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The first single for Morning Musume of the year is a pretty damn strong one in my opinion; hitting the end of 2012 with a dance shot, people quickly became aware of Morning Musume's growing talent in not just dance but also in the progress of their musical sound and style. Much like the previous two singles, Help Me!! shows a great amount of diversity in Morning Musume's sound with multiple B-side tracks and different groupings to show off each girls individual voice as well as to show off their strengths in singing.
Help Me!! has also proven to be a pretty strong single in sales too; Not only has it sold a whopping 61,291 copies on its first day, beating out One Two Three by around 5,000, it has also managed to top the Oricon Daily charts as well, a feat that not even the 50th single managed to do! That's amazing! This is an absolutely wonderful start to the year and an amazing achievement for Morning Musume.
That all said and done let's get the excitement out of the way and take a look at what Help Me!! has to offer for the fans shall we?
01. Help Me!!
Help Me!! is the title track of Morning Musume's 52nd single and the first to introduce 11th generation member Oda Sakura into the group. Yet another cool song, Help Me!! follows the same path as previous singles Ren'ai Hunter, One Two Three and Wakuteka Take a chance with its cool and mature sound that has become a staple in Morning Musume songs since 2012.
The song is much like Wakuteka Take a Chance in how catchy it is and much like One Two Three in how edgy it sounds, ultimately creating a pretty nice medium that all people can enjoy. It's very enjoyable actually and does well not to follow the same mess that was One Two Three by use of too much auto-tune. It's undeniable that auto-tune has been used in this song, however it's used very effectively and brings strength to this very busy track and compliments the tone of the song and the voices of the girls that it's used on.
There is a great deal to like about this song too in my opinion; the business of the sound is one thing to enjoy and something everyone should really take note of when listening to Help Me!!. It's a sound which basically represents Tokyo in full force with ever-changing moods and tones, a rapid pace in sound and plenty of effects to keep us amused. Every time I listen to Help Me!! I can't help but think of cars driving past at an accelerated speed thanks to certain effects, or even a tunnel and the quiet eeriness it brings during the 3:40-3:42 mark of the song. There are also parts of the song which are pretty dark and creepy thanks to how quiet and toned down they are representing the loneliness of Tokyo too despite its business. It's a complex sound but one that is extremely fun to listen to!
Other parts of the song to enjoy are the monologues which are used during these quiet intervals as well as certain voices in the song. The monologue is great and something that we have not heard in a while from a Morning Musume single (the last being Iroppoi Jirettai), whilst certain voices are an absolute pleasure to hear. The addition of Oda Sakura's voice in Help Me!! brings a new balance to the group thanks to the strength of her voice and how fresh and different it sounds next to vocals like Tanaka Reina or Sayashi Riho. In a group where mostly the higher-pitched or strained voices reign, Sakura brings balance and freshness to the group that we have been missing since Niigaki Risa graduated, and let's just say that she sounds fabulous!
Let's not neglect Fukumura, either; Fukumura has continued to shuffle her way to the front lines of Morning Musume for a while now, and whilst she may not be as prominent as Riho or Reina in terms of the lines she gets, she really rocked in this video. Her voice is very pure and fresh and she brings a great amount of attitude to her only solo line too. It's absolutely wonderful to hear her voice in the song, mostly because it shows that there is still talent besides Sakura left in Morning Musume to give lines to once Reina leaves.
To be honest I actually have very little I dislike about this song to be honest; my only peeve is Riho's voice because it's clear that she's strained and in need of a rest. Even auto-tune can't save this girl now like it did in Only You, but because she's the ace (and UFP have no desire to shaft her for being seen and not heard like they did Koharu or Eripon) I guess I have to live with it. However she doesn't sound as painful as she did in the previous two singles... live performances are a different matter, though.
All said and done, I like Help Me!!. It's a strong A-side for Morning Musume and a great start of the year for the group too in my opinion. Let's hope that the rest of the year is this good!
02. Happy Daisakusen
The first of quite a few B-sides, Happy Daisakusen is a song which seems to be reminiscent of old Morning Musume back when the sounds were friendlier and a lot more positive in tone. It's a song which works for all the girls voices and really emphasises the youth and positivity that the new generations have. In a way it reminds me of Seishun Collection in how fresh and happy it sounds, a sound which I have actually missed greatly.
As the title suggests Happy Daisakusen is a happy song, one which emphasises just how young and refreshing Morning Musume has now become. There are cute cheers in the background that sound very energetic and uplifting and it sounds like a song which was made specifically to show just how much Morning Musume has changed and the new voices that are present in the song; it shows off the new generations more than it does the 6th generation members actually which only furthers my opinion that this is a song which was made for the new girls as opposed to the older girls. Needless to say I can see the new girls singing this as a concert song once Sayumi and Reina have graduated the group and passed the torch to the new members because it fits everyone so well and really shows off their voices.
This song also has a lot of diversity in the line distribution, something which Love Innovation did lack. Everyone gets a line in Happy Daisakusen and there is no clear lead, either. Yes Riho may get a lengthier line somewhere in the song, but as a whole the song sounds very fair and really lets us hear everyone and that is something I greatly appreciate about this song other than the fact that it's very youthful and very fitting for he new generations of Morning Musume.
I think that it's safe to say that I like this song; It's extremely positive and a beautiful contrast to the very cool and edgy Help Me!!, a song which shows off the new generation of Morning Musume effectively and makes me think that the Colorful era has truly been born and that Morning Musume has become a group once again and not just a bunch of girls put together. I really feel a sense of coming together with this song, one which proves to me that Morning Musume have finally found that happy place and realised that they have to work together and get along to fully mesh as a group and look or sound like one.
But yes, I like this song. It's wonderful.
03. Suki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusanai (Sayashi Riho and Oda Sakura)
|A painful looking cover|
Here's the song that I will have the most difficulty writing about, and that's because I really just do not like it. There is actually room for me to start enjoying it because there are parts of this song which are genuinely enjoyable, but I have my problems with it. Problems that are to do with both of the singers in this song...
It's common knowledge on this blog that I don't like Riho's voice. In fact I think that as a singer she sucks unless she sings a good ballad or a lower toned song. Please, stick her in C-ute's Kono Machi because she would sound a lot better there than in most of Morning Musume's current discography. Again, it's common knowledge that her voice is one I am not fond of and because of that people will instantly think that I don't like this song because of that fact. I like Sakura's voice though, so why would I dislike this song if there is at least one good vocalist out of the two in Suki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusanai?
Actually the dislike of this song is because of how the song itself was done. The song is a Riho and Sakura duet, but when you listen to it it's pretty much made up of Sakura harmonizing and Riho overpowering the lines, and in my honest opinion that's where the song falls for me; Riho overpowering the lines is fine because she actually sounds good here, but together these two sound pretty bad when it comes to Sakura harmonizing and Riho dominating the song itself. How bad? Well in my opinion they sound like Ikuta Erina before her voice got better, and you all know how much I love Eripon but even I know that her voice is not the best in Morning Musume. But yeah, that's how Sakura and Riho sound together to me, and it isn't the prettiest sound I have ever heard either.
In all honesty these two singing together was probably the worst decision ever. I can understand why they were put together, of course I do; the Ace and the best thing to happen to Morning Musume since Takahashi Ai are singing together, so it's a given that they will sell. It's just too bad that they sound absolutely terrible together.
That said, there are things to enjoy about this song; it's one of the cooler tracks on this single, but it's also a track that actually compliments Riho's dying voice. It shows off her strength in singing a lower toned song well and I honestly like that. The only downside is that it sounds terrible because Riho's voice and Sakura's voice don't balance well together and that is an honest pity; I've been waiting for a song where Riho sounds decent and when it comes along the arrangers screw it up by having Sakura harmonize or pairing Riho off with someone who does not compliment her voice at all.
Again, it's a pity.
When it comes to Sakura, I truly wish that they would have paired her with someone more capable of her vocal ability, not to be mean to Riho or anything. She has a good voice, but this song does nothing for her and neither does Riho's voice. In no way do these two compliment each other (as I have said already) and having Sakura harmonize the lines only results in us hearing mostly Riho and barely a lot of Sakura. The song is Riho dominated, that's no lie, and I do wish that we heard more Sakura here because even in Help Me!! she had only two lines (two awesome lines though) so I was expecting to hear more of her in this B-side. But no. Instead she's barely heard because of those who arranged it, and the end result is... less than desirable and pretty bad.
A good thing about the song though is how it sounds; this is a great song, one which could have been amazing if it had been sung by different people. It reminds me of SONGS and Help Me!! a lot and really stands out for how cool it sounds. It has a great tone to it and just really sticks out as the sort of song you would expect Niigaki Risa to sing alongside Takahashi Ai. It's very cool and the instrumental is wicked. Sadly, due to the pairing of Sakura and Riho, this song really falls flat for me and lost a lot of appeal because someone decided that these two voices would work when they clearly do not.
But that's just my opinion on this song. It could sound better if Riho or Sakura had been paired with someone else, but sadly that is not the case. Oh well.
04. Aishuu no Romantic (Michishige Sayumi and Fukumura Mizuki)
If there is one song that I dislike more than Suki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusanai then it is this song. I don't know why but I really can not enjoy this song at all. It may be the sound of it more than anything, because seriously this does not appeal to me at all. It just sounds so... bad.
Now I really like the Pink Duo; Sayu and Mizuki balance off of each other well and their voices are very good together. Mizuki really suits Sayu in terms of vocals and they just work together perfectly, something which is very apparent in Suki da na Kimi ga and this song as well. In fact Mizuki seems to balance off of everyone well, but with Sayu she really works and you can hear just how well these two work together when singing.
Sadly I just don't like the song itself; the instrumental really does not appeal to me at all and sounds very boring for me. It's actually quite annoying in a way too and seems too try-hard for what it is. It's as if Tsunku was trying to create a sexier, more mature song that still had elements of Suki da na Kimi ga in it with a hint of electro pop thrown in there. Well it doesn't work, or at least it doesn't for me. To me it just sounds tiring; in fact I think that this song shows off both Fukumura and Sayu's voices poorly and it really shows nothing good about their abilities as singers at all.
Another thing that I don't really care for about the song is that much like Suki da na Kimi ga and Suki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusanai it shows off mostly Sayu's voice by use of harmonizing. Luckily we actually get solo lines here but this song is once again dominated by Sayu. I don't have a problem with it but it's a shame because Fukumura is a genuinely good singer, one who has an incredible amount of talent and far surpasses most of Morning Musume right now. It's a shame, but I will live with it.
For me this is the weakest track of the entire single; I like that the song itself is extremely different from the other tracks and shows that both Sayu and Mizuki can sing cool songs but sadly Aishuu no Romantic has more downfalls than it should have. I think that if the song was less of a Sayu-fest and more so based on showing off Fukumura it would possibly be better, or maybe even different singers? It's an okay instrumental, but I personally don't like it and the voices that were paired together this song was a pretty poor choice in my opinion.
05. Watashi no Dekkai Hana (Tanaka Reina, Iikubo Haruna and Ishida Ayumi)
Now here is a song that I have really been anticipating since information was leaked! Another trio song featuring Tanaka Reina, but this time with two of the most unlikely members to add into the group with her. Of course I'm talking about Ayumi and Haruna, and that's because of their vocal ability; there's no denying that out of their generation they are two of the roughest gems who need the most work, especially Haruna, and when people found out about this trio they were all skeptical; Reina, a good singer, with Ayumi and Haruna? Some people really did not like the idea of this (mostly because of Haruna) and thought that Watashi no Dekkai Hana would be a flop. Well, is it?
In my opinion it isn't, but others will clearly disagree. In fact I love this song! It's one of the best tracks on the entire single and really shows off Haruna and Ayumi's improvement in singing. Haruna sounds better than she ever has; her voice is softer and she has really grasped the ability of changing her tone for a song. She needs more work of course but it's undeniable that she sounds so much more pleasant than she did in previous singles and her voice sounds beautiful thanks to the instrumental and how much it compliments her voice.
With Ayumi I was really surprised; I have said before that I think she yells her lines rather than sings them, something that I find less than appealing in a voice, however she has proven to be someone who has an advantage over everyone else in Morning Musume; she can mother-fucking RAP!!! I have not heard a rap in a Morning Musume single since Silver no Udedokei was released, so it was surprising to realise that Tsunku had given Ayumi rap parts in this song, but who can fault him for this? Ayumi sounds amazing here and it's clear that she will be taking over any Gaki or Aika rap lines from now on. Finally!!! Another rapper in Morning Musume! Ayumi's harsh voice has a use!
Idolising aside, I really do love this song. It's so nice to listen to and it does well to show off the soft and cute voices of both Reina and Haruna as well as the low and cool raps from Ayumi; it's a very complimentary song actually, and I don't think that anyone is overpowered or out-shined here. Each girl gets a time to shine and really stand out in Watashi no Dekkai Hana and show off their strengths such as Reina's undeniable talent and expression, Haruna's cute and soft voice that has improved and Ayumi's strength in being a strong rapper for Morning Musume.
It's a strong song, one which allows us to really listen to each girl and appreciate each one of their voices and how beautiful they all really are. Watashi no Dekkai Hana is a song which represents the girls and their personalities through their voices and the sound of the instrumental. It's pretty fun and really sets itself apart from the other songs for its individual and diverse sound. It's awesome and I absolutely love it!
06. Nani wa Tomo Are! (Ikuta Erina, Suzuki Kanon, Masaki Sato and Kudo Haruka)
The last song on the Help Me!! tack list is undeniably the cutest song present as well as the one song that has the strongest resemblance to past songs in my opinion. This is also the song that I was greatly anticipating to hear because it has four girls in it that I genuinely like for different reasons, as well as three of my top four current Morning Musume members. If anything this group is made up of most the girls I like but that does not necessarily mean that I will enjoy the song.
Well luckily enough I do enjoy the song a great deal. It's cute, catchy and very reminiscent of S/mileage back when the group was glorious and fun and not a festival full of emo. This song is very adorable, youthful and fun, aspects which all of these girls fit extremely well whilst also delivering their own individual styles and personalities to the song. This is, in short, an incredibly fitting song for these four girls and really compliments each girl and shows off just how great they all are.
The song is extremely cute as you all probably know; it's bubbly, fun and energetic in how it sounds and, as I said, very reminiscent of the old S/mileage songs that we all enjoyed. The instrumental includes previous sounds from Tachiagaaru, Short Cut and Momoiro Sparkling with Tachiagaaru being the most prominent of all three sounds throughout the instrumental breaks. I'm actually surprised by how much I like this song given my first reaction to Tachigaaru and how much I loathed the song for all it was worth, but together these songs make a very cute and fun song which compliments all of the girls and works with their voices extremely well and I genuinely enjoy it.
The thing that I love about this song other than how cute and upbeat it is is that everyone sounds so happy and friendly here; expression is one of the key features in Nani wa Tomo Are! and all of the girls really expressed themselves through this song and delivered a positive performance that will make the listener extremely happy and fulfilled. Everyone sounds happy and, above all, united as a unit of four girls. They fit well together and I like that because out of all of Morning Musume these girls have to be the most positive and energetic girls there so coming together for this song was a good move on Managements or Tsunku's part. They work well together and their personalities and energy really showed throughout this song; you can hear it in how they express their lines and how they sing with energy and happiness.
This is a truly positive song, one which allows us to see the progress of the members as well as hear the happiness and love in their voices for the song itself. This song may be a rehash of older singles from the Hello! Project discography but it by far beats out other songs in personality and how well it portrays the singers. These girls have a lot of personality and energy, something which shines here and really let's us enjoy their individual voices and their progress as Idols and singers. It's cute, adorable and friendly and I hope that all people will be able to enjoy this song because it embodies so much happiness and youth in it and really shows off the strength of Morning Musume and the genkiness of the new generation who have sung this song.
Again it's great and I really can't stretch that more than I have done.
I have already said that I think that Help Me!! is a strong single and that's because of the diversity it has and the personality behind each song; every song shows off a certain strength (except Aishuu no Romantic) and really sells the girls well. I do think that as an entire single Help Me!! was created to show off the new generation more than everyone else; the songs seem to distinctly represent the new girls more than Sayumi or Reina, something that is a good thing in my opinion.
This single is great and it has a lot of songs which really stick out whilst also showing the improvement and progress of the girls in Morning Musume. You have a diverse amount of tracks and plenty of sounds to enjoy that show us how Morning Musume have grown as a group and how they have all really come together since Wakuteka Take a chancei. This single has to be one of their best because finally the girls have all become one instead of a bunch of individual girls. It's amazing and I really enjoyed listening to Help Me!!.
It's a great single, one which has started off the year positively for Morning Musume. Let's just hope that the rest of the year will be this fun and diverse eh?