I feel like I was late to the party on this one.
Apparently, PONPONPON, the initial single from this album was a huge hit when it was released July 20th, and I just didn’t hear it, until a week ago. Then it hit me, much like it did almost everyone else, and needless to say, I had to get the mini album to see what else this wacky, fun girl who calls herself Kyary Pamyu Pamyu had up her fashionable sleeves.
Kyary has been a fashion icon for a while, doing blogging, modelling, and she even has her own brand of false eyelashes – which I assume are what she wears in the video for PONPONPON. Pretty intense… As is the rest of her fashion sense. She’s a real joy to look at, not just because she is cute, but because what she wears is really out there! It’s fun just LOOKING at it.
Anyway, this album is her first foray into music, which would normally scream “imminent disaster” to me (remember when Ogura Yuko decided to try and sing?). However, Kyary seems to be pulling it off just fine so far. Her voice is pretty pleasant, so that’s a good start, but I think the biggest key to her success in music so far is due to Nakata Yasutaka, also known for capsule and producing Perfume.
There is good and bad that comes with that, at least for me. I like a little bit of Perfume, but have never really gotten way into them, because most of their stuff sounds very similar and kinda blends together into nothing memorable for me. I like artists who can shake it up a bit. Kyary’s first mini album is guilty of the same, so we will have to wait and see if she’s someone I keep following loyally or not.
Onto the track-by-track review:
1. Kyary no March
This is just a short intro track, with Kyary spelling out her name. It’s cute, but not the kind of intro track that I’d listen to over and over again (that seems to be After School’s thing…). It’s a nice way to start off the album, but with so few tracks in total, I kind of wish the spot had been saved for something more substantial.
2. Cherry Bon-Bon
This song has a fun little tune! It starts off cute, and then gets really catchy at the refrain. The refrain is very simple – Cherry, cherry, cherry bon-bon, but somehow it’s just fine that way. As simple a song as this is, it’s actually one of the better tracks on the album, and I find it getting in my head sometimes. Sometimes that’s all you want, is something simple and cute.
This song is the star of the album – rightfully so. It’s incredibly addictive. The first time I heard it, I wasn’t overly impressed with the verse, it was cute and all, but what’s the hype? Then the refrain kicked in, and I really liked it. It was really fun and awesome! Then it somehow cranked up the awesome level even more when she started repeating pon pon way way way incessantly. At that moment, my fate was sealed. I was never to get the song out of my head.
Seriously, this song is ridiculously, insanely catchy. It’s fun, silly, happy, bouncy, and wonderful in every way. The wackiness of the music video just makes it all that much better. You should watch it.
Best single of the year?? So far, for me…. Yes, it is. That’s really something, considering it’s a single of someone I had never listened to before competing against all my favorite currently-releasing groups, who have also released great material.
In short, they could have taken this track, and looped the refrains for the rest of the duration of the album, and I probably would have liked it better than what actually followed this track.
4. Choudo Ii No
Alas, PONPONPON had to come to an end. This track comes after it, and can’t possibly live up to the last track. It’s all right – some interesting noises in the instrumental, but it’s somehow too repetitious. It doesn’t get old with PONPONPON, but it’s just not good enough here. The song isn’t bad, but the vocals are maybe too plain, and the tune not quite good enough. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t seek this song out on its own to listen to.
5. PINPON ga Nannai
This song sounds a bit more pop than the last one, but still has the same kind of electronic sound to it. Pretty much the whole album does, which is Nakata’s trademark, I guess, but it’s got the same problem as his other stuff – it doesn’t stand out. It’s kind of boring.
This is a capsule cover, but since I am not familiar with that song, it doesn’t matter much to me. Since it is a capsule cover, it is in the same style, with the same kind of sound that’s present through the entire album. I wish they would change it up a bit, to keep the album interesting, because by this point I’m a bit sick of everything having the same sound. I don’t DISLIKE it, it’s actually nice and one of the better tracks, but in the context of the album, it’s too much of the same thing.
In closing, the album was a let-down, because I was hoping for an album full of fun, crazy, different stuff. I got PONPONPON and a bunch of tracks that could have been strung together as one long song and I wouldn’t have noticed much. The album is like, homogenized.
What I think they should have done is waited longer for an album, let Kyary get a few more catchy singles under her belt and really work on making each track on the album stand out from each other. Obviously that didn’t happen.
As a whole album, I was disappointed. However, I would very, very highly recommend PONPONPON – as I said, best single of the year so far for me. Cherry Bon-Bon and jelly aren’t bad either. Personally, I would have rather bought those tracks indivdually.
Luckily, the album is on iTunes, even outside of Japan, so anyone disillusioned like me can choose to just get a couple tracks. Plus, it definitely beats the pants off of expensive shipping, and playing the waiting game.
I will be anxiously awaiting Kyary’s next single. I want to see if she can make something else that stacks up, or if she’ll be a one-hit wonder. I still have faith, so here’s hoping!