This New BiSH Got Me Feeling Things, Man

I have entirely too much to say about the new BiSH song-and-video move while at the same time saying very little about it at all, so bear with me a minute. It’s like I saved all the words that I didn’t write over the past couple of weeks just for this one post!

Necessary intro: New BiSH MV. New album coming in under a month. Me? A mix of eager anticipation and total trepidation. Like most everything BiSH has done going back to 2017, one gets the feeling from the available evidence (or: they skipped ahead and bought the EPs) that Their latest is going to have the same uniformly good collection of music as always with one’s own levels of satisfaction thereof determined largely by whether they preferred the first or second promo single release.

Yesterday was time for the full, amalgamated album to get its turn in the marketing chute, and thus to use was born “DiSTANCE”:

Ah, a powerful ballad that doesn’t sound entirely like the other ones!

I spent the days preceding this drop in sort of a weird fugue. It’s been hard to keep up with idol stuff lately for just normal personal reasons, and frankly there haven’t been a whole lot of things to get excited about these past few weeks, but knowing that BiSH was bound to release the next part of the full-press CARROTS and STiCKS promotion with the record less than a month away had my antennae swinging, and the tease the other day had me on BiSHbrain.

Which (cw: navel-gazing) took me on this whole Tour de BiSHtory. When I started this thing, BiSH was a big part of why. They were relatively new, but the potential they had was undeniable, and being backed by the OG BiS pedigree gave them an immediate advantage over any other upstart project with roots in the chika scene. There was something about the way they sounded on the debut album and subsequent indie singles, about the dual leads between Chitti and Aina, and how they always looked completely earnest about some kind of inside joke that only they, Watanabe and maybe a few close friends could understand. So I championed them, unabashedly and without reserve — I thought at the time (and still do in a lot of ways) that if anybody from this whole mess could pull a Babymetal-esque move and become a meaningful conversation piece in the West, it was BiSH.

It helped that they made every release into the biggest deal possible, and the kind of thing that a junior idol-obsessed blog writer had practically no choice but to over-post on, being what you might call Very Online in that savvy while simultaneously being the least accessible act of all. I still sometimes deliberately embarrass myself over this one as a reminder to not get too het up about certain things, that news cycles and marketing are deliberately manipulative and that it drives a certain objectivity to stay, if you will, a little bit un-manipulated in those moments. Watanabe, though, is the absolute gold standard of marketing savvy*, and the metaphorical you in this device find that the only way to project even a shred of that objectivity is to compartmentalize your own primitive, reptilian response to Jun’s machinations and focus the — laugh it with me — professional response on the product itself.

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this.

BiSH’s metamorphosis, in retrospect, has been really clear ever since the move to Avex started a sort of course correction in the way they sounded. This is hugely ironic when you consider that their first major single was this glorious supernova and their first major album was probably the best thing they ever produced (fight me), but it’s also true — the Kentacore ballads were marketable and profitable, and a self-conscious zaniness replaced the former raw intensity that gave the earlier releases so much life. It’s also undeniably true that the pure top-to-bottom quality of the music itself became so excellent as to be almost mechanistic.

I only got to watch this MV once after its release. Too busy as usual, and when the time to allow for me to do anything did finally come along, it was too late in the day and I was worn out. I was thinking about it, though. I saw how and why people — people whose takes I trust, people who often articulate the responses that I feel but can’t quite pin down — had the reactions they did, why they liked it, why some absolutely loved it, why there was almost uniform condemnation for the outfits, etc. I couldn’t shake the (perhaps completely unintentional) visual allusion of the breaking wave from Pearl Jam’s “Alive”. I wanted to love it.

And all I landed on was “I miss ‘Hontou Honki’.”

I didn’t get the EPs for the very specific reason that I wanted to have the full album in one shot, and I very seriously can’t wait for it.

BiSH makes people feel weird things, man.

*I aspire to having as deft a hand at perfectly executing any project as well as JunJun’s managed BiSH’s ascent, and doing so while gleefully making himself a heel so easily and totally reviled that it only makes the people he manages more sympathetic, but doing it with such total precision that half of the room is aghast at his atrocities while the other half golf claps in morbid, resentful admiration