Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
In addition to other reviews (especially as Hello! Project becomes somewhat quiet on the newsfront), I’m going to attempt something different this month: #MemeMay. What is #MemeMay? Every Monday in May (the “sweeps month” for Q2), I’m going to take a look at a piece of J-pop associated with memes. #MemeMonday and #NewMusicMonday are already a thing so… every Monday in May is #MemeMusicMonday.
What better way to begin the celebrate the collision of J-pop and memes with what is possibly the most relevant one of the four I picked (aka the certified confirmed ones I could find on Know Your Meme. While I’m familiar with other J-pop memes listed there, I went with the confirmed stuff just to be safe): Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
This fashion blogger-turned-pop phenom is sure to ring some bells for some.
I remember when the video came out and made quite a stir. Since I was already a fan of Yasutaka Nakata’s work in Capsule and Perfume, his distinctive fingerprint being on Kyary’s material was a great gateway in. What solidified it for me was the surreal visuals and Kyary’s own unique style, definitely reflecting the unique scene she came from.
PON PON PON
Given that Yasutaka Nakata was involved, the style of technopop should be familiar to fans of Capsule and/or Perfume (like me), along with anyone else he’s worked with. Spouting cheerful (if nonsensical at times) lyrics with her signature childlike voice, PON PON PON is sure to get as stuck in your head as the CANDY CANDY that marks her sophomore single release.
For a first single, it’s pretty good (and this is coming from someone who despite liking this song, liked her subsequent singles more — and this was when she had three out). The beat is sure to get your head popping (as it has a few times with me while writing this) and the words… there’s a reason “PON PON WAY WAY WAY” used to be a thing people said.
Of course, PON PON PON didn’t simply become a meme by virtue of its catchiness. What really pushed it to the ranks of Gangnam Style, Caramelldansen, and [insert other #MemeMusicMonday topic here] was its music video.
The music video has two distinct, but equally memorable settings. The first one is a room that filled to the brim with stuff. From Lisa Frank and Kraft Mac and Cheese to toys and trinkets, the room is overflowing with trinkets.
(Appropriately, according to info on Wikipedia via an interview, the art director for the MV is Sebastian Masuda, who is well-known among the Japanese street fashion scene for his 6%DOKIDOKI brand. You can see the brand at work through these posts on the Tokyo Fashion Tumblr and the brand’s official Instagram.)
The other one, featuring a pink Kyary, is meant to be her mental world. Featuring CGI and super-imposed live-action elements, it is a treat for those who enjoy the more surreal aspects of the visual media.
Of course, one thing that makes the MV memorable is how these respective “settings” blend into one another. One example is the little interlude to the second verse, set by clapping: CGI bread ties the scenes together, which features either Kyary herself or a plus-sized figure that is prominent in the “mental” scenes.
It’s weird coming back to this one. As much as I love Capsule and Perfume, I will admit that this was also when I was falling off of the wagon. I loved her subsequent singles. I remember the debate among the International Wota/Idolminded blogosphere as to whether Kyary should be classified as an “idol” or an “artist.” (Kyary herself views her position as being among the latter… or at least not among the “idol” sect. To be fair, there are going to be some topics come the summer that challenge the idea of an idol.)
Either way, this is a good track and you can see why this went viral — and it’s a good thing it did, for better or for worse.
Until the Next One!