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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Song of the Week! 11 August 2013

Well, even in the middle of our blog's anniversary celebrations, it looks like the weekly corner isn't immune to delays. I hope that a double feature is good enough as an apology!

 Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo -Z ver.- (行くぜっ!怪盗少女 -Z ver.-) Momoiro Clover Z
Allx3 (175)x4 (221)x3 (344)x6 (496)
All (2P)x3 (175)x4 (221)x3 (345/345)x6 (496)
 Taiko 0.5, Taiko Wii 5

Among the Taiko promo campaigns of this year, one of the latest ones involves the popular Momoiro Clover Z (ももいろクローバーZ), another Japanese idol group which will gift an exclusive song to the Taiko franchise, like what happened in the Taiko x AKB48 campaign. Sounds enough for me to justify a little look inside the band's recent history in this feature!

Momoiro Clover started as an experimental girl group in the spring of 2008 under the Stardust Promotion talent agency; the band's name was chosen to reflect an idea of a group of innocent girls who want to bring happiness to people. Since their members were at school on weekdays, their early performances at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park was only on weekends with very few spectators, giving the birth of the band's nickname of 'Weekend Heroines' (週末ヒロイン). Their songs' signature style was their feature presentation as "hyperactive J-Pop Numbers", as their performances merge together different music styles and really intense choreographic scenes, featuring acrobatic stunts of any kind.

Between 2008 and 2009, several members joined and left Momoiro Clover before the formation of a stable member list; on July 26th, 2009, during their first live tour from Hokkaido to Furuoka, the band is formed with all their main members: the leader Kanako Momota (百田夏菜子), the former leader Reni Takagi (高城れに), Shiori 'Shiorin' Tamai (玉井 詩織), Ayaka 'Arin' Sasaki (佐々木彩夏), Akari 'Akarin' Hayami (早見あかり) and Momoka Ariyasu (有安杏果), who joined the band for last right in the middle of the 2009 tour! Akari Hayami left Momoiro Clover in 2011 after a "graduation concert" on April, to pursue a new career as an actress, after which the five remaining members rebranded themselves as Momoiro Clover Z, as the letter Z in Japan is a symbol of evolution.

Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo (lit. 'Ikuze! Thief Girl') was Momoiro Clover's first single published under a major label: Universal J, Universal Records's Japanese subsidiary. The single was released on Children's Day (May 5th) in 2010, in seven different versions: a Regular Edition, which was re-released in 2012 as "Special Edition" with the addition of the song's original music video, and six different Limited Editions, each of them featuring one of the six Momoiro Clover girls on the cover. The single peaked Oricon charts fast, reaching 1st, 3rd and 20th places respectively for the Daily, Weekly and Monthly charts. Of course, the "Z ver." of Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo is a different version made after Akari left the band.

The single was written, composed and arranged by Kenichi Maeyamada (前山田健一), a Japanese musician whose works are mainly anime theme songs and J-Pop. His career started right after graduation as an apprentice of Japanese lyrics sensation Gorō Matsui (松井五郎). His first works are now milestones in Nicovideo's history, as he rearranged and lyricized several popular videogame songs under the pseudonym of Hyadain (you might have heard this name at least once before), ranging from Megaman 2 songs to Final Fantasy and Super Mario tunes. Nowadays, Maeyamada is signed to SUPALOVE, a Japanese record label.

One of AC Katsu-Don's new licenses from launch, Ikuze! Kaitōu Shoujo is a medium speed song. Beginner Oni players will soon find out why this is 6* despite the simplistic patterns; this is a really long song, at around 2 and a half minutes (some new harder songs of this length are in the Vocaloid genre), it becomes a test of basic stamina and concentration for newbies to Oni.

 Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi Tachi Yo (サラバ、愛しき悲しみたちよ) Momoiro Clover Z
Allx4 (153)x4 (209)x4 (333)x7 (510)
 Taiko 0 S, Taiko 3DS

After talking about Momoiro Clover's very first song under a major label, the next one featured in Taiko games is their most recent one! Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi Tachi Yo (lit. 'Farewell, My Dear Sorrows') came out on November 21st, 2012 as their ninth single. Much like other songs from the group, this one has been used for a Japanese TV series called Akumu-chan (悪夢ちゃん). In this sci-fi drama, the world is going to face a terrible fate and only a beautiful school teacher named Ayami can save it from disaster. A young girl named Yuiko foresees bad events in her dreams (nightmares, hence the name of the series), and has to convince her teacher Ayami to help her, despite the fact the "savior of the world" doesn't have any feelings for anyone nor believes in love or lust.

The single came out in both Regular and Special editions as well, with the latter featuring the aforementioned song's musical video and two tracks less from the Regular one (the ad-made song Wee-Tee-Wee-Tee made for JP Furbies commercials). This song's impact was higher than the previous ones on debut, reaching 1st place on Billbord Japan's Hot 100 chart, for the first time in Momoiro Clover's history. Its music video also won the TV Video Music Award Japan in 2013 for Best Choreography category.

Being shorter than Ikuze! Kaito Shojo, the song Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi Tachi Yo features an Oni mode with more notes and clusters, for an harder challenge than their previous song, though there aren't any unusual gimmicks, the usual skills learned on Oni would suffice for a good score on this song.

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