Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Perfume's Gravity, Before They Took Over Japan

Who could have guessed it, watching these white-dressed dancing trio at an Apple Store in Osaka, that they would one day take over Japan? What a remarkable video: it shows Perfume before they made it. Greeting the crowd, A-chan says, like every up-and-coming Japanese artist or band, that cliche: 'We hope you at least remember our name by the end of the show'. Now, in Japan, only a cave-dwelling hermit wouldn't have heard of Perfume. Witness how sparse the crowd and applause are—now you can't easily buy tickets to see them at the Budokan. And a few people even walk by the stage, ignoring the act—I wonder if they've realized now who they blew off?

One of the ingredients of Perfume's phenomenal success must be the drama of their emergence. Legend has it that after years of a lack of mainstream recognition (they started when they were 11 or 12), just as they were about to call it quits they hit the big time. I don't know how accurate that account is, but it is true that, very unusually for a Japanese pop act, they make it one of their selling points that they toiled in obscurity for years before becoming popular. It seems to be a story-line that appeals to a lot of people.

Another thing that fans say about this video is it shows that, no matter how small the crowd or venue, the trio puts in a full effort, the implication being that that sort of seriousness is what made them popular. And they certainly aren't taking it easy. I don't know much about dance, and am not sure how good they are in the grand scheme of things, but for the sort of dance they do they certainly seem to have sharp moves that are a pleasure to watch (especially those robotic moves at the start, from around 0:15).

They are performing a song called 'Inryoku', meaning 'gravity'. There might be something like gravity, caused by Perfume, now so huge, that draws me into this video...

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