n this series, clicks’n’cuts dilettante Francis Henville describes his descent into the netherworld of Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean commercial pop. Track by track, he navigates deeper into the genre, searching for ever-more-toothsome morsels with which to satiate his jaded appetite…
Happy Summer Wedding
A long time ago, I was eating Pocky. There was a picture inside the Pocky box and it had a girl dressed in a cheerleader uniform and gesturing in such a way as to suggest that perhaps I should buy more Pocky and enjoy happy living universe.
So I did! And I put the sticker on my old USB CD-writer drive that I have to lug around everywhere. And ever since then, my CD-writer enjoyed the happy living universe until I found out that the girl in the sticker was from Morning Musume.
Oh no, thought I. Not the blissfully-unaware pop tragedy that drives kids crazy across Japan! Between 11 and 15 young women in silly uniforms that market TV commercial music as radio commercial music and dance co-ordinatedly. And one of them's on my printer!
I thought Pocky was trying to appeal to the gentlemanly, dandified demographic that relishes surrealist sex/chocolate juxtapositions. But no, they just wanted to crank out more Morning Musume marketing.
And so it seems that, after wading through a metric arse-load of plastic pop tunes, I've finally found a Morning Musume song that I like.
Of course, without any context, it's hard to see why I like this song. Judge this track's merits only on a relative scale that takes in all the group's previous work. It's the sonic wallpaper of Japan that drives a whole unblinking legion of synchronized product distribution and advertisement robots.
What characteristics can we analyze to situate this digital audio product in a modern consumer landscape? Sonically, the track is a loping ska/soca piece featuring frenetic unison lines of synthesized and organic instruments. All vocal lines are auto-tuned, overcompressed and sampled for unison hits. Quantization and imitation are the name of the game.
Also there is a talking breakdown section in the middle of the song where the vocalists discuss something in quasi-serious tones, which gets my vote every time.
What's nutty is that tonight I am going to see one of my favorite bands from just a few years ago .... the Slackers. Perhaps their more organic, raw, analog sound will jerk me outta this digital J-pop cocoon of mine....
By: Francis Henville
Published on: 2004-10-28