Morning Musume - 13 Colourful Character review (and musings on 11th gen)

So, in case you've been hiding under a rock these past few days you will have seen that Momusu have a new member, the only 11th gen member, Oda Sakura. She's from Kanagawa, is 13, was an Egg (or Kenshuusei, as they're now calling them), and can sing passably well. Given the relative lack of vocal talent in the group since Aichan and Gaki's departures I suppose it's a given that they added a girl who could at least hold a tune.

First thought when I heard a girl had been announced was "I hope she's not another soulless bugger." So I watched her introduction video thing. First impression was that she looked as if she'd been hit with a frying pan. A rather hot frying pan. After that I decided I was being a bit cruel, and that instead she looked like a garden gnome. Then I realised, meh, she looks like a goblin.

Thus ends my brief musings on 11th gen.

Preamble: Well, the cover is certainly colourful, though the rainbow is a bit screwy. Nothing else really to note on the cover.

1. One Two Three. Buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz. Vocode. Weird melody. Breaths. Most boring vocal melody ever. Barely ever moves off the chord progression until the chorus, which is still a bad melody but at least it's a decent hook. That fucking vocoder is annoying. Can't really grade the level of vocal proficiency as they're all vocodered to fuck, the exception being Sayu whose voice is still bad enough to stand out even through vocodes and autotune (truly an exceptional ability). Mid8 with more vocoding and the random bass synth is boring. Buildup chorus is terrible. If you want to read more of my wonderfully positive thoughts on this song, they are here. 3/10

2. What's Up? 愛はどうなのよ~. More dance-happy synths. At least the beat is more prominent here, and the melody in the intro is nice. However, the verse is annoying. Semi-rapped, semi-shouted crap. Luckily they start singing after that, which is much nicer on the ears. And then another rap, which is at least better than the yelling. Chorus melodies aren't amazing, but better than anything in One Two Three (not that it's particularly difficult to write a better melody than One Two Three's...). If this was just the intro phrase it'd get way more marks. Spacey synth in mid-8 buildup is decent. Happy trance chord progression mid-8 also good. Buildup chorus has some weird as hell synth bends or something. Honestly, without that annoying shouting, this song could have got better. As it is... 6/10

3. Be Alive. This title sounds like an impassioned cry to not die, which, if it came after One Two Three might be an entirely reasonable request. However, it instead comes after What's Up, so I'm not dead. Yet. This starts out as a nice sounding ballad. Slow, pianos and strings, no horrible vocal effects, Reina's singing fitting surprisingly well. Then we get an urban beat, which nearly ruins the damn thing. Chorus, however, is epic, as suddenly we get a pacey beat and some dance stylings, which comes rather out of left-field. It's welcome though, especially as it continues through the segue into the second verse. This pumping dance beat is much preferable to that dodgy flatline urban beat. Halfway through the verse the pace picks up again, and we get a nice prechorus with a better beat. Chorus is the same second time around, which is only a slight disappointment. It is a nice chorus. Still, would have amused me if they'd continued the progression into some stupidly fast hyperblasts or something. Mid-8 has some nice progressions, building up nicely in the timbre and then leading into the buildup chorus, which again builds up into the dance beat. Overall, I like. 9/10

4. ラララのピピピ. Sayu, what the actual fuck? Another dance-happy number, this time with more autotune and vocoding than you can shake a stick at. Sounds, honestly, like a Kyary number. And Kyary numbers are generally pretty naff. The verse melody isn't great, nor is the chord progression. The prechorus and chorus melodies are actually good, only the bloody vocoding taking away from it. Honestly, we know Sayu can't sing. Why the hell try to hide it? Mid8 synths are annoying. Final chorus starts with Sayu out of tune, which is weird considering all the vocal effects. Dunno whether a mistake or just screwing around. Either way, not great. 4/10

5. ドッカ~ン カプリッチオ.  Now this is a better style of dance track. Reminds me of Onna ni Sachi Are or similar. Good melodies, pace is hyper. Lyrics are silly. Chorus seems to cut off halfway, which is cool from a craziness standpoint. Really, the pace of this is stunning. I can ignore all sorts of faults if the music is incredibly pacey, and this is no exception. Except the faults are few and far between and really not worth even mentioning. Mid-8 is weird but cool enough. This is basically Thrash Dance. Buildup chorus is hardly even a buildup. Still breakneck pace. 10/10

6. The 摩天楼ショー. Ah, another 2007-2010-esque one. With a decent beat and some nice melodies, making it automatically slightly better than most of this style. On the other hand, there's nothing particularly notable about it. Very middle-of-the-road, inoffensive, try-to-appeal-to-the-masses type song. Obviously worked, as it sold rather better than anything else Momusu have done in a long damn time. Mid-8 is a little funky. Can give it that much credit. Still, not the best. 5/10

7. ゼロから始まる青春. The intro to this song is epic. Then the beat comes in and we get a bit of classical urban or something. Not too shabby though. Reina rules it, but the melodies aren't too bad in general. Chorus melodies, however, aren't quite as good. Hook isn't very catchy. It's basically the instrumentation and Reina keeping my interest in this song. The beat is quite bad. Norks' line is quite well delivered though. The mid-8 goes into a 3/4 waltzy bit, then back into a 4/4 music-box-esque bit, which switches things up nicely. Still, not the greatest song I've ever heard, by a long shot. Cool ending though. 6/10

8. 恋愛ハンター. Buzz whee. Wubwubwubwubwub. Have I mentioned I really dislike this lately? Club dance mixed with dubstep. The verse melodies are surprisingly decent, but the prechorus and chorus melodies suck. Luckily Gaki's voice raises the vocal standard of this song higher than the rest of this album. Sayu vocoding is annoying. Again. Can't they leave her voice alone for a change? The mid-8 doesn't really do much interesting, just follows the chord progression. Really, not worth a great deal as a song. 3/10

9. 地球が泣いている. Nice guitar sound, plus dance beats and weird synths. Some quite weird deconstructions of guitar riffs on synth pre-verse. Verse melody lines are okay, though sound oddly shouted too loud. Guitar lines and bass lines under verse are quite technical. Prechorus likewise. Vocals are too loud, but the instruments blend interestingly well. Chorus lacks much in the way of hooks, but is still pretty decent. Riffs are actually quite cool. Mid-8 has a really nice synth plus damn long guitar pinched harmonic sustain. Then a march beat into the buildup chorus, which is an odd touch, but seems to work. Not a bad song, though I'm deducting marks for the terrible sound engineering and mixing quality. 8/10

10. 涙一滴. Hmm, another piano ballad? Until a vocoded synth starts being weird. But turns out it was a distraction. Reina's solo, a ballad. The synth bass isn't amazing, but the piano and Reina's vocals are pretty damn good. In fact, some of the vocal melodies reminds me curiously of Ali Project. That fits Reina's voice intriguingly well. Maybe she should karaoke an Ali Project song and see how it goes. Synth solo is actually pathetic. Buildup chorus piano is nice, but could have gone on longer. Still, not too bad, I suppose. 6/10

11. 笑って!YOU. A song for the whole of 9th and 10th gen is a pretty bogstandard upbeat pop song. The bass is pretty interesting, or it would be if it were less automated. Reminds me of 4th/5th album stuff, which is cool, but without Dance*Man's awesome real basses and funkiness. Vocally it's not particularly strong, though I guess 9th and 10th gens were picked for personality, looks and dance skills first, vocal skills second. While this has been abated by Goblin's addition, I suppose my hopes about Norks' vocal skills were slightly premature. Mid-8 has some interesting guitar stuff. Then guitar solo, only one on this album, short and shit though it is. Melodically this isn't the best, but it's passable. 6/10

12. ピョロピョコウルトラ. By Vastafel this hurts my head. These synths are the most annoying things in history. Chord progression is bad. Melodies aren't too bad, considering. But that fucking hiccup during the verse annoys me. Prechorus is less bad just because of lacking instruments at the beginning. But then they return, and bad to verse and hiccuping, then chorus. Yay yay yay yay yay pyoko pyoko GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH! I want to die. Much as I moan about heavy-dance and dubstep, Tsunku must have really hated humanity the day he wrote this. But, being incapable of releasing gore metal or something, he made this to torture humanity with instead. Mid-8 proves my point. This should have been a S/mileage b-side or something, stuck nicely where I'd never have heard it. Horrid. 1/10

Overall: Either better or worse than I expected. On the one hand, from the singles I was expecting something like, Fantasy-level bad. Averaging the scores of the single tracks on this album we get 3/10, which is partenza level bad. However, some of the albums songs were decent enough to drag it above this terrible level. Thus, while not quite as good as 12, Smart, it's still better than 10 My Me (though not by much) and Fantasy Juuichi.


Comparison Ratings:

Buono! - We Are Buono! - 9.7
Morning Musume. - 4th Ikimasshoi - 9.2
C-ute - Chou Wonderful 6 - 9
Momoiro Clover Z - Battle and Romance - 8.7
C-ute - 4 Akogare My Star - 8.5
Passpo - Check-In - 8.1
Buono! - SHERBET - 8
Ogawa Mana - Teenage Blues - 8
AKB48 - Koko ni Ita Koto - 7.5
Buono! - Buono! 2 - 7.5
Sakura Gakuin - message - 7.5
Berryz Koubou - 6th Otakebi Album - 7
Karen Girl's - Fly to the Future - 7
Kikkawa Yuu - One For YOU! - 7
SUPER☆GiRLS - Chouzetsu Shoujo - 7
Yuikaori - Puppy - 6.9
THE Possible - ② Shiawase no Akashi - 6.8
Berryz Koubou - 7 Berryz Times - 6.5
Morning Musume. - Platinum 9 Disc - 6.5
C-ute - Dainana Shou "Utsukushikute Gomen Ne" - 6.3
Morning Musume. - 12, Smart - 6.3
Tokyo Girl's Style - Kodou no Himitsu - 6
Morning Musume. - 10 My Me - 5.5
Berryz Koubou - Ai no Album 8 - 5.3
AKB48 - 1830m - 5
C-ute - Shocking 5 - 4
Morning Musume. - Fantasy Juuichi - 3.5
Buono! - partenza - 3

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