Picture this: Lo about 23 months ago, a recreated Plastic 2 Mercy, now going as POP, performs at TIF in garbage bags and, along with WACKmates BiSH, gets kicked out of the event. Interesting! Leader Kamiya Saki is held responsible, suspended, and required to run an ultramarathon to retain her place. They release a single and new look that has nothing to do with where they’d come from. This gets repeated a couple of times. Then the members start to drop. It stops being interesting and more tragicomic.
POP didn’t really work out, is what I’m saying. In fact, the re-brand as GANG PARADE felt like a desperation move, a Hail Mary to keep an investment together for long enough to reap an actual return. And I don’t know what, if any, influence the arrival of Maika had on developments since last fall, or of the BiS/SiS fallout, but I do know this: GANG PARADE, even with the whole Saki/Aya swap, is an entirely different animal since the very first “GANG PARADE SAY HELLO.”
“Beyond the Mountain” is a whatever song as far as I’m concerned — I think I get what they’re trying to accomplish, but I feel fairly unmoved by it — with a very neat looking video and a cool concept tying it together. My first thought was that it’d wind up getting a ton of buzz and making it onto a bunch of Best Of lists, and it might, but I’m a big enough boy to admit that the feeling faded after a minute and the conceit ran its course.
But what a run the group’s on lately. They went from literal punchline to compellingly cool, directionless to some kind of high-concept creative monster. If what people said about Saki’s groups being like WACK’s laboratory is true, then a Tesla stepped in for Frankenstein and we’re getting much better results overall. After this hot little run of releases, the group might finally be able to put that older phase behind them and carve out a much stronger individual identity.
Or Watanabe will get bored and have them go back to being trash idols again. Could go either way.