Many music videos are released every month in Japan to promote the latest single or album coming out. Though we often talk about the music videos that accompany the music we review, some PVs slip through the cracks. This week we task our lovely writer with the difficult job of reviewing some of the recent vids to make their way all the way from Japan to our computer screens in the US.
Tsuchiya Anna - Believe in Love Written by Erin Grace
Let’s cover the positives first, shall we? Anna’s voice is gorgeous, and her English pronunciation dead on. I liked this song despite myself – it certainly doesn’t fit my regular musical M.O., but it was beautiful. Okay, so that’s it for the positives. Now to the negatives. This video is horrible for pretty much every reason you can think of. The set: overdone, ostentatious, and butt-ugly. Anna’s make-up: yellow, sallow, and also butt-ugly. Anna’s wardrobe… I hate to be unfair, since it’s clear that she hurt her back during this shoot and was forced to wear a weight belt, but that thing is also (you guessed it!) butt-ugly. Her hand motions are grossly overdone. Her facial expressions are grossly overdone. Her hair blatantly looks like worms. She looks so skinny that I felt a little like someone needed to check her into a hospital. This video is actually a lot more fun if you watch it muted (despite that the music is the best part), because at least then you can pretend that Anna is some ugly, nasty vampire that’s been lured into The Grotto Of Our Lady of the Neon Crosses to be destroyed, The Light Of Christ’s Forgiveness burning the shit out of her undead heart. Hah. Just kidding. The Japanese don’t really believe in all the Christian mombo-jumbo that they like to throw around; they just use it to be melodramatic and “cool,” so Vampire Anna is probably safe. Final verdict: if you like Anna Tsuchiya, avoid this video at all costs. If you don’t like her, watch it! It’s hilarious.
It’s so hard for me to be fair and unbiased about this video because I spent so much time geeking out over it. The video and song both play with traditional Japanese elements that are fun to hear and see performed in a modern way: the song uses traditional Japanese progressions, instruments, and drum calls mixed with a liberal use of synth, Western-style rhythms, and rapping to bring the traditional elements into the twenty-first century. The visual elements are equally enthralling: MINMI is dressed as a geisha analogue: white face, red lips…and white teeth, and a very revealing kimono. Some of the “modern” elements here I think are ill-matched with their historical counterparts (the unblackened teeth, for example, make her mouth look inelegant, and the sharp line of white make-up at her chin rather than the back of her neck makes her head look disconnected from her body), but I get what she’s aiming for. The modern and traditional are further contrasted in the pole-dancing geisha, and even in the clubbers themselves, who alternately use traditional and modern dance. Lighted dance floors, bright colors, sharp video cuts…Marie Antoinette wigs, bowler hats, a single token gaijin…shoji screens, parasols, geisha, kimono… It’s almost as though MINMI is pulling together symbols of the high times of the Edo, Meiji, and Heisei periods into a single video, a dizzying Japanese History-Gasm. Unfortunately, unless you’re big on traditional Japanese music and style, you’ll probably find both the video and music odd and disjointed. So enjoy it at your own risk – but I’m sure there are at least a few that will enjoy it.
When I first saw this PV, I was a little confused. Is ICONIQ leaving herself? It’s sort of like “The Jerk:” White ICONIQ gets the apartment, but all Black ICONIQ needs is this suitcase, and this weird hoodie, and this armful of jewelry…and that’s all she needs! Subsequent viewings made the plot a little more clear perhaps, but several questions remain. Okay, so ICONIQ just got left by somebody other than herself. She didn’t do the leaving, or else this would be an “I’m strong and awesome and totally don’t need you!” video. Instead, she looks vulnerable and sad. White ICONIQ is the heart broken and lost girl trying to deal with her loss, and Black ICONIQ is the same girl, but packed and resolute (if still sad and lost) who’s trying to figure out where to go next. And that might take some doing. Looks like crappy ex-boyfriend had her come to…well, some country that’s not Japan, anyway. And then he left her without so much as a plane ticket home. ICONIQ wanders past signs in English, then some in Spanish, and now we can only guess what’s happened: she left ex-boyfriend’s, tried to walk to the airport, and instead wound up in Mexico. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Then she wanders away, almost literally in a desolate (Mexican?) gutter, which I hope is only a metaphor. Truthfully, the video is pretty and well-shot, and the music is a delightful electro-pop that blends strong bass with some delicate synth that work beautifully with the video. Although the video isn’t interesting enough to really recommend itself, it’s not a travesty either.
This was my very first HALCALI video! I almost decided that I hated them, based only on this video. It’s like Tsuchiya Ann’s “Believe in Love” and Perfume’s “VOICE” had a baby, and then someone beat it to death with an ugly stick: it has all of VOICE’s cheap optical illusions mixed with the horrid clothing and set choices of “Believe in Love.” Oh, and the ugly stick. That’s HALCALI’s dancing. Sorry girls: you were never the best dancers or best dressers anyway, but those awkward dance moves and barf-inducing outfits only make things infinitely worse. You’re both so cute – are you just determined to sell yourselves short? The upside of the video is that I made myself watch several of their other PVs in order to confirm that I don’t just have a deathly aversion to HALCALI on principle. And I don’t! Actually, I rather like most of their videos. So, the good news about this PV is that it’s appears to be the only one that sucks. The bad news is that…well, the whole video is the bad news. The music is campy and involves an organ in a bad way. The costumes are overblown, like the girls were trying really hard to sell candy that might have glass in it. The optical illusions look just as forced as they are. The dancing is awkward and badly performed, reinforcing the candy-with-glass-in-it sentiment. It’s almost like they’re aiming to be bad at everything in this PV, and if that’s the case, they succeed marvelously. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve developed a like for HALCALI. It’s just no thanks to this PV.
The dreaded GLAY video. I knew this day would come. Thankfully, this video isn’t as bad as most of theirs. But “not as bad” and “good” aren’t the same thing, are they? The video features a man daydreaming about his (dead?) (wife?) while GLAY plays on the projector wall in his mind. He and (wife?) do all kinds of things together: lean against the wall, lay on the bed, sit on the couch…You know, couple stuff. He thinks back on an old fight, on the moment when he lost her, time that she spent with…with their baby?! Oh my god, they had a baby and it died too?! Geez, GLAY, nothing is sacred to you! At the end of the PV, of course, we discover that the baby is perfectly alive. Even more confusing, there’s a girl (daughter?) who appears from nowhere. So, did the (wife?) die? Is the woman actually the girl as a grown up? To the point: what the heck happened to the woman anyway, and who is this girl?! I like the concept of the video: a man reflects on a major loss in his life, giving into his grief for a few minutes, then steps back into real life where he’s able to be a strong father despite his loss. It’s a touching and inspiring idea. Unfortunately, the cheesy projection effects and confusing plot elements mixed with the unremarkable music so that I just can’t enjoy it. And the overacting! Oh my god… What? No, that’s NOT a tear you see in my eyes! Shut up! What do you know anyway?!