Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history.
In this post, we will take a look at the representative for 1998: Morning Musume’s Summer Night Town.
Kath, didn’t you cover Morning Musume enough this month?
Yes. Like I said in the last review, that’s what the Random Picker chose…. The Picker really loves Morning Musume.
Granted, 1998 was a time in which Hello! Project was essentially just Heike Michiyo and Momusu. Sure, Nakazawa Yuko also began her solo career (and all its enka-flavored glory) this year and Tanpopo was formed, but again… it was literally just Michiyo & the ASAYAN loser troupe! (As we all know, Nakazawa was the leader of Momusu and Tanpopo was said group’s first sub-unit. I think you can forgive me for 1998’s rep being Momusu-related. Sure, I could’ve pulled the executive card, but I wanted to be fair.)
With that in mind… let’s dig into Summer Night Town.
Summer Night Town
The song is a smoking piece that’s full of that fresh-faced coolness Early Momusu was known for. It features a prominent piano in the background, making its presence known with harsh minor chords, and a bass that adds to the sensual funkiness at punctuating times… and highlighting in the pushing and pulling our subject is feeling. She wants her beloved to know her feelings, to notice her passion and maturity… yet is held back by her insecurities and her conflicted mind.
At the core, the girl wants to feel assured about her feelings and her relationship… yet her anxieties won’t allow her to. (At least, that’s my take, looking at projecthello and Kiwi Musume‘s translated lyrics.)
Befitting the theme, save for some momentary shots, the MV takes place entirely at night. There’s outdoor shots. The indoor shots appear to be at this nightclub, our ladies donning sleek and elegant attire.
Either way, the MV features a lot of blue. The main outfits, the tint of the lighting (and even he nature of the lighting in some of the outdoor shots), the color blue is a major part of Summer Night Town’s aesthetic. (Heck, it’s a prominent color on the cover art.)
It actually ties into the nature of the song, making one think of night and the conflicted, even melancholic nature of the song. The girl wants her lover to know her feelings, but is held back and plunges into despair.
(As this single was released in 1998, it is not subject to the changes in sales reporting as implemented by Oricon in Fall 2016.
All figures reported in this section are from the Hello! Project Wikia with the percentage and average mathematics done by moi.
Of course, if a piece of idol music really touches you, does it matter that much how well it sells? It does to some people, which is one reason I do this…)
The single ultimately achieved a Total Reported Sales figure of 417,330 with a peak Oricon weekly position of #10. 20.77% (86,670) of these sales are from the first week.
For comparison sake:
- The previous single (the legendary Morning Coffee) had a Total Reported Sales figure of 200,790 with 47.34% (95,060) from the first week.
- The next single (Daite HOLD ON ME!) had a Total Reported Sales figure of 497,120 with 36.91% (183,500) from the first week.
- This means that Summer Night Town’s sales have a difference of 107.84% compared to its previous single and 19.12% compared to its next.
It may not be much at first, but one cannot understate the significance of Summer Night Town in the grand scheme — and it’s not just because it debuted the 2nd Gen aka Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari… and Ichii Sayaka. (Of course, given the color coding on projecthello, you’ll be forgiven if it feels like you can barely hear them.)
Sure, it’s a truly blue song to start with (both metaphorically and literally), but the lights were on and continue to shine. Blue is a color of sadness (as embodied by the melancholic mood of the song and MV), but also of optimism and hope (that she (and Morning Musume) will be loved) and I’d say it was pulled off well.
The single showed the slow and gradual growth of Morning Musume (especially compared to their winning counterpart in Heike Michiyo), thus further laying down the groundwork for the collective we now know as Hello! Project.
No wonder their initial fanclub was called by one simple word: “Hello!”
Next week, we end May’s exploration of H!P history with a more recent piece. After a Summer Night on the Town, it’s time to recharge our batteries with some cabbage.
Last Time: A Melon-Flavored Carelessly Whispered Chance of LOVE
Next Time: Cabbage Patch FEELS
Coming Up on #MemeMay: Declarative Nonsense from the GAL-o
Until the Next One!