Another experiment in re-soundtracking J-pop videos with highbrow Modernist composers: see also The Rite of Spring (Onions). By the way, I’m officially staking my claim as the originator of the J-pop video/Modernist orchestral soundtrack mashup genre, OK? Not that I imagine many other people would want to lay claim to it.
Anyway, this time it’s Perfume’s Spending All My Time (directed by Tanaka Yuusuke), in which the scarily wholesome autotuned J-pop robo-idoru appear to have been locked in a room where they amuse themselves with OCD hand rituals and by complacently shattering ornaments with telekinesis, like chirpy Harajuku versions of Sadako from the Ringu series, versus György Ligeti’s Lontano, best known from the immensely effective and creepy soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining.
1. Mute the audio of Spending All My Time.
2. Press play on Lontano. I suggest starting about two minutes in.
I watched this on a loop until I went insane. Or I was insane, so I watched this on a loop. I still didn’t want to eat a Japanese custard pudding thing.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, where you from and what you on?
Bonus Japanese advertising campaign that probably counts as a form of torture or psychological warfare under the Geneva convention
I’ve been to Nara (at about 01.15) and the sacred deer as featured in the CM are bastards.
Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. (Hai!) Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Lotte no Fit’s FIT’s. Still not as bad as the USA’s contribution to the genre, the unfortunately unforgettable: HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD. HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD.
See also: Nihon brainwash, including the aforementioned Head On video (apply directly to the forehead.)
… 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.
If you like this blog and have been intrigued, titillated, surprised or disgusted by anything you've seen here then please consider sending a few £/€/$/¥ etc. my way by getting one of my books. They're written by the same person who writes this blog, so you will like them too. They're available in print, or as ebooks for every existing type of reader and tablet. You can also tip my films on Vimeo, if you want. Thanks.