‘Beginner’ is my favorite single of 2010 among the intense set of releases made this year from Akimoto Yasushi’s group, AKB48. Everything about it screams ambition; the unique multiple-center dance formations, unconventional single, controversial PV, a new concept for b-sides, and the recent news of 1,030,000 copies of ‘Beginner’ being shipped to stores for release day.
Besides the standard pinch of doubt in the back of my mind that comes with every release, I’m confident enough that this single will again beat their record. While I’m excited to chart how well this single will sell for the first week, David and Atron are not so optimistic. They have a much longer history and more experience following J-pop and idol music than I do, but I still firmly hold to my cards that ‘Beginner’ can and will appeal to a bigger audience than ever, even with the debacle that is the censored music video.
And speaking of opinions, there are tons of them related to this particular release. Some want ‘Beginner’ to tank miserably in protest of King Records pulling the PV. Others want to buy it out of loyalty. Fans will ask you: Which of the two evils are you; the malicious or the sheep?
“Is the replacement of one original music video out of the FOUR made for this single really enough to make you withdraw a pre-order?”
“Are you so weak-minded that you’re not willing to hurt AKB sales to show King Records that you are genuinely pissed and aren’t going to take their ilk?”
When you’re presented with questions like these there’s no way you can walk away unscathed, but for me it’s really become a non-issue. The original PV for ‘Beginner’ is going to be distributed and will most likely end up on my computer somehow, appeasing my previous rants. Am I willing to pirate my favorite single of the year for the sake of slapping King Records on the wrist? Of course not. Would I if it was a single I didn’t like as much? I’d have to be in that situation to know for sure.
But I do know that I bought ‘Beginner’ for the songs; and as far as I know they haven’t been edited or omitted— and I still like them a lot. They are worth my money, no question. Sure it’s a shame that the supplemental DVD won’t have the original PV but am I really going to pop in the DVD to watch it when I already have a copy on my computer? It’s more for archival purposes than anything. It may have been a conflicted decision for some, but it was an easy one for me.
So with all these variables in the air, who can know for sure how ‘Beginner’ will do? Will fans revolt? Will they still bite? Will the casual audience know or care about these issues to have it affect their decision to purchase it? Do they even like the song? We’ll know in about 24 hours how well it sold on the first day, and see where it goes from there.