“Ai no Tane (20th Anniversary Ver)”

The Hello! Project dropped it’s 20th Anniversary bomb today; a (slight) reworking of Morning Musume’s first recording, “Ai no Tane”, originally released on this day in 1997. The group, dubbed Morning Musume 20th, consists of the current MM’17 lineup and the full original 1st Generation.  It’s a digital-only release, which is understandable, as the target audience is minuscule: long-time, hard-core Morning Musume fans from way, way back in the day.

I know I hit on this in the previous post, but I’m still gob-smacked that they got Fukuda to take part in this. She seemed to harbor a bit of resentment toward the other girls, and appeared to have found a happy life for herself and her indie group PEACE$TONE. When she appeared on-screen in the promo advert for this release, I shouted, “NO FUCKING WAY!” despite it being obvious that H!P would never have done this without Fukuda’s participation. But the thought of her reuniting with the rest of the group, even for a one-off project, just seemed impossible to me. Two days on, I’m still surprised it happened, and still giddy.

So how did it turn out? Pretty good. Nothing amazing, but also not the train wreck that we all know H!P is capable of initiating. The arrangement stays true to the original for the most part, with a few exceptions, most notably the music drop-down at the second bridge. The rhythm and feel are identical, though. Vocally, everyone sounds great, and hearing the 1st Gens’ voices together again is a treat for us old-schoolers.

We need to talk about the drums, though.

Guys, seriously? I get that this is not designed to make a lot of money — and it won’t — but programming the drums denotes a level of tight-wad I wouldn’t expect even from the notoriously cheap Hello! Project.  And as if to rub it in our faces just how obviously programmed those drums are, they went ahead and cut the opening drum fill and the solo drum fill before the last chorus from the original recording, sped-up the tempo to match the new recording, and parachuted them in to the new arrangement. It’s a hack that even I would feel dirty attempting to pull off, and it only draws more attention to the kind of lifeless programmed drum part. Do session drummers really cost that much in Japan? Up your game, guys.

That having been said, not even the drum clown-show can kill my joy at hearing the original First Generation Morning Musume singing together again.

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