Disclaimer: I’m sorry; I have a tendency to burst out into bizarre math (and compsci and physics and linguistics and … and [field of index n] and …) references every now and then. If you get confused, don’t worry about it. It’s not essential to the content of the post. If you’re intrigued, though, I would recommend researching these topics further. Wikipedia is usually a good place to start. A little extra knowledge is rarely a bad thing.
I. On Rankings
Assembling rankings is definitely a favorite pastime with many H!P fans. People seem to put up new lists of their favorite H!P members, songs, etc., every other day. There are even online tools to assist people in satisfying their cravings.
I must say, though, I feel uncomfortable ranking individual members, even though I do have my favorites and my not-so-favorites. It’s kind of like discussing with your friends the order in which they matter to you. Even though it’s a discussion of perfect strangers, they’re still people…. I don’t know; it just doesn’t feel quite right. Though I don’t mean to criticize anyone else at all; everyone has their own approach to enjoying what they like. As for me, I’d much rather judge a piece of artwork than judge the artist who produces it.
And indeed, I’m not averse to compiling a ranking of H!P releases. For the last month or so, I’ve endeavored to produce a ranking of my favorite H!P PVs. It seemed like a natural thing to do, given that the music video/promotional video (whatever you want to call it) is my sixth favorite art form.* So I set about compiling a list of my top 20 and realized that there were quite a lot of videos out there that I hadn’t even seen yet. So I started watching them. And so … the list gradually grew from 20 …
… to …
That’s right. I now have a list of my favorite 100 Hello! Project PVs.
And I’m going to discuss them all. In order.
And it’s going to be awesome.
* After the novelette, the quine, the puzzle, the cartographic map, and the tool-assisted video game simulation, particularly its dominant genre of speedruns. (Please don’t ask me what else is in my top ten. It’s like comparing apples and orthogonal bases.) Though I would be quite pleasantly surprised to see Hello! Project novelettes, quines, (original) puzzles, maps, and speedruns…
II. The Domain of the Mapping (i.e., the set of all H!P PVs)
Before I present a ranking, I need to come up with criteria that videos must meet in order to be included. So for the purpose of this ranking, a Hello! Project PV is a video clip that
- is authorized by Hello! Project (fan-produced PVs don’t count);
- has been released to the public or some significantly large subset thereof (this includes fan-club-only releases);
- contains at least some original material (videos consisting solely of footage from concert performances, studio recordings, etc., don’t count);
- and is not primarily a part of a larger work (pre-recorded videos prepared specifically to be shown during a concert, for example, don’t count).
By this metric, Hello! Project released 472 PVs between its inception and the end of 2007, or 313 if you don’t count alternate versions; that is, there are 313 separate recordings for which Hello! Project has released PVs. (Here, I’m distinguishing between song and recording. A cover of a previously released song (like the ones that came with the Best Shot DVD series) is a distinct recording and would not count as an alternate version if there were a PV release.) Of course, my count is likely to be a bit inaccurate as I’ve used numerous sources of information, some of which are not exactly reliable (for example, some of these PVs are included simply because I discovered an official-looking video on Veoh or Youtube, and not because, say, I noted the existence of said PV from looking at the track listing of a DVD compilation).
Still, with 300+ distinct videos to consider, narrowing all of it down to just 100 is a formidable task and speaks volumes to my susceptibility to procrastination. I am truly pathetic.
In persevering, however, I discovered quite a number of excellent PVs that I would otherwise never have seen, and have made a number of interesting observations that I think would be beneficial to share with you all (my dear readers… *evil, contemplating twiddling of fingers*). So while it was arguably a waste of time to sit down and watch all these videos for days on end and compare them in suboptimal time* (in comparison, the American Wota ranker uses an optimal worst-case merge-sort algorithm … but when comparing PVs, one often gets distracted and rewatches stuff, and/or re-compares things in light of subsequent discoveries, and so forth, &c., etc., et cetera**), I think there’s a lot of good to be had from the experience.
* WordPress supports ! Yatta! Rock on!
** xor cetera???!!!
III. The Image of the Mapping (i.e., what rank each PV maps to)
Before we discuss what is on the countdown, let’s first ask:
What’s not on the Top 100 countdown?
Everything released in 2008 or afterward. Most PVs that fit this description haven’t even been released yet, so trying to compare them would be something of a futile exercise, ne? I decided to stick with PVs released before the end of 2007 because I started this project back in December. So Buono’s excellent “Renai ♥ Rider” is not on the countdown … though if it were, it’d definitely be among the top 10 … which is where you can count on it being when (if) I do an update of this next January.
Everything released in 1999 or earlier. While H!P released a number of excellent recordings in 1997, 1998, and 1999, the PVs that accompanied these weren’t very exciting, alas. That is, until “LOVE Machine” and its thematic sequel, Pucchi Moni’s “Chokotto LOVE”. While these two videos were certainly innovative and a welcome change to the rather boring videos that came before them, that perfect balance of cuteness, weirdness, freshness, wit, clarity, and cohesiveness that would come to characterize the best of the H!P PVs that would appear in the next eight years hadn’t yet come to fruition in the fall of 1999. So while these were interesting videos, I’m afraid that in the long run, they failed to make the cut.
(And while I’m on it, I’m going to go ahead and rant about my disgust for “LOVE Machine”. Yes, I know, this is blasphemy to many of you. But I just can’t get myself to like this song. And I’ve tried. In fact, it is on this one song that I lay most of the blame for my not having gotten into Morning Musume earlier. I first listened to a MoMusu recording in mid-October 2007, shortly after discovering Berryz Koubou and Koharu Kusumi and wanting to explore more of that type of music. I didn’t come to enjoy Morning Musume as a whole until mid-December, two entire months later. What happened? “LOVE Machine” happened, that’s what. This was the first recording of MoMusu’s that I listened to, in the form of the long version of the corresponding PV. Maybe it was a mistake to sit through the excruciatingly boring intro to that PV, but even when the actual music started, it jarred in so many ways. The beat was annoying; the melody was irritating; the visuals were an eyesore. Needless to say, I could not force myself to keep watching that monstrosity past the first minute or so. Great way to acquaint myself with the great Morning Musume, ne? Perfect. I reattempted MoMusu a few weeks later but this time I started with the newer releases: “Onna ni Sachi Are”, “Egao YES Nude”, etc. And … ? Crashed and burned!!! These weren’t as hideous as “LOVE Machine”, thank goodness, but they were more on the annoying side than the cute-and-cuddly kawaiirrific music I was seeking. So … there went my second attempt at Morning Musume. Although I must admit, I did like one of the singles I encountered during this period: “Aruiteru”. Such a beautiful piece of music! So happy and pleasant and heartwarming to listen to! Like a radiant jewel glistening from amidst a sea of deformed, grotesque shards, it called to me. A siren’s song about walking along… Yes, it is probably mainly due to this single alone that I consider myself more or less a MoMusu fan today. “LOVE Machine” killed it, and “Aruiteru” revived it. Whatever the pronoun it is referring to here. Anyway…)
… as I was saying …
No, seriously, I am capable of writing a blog entry with fewer than 500 words. Really.
With that out of the way …
What is on this countdown?
Why, gosh, I’ve just about used 1400 words already… Why don’t we start the countdown next time?
IV. Coming Up! (next time on ★MINI MONI MANIA★…)
The Top 100 Hello! Project PVs
The Ultimate Countdown
Gotta watch ‘em all!