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It’s March 3rd… the 5th Birthday of Berryz Koubou! On this date, Berryz released their first single.

“Dakishimete Dakishimete” makes the 6th annual Berryz Koubou single release to drop in March, so let’s figure out which is best? These are listed in order of release.

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1. Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai – The debut Berryz single!
(c/w BERRY FIELDS) In the PV, you are treated to more plaid than is probably healthy to witness, but it’s a great introduction for a group that has grabbed my heart quite a bit, especially considering I initially considered them rather untalented. And let’s not forget the girls in their other outfits… with the sideways caps on scooters, and playing on escalators, and just having fun. Both the main track and the c/w track have a lot of distortion to some of the vocals, and I think BERRY FIELDS is actually better sung. It was kind of the first Berryz theme song. A good handful of their songs have the word Berry or Berryz in the title. Overall, a fun single, and with pretty good distribution of lines, too.

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2. Special Generation – The one that got me into Berryz!
(c/w Koishiteru Toki wa Itsumo…) I saw this PV on Youtube(specifically, the dance shot) as I was watching through a bunch of Morning Musume videos. It came up as one of the videos to watch after everything else I watched, so I broke down and watched… and am now the Berryz fangirl you see before you. From the beginning, Captain was my favorite, despite her not having a lot of lines, or really many at all. But, she danced the heck out of this, and the song really grabbed me, too! It’s upbeat, not badly sung, and really shows the Berryz character. To be honest, I never noticed Maiha in this, except that she was the other girl in the white shirt, but I’m probably one of the few Berryz fans who thinks they’re better off without her. (I think it would have taken quite a bit for her to be able to grow into her face.) Then, there’s the c/w track. Berryz have a history (to me, at least), of having strong c/w tracks that wouldn’t really have appeal beyond the fans (excepting Furare Pattern, of course). This is one of those songs that really demonstrates that to me. This is a nice little ballad-y song with a decent amount of emotion in it. And, once again, good line distribution. Sure, the a-side doesn’t have it too much, but all of the girls at least get good shots in the PV. Overall, this is still one of my favorites.

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3. Jiriri Kiteru – The one that made me realize Berryz are HOT!
(c/w Toshoshitsu Taiki) This song is also one of my favorites. A lot of the music sounds almost classical, but with a big twist. The PV is also good. The dance is one of my favorites, and all of the girls are either doing so well in their running/crying scenes, or they look so hilarious that I can’t begrudge them their inability to act. The c/w doesn’t seem to fit with the a-side at all, but it’s still a nice song… though VERY similar in sound to Koishiteru Toki wa Itsumo… for me. There are the same kind of awkward sounding high notes that have become a Berryz charm point for me, a similar tempo, etc. Overall, again, one of my favorites.

berryz_verybeauty
4. Very Beauty – The ballady thing that divides all Berryz fan between Risako lovers and haters!
(c/w Gaki Taishou) The PV for this really is gorgeous. The dance shot bits are a bit overdone (the outfits can be a bit much to take in comparison to the simple outfits for the close-up bits), but everyone looks good, and almost everyone sounds good. I do not like the chorus to Very Beauty because it always sounds like someone is off. But, I even like Risako’s solo lines. This has some of those high notes that are typically reserved for the c/w track, and they actually work rather well here. Then, comes the actual c/w track which is much more upbeat and not too dissimilar from Berryz first single, but with more of a focus on the girls’ voices which have already improved drastically. Overall, a pleasant change from their previous singles, but not too large of a departure as to seem truly out of place. Not a favorite for me, but still very strong.

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5. Dschinghis Khan – The one that sticks in your head and got an official remix single!
(c/w DARLING I LOVE YOU [Berryz Koubou ver.]) If you count in the two remix PVs, there are an astounding 13 versions of the PV. The regular, the dance shot, the Mongolian dance shot, the close-up, the 7 solo close-ups, and the two kinds of dancing sheep… and I love each and every single one. I was familiar with the song this was based off of, and Berryz killed that version in so many ways, some probably in ways old Genghis Khan might have disapproved of.
The song is so upbeat and fun, and so are all of the PVs. Everyone is loving it, except maybe Miyabi, and she’s still faking it well enough. This is widely accepted as a good Berryz song, so I’ll talk about the c/w track now. °C-ute had their own version of this song on whatever their single du jour was at the time, but Berryz owns their version, too. So, it’s two different songs that demonstate that Berryz does it better. Overall, two thumbs, a sheep, and a keytar up.

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6. Dakishimete Dakishimete – The new one!
(c/w Sono Subete no Ai ni) Somehow, the c/w track has leaked for this already, possibly just so I can do a full single review and not just a PV review. Although, I think I’ve covered all of my thoughts on this song and PV already. It’s awesome, wow Maasa’s voice, almost even line distro, persons A through G are HOTTTTTTT doing this/that/the next thing. Then, the c/w? It’s bringing back the ballad-y song with the higher notes that Berryz has done for about half of these. Only, everyone sounds really good now. The harmonies sound absolutely awesome (Thanks, Captain!) and Risako has really learned how to take control of her voice. Granted, it still needs a bit of work, but she’s getting there. Overall, this single holds promise to be among my Berryz top three, and the a-side is definitely there.

What I find here… is that all of the March Berryz singles are good, and are among their best songs. I cannot pick a favorite. 4 of the 6 are among my personal favorites! Does H!P just try harder around the anniversary of Berryz’ debut? Maybe not… but maybe the girls do. Props to them because I am falling something seriously hardcore for this group. Also, it’s been 5 years… and Momoko has not changed in the slightest. She looks the same, and sounds pretty much the same, too. But, that may be why she (and Reina from Momusu) is so popular.

On a side note, congrats to Maasa for getting her first PB! I’ve seen a couple of the bikini shots, and damn, girl! That’ll definitely be worth a look, and I have hope that the other Berryz girls will finally get PBs this year. Chinami could have one of just her legs, and it would sell well, and Captain needs one desperately. She’s just gotten more and more photogenic over the years, and while she doesn’t take the best pictures all the time, I think if the right photographer was brought in, it would work.

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Let’s talk about some Berryz, guys. More specifically, my newfound inability to not watch/listen to their new PV. I mean… I have to be at work at 6:30am this morning (this hour typically doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary) and I willingly got out of bed at 5am because I realized I could get in a few more viewings of said PV over my bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. I am THAT far gone.

I was once one of those girls who thought that MoMusu could do no wrong and that the H!P Kids were merely a pale imitation of everything the flagship was/is. Only, now? I think I’m equally into MoMusu and Berryz, with Berryz trying very hard to take the lead. (I will never be a °C-ute fangirl with the current incarnation of the group, though.)

So, anyway… because I’ve already watched this thing 20+ times, let’s review the new Berryz PV “Dakishimete Dakishimete”.

This is another grown-up song from Berryz which is not a bad thing because much though I loved “Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance”, it was a bit childish for a group of girls who are all beginning to grow and mature. “Madayade” was maybe a bit *too* old? The girls are not yet old enough to be OLs, so the portrayal was a little off. But this is an uptempo love song sung by girls who are obviously old enough to be feeling those feelings (Miyabi’s pseudo-scandal, anyone?) I had initially only heard concert rips of this song, and was trying very hard to get into the feeling, though I’ll admit that I couldn’t make out of a lot of the details over the cheering and all that, though I did go in and fiddle with the sound enough in Adobe Audition that I think I had a rather better idea of the song than most people who only listened to that.

Let’s discuss the song itself before we head into the PV. Berryz can be vocally strong, but they are not terribly there in this release. Risako’s voice is unsure or something and while she’s more technically good than I’d say she has been in a while (and her nasal-ness does kind of fit along with this song), I wish she hadn’t gotten the 4-line solo. As it is, every girl gets at least 2 solo lines. Up until 3 minutes in, the song is equal between all Berryz. Miyabi gets one extra line after Risako’s solo, and she handles it much better. She’s developed such a smooth-sounding voice, though, that she’s beginning to sound as out of place as Momo did when she could only squeak.

The song is techno-y, which I love, and has some really good blends and harmonies and such and if you just listen to it (without viewing the PV), you can practically feel it. The chorus parts are really high-energy, and while the solo lines are a lot more restrained, there’s still a power behind them. There are a lot of “Woo!”‘s in it, and some weird distorted bits thrown in before Risako’s solo, but I really like listening to this song. I’ve probably already listened another dozen times just writing this.

Now that I’ve written over 500 words without actually touching on the PV, let’s talk about the looks that the girls are sporting. Saki is wearing a leopard-print fedora that is actually sex itself, and yet Captain looks even hotter than the hat. This defies explanation, but suffice it to say that while Saki’s get-up is cool (the black-and-white striped shirt with jeweled skull image, the layered skirt over jeans [I think], the two colors of combat boots), it doesn’t exactly fit her all that well. There’s too much fabric to the shirt, and Saki moves with her shoulders back so far that is nearly looks like she has no chest and a lot of stomach. Her hair, though, with the asymetry and the blue-black streak? Wow, Saki. Want. Please?

Miyabi is in printed tights, a teal shirt with black print, a short skirt, boots and a black fedora. Her hair has a pinkish streak, it seems? It looks kind of awesome. Really. But, she kind of fades to the background a lot because there’s nothing particularly flashy about her outfit.

Massa is looking particularly wonderful, too. The outfit doesn’t do her much justice as it looks like one of Junjun’s grandma-approved potato-sacks. But, her hair is awesome (also asymetrical) under that grey fedora, and she looks a bit thinner than she’s been looking.

Chinami and Risako look like the stylist raided Momusu’s closet for their outfits. Risako has a red jacket a’la Nai Chau Kamo, only splatted with black paint to make a black zebra print, plus the black skirt, and the stylist yanked a few feathers off the old Onna ni Sachi Are costumes to stick in her hair when some of the black paint got on them. Chinami, though, got the white jacket, and her black skirt was put in some bleach first so it turned kind of brown. Her hair ornament came from the old Iroppoi Jirettai costumes. Both of them have hair that is up with pretty drastic bangs that look kind of awesome.

Momoko is the only one rockin’ the pink (or is that red?) with a babydoll dress, and I think she works it. She’s got a leather half-jacket, too. She doesn’t look as out of place as she could.

Yurina has the most boring hair of everyone. It doesn’t really work with her facial features or her outfit which has the whole matching scarf/jumper thing and a white floofy skirt she stole from Momo, though I do like her leggings. When it shows her back at all, it looks like she’s strangely proportioned because of a hood/the scarf on her back.

Most of the girls have on one fingerless glove, and all of them are wearing relatively punk jewelry. There are a lot of leather collars in that room!

I guess I still haven’t really talked about the video itself yet, have I? And this is almost 1000 words in!

The video starts off with a showing of disco balls and some vague shots of Miyabi and Momo’s heads, I think. Yay?

From the start, the girls are into the dance. Their moves explode. It is awesome. I can’t wait to see the dance shot for this just because everyone looks so on their game. Chinami at times seems to fall a bit behind, but then I just notice her legs more, so I’m not complaining.

Someone thought it would be fun to let Berryz man the DJ booth. Most of the girls do a pretty good job, though I was put off a bit by Risako leaning down to put the record needle on, as well as Saki rotating the record. Hilariously, if you watch, a lot of the motions done during this section happen with pinkies up.

There’s also the slightly overdone moments where the Berryz members are multiplied. Yes, give me Saki dancing in front of a colorful background, but just one is fine. Eight of her? That’s perhaps a bit of overkill. It looks odd compared to everything else.

The main dance-shot portion has a lot of colored lights. It’s obvious that some of them were actually running while they were shooting (not many though) and the rest were added in later. It still works for it though. I do kind of feel like I’m in a club as I’m watching.

Other bits are shot with the girls in front of speakers with their color of light shining on it, and there are also some partial group shots with the girls in more light in front of part of the background (the silver ribbons hanging down).

The dance itself has a lot of popping and locking and chest thrusting and even some Para-Para like moments. There are moments that nod back to Berryz singles past, too. Tell me you don’t notice a move that reminds you a lot of Special Generation? The girls are a pretty well-oiled machine by this point, though. They’ve been together for a while and are really starting to be able to dance as a cohesive unit. It’s awesome, and while it’s a relatively simple-looking dance? It’s one every girl looks good doing and is deceptively easy. Watch Saki to see how it looks taken up a notch. She’s not exactly doing what everyone else is, but she doesn’t look out of place. Saki’s dancing reminds me a lot of BoA in this video which is very high praise indeed.

Still, there are 2 moments that stand out beyond all others in this. At 1:35? Chinami’s skirt. That is hot stuff right there. But even better? At 3:38, Saki’s movements as she sings along to the little “Woo!”? I want to manage to make an icon of that moment (though I think I need to wait for a higher quality version of the PV) because it is so awesome and amazing and wonderful.

So… 50+ listens in now, probably (only watching the PV about half the times I’ve played it) and this is undoubtably in my top 3 Berryz favorites. I need more of this kind of stuff from these girls, and the sooner? The better. This PV is very much in line with the kind of stuff Momusu has been doing lately, only done better because it really fits the song.

One final word: LOVE.

Okay, lame title, I know. ^_^ But, I’m listening to the Dschinghis Khan Tarutaru Mix, so I guess I’m feeling lame?

First up! A review of 5(FIVE)! And too many exclamation points!!!

C'mon, guys, we can count!

HAPPY!stand Up – I think I wouldn’t mind this being a single. It’s damn catchy with some great harmonizing going in. In a way, it reminds me of a less-produced Yattarouze! which I think is a great thing. The melody is low key, but interesting, and doesn’t suffer from any member take-overs like most of their songs. I’m having problems hearing any Risako in this, though, but maybe that’s sometimes a good thing? I don’t hate the girl, but I do wonder why she’s the face of Berryz. Is it only the pedoliciousness?

Kono Yubi Tomare (Momoko, Chinami, Maasa) – This immediately reminded me of 1980’s American TV show openings until the girls started singing. I think these girls don’t exactly work together, but they’re definitely trying. Momoko’s voice is so *different* from most people’s that if she doesn’t work to make it fit, it doesn’t. She’s just a bit off here, I guess, so I think this song is kind of forgettable.

Baka ni Shinai de (Shimizu, Miyabi, Kumai, Risako) – This is soooo my favorite style of music to listen to with the Eurobeat and, y’know, Captain. I do wish there was more Captain, but I also adore her beyond all other Berryz members, so I suppose that’s understandable.

Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance – This one I don’t feel like I really need to review, but… suffice it to say that this made it onto a very exclusive mix CD that I keep in my car. I love this song no matter how long and ridiculous it is. I dance to it a lot. Ridiculously.

Ah Merry-go-round (Shimizu, Momoko) – Yay! Captain! And Squeaky-Toy! (Is this the return of the exclamation points? I think so!) I think that the backing track should have been a little lower for a lot of this song. There are times I’m having trouble hearing the girls. However, I love Captain’s intro and I love the bits where they’re singing together. Separately, they seem like they wouldn’t really work together vocal-wise, so it was surprising to me that their voices blend so well. I’d like to hear these girls do more together, but something different. Let them rap, maybe? ^_~ !!!

CLAP! (Chinami, Miyabi, Kumai) – For a song about clapping, Miyabi doesn’t sound very genki at all. I was hoping this would be a lot more energetic. ;_; And that Miyabi wouldn’t dominate the lines the girls share. But, FAIL! I actually ended up skipping past the second half of this song. It just didn’t catch me and Yurina particularly seems to stumble through it which also turned me off.

REAL LOVE (Sugaya Risako) – I like the beat to this song, but what of Risako’s vocals? *listens more* They sound a lot more careful than she normally works with, but it fits the type of song. I can honestly imagine a duet between Risako and Reina from MoMusu working well. They both have wonky voices, but I think they’re the kind of wonky that could work well together. I can understand this song getting its fair share of fans, though it’s a little too R&B for my tastes, maybe? Not my favorite, but I’m not minding listening to it.

Yume o Ichi Tsubu ~Berryz Kobo Ending Theme~ Berryz Kamen – I’m a bit confused by this song. It sounds almost Russian with bits of a music box mixed in? Also, why didn’t they put this as the last song? Even if it was just from the Berryz Kamen vs. Cutie Ranger concert, it’s still an ending theme, and that would have been perfect to put at… the end! It also felt even shorter than it was, somehow. Not particularly listenable, though memorable?

Dschinghis Khan – This is the other Berryz song that made it onto my super mix CD. I like it when Berryz channels Mini Moni or something, don’t I? I like them genki, silly, and remixed, I guess? I find myself singing this song at work. A LOT.

Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi – This was the first Berryz song to come out after I got into H!P. I know I had the PV downloaded, but maybe I just completely forgot the song when I deleted it? I could have sworn it was a ballad, but, um, totally not? Still kind of forgettable to me despite being very upbeat. But, Captain gets lines, so I have to listen at least a little bit?

BE – Is this the only true ballad on here? *listens closer* It sounds… a little out of tune for parts of it, and not just the parts that seem like they were intended to sound like that. I like the melody, but the overall effect is kind of weird.

Special Generation ~ Eccentric Remix – I must come forth and say that techno remixes make me ecstatic, and this one is no different. It is definitely eccentric with the mix drawing from possibly every kind of music that’s out there from rock to lullabies to big band. It’s catchy to me, but I can definitely understand thinking it’s too much, or that you don’t like techno with Berryz voices, or whatever, or that you’re just completely tired of this song. Special Generation was my first Berryz love, so this song too will hold a spot in my music-loving heart. I’ve heard people complain about Maasa in this song since she “sounds too mature”. Maybe because her vocals are the only ones that got added in, so she’s the only one with her “current” voice in it? I think this might be why she’s only got one non-group song on the album. She still got to record two?

And, as an additional review: the above-mentioned Dschinghis Khan TaruTaru remix!

I really wasn’t expecting this to work. But, it’s damn catchy. Are Berryz going to catch on in Europe now? Maybe that’s Tsunku’s plan… MoMusu will take over Asia and Berryz will take over Europe? Just don’t send C-ute as the American ambassadors or I’ll have to move to Germany or something. >_< This is already a very upbeat song, but this makes it even moreso somehow.

Final conclusion on both fronts? I love Berryz even more. Yeah, maybe they’re not as vocally competent as a some other H!P factions, but they have serious energy, and Captain rocks my world with the bit parts they let her have. So, Captain picspam, go!

  
 

I gave my previous reactions on Pepper Keibu based solely on the single covers and the song itself. That was *just* before the PV was released. If you’re one of the very few people who seems not to have seen it, go here and watch.

The PV, to me, is delightful. Sure, it’s “Onna ni Sachi Are” with green instead of yellow and more hand waving (quite literally), but I like Morning Musume that way. I think, looking at it, that I’m not that fond of a lot of the older PVs. What I watch over and over, though? Dance shots. I have more dance shots downloaded than I do regular PVs. So, thinking about it, it isn’t surprising that I find a lot of appeal in this most recent video. Everyone looks hotter than normal, except Takahashi (who still looks attractive, but doesn’t have the THE SEX hair that she did in “Resonant Blue”‘s Another Version) and Reina (who looks the same). I think that Linlin and Aika are relatively unattractive anyway, but they don’t stand out in a bad way to me as much, so they can’t be that bad.

As a note on the dancing in the video, I could tell that it was very similar to the original dance moves since I’ve watched Pink Lady sing this song a lot. It’s very high-energy despite not needing a lot of movement (Parapara, anyone?) Everyone looks pretty decent doing the dance, although Koharu seems to not grasp it as much as the other girls, but does definitely put a lot of effort into it anyway. The results are not noticeably different except in technical execution. Eri, in particular, looks very confident and sexy while dancing this number. She’s really come into her own in the past few years, and it’s no wonder the wota are paying attention. Also to notice about the dance? The relative prominence of Junjun. She may be the almost “big and burly” member of MoMusu in comparison, but who doesn’t love her at least a little bit. She’s got personality to spare (so maybe give some to your fellow Gen8er’s?) and is given more of a “lead” dancing role. As a big Junjun fan, I can appreciate this in the video a lot.

Other points of interest? Takahashi’s crotch. ^_^ That kick she does? Awesome. It answers the questions that her Kanashimi Twilight kicks asked: “What would it be like to catch a glimpse?” The answer: “Sexy.” Not that that was Final Jeopardy! level hard, but you wota understand me, right?

Some people have also discussed the relative lack of Reina. Yeah, she gets the only two solos, but she really doesn’t get many lines. We get good duet after good duet, and Reina doesn’t ruin the song. Her voice, like the rest of her, is kind of wonky and almost sounds like two people singing sometimes. Additionally, she does not wink at all, though she can’t seem to decide on a facial expression while she’s singing.

Now to jump back to the beginning of the PV, the old movie feel? It works. This is a cover of a song that most people who listen to it (at least in Japan) will realize that it is several decades old. I think this, overall, is a faithful execution of both song and video for what it is supposed to be: a cover of a J-pop classic. Where Morning Musume will go after this remains to be seen, but I don’t think this will hurt them in the slightest, or “put off the inevitable” as all the nay-sayers are claiming (meaning the end of MoMusu). The girls still make money. They still outsell the H!P kids. Tsunku’s playing around with them and seeing what can still be done. Note that not all of Madonna’s “looks” and “styles” worked either, but when she found the ones that did, they lasted.

Coming up next, I’ll add in my review of the new Berryz Koubou album, weigh in on “Pepper Keibu”‘s b-side, and possibly react to a new PV or single or something, despending on how soon I can get the post done.