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Musings on the new direction of Momusu (or why it doesn't suck)

So, enter 9th gen.

I started halfway through the blogpost, sorry. But all will become clear. Or I'll just ramble for 1000 words again like usual. But anyway.

Morning Musume have new members. And with it, their average age has dropped considerably. From an average of 21 on their last single to 17.4444 now. When Aichan leaves it'll drop again to about 16.625 or something (not paying any attention whatsoever to birthdays that happen between now and then). This means that a direction change is pretty much guaranteed. After all, little kids singing about the futility of love and other general emo shit probably wouldn't work. Unless it's Airi in Aa! But that was just amusing.

So, firstly I'm going to outline my issues with the Momusu of the past few years. If you're a fan of that era, you may want to turn back now...



When I saw Momusu doing Cinderella in 2008, I didn't expect a mini concert at the end of it. Bearing in mind I was still pretty new to idol fandom (about a year in), I still hadn't heard much of their stuff past 2005. My introduction to it was, like a lot of people, through Ayaka's Surprise English Lessons. Thus I was more into that era than I was the new era.

But anyway. I was sitting as the play ended and was laughing quietly at the general silliness of it. Then glowsticks came out and I realised there would be a concert. The songs they performed were The Peace (yay), Shabondama (yay), Resonant Blue and C/C (gah). I couldn't understand it at the time. What was this and what had they done to the Momusu I'd reluctantly started to enjoy at the end of 2007? I liked their happy, silly, irreverent pop. Plus, when it wasn't silly and energetic, it had some sense of power (like Shabondama). These two new songs were too Urban for my liking. They simply lacked anything to get me interested in it musically.

This helps in showing the general decline of pop music. It hit its peak in the early to mid 80s, and through a succession of new technologies, political intervention and increasing genericalness, has fallen insanely low. For example, Thriller is still the top selling album of all time, and probably will still be there in a hundred years. Record companies now only release what will sell, thus contributing to the increased genericalness, because they're protecting themselves from piracy. And idiots like the PMRC and Mary Whitehouse made it more and more difficult for people to achieve artistic vision.

Music needs to adapt to continue. Recently, music has mutated insanely quickly, helped in part by globalisation which helps genres spread quickly. Thus many genres become worn out and have short lifespans in comparison to say, Renaissance music, which formed the backbone of the 1400-1600 period. However, between 1990 and 2010 there haven't been that many new innovations in pop music. Technologically, there have been several, but other than the rise of autotune and RnB into the mainstream, things have been pretty steady. Bubblegum pop and "rough" RnB coexist, along with some slightly edgier dance music producers. Japan has it pretty similar, with the notable exception being that Bubblegum pop tends to include pretty much everything, from metal to prog to ska to techno. Though I've yet to hear a decent freeform jazz J-pop song. I'm sure Henkka will hook me up though.

However, emotionally, pop music is only particularly good at one thing.

Happiness.

Genres tend to express mood. Metal is frequently associated with aggression, Soul with chilling out, Dance with energy, etc. Music, to me, tends to only work if it expresses some form of happiness and/or musical expressiveness. Hence why I can listen to listless prog bands lacking energy. On the other hand, I can't listen to pop music that lacks in both energy and expressiveness, with the exception of one particular song type, which I'll touch on later.

Thus I return to Momusu.

Emo Musume lacked that. Well, there was Kanashimi Twilight and Onna ni Sachi Are, which I guess count as emo, but which both brought something to the table. Energy. Then there was Mikan, which was happy and amusing. Not a particularly good song, but it worked. However, from Resonant Blue onwards, they just lacked something. Resonant Blue still pisses me off every time I hear it. Naichau Kamo's not much better. I don't really count Pepper Keibu, being a cover. Shouganai Yumeoibito to me, lacked something in how it was pulled off. There's certain potential there, but a variety of factors (including the noxious bass drum) held it back from achieving its full potential. I'm actually shocked to see it beating Opeth in the FAKSM chart over on the right hand side. It's a case of what could have been. Nanchatte Renai isn't a bad song at all, it's just boring. Doesn't quite have the required energy or musical excellence to make me pay attention. Kimagure, actually, came close. It had energy. It had some weird as hell crazy scales. Lyrics weren't emo. It had chipmunk vocals. Junkpiled that. Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai was just shit. Potential again, especially in the acoustic guitar, but the shitty synths and synth bass really broke it. Seishun Collection was just a lesson in absolute melancholy. Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game wasn't bad, but again lacked the energy that would really get me into it, but seemed to be drawing close.

The new single has energy and musical weirdness. Thus it doesn't suck as much as anything since Mikan.

If you ever read my reviews though, you'll know that I tend to give a high mark to ballads. That's despite the lack of energy and general lack of timbre. I'm not entirely sure why, but I like ballads. They work when no other pop songs do at expressing emotion. However, none of the singles were ballads, just generally highly synthesised pieces of nonsense that lacked energy and musical direction. I mean, Tsunku could have at least changed it up a bit. Hell, he even recycled Nanchatte's VST preset for Seishun Collection. Lazy git. I may not particularly like South of Heaven, but Slayer took an artistic decision not to make Reign in Blood #2, and it worked. Even AKB tend to switch up the style of their singles regularly. Tsunku's been trampling over the same ground for 3 years worth of singles now, so I'm glad he's finally broken out of his mold and tried something different again.

Ska generally has lots of energy, thus does this new single. I'm looking forward to this new era of Momusu, as it may once again give me the energy I desire.

9 comments:

  1. As fun and valid as some of your points are, to me, this new song is actually less musically interesting than any of those you dislike, simply put, it is different strokes for different folks, and thus you entire entry is now invalidated :p

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  2. I need to spew out wordcount now and then though :P

    Really though, while Maji Desu Ka Ska might be quite simple musically, the energy levels alone propel it above the emo musume stuff (which, frankly, wasn't particularly musically complex either).

    Now if there was a jazz fusion Momusu song... that'd be musically interesting :P

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  3. How about an Epic Metal fusion with MoMusu? I mean, it may not be musically good, but damn, I'd sell my soul to see a video with Takahashi screaming with her man-voice about killing dragons, eating the balls of a thousand lions and raping an entire army up in the ass while a storm and tornados and shit just happens in that very moment.

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  4. What you said about the bubblegum pop of Japan there, that's so spot-on. That's one of the reasons I love J-pop. Though, as for that freeform jazz J-pop song recommendation... I'm sorry to have to disappoint. Hehehe.

    I don't agree with you on pop music only being good for expressing happiness (and sadness in the form of ballads). 'Tis good for all kinds of things for me.
    ...Though now that I think about it, all genres of music I love evoke a kind of happiness in me -- obviously so, cause it's music I love. I mean, I don't get pissed off or something when I listen to metal. But I know that's not what you meant there, just felt like stating the blatantly obvious!

    I still think you're insane for hating on Resonant Blue and Shouganai Yume Oibito. For me, those are some definite Tsunku masterpieces right there. You crazy Scots!
    In any case, though I loved some of the songs from this era, it was largely hit-and-miss for me. Then again, I've never really hated any Momusu era I don't think, they all had their ups and downs... with admittedly some of the downs being more steep than the others, as well as the other way around. In any case, like you, I'm happy to bid farewell to this era (hopefully) and listen to something more fresh. I wasn't feeling Maji desu ka Ska much at first, but I think I'm kinda starting to dig it more now. And besides, 9th gen is pretty fantastic. I'm looking forward to seeing them in action.

    Award for the best single line from this post:

    Seishun Collection was just a lesson in absolute melancholy.

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  5. Crazy scots? Dude Krv is a fucking southerner!

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  6. Man, it's all the same. Petty details. You're either a Finnish viking, or you're not.

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  7. Actually, I am Scottish, I've just lived down south my whole life :P

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  8. pop died since the 80s? i dunno what u mean by "pop". just j-pop is totally different animal compared to western pop. just listen to a n ayumi hamasaki album or anything from avex trax. it's a ton of genres thrown into a blender! what died was j-rock in the late 90s. that's probably why H!P's first solo-ist totally flopped and tsunku focused most of his time on the project instead of making more sharam q albums. 9th gen and the OG graduation looks like big effort to revive H!P. though i guess it would have made more sense to disband MM altogether and make more groups out of the existing HP eggs.

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  9. I would have thought, considering the mentions of Thriller, PMRC and Mary Whitehouse it would be rather obvious that pop = western pop. When I mean Jpop, I say Jpop. Not that hard to comprehend, surely?

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