of actual color in the PV set and decoration, it all came together so well. The fluidity of the transitions to the slow-mo beauty shots, to the final “goodbye” from Gaki, I am actually struggling to find things “wrong” with the PV. I’ve never been so surprised, much less surprised for the better, than with the PV release from today. We all usually complain about the simplicity of these things, but this is a wonderful example of how even with the simplest of formats, we can be delivered something remarkably beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps I’m over-exaggerating and tooting their horns too much for comfort, but hey, it’s a million times better than Pyoko Pyoko Ultra, and that’s all I could ever ask for.
I’ll be back to edit this with pictures, but please drop by some comments! I’d love to hear from you guys!