Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Colorful Couplings for a Colorful Era

Everything written in this post is purely my opinion. I've decided to share them here. Just as I have a right to share them, you have a right to disagree with them. Just remember that opinions are not facts, be them yours or mine, and everyone has a right to their own. Please don't take anything I say personally, and any criticism you have be constructive. Thank you, and enjoy (or don't, I don't tell you what to do.)

So I've wanted to blog recently. Nothing particularly... I just really wanted to blog... But I haven't been able to think of anything to blog about. So when I thought of something, I decided to jump on it and see how it goes. I'm going to try and review the small group B-sides (Couplings) from Morning Musume's Colorful Era (so since 123 anyway). I don't have much confidence in my song reviewing capability, so please bear with me if anything turns into fangirling/whining.

The first single by Morning Musume to feature, multiple "small group" couplings was One Two Three. When it was announced that, not only would the single have 4 b-sides, but 3 of them would be small group, I originally summed it up to be the "50th Single Special" and went along with it. Never did I expect that the small group couplings would continue on for 5 straight singles - not that I'm complaining, I love it.

The Limited A/B B-side for One Two Three is Watashi no Jidai, which is sung by none other than our Colorful Era Rokkies, Michishige Sayumi and Tanaka Reina. The song is a fun, upbeat song that comes across as one of those songs that you could bounce around to when you're sugar high. Shige and Reina have very different voice types, and this song really brings out that fact when you switch between Reina's breathy, forced, lower voice to Shige's nasally, stressed, cuter voice. I can't say that the blending is great either, I feel like Shige is really trying too hard in the song. That, or I'm just so used to her being auto-tuned nowadays that I forgot how she really sounds? Either way, this song is definitely not on my favorites list vocally. However, the song itself is really fun to listen to. I've kinda developed a habit of just ignoring how annoying the vocals sound if the song is good, and this song definitely falls into that category. 

The 2nd of the three small group b-sides from One Two Three is Aisaretai no ni... by the four cookies, Fukumura Mizuki, Sayashi Riho, Ikuta Erina, and Suzuki Kanon. The song is a slower, techno-ish sounding song that feels like it should be played at a dance club (I don't know if it would, though, since I don't know what they actually play at dance clubs...). I'll be perfectly honest, I was never able to get much into the song. The song is set up perfectly to where you can compare the girls vocals back to back to some extent, or could anyway, had their vocals not exponentially improved since this single. But one thing I like about the song is the diversity in vocals, and not painfully so like in Watashi no Jidai. You have Mizuki's gentle voice, Riho's forceful voice, and Erina and Zukki's in between voices. There isn't much opportunity to comment on the blending, though, as the song is mostly solos, and the group parts that are in the song, are duet at most. But this song has the opposite effect on me as Watashi no Jidai does. With Watashi no Jidai, I don't like the vocals much, but I love the song, so I'll listen to it on occasion anyway. In Aisaretai no ni... I love how the vocals sound, but the song itself just doesn't hold my attention, and annoys me after one or two listens (this being said while my head is pounding on my 4th listen since I started reviewing). For the sake of my sanity, I'll be moving on.

By far, my favorite B-side is the third one (go figure...), Seishun Domannaka by the Tenkis, Iikubo Haruna, Ishida Ayumi, Sato Masaki, and Kudo Haruka. This song is another fun song, like Watashi no Jidai, however, while that song had more of a "cool" sound to it, Seishun Domannaka has more of a childish feel to it. This song had initial bias with me because of Masaki (what? no way!) but overall, I don't care if it's "biased," but this is definitely my favorite One Two Three B-side. The vocals, considering these girls are the kohai of the single, I find far superior to the vocals of the other two tracks overall. Of course all of the vocals could use some polishing, but for the expectation level of the girls 3rd single vs. the cookie's 6th and the Rokkies too many-th, it's impressive to say the least. The song itself, as well, as repetitive at it is, takes much longer than the other songs to get annoying, to me. Plus, the blending, both between the full group lines and the duet lines, is mostly smooth, which is always nice to hear, not only from a group, but from a generation. Individually, as I mentioned, the vocals have their good and bad points, but like the cookies, we have a well balanced mix of vocals, with Masaki's cute, well-behaved voice, Haruka's mature, trained voice, and Ayumi and Haruna's in the middle, bumpy, but still pleasant voices. 

Jumping straight into the 2nd single's first B-side, Wakuteka Take a chance's Futsuu no Shoujo A is a trio featuring Reina, Masaki, and Haruka. This song has a bit of an anime opening/ending feel to it, and I've thought so ever since I first heard it. Needless to say, once again, this is my favorite B-side of the single (Heads up - all of my favorite b-sides except for Help Me!! are the ones that have MaaDuu in them). Vocally, the diversity is really nice to listen to. You have one of the cutest voices in current MoMusu (Masaki), one of the deepest (Haruka), and one of the dead-center (Reina), and surprisingly enough, the blending is very pleasant, between all 4 groups (All 3, ReiMaa, ReiDuu, and MaaDuu). Plus no auto-tune. Really this may be my favorite b-side out of all of the ones I'll be reviewing here, even. There's not much more to say about it. Other than maybe the song could have easily been a quartet if you just break Reina's lines in half..... -cough-.

The 2nd B-side of this single is Daisuki Hyakumanten, a duet between Mizuki and Ayumi. The song is a... cute-ish sounding mid-tempo song. This is really the most you hear from Ayumi in one place since her debut, since it's a duet she gets a lot more lines than she did in Seishun Domannaka, let alone every A-side/full group B-side since her debut. The blending in the song is amazing, as these girls have very similar voice types. Ayumi's unpolished voice really stands out, though, in her solos. Here we have her back to back with Mizuki, who's not only been in MoMusu twice as long, but had also been an Egg since before S/mileage formed. Don't get me wrong, I think this duo is an amazing pair vocally, and I do hope to hear more small group songs with these two in the future (especially if it's only 2-3 people), but for the difference in vocal ability at the time this was recorded, it takes a bit out of it for me. The song itself is okay, but it's one of those songs that I would only really listen to if I was specifically in the mood to listen to it. 

The last Wakuteka Take a chance B-side is Shinnen Dake wa Tsuranu Kitose! featuring the remaining five girls, Michishige Sayumi, Ikuta Erina, Sayashi Riho, Suzuki Kanon, and Iikubo Haruna. In my opinion, 5 of the worst voices of the time. I'd say that all of them (barring Sayumi) have improved drastically since this song, but listening to the song, as it was recorded, is extremely annoying. The blending works, but mostly in the "the sound is so bad, I can't be bothered to try and see if I can pick out voices" sense. Plus, I have no clue who's bright idea it was to give the song's opening line to Haruna, the absolute least trained voice in the song. The song overall isn't anything impressive either. Maybe I just can't get over the voices, but the song just doesn't stick with me for longer than I listen to it (if I listen to it). So, I guess I feel similarly about this song as I feel about Daisuki Hyakumanten in that if it came out around now, when the girls vocals had time to be polished up a bit more, I would probably like the song a lot more.

Help Me!! The single of amazing B-sides and terrible single covers. Oh, and it was the debut of the solo Gen 11 member, Oda Sakura. But in all seriousness, the B-sides for this single are amazing, so this is just a bit of a warning in advance that I may end up fangirling my way through the reviews for them :3.

The first b-side is our PinkuDuo Sayumi and Mizuki singing Aishuu Romantic. This song is, just like most songs involving Shige, auto-tuned to heck, but I really think it works for this song. For once, I feel like they worked well with auto-tune to make it work. It's really hard to say much about vocals and blending in a song that's auto-tuned to this extent, though I do appreciate that I can still tell who's singing a majority of the time. The overall song is one that I tend to forget exists, but when I remember it, I can't help but give it a listen. The only down side is that the opening sounds a lot like Lalala no Pipipi to me, so on occasion I'll hear the opening and think it's that song until the chuchuchuchupa~'s start up.

Second is one of the most well-thought out songs in H!P, Watashi no Dekkai Hana by Reina, Ayumi, and Haruna. This would be the only favorite B-side which doesn't contain MaaDuu. The song itself is a cool sounding song with bits of rapping throughout it. The first interesting thing I found about this song is that, between this and Futsuu no Shoujo A, Reina has sung with all 4 Tenkis. As for the song itself, if I recall, Tsunku himself said that this song would be a song fitted to suit the singers perfectly. And it does just that. Lines that suit Reina's center of attention/diva-ness, lines that suit Haruna's tenancy to almost "talk-sing," and rapping lines that suit Ayumi perfectly. Plus for the most part, the overall composition of the song works. The song is catchy and I love listening to it. The vocals suit their parts, even if they aren't perfectly polished by any means, and the blending works fine for what few bits are actually needed of it. As much as I wanted Nani wa Tomo Are! to be my favorite, this song just completely blew it away within one listen for me.

Next is Nani wa Tomo Are, by the underrated Erina, Kanon, and Haruna, and the slowly being recognized Masaki. I tried making myself like this song. I really did. But it wasn't until I saw the MaaDuuetto cover of it from Masaki's birthday event was I able to fall for it. The song is a fun song, but there's not much more substance to it than that. Especially after Aishuu Romantic and Watashi no Dekkai Hana, Nani wa Tomo Are comes across as a bland, "just another" b-side type of song. Which, honestly, is not the best type of song to give to some of the least popular members in Morning Musume unless you're just asking not to sell any of these singles. This coming from me even after I've started liking the song. However, on occasion, I have had moods where I just really wanted to listen to this song, so it may be one of those songs you listen to once in a blue moon.

The last B-side for Help Me!! is featuring our two newbie line whores, Sayashi Riho and Oda Sakura, Daisuki Dakara Zettai Yurusanai. The song is basically 99% harmonies. And whatever isn't a harmony is a solo. When I first heard the song, although I didn't like how the harmonies sounded much, I was really hoping it meant that these two were being trained to potentially bring harmonies back to Morning Musume, and I got excited... yeah that didn't happen. Another problem I had with this song is that it was released shortly after C-ute's Kanashiki Heaven, so I had a lot of trouble not constantly comparing the two songs since they are both heavily harmony based. However, once the Kanashiki Heaven phase died down a bit, I was able to listen to this song for itself without much trouble. The song definitely grew on me, even if it still can't compare to Watashi no Dekkai Hana or Aishuu Romantic. For the vocals themselves, the two voices are very similar and very different at the same time, especially in the harmonies. Even now, listening to the harmonies I have trouble differentiating between who's doing which harmony, even though I can clearly hear that they're both there and harmonizing. However, getting over the bumps, this song is a very cool listen.

Before I start reviewing this song, be warned, I do NOT intend on reviewing Rock no Teigi, as it's not a "small group" song. Anyway, the first of the two B-sides for Brainstorming is Tokimeku Tokimeke, featuring the 5 oldest (by age) members of Morning Musume (not including Reina), so Sayumi, Haruna, Mizuki, Ayumi, and Erina. The song is relatively similar to Aishuu Romantic with the way it sounds, but at the same time it's very different. Most of the vocals suit the song, if you ask me, the only one who seems to stand out to me is Ayumi. Her solos just sound out of place to me, perhaps it's because she's the lowest voice in the group, I'm not entirely sure what it is. The overall sound of the song is nice, it's fun to listen to, but it's also easily forgettable to me, so it will usually take actually listening to it for me to remember "OH YEAH, I LIKE THIS SONG."

Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de consists of the 5 youngest members of Morning Musume, Riho, Zukki, Sakura, Masacchi, and Haruka. The song is really nice, and I get a kick out of the fact that the two youngest members (Masaki and Haruka) seem to own the song. The mix of voices is a tad odd, but it somehow works for the song because of that, I think. The blending is good for the most part, so the only part where the difference in vocals matters is in the solos, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact it makes the song a bit more interesting. Overall, however, this song, like Tokimeku Tokimeke, is a very forgettable song, and I'll realize that the only part of it that I can remember if I'm not listening to it is the line that says "Itsumo to onnaji seifuku de" in the choruses. However, between the two songs, for now anyway, I like Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de more.

Finally, the first B-side of the most recent single is Bouya, which is sung by Leader-san, Sayumi, sub-leader-sans, Mizuki and Haruna, and the best duo ever, Masaki and Haruka. The song is a bit faster, and another auto-tuned song. However, I personally think the song is really good, and I like the combo (I like when leaders and sub-leaders sing together :3). This song, though, like Aisaretai no ni..., is almost completely solos, and what's not is a duet, so you can't say much about the blending. Individually, though, the vocals seem to suit the song perfectly, as far as I can tell. The one who stands out the most in this group is Haruka, primarily because Shige, Masacchi, and Haruna have cute voices, and even Mizuki's gentle voice is much cuter than Haruka's more husky voice. Though, despite this, I still think the song sounds amazing as it is, and I probably wouldn't change it even if I could.

The last B-side is Funwari Koibito Ichinensei, it's sung by the remaining 5 members who weren't in the other song, so Riho, Erina, Zukki, Ayumi, and Sakura. And, honestly, this is the first time I've listened to it past the opening. The song is nice, it seems to be another "cool" song with rap bits mixed in. It kinda sounds like something that would have been a album song/b-side for Minimoni after Marippe was replaced with Aichan. However, overall, the song doesn't really have anything to it that holds my attention past the rap bits. So there's really not much I can say about it. 

And that was my review-ish thing for the "small group" b-sides of Morning Musume's Colorful Era. I'm really looking forward to future small group b-sided, and I hope that we get more 2-4 person ones and don't just convert to 5 and 5 permanently like it's been the last two singles. I doubt it will, but I really, really don't want it to, so I'm just putting them cards down now. I had fun listening back through these songs, and I hope those of you who actually read this post also enjoyed my input. See you guys next time I get random inspiration, and in the meantime, enjoy a random gif :D

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