Impressions: IDOL is DEAD

Garry and Dae check out the new Brand-new Idol Society PV for the song “IDOL is DEAD”. Find out what their thoughts are by reading on below.

 

Garry:

A new BiS PV? You bet your ass that I’m reviewing this!

Hopefully you all know the premise behind BiS by now. They use crazy antics to generate hype and get people talking. A classic case of no publicity being bad publicity. How extreme things get tends to vary from PV to PV but there’s always something that makes you stop and take notice.

“IDOL is DEAD” is no different and I’ll talk more about the PV in a bit. First of all I should probably get my thoughts on the song out of the way. Hopefully I’ll get some of you to give it another listen too while I’m at it.

Basically to all of you that took one listen (maybe not even that, in some cases) to this song, you’re probably going “This isn’t real music, this is just noise!” or something to that effect. I’ve met many of you people in my time and there’s usually nothing I can say to change your minds but dammit, I’m sure as hell gonna try.

Okay so yes, there’s a lot of screaming in this song. You certainly are not incorrect in that assessment. I completely understand that this is a complete and utter deal breaker for a lot of people. However, if you take the time to really digest all elements of the song, you’ll realize that there’s a lot more going on than just screaming.

Take the instrumentals for example. The guitars and drums in the beginning set the tone for the song sure, but it’s not like that for the entirety of the song. Everything is underpinned by a very catchy synthesizer beat that helps carry the song. I know I’ve personally had the song stuck in my head almost entirely due to that element.

Speaking of the instrumentals, there’s actually a lot going on in there once you get past the “wall of noise” misconception. Once you really get into the guts of the song, you start to realize that there’s a lot of really intricate things coming together in a very well structured way.

To wrap up this part of the review, let’s go back to the vocals for a second. Like I said, there is some degree of screaming going on but I’d like to nitpick that just a little. Technically most of those screams are just vocal filters, so I’m not sure how this will be performed live given that BiS typically use live vocals in their performances. Perhaps some lip synching will be required. Anyway, just wanted to point that out because it’s something that could easily be missed by the more casual listener.

Oh and there’s a line in the song that goes “Suck you my dick”. I found this hilarious because that’s the kind of guy I am. Maybe you don’t like that in your idol music but if that’s the case, you should probably already just not like BiS. So yeah, that’s a thing that I felt should be mentioned.

Moving on to the PV, I think we can all agree that it’s all very striking. By that I mean the visuals, costumes, everything. If there’s one thing that BiS have been doing incredibly well (even more so since their switch to Avex) it’s incorporating very strong imagery into their PVs.

As I said, “IDOL is DEAD” is no exception. The black and white prison uniforms that the girls sport really stand out in the dimly lit sets that the directors use to create an eerie feeling PV. The spiked baseball bats also make a return, but this time they’ve been spray painted black. No more fluorescent colors here, this is a much darker Brand-new Idol Society.

To elaborate on the setting/theme/whatever of the PV a little, it’s mostly shots of the girls walking around back alleys, climbing on parked cars, standing on rooftops, etc and looking menacing with their bats and a skull that they’re just randomly carrying around with them. Some of the more amusing scenes being them kicking the skull around like a football (or soccer ball) and grinding it along the ground while skateboarding.

The rest of the shots are of them standing in front of a massive “IDOL is DEAD” spray painted onto a wall in a dark room. There’s also a five person guillotine that Nozomi gets strapped into for reasons unknown (perhaps more will be revealed in the full PV) which adds to the striking imagery that I talked about earlier.

Everything is then interspersed with newspaper clipping graphics of angels, phrases and other objects that I’m sure have some deeper meaning but I won’t pretend to understand any of it. The main thing is that it ties the scene transitions together in a way that makes them appear a lot less jumpcutty (inventing words here) than they actually are.

Overall, this is exactly the sort of thing I expect from BiS and I don’t really care if this is considered “idol music” or not. All I know is that I like it and that everyone should give it a chance before they write it off as “just noise”.

PV:

Song:

 

Dae:

“Idol is DEAD” is a song that I can only describe as Initial D meets Slipknot. It’s full of euro-pop synths overlaying hardcore riffs and a multitude of vocal filters to make it all sound like it’s being blared over a dying radio or a half-serviced television channel.

Unlike the rather straight-forward dark metal in ‘IDOL’, this shines as the far more interesting and creative song. The opening and build up was impressive and caught my attention— the line delivery, mixed with the guitar and especially the electronic keyboard, colored the song in various ways that I found enjoyable.

It deserves a mention that it’s probably not for everyone, and those without a background in this kind of music might find nothing to like— but I won’t dwell on that. If this genre has taught me anything, it’s that idol music are often times Frankenstein creations that fuse unlikely music styles with J-pop, so you need an appreciation of a lot of genres to really understand and like idol music in a broader sense— this is just one of the more trying examples.

I was enjoying the breakneck speed and atmosphere, soaking up the visceral experience and the controlled chaos, but then it took a step down for a pretty boring by-the-books metal breakdown with a standard chugging guitar riff and vocals that grew into a grating and irritating shriek. It’s a pretty big chunk of the song and I thought it slammed the brakes to what I was finding pretty damn enjoyable. Another factor that dampened the experience was that it was a mere 3 minute song.

A metal song is normally around the same length as a full idol song, at around 4-5 minutes, and ‘Idol is DEAD’ sounds like a song that you can sink your teeth into; but just when you think it’s all going to come together it just packs up and leaves before you’re ready. It gave me somewhat of a hollow, unfulfilled feeling, like having watched a movie that just cut off 3/4 of the way through.

The PV has BiS going back to their music video styles of old, much to my chagrin. And like the earlier BiS PVs, it’s hard to tell where the parody begins and where the seriousness ends which just confuses me. It might be simple or understandable to others, but for me it’s a lot of things that just cloud the actual music, so this will be a song I will prefer to listen to without the accompaniment of a PV, which is a bit disappointing because I thought PPCC’s had a clear vision and tone (literally and conceptually).

The use of every video and color filter under the sun reminds me of video interludes used on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and speaks directly with my pet peeve in older BiS music videos where they try to implement subversive images, but in the end are ultimately toothless and just skin deep. That said, a few things in the PV stand out in a good way.

The prison striped dresses, complete with a cap and stockings, are well designed and with the return of the spiky baseball bats, wouldn’t look out of place in ‘The Warriors’. My favorite (and in my opinion severely underutilized) element of the PV have to be the stylistic and colorful paper collage motifs sprinkled throughout that remind you of ransom notes (or something you might find in the journal of a serial killer). They’re subtly animated so they’re never truly static, giving a pretty neat effect while adding to the atmosphere. If you’ve ever seen Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it reminds me of the surreal paper-craft animations during the witch battles.

Overall, it’s a mixed release for me. There are things I love about it: it’s creative, has a catchy rhythm, and BiS attitude, but its unsatisfactory PV, short run time and what I feel was a trite breakdown (which because of the stinted length, is 1/3rd of the song), makes it difficult for me to jump on board.

PV:

Song:

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

Check Also

Better Off Dead – BiS, Death, and reBirth

I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I’ve contemplated it, and I’ve felt …

2 comments

  1. If you’ve heard of Atari Teenage Riot, then there’s a a chance you’d be reminded of them once you hear Idol Is Dead. BiS’ latest piece of work is highly evocative of Atari Teenage Riot’s self-coined genre of digital hardcore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *