Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let's Learn Japanese: Ichioshi

Girls dressed as robotic prom queen impostors.

Vocals that have been pitch-enhanced so much, they no longer sound human.

Dance moves that look like they were choreographed by a rogue computer that hates humans.

These are all hallmarks of the Japanese electro-pop scene as we know it today. And if the unstoppable colossus that is the J-pop marketing machine has its way, we'll all start listening to Perfume.

Ichioshi is the marriage of the words ichi ("one," or in this case, "top") and oshi ("pushing," in the sense of "selling"). Today I went to the Village Vanguard book/record/gift store in Shimokitazawa and was assailed from all sides by posters, magazines and CDs emblazoned with pictures of the electro-pop trio Perfume. Their new CD, Game, is apparently Village Vanguard's ichioshi. They seem to be willing to do just about anything to get you to buy the CD.

Well, anything short of lowering the price from a ridiculous ¥3000.

Despite efforts to break into the mainstream, Perfume remain classified as an idol group: A bunch of allegedly cute girls whose success depends every bit as heavily on their ability to steal the hearts of otaku nerds as on their ability to sing. Actually, that's too generous; their ability to steal the hearts of otaku nerds is far more important than anything their singing...hence, the aforementioned pitch-enhanced vocals and dance moves cute enough to give you diabetes.

They also, however, owe much of their success to their producer Nakata Yasutaka (best known for his affiliation with Capsule, another robo-pop act). For while you might cringe at Perfume's dippy lyrics and choreography, you may very well find your foot tapping involuntarily to their expertly-produced beats.

Here is the video clip for the first single from Game, "Baby Cruising Love." The audio doesn't start until about 35 seconds into the video.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

While it's true that Perfume are the hottest thing in Japanese electropop at the moment, they are not the only ones. Check this out for a better idea of what's all out there: