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Momoiro Clover Z Really Do Rock My Fucking World

After a conversation with wu on twitter I realised I'd been a bit lacking in regards to actually making a coherent and non-list/FAKSM Momoclo post. Usually I put all my nuggets of wisdom into album review posts, but as Momoclo are approaching 2 years since their last it's been a little difficult. However, with the release of their second album, 5th Dimension, only a month away I figured I'd do an in-depth and comprehensive post on why they kick my ass on so many levels. This will, of course, mean that this post will be unbearably long and no doubt boring to those of you who have no interest in Momoclo. However, it may awaken some of you to your inner nutcase and allow you to safely descend to the depths of being a mononofu without fear of reprisal. On the other hand, this post is basically just to convince wu that Momoclo are probably the ones most likely to get him back into J-idols, so if you're not wu then you could probably give this post a miss. But why would you do that when I have lots of crazy Momoclo links?

So, where to start? For a change, not the beginning, because the beginning is boring and if we're taking this post as a mental guide to Momoclo then I may as well channel Sheogorath and make as little sense as humanly (or Daedrically) possible.

Thus far in Momoclo's storied careers, the biggest change they had to endure was the departure of Hayami Akari, the Blue rapper. Granted, other girls left while the group was in its formative stages (Kashiwa Yukina would later join Nogizaka46, and Takai Tsukina joined SKE48 before rejoining Stardust for some reason), but none of them had as big an impact as Akari. She was their subleader (and by all rights a slightly more effective field marshal than the minorly batshit insane Kanako, or the majorly batshit insane Reni before her) and in charge of all the rap parts in their songs. She was also the most mature and serious member, and probably had the smallest fanbase. Yet it's telling that now, two years after her graduation, blue glowsticks are still a notable staple of their live shows, and the group is prone to opportune shout-outs in her direction at any given moment, most especially at last year's Kouhaku. The second album is even being released on the second anniversary of her departure. In any case, one can certainly mark a delineated line through Momoclo's history at this point, and the beginning of their "third era", so to speak. Assuming that the first era was the pre-debut and Indies days, and the second era the major singles before Akari's departure. Nowadays, the lineup is just five: Kanako (red, leader), Shiori (yellow), Momoka (green), A~rin (pink) and Reni (purple, ex-leader).

This departure led to some of Momoclo's known insanity (hardcore nationwide touring at a young age in a crappy van will do that to you) seeping ever deeper into their music. Granted, Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo, Pinky Jones and Chai Maxx got on my prog list, but it seems that with every released single they plumb as yet unconquered depths in the human psyche just by descending deeper into madness, whether that be through song structure, timbre, highly relevent lyrics or just the damn imagery.

Which brings me to the next point. Momoclo's PVs, aside from mostly being silly, irreverent and referential, seem to have a theme or plot, especially nowadays. A quick runthrough since their major debut:

Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo has Shiori getting kidnapped and the others kicking the shit out of everyone. Also cosplay. It's also the last single where before they got rid of their wafuku (Japanese clothing) gimmick.
Pinky Jones is a Native American sports festival. Or something, I've never been too sure.
Coco☆Natsu is a summer song, minus bikinis and with slow motion water bukkake.
Kimi to Sekai is bikers licking ice cream.
Mirai Bowl is an American musical.
Chai Maxx has them all punching the shit out of themselves.
Z Densetsu is a wholly weird lark about them transforming into superheroes and then just failing at it, as well as visual shoutouts to Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo.
D'no Junjou is about them turning into ninjas. And failing.
Roudou Sanka is an ode to the working man and unions. You know, just for lulz.
Santa-san is an ode to the joys of class A drugs during Christmas. At least, I can only assume that's what's going on. Also Coco☆Natsu shoutouts.
Mouretsu Uchuu Koukyoukyoku - Dainana Gakushou "Mugen no Ai" is a PV about idols riding bikes and floating in space. And the most epic thing ever. Must be tripping.
Otome Sensou is about blowing shit up and being in a chorus club.
PUSH is about how doping in sport is awesome and cool.
Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi yo is about how humans are neither evil nor good, but merely stunted trees reaching for sunlight. Also eye-laserbeams.
Wee-tee-wee-tee posits that all Furbies are tripping on acid.

That basically sums up Momoclo's visual imagery. LSD.

Musically, they're all over the place, as they have a gloriously liberal attitude to taking in random composers from just about anywhere. Of course, Hyadain is the main culprit, responsible for five and a half of the songs on the above list. He is a crazy motherfucker, probably afflicted with ADHD and Aspergers, which shows in his compositions. They rarely stay in one genre for very long at all. His lyrical approach is also innovative, interviewing the girls before he writes a song so he can put their feelings into it. There's a video of him doing this for gravure idol Yoshiki Risa, which resulted in this song about how 3D girls can't win against 2D girls and vocaloids because they don't age. He's also the butt of Momoclo's jokes a lot, as seen by Kanako insisting that he's gay despite his weak protestations.

Other Momoclo composers of note include Narasaki from COALTAR OF THE DEEPERS, Yakushimaru Etsuko of Soutaisei Riron, AKIRASTAR (probably best known for his Buono! stuff), Hotei Tomoyasu (best known for this song), Tomotaka Oosumi (formerly of Under the Counter) and Ian Parton of The Go! Team. So yea, quite a weird mix.

In terms of variety performances, Kanako is an MC on the TV programme Merenge no Kimochi, they have a few of their own shows on some weird cable networks like Momokurochan, Bessatsu Momokurochan, Momoken, UFI Mikansei TV and some other crap. They also made a few appearances on some of Arashi's shows which were quite entertaining.

Their live concerts are frankly amazing. Head over to my other place to read about their live in France, they also steal liberally from MMA imagery and use the PRIDE themetune and Lenne Hardt (the crazy PRIDE lady) to do their "ring announcing" at their big Saitama Super Arena concerts, which are the most epic concert openings ever (and 2012's isn't half as good as 2011's, which I can't find). They partake in frequent "away" lives, where they play to people that wouldn't usually hear them. Like metal festivals. They appeared at quite a few of those actually. At one, the floor was apparently so slippy they could have broken their necks. Did they cancel? No, they just did the whole damn concert barefoot (tip for Pandora, turn off adblock on it if it doesn't work). They've also done collaborations with Animetal USA, Kishidan, and they also randomly get involved in wrestling matches. Their dancing too, looks more like a spasming arachnid than any generally accepted form of dancing. A good example is at the Onna Matsuri from 2011, when Momoka was brutally ill or something and looked lethargic and minorly dead, yet Reni did two people's work and danced like an absolute nutcase (not that she doesn't usually, but hell. I felt sorry for whoever was dancing next to her that day).

Another odd thing about Momoclo is that, to my knowledge, they've never done any bikini stuff, which is at odds with basically every other idol group. They do fanservice, of course (though often it's tongue-in-cheek and silly), just see Kimi to Sekai for that. But I've never seen any of them in anything approaching what can be called swimwear. If anyone has, hook me up *nudge nudge wink wink*. They also maintain incredibly private private lives. I don't think I've ever even heard rumour of scandal surrounding any of them. This is a good thing, because as Henkka puts it, the only way a scandal stops me supporting an idol is that the idol is no longer an idol and thus there are no means by which to support her.

Now, the new album's covers were revealed yesterday on their weird website for it, the covers featuring nothing less than the group in gimp masks. I approve. You then have to click the shit out of the charge button to accumulate "Ai" in order to get enough Ai to reveal the tracklist of the album in reverse order. So far the song titles look quite interesting. There's even a song written by no less than Damian Kulash from THAT OK Go, innovaters of the viral music video. Either way, it seems to be shaping up to be an interesting new album, with new songs by both Hyadain and Narasaki, and lots of new songs by others. I'll just post the covers because they're awesome, one moment.

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If the gimp masks don't get you excited for the new album, nothing will. Here's hoping to it being fucking amazing.

So yea, that was a brief rundown on why Momoclo are awesome. On a final note, I'll just link to the crazy UFI (Momoclo in disguise) song Betaa is the Best because it seems to me like a massive troll/deconstruction of the whole AKB summer single thing. All goes normally and AKBish, with the palm-muted guitars and boring melodies, and lyrics about beaches and stuff. Then suddenly we get a surf-rock interlude. Then a load of sexy guitars. Then back to the AKB style for the chorus. None of the cool weird stuff is touched upon again, but it's just confusing and win. This sums Momoclo up in a nutshell really. Hope that was informative, wu. And anyone else who wants to get into Momoclo the hard (or easy) way.

7 comments:

  1. Awesome post! I'm kind of a Momoclo fan, but not really that familiar with most of their work and what else they do. I'm checking out all the links! Thanks!

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  2. LOVE the post! Just one thing.. I think they did had bikinis in Coco☆Natsu albeit made out of fruit cocktail jelly and worn over their sailor suit..

    Seriously though, after years of abandoning J music for the K stuff, MCZ is the only act that pulled me back in..

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  3. Cool post! Thank you.

    The album trailer:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGmcWl6Pi5w

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  4. Ahhh~I fell in love with Momoclo because of Roudou Sanka. I encountered it while I was working a labour job and experiencing union crap, so it resonated so much. Then I just got sucked in to everything else. Their lives are incredible. I don't know how they do it, or how they are even alive after concerts like that. There's something sort of unhinged and unpredictable about them. I think they've said that even though they are getting popular, they will never become "commercial". I hope that is true. I hope they continue to surprise and terrify us all. Is there ever a time when Reni doesn't dance like "an absolute nutcase"? Have you seen Summer Dive 2011 Gokurakumon kara Konnichiwa? It's my favourite concert of theirs so far. It made me want to jump out of my seat and start dancing and screaming and shooting water guns. XD

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  5. Thanks for all the comments.

    @McZany: I know about the CocoNatsu cheat bikinis, but I was hoping for some skin or something :P

    @ttp: Thanks too, for linking the trailer. More proof, if any were needed, that at least one person dealing with Momoclo is on crack. Or something weirder.

    @Isilie: I've seen it, yes. Actually, if I remember rightly it was the first concert I saw of theirs. I certainly enjoyed it, but I always felt it paled next to the epicness of the Christmas 2011 concert. Though, to be fair, I was sold from the intro to that damn concert, and by the time Marty Friedman and the 100 person choir appeared my lifeforce was ebbing, incapable of further thought processes and merely freaking out like a guy doing happy hardcore dancing at a rave. I will say though that the 2011 Summer Dive far exceeded the 2012 one in Seibu Dome. It wasn't quite intimate enough, if you catch my drift. The Summer Dive Tour for 2012 was quite impressive though. I liked them. A shame you're Canadian really, experiencing them in France was the most crazy I think I ever got in a gig, and I've been to some pretty damn insane metal concerts. I hope they do a sustained bout of overseas concerts at some point in the near future, so more people can be sucked into the wormhole.

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  6. Great post, Krv, and I think that any suspicions about my liking Momoclo are turning out to be true -- for one thing I digged most of the PVs you linked. I still feel quite casual over j-idols in general and I've been happy to be this way for a long time. Still, the fact that Momoclo are on my radar at all now should be considered a sort of success, and there's room for taking more of an interest for sure.

    Funny how you just kind of moved on from the beginnings of the group, because I have a friend who pretty much lost interest once the changes started to kick in. I suppose in the context of where Momoclo are now, it might make irrelevant (or boring) reading for some.

    Have to mention that I was pleasantly suprised to read that Narasaki and Ian Parton have contributed.

    Probably have some more thoughts swirling around my brain but I'll save anything else for a possible future post. Anyway, thanks for the clue-in.

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  7. Regarding the beginnings of the group, it's really been done to death already. There's a post I linked a while back to explain to Henkka what the hell was going on with them, and it does a hell of a lot better outlining their origins than I could manage. It's located here if you feel like a good read.

    Certainly, the crazy composers they get is one of the reasons they do so much for me. Keeping it fresh. On the other hand, after the release of the new PV for the album I got annoyed. The song is dubstep and that's fine, but the chorus is just so shit.

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