I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Momoiro Clover Z -- Rodo Sanka (労働讃歌)

Welcome to December! The above photo was actually taken in January of this year but going outside today to take my walk, the intersection near my place didn't appear all that much different from above. It has been a drab day to match the drab environment without snow to brighten up things.

Since my good friend and collaborator Marcos V. decided to talk about some of the old stuff featuring Hikaru Utada's mother yesterday, I decided to start the month with something from his usual neighbourhood, Momoiro Clover Z (ももいろクローバーZ).

From what I've read from Marcos and other sources is that Momoiro Clover Z has been quite the aidoru phenom in terms of trying a bit of everything in the music spectrum. My first article on them was their mix of traditional Japanese and dance music in "Nippon Egao Hyakkei"(ニッポン笑顔百景)which was the ending theme for one of my favourite anime "Joshiraku" (じょしらく), and in retrospect, I think that it was certainly the interesting musical concoction.

Momoclo's 6th single, "Rodo Sanka", came out several months before that one in November 2011. Translated as "Hymn to Labor", it is a tribute to the working man as the cog in the corporate machine of Japan. The Wikipedia article on the song even went into the music video by talking about the fact that the ladies sported these so-called energy-saving suits that were heavily promoted in the late 1970s during the 2nd Oil Shock in Japan. My take on the video is that Momoclo was trying their darndest to show off that the salarymen not only worked hard but played hard as well. Those ties around their heads are the typical symbol of the guys immersing themselves in drink and carousing after another 12-hour day.

What got my attention was the arrangement behind "Rodo Sanka" which sounded like something to be found in a Quentin Tarentino flick or a rerun of "Shaft". There is quite the 1970s funk in there, and it turns out that the melody was provided by a fellow by the name of Ian Parton. He and his UK band The Go! Team specialize in a mix of genres including rock and blaxploitation music. In fact, he and his former fellow bandmate, Jamie Bell, also participated in the recording of the song on guitar, drums and bass. Kenji Otsuki(大槻ケンヂ)took care of the lyrics.

Now, what got me to write about Momoclo today was this song which was included on the CD alongside "Rodo Sanka". "Santa-san" (サンタさん) was one of the tunes performed by the unit when they had their first concert in New York City recently. "TV Japan Club" had some excerpts from their visit to the Big Apple, and I figured that with the Yuletide around the corner, it was time to put up an Xmas song on "Kayo Kyoku Plus".

Kenichi Maeyamada(前山田健一)took care of words, music and arrangement for "Santa-san" which is this hyperkinetic experience of Momoclo enjoying a typical Xmas party in Japan after the ladies have had a few too many candy canes and slices of fruitcake. Speaking of fruitcake, Maeyamada combines in that frenzied aidoru music with bits from "Jingle Bells" and "Joy to the World". Hope they didn't sugar crash too badly after making that video.

The third and final song before the karaoke versions come into play is "Bionic Cherry". Now I've actually heard and seen "The Bionic Watermelon" which was a silly-as-heck parody segment of the old ABC 1970s sci-fi series "The Six Million Dollar Man" (yep, they actually had successful sci-fi shows back then) that was featured sometimes on the old variety show starring singing duo The Captain & Tennille. But "Bionic Cherry"? That was a new one.

In any case, the song composed by AKIRASTAR starts off a bit techno but then goes into full frenetic pop/rock mode with Natsumi Tadano's(只野菜摘)lyrics also acting as the orange juice to kick you on to tackle the planet. So it was rather appropriate as the theme song for the 2011 tongue-in-cheek action flick "Salvage Mice". Still, I also like the original music video for the song itself. Apparently the song has been officially labeled Melodic Hardcore, a genre of punk.

The entire song under "Rodo Sanka" managed to peak at No. 7 on Oricon.

Just to end things, I actually found one video about "The Bionic Watermelon". Yes, we were easily amused back then.

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