Saturday, December 5, 2015
I was set to feature TERRORISM today, but, hey, this is Saturday, and let TERRORISM wait. This was an unusual morning for me, for I have nothing planned except for poker later tonight. So I was in bed flipping channels when I came across an NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, or the Japan Broadcasting Corporation) World feature on Perfume. No, not that fragrance, but a Japanese girl technopop band, which only sings and dances, with, now too, an overwhelming assortment of electronics, colors and lasers, and a transition to electronic dance-pop music.
However, as I tend to now and then do, let me swing to a wild aside and provide a small clue on how you can enhance your life, and those around you. It was about a quarter century ago, and through airline amenities, gifts and the like I accumulated more colognes and perfumes that would have lasted me several lifetimes. Plus, most of them were overpoweringly odiferous. So I made a "life-changing" decision: a wisp or two sprayed on my socks. My feet are now the best-smelling part of the my body.
In Japan I noticed in a 100-Yen store these atomizers the left into which you can pour in your potions and design your own scent. I now have quite an assortment of aromas, but only for my socks. Thus, your shoes also begin to smell well.
All that appropriately leads me back to Perfume, which came to be because each of them (Ayaka, or A-chan, Kashiyuka and Kawayuka) has a name with a Kanji character KA or KAORI, which in Japanese stands for fragrance. Mind you, that third person dropped out and was replaced with Ayano Omoto, no KA, but, too late for a name change. So, above, from the left, Nocci, A-chan and Kashiyuka.
Now why would this blog feature this girly group which represents about the worst (this is a generational comment) there is to popular music in Japan today? My deep interest is limited to songs of post World War II. That's Hideko Takamine, who was in the movie Ginza Kan Kan Musume, and would have been 91 this year. Another tangent, but she also starred in the 1954 24 Eyes, perhaps the most moving Japanese film ever, with the most memorable music if these were your impressionable years. I mention this movie because at 10:30PM Hawaii time on Sunday night (which is tomorrow), you can see this film on TCM.
Back to why I'm even focusing on current Japanese music, a puzzlement, actually, for first of all, I never heard of Perfume until today, and they have been in existence for 15 years. They formed way back in the Year 2000 when they were enrolled at a Hiroshima elementary school. Three years later in Tokyo they released Sweet Donuts. Went nowhere.
Finally in 2005 came Linear Motor Girl, which reached #99...in Japan. Two years later, Chocolate Disco and Polyrhythm, which was selected by NHK for a national recycling campaign (and later in 2011 appeared in Pixar's Cars 2). In 2008 Game hit #1. Heck, here is that full album. You will note that their songs all sound about the same and they dance like robotic manikins. They are too Kawaii, or cute, and mostly just move their hands.
So why have they succeeded? Here are ten videos of their songs. You close your eyes, and they all sound the same. However, visually, they are a treat. To a good degree, you need to give credit to choreographer Mimiko, who came on board in 2002, and Japanese electronic music wizard Yasutaka Nakata (left) in 2003.
Remember Gangam Style with PSY? The most viewed video clip now approaching 2.5 billion views, by at least a factor of two more than Justin Bieber's Baby. K-Pop thus leads the world on You Tube.
Well, back to Perfume, it is in their sold-out tours (they have had several world tours) on stage that they truly shine:
Note the handwaving in the crowd, that's part of the experience, for the audience gets their exercise for the day.
So tomorrow, terrorism or That's Entertainment?