Saturday, March 25, 2017

Classic Post! #11

Kayo Aiko's Eleventh Single...was released on - what? Yeah, I skipped 9 and 10, I'll come back to those. This is MY site, I'll do what I want!

The title is 'cosmic cosmetics' and the c/w is 約束の樹の下で... which can be pronounced 'Yakusoku no Ki no Shita de...', and can be translated as 'Promise Under the Tree'.

Aiko was continuing a string of upbeat A-sides, beginning with 'Kanojo', then 'Hold on to love', then 'HOME MADE STAR', and there was no video for this song or the previous one. I think by this point they decided that you were either *on* or *not on* the Aiko boat, and it was going to sell whether or not they made a PV.

I had pre-ordered both the limited and regular editions from CDJapan so it was in my hands but days after it was released. I really liked the songs from the first listen. Standard practice was to put the A-side on repeat for the first couple days or so. The first time I really listened to the c/w, I was moving my couch, not an easy task with a hide-a-bed tucked inside. Still, I was struck by how gorgeous the song really is.

So here's the deal, fans and readers... this single is, like, the polar opposite of 'Little planets'. Again, you get a seemingly-odd juxtaposition of quirky/beautiful songs, only this time, the performances are switched. Let me explain.

'cosmic cosmetics' is a fun and quirky song. Aiko's vocals sound very restrained, very cool and competent. She's not going wild singing this song, just having fun and being rather cutesy. 

On the c/w (again, a beautiful slow song) the vocals are free... not that she's going wild here, either, but by the end, there's eight or more layers of Aiko vocals, just killing you with beauty.

This isn't a case of 'if you can only afford *one* single...' BUY THIS! It's worth every penny or rupee that you'll spend for it. BUY THE G*DDAMNED SINGLE ALREADY! Lie, cheat, steal, pillage, and kill (if necessary). You *will* be able to afford it.

When this came out, I remember someone saying it 'sounds exactly like what I thought it would'. What the hell does that mean? Was that person so in tune with what Aiko was doing that when the time came to hear the single, he thought, 'I've already heard this.'? Now I suppose that if you're familiar with Aiko's work, and you know that the title is 'cosmic cosmetics', you could probably picture in your mind what it might sound like. But to write it off completely because it sorta matched your preconceptions, well

If I ever find the person that said that, I will tie them up and force them to listen to the A-side for a week straight. It wouldn't be so bad, actually... it's a damn good song, one of my absolute favorites, Aiko or otherwise. I'm not just being objective - there's a real and tangible reason why this is one of the best.Reason why: Nakata Yasutaka. Yeah, that's him, the guy who produces Perfume (YEAAAAHHHHH!) and also, a little outfit called 'capsule' (YEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!).

I don't know how they managed to wrangle him in to do this track and I really don't need to know. Guy's a friggin' genius when it comes to pop music. What's odd is how different this song is from his Perfume/capsule output. It's got his 'signature' all over it, to be sure... but I think that he approached it from a different angle, because he totally nails the 'Aiko sound'. If every one of Aiko's songs was top-of-the-heap, cream-of-the-crop (it's not a big stretch of the imagination), this guy (or someone with a similar sense) would have produced them. He got his vision across and at the same time put Aiko on a silver platter. This single made me into a Perfume/capsule fan, a die-hard one, in fact.

So are we clear? If these two songs aren't in your music collection, you don't have a collection yet, and I feel sorry for you. As a warning, it may sound exactly like what you thought... 'cuz if you're thinking, 'awesome', you're right.

If you can manage to get the limited edition, chances are that yours will come complete with Aiko's 'John Hancock'... like this:

[Original post date 2009-May-30]

Postscript: This is still one of my most favorite Aiko songs and it's hard to believe that it was released over 10 years ago. As I mentioned in the A Big Plug For Perfume post, "Hearing Aiko's 'cosmic cosmetics' these days, it's like, "this is the Perfume guy!" Perfume + Aiko = seriously, the best thing ever?" And you know, it could very well be the case. This song has really stood the test of time for this listener.

I also still listen to the c/w track quite a bit. I'm a big fan of harmonies and hearing the same singer layered over a big range (like Queen) and this is probably the richest example in Aiko's catalog.

Not surprisingly, the limited edition is no longer available but you can still get the limited edition of her next and final Avex single, Yuuki no Chikara from cdjapan as we go about 2017.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Classic Post! A Big Plug for Perfume

If I was to go back in time about ten years to tell my former punk-rock self that my new favorite music is Japanese techno-pop, I might catch a bit of flak.  On the other hand, the old me might be intrigued by the idea, and demand to listen to it.  As the music I love now would not have been made at that point, it might cause a rip in the time-space continuum and destroy the world.

Since I can't be a time-traveler, I don't spend too much time worrying about destroying my old habits.  Rather, I'm spending most of my time designing speakers that are 100 feet in diameter so I can blast the new Perfume record "GAME" and introduce everyone on the continent to its genius.

I first became aware of Perfume after their producer Nakata Yasutaka worked with Ms. Kayo Aiko for her 'cosmic cosmetics' single.  

Their style is almost always a mix of candy-pop and hard techno.  It didn't take me long to buy a few of their records, namely "Complete Best" and "Fan Service - Sweet", but I waited a long time to receive "Complete Best" because it was selling like crazy all over the world.  Despite having never been to Japan, my taste has matched theirs in the past couple of years.

Perfume put out a couple more singles, "Polyrhythm" and "Baby Cruisin' Love" before they released their second record, which is "GAME".  After I thoroughly exhausted the "Complete Best" CD and previewing the new singles, I thought that they may have reached their creative peak.  Everything after seemed to sound the same to me, and my opinion was that they were releasing the same song again and again, only with new words to fill the chorus section.  

So I held off on buying "GAME";  what a BIG mistake that was.  One listen and I've become convinced that this is one of the best albums ever made.  Every track is good, but the next track is even better!  Again, the Japanese share my sentiments:  the album and the follow-up single "love the world" both reached #1 over the summer.

I can't think of a group more deserving of such success.  Though I've become used to it over time, the first listening of "Electro-World" was an unforgettable experience.  It sounded as if a Nintendo had exploded, joined the Beatles, and channeled the spirit of 'Thriller'-era Michael Jackson.  In other words, an untouchable electronic hit!

It's notable and fitting that the girls are from Hiroshima.  Some 60 years after we caused unprecedented devastation to their future home, Nocchi, Kashiyuka, and A-chan rise from the ashes and show the world how music is supposed to be made.  The usual question of 'who is your favorite?' does not come into play;  to choose one is to eliminate two other perfectly capable (and desirable) girls from the wota repertoire.*  They're like the Borg.

But, like most girl-groups, they depend largely on their producer who deserves the musical equivalent of the Nobel Prize for coming up with this stuff.  I might be more inclined to go clubbing if they'd play Perfume songs at a deafening volume around here but, sadly, they don't. I'm so tempted to go sneak a song in, just to wake everyone up.

But for now, it's back to work on those giant speakers.

[Original post date 2008-Oct-11]

*So yeah, first I was an A-Chan fan, then Kashiyuka won me over, and now I'm really crushing hard for Nocchi.  All three of them, really, are unbelievable goddesses.  I had the honor of seeing them perform from up close and if only I could have stared at all three of them simultaneously the whole time, I would have.

Postscript: In the 6+ years since I wrote this post, Perfume has become my favorite group, probably of all time. I could go on for DAYS about all the things they've totally knocked out of the park along the way.

I think that the phrase, "they depend largely on their producer" was a little simplistic and slightly uninformed.  The girls themselves do seem to have a lot of input towards musical and theatric details and the whole group of people behind this amazing outfit deserve a collective accolade.  I would guess that Nakata probably gets final cut and is also probably the driving force in shaping their overall sound.

They have released 3 more albums since this writing, and musically, Perfume just kept getting better and better - when it was already supremely awesome to begin with.  Hearing Aiko's 'cosmic cosmetics' these days, it's like, "this is the Perfume guy!"  Perfume + Aiko = seriously, the best thing ever?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Kayo Aiko's Tenth Single...

was released on August 23, 2006.  The title is '☆HOME MADE STAR☆ ~嘉陽愛子のテーマ~', the Japanese portion is pronounced 'Kayo Aiko no teemu' and can be translated as 'Kayo Aiko's Theme'.  The c/w is 'Orange road'.

Limited edition cover

Regular edition cover

Aiko's first album "Dolce" (really more of a collection of singles as both of her "albums" have been) was released in March of 2006 and with the only exception being the B-side of "Little Planets," they basically drained the well of all of her past material.  Which must have pissed off a few hardcore fans who'd been there since the beginning, having to buy a whole album for just 3 new songs.  Frankly, for fans like me who were just discovering her, "Dolce" was a godsend.  It featured all of the A-sides of her first nine singles so it saved me the task of having to track down all nine cd's at a time when I knew little (if any) Japanese and YouTube was still less than a year old so there were only 7 Aiko videos up for quite a long time.  (I still remember the shock of seeing that a new video had been uploaded one day, very much out of the blue.  It happened a couple of times as the site got more popular.  But whoever did that, thank you!)

So the summer came and was nearly over when HOME MADE STAR came out and it sort of was a resetting point as far as her music goes.  I wasn't really sure what to expect but once I hit play my stereo was going bonkers and I was just loving this song like crazy.  I couldn't wait to get it playing in the car and blast the crap out of it so that everyone could hear.  "Hey everyone!" I would say, "this is brand-fucking-new!"

The basic instrumentation of this song is a glossy, busy synth-bass, overlaid with horns (synth) and some wacka-ja-wacka guitar, topped with 15 layers of Aiko + the way-into-it backup singers (HAAAAAAAAA!) vocal tracks.  For being a Japanese idol pseudo-disco track it's actually pretty funky and really just a very unique and catchy song.

'Orange road' is a fairly mellow track about fall colors and just has a nice breezy mood about it.  Aiko's singing is rarely more earnest than her performance on this song, as she displays a strong grasp of some more difficult intervals and yet at some points nearly comes to a whisper.  There is an interesting vinyl crackling going on throughout the song and it's got touches of Magical Mystery Tour here and there as well.

I skipped over this single in my original reviews and it's taken nearly five years for me to come back and write this overview, but it's not from a lack of interest by any means.  This remains one of my most favorite Aiko singles after so many years and I loved it to death when I first listened to it way back when.  Not much has changed.  The A-side has so much power and the B-side is so contrastingly beautiful that I could probably go on for days and still have plenty to say about it.  I probably wanted to write a million words about this in the first place but was exhausted by the time I had written about all of the others to get to this point that I just gave up, thinking I had said everything possible about how great Aiko is and how much of a joy it is to listen to her music.

The downside of this release is that it was the first of her singles to not have an accompanying PV and that really kind of stung me.  It was a time of uncertainty -- I wondered, would this be her last single?  And other questions that were eventually answered as time went on.  No, this would not be her last recording, I have come to find out.  There was still a surprise or two to be revealed.

Classic Post! #9

(Part One) Kayo Aiko's Ninth Single

...was released on January 25, 2006. The title is 'Hold on to love' [capitalization intentional], and the c/w is 'Callin'~ぼくを呼ぶ声~', the Japanese portion is pronounced 'Boku wo Yobu Koe', and can be translated as 'The Voice that Calls Me'.

This song came out about a month before I started listening to Aiko's music, and was the first Japanese song I ever learned, therefore it contains the first Japanese words I knew (besides 'ohayo', 'domo', and 'yume'). It also is slated to hold the distinction of 'the song I sang to Tsunku'. (It's payback for breaking my girl's heart, you big, ingeniously talented meanie!)

I'll just start by discussing the song itself, as the video will take some time to talk about, and I wanna make sure I do it justice. I'm fairly sure that there are some religious implications in that video, you'll see what I'm talking about, next time.

One of the stipulations for choosing a song to sing to Tsunku is that the song has to be from either an anime or a video game. Well, I'm in luck... 'Hold on to love' was in fact featured as the image song for Emil Chronicle Online, or ECO, a role-playing game of sorts which I don't know much about. I did some prodding around a while back and discovered (via a Spanish-language source) that somehow in the game, you can unlock Aiko's hat from the video, an 'I (heart) Aiko' t-shirt, and what looks to be a special move with Aiko connections (see, the energy coming off the character's hand is heart-shaped). They also give an honor to Aiko's dachshund Cocoa, the dog she holds atop her current blog.

Aiko and I will probably have another thing in common after the Anime Expo is said and done: we'd both have been overlooked by Tsunku in some capacity. (I've got REAL talent Simon, I mean... Tsunku; you don't know what you're talking about! I'm gonna get a record deal and be bigger than all these people! My mom says I'm a star!) Other things that I have in common with Aiko is that we are both humans, we both sing but don't dance very well, and we've both been depressed at some point simply because we can't join Morning Musume. I mean, seriously, it really got me down.*

Anyway, the song is a moody but upbeat rock ballad that doesn't exactly fit Aiko's genre, if she has one. If you consider Aiko's genre to be 'Jpop', a word with an intentionally wide meaning, then it's equivalent to admitting that her songs span quite a spectrum and there's not a 'typical' Aiko sound except that all her songs sound good. Typical...

It's almost as if Weezer did the backing track for this song, so melodic and power-chordy; if Rivers Cuomo did a vocal track over the instrumental it wouldn't sound out of place. For a time I even wondered if Rivers and Aiko were romantically involved, as he does have a thing for Japanese girls and in truth married a gal named Kyoko Ito just a few months after this was released. I don't think that Aiko's main lyricist Kenn Kato (more info about this guy, please...) is a pseudonym for Mr. Cuomo, but this song does sound a lot like old-school Weezer. 

So where am I going with this? I don't know, really. There's so much in the video to talk about, so I might have a few more cohesive thoughts at that time. Until then, do some research and find this song and we'll discuss it in just a little while.

The c/w, a bit more upbeat -- a bit more 'typical' of Ms. Kayo's musical library -- shouldn't be forgotten. Rock-y, with plenty of synth sound, and marking the return of the really-into-it backup singers (last appearance: 'ring!Ring!!RING!!!'). In my opinion, not the best Aiko song ever, but adds a nice 5 minutes to her catalog. Typical...

[Original post date: 2009-Jun-14]

Postscript: I never got the chance to sing to Tsunku as he was not one of the judges in the initial round.  I wrote a post about this event so I won't go into great detail here.

*Really, I mean it.  For like a month I was beside myself with a bout of depression that this would never happen.

(Part Two) Kayo Aiko's Ninth Single

Let's get to unravelling the mysteries of this video, shall we? I believe that many answers to the meaning of life are buried within. Click on a frame to see a larger, better picture (but you already knew that...).

Begin the video with, appropriately enough, some cloud art with the name of our star. Although the correct romanization of her name is either Kayou or Kayō, I've always preferred the 4x4 'Aiko Kayo'. It's really a matter of opinion, I suppose, but then again, Avex never used anything different.

Aiko comes out from behind a tree and a man in a stuffed bear costume (arm visible here) onto the waiting stage.

Aiko proceeds to rock you house, while the timid bear hides in the background.

Closeup of Aiko, where she mostly stares into the camera, except for one moment (shown above) where something distracts her. Maybe the caterer had just arrived, I don't know. Far from being disappointed with the fact that the editors left this 'error' in the final version, I just think it's awful cute, for whatever reason.

Aiko runs back to the bear and says, 'hey, we're filming a video, stop being shy and get your happy ass out here!'

Inexplicably, out come the cheerleaders (I mean, thanks, but why?) and the first one actually knocks the 'Kayo Aiko' sign about with her pom-poms. I don't think that was supposed to happen, but they left it in the video, nonetheless. If you think of the sign as the 'real' Aiko Kayo, then in reality, Aiko is being assaulted by a cheerleading squad, and now (understandably) your psychiatrist is seeing dollar signs.

The second verse is omitted from most youTube versions but this portion of the video *does* exist. For anyone who's only the seen the streaming version, here's another reason to buy the DVD versions of either 'Hold on to love' or 'Dolce'.

Two characters sit on a bench which wasn't there just a minute ago. For some reason she begins to assault him, going so far as to beat on him with his own hat. My research indicates that these two have a radio show in real life, but their names and the show are as yet unknown to me. But if you lived in Japan, you might have heard of them.

Aiko catches wind of the situation after singing for another minute while the beating goes on (thank goodness that lady doesn't have a knife) and runs over to chastise them in song.

Aiko is successful in getting the two to put aside their differences, and the hat resumes its use as a hat. Aiko looks more than a little proud of herself as she thinks about enrolling in a police program for abuse intervention.

Pure pandemonium as the cheerleaders, the bench couple, the dancing bear, and Aiko continue with the song.

Then, the bench guy reaches down to grab his hat which had been absent since the start of the chorus. Another thing that they probably just left in for no reason, but we never see why it fell off. Last we knew it was back on his head, but as he's reaching for it we're thinking 'that's right, he *was* wearing a hat...' Shows you the power of the hat lobbyists; they made sure it got adequate screen time. Kudos to Aiko's outfit, btw.

Night falls and Aiko is alone as the song winds down for the bridge. This is where the youTube videos cut to instead of showing the second verse.

Although they haven't yet become important to the video as of yet, here's the first appearance of a set-wrangler without his veil, and they dress in all-black, cover their faces, move the set around, and generally look like beekeepers. They will play on this similarity in just a moment. For now, my advice: whatever this guy says, do *not* go behind the tree with him. Your life will never be the same.

The 'beekeepers' come out and start moving every part of the stage around, even going so far as moving the bench while the couple still sits on it.

Yes, they may be set-wranglers but they look like beekeepers, and they know it. One of them does a single clap along with the beat, pretending to kill a fly (or perhaps a rabid bee).

So again, a scene of pandemonium. The cheerleaders, the beekeepers, the couple on the bench, the dancing bear, and Aiko, who's a-beboppin' and scattin' out the song's chorus.

High kicks and twirls from the cheerleaders, so we can get a few panty shots in this video. You're welcome, boys and girls.

As the song comes to a close, all of us, as brothers and sisters, dance together... the bench couple, the cheerleaders, Aiko, the dancing bear, and the 'beekeepers'.

Not usually shown in the youTube versions, Aiko mouths a distinctive 'arigatou gozaimashita' at the end. You're welcome, Ms. Kayo... I should say, 'de nada' so she can understand me in her native tongue.

And for whatever reason, this shot of the set as a whole to conclude the video, for about a second. Now go play Emil Chronicle Online (often shortened to ECO), ya jerks...

It's easy (and probably the most likely explanation) to write this off as a short film of random characters smashed together on a stage, done as amateurly (if that's a word) as possible. But come on, this video is random FTW. Let's see if it gets any deeper than that.

For starters, it seems that Aiko Kayo (in cloud form) is the 'real' Aiko Kayo, not the girl in the funny hat who sings. Constantly, omnipotently, it stalwartly looks down upon us and loves us for who we are.

The bear, in actuality a character from ECO, is us... it represents what most of us would do if our lives were confronted with a sexy singing pink witch, a couple fighting on a bench, cheerleaders, and beekeepers. We'd totally hide behind the tree, in this sense; but in a real sense, they're made out of cardboard, so no real protection at all.

The cheerleaders, in my opinion, represent morality, for they continue on despite adversity. People moving your cardboard set around? 'Yeah, keep going despite all!'

The couple on the bench, well, we've all been there before. Some woman hits you with your own hat, and eventually a sexy Japanese girl will tell her to stop, and you shall continue the possession of your hat as a hat, and not as a blunt object, even if it falls off inexplicably and you must pick it up from the ground.

The 'beekeepers', well, they're just a-damn moving everything in sight for their own pleasure. It's not a stretch of the imagination to envision them as the adverse forces in our lives. If/when they stop to kill a bee-gone-wrong, move your set-pieces back to their original location, it's not hard. After all, they're not portrayed as the smart ones in this video.

Lastly, it's Aiko herself (all-woman, I don't need further research) whose role is shrouded in mystery. If the 'cloud art' is indeed the 'real' Aiko Kayo, then who is this before us? She merely sings the song, looks hotter than your girlfriend (sorry, y'all), dances, and breaks up fights, but only when necessary. How does this fit into your life? She's a sexy pink witch. She's an anamoly. Don't hurt yourself too much thinking about it, but whoever she is, she makes the world a better place, but only when she's there. I imagine that the bench/hat guy would be dead of blunt force trauma if she hadn't intervened. The bench-girl is someone you don't mess with.

There's some... (thinking...)

There's a religious message behind all of this. What could it be?

[Original post date: 2009-Jun-23]

Classic Post! #8

Kayo Aiko's Eighth Single

...was released on July 27, 2005. The title is 彼女はゴキゲンななめ, which is pronounced 'Kanojo wa Gokigen Naname' and can be translated as 'She's in a Bad Mood'. The c/w is さすらいの天使, which is pronounced 'Sasurai no Tenshi', and can be translated as 'Wandering Angel'.

So it was back to the upbeat A-side for Ms. Kayo, and she has not since released a slow single. While it seems that "Little Planets" gained her a lot of exposure, or at least was the most expensive video she'd ever made, why the powers-that-be decided to go in a completely different direction for this next song is not clear.

Between singles, the DVD "Aiko Kayohaku" was released, which featured all seven of her videos thus far, and newly-produced interludes that featured Aiko in all sorts of 'fetish gear', a cutsie apron during the cooking segment, a tennis dress and a golf outfit for the sports segment (think Arnold Palmer, not Payne Stewart), a Minnie-Mouse-ish dress with a polka-dot hair bow for the discography. And, as a bonus for us boys, there's the added luxury of seeing Aiko in a short dress with thigh-high boots, as she gives the introduction and, as well, for the send-off.

"Aiko Kakohaku" is still a must-have for anyone who wants to be a member of the S.P.A.K.A., so here, let me show you where it's at, oh, where's that link, hang on... here it is, sorry about that. [There used to be a link on the original post to CDJapan but I don't feel like re-linking.  You can find it really easily.]

There are a few exclusives on the disc, not the least of which is a series of photographs of Aiko from age 0-19, and she was never *not* cute, by the way.

So, speaking of Aiko being cute, the PV for 'Kanojo wa Gokigen Naname' was one of the first videos I saw, and definitely the first one I played over and over and over. Lots of closeup shots of Aiko's facial features, none of which could even be remotely described as 'disturbing' or 'not pretty'... those eyes, those lips, those... nose!

The female Japanese Ramones rock out in the lava-lamp infested background. N-squares and split-screens abound.

Aiko wears three different outfits in the duration of this video: one, an aqua Galsville t-shirt and white spring skirt, another, a purple corset-inspired top with a black ruffled skirt and thigh-high boots (yum), and a third pink pleather dress with the most outlandish hair bow ever made. All three outfits are flattering, to say the least, and I'd like to take Aiko shopping someday, just to see her try on anything she wants. She switches between outfits by jumping in and out of a 'bar' of outfits. She lets out a frustrated scream. I'll describe no further, you will see for yourself...

The c/w 'Sasurai no Tenshi' is probably my least favorite Aiko song, because it's just kind of 'there' rather than totally awesome. The music is upbeat, but doesn't really go anywhere. It's the least likely to be chosen as *the* song to represent Aiko, and whenever I get in the mood to listen to Aiko, this isn't my first choice. Still, it's Aiko, so I've got to give it that.

Although 'Kanojo' is a spectacular song with a very well-suited video, the single probably isn't for the casual fan. In fact, it's the only Aiko single I haven't got, since both songs were later included with her first album 'Dolce', the first Aiko CD I bought. This should change in the near future, as the DVD that comes with the single has a 'making of' that I've never seen. After all, the word 'anything' is part of the acronym 'S.P.A.K.A.' I really need to follow my own rules here...

[Original post date 2009-May-25]

Postscript: I now own the DVD version of this single but haven't ever opened it because the cover indicates only that the PV is included with the DVD and no Making video apparently exists.  Maybe some day I'll check for real, just for fun.

Classic Post! #7

Kayo Aiko's Seventh single...

was released on May 25, 2005. The title is 'こころの惑星 ~Little planets~', with the Japanese portion of the title pronounced 'Kokoro no Wakusei', which could be translated as: 'Planet of the Heart'. The c/w is 'STEP BACK IN TIME', which is a cover of a song originally performed by Kylie Minogue.

It had been roughly half a year since Aiko released a single, having promoted four singles in one month the prior November. It was apparently time for a change, as the publicity for the song seemed to present her in a more mature fashion than anything released up to this point. Interestingly enough, this -- one of the most beautiful Kayo Aiko songs ever -- was paired up with one of her quirkiest songs. 'STEP BACK IN TIME' has yet to be included on any other release; ergo, if you want Aiko's entire catalog, you'll have to hook yourself up with this single.

I've never seen Aiko attempt to sing either song live, and I'm okay with that. Somehow the whole thing came together for one-time-only and the result was arguably the pinnacle of Aiko's career in music so far (I *am* keeping my hopes up). 'Little Planets' is such an exhilarating song. Only Kayo Aiko could sing a slow song like this - one that speaks of finding hope beyond all hope, bringing us to the point where all hope is lost, and then bring us back to where all is right with the world. *Only* Kayo Aiko can do this. Don't try and offer suggestions that anyone could do it better, because I'm just not listening to you.

According to Aiko herself, the video was shot in Guam. Guam this, and Guam that, she says, and if I'm incorrect, then I not only can't understand Japanese, but I also can't understand *anything* because she says it fifty times in the span of a couple minutes on the Aiko Kayohaku DVD 'discography' clip.

Forgetting all other past and possible future endeavors, I'll just say this: if you wanna say something bad about Ms. Kayo Aiko, think about this before you say anything at all... have *you* ever been flown to Guam for a video shoot? And when you got there, did *you* outshine the scenery?

The video, in terms of plot, isn't much to talk about. She hangs out in a field near the ocean, by some rusted bleachers (baseball bleachers, I'm assuming), and the video's producers have set up an easel and a wooden chair in the vicinity. She hangs out there, looking sullen, then sings along, then eventually sings the remainder of the song in a cathedral-type set. 

While in the 'cathedral', Aiko might not look her cutest, nor is it the most 'I must have her now' moment of her career, but it's hard to imagine that any human being could possibly have been any more gorgeous than this. If there's better, I'd really like to see it. Really.

All in all, if you must force yourself to buy only *one* Kayo Aiko single, I'd say this is it. You'll get one of her best slow songs up front and one of her peppiest songs on the reverse side.

As a post-note, this song (Little Planets) was used for the first ending to the anime "Law of Ueki", which I understand has a reasonably good following. To tell you the truth, I'll let someone who knows about this series fill you in on it, I'm too busy enjoying the music.

[Original post date 2009-May-9]

Postscript:  If it's not too objectionable with whomever I tie the knot, I HONEST TO GOD want this song played for our "first dance" at our wedding.  It's not a deal breaker or anything.  Another good choice would be Wink's "愛してる~Never Stopped Loving You~".

Also, in the years since this post was written I've become a big fan of Kylie Minogue.  Hearing Kylie "cover" an Aiko song is sheer awesomeness… yeah, I know Kylie did it first but that's not the way I experienced things.

Classic Post! #6

Kayo Aiko's Sixth single...

was released on December 8, 2004.  The title is 'traveller'.  There is no c/w.

This was last of the once-a-week singles, and the song was featured as "Ongaku Senshi MUSIC FIGHTER's NAVI POWER PLAY" song for November. Somebody want to tell me what that's all about?

The PV is also the last of the 'hotel' videos, with Aiko playing a separate character in each PV.  If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that every time one of the characters walks through the hotel lobby, there is a flock of camera people gathered in one spot, with flashbulbs going off at a frightening rate.  Previously unseen was the person those cameramen were cornering.  Enter 'Rock Star Aiko'.

Sure, she remembers all the 'little people' she knew before she got famous.  But there's no time for that now.  Gotta get to the makeup room, gotta sign autographs, gotta get to the video set where the three-piece band backs her up.  And they're just a rockin' away, while Rock Star Aiko struts her stuff.  And, of course, there's the obligatory closeup shots.

Not much to say about this otherwise, just a good straightforward rock song, and some good shots of Aiko with some lucky makeup-pro who paints her lips, lengthens her eyelashes, and makes her look like the doll that she is.  At the end of the video, the on-screen producer yells, 'Katto!', which is Japanese for 'Cut!'  and so it ends.  And it's on to bigger and better things.

The video ends with Aiko blowing a kiss to the camera, which turns into a gold (CGI) heart.  I wonder if that happens every time she does that?

[Original post date 2009-Feb-7]