The videos for Morning Musume’s 54th single Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke/Ai no Gundan were recently unleashed upon the world via the Hello! Station YouTube program. Of course this has the hungry Hello! Project faithful so excited they are soiling their undergarments. Me? Well not so much. My undergarments are dry.

I really have nothing to get excited about as I have made my thoughts on the current overhaul of Morning Musume very clear as the 10th and 11th generations have been inserted and the old ladies graduated to lord knows where.

But in an effort to be fair I have decided to give the post Tanaka Reina group a shot. I have done this mainly because the group without her opens the door for perhaps a wider line distribution than in years past.

And since I still hope that Sakura Oda gets shoved to the front because of that fact I will endure what I can for the sake of hoping that the cream has risen to the top.

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Let’s start of with Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke. First, the title is extremely long and it can be a tongue twister for those who are not accustomed to speaking Japanese.

Second and probably most disappointingly, the sound of this song is another in a long line of lazy production recycling. Those who don’t actually pay attention (or choose to turn a deaf ear) to the music side of Morning Musume probably haven’t noticed the fact that they have turned into the AC/DC of idol groups.

If you don’t understand that reference, it has to do with a jab at AC/DC making 12 albums that sound exactly the same. In other words, if something is working, why try to change it right?

So with this theory in mind you basically have the same set of sound banks used in the past 5 singles arranged in a slightly different manner. It makes you wonder how quickly Tsunku and his studio cronies whip this stuff out if it’s gotten to the point where one can start calling where that synth or bass line came from.

Anyway, Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke musically has some redeeming qualities. It’s an aggressive in your face dance song complete with spots for fans to chant along to while listening. The use of crunchy electric guitars and stutter vocal effects does compliment the now too often re-used dubstep portions of the song.

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The video? Well it looks like dress rehearsal footage in an empty arena combined with close-up shots. It’s not exactly the most exciting thing to watch mind you, but at least the outfits are not the normal ridiculous H!P poof or the embarrassing chicken suits.

I don’t exactly dig the striped dresses and prefer the slicker pant/jacket combo. Either outfit still makes Suzuki Kanon look like the big girl of the group unfortunately.

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Choreography wise, it appears the group is getting more complex line formations with more members to play around with. There are some clever segments throughout including the puppeteer thing with Fukumura and Oda during the pre-chorus early in the song. The parts where members pretend to bitch slap each other were also something not normally seen in a Morning Musume dance routine.

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A dance shot of this is probably needed to truly appreciate what’s going on.

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Other than that, I guess it’s nice to see that Sakura Oda has a decent hairstyle after the catastrophe that was her hair upon her debut in the group.

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Moving on, we have Ai no Gundan which is a combination of Renai Hunter’s rejected beats and the horns from Juice=Juice’s first single. While not as obvious a reclamation project as Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke, it still is one. Somehow with the horns this sounds like an 80’s song my cousins used to play back in the day. I just wish I could figure out what the name of it was.

Regardless, Ai no Gundan adds a bit of auto-tune to the affair to cover up the vocal flaws of certain members. While not as intense as Wagamama I feel it is the better of the two songs released so far from however many silly versions this is going to be coming in.

At least there is a little advancement away from the tiring Electro Musume for most of the song. A step forward maybe?

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The dance shot of this was released earlier this month and showed off some impressive work for this young group. Too bad this full version ruins that with the again, standard close-ups, alternate outfits and random doing nothing.

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But if you pay attention to the choreography there are some brilliant moments. As my friends at basugasubakuhatsu mentioned on their live show, the members who are singing raise their hands in this video. As if to state, “Hey bitches! It’s my turn to sing!”

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There are also some cool line formations that are interrupted rather rudely again by the close-ups and such. Really, watch the dance version of this instead of the regular one as it is the better of what has been released so far.

Clothing wise the military outfits are probably some of the best stage clothes I’ve seen for a current Musme song.

Rolento

Do any of you gamers out there know the character Rolento from the Street Fighter series? That’s what these outfits reminded me of.

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Michishige Sayumi in particular looks pretty damn hot. That of course is extreme oshi bias talking. Also, Suzuki Kanon looks normal sized somewhat. I’m not sorry to point that out. H!P clothing designers need to figure out how fit clothing for a girl who ain’t a stick so if Kanon needs to be the example of what they’re doing wrong, so be it.

I’m sure some of you have noticed that recent H!P videos have English subtitles now. Of course these are dodgy as fuck and sometimes it seems that the translators just pull stuff out of their ass. Then again, it is Tsunku writing these songs, so what is on the screen could be his inner pre-teen girl expressing itself for real.

I choose to ignore the subs altogether.

Overall, these videos and their associated songs aren’t exactly mind blowing and I sure as hell am not going to drop the typical “a” bomb that idol fans (especially H!P fans) love to use with reckless abandon.

Instead I will say that these were okay. Neither will really change my mind until the constant recycling project ends and a fresher Electro (or other past relevant) sound is found. Nor will these restore my faith in Morning Musume as a consistently competitive idol group in today’s current landscape.

At the very least some of the suck is being turned down. Perhaps that is enough to be with content with.

The expected release date of this single is August 28, 2013