50 YMM MVs Day 17: Violence

Day 17 and we’re up to another favorite YOU’LL MELT MORE! song of mine. (Yeah, I know, I’ve called like the last three of these “my favorite”…. cause they all are!)  This is “Idol ID”, which also appeared on the landmark album “You Are The World”. It’s a fabulous song with an MV that….well, let’s watch it first…

I think this is the MV that I’ve watched the most times out of all the Yurumerumo! videos, perhaps because I’m both fascinated with it and yet just a bit conflicted and bewildered by it. I have never seen an explanation of the context behind it, probably because of the language barrier, so it’s a total mystery what’s really happening here, and what themes were being explored. I really only have it at face value, leaving it up to my interpretations. But part of me loves that ambiguity and prefers to keep it that way.

The MV opens with members concluding a video shoot and being congratulated on the wrap, and then without any apparent reason or warning, a gun is drawn and YMM! is quite literally murdered before us. Shot dead quickly and efficiently with no conscience shown from their assassin. Chibo first, and Chiffon tries to help her and goes down next. Mone tries to run and is shot in the back. Younapi tries to stop the gunman but never has a chance. Kechon attempts to plead for mercy  while Ano is lost trying to process what’s happening. I feel the same way as Ano.

I imagine another factor in my feelings about it stem from me being a Westerner, an American in particular. I live in place where gun violence is a contentious issue that is stirs strong emotions across a spectrum of personal views. This video, in our current environment, would never get made here, so when I first saw this, I was thinking about how surprised I was to see this premise at all, let alone in a pop idol MV. And no doubt my lack of understanding the intended context compounds that. (I did find a couple of news articles about the MV, but they provide no back-story. Maybe there isn’t one? If anyone knows of a behind-the-scenes explanation, please share it!) 

And after falling to a terrible end, we see flashbacks of the group in happier times, laughing, playing, shopping… y’know, things we like to imagine idols do all day. Everything seems rosy and comfy and our confused feelings subside a little until we’re let back into the nightmare scene with the girls softly singing “Suicide… Sweet Side…” and they pop up to resume their dance routine with the upbeat closing of the song…  and the music box lullaby brings the song to an end. So what happened? Was it a dream? Did they change the future? Are they stuck in a Groundhog Day loop? We don’t know, but then the gun is drawn once more and the opening beat of the song returns as we fade out to wonder. As the giant said in Twin Peaks, “It’s happening again.”

And dang do I really love this song a lot. It’s everything I enjoy about Yurumerumo!… unexpected tempo changes, sing-along vocals, word-play between all the members, all of it is great. This blast of pop brillance was written by none other than Mariko Gotō, formally of the avant-jazz-punk band Midori. She later did some solo work, some acting, retired once, came back, had some good times, had some rather difficult times, briefly became a one-event only member of YMM!, and has continuely lived a life packed full of creative expression. It’s pretty much a perfect match to pair her with the ultimate cross-genre idol group.

And that’s the mystery, the joy, the terror of “Idol ID”.  Hope you return tomorrow! Chris will be offering us a more “sporty” outing for the group as our series continues. And to see us off, here’s Mariko Gotō with Midori delivering one of their legendary on-stage sensory explosions… enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “50 YMM MVs Day 17: Violence

  1. I remember reading someplace (that I can no longer find) that Idol ID is generally about the conflict between the idol ideal and the reality behind it. Idols put on their idol identity and go to work. At the end of the day, when they are no longer needed, they are “gunned down” by the industry that created them. Next morning, back to work and the cycle repeats. “Suicide sweet side” is about killing off the idol persona, or maybe the idol career, so the real person, the true identity, beneath can escape. But idol is the dream and the pain of idol is part of the price paid to realize that dream.

    I don’t know Japanese, so I may be entirely wrong, but it kinda makes sense and it sounds like something Mariko would write.
    “Dive into your dreams in agony with your ideals and reality”

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    • A very valid take, and pretty similar to what I was theorizing. That’s a theme that resonates with a lot of aspects of this industry. Thanks for the well-thought-out comment!

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