Gu-Gu LULU’s Out Here Trying to Break Me

A thousand curses upon the idols who waited until the doors were inching closed on 2019 to start dropping the kinds of absolute bombs that we’d largely been missing from their musical landscape this year — which can be forgiven, as the Idol Membership Massacre of 2019 will go down as one of the scene’s most infamous runs — but I at least have felt like we really needed.

And so it is that, with a week to go before we stop giving out eligibility for our Best Of awards, along comes Gu-Gu LULU with their third single and frankly their best song to date dropped along with this fun little video:

Like, other than “amazing” and “life-changing” and “destroyer of boundaries” and the like, how the hell are you supposed to describe a song that simultaneously contains both possibly the best bass line and nastiest guitar solo in idol for the year on top of being generating a joyful delirium in the listener? I definitely love it; the question is whether I can parse out which I love more, the slight edge of melancholy from the chord progression or the juxtaposition of those sunny idol voices with an instrumental arrangement that I feel like I could hear on the alt-R&B station. Can I use the phrase “neo-retro” and have that make sense?

I tend not to shy away from reasonable critiques of manager-sans or even idol-samas when the situation calls for it, but I find myself agog at the audacious reach for sheer perfection in the Aqbi family lately. Gu-Gu LULU at first felt like a fun experiment with a different flavor from Tanaka-san’s unmistakable personal palate, but they’ve developed a (small but still) body of work that runs right against the best of BRGH/TTTS/NILKLY and MIGMA and all the rest. That alone may give them the ultimate leg up — a pride of place if nothing else — over the other prominent chika-rooted idol stables, all of which have diversified their offerings and explored unique soundscapes, but none of which are, if I may, nearly as consistently awesome as what Aqbi brings to the table. And GGLL right in the thick of it — it’s quite an accomplishment to leave me scrambling around for a crown that I could bestow upon them.