All thoughts and opinions concerning the group and songs within this review are my own, and no one else's. If my review brings up personal issues you have with the group, then seriously... don't read my damn blog. End of story.
Here I come, Robo-Reborn-Colourful-Dance Machine-Musume. Are there any other names we have given them as of late?
I have been meaning to review this album for a while now, but me being me, I decided to wait until I had the damned thing in my possession before I really got down and dirty with it. Admittedly, I've had the album for a while now, however did not review it because I was busy with other things, like life. And work. And being a lazy cow. Yep...
Surprisingly, I decided to do it today, because I told myself I had to and also because I need to write something, and want to talk about this album. So, nattering and chitter chatter aside, let's take a look at The Best! ~Updated Morning Musume~, shall we? LET'S GO!!!
1. LOVE Machine (Updated)
I'm honestly quite surprised that Tsunku has yet to parody this song and re-dub it as DANCE Machine to humour the new era of Morning Musume, because really, that is what this group is right now; a dancing machine, and not just in the way they move their arms like they are mechanical or whatever.
Anyway, parody names aside (and my dreams, of course) this is the first track on the new Best of album, and really, who didn't see this song appearing on the track list? It's pretty much a given, seeing as they use it in almost every concert and live appearance they make. The thing is, this is the updated version, and I think that many of us fans, new and old, have wanted to see this song go through a new makeover of sorts, because it has become old pretty damn fast thanks to the new electro-dance style that Morning Musume are going for nowadays, and also seems like MoMusu are clinging to their past fame, when right now they are heading for a new direction and claiming to leave behind their old image and style, and going for something that is akin to this new, reborn era that is energetic, young and dance heavy. So yeah, a revamp was very much in line for this old-school song that was once popular.
And boy, does this makeover work!
Now, I don't know what everyone else feels about this song and the new electro-dance sound to it, but personally I quite like it... and this is coming from someone who barely gave LOVE Machine's original tune a passing thought. I really did not care for that song, so it came as quite a surprise when I really fell in love with this remixed sound. Admittedly, this is also the most played track of the album for me, and I absolutely love the beginning of it. Sure, it isn't the best track of the entire playlist, and the remix of it isn't my favourite I think, but I like how catchy, up-beat and dance-heavy the song sounds. This revamped tune brings such a youthful and energetic feel to an outdated disco song, and really livens it up. The only thing I find a bit off about the entire thing, other than Haruka's robotic LOVE Machine ending line, is how grating Riho sounds against everyone else. But, I can live with that, because I like the song a lot, and because I am used to Riho's lack of singing ability by now.
2. I WISH (Updated)
The second song on the tracklist is the ever-so iconic I WISH, which I think a good majority of us love. This song was given to the younger generations of the group, meaning that Sayumi wasn't a part of it... which, if you ask me, is a damn shame because I do think that Sayumi would have fit this song perfectly along with everyone else. In fact, I actually wish that the 9/10/11ki were given another song to sing without Sayu, but we'll get to that later...
So this song is sung by the new generation of Morning Musume, and when I first heard it I was pleasantly surprised by how it sounded. I expected it to be more up-beat and auto-tuned, like every other track on this album, but instead it sounds more like a retuned ballad with a few fun effects thrown in there. This is also one of the songs I play a lot, because I am genuinely in love with it. I mean, I love the original I WISH as well, but I think I like this one more because it is an absolute breath of fresh air, not just in how it sounds, but it is also refreshing on this album filled with auto-tune and electronic sound effects. It's a nice change to everything else.
I also quite liked the singers they used to lead the song, those being Riho, Fukumura and Sakura. Now, I will say I like Riho as a lead loosely, because Riho as a lead in an up-beat, slow tempo song like this can be rather... erm, grating. I use that word again, because against voices like Fukumura and Sakura, who both have clear, gentle voices that work with this sound, Riho sounds very raw, nasally and unrefined. In short, she sounds terrible when singing alongside those two, and she comes out the worst as one of the leads if you ask me. Not saying she is the worst singer in Morning Musume, but as a lead she is certainly not up to standards, and I would have honestly preferred to hear Masaki as a lead in this song, or better yet, Haruka or even Sayumi if she was in it. If you ask me, both Haruka and Sayumi would sound amazing leading the song... it fits their style of voice. But that's just me.
Either way, I like this song, even with Riho as a lead with her lack of vocal ability. It sounds pleasant, but I do wish that there was more variety in who lead the song. It gets pretty predictable.
... And the predictability won't stop here, either! Whoop-fucking-ee!!!
3. Ren'ai Revolution 21 (Updated)
Here's another original song I rarely gave the time of day, and even updated, I don't pay much attention to it. However, I do like the revamped sound more than I do the original... but that's because it finally sounds interesting!
It's not that I don't like the original or find it fun, because the song is genuinely catchy and enjoyable, but I have little to no interest in it, and I have always felt that way towards the song. Thankfully, the revamped version has a lot more to offer if you ask me, and it is a lot more enjoyable and just overall very fun to listen to. It's also nice to hear Riho's vocals finally being given the auto-tune treatment. It's a little late to the game to auto-tune her voice, but hey! IT HAPPENED!!! And yes, I am stupidly happy with this development.
Riho's vocals aside (of course I will go back to her later on, because her vocals are so heavily used in this entire damn album) I find the revamp of this outdated song really fun and refreshing. It is so up-beat, energetic and happy, and I can't deny that when I do listen to, I go all out. I sing along, I start dancing with my arms like an idiot, and I even do head bobs and crazy faces if I feel like it. It's just so catchy and easy to lose yourself in, how can I not act like some idiot who is high on cola when I hear that catchy opening and the ever-increasing, adrenaline-filled chorus of the song!? I mean, I don't listen to this track a lot, but when I do... I revel in it, and I become a mad woman.
Though it isn't all jumping beats and up-beat fuelled wonder, because after the dance-break interval, we are treated with a down tempo break towards the 3:30 mark of the song, where the vocals are slower but still just as energetic, before driving right back into that fast paced, energy-infused instrumental we have known since the beginning of this song. It's energetic, funky and fun, and yes, I like it!
... I actually think I will start listening to this one more now. I like it more than I let on, I believe...
4. The☆Pea~ce! (Updated)
The☆Pea~ce! introduces one of my favourite opening changes to the instrumental, and when I first heard the update, I really could not get my head around which song this was... until we got into it, that was, but even now I am still amazed by the instrumentals opening... it sounds so pretty!
Much like the original, the updated version of this wonderful song (I love the original too. I know, surprising, right?) is very up-beat and fun to listen to. It still has that energy, that youthful feel to the sound, and it really works for this generation of Morning Musume. Where it wouldn't have worked for the Platinum era, it works for the energy and enthusiasm of this new generation with all of their young and refreshing members. It also works beautifully for Mizuki, who surprised me in this; her vocals, thought gentle and sweet at the best of times, brings a refreshing clearness to the song that works in her favour. Also, Sayumi sounds amazing in this, and whilst I am a bit bummed at the fact she was given Rika's iconic speaking line (I wanted Misaki to have it, I'll be honest with you) I did like how she sounded here. She works well with the song, and sounds brilliant.
Now, because this is The☆Pea~ce!, and it is such an energetic and fun song anyway, I did kind of hope for a little more vocal diversity here, rather than the usual Riho-Fukuhime-Sakura-Sayumi lineup we have been given up to now in this album, but sadly we are still going down that route, with the other members given a bone of sorts in one solo. Of course it would have been amazing to hear Zukki and Masaki dominate this song, because they would really suit the loud energy it has, but with the girls we do have leading the song... I am impressed, more so by both Riho and Fukuhime, because I didn't expect either of them to sound brilliant in this, but they truly did work the song to their favour, especially Fukuhime who sounds astounding here. Sakura was, however, rather underwhelming and I barely gave her lines much notice. If anything, she sounded uninterested in the song, and I would have preferred Ayumi, even in her vocal rawness, to have her lines. That, or give them to Masaki. PLEASE!!!!
Other than who sings what (and who I want to sing in this), I like the track itself. It has a beautiful opening to the instrumental, with an even better dance break if you ask me. I like this song a lot, but admittedly, I listen to it very little... and that has to do with the ending, where we trail off into that well-known continuous repetition of the last whoa whoa's and ha ha ha's. Honestly, I never thought that they could make that line any more annoying than it already was, but they did, and I hate it. With a loving passion. Loving, I say, because I like the rest of the song, but that last line... yeah, they managed to somehow screw up an otherwise perfect (or near perfect) remix of an already awesome song.
5. Souda! We're ALIVE! (Updated)
Okay, back when I was praising I WISH, I said that there was one song I would have preferred the 9/10/11ki to sing together without Sayumi. Well... this is that song, and that's because I believe it would have matched the energy that everyone has in the newer generations, and also because I really can't see why Sayumi would be in this song at all. It doesn't seem like a song she would fit as well as the young'ins, you know?
Now, I like the original of this song, the remix less so. But that's mostly because I find the new generation of Morning Musume lack the essential fierceness that Souda! We're ALIVE! needs in order to sound as good as it does. I mean, the opening come on now! was so weak and lacking, and should have been given to either Zukki, Ayumi or even Erina... you know, the girls who can deliver a fierce and believable growl that adds to the effect of how this song sounds.
Also, I hate this remix. It's one of the worst on the entire tracklist, and one of the most lacking in sound and energy. Whilst I do wish only the young'ins were given this song, I also wish that it had a better, more up-beat remix, because it sounds like it has been given a bit of a downsize in how it sounds in order to fit with Sakura, Fukuhime and Riho's vocals. Because of this, the song itself sounds like it lacks energy and personality, a far cry from the original and how wonderful that song sounded. It is utterly disappointing, and honestly pains me to say that I dislike it, because I adore the original of this song so much... but it really does lack the enthusiasm that I think the new generation could have brought to it.
But, that is life, as they say, and we have to live with life and the crap it tries to throw at us... including this song.
6. THE Manpower!!! (Updated)
Okay, hold onto your hats, Chimians... I'm going to praise Riho in this. Shock-damn-horror, I know!!!
So THE Manpower!!! is one of those awesome songs that I, at one point, looped to death, and I still like it when I hear it. It's also a song I attempt to sing, and utterly fail at, so it was going to be interesting to hear how the remix sounded with the new generation, and with Riho as an inevitable, unsurprising lead. To say I was shocked by how well she did in this song is an understatement, believe me.
If you ask me, Riho makes this song. The raw and unrefined sound of her vocals, not to mention that grating sound, works wonders for this song... and no, I am not kidding! There is a rough sound to her voice in general, but for THE Manpower!!! it works because the song was, already, a rather rough sounding song with vocals that were raw, tough and deep in sound. That's why Yossie lead that song, because the tone fit her, and she had a rough and rugged sound to her voice, much like Riho has now. The only thing Riho lacked was an energetic impact to her voice, and power. Either way, though, she sounded amazing here, and was undeniably the highlight of the entire song.
Which leads me to question why Fukumura, and possibly Sakura (I don't know, her vocals change too much) were even given lines in this to lead the song. Whilst Sakura can have a powerful set of pipes on here, both girls sounded rather soft here, and they did not fit with Riho in this song. Their vocals worked wonders in I WISH, where Riho pretty much flopped, but here the two girls are undeniably out of place. Their vocals, crystal clear and refined, do not work with this sound. Sure, they can sing, but their voices just do not work this sound, and they are just so underwhelming when compared to how great Riho sounds here.
Honestly, I would have loved this song to have been lead by the vocally-inept girls, like Ayumi and Erina, who have such rough vocals, and possibly even Zukki, who has such a loud voice. It would have worked wonders, as opposed to the prim and proper vocals of Sakura and Fukuhime.
That all said, I do like the song itself. The update of the song is still as powerful and chant-heavy as the original song is, and it even has an interesting opening to the instrumental! It sounds disjointed and funky, but it works, and whilst it may not be as interesting as other instrumental openings, it works well, and I do like it. But really, my main focus for this entire song was on Riho... seriously, hot damn, she sounds good!
... Yeah, can I stop praising her now? This is killing my street cred, guys.
7. Aruiteru (Updated)
So, it was pretty obvious that there would be at least one solo song on this entire album... I was just highly surprised that it was Sayumi given the solo and not Riho. Seriously, given the stupidly big push she has had since her debut, I'm surprised that Riho has yet to be granted an album solo song.
Oh well, I'm not complaining... just sayin'.
So Sayumi was granted to sing a revamped, heavily auto-tuned Aruiteru, and really, what other song could be more perfect for her? This song suits Sayumi to a T, and with an updated, more electronic sound and so much auto-tune covering her vocals, it sounds pretty good and a lot more poppy than what the original did. In fact, I find this version a lot more interesting... mostly because the original, whilst a good song (I like it, I really do... Mostly for Yossie) was not as interesting as this one was, and because Sayumi fits this song a lot better than the original lineup leading this song did. Just saying!!!!
Honestly, Sayumi sounds so adorable in this song, and I think that even without the auto-tune, she would sound great because the song is in a range that fits her tone of voice, and she really allows the instrumental to work in her favour. It sounds cute, up-beat and fun, and whilst I don't understand why Aruiteru was put in this Best-of album, because I don't think it is one of Morning Musume's best songs in any way (Where is Shouganai Yue Oibito or Nanchatte Ren'ai? Emo songs!!!) I can see why they decided to use it as a solo song for Sayumi, because it is one of the few songs on their A-side discography that works for her vocally and sounds wonderful using auto-tune and reverb.
... And that is really all I have to say about it. So yeah...
YAY, SAYU!!!! -waves flag-
8. Ren'ai Hunter (Updated)
Now, here's a song I really wish that they had not updated, mostly because it was already perfect in my eyes (and for my ears). Ren'ai Hunter is a good song, and the start of the Robo-Musume era, so why take something so wonderful already and butcher it?
Well, luckily enough, it works regardless of the update. Thank goodness the update of this song is only minor. YAY!!!
Now, this is the first of the 'new' era songs that has been updated, and as I said previously, there really isn't much to the update other than added auto-tune and a new opening, and possibly a few effects thrown in there, but really... it's so minor I can barely notice it, other than the new voices taking over Reina and Risa's lines. Sure, I'm a tad pissed that Riho is a major lead in this (I was fine that she was so minor in the original, because that was at the start of her vocal ineptness back in 2012) but I think I am more annoyed by the fact that, once again, Fukumura and Sakura have been given a lead in this... which surprises me a lot, because those two have wonderful vocals, but once again, they don't work for the song. Fukumura especially, because she is so crystal clear and pristine, it just works in the wrong way for such a fierce and up-beat song. Where Riho's vocal weakness does not work in other songs, it works here because the rough sound to her voice suits the song, whilst the sweet tone of Fukumura just sounds off and out of place.
Other than that, I still like the song, but the effects and updates of it are so minor, I really have little to say about it. I just wish they had used a few more raw voices, like Ayumi (especially Ayumi) to sing the song, rather than use Fukumura or Sakura. They don't work this song the way Riho does, as shocking as that may seem (coming from me, at least...), but that's how I feel.
As happy as I am for a Sakura-Fukuhime lead alongside Riho, sometimes, they just do not work. This is one of those times.
9. One Two Three (Updated)
Mentally, I am banging my head against a wall, wondering just why this song is even on the tracklist for this discography. Then again, I hate this song, and tolerate it only because I have forced myself to.
Yes, I still dislike this song with a strong passion. Why so many people hated me for hating this song so strongly is beyond me, because shock horror, I have an opinion and finally found myself hating a song by Morning Musume with a strong passion. Urgh.
Anyway, all of that aside, this isn't the worst track on this album (Souda! We're ALIVE! is) because it still has an up-beat and catchy sound, and whilst the effects are still as astonishing as when I first heard it, it is tolerable at best. I mean, it's fun as a sound I think, and I am glad that they have finally seemed to auto-tune Riho in this, but there really is nothing new about this song other than a few vocal effect additions, and a change of who dominates the song alongside Riho now that Reina has gone.
Basically: I still hate the song, and there is nothing new about it other than a lineup mis-mash of new vocals to stand beside Dayashi. End of story, time to move along.
10. Wakuteka Take a chance (Updated)
Has anyone else noticed how little I have been writing since I started to hit the more current songs on this album? Yeah, I noticed as well. But really, it's because I have already reviewed these before now, and the changes are so minor it isn't even worth mentioning.
I also question just why these songs need 'updating', when they were already heavily edited with sound effects before this album came about, but I guess H!P felt we needed to auto-tune them more to make them sound somewhat better. Hm...
Anyway, that aside, I love this song in both original and updated forms. I mean, from the few updates we do get, I do like them. They work with the song, and sound good if you ask me. I like that some of the solo lines have been given a bit more of an electronic, amped feel to them, but other than that... I hear no other additions to the song. I mean, really... what more can they do? Wakuteka Take a chance was already electrified to begin with, it already had effects and auto-tune, and it was already new, so what else was there to add? Nothing, really.
I still love the song, and I like the updated version (or lack of), but really... what is the point in having these songs on here to update? Other than to familiarise the new generation of fans with the group, that is.
There is no point.
11. Help me!! (Updated)
... Do I even need to talk about these songs now? I've already established that these updates aren't really 'updates', just vocally enhanced songs with an extra layer of auto-tune thrown in there. Heck, we don't even have much of a change from the lineup in these songs! Its all Riho-Fukuhime-Sayu-Sakura with a bit of Ayumi and Masaki on the side sometimes. That's pretty much it.
... Also, once again, this isn't really an update. Just Auto-tune on auto-tune. And maybe some jagged, jumpy lines that are repeated over each other for effect. But that's it.
... Wow, these reviews get shorter every single time. Then again, I've already reviewed the current sounds. I don't need to do it all over again.
12. Brainstorming (Updated)
Other than vocal differences... I really do not hear anything 'Updated' about this song. In fact, why is it even on here? We could have had Naichau Kamo or Resonant Blue on here instead! Urgh...
I love the song and all, but really, there is nothing updated this compared to the other songs.
... I wonder if the next song will receive an even shorter review? Who bloody knows?
13. Kimi Sae Ireba Nai mo Iranai (Updated)
Surprisingly enough, Brainstorming/Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai is the only Double A-side to have both songs featured on this entire album, which is surprising. I like both songs a lot (I know not many were fans of Kimi Sae, but I love it) but I do wonder why The Matenrou Show was not featured on here, either (I would go on to say I would want Matenrou over the horror of One Two Three, but we all know I hate that piece of trash and am biased). Then again, this was the first Double A-side of 2013, so of course they would feature it.
Anyway, that all said and done, I hear no 'updated' difference other than the possibility of Masakins and Ayumi taking over Reina's lines. Wow, what an update. Not.
14. Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke
Surprisingly enough, this isn't an update... mostly because this single came out a month before the album did, which also brings up a few questions, but yes. This is one of two tracks which has not been 'updated' in any way possible. Thank God, I say, because it doesn't need updating as it is so shiny and new, and also because it is fine as is.
Now, that all said, onto what I am questioning (not that it matters, but I like to whine).
So, this single came out a month before the Best of album did, which honestly has raised the question of why, oh why, is it even on the album? Maybe it's just added as a 'new song' to add that new Morning Musume flavour to the album, to hopefully aid the single (or even album) in selling... or maybe it's because UFP were damn hopeful it would sell well as a single, so they slapped it onto the new Best of track listing. All of the above, or it is there for a filler. Who knows? Either way, I find it rather pretentious of UFP/H!P to add such a new song to the album track listing when the single itself was barely a month old by the release of The Best ~Updated Morning Musume~ but whatever... they do what they wanna do.
... Yeah, I'm done.
15. Wolf Boy
The first, and only, original track on the entire album, Wolf Boy is a new addition to Morning Musume's ever-growing discography track listing, and takes on that heavily auto-tuned sound we have all come to expect of the group. Plenty have fallen in love with this new song that we have been treated to, because it is a cool sound that shows off that sassy, mature side to Morning Musume we rarely see thanks to their innocent and childish faces, and those raw, prepubescent vocals that some of them have.
Ad, to be quite frank with you all, I am rather indifferent to the song.
It's neither good nor bad for me. It's a middle ground song, if anything, not too impressive but it isn't dull either, however it doesn't entertain me in the slightest and I'm honestly only listening to it for the sake of this review. I mean, I actually find it pretty boring... the effects are far too heavy, and the instrumental drowns the girls out and the whole sound of it sounds like it has been amped up far too much so that we are given that fuzzy, annoying sound you get when you turn the volume up too high. Whilst some do enjoy it, I find that I don't. In a way, it's a song that doesn't just bore me, but a song that also annoys me.
Again, I don't think that it's a bad song, but I will not go out of my way to listen to it for fun. It does not have that effect on me at all, and I think it is truly a sound that, whilst cool and to the standards of current MoMusu, does not suit this stage of Morning Musume. The girls are too young to sing it, I think, or their voices are not at the stage where they can sing it. If anything, the only one who could possibly sing this is Kanon, because she has that energy and loudness to her voice that would work with the loud instrumental given for Wolf Boy. However, that won't happen, because UFP are adamant on using weaker vocalists like Riho and Ayumi. Oh well.
At the end of the day, people enjoy the song, and that's great that they do. I just don't like it, but that's my problem.
I did enjoy the album, but there were songs that I didn't care for, with a few disappointments along the way. The biggest disappointment for me was, of course, Souda! We're ALIVE!, because it is truly a fantastic song and cold have been done so much better, but was instead given a weaker sound whilst still trying to portray a fun and energetic tune. It did not work, and lacked on so many levels for me. It truly is saddening.
I also found that, within this album, there were a few songs that really did not need to be updated, and that was of course, all of the new songs featured. I understand why some of the songs were included in here, such as One Two Three which brought about a new image for Morning Musume and helped them to sell more, and the other few songs which were recognised as No. 1's, but really now, was there any need for updating them? There really was no difference in their sound other than some added effects and a change in vocals (squeaky Reina is no more, whoopee!) and they were already brand new, with all but Ren'ai Hunter and One Two Three being less than a year old, so why even add them into the Best of album? Of course it is all a marketing ploy, to get the new fans to buy it in order to listen to songs they already know, whilst also listening to older songs that have been remastered and reconstructed to fit the new sound and image of Morning Musume, but other than that purpose... there really is no reason for MoMusu to feature such new songs on a Best of, not when they are still fresh in peoples' minds. That's kind of like AKB48 creating a Best of every year, featuring that years singles. It does not compute, and really... they only need to be on a regular album, not a Best of.
... Okay, so that all said and done...
The rest of the album songs, other than Souda! We're ALIVE! and Wolf Boy, however, were pretty great! I was surprised by how well Riho did on certain songs compared to two of the stronger singers in Morning Musume, but it was nice to finally hear a few sounds that worked well with her and that she could easily adapt to her voice, allowing for her to sound strong and impressive. I think my favourite song to feature Riho was definitely The MANPOWER!!! because it truly did showcase one of her few strengths in singing. She really did stand out for me, and usually I have very little to say about Riho's voice in terms of how impressive it can be, but she really did stand out in a few songs and make herself known and heard. It was great!
Of course, I do have to elaborate on how unimpressive I found both Mizuki and Sakura in this. Sadly, I can't speak much about anyone else because there were few featured heavily as lead vocalists aside from the Big Three, but of the Big Three, it was Mizuki and Sakura who failed to impress me here. Sure, they sounded good in songs like I WISH and The☆Pea~ce, but in songs where attitude, sass and a fierce growl were needed, they really did not live up to the standards that are pretty much expected of them. They sound nice, sure, but they did not have what Riho undeniably has, and that was the attitude to pull off fierce songs that need someone with a raw and unrefined quality to their vocals. I really did just wish that they weren't leading those songs, because they were rather disappointing.
That all said and done, I quite like the album. It only has a few misses for me, but most of the songs are hits, and I listen to them quite a bit. Some more than others, but I do listen to them. For a Best of cover album of their own songs, I think that the new generation of Morning Musume have done pretty well. I just wish that, in terms of vocals, there had been a lot more diversity. The same old same old became pretty boring far too quickly.
However, as a final note, I do want to say that this is, in my opinion, not a Best of Album. It is more like a mini Best of, because it only features a handful of songs that can be classed as 'Best of's'. The handful of songs that are older and have been remixed and remastered are the true Best of's in the entire track list, with the newer songs only thrown in there as if this was a regular album. I like the album and all, don't get me wrong, but I do not think it should have been called a 'Best of' when 7 of the 15 songs featured are new and less or just over a year old, and one song being new. There are only 7 songs from Morning Musume's 16 year history featured hear that have been redone, and they could have done more, but they didn't. So in a way, I am disappointed, because this Best of lacks some of MoMusu's best.
So, what are your thoughts on Morning Musume's The Best ~Updated Morning Musume~? Did you enjoy it, or did you really not care for the songs? Also, which song is your favourite? Be sure to let me know!
Until next time, though!