Tokyo Girls’ Update Recommend: Our Favorite MVs for Songs Released May 2016
After the explosion of music that was April of 2016, things settled down quite a bit for May. Temperatures gradually began to rise during the day while nights would sometimes be surprisingly cool. Similarly, there seemed to be a string of happy events offset by unfortunate news, particularly the graduations of Meimi Tamura (ANGERME) and Kanon Suzuki (Morning Musume.’16) at Nippon Budokan on May 30th and 31st.
The re-debut of Bandjanaimon! was hindered by their new major label Pony Canyon being blocked in the US by YouTube RED, which is a shame because the MVs for “Kimemaster!” and “Kimochi Dake Sanka Shimasu.” were quite nice even if they weren’t particularly groundbreaking. A few artists who could have made the list, took themselves out of contention by playing things safe. This included favorites like Dorothy Little Happy (“Bicolor no Koigokoro”), Little Glee Monster (“My Best Friend”), Babyraids JAPAN (“Senko Believer”), Kiss Bee (“Kimi to Boku to Natsu no Monogatari”), and even the legendary Namie Amuro (“Mint”)!
Here are 10 of our favorite MVs for songs released in May of 2016 listed in chronological order according to their release date.
Shiina Pikarin – “Makai Shinjuu” (release date: May 3)
Pikarin lopping off her twintails in favor of a short bob cut is not the only difference since she left avex trax for FORCE MUSIC. Perhaps it’s because the lyrics for “Makai Shinjuu” were written by her for the first time, allowing the darkness in her heart to spill out into the human world? Visually, it’s also quite striking, whether it’s the sexy ghost chasing her through a factory, her brightly flashing guitar, or the increased aura of creepiness coming from Pikarin. Depending on how much you might have liked her when she was doing more cutesy material, Pikarin’s further ascent into darkness is either exciting or disconcerting.
Shiina Pikarin Official site: http://pikarin.jp/
BiSH – “DEADMAN” (release date: May 4)
BiSH continued their full-scale assault on conventional idol culture and traditional Japanese culture with their 99-second long major label debut single “DEADMAN”. Some may criticize the MV for being very similar to the one for Porter Robinson’s “Lionhearted” but then again, their producer Junnosuke Watanabe has never been shy about borrowing from other works. Their previous MV for “MONSTERS” was obviously inspired by the classic Stanley Kubrick film “Full Metal Jacket”, which was the tentative name of their 2nd album before it was changed to “FAKE METAL JACKET”. Unfortunately, the recent wave of good news for BiSH was offset by Hug Mii announcing her intention to graduate from the group after their two-man live with Shibusashirazu Orchestra at Akasaka BLITZ on June 2nd. It’s amazing how much changed in just a year since their debut.
BiSH Official site: http://www.bish.tokyo
STEREO JAPAN – “RUN” (release date: May 4)
This MV may not seem that impressive at first considering that documentary-style videos are nothing new but, “RUN” is one piece of a larger story that the young girls of Stereo Tokyo have put together for the single. By adding a fresh twist on the now tired kaisan shouhou (disbandment business) “threat” and declaring that they would break up if they sold 10,000 copies of “Dancing Again” or if DJ Nanako Miura could not complete a marathon (42.195 km), the stage was set to attract more attention than the group had been used to. Adding the “special privilege” of being able to run 1 km in the place of Nanako and the others for every 5 CDs they pre-ordered, she and the members basically took the day off! This was followed up by an unofficial video for “Dancing Again” with their TO (top otaku) running 77km from Odawara all the way to Shinjuku MARZ. The story (for now) concludes in the official MV for “Dancing Again” which shows the final day of release events where STEREO JAPAN parties with their fans (aka Party People) in a bus while driving around Tokyo. When it’s announced they didn’t even get halfway to 10,000 (4,880), everyone cheers!
Stereo Tokyo Official site: http://www.st-tokyo.com
Morning Musume.’16 – “Utakata Saturday Night” (release date: May 11)
Morning Musume.’16 delivers another stacked triple A-side single for Kanon Suzuki’s final outing with the group. “Tokyo to iu Katasumi” showed a rare glimpse of the members in casual clothes in addition to their trademark precision formation choreography set to an eclectic and aggressive song straight from the mind of Tsunku♂. Showing that they can float like butterflies as well as sting like bees in “The Vision”, Morning Musume.’16 show why they’re still considered one of the elite idol groups in Japan in another song composed by the godfather of Hello! Project. However, with “Zukki” featured extensively in “Utakata Saturday Night”, it was no surprise that it was chosen for her final Music Station appearance with the group and saved until the encore of her graduation concert. A good graduation song makes fans and members alike remember an idol but that doesn’t always have to mean a sentimental song that causes tears to be shed.
Morning Musume.’16 Official site: http://www.helloproject.com/morningmusume/
BPM15Q – “Hakutyumu” (release date: May 12)
The “dark horse” on this list, BPM15Q might have been overlooked if this article had been written on schedule since the MV was not revealed until their 1st anniversary one-man live on May 31st. The camera work and visual effects are vastly improved compared to their debut MV “BPM15Q!”. In addition to a lot of typically Japanese imagery, Rinahamu and nicamoq flip the script with scenes of them smoking, one of the last taboos of the idol world. If it bothers you, then they’ve accomplished what they set out to do.
BPM15Q Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/BPM15Qinfo
Niji no Conquistador – “↓Alien Girl・In New York↑” (release date: May 17)
Niji no Conquistador might have just revealed the reason why they’ve been receiving so much help from an ever growing list of all-star creators with the MV for their 5th single “↓Alien Girl・In New York↑”: they’re really aliens from outer space with plans to take over the world using their cuteness! That’s probably not the case but it’s still an amazing MV with a worldview so big that it was expanded into a 60-minute version which is only available if you buy all 7 DVDs! Here is the trailer for the full version of the MV which looks like a pretty epic B-movie! Unfortunately, this was to be the last single for Minari Nagata, who was mysteriously and swiftly terminated from the group due to “repeated contract violations” as of May 23, 2016.
Niji no Conquistador Official site: http://pixiv-pro.com/2zicon/
Q’ulle – “ALIVE” (release date: May 18)
Deep in the midst of their 2016「other side of ～HOPE～」Asia Tour, it made perfect sense for Q’ulle to show how their music can connect people no matter where they are or where they are from, as they did in the MV for “ALIVE”. On top of that, they went meta by referencing all of their previous songs within the MV! The only scene that might have been worth adding would be if they had gotten all of the people from the different story lines (especially the office lady) to dance on stage with them at the live house or something? Some of them were obviously practicing the choreography!
Q’ulle Official site: http://qulle.net/
PassCode – “NINJA BOMBER” (release date: May 25)
Since their 2nd album was announced during their January 2, 2016 one-man live at Akasaka Blitz, PassCode has been releasing MVs from it at a steady pace even though they were not so quick to confirm exactly when it would go on sale. They went home in “from here”, which added another chapter to the story from “over there”. They even showed a new dimension to their tried and true electronicore would with “AXIS”. Longtime director of PassCode’s MVs Takaya Ohata really outdid himself with “NINJA BOMBER”, with the members dressed as kunoichi (female ninjas) and running through a castle while battling samurai and breakdancing ninjas.
PassCode Official site: http://www.passcode-official.com/
Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen – “ONE” (release date: May 31)
The “Chōshū Seven” may currently be down to 6 as Haruno Yamatsuka is on hiatus due to school but, they continue to move their dreams with their latest single. Showing where the members might have ended up if they had made different choices in their lives, the MV shows a new side to “YamaKatsu” while showcasing their home prefecture like all local idols should. While it’s not as extreme as their previous single “PARADOX” where they were fighting winged skeletons on an alien planet, it’s a refreshing change of pace.
Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen Official site: http://www.yamaguchikasseigakuen.com/
Girls’ Band Category : BAND-MAID – “the non-fiction days” (release date: May 18)
It feels like 2016 is the year that BAND-MAID will be making a well deserved breakthrough with their US debut at Sakura-Con 2016 (March 25-27) in Seattle, European debut at MCM London Comic Con (May 27-29, 2016), and the release of their hotly anticipated 3rd mini-album “Brand New MAID”. While we were quite close to putting “alone” in this position due to the timing of releasing the MV on Valentine’s Day, “the non-fiction days” edged it out with its glorious and liberal use of pyrotechnics. Fire! Fire!
BAND-MAID Official site: http://bandmaid.tokyo/
May and June are typically slower months when it comes to music releases which was probably why our selection criteria may have been stricter than usual? Then again, we’re only human and not even close to being a “PERFECT HUMAN”. Leaving certain more established artists in favor for lesser known ones is never an easy choice to make but, sometimes no matter how good a MV or song is, if it’s similar to ones that have come before it, the edge has to go to freshness and creativity, no? Make sure to comment and let us know what you think!
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