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Friday, March 16, 2007

Reviews (8) Tougenkyo/Lights, Camera. Action!

About a month ago I wrote a fairly long winded post that I just couldn't bring myself to press the post button on. At the time (I wrote it just after LOOK), I was struggling through a phase that felt somewhat akin to that drowning man clutching at a straw- the blog was full of phrases like "well, this single doesn't have much to offer, but hey at least the b-side is good!" and "let's wait for the third album, I'm sure that will redeem a lot of these recent mis-steps!"

I ended the piece with "I'll just be happy with a new Halcali single that I don't have to make an effort to like".

It was probably just a bit too emotional for a blog that tries to stay somewhere on the information/analysis end of things, which is why I didn't post it in the end. I think that last line summed it up nicely though, and brings us onto this new single.

Yesterday, I played this new song Tougenkyo to a friend, one who was particularly non-plussed about LOOK. I had originally planned on asking her what she thought, but from her smile I guessed she liked it. I asked her anyway.

"I like it a lot", she said, "it's fun".

"You know what", I thought, "it is".

There you go. It's what both we and Halcali need badly right now. It seems almost too simple to bother putting down in words, but for it's faults (more on which in a second) Tougenkyo is a fun song that arguably fits more seamlessly into Halcali's back catalogue than the dreary anime ties ins that have been Halcali's stock and trade over the past year. That was part of the original draw for me- the songs were exciting, interesting, intensely cool, and unconventional by modern chart pop standards yes, but above all that was their ability to just put a smile on my face.

Tougenkyo is not typical Halcali in the sense that it incorperates a live band, and an untraditionally big guitar riff into the mix. But even the guitar riffs have an easy, looping simplicity in their melodies that probably wouldn't have sounded too out of place on Ongaku No Susume. Then there's that great moment where the song suddenly slows down, spinning 180 degrees on a dime, then just as quickly changes again, pulling a rap (appropriately full of more traditional Halcali style studio manipulation) out of nowhere. It's one of those great 'stop what you're doing and pay attention' moments that for me personally were missing from Tip Taps Tip and LOOK.

Naturally, it's no masterpiece. Although the basic guitar riff component of the song has grown on me a lot over the past few days, I still can't help but feel like producers Honesty just ripped it straight off Rock Riffs Volume One- it still sounds a little stock to me. And I still have this nagging feeling like I've actually heard it before somewhere, but that also just compounds my thoughts that it just sounds fairly generic.

I'll always take this over the last two singles though, and I'd happily include it alongside Twinkle Star and a few of Nakamura's choicer b-side cuts if I were ever to make a post-For Life Halcali compilation for somebody. At the very least, it's the first Halcali main event in a long time that you could conceivably dance to.

So the single claims to be a double-a side. The only thing that's really keeping Lights, Camera. Action! (that's comma> full stop> exclamation mark by the way) in that category for me is that fact that an edited version of it was featured on Getsumen (which is also the version featured here- so I'm not sure what the 'rap version' mentioned on the official site alluded to). Apart from that, what's keeping it alongside Tougenkyo apart from the label on the front cover? No PV means no airplay.

As it is, it's a decent song in it's own way, sitting somewhere in the same average ballpark as TTT and LOOK. I defiantly like it, although for a Cubismo Grafico song it's weak- he's a talented guy capable of much better. Every time I listen to it I can't help but feel that the first verse has a build up that suggests a chorus that should be much better and catchier than it actually ends up being.

On the Halcali Anime Song Chart I'd defiantly have
it at number one anyway. Something like this perhaps:

#1 Lights, Camera. Action! #2 Tip Taps Tip #3 LOOK

Is there anyone out there who prefers L,C.A! to Tougenkyo?


Anonymous Novaforever said...

L,C.A! is okay I guess. It never really grew on me at all. As far as the anime songs go, I actually like TTT the best, don't know why.

But, like most, Tougenkyo is the reason why I bought the new single. That song grew on me like nobody's business! My roommate actually hates Halcali (to the point where she leaves the room when I play them) but when the Tougenkyo PV first came out I played it while she was around. She turned to me and said, "Do you think Halcali changed with this song? Cause it's the only song by them that I actually like."

It's a shame that the single isn't doing well on the charts, cause I totally think it's a new type of Halcali that could bring in new fans. Too bad they didn't get any sort of promotion for it.

5:15 PM

Anonymous Patrick said...

I think I figured out the "rap version" mystery.

Notice that it's only available as chaku-uta (and not chaku-uta full, which means the whole song), meaning it's only a short part of the song to use when your phone rings. So the rap version is probably simply a rap part from the full song that we know, while the Mi-na version is a singing part.

1:40 AM

Blogger jariten said...

novaforever> It's great that your roomate likes it, but i'm not sure its indicative of a new direction as much as them wanting to try something new.
As for the record sales, I do fear for the future of Halcali if this trend of barely breaking the top 100 continues.

Patrick> I'm sure thats it! Although i'm not sure the rap part would make for a particulary good ringtone...
Did you buy the single in the end?

9:00 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Haven't yet reconsidered it since I haven't been to a CD shop since the other day, but I should soon!

And now some exciting news, check this on FPM's blog today! There's definitely more FPMĂ—Halcali on the way!! Nice photos too!

1:03 AM


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