Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technopolis (1979)
This song—I won’t pass judgement on the video—is so perfectly evocative of its time and place. Late-seventies/early-eighties Tokyo at night, all neon lights and katakana. It fills me with an odd nostalgia for something I wasn’t even remotely close to being able to experience.
Best enjoyed in conjunction with compilations of random Japanese television commercials from the same era. Here’s one to get you started:
In fact, YMO themselves did a commercial or two. Actually, that might be an understatement, given this forty-four minute collection:
YMO’s Ryuichi Sakamoto:
Now that’s how you sell a fuckin’ camera.
For quite a while I’ve been meaning to get a music blog going here—I know what I want to do to make it actually worthwhile but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Still, I’ve had the following in my head and I wanted to write it up and and throw it out into the ether, so:
Thoughts and impressions regarding Morning Musume’s upcoming single, Brainstorming / Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai
Morning Musume - Brainstorming (2013)
The overwhelming impression that this song and its video gives is of confidence. Stylistically both the song and the dance are a continuation of the trends established by the past few Morning Musume singles and on a few occasions seems to make deliberate reference to them (or maybe Tsunku’s just lazy). Happily, one of these trends is of doing a modern electropop song with production that actually sounds the part, which used to be a huge weak point for Hello! Project. Once again there’s a bit of brostep and complextro (a term I use while still refusing to acknowledge its legitimacy) in there, but not enough to ruin the song—on the contrary, it works well.
Structurally, Brainstorming takes the same approach as Wakuteka Take a chance (and to a lesser extent Help me!!), stuffing a lot of different short sections into the one song, doing it with almost audacious abandon. As I said, it exudes confidence. I really like the structure, actually, and I might steal it for myself (my very arbitrary analysis sees the verses as being something like ABAC, and then a short pre-chorus, and then the chorus).
Something else I really like is the restraint with which Oda Sakura, the newest member of the group, is used. Aside from allowing for a rather good line distribution amongst all the other members, it really heightens the effect of her two main solo lines, which sound amazing and are easily the highlights of the song. A more capricious personal highlight is the end of Sato Masaki’s solo line, both for her delivery and for the general cadence of it as sung in the typical syllabic J-pop fashion as "ZA-N-NE-N-NA-TAI-PU". You can never have too much of that syllabic N.
Brainstorming might not be an amazing song, but it manages to be very solid and yet not at all complacent. It keeps you on your toes, which is always a very good thing with pop music, and it’s fitting for the current era of Morning Musume. It does make wonder where they’ll go from here, though—has this sound been tapped out? So far they’ve done well to keep the singles sounding similar yet fresh, but can they keep it up? Or, will they depart from this style for the next one? That seems unlikely, considering the success they’ve been enjoying recently and that they are likely to enjoy again here based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction Brainstorming has been getting.
Morning Musume - Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai (2013)
I haven’t got much to say about the other half of this double A-side single, except for the obligatory “TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE ON THE DANCE FLOOR” comment and to mention that my favourite part is the end of the chorus, where the music builds tension by staying on the tonic for a long while and then moves up to the minor third—which stands out because it’s not prominent anywhere else in the song—and then for the last note goes a semitone higher to the major third, which is usually a bluesy kind of move, but here it’s… well, whatever it is, it’s more interesting than the rest of the song.