Yes, you will believe a urinal can disco!
The first few years of the 21st century were my high time with the gaggle of girls known as Morning Musume（モーニング娘。）. Starting with their most successful single, "Love Machine" in 1999, the Hello Project group broke into that rarefied atmosphere known as media superstardom. For those few years anyways, they had at least 3 or 4 weekly TV shows scattered across the schedule and most likely some radio shows as well. I have to admit that I was a regular watcher of their flagship show, "Hello! Morning" on Sunday mornings on TV Tokyo.
And of course, they continued to sing and dance and change their lineup. Only two of the original group were still in Morning Musume (Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe), there were two from the second generation (Mari Yaguchi, Kei Yasuda), the Next Big Thing with Maki Goto (who got in at the right time with her debut song being the aforementioned "Love Machine") and the new bunch from the 4th generation (Rika Ishikawa, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji).
Those years of 1999-2001 were the ones for me and MM since it seemed that the songs were channeling the music of my formative years: American disco and YMO technopop. "Love Machine" was definitely one of my favourites of the group, and although a number of the songs turning the century such as "Ren'ai Revolution 21" and "Koi no Dance Site" were fun, too, it wasn't until "The Peace" came along that my attention was just as riveted as when "Love Machine" had hit the charts.
Released in July 2001, "The Peace" was composed and written by Hello Project Svengali, Tsunku（つんく）, and arranged by disco-loving Dance Man, the same tandem behind "Love Machine". The song is truly a mix of American musical symbols: from the military shoutout intro known as the "Peace Rap" to the Charleston-like segments which weave in and out of the song, and then the synth-disco which takes up the rest of the song...it pretty much demands the glitter ball, and sure enough, there is one in the official video.
"The Peace" was Morning Musume's 12th single, and it did very well in the rankings although, with 682,320 copies in sales, it was nowhere near the 1.6 million that "Love Machine" earned. But it did hit the No. 1 spot on Oricon and became the 20th-ranked single for 2001. Of course, the Kohaku Utagassen came beckoning.
Speaking about the video, it was probably one of the more entertaining things I'd seen all year. I'm not sure where the idea came for the high seas theme but watching Captain Iida and the crew dancing about in sailor suits while swabbing a ship's head and disco dancing was pretty good fun. Strangely enough, and this was in the years before YouTube (as hard as an Earth without a YouTube must seem to believe), even the dedicated music channels only showed two-thirds of the video....just up to the end of Rika Ishikawa's monologue. In fact, viewers had assumed that was the entire video. One of my friends had a big laugh at one of the Akihabara electronics stores one day...."The Peace" was playing on various television sets inside the store which gathered quite a crowd. As soon as the Ishikawa monologue near the end of the song finished, the group of people started to walk off when the rest of the video came on....my friend told me that there was such an about-face to return to the monitors that the space-time continuum momentarily unglued!
And what an ending. Off come the sailor suits and in come the Vegas showgirl outfits, and the urinals become disco lights. One wonders what the video producer was drinking the night he/she had come up with the idea.
After 2001, with some further changes in the lineup and a direction into (at least in my opinion) a more kiddie-ish direction, my interest in Morning Musume did the inevitable fadeout. But there was one more song after "The Peace" that kept the fun going.
|Morning Musume -- The Peace|