Robo-Musume has graced us with a new single release, and NSK members Dae and Garry have thoughts on them! Read on as we pick on the particulars and feel free give us your thoughts on it— this is the start of a new era!
Following Morning Musume’s powerful ‘One Two Three’, comes ‘Wakuteka Take a Chance’, which also draws from the sweet electric honeypot. Teasing you with wobble-bass right off the bat, the eurobeat synths warming up in the background soon take off. ‘Wakuteka’ is a more laid back song than its ‘One, Two, Three’ counterpart but it has its own unique set of hooks.
‘Wakuteka Take a Chance’ is a collection and a specific arrangement of segments that are distinct from each other, each giving off its own flair and aura. One section may have a playful tone, while another gives off a feeling of yearning, as another just exudes cool. Its strength lies in its variety but in some ways it feels less like a cohesive, focused song. Momoiro Clover’s songs excel in this department by taking their schizophrenic style to the furthest level they can take it; they pretty much force their disparate pieces to connect with really playful compositions and equally creative, punchy instrumentals. ‘Wakuteka’ seems coldly clinical and discombobulated in comparison, even though they have unique stand-alone elements to work with.
Still, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t succeed in being another vibrant song from Morning Musume. Nearly every section of the song seems to be deviously engineered to make a deep boot-print in your brain, save for one recurring selection of verses that slows the momentum of ‘Wakuteka’ to a crawl. In the end, it’s another fairly unorthodox, infectiously catchy song that I’ll be returning to often. ‘Wakuteka’ is undeniably refreshing and cool to listen to, especially when the status quo less than a year ago was that of a group who always seemed to fall back on old habits, musically.
The PV, like ‘Wakuteka’, has variety in its presentation but I can’t say that it was just as effective as the song. The lens flares and sparkles make another appearance here, and while their integration is far better than in ‘One Two Three’, its glaring shine still straddles between cool-looking and distracting. My problem lies more in the technical execution, which makes the PV look like it was inspired by the dawn of the “internet age” in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In a number of shots, there’s elements that look off or unfinished, resulting in an awkward image.
Let me explain one example in a really nit-picky way. The dance shots: Green screen is something that only works when you push for the hyperreal. The lighting on the members are lacking in execution, failing to install lights that would a create real sense of dimension. Instead, the members are all overly-lit from the front, while the rest of the “set” is unaffected. This sort of selective lighting comes off as jarring as a result. This was exacerbated even more in the previous version of the PV (which is faaaar inferior), where the back walls appear totally flat and unconvincing that it’s an actual structure as a result, as well as the member’s black footware just disappearing into the floor.
And while the light beams on the ground are reflected on the glossy dance floor, the members themselves are not reflected in it at all (which would have been the result if they were using bright studio lights like they were in the shot!). This is why green screen is such a finicky and tricky medium: details count. The dance scenes were heavily reminiscent of a couple CMs I saw a month ago, and it does a much better job of lighting the members and integrates the basic missing elements I noted earlier, like the reflections.
This is why I believe all the sparkles and lens flares exist here in the first place: a blind-and-awe campaign to distract you from the lack of polish. And honestly, it kinda works. All the sparkles and closely cropped shots keep the problems mentioned above from becoming a big issue. Their edits are fast and furious here, with the average shot lasting somewhere between one and two seconds, barely enough time for you to really focus on anything other than the members. The solo scenes of the members resting on top of light tables were easily my favorite shots, as it felt the most well-thought out and less fabricated than the rest.
You could take all the glitter out of these scenes and still be effective and nice to look at, where with the other solo scenes, everyone has a sickly-green pale look to them as they’re attacked by studio and fluorescent lights from all directions (and have odd, outdated background projections). But fine, the members still somehow manage to look great in those scenes, and the sparkles dazzle— but what’s with the shot of the silhouetted member with a plain white background burning in flames?! That motif that should have died a decade ago.
One thing I thought the PV did really well overall is showcase multiple members. This PV gave me a better look at the still-unfamiliar tenth generation, and made me take notice of Ayumi and especially Masaki— I thought she was one of the bright stars in the PV, and I didn’t even know her name prior to this! It also deserves mention that the editing in the official version is pretty exquisite. The way the shots transition mid-sentence, juggle different angles, types of shots, and follow the pace of the music is very unlike H!P’s M.O.
It’s somewhat rare for me to like two Morning Musume singles in a row but by God, they did it! ‘One Two Three’ still has my vote as the better “Robo-Musume” song, but this is no slouch. Someone also let UFA know that electric music is not synonymous with green screen and purikura.
I wouldn’t blame anyone for being slightly apprehensive when it comes to Morning Musume releasing a new CD. Let’s face it, these have been a very rough past few years with a lot of disappointment when it comes to the group’s musical output. This has led to Morning Musume (and Hello!Project as a whole) gaining somewhat of a negative image among a lot of idol fans, from the West at least. These days Morning Musume receive at most a cursory glance from a lot of people, and who can blame them when there’s a very large AKS tap-dancing elephant in the room.
“But Garry, where are you going with this tangent?” I hear you cry? Well, while the above may have been true for the Morning Musume of the past few years; this year’s revitalized Morning Musume are a whole different kettle of fish. Sure “Pyokopyoko Ultra” was god awful but “One, Two, Three” and the song/PV I’m about to review have been some of the best music that Tsunku has produced in years.
Getting into my actual review of “Wakuteka Take a Chance”, I’m just going to get my thoughts on the song out of the way first before I start assessing boring stuff like stage lighting and what have you.
The song is another synth-pop number, something that Tsunku seems to have a thing for these days. That’s certainly not a bad thing if all of the songs he writes continue to be this good.
I feel like the opening of the song is slightly misleading, I know I was expecting some hardcore dubstep shit when I first heard it but things never really go too far in that direction. The instrumentals are still heavily synthesizer focused but we’re not getting bass drops every twenty seconds or whatever. Still, I’m super hyped on these high tempo dance songs with catchy beats so of course I think this song is fantastic. Probably the best song that Morning Musume have put out this year in my opinion.
My only major gripe with the song is the same gripe that I have with every Morning Musume song ever, Tsunku doing his creepy backing vocals. Come on man, knock that shit off. These girls have enough talent to carry the songs without your help. Take a step back and stop ruining…..err I mean have faith that they can do it. To a lesser extent I’m not super hot on some of the auto-tune used in the song but it’s not enough to be a major detractor.
Moving on to the video, I have to say that they’ve done a really good job here. We all know how much of a disaster that Hello!Project PVs can be but I honestly believe that this is a very solid offering. Sure there’s the odd thing here or there that bugged me but you get that in every PV.
Take the set for example, it’s super simple. The thing is that you don’t actually notice it unless you actually stop and look closely. This is a perfect example of how camera shots, good set dressing and use of special effects can create a kickass looking PV without having to break the bank (not that Tsunku could ever be accused of doing that, ever). It’s simple and it works, and that’s the important thing.
The other element of the PV that I really liked was the scenes with the girl laying on the light boxes and posing with the vertical light strips. Again there’s nothing complex going on here but it creates great, striking visuals. I remember how tacky a similar scene in the PV for “Only you” was (I think it was faux diamonds strung up vertically on beads or something to that effect) but it works here. Probably because the PV looks like it’s set in a club and that sort lighting would fit right in there. Good stuff.
It can’t all be good though, there were a couple of things that bothered me about the PV. The main one being the shots with the members bathed in digital fire. I’m not really sure why that was included, I’m assuming because someone thought it looked cool or something. Sadly it just comes off as being tacky so I suppose they filled that quota for this PV one way or another.
My only other real issue was with the dance shots, which felt kind of dull in comparison to everything else that was going on in the PV. Granted it doesn’t make up any real percentage of the PV so it’s not the biggest deal in the world. As far as the choreography itself goes, I’m pretty indifferent about it if I’m being honest. It tries to do some interesting things with varied success but like I said, it’s not the focus of the PV at all so it’s hard to be too critical.
To summarise (because I know some of you will just tl;dr to the end), solid PV and solid song. I have a lot of love for both of them, Morning Musume look to be on the comeback trail and you all better sit up and take notice.