With a new year, Morning Musume has evolved from MM '15 to MM '16. Their first single with a 12 member line-up after the departure of 9th generation member Sayashi Riho is also the final single for 9th generation member Kanon Suzuki (pictured front row, center, in the blue outfit). Suzuki's final single is a triple A-side single, each with a distinct flavor showcasing the flexibility the group and also showing a gradual changes in musical and presentation style(s).
The main A-side single is Utakata Saturday Night. This song has a disco vibe very reminiscent of Golden Era Morning Musume. As Morning Musume has mostly promoted EDM songs, this was a breathe of fresh air and served as a great farewell song to Suzuki. She has always been praised for her smile and her positivity, therefore this song reflected her personality well and even allowed her to have a special solo part just for herself! The choreography of this song is fun and wacky, once again mirroring Golden Era MM where members didn't have quite the same level of dance skill as the current lineup does. The "do it" dance has to be one of the most fun and yet also amusing parts of the dance. The music video is amazing, I absolutely loved it (I mean that explosion at the end? Awesome!).
The second A-side of this single is The Vision. I'll be honest, I have some issues with this song and the way it was executed. First off, it's not particularly memorable. It has great lyrics and is beautiful, but it sounds so much like all of the other ballads that Morning Musume has released that I initially found myself skipping over it all the time. I've come to quite like the song, especially since the instrumental is STUNNING, but it's the weakest of the three A-sides. It is more of a b-side or album song that may make an appearance in concerts from time to time but eventually, is forgotten. I will say I LOVED the outfits for this song. I wish they were the main outfits for this single, haha. I also wish I owned this outfit, it's just soooo stylish. I thought all the girls looked great and I generally liked the music video but goodness, I hated the dance format. The song is a ballad with cascading piano notes which calls for a lot of grace when doing the dance. So, I can understand why they decided on a dance team and a vocal team as this dance is hard to pull off. But even the dance team is lacking in grace. As much as I love the girls, they could not really bring this dance to life and it fell flat for me. And I felt that the lack of grace was exacerbated by the fact that we had a dance team of only 3 members. As a total package, the vision was disappointing.
The third and final A-side is actually my favorite! Tokyo to iu Katasumi is EDM in full force and I quite like MM's EDM, lol. I hated the song outfits. I hated the music video. But! I really like the song. Why did I like the song? The lyrics really struck a cord with me. The title translates to "In a corner of a city called Tokyo." Having been to Tokyo and experienced how vast it is I definitely experienced the feeling of anonymity when walking the streets. That feeling of being in such a large world and trying my best to live in a way that makes me happy without hurting or being in anyone else's way become very real. I remember standing at the edge of Tokyo Bay and thinking about how lonely I would be living in Tokyo on my own and how, despite my love for the Japanese culture and language, I will never live in a place where I'm truly 100% accepted, unless I create it myself - my one little corner of a city called Tokyo. Aside from these feelings of nostalgia and understanding, I loved the dance break in this song and the vocals, omg! Maachan completely stole the show here for me and yes, she's most definitely my #1 in MM '16 . Sakura was also amazing and Ikuta as well as Ayumi pleasantly surprised me. This may be the least surprising of the songs on this single, but I think it's a style that the current MM has down perfectly.
Overall, I thought this was a strong single for MM '16 and a proper sendoff for Suzuki. I would rate this single at a 4/5 just because the Vision didn't quite come together as it should have. I look forward to the 11-member line-up and how they continue to grow until the eventual (hopefully!) introduction of 13th generation.