Rational Dorama Reviews

The good and bad, plain and simple

AKB48 YuruYuru Karaoke: Not a Lipsyncing Performance? BLASPHEMY!

Live performances are always interesting; you get to find out just how well your a celebrity can actually sing, perform, improvise and work together with their peers onstage (if any) and it’s usually quite obvious to the trained eye/ear if shenanigans such as lipsyncing go on. I find it particularly eye-opening to see live performances done by idols but so far AKB48’s lipsynced almost every. single. one. This is disappointing but not unsurprising either as it IS rather difficult to keep your voice steady while doing the kind of dance moves they do (admittedly the dance routines are simple and not technically challenging but there’s a fair bit of running around and vigorous movements).

cover_hThen I stumbled onto this gem of an event called the Tokyo Aki Matsuri which features numerous karaoke ‘acts’ performed solo or by combinations of the members. Best thing about it, as you’ve probably deduced from the post title is that they perform all of this sans-vocal backing track! This means we find out quite definitively who can and cannot sing and what the members’ voices sound like without postprocessing hocus pocus. Don’t know why but I enjoy digging up dirt like this on (actually all) performers that I’ve taken a liking to. Anyway, on to how the rest of this post is going to work: I’ll be linking youtube videos of select acts from the Yuruyuru Karaoke segment of the Tokyo Aki Matsuri and adding a few comments here and there. None of the videos were posted up by me because I have no money to get the DVD set (15,980yen…my wallet will create it’s own black hole and Australia will be no more if I buy it) and my monthly download quota will not allow me to Jack Sparrow a copy of the DVD box set either (33GB!!) so if the videos are down, I’m sorry. Also, I will be keeping in mind that all of these are amateur performances when assessing the participants.

A little bit more background, here’s the karaoke setlist for Yuruyuru Karaoke:
Interesting songs are in bold

DVD 3 – Day 1 YuruYuru Karaoke Competition
01. LOVE FOREVER (Kato Miliyah & Shimizu Shota) – Kojima, Takahashi
07. Dokii! Ko iu no ga Koi nano? (Canary Club) – Uchida, Nakata, Suzuki
08. Tenshi no Shippo (AKB48) – Yamauchi, Ishida, Oku
11. Haru ga Kuru made (AKB48) – Nito, Nonaka
12. Sakuranbo (Otsuka Ai) – Kato R, Kanazawa
13. Touch (Iwasaki Yoshimi) – Takeuchi
14. Koi se yo Onna no Ko (Tamura Yukari) – Oota
16. Tairyo Matsuri (Sakura Maya) – Nakamura
17. Tsugari Kaikyo・Fuyugeshiki (Ishikawa Sayuri) – Iwasa
22. ○○Ganbaranakute mo eenende (S/mileage) – Umeda, Kikuchi, Nakatsuka, Yonezawa
23. KOIing (Morning Musume) – Kojima, Kashiwagi
25. Ruby no Yubiwa (Terao Akira) – Deguchi
26. Anata (Kosaka Akiko) – Kinoshita
27. Anata to Christmas Eve (AKB48) – Matsui S, Nonaka
28. Monochrome Kiss (Sid) – Yuasa (King Records Staff)
29. Yuuhi wo Miteiruka? (AKB48) – Masuda, Sato N
32. Honehone Waltz (AKB48) – Nakaya, Tanabe
33. INFINITY (AKB48) – Kashiwagi, Miyazawa
34. Wake me up! (SPEED) – Itano, Kasai
35. Yasai Sisters (AKB48) – Maeda Am, Takajo, Nakata, Oya
36. Mirai Yosouzu II (DREAMS COME TRUE) – Sato N
37. Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou (AKB48) – Oota, Iwasa
38. Majijo Teppen Blues (AKB48) – Saru Obasan (Staff)
39. Melodies (GAM) – Oshima, Kojima
40. Wimbledon he Tsureteitte (SKE48) – Kitahara, Sashihara, Miyazaki
41. Himawari (AKB48?) – Masuda
42. Heavenly Days (Aragaki Yui) – Maeda, Itano, Kasai

DVD 4 – Day 2 GudaGuda Karaoke Competition
01. Wasshoi B (AKB48) – Kashiwagi Yuki, Watanabe Mayu
02. Skirt, Hirari (AKB48) – Matsubara Natsumi, Kuramochi Asuka, Miyazawa Sae, Chikano Rina
03. GO GO HEAVEN (SPEED) – Itano Tomomi, Kasai Tomomi
04. Sobakasu No Kiss (AKB48) – Oya Shizuka, Kitahara Rie, Sashihara Rino
07. Tonari no Banana (AKB48) – Suzuki Mariya, Matsui Sakiko
09. Kinjirareta Futari (AKB48) – Kikuchi Ayaka, Sato Sumire
10. Higurashi no Koi (AKB48) – Oota Aika, Komori Mika
11. Kioku no Dilemma (AKB48) – Sato Natsuki, Masuda Yuka
12. secret base ~Kimi ga kureta mono~ (ZONE) – Kitahara Rie, Sashihara Rino, Minegishi Minami, Miyazaki Miho
15. Happy Material (Mahou Sensei Negima) – Oota, Watanabe, Tanabe, Nakaya
16. Minimoni Jankenpyon! (MiniMoni.) – Kashiwagi Yuki, Kitahara Rie, Sashihara Rina, Miyazawa Sae
17. Tonari no Totoro (Tonari no Totoro|Inoue Azumi) – Masana Oya
20. Tairyo Matsuri (Sakura Maya) – Nakamura Mariko
21. Suirenka (Shonan no Kaze) – Oya Shizuka, Uchida Mayumi
22. Ai no Uta (Koda Kumi) – Yonezawa Rumi
23. Sakuranbo (Otsuka Ai) – Hiramatsu Kanako

24. Sobakasu No Kiss (AKB48) – 9th gen Kenkyuusei
27. one night carnival (Kishidan) – no3b
28. Kimi no Tameni Dekiru Koto (GACKT) – Matsui Jurina
29. Momoiro no Kataomoi (Matsuura Aya) – Minegishi Minami, Sashihara Rina, Shinobu (staff)
30. Nageki na Figure (AKB48) – Umeda Ayaka, Oshima Yuko, Matsubara Natsumi, Noro Kayo
33. Amagigoe (Ishikawa Sayuri) – Iwasa Misaki
34. Yuki/Ai Anata>Suki (Takahashi Ai/Morning Musume.) – Minegishi Minami (MC), Kojima Haruna, Kashiwagi Yuki
35. choo choo train (EXILE) – Maeda Atsuko, Itano Tomomi, Kasai Tomomi
36. Kanpeki guu no ne (Watarirouka Hashiritai) – Shinoda Mariko, Takahashi Minami, Kojima Haruna, Oshima Yuko, Shinobu (staff)

Of note is Seikan Hikou (Nakashima Ai) performed by Watanabe Mayu which is very very sadly not included in the Dvd.

On to the videos!

01. LOVE FOREVER (Kato Miliyah & Shimizu Shota) – Kojima, Takahashi

Kojima Haruna and Takahashi Minami

A nice song sung by two girls who’ve had alot of experience working together (they’re part of a subgroup called No3b together with Minegishi Minami) would predictably spell a decent performance. No surprises here regarding Takamina (Takahashi Minami) who has a decent, deep singing voice which doesn’t sound very different from her prerecorded voice. Bopping to the song looked natural and really worked on camera but her shortness and attempt at hiding a large amount of hair under a small cap didn’t quite look right =P. Kojiharu (Kojima Haruna) on the other hand has always had her voice heavily postprocessed in all her performances so it was nice to hear what it REALLY sounded like. Surprisingly, her trademark nasal droll didn’t have a detrimental effect and she would have been good if not for the heavy helping of wavering/vibrato that seems to affect alot of idols in Japan. She does the job but just barely. Together, the two arguably have more chemistry and compatibility in this song than the original singers and manage to bring the song to a higher level.

14. Koi se yo Onna no Ko (Tamura Yukari) – Oota

Oota Aika

Bimyou indeed. Love-tan(Oota Aika)’s voice and look certainly do match the original singer’s but unfortunately she’s not a competent singer. Her voice is cutesy but without depth and she’s got a small range which you can hear as she strains to reach the notes in the chorus. Overall, the act was rather cute but not done as well as it could have been. It looks like she did try her best though so props to that!

17. Tsugari Kaikyo・Fuyugeshiki (Ishikawa Sayuri) – Iwasa

Iwasa Misaki

My goodness she sounds authentic o.O Up till the 1:00 mark, it sounded like she’d pull off a perfect song. Pretty much amazing and I’d bet that the original singer wasn’t very far off in terms of skill when she was the same age as Iwasa Misaki. Hearing a perfect aunty voice singing an aunty song coming out of a pretty teenage girl was very amusing to say the least.

23. KOIing (Morning Musume) – Kojima, Kashiwagi

Kojima Haruna and Kashiwagi Yuki

The more I hear Kojiharu sing, the more she reminds me of prettyboy pop groups. Maybe it’s the same type of lackluster singing skill but in female form? Anyway, the main reason I want to talk about this song is Yukirin (Kashiwagi Yuki). She’s got good tone, control and a reasonably pleasant voice to listen to but she really lacks power. The beginning of the song was very good but once the crescendo leading up to the chorus started, yukirin was unable to hold it up and bring it to a satisfactory climax (not that Kojiharu was strong enough either). Just for the record though, I’d say that Yukirin’s real voice sounds alot better than the prerecorded stuff we hear in AKB48 songs. Oh and yay for sexual innuendo.

29. Yuuhi wo Miteiruka? (AKB48) – Masuda, Sato N

Masuda Yuka and Sato Natsuki

Oh wow, just when you thought you’d need to buckle down for another amateurish performance, here comes Masuda Yuka to blow everyone out of the water. Personally, I was thoroughly impressed by Masuda as she walked in, took control with some great MCing and then went on to deliver the best rendition of an old AKB48 song EVER. It sounds like she has the makings of a professional singer with plenty of talent, power and technical skill (harmonies are NOT easy to come up with and maintain). Sato Natsuki, on the other hand, did give us competent singing but not many can listen to her type of voice for very long before finding it slightly jarring. There’s just that little bit of roughness which does it. As a duet, the two work quite well despite their voices not quite matching.

33. INFINITY (AKB48) – Kashiwagi, Miyazawa

Kashiwagi Yuki and Miyazawa Sae

First of all, Yukirin > Sae in terms of voice quality BUT Sae (Miyazawa Sae) is more expressive and is the one who brings life to the song. She sings from her throat too much which gives that strange ugliness to the sound so hopefully, with a bit of voice training, that can be rectified. It’s expected that these two would give a good performance as it’s from a previous production of AKB48 in which they were the lead roles and sang this song many many times. The latter half of the video was amusing as they went the extra mile and re-enacted the kiss scene, all with Takamina going crazy in the background!

34. Wake me up! (SPEED) – Itano, Kasai

Itano Tomomi and Kasai Tomomi

Two unexpected outcomes here. Kasai’s singing is very good, something that I would not have guessed at all what with her speaking voice being high pitched and nasal. She has excellent control and articulation as well as a fair amount of depth and power to make for a well-rounded singing voice. I quite like Kasai’s voice but she doesn’t take on parts that challenge her vocally in Yuruyuru Karaoke so it’s hard to say just how good she is or isn’t. Itano, on the other hand, fails hard in this particular song, wailing into the microphone for a fair bit but at 1:42 she belts out 2 high notes which not only hit the mark but sound GOOD. What’s weird is that she’s one of the few AKB48 members who has a solo singing career so you’d think she’d need to have a decent voice. Those 2 high notes tell me she has some potential but the rest of the song was a disappointment.

42. Heavenly Days (Aragaki Yui) – Maeda, Itano, Kasai

Maeda Atsuko, Itano Tomomi and Kasai Tomomi

The original singer, Aragaki Yui, isn’t much of a vocal talent so it wouldn’t take alot to do better but…this was another disappointment. Kasai’s parts were good but for the life of me I don’t know why she only sang the easy bits, Itano’s performance was the same as in Wake Me Up, and Maeda’s falsetto was very weak. However, one thing that I took from this act is that Maeda’s singing voice (apart from her fail falsetto) is pretty much the same as her prerecorded postprocessed voice, if a bit weaker.

12. secret base ~Kimi ga kureta mono~ (ZONE) – Kitahara Rie, Sashihara Rino, Minegishi Minami, Miyazaki Miho

Kitahara Rie, Sashihara Rino, Minegishi Minami and Miyazaki Miho

I’m not sure what the crying and ARIGATOUUUs were all about but this act was undoubtedly meant to be humourous. Due to that, I’m torn between saying it’s good because of how silly the whole thing was or saying it’s bad because they ruined a good song (Yes Myao I’m looking at you! =P). It’s no secret that Miichan (Minegishi Minami) is confident in the spotlight but her voice has always been a mystery, to me at least, since she’s rarely in the centre. Miichan’s solo at the beginning of the song was perfection, probably better than the original. I was impressed with her expressiveness and technique, and it’s quite obvious that she’s been practicing alot just for this little act. And then there was Mayo (Miyazaki Miho) who was just omglulz as you can see on ALL the other members’ faces the moment she starts singing. As I mentioned before, it’s really difficult to come up with and maintain a harmony so I don’t fault Myao at all for failing at it. Interestingly enough, I did think that she was on the right track with her “WAAHHH” feeling and it would have gone one step further than the original song if she had successfully pulled it off.

15. Happy Material (Mahou Sensei Negima) – Oota, Watanabe, Tanabe, Nakaya

Oota Aika, Watanabe Mayu, Tanabe Miku and Nakaya Sayaka

The 4 token anime otaku girls have teamed up to perform a song that is very well known in the anisong industry. Being rather familiar with anisongs myself, I was very curious about how this song turned out and it’s umm interesting I guess. Nakayan (Nakaya Sayaka) has sung Triangler by Sakamoto Maaya on her radio show before and I was expecting a similarly good performance from her but instead it seems that she has chosen to match her voice to the other 3 girls in their self-proclaimed ota4 team. Vocally, the 4 girls sounded okay when they were all singing together but individually they were absolutely nothing to speak of. Here we find out that Mayuyu (Watanabe Mayu) can’t sing even though she’s the cover girl of Team B. Instead, she makes up for it with a good amount of energy, giving life to all of her performances – in my opinion a rather good asset to have.

21. Suirenka (Shonan no Kaze) – Oya Shizuka, Uchida Mayumi

Oya Shizuka and Uchida Mayumi

This was EPICly entertaining. Uchida and Oya captured the feel of the original song and turned it up in a satirical manner. Heck, they even waved towels around. I really don’t know what else to say hahah…this act was traumatising =P but you should go watch a live performance of the original to see just how good an imitation Oya did.

27. one night carnival (Kishidan) – no3b

Kojima Haruna, Takahashi Minami and Minegishi Minami

Can you master baby, master baby…can you master baby…SO LONG?! I loved every bit of this act, from Takamina’s silly mutterings to Miichan’s outrageous dance steps…and those wigs! Takamina’s got a pretty good groove in this song and did well as the lead vocal (only vocal?) and also deserves alot of respect for being able to keep a straight face the entire time. This IS a really difficult song to pull off but they managed to do it with flair. One thing you would no doubt have noticed in this video is Miichan’s wonderful dancing (lolz) and while she looks silly next to Kojiharu’s less enthusiastic efforts, that’s actually what the real thing looks like. Go search up a youtube video of Kishidan performing this song…I dare you =D. Putting the hilarity aside, this act is a really good illustration of the difference in dancing skill between Miichan and the rest of AKB48. There’s 3 levels of skill in No3b, Kojiharu being unflexible, Takamina is the competent dancer, and Miichan goes one step further than everyone else. If you’re able to see idenitfy Miichan in any other AKB48 performance, you’ll see that she’s very good.

35. choo choo train (EXILE) – Maeda Atsuko, Itano Tomomi, Kasai Tomomi

Maeda Atsuko, Itano Tomomi and Kasai Tomomi

Here’s the 3 that brought you Heavenly Days earlier. I’ve decided to talk about them again because this time they managed to deliver a decent act. Itano and Maeda sound like they’ve got a huge wad of phlegm in the back of their throats while Kasai’s singing in a lower register than she’s comfortable with but overall the song was okay. I quite like Itano’s solo dance routine and the moment they all donned large sunglasses and revealed their drawn on moustaches was very amusing. I have to say Maeda’s attempt at trying to look like a man was well thought out and effective. She really did give off the otoko feeling.

That’s it for Yuruyuru Karaoke! I’m still sad that I won’t get to see Seikan Hikou by Mayuyu but there’s enough material here for me to see which of the front members have talent and which are just pretty faces. Their producer AkiP has alot of guts putting out a segment like this and it tells me that he’s got faith in his girls. It actually seems like most of them have at least one thing they’re exceptional at and every girl’s got their charms. Finally, in closing, my impression of AKB48 has gotten better after seeing the real talent and weaknesses in the group laid bare like this because it shows that these are real girls and not unnatural manufactured and postprocessed oddities that belong only behind the studio.

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3 responses to “AKB48 YuruYuru Karaoke: Not a Lipsyncing Performance? BLASPHEMY!

  1. Tenkun April 30, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Nice post – I just watched these myself.

    The Secret Base – Zone intro was imitating the MC/Performance from the group’s final concert. That is why there was all the crying 😀

  2. auah September 13, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    If you think they lipsync almost every single time then you don’t watch them very often then.

    I have tons of concert that they perform live..

  3. mshaydown September 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    This was a while ago and I was new to the fandom. Anyway, it’s still much more common to find either lipsynced or ‘prerecording supported’ performances from them, as opposed to straight up live vocals like in the aki matsuri. I suppose alot of the theatre performances are live but seeing as I live in Australia, I’ve pretty much got no hope of getting a ticket and attending a theatre.

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