February 20, 2006

Some ramblings on Perfume

Perfume

Today I am going to write about the rising popularity of Perfume, the techno-pop trio that permanently gained my respect after an awesome performance at Wonder Momo-i. Be warned, this is gonna get long. In case you've never heard of them, take a look at their latest music video on YouTube, it might just prompt you to read this thing: Computer City

Perfume in 2004The members, Ohmoto Ayano (Nocchi), Nishiwaki Ayaka (A-chan), and Kashino Yuka (Kashiyuka) were recruited from the Actors School Hiroshima in 2001 to form pop idol group Perfume. They released two limited singles the following year: Omajinai Perori in March and Kareshi Boshuchu in November. In 2003, they signed with Bee-Hive to produce what is considered their first real indie single, "Sweet Donuts." They followed up with Monochrome Effect and Vitamin Drop in 04. At this point in time, Perfume's personality had been defined as "cute," but their sound was messy - it was all over the place and inconsistent in quality. Frankly I have trouble listening to their early stuff.

2005 was a big year for them. Perfume started going toward techno-pop which was a great move. That summer, Halko Momoi switched on her DJ Momoi personality and gave Perfume a huge push with the Akiba crowd by producing and promoting Akihabalove. This would be the release that eventually hooked me into Perfume fandom. Later that year, they put out their major national debut single "Linear Motor Girl" (this was a big release, you can even find it on Amazon.com in the US). Most recently, Perfume released their second major single "Computer City" this January.

Talent-wise, Perfume has what it takes. Their biggest weakness was their highly inconsistent sound, which has since been fixed now that they appear to have settled in with the electronic theme. Both their two new major albums have been very good and consistent, and their website makes it very clear they're shooting for a futuristic look. The group definitely has the performance part down too - they have great coordination and dance very well together. The music videos feature some extremely cool coordinated moves, and their live shows are equally exciting.

Perfume in 2005However, there is a lot of improvement that can still be made now that they're in the big leagues. Nocchi is quite obviously the weakest singer although she appears to be the most popular based on her fan club numbers. This is probably because she is ridiculously cute and acts pretty crazy when she's not singing, but I think in the long run, it will be more important to have passable vocals - Nocchi has screwed up repeatedly during live segments, and she sounds quite shaky even on mastered recordings. Sometimes it gets so bad she can ruin a good song. Needs a bit more practice there, but hopefully Perfume's new improved national presence will encourage her to work on her vocals a bit more - maybe get a voice coach.

A-chan appears to be the most comfortable on stage, which is why she appears to have the only speaking role in the group. She also seems to have the most common sense when appealing to fans (for a very obvious example - if you watch the Momoi video, when the fans start waving to Perfume A-CHAN IS THE ONLY ONE OUT OF THE THREE WHO REALIZED TO WAVE BACK. I mean..that's pretty basic right?) Unfortunately, as leader of the group (I say if you speak for the group, you are the defacto leader), A-chan does not have a very strong voice (although much much better than Nocchi), and a lot of times she comes across as mumbling.

Kashiyuka is my top pick right now, with no obvious flaws that I have seen yet. I may be biased though, because I basically decided she was going to be my favorite after about 30 seconds into the Momoi concert, after she delivers two simple introduction lines in the most awesome intonation possible. I have a weak spot for skilled voice work, and that great first impression of Kashiyuka will not be undone easily. Hopefully she starts getting some more attention.

But I don't want to get in too deep to discussing each person, or even just writing a few more extra paragraphs fawning over Kashiyuka because it just doesn't make me feel comfortable. During my research, I found out that apparently all three members of Perfume are actually younger than me: age 17, with A-chan being the youngest having her birthday just 5 days ago. This comes as a great shock considering my original estimate of their ages was somewhere around 22 to 25. Holy crap I was way off! Suddenly I feel dirtier than before in my fandom...especially since I used to consider it a mark of pride to be able to distance myself from those creepy guys who like the Morning Musume teens. Now I have nothing to hold myself above them. But, it is too late to turn back; after hearing Kashiyuka's promo and seeing the group perform at Wonder Momo-i, I have decided that they are going places.

Like an investor in the voice securities market, I am going to back Perfume early so I can hopefully reap the greatest reward any internet nerd knows: the right to say "I so called that shit" years down the line. Feel free to join me; we can be investor buddies :)

Link:
Perfume Official Site

In an unrelated event: I signed up with Mixi today after Priz sent me an invite. My profile link is here if you feel like adding me and have an account. It looks like some sort of Japanese myspace/facebook, and while I usually hate joining up for websites like these, so far I find the various discussion communities formed on Mixi to be pretty useful for keeping up to date with seiyuu news, especially the calendar feature which is extremely neat - A LOT EASIER compared to say..browsing the 2ch behemoth (but I've only been browsing mixi for 2 hours so what do I know?).

Posted by Paranda at February 20, 2006 5:56 AM

Comments

The PV of Perfume is excellent!
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