Release Date: November 2nd, 2016
One of C-ute’s latest songs, ‘Mugen Climax’, has just been released from 2nd November in their most recent single, just following the groups announcement to disband this coming June, 2017. In all honesty, I’m usually not a huge fan of C-ute songs, nor do I keep a close eye on their releases… BUT I couldn’t ignore the chance to review ‘Dreamlike Climax’ when the opportunity was granted to me (Thank you, Chiima)! Without further ado, I am going to write my first ever review of a Hello! Project song, despite being a (very) keen fan for almost ten years.
I am currently listening to ‘Mugen Climax’ as I write this first sentence, and it’s very distracting! The last of C-ute’s singles I was particularly infatuated with was probably ‘Adam to Eve no Dilemma’ – I’m such a bad fan! To be honest, C-ute’s more mature vibe compared to other H!P groups has never really interested me; that’s probably why I enjoy the other groups so much, because their music is just so different. Where sometimes it may not be all that ‘fashionable’ alongside something like Mumford and Sons (it took me five minutes to think of a remotely current artist), I never get bored of the H!P style. It’s light hearted, youthful, energetic and wow, can you dance to it!
Around the 2011 era, when both Niigaki Risa and Takahashi Ai had left Morning Musume, I noticed how Hello! Project had fallen down the Dubstep pitfall. As you might have guessed by now, I’m not a huge fan of electronically produced music, though I do sometimes enjoy the eerie sound it can produce, especially when mixed with a well formulated classical composition. Slowly but surely, give or take ‘MY VISION’, H!P seem to be escaping this seemingly endless rut they were plunged into by the modern day music demand. (Thankfully, for me, but I can’t speak for the masses).
One area where Hello! Project do manage to shine (in most cases,) is talent, and C-ute is no exception. I’ve watched these girls from the days of ‘Dance de Bakoon’, and have loved some of their previous hits as old as ‘Massara Blue Jeans’. They have grown up since then (especially Hagiwara Mai, who still bewilders me- I wish I’d grown up in H!P and maybe I’d be that stunning), and they have improved immensely in their own right and in particular, I always get the vibe that C-ute work to the best of their ability. We all know that Suzuki Airi a great singer, and the enthusiasm she gives is unbeatable (I’ve decided since watching Buono’s latest release). And even though some of the others don’t have the strongest of voices, you can tell they work hard. Okai Chisato in particular, I’ve always though was a tough nut. She went from this diddy little thing that used to hang around Tsugunaga Momoko in the early years, tossing around the word ‘kawaii’ to one another (that was a weird video- the one where Sudo Maasa accidently sends Chisato flying across the room because she wanted a hug. Nope, just me?)… I’m getting off topic! Anyway, from around the days of ‘Momoiro Sparkling’ is where I became more invested in the group, and Chisato struck me as the one who was trying to be… c-ute for the camera (Ha). She was cute regardless. But, once Hello! Project encouraged C-ute’s more powerful side, the fierce Chisato emerged. (That voice though). All five of them; Chisato, Mai, Airi, Yajima Maimi and Nakajima Saki became fierce in vocals, dance and in confidence.
The first thing that grabbed my attention to ‘Mugen Climax’ was whilst watching H!P station, when the very raw sounding, beautiful piano solo as it begins. I longed for a moment that H!P would finally conduct a non-technological instrumental song, without butchering the sound with some stock dubstep beats. I was… a little right? (Don’t get me wrong so early one, I do really like this song.) Not too soon in, the classic style is quickly injected with some good-ol’ H!P beat and energy, promptly following an impending rumble and a robotic voice. DESTRUCTION. The first time I heard this, I won’t lie, I thought something was horribly wrong. There was always something unsettlingly ‘apocalyptic’ about this song. The slightly haunted house-esque piano continues at a fast pace to follow the underlying dubstep beat, before coming to an epic slow. Taking over for that last moment before plunging C-ute into the dubstep synthesiser void. What I like about this song is that Hello! Project could just as easily have ditched the piano right then and there, as they have attempted with many songs before; especially as what I’ve seen with Morning Musume in recent years. Yet the piano solo stays strong throughout, although at times it is hard to hear over the increasing number of robotic instruments thrown into the mix. We even get to hear some nice violin, and castanets in some lucky moments – particularly in the instrumental section. A nice addition to the song is that the instrumental never seems to stay the same. There is the basic piano solo, which is repeated at regular intervals, but throughout the song the tune changes, keeping me listening to the end. It’s not at all predictable!
So, that tangent was leading somewhere! Vocals wise, no surprise, the song was slightly skewed towards Airi. After all, she is the most confident and stable singer, and the most popular from what I have seen. Personally though, I do wish everyone would be given a fair share of the cake. (That was coming from my Buono loving side (Momo! Miya! Fight on!)). That aside, the line distribution was actually one of the fairest I’ve heard for a while, with each member having a mix of solo and even some novelty lines. The token Airi solo came after the instrumental, which was lovely with the piano ringing in the background, complimenting her clear voice. It was a nice douse to the instrumental fire, until you are plunged straight back in with the dubstep beat. With the beat humming in the background here, you are presented with a more powerful, slightly harsher voice – Chisato’s solo. I should explain; by harsher, her voice is a lot more powerful, but not exactly the most conventional or stable, yet great in just another way. To be honest, I don’t think Airi’s, or any of the other girls’ voices would do the trick here. Chisato just has that little bit more umph to overcome the Dubstep demon. Another formula I find to the H!P songs is thatthere tends to be a token, often auto-tuned saturated line. This is often what Michishige Sayumi’s lines were in Morning Musume, for the fact that she is not the strongest singer, but could still pull it off effectively to add to her ‘cute’ image. And it does her well! Otherwise, if Hello! Project didn’t have auto-tune to their barrage, I reckon we probably would not have heard all that much of lovely Sayumi. (The industry can be so cruel).
There is a single line similar to this practice mentioned above, during the second verse following the second instrumental break, which belongs to none other than Mai! I would usually put these lines down to those given to members that can’t sing as well, yet need screen time. I don’t think Mai should be put in this group – she can sing – and although she isn’t a singing powerhouse, she has a significantly unique voice! It should be showcased to her ability. However, I let this one slide, as it fit in with the style and worked nicely with the timing of the song. And then, Maimi has a nice little moment, ‘Samishii’, Just to add that little bit more personality to the song than just a sing-fest, another thing I’ve been liking about H!P recently. I find myself sitting hunched over my laptop, waiting for the spoken line! It’s some sort of novelty to hear your favourite singers talk like us normal people. Or is that just me? There’s just something so cute about it, that they don’t take themselves too seriously that they can’t break that fourth wall. Keep it up, Hello! Project!
Lyrics time! Over the past few years, Hello! Pro Station have been introducing translations of songs to us foreign fans, and though these are sometimes good for a giggle, I can’t say how much I appreciate their time and efforts to make H!P more accessible to us all. After all, it is a literal translation, and can’t be held accountable for the message being conveyed.
Within the first thirty seconds of singing ‘Mugen Climax’, I can tell that it is a ‘regretful’ love song. We have all made mistakes, we all experience the ups and downs of love. It’s a safe subject for a song. Sometimes I do wish more H!P songs were about something other than love; Here’s a shout out to Ramen ‘Daisuki Koizumi-san’… Oh, wait. That was about loving someone, too… They always find a way. Love fits in with the happy-go-lucky, innocence of H!P, and that’s just fine. It makes for a great collection of music that we all love and enjoy, anyway. Oops.
I’ve noticed it’s fashionable nowadays to talk about love and it’s heartbreak, rather than it’s wonderful times. But as much as I like trying to be positive, I will say it makes for an excellent aesthetic. The great thing about H!P girls, including C-ute, is the moment a ‘darker’ theme is introduced, they can be transported from singing about a pair of new jeans in a Lazy-Town-esque pop-up set, to singing out their sadness in an eerie, gothic haunted house while the furniture and the fabric of the world around them shatters (See 2:09 in the music video). My point is, Hello! Project can spend a good decade building up their sugary-sweet, clumsy image and shatter it all brilliantly with a song like ‘Otome no Gyakushuu’ or ‘Mugen no Climax’ – dark, spooky and gothic. It’s just so unlike the character of the project, known for not taking themselves all that seriously, to flipping the switch to a truly awesome song such as this one. Overall, that image building they’d fought for really paid off in years to come.
My favourite lines include: ‘An Inedible Illusion’ – I’m not sure if that’s the exact translation, but I get the gist of it, and it outlines the song completely. There’s just something consistently creepy about the entire song. Creepy, nightmarish and a little… dare I say, dreamlike?
“You would not know the loneliness I feel after getting home, and yet the seasons go by insensitively”- Time waits for no one Chissa, I’m afraid.
“A shadow that never decays”– The girls are almost describing themselves as an illusion or a ghost. I am assuming, from the gist of it, the song is following a break up or disagreement between two people, and they are feeling as if they are a shadow, fading hopelessly into a dream. The use of the word ‘decay’ just injects that little bit more disturbing aesthetic into the mix. YUS!
This is when I realise the C-ute channel preview to this song was released for Halloween… Well that does make sense, although I could happily listen to this all year around. The more I analyse the lyrics, the more I get the sense of ‘zombie’ or ‘ghost’ girls. The moment they are forgotten, they will ‘break’ or ‘decay’ away from the waking world. All in all, the lyrics go impeccably well with the unsettling nature of the string instruments and strong piano battling in the background. Throwing the electronic beat into the recipe just bakes for a perfectly disconcerting tune. With a dusting of sharp violin strikes to shake it up just a little more. The final line ends with on a ‘high note’ (sorry for the pun); “Let’s live with strength”. This line, if you look at it long enough, symbolises the light at the end of the tunnel. Followed suitably with the sudden immersion of light over the MV scene. Hello! Project couldn’t sleep at night without ending a song on at least a twinge of positivity, and I condone that completely.
To summarise, this was my first review and I have horrible stage fright, so I did one of the things I do when I’m nervous – I ramble. Hopefully, my ramblings were at least interesting or helpful, relatable or maybe even fun! C-ute’s ‘Mugen Climax’ is a stunning composition, with one of the biggest attributes to this song – which makes it stand out to me -, is the classy use of classical music, mixed with a dose of modern demand and a pinch of C-ute’s iconic, cool style. There is something timeless about the use of piano in a piece, and piano happens to be my favourite instrument of choice. In time for Halloween, I think C-ute have released a hit, one that won’t be forgotten any time soon, and will hopefully build up a lot of hype for their upcoming final concert in June. And, even though I’ve never been a massive fan, I will greatly miss C-ute, the girl’s individually in particular.
Although I’m not a genius when it comes to their music, I do make a point of keeping up with the personalities in the project and I know C-ute’s members have been around for a long time supporting H!P through all its changes, and being the rival of my beloved Berryz through their duration. It’s safe to say as a dancer, I will be learning the dance to this song as soon as possible, as catchiness plays a key part in being sucked into learning a dance. So congratulations, C-ute, for winning me over! I hope that I don’t get too infatuated, knowing you’ll be breaking up this coming 2017.
And as a final word; Thank you so much for reading my review! I do hope you enjoyed my post, and I hope that I can offer some good opinions, even if they are sometimes not of the majority. I’m a strange case in that I usually prefer the smaller groups to the more successful ones – I’m just rebellious like that! I hope to write another review soon, because this was great fun for me, and I always love to discuss my love for H!P with others. So please, if you have any comments/discussions you’d like to raise – please comment below! Have a lovely week, and until next time – Harrietty xoxo