February 9, 2006

Mourning My Sanity

MP3 Chu! Natsu Party / Morning Musume

So I know many of you have probably already seen the now-famous morning musume vs. lizard video (thanks to Gene for this one), but in case you haven't, please do...it's like a swift kick in the crotch for your equanimity. Crackier than crack. Not to mention probably the most poignant image in recent years of what modern-day Japan is really all about...strapping meat to the heads of young, teenage girls to bait the attack lizard.

What has kind of fallen by the wayside in the midst of this Freudian sushi buffet is that Morning Musume actually makes music. Terrible, terrible music. Not to milk a stereotype, but it truly sounds early 90s video game. Sonic the Hedgehog. Well, Sonic 2 to be exact. Casino Night level.

This being said...why post on them? Because, frankly, I can’t...stop...listening. I'm hoping maybe I can transfer the evil onto you, Ringu style. Also, from a sociological viewpoint, the whole thing is mind-boggling.

First, there've been like a bajillion girls in the band. And everyone pretends not to notice when they get switched out. Their label measures them in generations, like the bible. When they turn 18--and their fruits are no longer forbidden--they’re gone, Menudo-style. The specific euphemism for Morning Musume is "graduated." In fact, today's song technically isn’t even a Morning Musume song...it's from one of the numberless spinoff groups called "Hello! Project."

I refuse to play their mind games, though. Morning Musume, we know who you are. And your days are numbered, you son of a bitch.


Chevy Chase said...

NOTHING is crackier than crack.

h3f said...

that's really harsh. a lot of westerners make their minds about morning musume too soon, just because of that one lizard clip they think they're experts and know everything about mm. blerghh.

no, their days aren't numbered. they've been around for almost 7 years now, and will continue to be alive as long as there are those who love them.

and their music aren't that horrible. if it were the novelty surely wouldn't last and they wont be around this long. some of the members are actually very talented. there are many fans of jpop, and clearly you're not one of them.

again, you've decided to hate them and made your mind long before you even listened to them seriously.

jeremy said...

i'm not sure that musume music requires its listeners to consider it "seriously," but i actually love the song. i'm also delighted to see we have our first piece of hate mail.

Yosh said...

Shut your face, if you dont like M.M music then dont bloody listen to it, if you dont like japanese culture then go somewhere else, do you think your nation and culture is all so fantastic??? well, one thing for sure, you're an absolute retard, never heard of admiration of different cultures, obviously not...why dont you go back to school and learn about the differences between one countries culture and anothers.

Tomiko said...


You're such a retard. I'm not a fan of Morning Musume, but you're are really being an idiot by saying you listen to them even though you hate them. Seriously, a lot of people jump into conclusions on describing morning musume due to some crap articles like this one. Give people a chance to get to know them.

me-chan said...

wow you all really told him off...good job!

Saku said...

i love morning musume they rock their songs make ma happy and they are decent girls not like other girl bands from all over the world that the only thing they do is dance like sluts.

long live to morning musume!!

RAWR said...

Wow, of all the articles I've ever read about Morning Musume this one couldn't be more false. I suggest before you write an article on something you do some research first.

colin said...

well....good to know i'm at least being read. thank you everyone for your many insightful comments regarding my intelligence, character, and respect of japanese culture. please, though, humor me for one moment while i draw back the curtain and reveal to you, in r. kelly's words, "tha shockin' truth": i, my brothers and sisters, am japanese.

no, just kidding.

that would be something though, wouldn't it? really, though, my respect for japanese culture couldn't be greater. see my long-ago posts on the pillows, or noodles, my two favorite japanese bands. before i started writing this i was having my morning beat off session to Mishima's Sea of Fertility. I'm leaving for Osaka in five days. I'm seriously considering tracking down the girl behind Rocket or Chiritori and begging her to make more music.

Annale said...

I must say that I find it hilarious that virtually everybody who has posted here is so offended by this review. Everybody has different taste when it comes to music, and just because someone doesn't like Morning Musume doesn't mean that the person has absolutely zero respect or knowledge of the Japanese culture. By saying so, you could also say that people who don't like The Beatles are ignorant of British culture, people who don't like Falco are ignorant of Austrian/German culture, etc. It's just preposterous. Grow up.

Now, on to the actual music; I would have to say that Morning Musume is a guilty pleasure of mine, a band that I only listen to when I need a pick-me-up, as I find their music so unresistably perky that it puts me in a good mood. I completely agree that the way the girls are switched out every few years, the way they all dance completely the same in most videos, and they way they look/act is rather silly (if you ever watch any interviews with them, you'll see most of them are complete and total airheads, one of whom cannot find Japan on a map), but their beats make me smile, so I'll continue to listen when I'm down until I can find something cheesier. :)

Shadedpast said...

wow dis article is sooooo wrong n soooo many ways
jus because of the lizard video you think that they are no good
and also their music is soothing
by the way the lizard video was made because of a BATSU GAME(punishment game) yes there is such a thing n its waaaayyy more entertaining than the crap on the US channels. Be4 they let the lizard out to MoMusu they had a little game and since they lost they needed to play a Batsu game(punishment game) that is why...
even if they are airheads they are much more talented singers than other singers.
By the way you said that wen they are 18 they are thorwn out and graduated
that is where you are wrong
first of all they are not thrown out they have a choice 2 say on MoMusu if they want 2
many left 2 fulfiil their dream (goin back to school, going solo, etc) but some decide to stay such as Iida Kaori(around 30 sum years old) Mari Yaguchi(around 20) stayed in Hello Project but appears in MoMusu music n vids sumtimes. so U R SOOOO WRONG ON THIS ARTICLE

kusoy said...

u fucking dip shit u day are fucking numbered dising moring musume like that... i kno u have no lfe starting shit on these threads but fuck u a discrace to ur whiteness...so here post ur adress and shit so i can kill u cuz ur days are numbered....fucking idiot, well when i kill u ull be happy in hell with ur dad...adof hiter

Amber said...

Haha wow. 3nin matsuri made Chu! Natsu Party, not Morning Musume; at least get your fucking artists right.

Tricia said...

Ouch, look at all that hate mail! I guess this is what happens when you mess with other people’s “crack” supply. All that aside, I really enjoyed your review (minus the Sonic the Hedgehog part—I would have gone with Mario Bros). Have you heard of NEWS from Johnny’s entertainment? They actually remind me a lot of MM except with a little more Backstreet Boys pop and little less of that hypnotic trance. I know I’m about a year too late, but this is an awesome sight! I’m studying Japanese at UCLA right now and getting ready to teach English in Japan, so it’s nice to find some Japanese/Korean music that is not so mainstream. I hope you decide to continue this blog some day, wherever you are. =)

-Tricia P.

Anonymous said...

I understand why you would think they are really stupid, because I know I definatly would not be listening to them right now. but somehow I ended up liking them alot. Before I would really hate these type of girl groups as I saw them as nothing but cheesy and fake. But right now I see something unique in them and their music to me is unique. Each of them offer an interesting personality to me and some of them are intelligent. But it is your opinion and if you want to hate them go ahead. But it kind of saddens me as now many people will probably steer clear of morning musume and will not give them a chance.

Anonymous said...

I understand why you would think they are really stupid, because I know I definatly would not be listening to them right now. but somehow I ended up liking them alot. Before I would really hate these type of girl groups as I saw them as nothing but cheesy and fake. But right now I see something unique in them and their music to me is unique. Each of them offer an interesting personality to me and some of them are intelligent. But it is your opinion and if you want to hate them go ahead. But it kind of saddens me as now many people will probably steer clear of morning musume and will not give them a chance.

Anonymous said...

I understand. You only like stuff if it's cool / obscure / off-beat / what have you. That's why you feel okay reading Mishima and listening to Cornelius but gag at Morning Musume.

So I'm gonna throw it out there in a language you'll understand.

I have heard a fair number of Musume hits, and they all kick the ever-loving cowshite out of everything Cornelius has done since First Question Award. Everything up to and including that album is on about a par.

Why? It's just great music. The songwriting and arrangements are fucking top notch, complicated, massively busy, loud, fun, well put together, not to mention there are a wide variety of different vocal styles and rapid call-response action on the songs as a result of the group's girth - I won't suppose anything about the girls themselves, but what you see on TV and such is up there with any good Japanese TV; they are obviously a dab hand at entertainment and making people laugh. But I won't pretend to be a massive devotee, since accumulating the necessary effort - torrenting every weekly fucking episode of their show, collecting all the photobooks and albums, reading into every disclosed aspect of the girls personal lives - would require a level of devotion rivalled only by Zappa fans and Deadheads, due to the level of obsessive fan-exchange and marketing churnage associated with each.

You say it's bad, then you say you can't stop listening. That's because it's good. What you possibly MEAN is it's a bit cloying, too mainstream, too manufactured, too over the top - what you would probably call "cheesy" or "corny" but when Cornelius does it you call it "kitsch". This is why I like it. No regard for taste whatsoever. It's also fucking massive. Don't you like it when good things are massive? What if Cornelius gave them his seal of approval, as he did with GLOBE, another J-pop band you would otherwise slag off? Yep, that's right - said they were "mental" and "could play in a noise club" (I'm paraphrasing). Course, why does it matter what he said? It don't. You got ears.

While we're making fun of mainstream pop music, why don't people make fun of "indie" shit? The deadbeat, precious puritannical tosspots behind boorishly calculated strains of pseudo-music? The guys who are afraid to just get on with it, throw shit out there based on what gets their rocks off? Oh, Godard forbid we have a hit record! If such a thing were to happen we would need to strenuously backpaddle our situation with overwrought rhetoric, a knowing wink and other assorted helpings of half-baked bullshit! If you do any kind of non-gimmicky music, you either have to make an excuse or brandish it as some kind of inverse-subversion! I mean, how insecure can you get? LOL

Oh yeah, Mishima. I dunno how you can say any of this shit about Musume and then read him. Only difference? Critical / credible rep.

I know this thing is 2 years old, but fuck it. It ain't just you, it's all the daft buggers who think mainstream pop is crap by default. Music is music, an E in Jeff Tweedy's music is an E in Morning Musume's music. Tweedy is human, so are the members of Musume and the people behind them. You like the Beatles? The bloke who writes Musume's songs did a tribute album to them. You might say Tweedy has credibility, but really, what IS credibility? Some vague notion? What's wrong with liking what you like? I mean, you like it. If someone else slags you off for it, who gives a flying shit? YOU LIKE IT. This is basic fucking primary school shit son.

In the end, watching some clever so-and-so mic up a glass filled with water, or marvelling at how Otomo Yoshihide has done away with the constraints of jazz and built up new constraints of only being allowed to make loud noises - well, it's not all that, is it?

I've been listening to and enjoying the same great songs that you call dumb and stupid for years longer than any of this stupid reactionary abstract bullshit you bum ever will. So will all the people who went out and bought said music. In the end, good music and entertainment lasts, regardless of the acumen. I suppose fourty odd years ago you would've been one of them "Toytown" people, calling Motown gimmick music. Not nowadays eh?