YFCz Might Not Get All My Love, But They Get Some

So after convincing myself not to avoid it purely on principle, which is an utterly wrong thing to do, by the way, I looked up the full PV for YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz’s All MY Love, which dropped yesterday. There’s been some good discussions on here lately concerning the internationalization of GACKT, and what’s up with this whole YFCz thing. Well, all those confusing musings and ponderous wonderings aside, may I just state this simple, basic fact of life: regardless of who sings it, how many band-members there are, be it Cascade or Morning Musume nevermind, actually, neither of those acts will ever be cool, when a song is good, it’s good. Get over yourself and enjoy it.

Life is too short and your tastes are too rad to waste time being ashamed of your playlist.

In any case, all noodling and whining aside, I am actually ok with how All My Love turned out. Aside from the fact that the PV was totally not entertaining or thought-provoking in any way, shape, or form, I basically have no complaints. GACKT loves him some gently falling snow and some military-inspired outfits, wish they had shown more Chacha since I miss that flaming goddess, and I highly recommend Jon invest some time into learning his own stage moves instead of just copying GACKT’s moves like some creepy puppet, but well, you can’t exactly use pet-peeves as the basis for criticism can you? I just did. 

I’ll even go so far as to (wait for it) state that I was actually impressed by (yeah you can’t believe I’m saying it either) Jon’s performance. While I still consider him completely and entirely superfluous, I actually really enjoyed the harmonies, give him two thumbs up for his Japanese, and thought his voice was nice.

The song itself is really decent. The English straddled a thin line between overly repetitive and catchy, but since it’s already stuck in my head we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. GACKT sounded great, and I thought the orchestral heaves (for lack of a better word) gave the thing a sort of sad-movie-anthem-feel. Nicely done, YFCz, and I am somewhat more hopeful about the whole studio-album thing.

On a final note….Maybe it’s just the season, but was I the only one who mentally auto-filled “holy night” into that first line?

The Gakupost

 Owning up to the fact that I totally spaced on including the PV for Episode.0 in my review the other day, honestly I meant to, and then when I proof-read the review, I completely forgot the PV existed. In any case, it makes a good excuse for a follow-up post… Hoorah for the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

Since Episode.0 has been the latest topic of discussions around here, I’d like to continue the discussion a little more formally, meanwhile taking out two birds with one stone. The two most logical follow-up comments regarding GACKT’s latest single and cover of the Gakupo vocaloid song of the same name, are currently: Was the PV any good? and Has anyone heard the vocaloid version?

We’ll take them one at a time, in reverse. First of all, and I mentioned this briefly in response to Kaxxina‘s comment this morning, to be perfectly honest, and I know this may be a great pitfall in my history of Japanophilia, I really have zero, nada, amari attraction to, and interest in, the vocaloid scene. If that whole scene makes you tick, then tick away to your heart’s content. But let’s just get this out in the open: vocaloids weird me out.

Has anyone else read the novel Idoru by William Gibson, by any chance? I took a copy out of the library when I was dying of mono this summer, and it actually turned out to be a stimulating read– exactly along the lines of my interests, being concerned with Japan, fandom, and advanced theoretical concepts relating to the Japanese music industry and its future. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, do take my recommendation. Also for your benefit: the story is basically based on the idea that Japan has developed a new idol, the perfect idol, and….she’s not a real human being. She’s a holographic projection, and everyone is going nuts over her. Anyway, fascinating stuff.

Well, I kind of feel like the whole vocaloid thing isn’t too far off from the Idoru thing. Like, all these people are going apeshit over these singers….that aren’t even real. It’s just odd, isn’t it? On one hand it’s quite a cool concept, and the ingenuity of it is something I can appreciate, yes. But on the other hand, people are already dating pillows and marrying video-game consoles; novels from the ’90s have sci-fi situations in which real people become engaged to holographic images….Friends used to tease me that I would end up married to a robot, and honestly, I doubt that– only because soon the world might be populated with ideas rather than sentient, or even mechanical, lifeforms.

What were we talking about, again? Oh yeah, Gakupo.

I also find the quality of the vocaloid vocals to be eerie and a little unnerving. For me, one of the main reasons why I am so attracted to the sound of the human voice is…because it comes out of a human. Unlike playing a musical instrument, it’s actually something that’s physically a part of you. This is amazing to me. And now that they’re piping it out of machines….Honestly it loses its appeal. That being said, nothing wrong with it. Here it is, form your own opinions:

Next up, we have the PV for the living, breathing, real-people GACKT version. I know this was revealed a million and a half years ago, but I make a point of not watching PVs for certain artists before the singles are released. A method for building tension and reverence, I suppose. Now that I have seen it, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t use it as a reference point for the single itself.

Although I like the stylizing and the imagery presented in the PV, it really didn’t feel like a PV to me. And seriously, what is that random chick doing there, and why is she lip-syncing the lyrics? Someone (perhaps me….) should write a letter to all the PV directors, like, ever, and let them know that you can still make a good PV without a chick being in it. Honestly, come on, she had two scenes that weren’t even that cool.

All in all I felt like the PV was quite boring. Pretty to watch–once. But nothing striking that would inspire me to watch it again.

 

Awakening The Rocker Within

NEWS FLASH: This just in today! Japanese superstar GACKT (37) invents and instates, via general consensus, a new form of verbal punctuation. Now, replacing the Japanese and English words ‘desu’ and ‘are’, we shall hereby be required by Japanese law to say EVER at the end of every statement and sentence. May also be used as a general exclamation, or as a warning called out after anyone wearing capris.

This PV screams GACKT. It screams GACKT louder than a hysteric fan-girl in the front row. The excessive, unnatural, hard-to-believe-it’s-serious machoness, and insanely awkward acting and lines, which we began encountering early on, and the utterly random moments that are so shockingly powerful, it makes them even more random, all just seethe GACKT.

Long story short, he got it all right with the brand new PV for EVER.

The random (yet undeniably brilliant and meaningful) fragments of storyline in this PV are simplistic, and yet I somehow have a feeling we’re not meant to accept them at face-value. I was really into the shameless self-directed idol-worship, and how his performance awakens the rocker spirit in the boy wearing the YFCz uniform.

The most unbelievable moment of the whole PV is the first scene actually showing the idol himself. When he does that spirit-fingers thing? I mean come on! Everything about his outfit (even the sparkly makeup looked quite cool in the PV), his dance moves, and how he used the hat was really stylish. All I can say about the scope thing that periodically targets him, though, is…Gundam or it didn’t happen.

My only real complaint about the video was…what happened to Chachamaru? Is he camera shy now or something? I’m seeing Tsukasa, SHUN, and some guy with a Perm on bass (Ni~ya from Nightmare again?). I know Chirolyn is scary, but really.

The random ending where the spirit-guide bouncer guy (AKA “GACKT’s Secretary” -insert expletives-) laughs and says “heh…EVER.” was… was…very…let’s just say I bet GACKT thought up that one personally.

Takanori ‘Manicure’ Revolution

Taiko-drumming, dancing ninja. Tactfully sheer pants. Slow motion. Anime-theme-song god almighty T.M.Revolution, as my good friend and fellow blogger sakurayume would say, can truly do no wrong. Not only has the PV for part one of his latest double A-side Naked Arms/Sword Summit been released, I have even been able to find an HD version that will actually play stereo.

I don’t know what it is, but lately Jrock and Visual Kei PVs (and now apparently badass Jpop as well) have become really monochromatic. Perhaps it’s the promotional-video version of the custom of only ever wearing black and white (guilty as charged). Whatever it is, it makes everything look cool.

My only complaint about the Naked Arms PV is that I didn’t feel like it went anywhere. Finally T.M. just spontaneously combusted and returned to whatever divine realm he came from, and left the ninja to disrobe mysteriously off screen. Despite that, both the PV and the song were both satisfying and powerful. I am highly anticipating hearing Sword Summit (although out of the two it interested me the least when I heard the previews), and of course putting it all together as a complete single, which is where, when it comes down to it, the magic happens.

Finally, it’s not a T.M. PV without the extended manicure fan-service. Yes, T.M., you have the best nails in Japan.

Also check out the actual OP clip for the game Sengoku Basara 3 in which this plays:

Finally a VK band remembers that they are not princesses, and make music and a PV with attitude.

The promotions have begun.

Today, D’espairsRay released the official full-length PV for the second track off their up-coming album MONSTERS (7/28), “Death Point“.

First of all, without sounding overly enthusiastic, I must say…this is probably the best PV I’ve seen since, well, a long time. The production is awesome; the fuzzy camera effects that make it look  like it’s about to short-circuit could have potentially been obnoxious, but they were pulled off perfectly, so instead they just added to the overall classiness. The grunge, screamo bad-boy thing, with all of HIZUMI’s wide-eyed bestial glaring into the camera and aggressive arrogant behavior was so refreshing. Especially after I thought they all turned into pimps in Love is Dead (the only thing that was dead was your style, guys.), I realized after watching Death Point how much I wish Visual rockers would start being vain, arrogant, badly behaved bastards once more. Well, D’espairsRay is off to a good start here.

I was also really into the “live” quality they brought in with the imagery. How HIZUMI drops his mic stand and a crew member scuttles in to take it away, when HIZUMI is shaking the camera and being annoying during the guitar solo, and then stalks off to squirt some water on the expensive looking equipment and a guy hands him a new mic. Just really cool elements that completely redeemed that other aforementioned PV that we can add to a forbidden-topics list forthwith.

The guys claim this to be “the most aggressive” PV ever made. Is it? I’m not sure if I would say that, but there was actually real, live energy that could be perceived with the naked human eye, and this, this, is what Visual Kei needs right now.

One thing, though…did anyone else even see ZERO in that video?

ADHD: Attention Deficit HIZUMI Disorder?

MONSTERS album cover

D’espairsRay just posted a new video message on their Facebook page. They (being Tsukasa) addressed the fact that they have just finished shooting the new PV, which is, according to Karyu, the most aggressive PV ever filmed on the face of the earth.

“The guys recorded one video in which they looked VERY tired… and so they tried to “take it up a notch” and that’s why you get to hear HIZUMI’s creepy voice.” – Video caption

Honestly, I don’t think they looked any less tired in this video. Zero looks about to collapse at any minute, and I can’t tell if Karyu is wearing white contacts, or if his eyes are perpetually rolled into the back of his head. Hizumi, on the other hand, exhibited obvious signs of ADD.

Tsukasa pretty much takes over the whole message, and you can practically see him jabbing the other members in the ribs whenever he’s like “And then….Zero, what about you?”

It’s no surprise, though. The band has surely been hustling to get the album finished up, PVs shot, and get everything prepared for the US tour– which can’t be a walk in the park. Speaking of which, if you haven’t got your tickets yet, I recommend doing so as quickly as possible, as shows are already starting to sell out.

Note to everyone in the US – new studio album Monsters will be available for digital download via all major MP3 stores, including AmazonMP3 and iTunes. The band will post links to where you can buy the album digitally. Monsters goes on sales on July 28th.The physical album will be available at all the usual hubs, so if you want all the plastic trimmings, or need to sleep with it on your pillow, pre-order it at CDJapan to ensure it gets to you in a timely fashion.

It’s Morphin’ Time

Yes, I know everyone who follows me on Twitter thinks that I’ve been being mischievous all day. After posting that faux KAT-TUN banner I just know we’re going to have trust issues. The purpose of this post is to inform you all, if you’re reading this, that all of my Tweets from this afternoon were entirely genuine. This is my new favorite song…

Ah ah ah, wait, wait, not yet….

A little backstory: I was killing time when I had no time to kill, watching a bunch of completely random VK videos that I found on this website through this PV bot that I follow on Twitter. (First of all, I was appalled at my own snobbishness. I think the sheer weight of my sighs stopped half the videos 53 seconds in…). This is how I used to discover most of the music I listen to, after all, so it’s not the uncommon to find me immersed in the endless oceans of Visual Kei PVs. In fact, sometimes I end up doing it without even thinking about it. Usually when I have something important to do, like composing important emails or writing business plans, or reorganizing my Netflix queue, I just sort of “come-to” on Youtube, clicking through suggested videos and playlists of the low-budget PVs of the lesser minions of avex’s ‘happy family’- well, if avex’s family is happy, then these guys must be the black sheep. The importance of how exactly I ended up there is always determined by the quality of the videos I discovered. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being the lowest) the quality of the discoveries made in the forty minutes I spent between writing non-diatonic chord progressions in the key of G and making dinner would have to be….wait for it. 5.

First of all, I thought it was from the ’80s. I had no idea PVs made in the ’90s were such poor quality… I mean, this is really…So yeah, anyway. The actual quality of the PV aside, it’s the content that we care about anyway. And I would watch this ten times in a row even if they took it back in time and remade it in 1948.

The artist is Chisato [千聖], the guitarist for ’90s VK band Penicillin. I’m not much of a Penicillin fan, and that’s my excuse for how I’ve been in the dark for so long. Initially, I heard Wake Up!, which was ok, but then scrolled down a little bit, and, like a young beggar on a cold night in the middle of the desert clinking two pieces of a jeweled scarab together, I parted the sands and there it was- the diamond in the rough. Chisato’s Cyber Rose.

Electronica that should only have existed in the 1980’s. Latin influences. The type of soaring melodies that laid the foundation for anime theme songs as a whole– the kind of melodies that, if we were Power Rangers, we would Mighty Morph and fight badly to-, and one of those voices that we stopped hearing after GACKT made the tenor go out of style in the year 2000.

The steady beat of the song could potentially be annoying after two minutes, but the chorus is killer, and I was totally digging the random (intentional?) Fur Elise clip that just sort of happens. The construction of the song is awesome, the licks are totally catchy, and the whole thing is just exuding raw character. The acoustic salsa-esque guitar solo steals the whole show…well, it might, were it not for the fact that Chisato is wearing a cowboy hat, which is so ’90s Jrock, isn’t it?

Cybernetic Axeman. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Thanks to Dreamsprite.