All right, guys. This is it. The big one. Over the past week, I have gone through sexy PV after sexy PV but now we have finally reached the end. The final PV that I personally consider to be the sexiest on this list. I always knew that this would be the last PV that I would review if I ever went through with Sexy PV Week simply because of how infamous it is with the international idol fandom.
That's right. I am reviewing Heavy Rotation.
Hoo boy... do I even have to explain why I chose this song? I mean, I'm fairly certain that just about everyone who more or less follows idols at least knows of this song and PV. And if you somehow haven't, then you must be pretty damn new to the idolsphere. I don't think I have ever scene such an analyzed, picked-apart idol music video since Heavy Rotation. The single was released over two years ago and people are still talking about it and bringing in up. I've seen the PV cited many a time in reviews and various articles about idols (the most recent one being about how some K-pop group ripped off the Heavy Rotation PV). I guess what surprised me most was how many people looked beyond the face value of this video and wrote about it. Not only is Heavy Rotation famous for its fanservice PV, but the song itself is just... famous in general. Heavy Rotation may not be AKB48's best selling single but nonetheless it is still their anthem. It's a staple at concerts, consistently makes the top 10 of Request Hour, it's basically what Love Machine is to Morning Musume and what Polyrhythm is to Perfume.
But I have to wonder... what makes the song more famous? The song itself or the PV? Or even further, the controversy stirred up from the PV? Even though Heavy Rotation was just barely before my time of getting into idols, I still know of how infamous it's become. There are a slew of different opinions on this PV said opinions ranging from a cheap exploitation of fanservice to a bold and daring interpretation of feminism. And they've all been very interesting to read... however, if I'd known that I was going to be reviewing this PV when I was reading said articles, I probably would have held them off until I'd written my review. I can't help but have those opinions influence my own and for those reasons, my impression of Heavy Rotation when I first watched the PV has very drastically changed. But then again, I'm happy that I can join in and offer my own two cents on such a well-known PV from a well-known group. Because really, the amount of ways you can interpret the PV are what make Heavy Rotation such an interesting PV to review.
But before we get to that... how does the song itself hold up? Heavy Rotation is practically an icon in AKB's discography and if I could peg one song by the group that will still be remember 10 years later, I'd go with Heavy Rotation. That's partially because of the sheer exposure it's gotten from the music video and that the song has been performed so much. But all the fame and infamy aside, is Heavy Rotation a good song? Well... yeah, actually! Okay, it's not the best song by AKB48 but it definitely isn't the worst either. Heavy Rotation is one of the group's happier songs and actually one of their more generic songs. You'd think I'd hate this song since I have an uncontrollable hatred toward generic songs but I actually don't! I think what separates Heavy Rotation from the other generic songs by AKB48 that I loathe is that this song has energy. It has got a boatload of energy from the moment Yuko screams "1! 2! 3! 4!" to the absolutely explosive final chorus.
I think another element of why I like Heavy Rotation is that it's a really catchy song; I can imagine it being a live song that does really well with audience participation thanks to the chorus. It's a very simple chorus to memorize and the fact that it's in English is what makes Heavy Rotation wriggle itself into my head. And I don't really mind because Heavy Rotation is such an energetically happy song that I can't help but feel a little bit happier when I listen to it! In fact, when I'm in a really good mood, I love to put Heavy Rotation on simply because it adds to the good mood I have. Now the other lyrics of the song are pretty much your run-of-the-mill love song lyrics you can find in a bajillion other AKB48 songs but I actually like them! This is going to sound strangely specific, but for some reason, this songs so good when you're in a relationship. Like around this time of year when I had a boyfriend, I loved listening to this song. I'm single now and I still love listening to this song, but being in a relationship made me feel like I could relate more to the lyrics. Overall, Heavy Rotation is a good Senbatsu song to go with the other good Senbatsu songs! Except for Gingham Check. Gingham Check can go sit in the corner away from all the good Senbatsu songs.
Okay, the boring review part's over, guys! Now we get to dive in and take a closer look at the Heavy Rotation PV and all it's glorious fanservice. So let's get to the screencap! Or as Yuko would say... "1! 2! 3! 4!"
Speaking of Yuko... the PV begins with the a shot through a keyhole which is a pretty clever way of depicting fanservice as some forbidden, unseen object.
And then the PV enters fanservice heaven.
Look! It's a bunny! A cute little bunny!
Acchan tries to figure the inner workings of a stuffed bunny rabbit.
Good god, I feel like I'm watching a Victoria's Secret commercial!
Don't ask me why, but I have always thought that solo dance move Yuko does looks extremely cool.
As new queen of Senbatsu, I decree that everyone gets lollipops! Even my rival Acchan!
I really love the outfits used with the dance; I just love the quirky skirts combined with the military jackets!
But the panty shots are a little unnecessary.
Oh Acchan... I forgot how pretty you were in this PV...
And MAYUYU! Oh, look at twintailed Mayuyu before she became supreme Creeper of AKB48!
I really like that despite the pillow-fight scenes are really over-the-top fanservice-y the girls do all look like they're genuinely having fun.
Rena's so adorable when she smiles!
Again, panty shots were not necessary.
Jurina looks beautiful in this PV; I'm happy that she's getting a push in current AKB48 right now!
Mariko, what did you just put in my mouth!? This tastes like crap!
Hee hee, let's make a prank call on Tsunku!
You've reached the wrong number. Now get the hell off my phone line or I will cut you.
Once upon a time, there was a group named AKB48 and they were very big and fanservice-y...
Why Tomomi, I didn't know you felt that way about me!
Notice this is pretty much the only shot where you see the lower Senbatsu. I am not pleased that the amazing Akimoto Sayaka and Minegishi Minami got shafted.
Hey guys! Let's play a game called Chose Which Scene is Sexier: The Bed Scenes or the Cat Scenes?
It's... so... PINK!
Oh hey, this is kind of like that Puccho lip commercial only with delectable pastries instead of gum!
Remember the day when the biggest scandal AKB could get into was over gum?
Weeeee this chandelier is SHINY!!!
Ah, it's nice seeing Kasai Tomomi in a time before her career had gone to shit.
Good lord, the food on that table looks delicious...
Now, I could make a really dirty, sexual joke about the white stuff on Tomochin's face but I'm going to take the high road and not do that.
Bitch, I ain't giving you these cookies! Get your own!
Hey! Hey! Can I have a strawberry! Purrrrty please?
Just for that awful pun, you get NOTHING!
The jell-o... how does it like... do that thing... where is bounces back and forth? Mind = BLOWN.
Man, I love me so much!
Acchan looks so pretty... hell, everyone in this PV looks pretty.
You know what would have made this scene better? A RUBBER DUCKY!
So apparently a lot of people flipped their shit over 14-year old Jurina being naked in a bathtub but honestly? The bubbles cover up more of her than any of that sexy lingerie would!
Let's get married!
And we'll have Takamina marry us!
-sigh- I miss the Acchan-Yuko rivalry...
Look at Yuko. She's beautiful in this PV! Absolutely beautiful!
Sing it with me guys! I WANT YOU~ I NEED YOU~ I LOVE YOU~ Okay, I'll stop now...
And Yuko made an effing awesome center for this song.
The World Record for largest bed goes to... AKB48!!!
Off they go to sleep to dream of sugarplums and flowers and kicking Arashi's ass on the year-end charts of 2010...
Shhh! Don't tell anyone about our fantastically fanservice-y PV! It's our little secret! ...and everyone else who watched this PV...
So... have I ever told you guys about my first encounter with AKB48 in the idolsphere? I know I kind of mention it in my little About Me page but considering not many people read that, I think it's time I elaborated on my first taste of the massive idol group. So back in late 2010 when I had just started realizing that yes, music outside of Perfume existed in Japan, I had just begun getting into Hello! Project. The first group I really liked was Buono! and then I got into Berryz Koubou and C-ute and finally I got into Morning Musume around the time Eri, Junjun and Linlin were graduating and the 9th Generation auditions had been announced. So as I was leafing through Momusu's old music videos on Youtube, every once in a while I'd come across this comment that sounded like "I love Momusu! They're so much better than that crappy AKB48 group!" So I wondered who was AKB48? And what was so bad about them? I looked them up on Wikipedia but even then, I couldn't figure out why Momusu fans hated them so much so I turned to Youtube for an explanation. I just typed "akb48" into the search box, not really sure what I was supposed to be looking for so I decided just to see what turned up as the first result and work from there!
Can you guess what video turned up first?
Yeah, I lasted about a minute watching the Heavy Rotation PV before quickly closing the window and clearing my search history. What can I say? I have parents who already think my love for J-pop is weird enough; if they'd seen me watching that PV, it would have sent them over the edge! As embarrassed as I am to admit it, Heavy Rotation is pretty much the reason that I didn't want to get into AKB48. I saw them as a group more interested in fanservice and pandering to a male fanbase than performing and making good music so I didn't see why I should give them a chance. I was narrow-minded enough to think that Heavy Rotation was a representation of what all their PVs were like and that was the image of the group. However, once I did open up my heart and let the AKB48 in, I realized that there was more to AKB48 than just fanservice, including some really amazing songs and some really well done PVs (-cough- Beginner).
Even now that I've developed a better understanding of AKB48, I can never forget that initial reaction I had to Heavy Rotation. It was like walking in on two people having sex: shocking and something that made me feel dirty by simply looking at it. And ever since then, I haven't really taken another close look at Heavy Rotation. I mean, the song is on my iPod but I hardly ever watch the video and even then I only watch parts of it to cite certain things on my reviews. So honestly, taking a closer, more detailed look at Heavy Rotation has allowed me to develop a better and more fleshed-out opinion of the PV and just what it represents. Now like I said before, there have been a myriad of opinions about this PV ranging from accusatory to defensive. On the left side, people accuse the PV of being exploitative and pointlessly sexy, a blatant appeal to the male demographic. Then on the right side, people defend the PV as an over-the-top parody of sexuality and an expression of being feminine. And those are just two opinions. Some people think there's nothing wrong with the PV and that it just depicts a bunch of girls having fun who just happen to be wearing sexy lingerie. Like I said, there are tons of different outlooks on Heavy Rotation.
So let's look at the basic concept of the PV: a bunch of girls having fun with each other via pillow fights, playful wrestling, eating food and other friendly interactions with each other. Without any other context added on top it, that's a pretty simple and clean concept that many other idol PVs share. In fact, the idea of girls having fun is one of the many facets of the appeal of idol groups. Okay, I want you to try and picture Heavy Rotation if the girls wore pajamas instead of lingerie. I think if the girls were wearing more conservative outfits (even bikinis), not as many people would have flipped their shit over Heavy Rotation. Now what's the difference between bikinis and underwear? Hell, you can even argue that underwear covers up more than bikinis. Why did people get their panties in a bunch (forgive the pun but I just couldn't resist) over Heavy Rotation when PVs like Ponytail to Shushu and Everyday, Katyusha get free passes? Well... I think it's the context that comes with underwear, especially sexy underwear.
Unlike bathing suits which can be seen if you go to any pool or beach during the summer, someone wearing only underwear is usually only seen by a few select people ranging from teammates in a locker room to a significant other. And sexy underwear is usually only seen by a significant other, unless you just really enjoy fancy lingerie. And some people do but usually fancy lingerie is associated with seduction and/or sex. And the implications that come with a bunch of young girls wearing such provocative clothing is why I think so many people get upset at the use of lingerie in Heavy Rotation. The fact that a lot of the girls in the PV act so innocent and carefree combined with the sexual overtones of the settings and the outfits is probably also another factor in why this PV stirred up so much controversy. Because it doesn't matter how happy or innocent the girls act; the way they look still speaks tons about them in the PV. It's like if I walked up to you wearing a giant sign that says "HOMOS DESERVE TO BURN IN HELL!!111!!!!11!!!1" (which by the way is a belief I do not hold). What are you going to focus more on: me or the sign?
Overall, I've always thought of Heavy Rotation as a fanservice PV despite all the outcries of feminism and innocence and everything in-between. Here's my biggest reason: the demographic. AKB48 isn't a group that was made to cater to little kids: from the group's inception, AKB48 has been targeted for men. Middle-aged men if you want to be more precise. With that in mind, all the fanservice in the PV from the playful fighting and kissing to the outfits is a perfect combination of two sides of fanservice: innocent and sexy. Over the course, of Sexy PV Week, I've showed you PVs more styled in sexy fanservice like SDN48's Sato e Wataru. The fanservice in that PV is straight-up sexy fanservice from the sexy lingerie and blatant use of seductive movements and props to appeal to fans. And on the innocent side, I showed you Ebisu Muscats' Oecura Mambo which depicted fanservice more shyly with select shots focusing on legs and chests but also having fairly conservative outfits and showing the girls doing mostly innocent activities.
AKB48 blends both styles together: the sexy fanservice comes in with the sexy lingerie and the more suggestive gestures and shots. But then the innocent fanservice is present thanks to how the girls act: you can see in the girls that they act like bouncing around in sexy clothing is a perfectly normal thing that girls do every time they have sleepovers. In fact, the main concept I got from this PV was a teenage boy's idea of what girls do at sleepover. Only in real life all we really do is sit around on the couch in ragged t-shirts watching movies and bitching about other people and our own personal feelings but that's beside the point. Heavy Rotation feels like an oversexualized, highly exaggerated representation of a sleepover. And considering the person who directed this also directed Helter Skelter... I can see that. But something I want to point out is that the PV isn't so over-the-top that it's a parody. Heavy Rotation is and always will be a PV made for fanservice simply because of the demographic it's appealing to. You can add as many undertones and theories that you want for this PV, but personally I don't want to overthink it.
Now as for the more technical and visuals aspects of this video... I think this PV looks gorgeous. I mean, I know it's a fanservice PV but damn, the details and sets in this PV are just so pretty to look at it. Like I said, the over-the-top fanservice and scenery is what makes Heavy Rotation so captivating. Now that I'm more comfortable with watching Heavy Rotation, I feel like I can appreciate the sheer effort that went into making this PV visually pop. Like do you guys remember Michishige Sayumi's photobook titled Sayuminglandoll? Well, I don't review photobooks but that's one of the only photobooks I took the time to look at simply because of how visually exaggerated the shots are and how much the colors pop. Sayu's PB had a more surreal and exaggerated concept than more natural photobooks and it was interesting. The photobook had a theme and it was an awesome theme. And Heavy Rotation's hyper-sexuality is actually kind of cool to look at. Like the set in the dance shot? I love that set from the floor to the flags draped all over the back to even the rose-styled microphones the idols hold.
I think the little details are what I enjoy about this PV too, especially the objects the girls play with in the bed shots. I even saw them reading a Snow White picture book at one part! Overall, the strongest aspect of Heavy Rotation (other than the fanservice) is simply how much stuff there is to look at. I will say, the fanservice might make some viewers uncomfortable, but if you can get past that, the visuals are pretty striking in Heavy Rotation. There are so many props and objects and shot changes in this PV that there was never a moment where I wasn't bored. In retrospect, I'm glad that I took another look at the Heavy Rotation PV even if I still think it's basically a fanservice PV because it's an expensive fanservice PV that provides a lot of eye-candy and a lot of really beautiful visuals. If you're new to AKB48, I would probably wait on checking out this PV until you've seen some more complex and less fanservice-y PVs but after that go crazy and watch Heavy Rotation!
Overall, I will give Heavy Rotation 5 Perfume!Legs on the Sexy Apple Rating System. The song is one of my favorite AKB48 songs because of the sheer amount of energy. And after watching the controversial PV again, I actually like it a lot more than I used to! In terms of fanservice, it combines both innocent and sexy fanservice in the most seamless way possible. It's an intricate and gorgeous PV that appeals to its demographic perfectly. Wow... I guess I won't be able to use the Sexy Apple Rating System after this review. Oh well, everything must come to an end and so must Sexy PV Week! I just can't believe I actually made it through the entire week and didn't fall behind! That's quite a feat for me! So yeah, I hope you all enjoyed Sexy PV Week as much as I did! But as one last testament to this wonderfully sexy week, I've got a little poll for you guys: of the seven sexy PVs I reviewed, which one is your favorite? Feel free to vote!