Morning Musume ’17 “Wakaindashi” – First Impressions

The first song of Morning Musume ’17’s new single has been radio-ripped to Youtube. If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s your big opportunity:

I know this is only half the song, but I really hate this. It’s musical pabulum. The arrangement feels mailed-in and directionless, which is odd for a Tsunku production. It sounds like they were going for a sparse feel, but there’s too much going on to be sparse. On the other hand, nothing drives the song forward, least of all the chord progression. The verse is nice; it’s catchy and works well to set up a more dramatic chorus, but the chorus just sounds like an extended bridge, with ever descending chords that build to… nothing at all, really. The “release” is the laid-back intro synth motif, which might work if there was a stronger rhythm behind it, but there isn’t.

Try as it might, this song never really goes anywhere. It’s an M.C. Escher staircase of motifs built with sounds and techniques they’ve been rehashing since 2014. An arrangement like this demands something odd or unexpected to keep you engaged, and, for 2:20 anyway, it’s all rather predictable. The instrumental stops between sections feel less like thoughtful transitions than they do laziness at the prospect of having to compose thoughtful transitions. Anderei’s point about the odd vocal-heavy mix is dead-on, too, and it only magnifies these problems by making a listless arrangement feel even more listless. And while MM has improved their singing over the past year, they haven’t improved that much. They still need to be one with the music, not above it.

Hopefully the full song offers something more, but I’m not holding out too much hope. I’m saving that for “Jamashinaide Here We Go!” and “Dokyuu no Go Sign”.

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