One of Akihabara’s up-and-coming idol groups has a new single releasing this week on May 29th, and they’re a pretty unique bunch of characters among the vast sea of idol groups we’re currently graced with in this industry. Here’s a little analysis of the upcoming release to give you an idea of what to expect from it and to see if they might fit your interests.
While Dempagumi.inc have technically been around for a while now (starting in 2008,) their music has recently taken a shift to a much more hyper-active, complex, and unique style with some higher production values, using compositions and arrangements that make them a force of their own, and one worth exploring to anyone who favors a little more musical complexity to their idol music.
Dempagumi.inc has most recently made this shift to become the love-child of BiS and Momoiro Clover Z’s sound, with “DenDen Passion” taking on a heavy rock/metal arrangement with a good amount of synths, while also having the sporadic, hyper nature of some of MomoClo’s more energetic and happy songs.
First, check out the PV, HD quality is recommended, as always:
The video starts out with a few images of colorful space satellites and other oddly-styled space references (a space golf ball?) with the Dempagumi.inc logo and imagery all over them. Very fitting of the beginning of the song, with it’s distant-sounding echo filter.
Soon, the song breaks into its heavy rock arrangement, and the girls are shown. These early shots establish some of the more frequent themes of the video, like the very quick flashes of cartoon images and of the lyrics coming across the screen. This also establishes the girls’ choreography, which frequently uses baton streamers with all different colors, making for an extremely busy, interesting color palette and visual style for the dance shots. These streamers are really useful for giving the viewer a little more to look at and allows you to visually follow some of the choreography, since a lot of the dance moves are clearly highlighted with large trails of color.
The verse sections of the PV largely contain cute solo shots of the girls, since the verses are all solo lines. The colors and backgrounds vary for each girl, giving them all a little bit of a different personality while they’re on screen, and giving your eyes a little bit more of a feast while driving home the character each girl portrays. The pre-chorus section merely mixes together everything we’ve seen so far, until we get to the chorus.
When the chorus hits, the video gets accordingly more hyper, with lots of crazy group shots, choreography, and image flashes to accommodate the climax of the song structure.
The chorus also showcases more gorgeous streamer moves that light up the screen with color and fun. Keep an eye out for all this crazy color composition during the chorus.
Once the first chorus finally dies down and we return to the verse and pre-chorus again, we get to one of the coolest parts of the video . Here, the girls all get solo shots that feature a giant polygon head to dance around, and the heads are all decorated to fit the girl who is dancing in front of it. This is a very cool visual element and I’m glad they went out of the way to make a different head for all six girls in the group. Here are all the girls with their giant head counterparts:
After the second verse and next chorus, we get to the bridge, which introduces a few new sets and styles:
First is a time-lapsed shot of the girls at a table, with staff members occasionally showing up randomly throughout.
Once the talking/rapping part kicks in, we’re shown a neon and black set that’s reminiscent of the movie “Tron,” which makes for a pretty cool visual style for this “badass” part of the song.
Right after the bridge, the song comes to a fake ending and sits in silence for a few moments. For this, they have the girls all laying down, after it shows them being shocked by electricity. Shortly after, they wake up one by one and continue singing the pre-chorus section of the song as they wake up, in preparation for the final big chorus.
The final chorus is a lot like the other choruses, but with a lot more confetti and craziness.
The final shot shows the girls creating a rainbow of color from the color of their baton streamers, with a striking paint splash effect.
Overall, the PV is very fitting of the song and of their crazy, unique style, but is sometimes a little too fast and crazy for your eyes to keep up with, and will require multiple viewings to catch everything that’s going on because of the busy style and quick editing. The production quality and cinematographic qualities of the video are pretty impressive, especially for idols, and including multiple sets and costumes for the video definitely helps to keep the viewer interested and make an impression. I wish more idol groups would put this much imagination and style into their PVs.
PV: 4.5 out of 5
The song starts out with a trance style, synth heavy intro with a distant echo effect, but after 10 seconds, the song bursts into a loud, high-BPM, heavy metal arrangement with heavily distorted guitars and very loud bass guitar, but continues with the synths, giving a little touch of a visual kei or Japanese metal style. This sound also only lasts for another 10 seconds though, before reaching the verse, where the girls get to start showing off their unique voices and style.
As a preface for those new to Dempa, the vocal style they use is a little odd at first, and took a little bit of getting used to, since a few of them use very high-pitched, cutesy voices, almost like an anime seiyuu (surely part of the image they’re going for, being so centered around Akiba culture.) However, their voices can mostly actually handle the range they’re tasked to sing in, and they’re assigned to sing lines they sound decent with, so even though they sound unnaturally high and chipmunk-ish at times, it doesn’t get grating or sound strained.
The song and vocals have high production quality overall, and there may be a little bit of pitch-shifting in a few of the group parts, but the vocals are so layered throughout the whole piece that it doesn’t detract from the song or make it sound too odd. Not to mention, the vocal patterns written here are some of the most complex I’ve heard lately from pop music.
The verses continue with a simple guitar, bass, and drums arrangement backing up the girls while they fill in the space of the 4-chord progression behind them with adorable little solo lines until the pre-chorus kicks in.
The song breaks for a split second before the pre-chorus, only leaving a solo girl’s vocals to fill the gap, and then it bursts back into a heavy, jumpy rhythm with synths and a little more complex composition than the song has displayed so far. This makes for a very effective bridge between the verse and chorus, giving an ample amount of build-up to the huge climax at the chorus.
The chorus is where the song really shines, having a really hyper-active composition, a very full arrangement, and tons of vocal layering that just make it an adrenaline rush from start to finish, given the high tempo it all happens at. The chorus itself has about 30 main rhythm chord changes in the progression within the 18 measures that the chorus consists of, not including the scales and fills that the bass does to fill in between a few of the chords. The vocal pattern during this section has a few of the girls singing the lead melody part, with a few others filling in the little gaps between measures, leaving almost no time during the whole chorus where there aren’t vocals adding to the melody. This chorus is non-stop energy and sugar-laced happiness in sonic form.
After another round of the verse/pre-chorus/chorus structure, the song comes to a breakdown/bridge part which starts with a short instrumental break featuring the guitars, drums and synth, before breaking into a long speaking/rapping part with lo-fi vocals. The progression behind this breakdown is unique in the song so far, not just a repeat of an earlier progression of the song, and the rhythm behind the heavy synths is reminiscent of some classical compositions, which you’ll probably hear if you’re familiar with stuff like Pachabel’s Canon (though its not exactly the same progression.) It gives the song a cool new flavor that’s a little different from what we’ve heard so far. This section ends with a short, fast, descending scale guitar solo before completely dying out to silence for a false ending.
A few seconds after the silence hits, the song jumps right back at the start of the pre-chorus with a single girl’s vocals leading with “shonen to itsumo” and leading into the chorus one final time. After the chorus, we go right back to the opening of the rock arrangement for an ending that feels like a landing, after soaring through the sky on this crazy ride of a song.
This is the kind of unique, entertaining, well-produced music I love to see come out of the idol industry, where it pushes genre and musical boundaries a little further than what we expect from idols. I hope Dempagumi.inc continues to work with this kind of ingenuity and vivacity in their future singles, and hope they’ll become a more influential player in the idol industry pretty soon.
Song: 5 out of 5
If you like what you hear and would like to give them a little support, head over to the music source of your choice and buy the single when it releases this week (including iTunes Japan) and if you live in Europe or the US, you can go see them at JapanExpo convention in France this July or in Santa Clara, California this August!