Idolm@ster – Perfect Idol 04 – Review

Album Title: Perfect Idol 04
Anime Title: The Idolm@ster
Artist: Asami Imai, Mayako Nigo, Rie Kugimiya
Catalog Number: ANZX-6813
Release Type: Vocal
Release Date: April 26, 2012
Purchase at: CDJapan

Tracklist

Track Title Artist Time
01. Slapp Happy!!! Asami Imai, Mayako Nigo, Rie Kugimiya 4:08
02. arcadia -BOSSA NOVA Rearrange Mix- Asami Imai 5:03
03. Kiramekirari -BOSSA NOVA Rearrange Mix- Mayako Nigo 5:39
04. READY!! -BOSSA NOVA Rearrange Mix- Rie Kugimiya 5:45

Review: If you have ever been subject to me bombarding you with Youtube videos over any sort of instant messenger service and compare it to my usual rhetoric, you’d probably come to the conclusion that I hold covert sympathies for Idolm@ster music. From a musically meritorious standpoint, Idolm@ster music is plagued by the sort of sterile compositional processes that are akin to manufacturing. And yet, on a primitive level, it oftentimes has enough catchy hooks that fly under my radar and reel me in, whether it’s an upbeat atmosphere or addicting chorus; one needn’t look further than songs like “Go My Way” to hear prominent examples of such cases.

Perfect Idol 04, the album that comes packaged with Vol. 7 of the Idolm@ster Blu-ray/DVDs, tries to replicate that success through the opening track “Slapp Happy!!!,” featuring the likes of Asami Imai, Rie Kugimiya, and Mayako Nigo. Now “Slapp Happy!!!’s” instrumental section is great. The song is upbeat, dispensing a nice, pleasant mood as it opens with a series of claps to set the rhythm and follows that up with a bouncy atmosphere carried by the guitars. It’s only when the singers enter that this song unravels. Rie Kugumiya’s proficiency at navigating some of the passages leaves much to be desired as her notes are off-key and her expressiveness is downright dull. Also, count me in as not being too impressed with Asami Imai’s performance on this particular song; her lilting, dynamic delivery stands out just a bit too much from everyone else and doesn’t mesh well with the song’s lighter feel. Couple all of that with the repetitiveness and you have a song that’s just another buoyant, but ultimately forgettable Idolm@ster song.

Slapp Happy!!! »

But what “Slapp Happy!!!” does well is in the way it sets the tone, using the acoustic guitars to bring about a bossa nova (Latin/Caribbean-flavored jazz) feel that extends to the next three tracks. The result is a disc that packs more grace and class than what one would normally expect from Idolm@ster.

The bossa nova arrangement of Chihaya’s (cv: Asami Imai) “arcadia” illustrates this rather nicely. While the original is more dominating with its lyrical accents which translate into a desperate, emphatic feel, this bossa version is smoother and more introspective as the melancholy aura is more apparent. Asami Imai’s delivery brings it closer to a ballad as the lyrics flow wonderfully and the acoustic guitar bridge carries a sense of flair that left me feeling reflective and slightly blue.

arcadia -BOSSA NOVA Rearrange Mix- »

On the other hand, “Kiramekirari’s” bossa arrangement, while better than the original, doesn’t manage to mesh the bossa and the upbeat nature of the original all too well. Plainly put, this song is capable of generating a laundry list of faults that befall lesser works. For example, Mayako Nigo’s singing ability is not all that expressive and in this song, she seems to be going through the motions rather than channeling genuine emotion into the track. And while the background instrumentation is decent, the vocal outbursts in the background are pretty distracting and feel more like a gimmick than a palpable addition that makes a song more enjoyable. Finally, the repetitiveness becomes grating; I can only stomach so much upbeatness and when the cycle repeats too often, I just become numb to the experience leaving me feeling slightly disgusted with this whole ordeal.

Kiramekirari -BOSSA NOVA Rearrange Mix- »

Thankfully, the disc closes with the highlight track: an arrangement of “Ready!!,” which serves as the anime’s opening theme. The original manages to be catchy, incorporating all of the aspects of cookie-cutter idol pop in a way that never feels trite, possibly because the “Are you ready, I’m a lady” wordplay gimmick overshadows just about everything else. Whatever it is, “Ready!!” is enjoyable in that earwormy way and has gotten a lot of playtime as a result. The bossa version, while it opts for just Rie Kugumiya, whose singing will never win awards for technical mastery, still manages to feature palatable singing, even if there isn’t much in Kugimiya’s delivery to really stand out. Her perfomance is not distracting, allowing me to take in the bossa nova arrangement’s class and elegance (fitting a classy lady nicely!) as the upbeat original takes on a more cultivated air.

READY!! -BOSSA NOVA Rearrange Mix- »

For what it’s worth, all of the arrangements are an improvement over the Idolm@ster originals as manufactured idol pop takes on a cooler, classier vibe. At worst, it makes tracks like “Kiramekirari” marginally better and at best, it breathes new life into tracks like “Ready!!.” Given the source material, you can only do so much to improve matters, but mixing in bossa nova is excellent way to get extra mileage if you’re looking for a similar, yet different feel from Idolm@ster music.

Rating: Decent

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

5 thoughts on “Idolm@ster – Perfect Idol 04 – Review

  • August 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm
    Permalink

    Hmmm, did Kevo reeled you into Idolmaster music? I wouldn’t have expected that.

    Aside from that, compared to one of the tracks I heard from an actual idol group with Pinky Jones (Momoiro Clover) and numerous tracks from Idolmaster, there is a big difference in quality. I think this is contributed to the fact that Idolmaster is fictional and there is actual talent from a good amount of the voice actresses. Although the franchise has its fair share of idol pop-style music, I think its pretty diverse. On top of my mind, 9:02pm, Tonari ni, Aoi Tori, Nemuri Hime, Kazehana and Yakusoku is far from the usual idol-pop, which is a good thing. I think there is a good amount of composers that are at Namco that have worked on other video game music who contributed to some of the music.

    But besides from that, the franchise has a vast number of tracks consisting of original music and cover versions of Anime songs.

    Reply
    • August 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm
      Permalink

      @chikorita
      Man, kevo needs to like, stop taking credit for everything :3

      Yeah, this was something that I did on a whim, on my own. I do enjoy Idolm@ster music as it is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Also helps that some of the music is composed by some well-known folks like Satoru Kousaki who’s worked on shows like Bakemonogatari and composed songs like “Staple Stable” so that’s always good tidings. If nothing else, he knows how to amp up the catchiness and if pop should aim to be anything, it should certainly aim to be catchy at the bare minimum. Idolm@ster has a decent track record of that, so usually, I’ll have few complaints there.

      Reply
  • Pingback: Medaka Box is the Major Anime OST Set to Release August 8, Idolm@ster Bossa Nova Arrangement Review Published

  • August 5, 2012 at 9:55 am
    Permalink

    Yes, I found another iM@S fan! I agree, Chihaya’s and Iori’s songs are good. Chihaya’s always one of the best singers and Iori’s voice is great if it doesn’t turn squeaky. However, Yayoi’s song leaves much to be desired. I like Yayoi’s background story but her voice constantly grates on my nerves. I can’t stand listening to her signature songs (Kiramekirari and Ohayou! Asagohan) at all.

    I really think PERFECT IDOL 01 was the best one out of all of those CDs. “I’m so free!” was light and catchy. Miki’s vocals in “relations” were much better than in her original solo performance of the song. “Tonari ni” was already an excellent performance by Azusa and a jazz version just made it better, though it is kind jarring compared to the somber lyrics. “Kimi wa Melody”‘s jazz version is just perfect with Takane’s deep voice.

    I hope you’ll review more iM@S albums in the future. There’s just something addicting about most of its songs.

    Reply
    • August 6, 2012 at 9:59 am
      Permalink

      @Suzushina Yuriko
      Well, someone here needs to be an Im@s fan. Can’t let our veneer of sophistication prevent us from enjoying catching works too =D

      And you’re also not the first person to tell me that PERFECT IDOL 01 was the best out of the arrangements so far and I’ll definitely give that a listen over the next few days. A writeup? Well, we’ll see if I can find time for that.

      Reply

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