The Promotional Parade [August 2007]

So I’ve been gone from blogging for just over a month. (3 weeks of vacation, 1 week of school.) A lot of releases come out in a month. A lot more promotional music videos come out in a month. There are still more that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but just haven’t managed to get around to.

And while, y’know, I’m not going to cover every single one of them, here’s a batch with the new single releases of August that I was interested in and have been stagnating on my laptop since. Yes, stagnating. That’s the smell of rotten music videos right there. (No, it’s not the roadkill lying outside the window, nor the laundry that ought to be washed, nor the toilet that decided to regurgitate. Whatever made you think that?)

UVERworld: SHAKA BEACH ~Laka Laka La~ – When I reviewed UVERworld’s endscape single, I said the PV brought my hopes up for what turned out to be a subpar title track. At least this time, the balance seems a bit better. (But then again, I guess you can’t really call me a huge fan when I only know the vocalist TAKUYA∞ and the bassist Nobuto because I think he’s cute.)

So it’s a hot summer day, you’re walking home from school, and you pass by this shady building. What do you do? Peek into it, of course! And that’s how we get the first setting of the video, UVERworld playing the latin-infused stanzas in a club apparently meant for foreigners and sexy Japanese foosball-playing girls. And then the usual pop-rock chorus comes in and we get introduced to the second setting, them performing at a beach party. The song and the video reeks of summer fun – which makes it a bit of a shame that I’m only watching it now that school’s started.

Tamaki Nami: Brightdown – Nami’s first PV following her high school graduation has her all grown up. And sexed up. Whether you want to call it the rebellion she never actually could pull off these past three years or just her way of kicking off her student pop singer shoes, you can’t deny that she looks HOT.

There’s the undeniable presence of a choreographed dance in the video, which is what I usually look for in Nami’s PVs, but this time, who cares? The main focus is undeniably on Nami’s new look as she sings her heart out, thrashes about in flames, looks a bit lost from the funeral home she should be at, and just screams a newfound “I’m sexy and I plan on selling” attitude nowhere to be found in her past releases. Oh and the song’s pretty catchy too. (But I planned on reviewing the single later anyways.)

Takahashi Hitomi: JET BOY JET GIRL – Hitomi’s latest music video (well, this particular Hitomi – there are way too many of them in the Japanese music industry) could’ve been wonderfully abstract and whimsical. That’s what it seems like the director wanted to do. And I really liked how paper images were used in place of the real thing – including Hitomi’s shoulders and feet. And the toys. And the rope balloons.

But unfortunately, Hitomi looks too serious and uncomfortable and the PV is too disjointed. (Also, the bob makes her chin look really sharp. She’s a teenage pop-rock singer, not a bird with a horse’s face, dammit.) And the song’s not bad, but not as immediately engaging as some of her earlier singles. Oh, wait, that’s for the later review too. Okay. Next!

Suzuki Ami: FREE FREE – I think we need to make a few things clear first. Suzuki Ami has only really “blipped” on my music radar once – when she resurfaced with avex in that techno/dance style. But I gave up on her after Alright!, which was really just a rehash of a Hamasaki song done in her vocals. (Let us ignore the fact that the period during which I most enjoyed her music is the period when she had members of AAA backdancing for her.) Nakata Yasutaka, on the other hand, is an electronic music god. And one of these days I’m going to get around to reviewing that LIAR GAME soundtrack and stuff from the contemode label here.

In the meanwhile, this PV. For a song that may be one of the things Ami needed most to get back into my listening graces. She can’t really sing, but when she comes on strong she does great with electronic music. Nakata does electronic music best and makes this track both fun and serious for Ami, and the PV? Similar. Funky with Nakata rotating on the TV screens and visual echo effects, seizure-riffic with all the many colored lights zooming in and out, and then there’s Ami. Amigo has never looked more appealing, sexily or otherwise. But especially sexily. Koda Kumi, eat your heart out.

Kawada Mami: Get my way! – I have to be honest. I don’t like this song. The choruses just sound whiny and lacking of all rhythm. Kawada pulls off the stanzas and bridges, but the chorus just sounds bad and makes me regret enjoying them. So why am I sticking it in here and watching it again?

Two reasons. 1) Geneon has an amazing way with the promotional videos they do, looking artsy and beautiful and oddly fitting with every song despite lacking story or extremely beautiful women (I’ve Sound girls have nice voices, though, we’ll forgive that they actually look like an average Japanese woman would look). And while I hate the chorus, I can’t deny that it’s pretty and fits the aforementioned mold. 2) I’m pretty sure it’s set in the same station as the one AAA’s CHEWING GUM video was filmed in. Of course, all subway stations in Japan could look the same and I wouldn’t know the difference. But how many let you film in them? (I know what you’re thinking. Yes. Shut up. I do not think about AAA 24/7. Maybe about 16/7. What do you mean, that’s not much better?)

HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR: Dreams – HaiKara’s first single since the February release of their third album, San, is a ballad-ish track. And they pull it off pretty well. Surprise, surprise.

I rather like the song, it’s relaxing and relatively simple piece with soft stanzas, a contrasting chorus, and a strong refrain. The same holds for the video, with a primarily light color scheme, soft filters, wispy flashes and the members fading in and out to give it a bit of a dream-like quality. (I don’t know how dreamy Maki getting her hair cut and styled is, though.) All the same, though, this isn’t one particularly amazing video, just nicely appropriate for the song.

D-51: Stand Up! – Oh Yu and Yasu. Like with HaiKara, it’s been a while since your February-released third album as well. And during that time you’ve apparently had a genre change as well. And boys, you still sound great. Has Yasu gotten a little chubbier? Yu’s working the shoulder-length hair, though.

Okay, enough small talk. Let’s get to the point. What is this? The PV is boring. I applaud the director’s choice of heavy shadowing, it appropriately shows off the guys’ good points and shows more contrast in what’s already a pretty monotone-ish clip. And I applaud the outfits – they look nice. But man is it ever creepy to hear Yasu’s childish voice coming out of him when he looks and moves like an older male Kago Ai. The song’s not bad. It’s jazzy R&B, actually the sort of song I want to hear from CHEMISTRY – and D-51’s a pair of decent enough harmonizing vocalists to pull it off. But Yasu looks totally uncomfortable bopping to the music and frankly, bike tricks don’t interest me. Who is PONY CANYON trying to market them to, the boyband-loving crowd?

CHEMISTRY: This Night – Give it credit. For a single released at the beginning of August (and it’s video a few weeks before), this video has yet to get old. Though that may have quite a bit to do with Kawabata Kaname’s deliciously built upper body.

Male eye candy aside, though, the PV is an interesting watch and makes CHEMISTRY much more engaging than, well, a majority of their songs would lead you to believe if you’re not a fan of the Japanese R&B or soul genres. First we have Dochin Yoshikuni playing the good, loving boyfriend to Kawabata’s more abusive and pimped-out bad one on what’s apparently a TV show – and then the PV tosses a role-reversal at us, right down to what’s playing on TV. (Dochin’s an ass for being the bad guy to his hot girl, though.) The repeated runs of the same scene of Kawabata making his girl cry get a bit tiring, but the song ties it all together pretty nicely.

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