♬ 𝔧𝔭𝔬𝔭 ♬

✿ 2022-01-07 ✿

Welcome to my first Jpop blog post!

In this blog I’ll be making posts about things that I find exciting or interesting about Jpop, mostly from the late 90s and 00s era. I plan to cover a wide range of random topics, so look out for it! ଘ(੭ˊᵕˋ)੭* ੈ✩‧₊˚

First, a little about me: I started listening to Jpop when I was young (~2002), and spent most of my school years listening almost exclusively to Jpop and Kpop. I used to frequent Jpop forums (mostly centered around Hamasaki Ayumi), so I spent a lot of time talking about music. All that being said, I am not an expert! I am also not Japanese, nor did I grow up in Japan, so my perspective is definitely that of an overseas fan! Either way, I hope that you’ll find my posts interesting and that I can spread some enthusiasm for Jpop.

For my first post I wanted to talk about Matsuura Aya’s song Ne~e! This is a song I almost forgot existed (although I spent a lot of time listening to it when I was younger) until something Matsuura Aya related randomly popped up in my Youtube recommendations! I like Matsuura Aya (aka Ayaya), but I was never a huge fan. But for some reason I played the song Ne~e on repeat…

But before talking about the song, a little bit about Matsuura Aya!

The Artist

Matsuura Aya was a Hello! Project member. Somehow I always forget that Hello! Project had solo artists that weren’t from Morning Musume…but there were several! She debuted with the single Dokki Doki! Love Mail (I love this title (๑˘ᵕ˘)) in 2001. She was wildly popular, definitely one of Hello! Projects biggest acts! She also appeared in several short lived groups with other Hello! Project members, including my favorite member, Goto Maki. Personally, I love Ayaya’s expressive face. I feel like I would recognize her face anywhere! (人´∀`*)

The Song

As for the song ね~え? (Ne~e?)…this single was released in 2003 and also featured the b-side 女の友情物語 (Onna no Yuujou Mondai). For some reason, every time Ne~e comes on I can’t help but laugh. Musically, compositionally, and visually (as in the case of the PV and other promotional materials), everything about this song is dripping with the stereotypical Jpop cuteness of the time. The style is very reminiscent to me of early 00s Morning Musume, and especially of MiniMoni (although a little less kid-ish, since MiniMoni was a kind of children’s group in my opinion).

The lyrics in their base form are very cutesy, sung from the perspective of someone who has a crush on someone else and is trying (and possibly failing) to impress them. The “ne~e” quality of it is a very onedari / choudai “I’m going to make a pouty face” feeling and it’s cute! But add to the lyrics Ayaya’s vocals and it takes the sweetness to another level. Ayaya does a great job of portraying the character in the song, as her vocals are very whiney and nasal-y. The whiney and nasal quality of the singing is a part of what makes it quintessential cutesy Jpop to me, although I know it can be an off-putting sound to people who aren’t used to that. If you don’t like cutesy and whiney music, this song will not be for you! As for me, you know I love whiney and nasal-y if I’m so obsessed with Hamasaki Ayumi ʱªʱªʱª(ᕑᗢूᓫ∗). For real, I do really like it!

The music itself is fast paced with a driving melody of piano that reminds me of old 60s/70s cartoon music. And the massive DRUM BEAT. It’s so silly and dumb and somehow makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I love cutesy style, but it’s just so over the top! Anyway, the style of the song actually translates very well to jazz (which we’ll see in the live arrangements below), which I guess doesn’t surprise me, since it seems somewhat influenced by it.

The PV

Next we turn to the PV. The outfit from the single’s cover makes a major feature in the PV. In fact, the PV features many ridiculous, over-the-top cute outfits and I love it (人´∀`*)

The set design is very Y2K futuristic style but also Y2K does 70s style, and with so much COLOR! The set is supposed to be Ayaya’s bed room. We open with a music box / doll box of Ayaya wearing the orange flower-like number from the single’s cover. After that a rather excited Ayaya is dancing around the room trying to figure out what outfit to wear out on a date with her crush. This nods to the title’s lyrics: “I’m lost! Sexy? Cute? Which one do you like?” All the outfits featured in the video are so over the top and colorful and I love them. If anyone knows anything about who designed the outfits please hit me up, I’d love to know.

Above I mentioned that Ayaya really got into character with the vocals, giving them a very expressive and cute sound. I think she did a great job doing the same with the PV. Her dancing throughout the video is so expressive! She makes all kinds of faces (pouting, sad, surprised, happy), and many cute gestures and poses while dancing. Combine with this the fact that some portions of the PV appear to have been filmed at a slower speed then sped up to give a very pop-y feeling to her movements. All of this together definitely contributes to me laughing every time I hear this song - it’s so silly and fun and I can’t help it! ଘ(✿˵•́ ᴗ •̀˵)

I remember watching this PV when I was younger and trying to recreate the blue tank top and red shorts outfit. I seem to recall a similar outfit in an old Jyongri PV that I also loved (see: Jyongri’s Possession). Anyway! My absolute favorite thing about the PV has to be the little alien plush. I don’t know if this was a character from anything? Aliens were a popular motif in the early 00s so it could be just a random plush, but damn I would love to have one of these some day. I wonder if they made it into a mascot.

Lastly, here is my rundown of all the outfits in the PV! I grabbed these myself from the PV on YouTube linked above.

The doll box outfit

The room wear outfit

A "sexy" outfit                                          A “cute” outfit

Please let me go back to the times when this is what was considered a sexy and cute outfit ( ༎ຶ⌑༎ຶ )

The alien!

Perhaps next time I don’t know what to wear out I’ll consult a doll box version of myself and we’ll see ʱªʱªʱª(ᕑᗢूᓫ∗)

The Lives

I was delighted to discover that Ayaya also keeps the same character in the lives for this song. Much of the choreographic features of the PV are maintained throughout the live performances. In particular, the hands-at-sides-shuffling-feet dance, the hands-out-marching dance, the swinging-arms-back-and-forth dance, and the cute poses and facial expressions ALL show up in the lives! But of course the best part of all is…the ridiculous fake tripping on that massive drum beat LOL it’s so ridiculous! But she does it in the lives too! There’s just so much going on and it’s so silly that it’s hard to not laugh - I’m sorry, I keep saying this but it’s true! To see what I mean, here’s a great example live performance:

In addition to the standard arrangements for this song, it was also performed with a jazz arrangement and a piano arrangement. In fact the song translates quite well to both (something I mentioned above). The jazz arrangement keeps a fun and cute quality to the song, but the piano arrangement really dressed it up into something a little more mature. It’s very interesting to see how versatile the arrangement is! The video below (which was uploaded in 2007, 14 years ago as of the time I’m writing this!! ʕ◉ᴥ◉ʔ) features three live performances. The first one is a standard arrangement, the second is the jazz arrangement, and the third is the piano arrangement.

Personally, I hate jazz (gomen y’all), but it’s really interesting to me to see the song in so many different styles.


✿ I love the silly alien in the PV and I want one!
✿ This song makes me laugh every time.
✿ I have a nostalgic feeling for the cute and innocent romance of 00s Jpop (fretting over picking out an outfit for a date, so simple and pure)

Also, I have an ongoing list that I call my Obscure Jpop Cosplay Dreams. This is a list of outfits from random 90s/00s Jpop that I would love to cosplay some day that No One Would Get. I’ll make a whole separate post about this later! But for now, my final takeaway is…

I’m adding this outfit to my cosplay dream list! Now technically my dream would be the orange flower outfit, but I’m a realist…that would be impossible to make!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope Ne~e is stuck in your head for at least a week now!

Peace! ଘ(੭ˊᵕˋ)੭* ੈ✩‧₊˚