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.
This PV is insane and creepy and I love it. The PV takes place entirely in the world of the singer’s brooding mind, full of dark colors and shadow, old furniture and marionettes. As you might imagine, his mind is a strange place to be - walls open, he watches himself dance with a line of marionettes, a piano plays itself, dark geometric shapes and bright statuary lie on the floor, and tons and tons of stationary marionettes are frozen in the act of reading or drawing or eating, all of them singing and staring into the camera with the same dead eyes as the singer. The singer is trapped by insecurity and indecision, unable to escape: he exercises almost no control over his environment except as far as interacting with the marionettes - he only sits or stands, and sings. Then, toward the end of the song he presses a key on the piano. Then a woman appears, kisses a marionette, and he pushes it over. Then he tries to take a kiss from the woman, and the creepy world around him interrupts him, and he’s alone. It’s as though Magritte got tired of painting and started to make videos. The song is just as strange - electronic rock interrupted by piano - and the lyrics hardly even make sense. But the whole thing is brilliant and will make your skin crawl. This is my new favorite of 2011.
Kaela climbs through a giant mouth and into a magical Alice in Wonderland-type world, full of strange creatures and versions of herself dressed in Lady Gaga-esque outfits representing her emotions. Yep, this one earns it’s “Kimura Kaela and her crazy PVs” cred right from the beginning. She spends time chasing a bird, running on a record player, changing into the Emotion Kaelas, and being intensely cute. The world around her is bright and beautiful and quirky: a world made out of inflated latex gloves, and white tents, and boxes painted like computers. Throughout her journey through this amorphous body-world she eats small, colorful cubes, and after she exits the body again she spits them out and they form a giant robot which she fights. After she defeats it, the boxes open to reveal the Emotion Kaelas. The end! Despite that it’s about as crazy as an acid trip, at least it isn’t as bright or flashing or jerky or seizure-inducing as the PV that shall not be named. I actually had a great time watching this PV because it’s just surreal and fun without trying to have some kind of deep meaning. (And, more importantly, without giving me a migraine.) And the music is incredibly good - synth rock that’s very reminiscent of Freezepop. This one was a strong contender for my favorite this time; definitely worth a watch, especially considering the great music that goes with it.
Yuka gets to look at - and occasionally eats! - things that pass her on a long conveyor belt. It seems that she’s showing off all the things that make her happy, and there’s an awful lot of jello in that list. (But let’s not forget the cake, and popcorn, and jelly beans, and marshmallows, and squirrels.) Besides eating jello and kissing flan, she does a little singing and a lot of silently squee-ing as she looks at things on the conveyor belt, and sometimes silently pouting as they’re taken away. Later in the PV we get to see Kosuke and his conveyor belt: he gets a tiny keyboard, and a teensy-tiny drum. As soon as I saw that, I had to laugh because it pretty much explains the essence of moumoon: Kosuke is the musical half, and Yuka is the cute “OMGSHINEEEEYYYYYY” half. At the end, she seals the PV with a very cute head tilt that would crumble a heart of granite. The song is typical moumoon: sweet, relaxed and light-hearted. I actually like the PV despite myself. (I’ll be it’s that damn head tilt at the end!) While it’s not a favorite, it’s not boring or badly recorded, and the light, bright color scheme makes it visually appealing. The song is almost too saccharine for me, but I know there are plenty out there who’ll disagree. Take a look!
Namie naked! Wooooooo! Oh. Wait. Nope. Sorry. Didn’t mean to get your hopes up. I’m sure you were all looking forward to this being Namie’s version the BiS “Nude” PV, but we don’t even get any cleavage. Instead this is more of the same for Namie - a dance PV with cute outfits. Namie commands an elite force of dancing revolutionaries who fight “for their right.” (Which one? The right to be naked? Or to follow your heart? Or to make up your mind?) When she’s not dancing, she’s busy standing on a huge box covered in speakers while holding a huge red flag. Unfortunately, this PV is far from her best work. Although the dancing is as solid as ever, the choreography itself feels tired and uses a lot of overdone moves that aren’t even visually impressive. The sets and props are bare bones, usually centering on either a theme of revolution or music, but some of them don’t make any sense at all. Why an overflowing glass of milk? And what’s with the security camera? Maybe Namie’s organizing a prison riot? The photography is so-so for the most part, but shots with Namie on the box make her look odd because of the angle. High points of this PV: headwear. I would stab any one of you to get my hands on the black hood or that little feathered hat.
A live PV. Ugh. If there’s anything I hate more than a performance PV, it’s a live PV. They have all the tedium of a performance PV, then add an unhealthy dollop of laziness. The video quality is almost never good - which doesn’t make any sense when you think that they probably had to record at least some of this for the live DVD - and “Chikai” in particular adds in two parts where the audio quality drops as well. Several of the video segments don’t fit the size of the screen and so are either smaller than the rest or take up only half the screen. I’d think it was intentional, except that no one that would do this intentionally. The whole point of a live PV is to be as lazy as humanly possible, and that’s precisely what they’ve done. This kind of PV is a slap in the face to the fans, as though the artist thought to themselves, “Why give our fans something good when we can give them something bad? Let’s just go down into the basement and cram together some cell phone videos the staff took at our last live. I bet the fans will think it’s ‘artsy.’ We don’t even have to hire a director or rehearse! Sweet!” The song, at least, is very pretty and beautifully performed, but don’t even bother with this PV. It’s an insult.