I’ve not done a top ten on this blog yet…and since I promised myself, and an important person, more posts I decided to finally get off my butt (metaphorically speaking of course) and get this post out of my head and onto…the screen, as it were.
It’s taken awhile, but I have now officially heard every coupling track on every Morning Musume single (that I know of, anyway). I didn’t take much notice of them before I got to ‘Odore! Morning Curry.’ Usually I would skip them entirely because I couldn’t pick out which voice was which or they really bored me. That was before I became so into this group that almost everything began to grow on me.
That being said, I now believe that the perfect single means the coupling track is equally as strong as the main track. And by strong, I mean either that the songs compliment each other to create an interesting whole or they are both so catchy and interesting that you’re left wondering why the hell the other song wasn’t also a single. One example is an album track called Genki + (Sexy8 Beat) that I am terribly into at the moment. It’s an epic song and yet.
So, before we start: These are my opinions only, DUH. Yes, I’ve listened to everything and these are my favourites based on the coupling tracks WITH the main track. These aren’t my favourite SINGLES, mind you (that’s a different post altogether), but the ones that by my standards are perfect and that I like the most. I only have pics for the top five…because it’s a real bitch to find good quality scans of all the covers, from what I’ve discovered.
Topu ten ga hajimari yo~~
10) The Manpower w/ Love & Peace! Hero ga Yattekita
I am loving this song more and more lately. The repeated ‘manpower’ chant is absurd and delightful coming from these tiny idols. Everyone blends very well and gets a good chance to sing. It’s not the usual groupings either. I’d have to get my hands on the pv to really tell you properly who is with whom, but I do remember that, like ‘Do it Now’ they really mixed it up.
Need I even mention Yossy and Takahashi pwning the crap out of every line they have? I love when Yossy gets to be dramatic and yell. The way she attacks that final “yeah yeah YEAAAAH” always, always gets my tension up (and not just cause it’s her – I’m not sure how someone couldn’t get at least a little fired up by that). Takahashi is always dramatic. I like her with Yossy here though. Normally, if they were to sing together, I think Ai might overpower a little. Here they compliment each other because she has the right amount of drama and Yossy has the right amount of attitude.
The coupling track, Love and Peace, is probably best in concert. It wasn’t until I saw this performed that it really resonated with me. Some of these songs are like that. I’m not sure when but somewhere along the way I started to love it. The opening spastic guitar, the chants of “love and peace” that make me think of Trigun (one of the best animes ever) and giggle, the squeaky but sweet variations of “I love you” and the chorus that makes me want to jump up and pump my fist. Really, it’s all good.
9) Mikan w/ Bonkyu! Bonkyu! Bomb Girl
*dodges flying vegetables* Ok, ok. I know. People don’t like this single. It didn’t sell well. It’s generic. The Bonkyu song is cutesy and annoying. Blah blah blah…
Honestly though, I’m a point with Mikanwhere I can’t understand why I didn’t like it, why there was ever a time when it didn’t make me smile and feel warm inside. I realize that the ‘chance’ thing gets really annoying, and that translated into English the lyrics to ‘Mikan’ sound like the same Hallmark rubbish we get all the time, especially during this season (to put it in a crass way: some of the “Christmas” songs they’re playing right now make me want to hurl). But I really think that we in this hemisphere have too frequent a tendency to dismiss the positive as meaningless. There is nothing wrong with a message of optimism once in awhile. To say the song is generic isn’t really it – it’s not so much generic as…Momusu-poi. It’s very much a Morning Musume song, in same vein as ‘I Wish’. That single has nostalgia working for it, so people forgive the cheese. ‘Mikan’ evokes a nostalgic feeling in me.
I still maintain that a proper pv would have made it much better and much more genuine, but that was a different post. Onto the coupling track…
Which I adore. Liked it instantly. For a moment I thought, “Oh great, another ‘Chance Change Boogie’, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here’s the main point: Winky doesn’t annoy me for once. Actually, I LOVE her first line. I think it even kinda kicks ass. The sixth generation is very joyous and perky, while the fifth maintains this cool slightly aloof feel. The rest of them are squeaky, but hey, I can forgive that when the next moment you have Eri’s adorable, “yea yea!” and Mame saying, “Happy(x5) has COME-AH!” Plus, hey, if nothing else, it teaches you how to count to 8. It makes me giggle every time.
8 ) Go Girl! ~Koi No Victory~ w/ KoiING
Oh this will always be the cheerleader song. It really sounds like it should be performed by a bunch of grade eights in a school gym. So much joy. So much harmony. So many cheers.
Gahhh, ii kanji ne?
It evokes a summer evening at some sporting event for me. Like during a half-time show, they’re suddenly like, “hooray for love!” I know it’s absurd, but so is the song. It’s just so much fun…
Then there is KoiING, which initially I was bored with. Mostly because I wasn’t a huge fan of Takahashi or the 6th gen right away. So, being the biased creature I was, I just avoided it.
Honestly, it gorgeous though. This is one of those coupling tracks that really compliments the single. While Go Girl has that celebratory “woo!” feeling of the beginning of love, this one has a more subdued feel. Like she’s stepped back and thought, “you know, this really is a strong feeling. I’m a little overwhelmed…but I’m so happy.” I feel a sense of ‘youth’ when I listen to it and I gotta say, it’s really brought out by the vocals of Takahashi and Eri. Miki seemed a tad out of place, but she adds a bit of drama. When the chorus begins I want to close my eyes. It’s just very pretty and very sweet.
7) Pepper Keibu w/ Romance
Both these tracks are funky.
Both these tracks are retro.
Both these tracks are fun to sing.
Pepper Keibu has the repetitive-ness that I’m always addicted to.
Romance has the sustained notes that I’m always addicted to.
Pepper Keibu describes a funny sort of love moment.
Romance describes a bewildered sort of love moment.
Together, they work.
That’s all I will say.
6) Shabondama w/ Namida ni wa Shitakunai
Soap Bubbles. Just so epic. The thrashy dance that you can’t help but see when you listen. Ishikawa’s desperate little tantrum in the middle and Michishige’s desperate cries of “where’d you go” and “shabondamaaaaaa”. The constant wailing in the background. The way everyone who has a line, especially Tsuji and Kago (who kick ASS in this song) pwns. Yes, even Reina didn’t really bother me. Oddly enough, her squirrel voice suits this. Takahashi is dramatic as hell and awesome. I love Ogawa’s “ai!” Really, this track is all about the drama.
It’s funny then that I like the coupling track. They don’t go together. The verses are really weird and awkward because everyone gets a line, even those that can’t really sing yet (or at all). Having Fujimoto do a line and then Michishige do a linewith no segue was probably a mistake. And the tune is kinda meh.
But see, it’s the completely even distribution of lines that makes this song so charming for me. Also, it’s one of those songs that just inexplicably turns into this bad-ass, summer-evening song right in the middle where everyone gets a moment to adlib some sort of “yeah yeah”. Then we’re back to the chorus with extremely awkward Ishikawa and then Eri. But then there’s Ai and Abe who pwn us back into that same summer evening. The ending really rocks hard.
I really miss bad-ass Abe. The very last line is her and I can SEE her face when I hear it. Scary Abe was awesome.
This song is just incomprehensible. I have no idea why I love it, but it’s probably because of bad-ass Abe.
5) Renai Revolution 21 w/ Inspiration
Need I even explain this one? The ‘cho ii kanji’ line will always be the catchiest thing ever. The creepy-Tsunku “rap” in the middle, where he pretty much just repeats what they’ve just sang, is freakin great too. I wish they’d bring those back. Raps, while embarressing and absurd, are fun.
Cho ii kanji is @#&^*&#$ right!
Inspiration is perfect for Yuuko’s exit because it maintains the new “genki” image without the obvious genki. It channels the pre-4th Gen musume very nicely. The harmonies you get with the presence of Yuuko and Kei just didn’t happen ever again. They have a different sort of feeling from the harmonies that came afterwards. The celebration continues, but stays slightly more mature. Also, this is probably the last track where they would just ad-lib random lines near the end of the song, like for instance on the ‘didadudadi (etc)’ song on the second album. Kei’s little “ooh yeah” is cute. Then there is the best one: I believe it’s a little exchange betweenYaguchi and Abe. Her little “woa subarashiiiii” just makes me really happy.
4) Memory Seishun no Hikari w/ Happy Night & Never Forget
I know, I know. It’s taken me way too long to get to the pre-4th Gen singles. Forgive me, it’s not that I have no love for the pre-Yossy days, you can blame the b-sides that didn’t capture me. These ones did though.
Firstly, Memory is beautiful because of the dreamy guitars, the dreamy vocals and the almost overwhelming harmonies that are perfectly layered. I’ve said it before, they lucked out with the second generation. For a last single, Fukada really picked a winner. I just want to point out though, that while the rap is cool and an interesting addition, it has NOTHING to do with the song. It’s like Tsunku was just like, “ok, it sounds cool and it’s about love, let’s put it in there”. Uh, this song is about breaking up and the rap is saying things like, “i’ll never let you down and you’re the love of my life”. That’s all well and good, but the relationship is over, isn’t it?
Ah, so funny.
Happy Night just knocks me off my feet whenever I hear it. I miss those weird little vocalizations they used to do, like the “AHHH aaahh”s they sprinkle through the song. As always, the harmonies are awesome. It feels like a concert song, like you’re right there watching them pwn onstage. It’s a very live kinda song. And it just keeps going.
Then there is Never Forget. Fukada was what, 14 when she recorded this? My WORD she sounds incredibly mature. This song is very gentle. There’s a feeling that she is firmly deciding to leave, but needs to reassure those she’s leaving behind. I like the sort of motherly feel to this song. Her version is the best one. I love Kemeko, but she can’t do it like Fukada.
3) Aruiteru w/ Odore!! Morning Curry
The cover is more suited to the coupling track, ne?
I was bored with Aruiteru at first, clearly because my brain was experiencing a lack of oxygen or something. I can’t believe I ever didn’t love it. This is one of those lovely songs that just came out of nowhere to make feel teary with a sense of hope. Hope is everywhere in this song, not just the lyrics. Even the ‘nanana’ part doesn’t get old. Ok, well maybe at the very end where they basically don’t stop for a full minute or so, but by that time, you’re really into it.
Miki is wonderful in this song. Honestly her last solo line gives me goosebumps every single time.
And now we come to the Curry Song. What. the. hell???
Ignoring that the lyrics are just an extended metaphor about love being curry (as far as I’ve been able to tell), the moment that accordian begins it’s like a swirly vortex of insanity. All I keep seeing is the girls running in circles and bumping into each other. They all lower their voices a lot, which is refreshing and hilarious at the same time. The “hey, ho” chant makes it hard to sit still during this song. Niigaki and Yossy, particularly on the second verse, absolutely relish each “morning curry!” line they have. It’s absolutely ridiculous but wonderful.
Man. After the feeling of Aruiteru, it’s like consuming eight Red Bulls with a spoonful of sugar, ain’t it?
On the other hand, if someone made me curry for breakfast, I’d be pretty damn happy too.
2) Roman ~My Dear Boy~ w/ Fine Emotion
What’s that Yossy? You want to dance?
Notice how everyone looks cool? Everyone? They all sound just as cool.
I realize most of this song is Takahashi and Miki, but honestly, it works. Miki’s drama with Ai’s innocent joy really gives this song something special. The lyrics are pure win, even with the engrish. It’s another one of those hope songs, but it doesn’t bash you over the head with it. I hear hope in the music itself, not just the words. I like that it’s more rock-y without being completely out of their league. It got a sort-of working class, down-to-earth-ness about it. It’s not preaching, it’s hoisting up a glass and yelling, “cheers everybody! hope exists!”
On a more personal note, this song really helped me through some hard times. I know how cliched that is, but it really did. The line, “there is an endless passion called peace, so let’s go, let’s have a dance now.” Honestly, it’s amazing what one line can do.
‘Fine Emotion’ I didn’t like at first and I have no idea why. Probably cause it’s so sixth gen heavy. Sixth Gen plus Ishikawa (of course). I think as always, the harmonies got me, particularly on the very last line. That last “summer” gives me a shiver of happiness every time. I wish they’d use harmony again…you know, so you could actually HEAR it. It has a very bouncy, joyous feel to it. I keep mentioning that feeling of a summer evening. This song evokes that feeling too. I don’t know how to explain why it feels that way though. I just know it’s the best feeling in the world.
Kanashimi Twilight w/ Hand Made CITY
*dodges flying vegetables and a broken bottle or two*
Ok, ok, hear me out!!
Anyone who has read this blog with any degree of consistency (or has been paying attention to this entry at all), knows that I have a bit of Yossy obsession/bias and is probably thinking, “man I had to have seen that coming”. BUT I promise you, that fact that this was her last single and that she pwns unbelieveably in every possible way in it, has only a little to do with why it’s number one.
First of all, this single was just perfectly executed. The jacket, where for once they had the same costumes as in the pv, is designed with Yossy/leader in the middle, with everyone in punky clothes/styles that suit that individual. I’m sorry, everyone looks amazing. Even Mame’s insane hair, Winky’s side-fro and Takahashi’s sock disguised as a dress look great. The vocals, even Mitsui’s intensely whiny solo line really suit the song. Actually, I don’t think she does that bad. It’s dramatic in it’s own way, which is the point. They kept the strongest and most dramatic voices for the verses and paired everyone else up with someone who would bring out their vocals a little. Michishige sounds great with Miki. Nutjob sounds…ok with Takahashi. Yossy, of course, got her solo at the end, which wasn’t perfect vocally, but was perfectly Yossy. It just…that’s her line. The delivery, the tone…I can’t explain it any better than that.
Best. Ending. Ever.
(who capped this? cause I love you!!)
Handmade City starts out with this odd call answer type thing that at first I was kinda taken aback by, but by the time we get to the “WOO!” I’m thinking, “hey, this is kinda cool”. It is in no way out of place after Kanashimi. Once again I see the girls running around, but this time they are pumping their fists and firing up the audience.It’s another one of those summer evening feelings, but at the same time it feels like a live song too.
Mame’s bad ass “atsui, atsui… yoru da yo ne!?” is another one of those lines that is just completely hers. The line distribution is perfect, even though Michishige is kinda hanging on for dear life and Mitsui is a little flat. Even the engrish feels good. It’s just epic enough to be entertaining and “live” enough that you feel like you’re somehow at an outdoor concert.
It’s perfect in every way I can think of. It doesn’t hurt that Yossy is the center, yes, but really I think that as a whole the single was just really well done. They haven’t had such a good balance of image, costume, vocals and music in a long time or since.
I really hope you haven’t just skimmed this for the list and then rolled your eyes at me. I really listened thoughtfully to everything. These singles really gave me a lot of strength.
Hyokkori Hyotanjima w/ Hosekibako
The a-side is just fun. The b-side pure win for me because even though there are no solo lines at all, it’s got the summer-evening feeling I keep going on about that always pulls me in.
Furusato w/ Wasurennai
This song is Abe’s. It always will be. I still find it beautiful, even though it’s been over-done almost as much as Love Machine. The b-side has amazing harmonies with that sultry maturity you always got with old-school musume. Also, the rap is fitting, although admittedly I have no idea what he’s saying. It sounds great though. Kei, in particular, really shines.
I’ll ask again, in case anyone will answer: Which songs are giving you strength right now?