If you’re familiar with my blog or Twitter account, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with idols, including Love Live, Idolm@ster, and so on (but mostly Love Live). However, not all of my favorite idols are animated. In fact, there are many real Japanese idol groups I follow – and my favorite one is Perfume.
I first found out about Perfume when I was in high school and heard their song “Sweet Donuts.” It was silly, fun, and like never I had ever heard before. I thought it was really cute but never took the time to explore them any further.
Fast forward a couple years. I decided to check out Perfume again when I was becoming more interested in Japanese media. And I was extremely impressed. What started out as a cutesy Japanese group evolved into something much more sophisticated. Over the years, Perfume has adopted a futuristic sound and image – and it’s still their signature aesthetic to this day.
As I became familiar with their older and newer songs, as well as the members, I found myself falling more in love with Perfume. And although I already knew they were my favorite
3D idol group for a long time, this fact was solidified when I saw them perform live in March 2019 for their Future Pop tour.
In this post, I’m going to talk about all of the things I love about Perfume, including their concert at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.
Before I go into anything else, I need to talk about the core of Perfume: the members. These three women are known as Kashiyuka, A-Chan, and Nocchi. And they are all just… so cute. I don’t mean their appearance, although they’re all very pretty. I mean their personalities. Each one of them is bubbly, funny, and adorable in their own way.
When you see them, you can’t help but smile; they just make you happy. All three members also have an amazing chemistry together – probably because they have been friends since they were in high school. You can’t fake that kind of connection.
An awesome thing about Perfume is that they haven’t had any lineup changes – ever. It’s been the same three women the entire time. This makes it easier to get to know and feel connected to the members. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up with groups that have a lot of lineup changes. For example, I’m a fan of Morning Musume, but they’ve had SO MANY different members over the years… I don’t know who’s who sometimes.
It’s also refreshing that the members of Perfume are in their 30s. In Japanese idol culture, everyone is supposed to be “young.” Many performers being in their late teens or early twenties and “graduate” when they are older (this is part of why Morning Musume has had so many changes).
A-Chan, Nocchi, and Kashiyuka can keep performing until they’re in 60s, and I’ll still love them.
Electric Pop Songs
I have one word for Perfume’s songs: great. I never tire of them, even after listening to them gazillion times. When it comes to lyrics, they’re no longer singing about donuts. Their vast array of songs are about everything from love, being yourself, and looking forward to the future. Though, admittedly, some newer songs are still on the silly side – look up the lyrics to “Tiny Baby.”
As for the songs themselves, they are mostly techno pop songs. Just like any group, the songs vary; some are soft, some are more intense, and so on. But overall, I love how their songs manage to achieve a happy, poppy sound that is also bombastic.
Before I go any further, I need to point something out. A-Chan, Nocchi, and Kashiyuka don’t write their own music or lyrics. Most (if not all) of Perfume’s songs are written by DJ and producer Yasutaka Nakata. The girls have basically 0% input for the lyrics or the music – it’s all Nakata.
Normally, something like this would disappoint me. But the in case of Perfume, I don’t really care. Firstly, because this is a common practice with idol groups in Japan. And secondly, because the members say that all they are 100% confident in Nakata’s songwriting abilities, and that they always love his work (Herman, 2018).
If the girls are happy, then I’m happy. Plus, between their pretty singing voices, their personalities, and dancing, the Perfume’s members add so much more to the songs. And I can’t be too upset since Nakata is an amazing songwriter. I’m glad he’s given his talent to Perfume.
But just as the members have grown as people, Nakata has grown has a songwriter. Older Perfume songs always followed a set pattern: there’s a lot of repetition, and the girls’ vocal ranges didn’t vary much. Not to say the older songs aren’t good; I love all their songs. It’s just, in my opinion, the new songs stand out more because they have more melody and a wider range of vocals.
I hope Perfume and Nakata continue to work together and grow as artists.
Mesmerizing Music Videos
One of the things I love most about Perfume is their music videos. Sometimes, I get lost on YouTube for an hour or two, rewatching the same videos again and again. They just have this charm about them – they’re hypnotizing.
Many of the videos have a futuristic look to match Perfume’s image. Cities that look like they’re from the year 3049, floating cars, robots, laser beams, and who knows what else. Nocchi, A-Chan, and Kashiyuka wear unique, stylish (and sometimes questionable) outfits or costumes, adding even more to the video’s appeal.
On top of this, the girls are almost always dancing in the videos. I love their choreography. It’s simple yet sharp and compliments the music. It’s also extremely fun. I give major credit to their choreographer Mikiko Mizuno, also known as Mikikometal. Oh, and don’t forget the members themselves. They’re always doing something that makes me giggle. Like I said, just seeing them makes me happy, which is part of why their videos are so addicting.
There’s an example of one of my favorite videos by them. It’s more cutesy than futuristic, so maybe it’s not the best example… but that’s okay since I love it.
Now that I’ve rambled on about how much I love Perfume, I’ll finally talk about concert. As I said, I already knew they were my favorite idol group but when I saw their Future Pop tour in New York and… Omg.
Before the concert, I purposely didn’t watch any trailers or previews of the tour because I wanted to be surprised. And it worked. I was completely blown away. I knew they were going to incorporate some crazy futuristic stuff into the show, but I still didn’t expect it to be on such a grand scale.
That concert was the most visually stunning concert I’ve ever seen. And I have been to a lot of concerts. There wasn’t just flashy lighting and poignant strobes – there were multiple screens on the stage itself that added even more visuals to the show. With every song, the effects changed. During Tokyo Girl, we were high above Tokyo at night; during Fake It, our eyes were assaulted by a barrage of red; and during Butterfly, we saw spinning silhouettes of Kashiyuka, Nocchi, and A-Chan.
And these are just some examples from the two-hour show. As Sam Byford from The Verge points out, every song has a unique look that “elevates the choreography and the music itself.” This was particularly true for the song “Fusion,” where expanding shadows filled the event hall. That was my favorite song from the concert. I don’t think I have ever been so intrigued by something before. Whenever that song comes on, I turn up the volume, trying to relive the moment where the girls’ shadows engulfed me.
The dazzling effects are all thanks to Rhizomatiks, a company that creates art and other projects using technology. Seriously, what they did at the Perfume concert was mind blowing. I have never seen anything like it, and I don’t think I’ll ever see it again – unless Perfume comes back to the US. They are videos of the concert online, but seeing it in a video and experiencing it in person are very different things.
Although the effects were a big part of the show, you can’t forget the most important part: the members themselves. As expected, they were adorable at the concert. A couple times during the show, they took a break from singing and dancing to interact with the audience. And it was so much fun. A-Chan, who was the main MC, had us cheering for pizza and singing about brushing our teeth. I am not even kidding.
They also let a member of the crowd translate for them as they told stories about their trip to New York, such as how they visited the new Hudson Yards. I enjoyed these little intermissions just as much as the songs. And so did everyone else. The crowd was extremely enthusiastic during the entire show, adding more fun to the experience. Some of them even knew the choreography to certain songs. And, understandably, you could feel the energy draining as the concert came to a close.
Even though Perfume is not a household name in the US, they have a large and passionate fan base. So, I hope that Perfume continues to push forward and evolve, so they can come back again. My heart stands with A-Chan, Nocchi, and Kashiyuka the most, but I can’t deny that they have many other people who’ve helped them become so amazing. I feel that Perfume is transcendent; the three singers, the songwriter, the choreographer, the effects people, and everyone else has worked together to make something truly remarkable.
Take a look at the music videos below to see how far Perfume has come over the years. The members, the music, the videos – everything. I hope you like the songs/music videos, and check out more Perfume for yourself~
Electro World (2006)
Future Pop (2018)
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Byford, S. (2019, March 29). Behind the scenes with Perfume, Japan’s most futuristic pop group. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/29/18286681/perfume-future-pop-tour-tech-rhizomatiks
Herman, T. (2018, December 31). J-Pop Trio Perfume Discuss Their Music And Their Future After Nearly 20 Years Together. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tamarherman/2018/12/31/j-pop-trio-perfume-discusses-their-music-being-positive-about-their-future/#2fa51d244b44