Tag Archives: Perfume

Preview A New Perfume Track Now: “Hurly Burly”

Perfume’s new single “Spending All My Time” comes out on August 15, but right now you can hear a sample of one of the other two songs that will come alongside it. This snippet of “Hurly Burly” takes the first verse and chorus and loops it, but what is there sounds very…intriguing. Eagerly awaiting a high-quality track of this, but for now check it out here.

The world has also gotten a peak at “Point,” listen to a little of that below.

Mid-Year Report: The Best J-Pop Of 2012 Halfway Through

The top of the J-Pop world remains cemented in place so far in 2012 – the best selling albums and singles have been from all the usual suspects of the Japanese music landscape. AKB48, Ikimono-gakari, EXILE, everything Johnny’s…with a few exceptions, the dominant music of 2012 has been pretty much the same as the last few years, and the back half isn’t showing any signs of bucking that trend. Taking stock of this world, then, would mostly be watching repeats, a non-story worthy of only a few sentences.

Yet bubbling just beneath the peak of J-Pop…and, in a few cases, rising up to the static top…are all sorts of fascinating developments threatening to push Japanese pop music into thrilling, still-accessible places. Friends who lived in this country around the time Perfume broke through into mainstream popularity recall a brief window of time where people though that THIS would usher in a new era of pop, of groups mimicking the techno-pop triumph of Perfume while simultaneously tearing down the statues of boring music mainstays in the process. That didn’t happen – soon after, Perfume simply became the only group doing that style of music at a pop-chart level. The status quo remained.

These six months, though, have seen a bunch of mid-level (and beyond) artists merge the future-obsession Perfume introduced to the J-Pop world with all sorts of different styles, none of these groups really sounding like knockoff Perfumes but rather applying the rules that trio introduced to their own work, creating great new material in the process. The top of the charts don’t reflect it, but Japan is experiencing a J-Pop renaissance, full of forward-thinking pop songs that sharply contrast with a large chunk of the nation’s independent music scene, which embraced indie-pop over the past six months and looked back. Below are some of Make Believe Melodie’s favorite J-Pop songs of 2012 so far.

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Review: Perfume’s “Spring Of Life/Communication”

“Spring Of Life,” Perfume’s 20th single and first for Universal Music Japan, sold 49,448 copies on the day of its debut, giving the techno-pop trio their highest first-day sales ever. The song also saw digital release in 50 countries, and coinciding with “Spring Of Life’s” release, Universal gave Perfume their very own label, Perfume Records. All of this movement pretty much kicks off Universal’s attempt to turn Perfume into a global name. It is, needless to say, a big release.

What’s funny about all this hubbabaloo is that the song ushering in all of this change breaks no new ground for Perfume. “Spring Of Life” finds everyone in the Perfume universe – the three singers, producer Yasutaka Nakata, the people who decide what flavor of alcoholic pop to hustle the song out to – doing pretty much what they always do for the big A-side singles post Triangle (2009). And, even though many in the Japanese media (at least the English side, which is what I understand) criticize the group for clinging to the same sonic blueprint while edging closer to pure pop, it’s the right decision. Instead of altering themselves to maximize worldwide appeal…a decision that helped to torpedo BoA and Hikaru Utada’s forays into the Western market…they have decided to stick to what has already worked in Japan and just introduce it to a potentially larger audience.

“Spring Of Life” really does come off like a scientist-constructed song, featuring everything that makes Perfume sound like…well, Perfume. It’s a hyper-upbeat song packed with Willy-Wonka-colored electronics, all playing out over a beat midway between the pop charts and the dance club, Nakata flexing his populist songwriting abilities. The members of the group sing as they always do, flowing with Nakata’s digital wave and sometimes allowing it to envelop them in ones and zeroes. It has a killer chorus. It even functions as a seasonal treat in the same way “Chocolate Disco” appeared on Valentine’s Day, coming out around the time Japan transitioned from glum winter to spirit-boosting Spring, “Spring Of Life” not so much background for the entire three months but the sound of this specific moment when people can start peeling off layers. Some dude in promotions deserves a promotion.

“Spring Of Life” functions as a great gateway to the group’s digi-pop onslaught, but simply writing “standard-issue Perfume” over it comes off as a little unfair. One of the complaints aimed at the group over the last year has been the belief Nakata has been mailing in his production duties for the trio. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but “Spring Of Life” finds him trying out some new ideas right in the open. The most obvious comes late, when the sun rays vanish for a second and a throbbing bit of dance music overtakes the song. It adds a touch of tension to an otherwise candyfloss tune, and Nakata wisely lets it go long enough so that when the somehow-brighter-now music bounces in, the whole song becomes even more ecstatic. On a subtler level, check the squelchy lines of synth crawling down “Spring Of Life’s” side during the verses – a small touch that gives the track a little extra personality.

This single also comes with one other new song, called “Communication.” It’s a throwback to the trio’s earliest work, a time when Perfume weren’t signed to a major label and constantly on the verge of being disbanded due to lackluster sales. It’s a cute idea – hey longtime fans, remember this style! – except Nakata already did it last year, and did it a whole lot better. That song was “Have A Stroll” off of (the still-dominating-time-on-my-iPod) JPN, which mimicked the cutesy looping of stuff like “Vitamin Drop” while still being very much the product of Perfume circa 2011. “Communication” sounds cute in a way more annoying fashion, one where the group’s trademark digital vocal manipulation gets turned down a bit (DANGER DANGER) and the backing bleep-bloop pigeon sounds mirror the sounds of French children’s show star Pigloo. Tellingly, you can only download “Spring Of Life” from iTunes, “Communication” relegated only to the physical CD as a hook to convince people to spend 10 bucks. It is especially frustrating considering that the other new track teased, “Point,” sounds fantastic.

What’s refreshing about Perfume’s adventure into Western markets is the low-stakes game they are playing. Whereas Utada and BoA did a lot to try to get over in America – the latter did a collab with fucking Flo-Rida, for God’s sakes – and current K-Pop supergroup Girls’ Generation seem hellbent on making it in the States, Perfume seem to be approaching this with a detached approach that ends up being a swagger all its own. Sure, they launched a pretty website and are upping their social-media game, but they are pretty much (at least for now) just releasing songs they would have dropped in Japan to other country’s iTunes Stores and then sitting back. Besides being a good way of not getting hopes up, it also shows a strange confidence that feels wonderful in the face of relentless marketing – we are Perfume, and here is a Perfume song, hope you enjoy. “Spring Of Life” is one of the most significant singles they’ve released, but it’s Perfume just being Perfume.

Watch A Preview Of Perfume’s “Spring Of Life” Video

Here’s a brief clip of the official video for Perfume’s “Spring Of Lie.” Ya know how lots of people are all on about how the members of Perfume are basically robots and easily replaceable? Perfume runs with that idea in a nice touch of self awareness.

New Perfume: “Spring Of Life” (Hear Full Audio Now)

And here’s the first output from Perfume on Universal Japan…which sounds a lot like old Perfume. Which, if you have read this blog for a long period of time, know is an absolutely great thing. “Spring Of Life” wastes no time digging its teeth into the Cadbury Egg that is the chorus, a chirpy-and-bright thing. The one interesting wrinkle to this single comes in the middle, when the pastel electronics make way for a somewhat bass-ier segment that sounds like it tip-toed away from the new Capsule album. It’s a weird touch to an otherwise bubbly number, which you can hear this way.

Hear A Little Of A New Perfume Song, “Point,” Now

Listen to a little bit above.

The Perfume Department: Perfume Star In New Ad, Tease New Single “Spring Of Life,” Sign To Universal Music Japan, Launch Global Web Site, Plan To Go International, Cause Really Long Blog Headline

Usually, I stay up late on weekdays doing all sorts of work (read: watching YouTube), but last night I decided to read a few chapters of a Joan Didion book and go to bed at a reasonable hour for once. Turned out I missed a deluge of Perfume news – guess who won’t be sleeping in the near future – like a bunch of important stuff. So, let us break this down one item at a time:

News: Perfume stars in new Kirin ad – Watch a making-of video below, which also features the ad 25 seconds in.

Views: I drank that new flavor yesterday, it was alright. Lemon is better, and really why isn’t there a permanent lime flavor?

News: New Kirin ad features 10-second snippet of new Perfume single “Spring Of Life.” – Did you watch the video above?

Views: It’s tough to pass any sort of judgement on a tiny sample of music, so I’ll reserve judgement/gushing until the full thing comes out. From what is available, though, this sounds…like a springy (har har) Perfume. This isn’t immediately bad like “Kasuka Na Kaori” though, so that’s good.

News: Perfume transfer from Tokuma Shoten to Universal Music Japan. – The trio switched from Tokuma, where they have been releasing music since 2005, to Universal.

Views: OK, now we are hitting the big stories. This is a huge step up for Perfume, as working under the Universal name gives them all sorts of new opportunities…and resources. They probably didn’t need it in Japan, but by now being in the Universal stable they will probably get an extra boost in promotion for future releases. More importantly, being backed by Universal makes the next news item possible.

News: Perfume launch new global site and YouTube channel – Visit the trio’s just-launched global site (which is just a fancy countdown right now, but has a pretty social-network design) here, or Perfume’s new YouTube channel.

Views: So Universal will try to push Perfume internationally. At the start, they are at least approaching this push the right way. Whereas some Japanese labels work overtime to remove YouTube videos featuring their artists, Universal at least has established a YouTube channel gathering the group’s music videos in one place and a global website that could serve as a hub for international Perfume fans. The next step…

News: Perfume to release last year’s JPN on the iTunes store in over 50 countries, including America, on March 6.

Views: …is to release the music internationally.

OK, lets drop the glorified bullet points for a second and focus on why Perfume might be pushed internationally now and if they have any chance to succeed. The timing makes sense – thanks to an appearance in Cars 2, some year-end list love and just an increase in people writing about the group online, Perfume has a decent fan base in place in America. Not huge, but definitely high for a group from Japan that is mostly unknown. Universal probably also sees the current wave of K-Pop groups trying to make inroads overseas and see a chance to sort of hook themselves to that scene – considering no J-Pop acts are actively courting American audiences outside of anime expos, Perfume would be smart to sort of hover around the Korean artists gunning for foreign success. Not to mention that the American charts are dominated by maximalist dance-pop songs, the sort Perfume have been releasing for half a decade now.

Now, do they have a chance of doing well? Well…how do you define success? Like Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation, I don’t imagine Perfume reaching Lady Gaga-like levels of popularity. Yet I think all of those groups could attract niche audiences, the sort of fan base that no Asian pop act has managed to draw in the States to date. Paired with the potential of becoming the sort of hyper-pop embraced by critics (writers love Max Tundra, and Perfume aren’t that different than him) and the eternal “if it’s from Japan, people will be interested” clause, I could see Perfume having moderate success. All hinges on how they are promoted internationally, though.

It’s also nice to any Japanese pop act shooting for foreign success, instead of playing it safe with domestic sales. This should be fun to watch.