Recently Morning Musume ’14 unveiled their 56th single “Beyond Time and Space”/”Password is 0” (時空を超え 宇宙を超え／Password is 0) worldwide through Hello! Project Station and their official channel on Youtube. The double A-side single comes in 6 different physical album versions (4 Regular and 2 Limited) and will be available for physical purchase and digital download on April 16, 2014.
Limited editions A, B, and C come with the 2 A-side songs and their instrumentals for a total of 4 tracks. The Regular editions and Limited Edition D come with the same 4 songs and bonus track “Password is 0- Morimusu Version” from the collaborative spring campaign between Morning Musume and Morisanchu for the mobile phone provider au. Among the various covers for this single, my favorite are the Regular B and Limited C pictured below.
I was pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the songs and the styling for the 56th single. “Beyond Time and Space” is by far the most refreshing song from MM ’14 so far while “Password is 0” is a rather predictable electro-pop number, but adds to the ever-growing list of the group’s catchy dance tunes.
“Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe” or “Beyond Time and Space” describes a love that outlasts lifetimes. It’s a major departure from the electro-pop sound Musume has been using continuously since the release of the 49th single “Ren’ai Hunter” in 2012. There are still a few electronic noises incorporated here and there, but other than that, this is not a song one would expect of Morning Musume ’14 given the trend.
While I’ve liked most of the dance-based songs, “Beyond Time and Space” makes for a refreshing change. The simple piano and violin synths paired with the mostly un-autotuned vocals provide that natural quality “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa” hinted at, but didn’t quite achieve. Similar to the 55th single, Musume and their management opted to have the girls trade in most of their solo lines for unison lines that help to boost the vocal quality of the song. This combined with the softer tone of the instrumental gives us a sound we haven’t had in an A-side song since “Seishun Collection” and I like it.
The music video opens with the girls miming playing the piano and violin which takes me back to the days of “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan.” There’s not much to say in the way of choreography for this song. There are elements of ballet here and there and while some viewers complained that the choreography is lackluster, I disagree. It’s simply toned down compared to the crazy formation dances we’re used to getting, but “Beyond Time and Space” is a slower tempo song. It would just look silly trying to make a high-energy dance for a melody like this. Though Morning Musume ’14 primarily pride themselves on their dance formations, I don’t mind that they focused more on the vocals this time around while keeping the choreography simple.
I absolutely love the outfits and styling for this music video. Sometimes the Hello! Project stylists pick some ridiculously ugly or unflattering clothes and hairstyles, but this is one of the time’s they got it right for the whole group. The makeup is kept very simple with pink lipgloss and minimal eyeliner and mascara. Given that the youngest members are still 14, I think a natural, modest look is the right way to go. The dresses are made from a sparkly indigo material. There are 5 different styles for the dress with all but one of the girls having a matching pair.
Other pairs include Sayashi Riho & Sato Masaki (main vocals of the 9th and 10th generations respectively)…
The only member with a unique dress is Kanon Suzuki whose top is the same as the leader and sub-leaders’ while the skirt matches Erina and Ayumi’s. I’m not sure why the stylist singled Kanon out that way, but oh well. At least it looks pretty. I think the waistline of this dress actually flatters Kanon’s fuller figure, at least more so than some of the stuff these stylists have thrown on the poor girl before.
For a full breakdown of the accessories and how to build a similar look to Musume’s “Beyond Time and Space,” you can check out my latest “Everday Jpop” post here on the blog.
As to the lyrics, “Beyond Time and Space” makes a nice change from the “follow your dreams” standard Musume usually sticks to. I feel that the lyrics can relate to anyone suffering from separation with a loved one whether that’s due to distance or death. Due to producer Tsunku’s recent diagnosis with throat cancer, I feel the lyrics have a particularly personal meaning to the members of Musume that allowed them to channel genuine emotion into this song that they sometimes lack due to their young age.
The second song off this single is “Password is 0.”
This song is fun and catchy, but pretty much in the same electro-pop/dance track vein as past singles. It’s especially similar to “No One Can Replace You” off the 55th single in that it has an ultra-repetitive phrase (I wonder which is said more: “Password is zero!” or “Nippon! Nippon! Nippon!”). While I wish the title wasn’t referenced quite so often (Ok, I get it! The password is “0.” Not a very secure password, btw), the song is catchy enough that, after a few listens, I learned to just tune out some of the creepy, deep-voiced background grunts of”Password is zero!” and regard the computerized refrain of “zero zero zero” as part of the instrumental.
“Password” also resembles “No one Can Replace You” in that this song also focuses on group lines with the exceptions of short solo/duets given to Maachan, Fuku, Sayumi, and Ayumi while Riho and Sakura get the majority of longer solo lines. That said, I think the lower key of this song suites Riho’s voice and allows Sakura to truly shine as a vocalist. Sakura has the widest vocal range among members right now and does a decent job on high notes, but it’s her powerful low notes that I really love as they remind me of Ai-chan and Gaki.
The girls deliver clean, sharp choreography and no doubt had to practice a lot to synchronize the zero-jump formation dance. As we learned from Morisanchu, those jumps aren’t easy to time. They also form a zero by making a circle. It’s a creative way to reference the song title, but after seeing a similar formation in “Ai no Gundan”, “What is Love?” and several other songs, I’m getting bored of it.
I know it’s hard to find a way for 10 girls to dance together and not have the choreography look sloppy. It’s even harder to give 10 girls room enough to rotate so each singer gets some kind of spotlight during her turn without tripping over a group mate, but seriously, we’re getting almost the same dance break with every single electropop song.
The girls have such clean lines and good energy and that’s great, but can the choreographer please be more creative than just combining the moves from “Ai No Gundan”, “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke”, “Brainstorming” and “No One Can Replace You”?
Speaking of being uncreative, the music video sticks to the standard Hello! Project formula: dance shot on a basic set, close ups with a dark/blurred background, some kind of lighting or digital effect thrown in here or there. But I’m so happy with the outfits and styling that I don’t mind the lackluster elements of the MV too much. All the girls look great in their sparkly pink outfits and black boots. No one has a bad hairstyle. Every single member has a unique outfit with nice, flattering architectural detail. Love those star earrings, too. And, hey, the graphics are still far better than in “Help Me!!”, though not as impressive as the sets and backgrounds from “Beyond Time and Space.”
Ikuta Erina especially caught my eye in this MV. I love the way they clipped her hair on one side and fanned it out on the other. Erina just seems to get prettier and prettier all the time and she’s gained quite a bit of confidence on screen.
Seriously, how do you flip your hair like that and keep it perfect? I have short hair, too, but if I try that, it ends up a frizzy mess.
As for the lyrics, “Password is 0” tells the same tale as “Brainstorming”, “No One Can Replace You”, “Mikan”, and so many Musume songs (or Jpop songs in general): get off your butt and make your dreams come true because life is beautiful. Peace, love, friends, family, and magic rainbows. While I love the optimism and go-get-’em attitude of such songs (it is the primary reason I listen to Jpop), I have the feeling if I spoke more Japanese, I wouldn’t listen to these songs as much as I do because the message is repetitive as heck.
As for what “Password is zero!” actually means, I just know that the song was first used as a promo song for au and there was a time in which you literally could enter “0” as the password to a site hosted by au and unlock the song prior to its release. Outside the scope of that, I’ve got nothing. Unless the “zero” indicates the starting point of all dreams, inferring that you start at zero and work your way up through willpower. But something tells me that interpretation’s a bit to deep and philosophical for this particular pop song.
While I’m slightly put out that the only B-side is the Morimusu version of “Password is 0” and I find “Password” a tad generic, I’m still well pleased with this single overall and will probably be buying both songs on iTunes when they’re released.
What do you think of Musume’s 56th single? Which A-side do you prefer? Let me know in the comments, like the post if you enjoyed it, follow the blog for more Music Mondays, and thanks for reading.