Some bonkers choreography with Heather Parisi, from the 80s Italian variety show Fantastico. Firstly, Frankie Goes to Hollywood never seemed so… confusing? It looks a bit like a toned down, bowdlerised high school production of Cruising. Still molto gay, though. If Heather’s dance partner is thinking about relaxing, doing it or coming, I very much doubt it involves her. Put some trousers on Heather, love. You’ll catch your death of cold.
Even better, here’s Heather again doing some way-ahead-of-their-time Gangnam Style ridiculous dressage pony moves and gurning to Tullio De Piscopo’s nail in Italo Disco’s coffin, Stop Bajon (Primavera). The smoke in these bubbles must be what the choreographer was inhaling when they came up with this number.
Watch out for a random, drunken, camp fellow enjoying his big acting break at 11:48, a bit of very irresponsible chiropraxy at 12.49, some very unsexy from 13.35, and– saints preserve us!– pierrots throughout.
Some inadvertent cross-cultural comedy thanks to Japan’s Tempura Kidz– seen previously in The Rite of Spring (Onions)– who are the terrifyingly talented group who started out as the child backing dancers for autotuned über-kawaii lunatic Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Yes, I am obsessed with J-pop. Thanks for asking. I’m so square that genuinely enjoying Japanese pop is what passes for a secret vice in my case.
Seriously, all joking and Japan-you-so-weird aside, the choreography by the surnameless Maiko for the group is great and the way the kids themselves snap through the moves is truly brilliant. You need to be really talented and work bloody hard to dance this well and still have it look like fun. Incidentally the dancer seen front and centre through most of the video below is P→★ (try pronouncing that, English speakers); he’s a boy, he definitely knows how to rock a wig and tutu, and let’s all hope he always stays that way. The girls are called (or at least go by the names of) Karin, NaNaHo, Yu-Ka and Ao.
This song is called Cider Cider and, as you could probably guess, it’s about how nice it is to have a wee drink of cider now and then. Which is true. Unfortunately cider to a British person like me is also probably best known as the illegal alcoholic drink of choice for adolescents about thirteen or fourteen years old, i.e. like the Tempura Kidz. Cider is also infamously favoured by Britain’s most abject alcoholics because super-strong, cheap ciders are easily available in large containers from supermarkets here. In Asia the beverage they call cider is an innocent soft drink that has nothing to do with sitting on the swings in the park and boozing until you’re suddenly, explosively sick on your own shoes. Nor does it conjure up to a Japanese person images of a man with hollow eyes and something you’d rather not identify stuck in his beard asking you if you’ve got 50 pence towards his so-called “bus fare”. If you’ve got as much time on your hands as some Wikipedians evidently have, you can read an extensive explanation of international differences between the various drinks that are labelled as cider.
So while you watch, please remember that the children in this video may be covered in fluorescent paint and they may be wearing the disembowelled remnants of stuffed toys like they’re in a depraved mashup of Monsters Inc and Mad Max 2, but they are not totally crunk.
Note also the total abandonment of any pretence that it matters what their voices sound like, or indeed whether they appear on the recording at all. It could be a totally synthetic vocal, like Hatsune Miku. Or a 45 year old man. Who knows?
“For was it, for instance, a thing likely to occur to any one as suspicious that, according to the declaration of an elegant beau of these tea-parties, Olimpia had, contrary to all good manners, sneezed oftener than she had yawned? The former must have been, in the opinion of this elegant gentleman, the winding up of the concealed clock-work; it had always been accompanied by an observable creaking, and so on. […] Several lovers, in order to be fully convinced that they were not paying court to a wooden puppet, required that their mistress should sing and dance a little out of time, should embroider or knit or play with her little pug, &c., when being read to, but above all things else that she should do something more than merely listen — that she should frequently speak in such a way as to really show that her words presupposed as a condition some thinking and feeling. The bonds of love were in many cases drawn closer in consequence, and so of course became more engaging; in other instances they gradually relaxed and fell away. “I cannot really be made responsible for it,” was the remark of more than one young gallant. At the tea-gatherings everybody, in order to ward off suspicion, yawned to an incredible extent and never sneezed. Spalanzani was obliged, as has been said, to leave the place in order to escape a criminal charge of having fraudulently imposed an automaton upon human society.”
This Figure For Ballroom Dancing Practice was patented in 1921 by one Sidney E. Feist, “of Brooklyn, New York.” The drawings are lovely, despite the inherent uncanniness with which most people in the 21st century automatically contextualise the idea of dancing with some kind of flapper-Dalek automaton who rolls towards you on what Mr. Feist worryingly (and Lovecraftianly) describes as a “tubular member.” She also has a kickstand under her dress. Continue Reading
… is チョコレイト・ディスコ (CHOKORETO DISUKO/Chocolate Disco) by Perfume. Between the video and the song itself, it has everything J-Pop: grown women pretending they’re still in high school, abrasive banality, squelched low-res bassline, autotune helium voices, outfits and environments reminiscent of a charity shop-cum-strip club in Teletubbyland, lasers, a silly but eminently imitable dance… I particularly enjoy the telescope-to-the-eye move. The whole package is likely to make many people want to jam a screwdriver up to the hilt into both of their ear canals. I love it.
It’s also probably the ne plus ultra of almost entirely innocent but nonetheless profound camp. On the other hand, if Chocolate Disco isn’t already (and completely un-innocently) the name of a gay club night then I shall be very disappointed in the world.
They’re singing about Valentine’s Day, which in Japan for some unknown reason (NB many things happen in Japan for unknown reasons) means that girls have to give boys chocolate. Hence the title, unless of course it really is some kind of incredibly smutty innuendo about kids in high school negotiating how and when they’re going to take it up the wrong ‘un.
Anyway, here’s my partial and idiomatic English translation of it to help you all appreciate this masterpiece. Prepare yourselves, it’s profound.
Chocolate Disco, etc…
Girls are planning something,
Boys are expecting something.
Girls are flustered about something,
Boys pretend not to care about anything.
Valentine’s Day (“BARAINTAIN”) is coming,
The department store (DEPAATO, where girls buy chocolates for BARAINTAIN) starts shaking.
(The bridge section is them saying please, let my feelings reach him, with all my heart I hope they will, etc. Near the end they say that the classroom has turned into a dance floor. Of course it has.)
I did a karaoke version of this song in Tokyo a few years ago, thinking that a middle-aged man with a beard singing a song in the persona of a lovestruck teenage girl would automatically be funny to my Japanese companions. They sort of did find it funny and weird, but mainly they were rather disappointingly blown away by the revelation that I could sing a Japanese song at all. They seemed oblivious to camp, kitsch or incongruity as general concepts. You would probably think it impossible, for example, to have a non-camp conversation about the film Showgirls. I did. My Japanese companions were mainly off-duty pole dancers, though, so this might be regarded as a variety of talking shop and not representative. One of them gamely tackled (like a rugby player tackles) Wuthering Heights as a kind of cross-cultural quid pro quo. You haven’t truly experienced that song until you’ve heard it as a mangled Japlish karaoke version. The first line is “Out on the wiley, windy moor we’d roll and fall in green” which even when you have the words on a screen involves a nightmarish number of Ls and Rs for a Japanese person. “Heathcliff” is also fairly unpronounceable.
How I came to be out clubbing in Shinjuku with off-duty pole dancers is another long but surprisingly chaste and un-sordid story, so I’ll leave the rest to your imagination because I’m sure it’s more interesting and lurid than what actually happened.
ベジタリズム , Beijitarizumu (= something like “Vegeta-rhythm”) is a video from– of course– Japan and it extols the virtue of eating vegetables through the medium of J-pop, dancing and Japlish word play. I can’t stop watching it, so you could interpret this post as some kind of cry for help. The cuteness of the children, the infanto-trad-pop music and the demented earnestness of an enthusiasm for vegetables that comes across even if you don’t understand a word they’re saying: the combination of all these things in one video is, I warn you, likely to result in the audiovisual equivalent of a pure white sugar diabetic coma. I’d love to know how they kept those hats on, and how painful a procedure it was.
On the positive side, I’ve seen this video so many times now that if you want I could probably do the dance for you. Oh, you’d like me to wear the white unitard, the wig, and the tutu as well? You’re very kinky, but we may be able to work something out.
Once (or if) you’ve recovered from your first viewing, I suggest that you mute the sound on Beijitarizumu, play it again and simultaneously play the video below it, which is- appropriately- the NHK Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. (original video disappeared: replaced with Pina Bausch choreography that’s nearly as good, ha ha. Try starting at about 4:40). You will note that this combination completely works and highlights precisely how amazing, insane and weirdly primal the choreography is. It’s fierce in both the true sense of the word and in the played-out, annoying, drag-queeny usage of the word. It really could be some archaic pagan rite, not least because it wouldn’t be at all the same if the dancers weren’t children.
Anyone want to collaborate on my new J-pop/Wicker Man interpretation of The Rite of Spring with a cast of children? I’m aiming for an audience riot like the one that happened at the first performance.
PS: A further warning that the related videos feature on Youtube is likely to send you down the dayglo kawaii rabbit hole where Kyary Pamyu Pamyu lives. Go, because her first video in particular is a lowbrow masterpiece I’d be exceedingly proud to have directed myself… but remember to come back again.
WAY WAY PONPONPON, WAY WAY PON PON WAYWAYWAY.
PPS: Unsettling Youtube revelation of the day: Apparently girls “cutely” firing candy-toned AK47s or similar heavy-duty firearms is a definite thing in J-pop and K-pop PVs now.
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