Thursday, 1 June 2017

[℃-utie Week] Turn Life Around and Live Recklessly! 'The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / Gamusha LIFE / Tsuga no Kado wo Magare' Single Review!

*[℃-utie Week] is a small, week-long series dedicated to the group that is ℃-ute, to commemorate one of Hello! Projects longest standing units before the members graduate and disband to find their own paths in life. Here, the aim is to cherish and appreciate the joy that ℃-ute has brought to us fans, all in the form of reviews and appreciation posts! So, to celebrate ℃-ute in all their glory before they go, let's look back at some of their releases, and enjoy all that made us love this wonderful group, and think back to why we became fans in the first place. Before the departure of ℃-ute falls upon us, let's enjoy the little time we have left with them, and fall in love all over again!

The celebration that is ℃-utie Week continues, and today in our fifth Review, we look back to 2015, a year of Decade Anniversaries and music! Much like the years prior, ℃-ute continued to show their passion and drive in each new song release they came out with, but this time, they brought out something a little more sentimental to commemorate 10 years together! It's a year fans will remember well, and a music release that many have loved, because it's just so wonderful and addictive!

It's time to turn the next corner, and experience a reckless life through music! Are you ready to get lost in the sound of ℃-ute?

With ℃-ute's 10th Anniversary on the horizon in 2015, the group brought out their celebratory single, and amazed fans all over. It became an instant hit, and is the groups best first day sales release since Tokai no Hitorigurashi. Even now, this is a beloved single to many fans, thanks to its varied track list, and its two stand-out songs, Gamusha LIFE and Tsugi no Kado wo Magare. Heck, even though I wasn't a big fan of the group back in 2015, even I appreciated how great this single was, and two years on, I still think it's amazing. I mean, what isn't there to like? This is one of the groups best releases, if you ask me.

Of course, favouritism doesn't come into play for why this single is on this list for my ℃-utie Week reviews; the release of this single is pivotal to the groups career, marking their 10th anniversary and showcasing just how far they had come as a unit. Originally, I intended on only reviewing the music video for Gamusha LIFE, because again, 10th anniversary, however, after re-watching the music video, I knew I wouldn't be able to gouge a lot from it for a full-on MV review. It's pretty, I enjoy it, but... it's not enough. So, I decided to go for a single review, because why the heck not?

For ℃-ute, this release hit a milestone year in their careers as an Idol group, and delivered to us listeners something amazing. In a diverse, entertaining bundle of songs, the triple A-side that is The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / Gamusha LIFE / Tsuga no Kado wo Magare plays up to the strengths of H!P's finest, and further proves to us fans that, no matter how old they become or how long they have been around, they will always put their best foot forward, and show us the power that these five contain.

It's time to turn the next corner and check out the music that gives us LIFE! Are you ready? If yes, then it's time to Tsugi no Kado wo Magare, dear readers...~

The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / Gamusha LIFE / Tsuga no Kado wo Magare

Release Date: April 1st, 2015

Track List:

1. The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~
2. Gamusha LIFE
3. Tsugi no Kado wo Magare
4. The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ (Instrumental ver.)
5. Gamusha LIFE (Instrumental ver.)
6. Tsugi no Kado wo Magare (Instrumental ver.)

The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / Gamusha LIFE / Tsugi no Kado wo Magare
~Single Review~

1. The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~

I haven't listened to this song since it first came out, and upon starting... wow, this actually sounds like something I would like! The instrumental sounds very pretty, it has a dark, gothic feel to it mixed with some tinkling tones, and it feels rather reminiscent of Aitai Aitai Aitai na's maturity. With such a promising opening, I actually wonder why the heck I ever disliked this song?

Oh, yeah. The vocals. URRRRRRRRGH!

We all know that I don't particularly like H!P's use of auto-tune. They are incapable of ever making it work or sound good, most of the time, and The Middle Management seems to be yet another misuse of the editing malfunction the company keeps on manhandling, for the sake of 'art' or whatever they want to call it. That opening line, courtesy of Mai, is just horrendous. I'm immediately put off of the whole track, which is pretty shit, if you think about it; the rest of it isn't actually >that< bad. In fact, as a song, The Middle Management is extremely catchy and fueled with adrenaline and flare. It's a damn cool song, once you get past the horrendous editing techniques used on either Mai or Nakky's vocals.

Sadly, it's that very technique and overuse of effects, reverb or whatever else they used, that ruins what could have been a great song.

I honestly didn't remember the video, either, other than that it didn't leave much of an impression on me. Looking back at it, it still doesn't, though the concept of the video gives me a Koi wa Hassou Do The Hussle! vibe, more so with the drink scenes. Admittedly, I like the vibe of the video a lot more than I once did. It's mature and womanly, and the outfits the girls are wearing fit the theme of the song and the title, too. They look very professional, and even the dull, brown colour of the video fits the style well.

The one thing that doesn't fit, however? Mai's hair. Good grief, that weave is disgusting. Was this around the time Miyabi was going around with fake hair that didn't suit her, too? Oh, the horrible memories... DX

The choreography is probably the most exciting aspect of the entire MV, but honestly, whilst I do appreciate the tone and feel of the MV and how it works well with the song, it's not very invograting or inspiring to watch. I love that Chissa is the lead in the choreography, and that their outfits match the theme of the song, but... yeah, aside from that, it's nothing to write home about it. It does its job, and promotes the music as effectively as it can.

As a release, I think that The Middle Management is decent, at best. It could have been a lot better, if it had been handled more appropriately, and less effects were used. The instrumental is entertaining, and when the bombardment of auto tune isn't coming into play, I genuinely enjoy this release. Sadly, this is a poor opening to what is actually a very promising single, and what makes it even sadder, is that this happens to be a Nakky x Mai lead, something that rarely happens. It's a damn shame that, of the three songs they could lead, the one they were given was the dud of the lot, only because their lines are drowned out by the misuse of effects. They're not the strongest of singers, I get that, but this song only made them sound worse, and I'm sure that if The Middle Management had been handled properly, the two would have sounded so much better, and a damn sight clearer.

The beat is fun, the tone is something I enjoy and expect from ℃-ute, and I like the maturity of its sound. Sadly, the effects used on the vocals ruin it, making this a sub-par release that I quickly want to forget. It's amazing just what a few effects can do, and how quickly they can ruin or enhance a song, aye?

2. Gamusha LIFE

In my mind, Gamusha LIFE is the perfect graduation track. Though it was written for the groups 10th anniversary together, I feel like it is a song that depicts ℃-ute perfectly. From their hardships to everything that brings them joy, this song is a beautiful memory of how far ℃-ute have come since their early days. Facing graduations, the pressure to exceed expectations beneath the limelight of Berryz Kobou, and finding their own footing in the already established Hello! Project, Gamusha LIFE is a song dedicated to determination and power of ℃-ute after they hit a milestone in their career, that very few Idol groups (and Idols) can say they hit.

When Gamusha LIFE came out, everyone went a little nuts for it. I mean, I don't blame them for doing so this is a great song, and it represents a pivotal point in ℃-ute's career. After hitting that ten year milestone, the group brought out a song that represented the hardships and joy of being Idols in a 4 minute track, with meaningful lyrics that had the fans feeling all the happiness. It's a song that, ever since its release, we have all loved because of what it means to us, and what it means for ℃-ute. 10 years of music has amounted to this, and I really don't think that the lyricist (SHOCK EYE) could have put better words into a song.

I feel like, with ℃-ute, the 10 year song was a given. After Berryz did it with their lack-luster horse track, this was a given. Of course,. I was more worried about Gamusha LIFE than anything, because after the bland sound of Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Deshou!?, I didn't know what to expect from this release. Of course I wanted it to better, and thankfully, it was. The lyrics are actually pretty on-par with Berryz' 10 year track, with both having equal meaning and sentiment towards the hardwork and sacrifices these Idols have made, but the sound is a lot more memorable and likable. Also, the choreography is a lot better. Thank goodness for that! XD

I have to say, though, the video probably doesn't feel as sentimental to the untrained Idol lover eye. In comparison to Berryz, ℃-ute's lacks the visual aid of looking back, though the union of the members feels a lot more true, in how they look at and act around each other. Gamusha LIFE doesn't do a lot as a video, but it does show off the groups chemistry and their delight at reaching 10 years as a unit. Also, for the fans who do know this group well, the graffiti on the backdrop includes all of the members' names, graduated and present. It was emotional for viewers who love this group when that realisation came out, because ℃-ute were not wiping away the past; they were embracing it in the video, and including those who had gone, because they were their history and a part of what made the group who they were, 10 years on.

It's a simple music video, but if you know the group, there is sentimentality and meaning behind it. Besides, I think that the style of song and its lyrical content, needs something simpler to embrace the true meaning of the song. It wouldn't do to jazz up the visuals, when the main aspect of this song is about the groups trials and accomplishments as Idols, and the friendships they have made since meeting over a decade ago. So, yes; simple is better, in this case.

Gamusha LIFE has so much meaning behind it, and honestly, it helps that it sounds good, too. This is a catchy, memorable song that brings so much happiness whenever I hear it, but I know that when the time to say goodbye to ℃-ute comes, it will be a song tinged wit sadness. Much like Final Squall, there is a bittersweet element to the tone of this song. It is happy, but when you think of this as a tribute to a group that will soon graduate, it becomes something deeper. And, because of the meaning of this song and its sentimental attachment to ℃-ute as a decade-long unit, I can't help but think that this will be one of the groups goodbye songs during their final concert.

And if it is sung as one of their last encores, it will be a beautiful end to the long-reigning career of one of H!P's brightest and best. And even if they don't, you can bet that this will be a song I will be listening to, as a way of goodbye.

3. Tsugi no Kado wo Magare

Well, they had to save the best for last, didn't they? I mean, if you're not in the Gamusha LIFE is life camp, then you're probably a big fan of this song. And yeah, I don't blame ya; this is an amazing song, and Up-Front did good in somehow convincing Nakajima Takui to hand the song over to ℃-ute. I mean, seriously... it's so good, and it really suits the group, too! It matches their cool, mature music style perfectly, and rounds off this single beautifully.

Tsugi no Kado wo Magare, much like Gamusha LIFE, had its fair share of dedicated followers upon its release. Thanks to its strong, memorable sound and confident beat, the song quickly became a favourite among fans. The vocals are also pretty damn superb, with and I can't help but want to sing along whenever I hear the opening to this song. Like most pop tracks, this one is infectious, and always brings a smile to face. I really can't help but adore this track. It's so damn cool, and it feels pretty happy, as well. Then again, it is a song about 'looking forward' and keeping your hopes up, no matter what happens.

The music video is the best of the three, as well, and I don't think many people will argue with me on this. It's stylish, playful, a little bit sexy at points (mostly with Airi), and oh my days, all of their hair is on point! The members look bloody incredible, and you can see that they all feel this song. Everyone is in the zone and giving their all. It's incredible seeing just how confident and sassy the members look, and how mature they have all become as a result. Their attitudes are incredible, and how they each approach the camera and perform the choreography or their solo shots, feels passionate and memorable.

Of all three music videos, Tsugi no Kado wo Magare is the one I remember the most. It has the best editing, the most stylish shots, the best dress sense, and again, the best hair. I do love the closeness of Gamusha LIFE, but again, that video is more about promoting the song than what H!P can do in editing. This, however, not only showcases the passion and drive of the song, and the mature elements it has to it, but it also shows off that dedication visually, and gives us a beautiful visual to accompany the track that is fitting, and leaves you wanting more. By far, of all the music videos (and songs), this one is the most impressive. I freakin' love it.

As both a song and a video, Tsugi no Kado wo Magare really does take the cake, and I am glad that on the Regular edition release, this one is last, because it ties up the single so well. It's powerful, passionate, and it shows off the strengths of ℃-ute as performers. You can hear and feel the passion they each have for this song, and how much fun they had when singing it. It's a great track to end on, and no matter how many times I hear it, it will always leave an impression on me. It's that damn good, yo.


I've always liked two of these three songs since their release, so of course I can confidently say that 'I like this single'. It's fun, energetic, and filled with three different tracks that create three separate feelings, and deliver to us listeners something unique and entertaining. From its lyrical content to its sound production, The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / Gamusha LIFE / Tsugi no Kado wo Magare offers something for everyone. Sure, you might not like every single track available, but I'm pretty sure that at least one of these will entertain you, and given you something to tap your foot along to. It's a great release, and again, offers a lot, musically. It just depends on your taste and attitude towards it.

Personally, I like that there is some diversity in this single, with one song that sounds hopeful and passionate, another that feels nostalgic and bittersweet, and the third that feels promising and cool, but only falls out of favour because of some production misuse that I really can't get over. Still, they are all wonderful songs, and each has its own charm.

Now, it's rating time!

I feel that I would have given this five stars, if it hadn't been for how The Middle Management turned out. I do like the idea of the song, the instrumental is well done and sounds super fun, in a darker, mature way, however the vocal effects throw me off, and make me want to hate it. There are aspects of this song that saves it, like the chorus, energetic instrumental and its wonderful use of sounds and club-like style, but again, those vocals are horrible. I feel for Nakky and Mai, because whilst they may not be strong singers, they are certainly not terrible. Ah, well. What can ya do?

The other two tracks, Gamusha LIFE and Tsugi no Kado wo Magare, however, can really do no wrong in my eyes, and in a way, I kind of wish this had just been a double A-side comprised of just these two songs. They are entertaining, beautifully crafted, and have meaningful, deep lyrical content that you understand, and maybe even connect with. Both songs are powerful in their own way, whether it is in sound, or their meanings, and I think that is really great. The Middle Management, however, is the odd one out. The lyrics, though they might seem relevant to the groups age and seniority within Hello! Project, is more about love than anything, so of all three songs, it's a bit like the sore thumb of the trio... Still, it's a decent addition, and I know it has its fans. I'm not one of them, though. Clearly. XD

A solid enough single, with two amazing tracks, and one that leaves me questioning H!P a little. It's an entertaining listen, so if you've been living under a rock, or are new to the H!P crowd, then definitely give this one a chance. Three different sounds, styles and feelings, all bundled together in one nice little package. It's worth a shot, and hopefully, you find a favourite the more you listen to it.

For those who have already listened, which track is your favourite, and why? And of course, which track do you like the least? Let me know, and share with the world this music release by ℃-ute, so that others can know of their greatness, just before they leave our world and go on towards new adventures!

And here I shall leave you and bid you all adieu. Until next time, everyone, please take care, stay happy and healthy, smile to make someones day, crank up that music and, of course, LOVE THOSE IDOLS!

Peace and Love,

1 comment:

  1. Tsugi no Kado does feel so tightly packed and produced as a song. It's just right. Amazing punches of beats and rhythm in the instrumentals, and then the great vocal delivery from the girls.

    Gamusha LIFE is just a feelz trip. The lyrics speak so much of what they've accomplished and sacrificed in their 10th year. It's very much like Berryz's 10th year song too, like you said, but Gamusha LIFE gives off a happier vibe somehow.

    And oh the auto-tune in Middle Management, haha. Mai and Nakky aren't the best singers, but the auto-tune really didn't help save the song. I love the dance though, and I think there's a dance version floating around on Youtube...