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Hi all! Long time no see.  This summer has been arguably the worst summer of my life, wherein I continue my losing streak at the law school.  I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say that nothing I have attempted to do at law school has resulted in a success for me.  It's like I am paying for a sin in a past life or something... or saving up my luck for some point in the future.  Whatever it is, luck seems to have completely abandoned me, and since interviews are coming up in 2 weeks (gulp) it better come back soon!

Anyways, I haven't posted in a while since I am that self-centered type that doesn't post unless the urge to write comes up.  I can't really post for the sake of posting, if you get my drift.  Anyways, I was re-watching the performance of Everything on MS from earlier this month and I got the urge to post, so here goes.   It will be the usual dance analysis. 

So some general observations first.  The dance initially struck me as strange and awkward, but now that I have just watched it a bunch of time in preparation for this post, it's starting to grow on me. It's quirky, it's odd, it's sometimes fail and sometimes surprisingly hot. Oh, just like Arashi! haha.  I also like how into it Nino is here.  Generally speaking, he is the one I catch singing along to parts that are not his (not like by mistake - he just sings along sans mic) the most and it warms my heart.  Recently, I have read a number of eye-opening interviews by the Neen and it really seems like this guy likes being an idol.  I guess when you are as good an actor as he is, people assume that what he really wants to do is act and he thinks this whole idol thing is beneath him.  But reading these interviews made me realize that he actually likes doing the whole idol thing.  He likes to be able to sing and dance and generally be eye candy.  It's kind of funny since he seems so deep and serious, but it's also kinda cool in a way.  It's like he is reclaiming the genre in a way.  Anyways, I digress.  Other than Nino, Matsujun looked like he was enjoying himself, but the man is a performer at heart, and he always looks overjoyed to be performing.  Gotta love that about him.  Sho looked mellow, and Ohno looked tired.  Aiba looked... stressed?  I dunno. Something about his eyes in this performance made me think that.

Also, I wonder if Music Station changed from singing live to lip psynching because don't you guys think they sound too good?  I remember back in the 90s Music Station was singing live because people hit some awful flat notes and stuff.  But recently, it seems like everyone sings rather perfectly, including Arashi (granted this is not a hard song). 

Okay, now moving onto specifics.  I'll break it down by member in the order in which I observed them.  Whenever I watch these clips in preparation for these posts, I always watch Ohno first to get an idea of what the dance is supposed to look like.  This is because he is the best dancer and also because he does the least arranging of the choreo.  Then I watch in whatever order (usually go Jun next since I think he is the second best dancer).  Then I go back to Ohno since by the time I get around the rest of them, I am like "Wait, what was this dance supposed to look like?"  Aiba chan does that the most to me since he alters the chereo the most.  Okay, plowing forwards!

The clip I am using can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPCy4h-YDG0


Usual blase self.  Does the choreo perfectly but without much energy.   But no matter how much energy the other members put into a dance, they can't beat Ohno's technique and experience.  Technique is one thing that perhaps they can eventually beat him (you can very easily lose your technique after all), but experience is something they will have a hard time beating.  Just because Ohno has danced so much MORE, he knows so many more steps.   And by know, I mean have performed.  Because you can know how to do a step but it doesn't really become yours until you've performed it or at least rehearsed it ad nauseum.  You have to move from just following the movements to becoming them, and while the rest of Arashi just follows the movements (and they do a good job at it, don't get me wrong), Ohno is the one who embodies the music and the movement.  Once you master a step, I think it stays with you (of course to an extent), so even now that they probably have less and less time to rehearse for performances like this, Ohno's body remembers how to make a step come to life from experience in the past.  The rest of Arashi could probably get to that level with enough practice, but not enough time.  I think that's one of the big differences between amateurs and professionals.  Amateurs can come close to professional level performances if they practice enough.  But it's only a professional that can pull stuff off with very little practice.  That's how professional orchestras can give amazing performances with only a handful of rehearsals while amateur orchestras need months of practice.  

Here are a couple of noteworthy moments:
- His smile at 0:44 made my heart melt. (Hey even I can have a couple of fangirl moments, right?)
- The dance from 0:50 is supposed to be like what Ohno is doing I think.  Everybody else does weird shit to it to make it look kinda funky, but I like the way Ohno's is subtle. He marks the beat with a subtle tap of his non-working leg (so if he stepped out with his left, his right leg). The others mark the beat too, but they have too many other body parts flailing around that you either don't notice it or it's excessive.  Ohno is such a good dancer because he can keep his body quiet and move individual parts deftly, so you notice that little movement.  This is another example of that.
- At 1:27, just before he walks upstage with Jun, he dips his head a bit right before he starts the walk.  This is a very common Jazz dance stylization, and it's not anything new or extraordinary.  In fact, it's quite normal for people who do Jazz dance.  But if you are not trained in Jazz, you wouldn't know to do it, and it is like a big arrow that's pointing to Ohno's head saying "I've been formally trained".  I am not sure he even realizes he is doing it because it must be close to second nature to him.
- At 1:39, his back his BACK HIS BACK. God why so hot!!!??? Okay sorry that really was fangirly of me.  But I love how he is slightly hunched, his head's hanging, the swing of his arm, the breadth of his shoulders.  I love Ohno from the back because he has the most developed back muscles of all of Arashi.  In fact, I think a lot of guys who are pretty buff don't have the same kind of definition Ohno has right there (the muscle on his side, right under his arm pit.  Maybe it's a hard muscle to train?  Ballet dancers have it because you need them to hold your arms out to the side.  Jazz dancers as well but to a lesser extent.  Guess that's where he got them? 
- 1:54 - here is really salient example of how much better Ohno is than the rest of them.  This is the move where their right arm goes from being parallel to the floor to sticking straight up.  It's in 4 steps. First is where the arm is parallel, second is when it is at 45 degrees, third is when it is at 70 degrees, and 4th when it is at 90 degrees. Then once the arm is up, you shift your upper body to face front whereas it was facing sideways (parallel to the right forearm) while the arm was making its track up.  Ohno is the only one who keeps his body facing sideways until after the arm has come all the way up.  He then makes a sharp, clean shift to face forward.  The others do something else entirely (will talk about them individually later).  It's a really subtle thing, but preciseness is such a hard thing to achieve (because you need so much control and body awareness) and he has it.

- very beginning - why is the thumb of his left hand (the one holding the mic) tucked into his pocket?  the arm is supposed to come up while the left leg slides back.  stock acting all cool and do the choreo as it's meant to be done! arm movements are just as important as leg movements!
- same thing during the weird flappy dance.  you're supposed to be swinging that arm around! what, this choreo too cutesy for you, highness?
-0:23 - one thing that Matsujun does well is spine and hip isolations.  this part isn't that great an example, but it does remind of that wonderful roll he did in Step and Go (I think it was S&G...) As someone who SUCKS ASS at spine isolations, my praises.
- 0:35 - nice, even, smooth rond de jambe with that right leg. good job!
- 0:50 - I think Jun does this dance sequence second best.  No complaints about how he does it, even though it doesn't look as good as ohno's.  He just sort of over does it, generally, which is why it doesn't look as cool.
- 1:35: stop posing with your hand on your hip, that's why everyone thinks your gay! and stop staring at Ohno.

The Neen
- His lips look super wet in the beginning.  Gloss or drool? Hmmm Oh it was drool! BAR HAR HAR HAR.  You see him suck it back up 0:04. 
- 0:21 - omg he looks like SUCH a girl here. they way he pouts his lips while he crosses his arms in the front - he could be a female porn star.
- 1:23 - the way he stands after he does his half-turn... also looks rather gay (the way he sticks his gut out).  Nino takes the title of gayest looking in this PV.  Not sure how MJ feels about that.
- 1:30 - i like the dance that Neen, Aiba and Sho are doing here.  Nino looks good doing these rounded back, pulse to the beat type dances.
- 1:50 - Nino looks okay doing this dance sequence.  he just needs to reel it in a bit so his back foot isn't so alarmingly turned in.
- 2:23 - Nino tends to over-do it when he is supposed to extend his back - guess it's because he's flexible and maybe he thinks he needs to overdo it since he is a hunchback.

- 0:12 - i wonder why this steps looks so especially ridiculous when Sho is doing it.  Is it because it's so dorky and he's so dorky and together they are super dorky? 
- 0:18 - he he he was supposed to slide a bit farther but he got stuck so he had this weird little hiccup. Blame the shoes, Sho-chan, blame the shoes (although it's actually more a function of you not distributing your weight correctly)
- 0:21 - didn't i tell you not to point the finger anymore? Plus when you have the finger right in front of your crotch pointing up first and then down, it makes me think of something kind of sad.
- 0:35 - this jerking walk to the rhythm doesn't work with this song. works on edgier songs but not on this.  be breezy sho-chan, breezy!
- 0:50 - okay, we know you have long legs, but you are lifting them up WAY too high. this step isn't such a high energy step! be more subtle and nonchalant about it. i think the head tilting also doesn't go well with this step.  combined with the knee raising, you remind me of Matsujun on the episode of AnS with Satoda Mai when they were playing slow motion catch and Matsujun did that exaggerated running movement.
- 1:30 - why are you so precious, Sho? you look like a puppet. maybe your posture is too good or something.  relax, it's not ballet! drop those hips!
- 1:56 - now is not the time to get into it and start head banging, sho.  this is like a really simplified robot dance - you gotta keep your movements short, precise, and small!
- 2:15 - i think this sideways swing is sho trying to look... dancer-like, but he just looks gay.

- Beginning - awww, Aiba is trying to do the head snap.  too bad he fails. a head snap has to be when the whole head moves (so like your whole head shifts sideways).  What Aiba is doing is he is shaking his head like an inverse bell.  His jaw pretty much stays in place while the top of his head swings side to side.  not quite the same.
- 0:11 - okay Aiba officially looks the most ridiculous doing this. it's because he spreads his legs too wide and drops his hips too much so he ends up looking rather frog-like.
- 0:50 - he looks the worst doing this too. it's like he's doing an entirely different step. he is putting his leg out directly in front of him, while he is supposed to be putting his leg out at an angle. and because he puts his leg out so in front, he has to pull it back to keep himself from moving forwards, so it just looks like a completely different step.
- 0:55 he does this the worst too (sorry Aiba-chan!) See how much he is shaking his body?  Stopping your body in between movements to the beat is one thing, shaking it is entirely another. 
- 1:50 - same move as above, but here you can also tell he is bouncing his right arm back and forth too, which is not part of the choreo.
- 1:55 - here, observe how different he looks from Ohno. He does the turn to face front thing a whole beat after Ohno.
- 2:25 - here you see him fall off of his center and then stumbling to his right. he threw his arm out too much when turning, causing him to lose his balance.

okay, i saw that The Lost has been updated so I gotta go read that!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
Good luck with your interviews!!! And I hope that your summer gets better :)

I've been watching a lot of older Arashi clips lately and it does seem as if MS isn't live anymore... Maybe Ohno looks tired because he went fishing again? Judging from how dark he is in this performance? I wish he would put on more sunblock!

Yes you are entitled to fangirly moments... isn't it a given when you're a fangirl?! There always seems to be something Ohno does in a performance that makes me melt (a wink here, a smile there) XD

I love when you analyze their dance, it makes me realize all those things that didn't look quite right when I watched it has a reason :)
Aug. 1st, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
I do wish Ohno would put on more sunblock...with the smoking, drinking and heavy exposure to the sun, he is setting himself up for an early death...

wow sorry for random bout of angst. (in a funky mood)

Jul. 29th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Ah post! An analyzation! Yay!

After reading the first lines, I dl'ed the performance and watched it once before reading your whole post. Things I thought:

- Nino looks into it, he's singing along with the others! (Though to me, it seemed a bit posed. More like he's trying to cover a bad day by overacting; more about that later.)
- 1:50, the arm movement. Satopi will have so much fun with plucking that apart; even I noticed how much neater Ohno looked doing it than any of the others.
- Matsujun's smiling and posing too much during that little duet with Ohno. He's not concentrating on singing; if he was, he wouldn't move around as much. He's on his own there, singing 'against' Ohno, he should have a harder time doing that than he has in this performance. One of the points that made me think it's not live.
- The other one was that Nino seemed to have forgotten his text. For just a moment, around 1:45 when the focus is on him (of all things) and he's smiling so flirtatious into the camera, his mouth movements seem off. But maybe I'm just imagining it?

I've learned a little from you already, see? ^__^

(Also, may I state that I kinda love your for putting in that picture of an orchestra? I honestly wasn't totally sure what you were talking about before, about professional dancers and such, but I totally got the orchestra picture. <3)
Aug. 1st, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
your point about matsujun being all over Ohno is exactly one of the reasons why i don't think this was a live performance. i also have a feeling that even if they sing it live, the lower part of that harmony is pre-recorded. i can't imagine jun being able to pull that off in live performance. that makes me wonder what he IS singing, since you can't hear his voice in the top part of the harmony (which is all Ohno). is he just going to lip-psynch that part whenever they perform this song? me wonders.

and yay! when i wrote the orchestra anecdote, i had you in mind. i was like well at least andrea will understand what i am talking about. <3
Jul. 30th, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
I really love your expertise on dancing. I wanted to watch the performance again but Asahi got it yanked from YouTube and I don't feel like downloading it so much. I just watched Nino's recent interview on SCP and I totally agree with you. I kind of thought he was just putting up with most of it all (variety shows, photo shoots, the music in general) just to be able to do what he wanted to do (act and compose?) but he really does enjoy it. I feel like I got to see another dimension of Nino. :3

Now that you mention it, I guess choreography is just a bunch of steps that you already know arranged in a sequence (with some transitions and stuff as well). I've been watching So You Think You Can Dance and it makes total sense now--because they can pick up choreography in a few hours and even when it's not their style. And have it perfected in a week. I don't know how much time they get for practice but that's still impressive. It's the same for an idol, especially of Ohno's calibre.
Aug. 1st, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
dude, i really don't have expertise in dancing. i sometimes am like "why the hell am i even posting this?", but then people like you give me such nice comments and i can't resist.

yeah, Nino's interview of SCP was a major basis for my saying he likes being an idol. That and an interview in H as well as an interview I read a scan of off of someone's post on Arashi-on. damn, i should have favorited it, it was the most honest interview I have read to date! the other members' wasn't that eye-opening, but Nino's really was. i should go hunt for it again.

and yes, you are totally right about choreography being a bunch of steps you know already arranged in different sequences. that's why in ballet class, we can pick up new combinations after only seeing them once or twice. i was able to apply ballet to jazz easily enough, but when i started hip hop, so many of the moves were so foreign to me that i couldn't keep track of the combination in my head! that's when it really hit me that choreography is just about fitting already existing pieces together in a different order. it was an eye-opening experience for me. in hindsight, i should have had this revelation when i studied west-african dance, which was my first foray into non-ballet dance, but the class i was in was so elementary (not meant for people with dance backgrounds) that it built up so slowly that i never had trouble keeping things in mind. but the hip hop class was really fast-paced and it was hard for me to keep up.
Jul. 31st, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Awesome dance analysis, I learned a lot from this actually. It's always interesting to read a reaction from someone who's had proper dance training. And your little side comments here and there made me chuckled all the way through. So I'm not the only one who thinks this choreography is a little... to exaggerate, it's like a modernized jazzercise video. It is catchy and I don't hate it, but not loving it either.

Hehe, Nino's broken-wrist motions are so precious. Just look how cute he's trying to be instead of dancing the choreography, he's almost preening. And I have to cut Aiba some slack, poor boy just wanted to play basketball with SMAP.

I suspect occasional lipsyncing in MS too unlike a real live performance like Ohno's Kumori Nochi- it made me think, 'oh so that's how it's suppose to be!' He can really do it properly when it's just by himself XD when push comes to shove, huh.
Aug. 1st, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
modernized jazzercise video... LOL. that could sum up too many of arashi's dance sequences. haha.

i don't know what to make of nino's dancing - i really think he is just doing it on purpose because he knows he's an idol and not a professional dancer, so why take himself so seriously? i kind of appreciate that because it pisses me off when johnny's boys act like they are real dancers or singers, because honestly, very few of them have that kind of talent. (at least the ones around these days). and aiba... he's so coordinated and physically gifted, but he just he is just so unartistic. it's kind of funny how someone could be THAT lacking in artistry. lol.

yeah, ohno really is amazing. you know how sometimes, the tv shows would broadcast arashi concert footage like the day after the actual show? or those fancam videos? the boys often sound horrible in those because the sound editors haven't had a chance to tweak the sound. but ohno always sounds EXACTLY the same as he does on CDs. it's really something else.
Aug. 1st, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Your dance analyse are awesome, they really open my eyes to the more technical aspects of Arashi's dancing.
To be honest, when I first started watching Arashi PVs and live performances, I thought of Ohno as the one who messes up the choreography. To my untrained eyes, it seemed that Ohno does something different from the other members, especially during intricate steps or subtle movements, and therefore, must be making a mistake(orz). Then I started really observing his dancing and discovered that he just has an exceptional control over his body and movements and isn't prone to the flailing or OTTness often exhibited by the other members.
About Music Station, I think groups (or their agencies) get to decide if they \sing live or lip sync. I was just watching Domoto Koichi's MS performance of his new single and it was definitely live.
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