Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pizzicato Five Rediscovered--Visually

I've long been a lukewarm fan of Pizzicato Five, in that I like a lot of their songs but not with a boiling passion. But then the other day while surfing YouTube I found several P5 music videos, and after watching them I suddenly understood why the group appeals to so many people. While their neo-60's hipster pop music is lovely in itself, what sets P5 apart is the whole package: fashion, visuals & art, attitude, in addition to the invariably catchy melodies. This became clear the instant I clicked play on the first YouTube P5 video I found.

It shouldn't have surprised me that Pizzicato Five's videos are sparkling gems, since one of the joys I've gotten out of buying their CDs is looking at the quality artwork and photos that came with discs, portraying Maki Nomiya and Yasuharu Konishi as stylish 1960's jet-setters, and if their CD pictures are so artsy and imaginative then you'd expect good music videos too. But I've never been a big music video fan, so never thought to check out P5's videos.

What happy results a few minutes of aimless wandering on YouTube can bring! I first found a video of the upbeat song "Twiggy Twiggy", and loved it. Such cute dance moves! They're a mix of vogue and the Twist. What lovely art, with the faded black and white picture and the random appearance of slogans on the screen saying things like "pizzicato five; in action"... And what's the deal with the blank-faced guy in the back taking it all in?

I also liked this video of "Playboy Playgirl" with a bleached blond Nomiya and a boyfriend drinking champagne and dancing at some super-ritzy party in what looks like the inside of a castle...

But my favorite was the video of "Such A Beautiful Girl Like You". The song is one of the P5 tunes I like the most to start with--it has a great melody, and the lyrics with its main line, "Why is such a beautiful girl like you crying?/There isn't a girl as beautiful as you anywhere", are simple but evoke something like a scene out of a movie. The video doesn't take anything away from the song, and adds delightful art.

The total impact of the art exceeds the sum of its parts: for example, Nomiya's blond hair, red sweater, white mini-skirt, and the white room with a white bed and white chair are each fairly ordinary, but all together they are striking.

And then there's that random street corner and curving road that Nomiya walks across. The whole feel of the scene fits perfectly with the image of the video: the bright white building in the corner, the overcast sky, the European feel of the street... It's brimming with classiness.

If you watched P5 videos in real-time when they came on TV none of what I've been writing about above might seem like anything new, but for me, who saw these videos for the first time, they're a grand discovery. For the benefit of people who've never seen the videos, here's "Such A Beautiful Girl Like You" (at least, until YouTube takes it down):

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