Game (Perfume album)

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Game
Studio album by Perfume
Released April 16, 2008
Recorded 2006-2008 at Contemode Studio, Tokyo, Japan
Genre J-pop, electropop, dance-pop
Length 56:16
Label Tokuma Japan Communications
Producer Yasutaka Nakata
Perfume chronology
Perfume: Complete Best
(2006)
Game
(2008)
Triangle
(2009)
Singles from Game
  1. "Fan Service (Sweet)"
    Released: February 14, 2007
  2. "Polyrhythm"
    Released: September 12, 2007
  3. "Baby Cruising Love/Macaroni"
    Released: January 16, 2008

Game (stylized as GAME) is the first full-length studio album of Japanese girl group Perfume, released on April 16, 2008 by Tokuma Japan Communications.

Game musically re-invents the genre Technopop, which declined through the 1990s and 2000s decades in the Japanese music scene. The album explores electronic dance genres including house, J-pop, bubblegum pop and techno. Many tracks in Game touches upon themes of fun, dancing, love and music. The album's production and lyrical content was handled by Japanese producer Yasutaka Nakata. Three singles were released from Game. Fan Service (Sweet) was a double A-side single consisting "Chocolate Disco" and "Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow". The second single "Polyrhythm" became the groups first charting single on Oricon, and the third double a-side single "Baby Cruising Love/Macaroni" was released as the final single.

Upon its release, Game received mixed to favorable reviews from most music critics, many of whom complimented the mixture of genres and overall composition of the album, while criticism was directed towards the album content for being lifeless and overproduced. Commercially, Game became the groups first album to top the Oricon Albums Chart and became Nakata's first produced album to do so. The album was certified double platinum by Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ). Becoming the groups highest selling effort to date, the group promoted the album on their nationwide Perfume First Tour: Game concert tour.

Background[edit]

In 2000, Ayaka Nishiwaki, Yuka Kashino, and Yuka Kawashima, often known as A-chan, Kashiyuka and Kawayuka, formed the group inside young talent academy Actors School Hiroshima run by Shinhiroshima Telecasting.[1] However, before they could debut, Kawashima had left the group to pursue an education.[1] This led Nishiwaki to find a replacement for Kawashima, and Ayano Omoto, known as Nocchi, was announced the third member of the group.[1] Two years later, the group recorded two singles "Omajinai Perori" and "Kareshi Boshūchū" which received little attention in Japan. In 2003, the group signed to Bee-Hive Records and released three singles; "Sweet Donuts", "Monochrome Effect" and "Vitamin Drop".[2][3][4]

Although many artists at Beehive were being dropped by their management Amuse, Inc., they felt Perfume in particular had potential to breakthrough and allow Perfume to release another single.[5][6] But in doing so, Perfume left Beehive Records and signed with Tokuma Japan Communications to release their future music. The group released Fan Service: Sweet and, while sales were not high, the success of the singles A-side track "Chocolate Disco" begun to play on radio stations throughout Japan.[7] Furthering their success, commercial director Akira Tomotsugi noticed Perfume on the radio and was interested in shooting a campaign, featuring the girls.[8] The groups first album, Perfume: Complete Best, a compilation album featuring unreleased and previous tracks, became successful in Japan, peaking at number twenty-four and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of 150,000 units.[9]

Composition[edit]

Musical styles[edit]

Perfume's music has been handled by Japanese produce Yasutaka Nakata ever since their debut (pictured).

In the brink of making Game, Japanese producer Yasutaka Nakata had been producing and writing several songs for Perfume since their commercial debut in 2003, but the musical composition was cited as post-Shibuya-kei.[2][3][4][10] Nakata had formed a duo Capsule with Toshiko Koshijima in 2001, creating electronic dance music ever since their debut.[11] Nakata is credited as the songwriter, produced, composer and arranger in all of his music discography, including produced albums and his own work. For Game, all songs were produced, composed and written by Nakata.[12] In the album, Perfumes vocals had been heavily processed through autotune and vocoder.[13] This process was recognized through Perfume's next two albums, until it was removed from their 2012 album Level 3.

Nakata was particularly interested in re-inventing the term technopop for the Japanese music scene; a term that was recognized in the 1980s in the western world.[14] Technopop was widely considered in Japan in 1983 by Yellow Magic Orchestra for their studio album Naughty Boys, and was positively received for its electronic influences.[15] Musically, Game explores genres of technopop music by combining 1980s synthpop with chiptunes and electro house music.[10] Retrospectively, MTV Iggy felt that the Japanese club and electronic culture had influenced all of Perfume's studio albums, including Game.[16] Perfume insisted in wanting heavy bass songs on the album, which Nakata accepted.[17]

Many of the lyrics deal with confidence, love and fun.[17] Kashino commented that Nakata knew a lot about the "female perspective" and felt his way of writing love songs were "easy."[17] Kashino sometimes felt embarresed because she had a personal connection to the songs he had written; she cited the song "Puppy Love" as an example.[17]

Songs[edit]

The albums opener "Polyrhythm" is an uncommonly fast-tempo electronic dance song that references 2000 dance song "One More Time" by French electronic duo Daft Punk.[13][18] The song starts slowly and features repetitive looping through the bridge.[19] The second song "Plastic Smile" is a fast retro technopop song that was highlighted as one of the "lighter" songs on the album.[13] The album's title track was noted for its "aggressive" club-oriented composition that focus prominently on the music. Perfume's vocals are set in minor key with overpowering bass and minor trance elements.[13][19]

The fourth track and sixth track, "Baby Cruising Love" and "Macaroni", are dance-ballads that were noted for its slow paced composition.[19] The first features instrumentation of piano and synthesizers,[19] with Ian Martin from Allmusic commenting that the lyrical content was "inoffensive and characterless."[13] "Chocolate Disco" and "Ceramic Girl"'s "energetic and bouncy" tempo was highlighted for being the best songs on the album by many critics.[18] "Take Me Take Me" is the only English-language song recorded by Perfume, until it was surpassed by their 2012 single "Spending All My Time".[nb 1] The song was noted for its slower paced composition, featuring less instrumentation than the other tracks on the album, but was not critically well-received.[18]

"Secret Secret" was highlighted by majority of the music critics and the best track on the album.[13][18][19] The song incorporates starts with an "odd" introduction and incorporates a "diverse" variety of bass, repetition and futuristic music elements.[18] "Butterfly" is a darker track that was compared to the albums title track, featuring little vocals to focus on the composition.[18] The song features ambient elements of a rain forest and animals.[19] The two latter tracks, "Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow" and "Puppy Love", conclude the album, with the first featuring the groups "signature cheery" dance and technopop sound, while the later is a softer pop rock-dance song.[19]

Release[edit]

Game was released on 16 April 2008 in Japan both digitally and physically.[12] Two editions were released; one featuring a CD and a DVD, while the standard edition featured a standard compact disc with a yellow-colored obi.[20] The cover art of the album, as well as other promotion shoots, show Perfume in a small square room, with superficial grass, blue walls and a lit-up ceiling.[12] The promotion shoots were photographed by Mari Amita and art direction was provided by Kazuaki Seki. This was Amita's first collaboration with Perfume, and her last was shooting their 2012 compilation album Love the World.[21] Additional help was aided by Mayuko Yuki with design and Iku Aoki and Masahiro Nakawaki who directed the photoshoot.[12]

In February 2012, the group had signed a record contract with Universal Music Japan after leaving Tokuma Japan Communications to record their third album JPN.[22] They signed a global record contract with Universal Music Group to release JPN globally, but received rights by Tokuma Communications to release their discography globally, and Game was subsequently released worldwide in March 2012 digitally.[23]

Singles[edit]

Fan Service (Sweet) was released on 14 February 2007 as the double a-side lead singles for Game. Featuring "Chocolate Disco" and "Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow", the singles received favorable reviews from most music critics, with the composition and production being particularly praised.[18] The song did not received much attention in Japan, only peaking at number thirty-one on the Oricon Singles Chart. "Chocolate Disco", however, received much more attention that the other track, managing to chart at number twenty-four and seventy-six on the Japan Hot 100 and RIAJ Digital Track Chart in 2014 and 2010 respectively.[24]

"Polyrhythm" was released as the albums second single in 12 September 2007 in Japan. The song received positive reviews from critics, with Perfume's strong delivery and production values being highlighted.[19] The song was a chart success in their native Japan, becoming their first top ten single at number seven. It peaked at number thirty-six on the Japan Hot 100.[25][26] Despite 77,000 physical shipments in Japan, the song was gold by RIAJ in both digital downloads and ringtones sales, equivalent to 200,000 sold units.[27][28] The song received a music video that was published on Perfume's YouTube channel.[29]

The group released the album's third and final single, double A-side single "Baby Cruising Love/Macaroni". The song garnered positive reviews from most music critics, many who found the softer tracks the best on the album.[18] The song peaked at number three on the Oricon Singles Chart, making it the groups highest charting single at the time.[26] The song received a music video that was published on Perfume's YouTube channel.[30]

Promotion and commercials[edit]

Before release the album, on July 1, 2007, the commercial for NHK's national recycling campaign aired, featuring Perfume and their single, "Polyrhythm". The commercial was the groups first commercial release inside Japan. Subsequently, their next live show sold out, and Perfume became the first idol group to perform at the Summer Sonic music festival.[31][32] The group managed to receive commercial endorsements with the usage of their songs from the album. "Butterfly" was used as the Infinite Frontier for Nintendo DS and "Secret Secret" was used in a Eskimo Pinot commercial.[33][34] All three singles including "Ceramic Girl" received a commercial endorsement feature, including deals with NTV and theme songs (both ending and opening).[35]

After the album's release, the group had officially announced that their Perfume First Tour: Game will commence in late April 2008. The group toured 10 cities and sold out all tickets.[36] On the final date of the tour, Perfume announced that they would be doing a 2-day show at the prestigious Nippon Budokan in November 2008 as well as the release date of their next single, "love the world".[37]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[13]
CDJournal (favourable)[35]
Channel-Ai 4.5/5 stars[19]
Japanator.com (mixed)[38]
Selective Hearing (positive)[18]

Game received mixed to favorable reviews from most music critics. A reviewer from the publication Channel-Ai awarded the album four-and-a-half-stars out of five, citing the album as "interesting." The reviewer felt that while the album was more a "[Nakata Yasutaka] album featuring [Perfume]’s vocals," he concluded "Nakata’s detailed production of Perfume’s sweet, charismatic vocals creates an irresistible listening experience."[19] Nia from Selective Hearing heavily praised the album for featuring tracks that she had liked altogether. Nia commented "Personally, I think that’s a perfect balance to have when making an album and one of the strongest aspects of [Game] is that each track has its own unique sound and style [...]" She praised Nakata for creating a "perfect balanced" album that, he has since never done.[18] A reviewer from the publication CDJournal called the album "futuristic pop" and favored the albums production.[35]

However, Ian Martin from Allmusic awarded the album two stars out of five. Martin felt the production was "overwhelming" by commenting "There are also a number of occasions where the production completely overwhelms the sometimes flimsy melodies on offer, and it's hard to escape the impression that producer [Nakata Yasutaka]'s attitude to the three members' vocal contributions is basically one of damage limitation." He did, however, commend the albums catchiness and favored the mixture of dance genres.[13] Zac Bentz from Japanator.com criticized the albums lack of development and felt the album didn't shift genres. He commented "If [Perfume] doesn't start expanding their sound, maybe moving out of the cyber-dance cage Yasutaka has built up around them into, say, more real-world territory, their remaining time may be limited."[38]

Game has since been praised widely and has been featured in Music Magazine's Best Top 100 Domestic Albums of 2000, ranking the album at number nine on the magazine.[39][40]

Commercial response[edit]

Game debuted at number one on the Oricon Albums Chart and stayed their for a sole week.[41] The album sold over 154,000 copies in its first week sales.[42] The album started to fall after its peak and Game had sold over 59,000 units in its second week.[43] In the annual album chart, Game peaked at number twenty-three on the Oricon Yearly Chart, with a total of 391,439 sold by the end of 2008.[44]

Game had charted for the next two years on the Oricon Albums Chart. It was placed at number 144 on the Oricon Yearly Chart for 2009, with it selling 61,415 and sold 10,486 units in 2010.[45] In total, the album has sold 500,000 units in Japan, being certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) in May 2009 for shipments of 500,000 units in Japan.[46] The album stayed in the Oricon chart for over 124 weeks.[41]

Legacy[edit]

Following its release, Game has been cited as one of the most successful technopop albums of all time.[10] Martin from Allmusic commented about Perfume; "That [Perfume] are not like other Japanese manufactured idol groups is evident from the trio's popularity among not only traditional pop fans but also large numbers of indie and electronic music fans."[13] He concluded that the album "revealed a further refined version of the template of cute idol pop coupled with the more sophisticated dance music influences that had made them so successful."[47] Martin had listed the album as their best album to date, citing it as an AV album highlight.[48]

Game and its accompanying singles marked the beginning of their rise in becoming not only a large factor in Japanese music, but launched them into the Western market.[49] The group's single "Polyrhythm" was featured on the soundtrack of 2011 American animated film Cars 2, which marked the groups first entry into the western market.[49] In response, Perfume were invited to attend the movie premiere in Los Angeles, California.[50] The director, John Lasseter, was happy to see the girls there and said "The moment I listened to Polyrhythm, I loved it, it was like falling in love."[50] Daniel Robson from The Japan Times commented "The sound [Nakata] perfected for [Perfume] with 2008′s breakthrough album [“Game”] caused a resurgence in demand for off-kilter electro-pop, at that time a niche genre, with labels rushing to release similar artists such as Immi, Sweet Vacation and Urbangarde." He said Japanese pop acts including Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu had "suddenly exploded in popularity" because they were "interesting."[51]

After the album peaked at number one on the Oricon chart, the album became the first technopop album to reach at number one since Yellow Magic Orchestra did so with their album Naughty Boys. According to Tokyograph, this makes Perfume only the second technopop group ever to achieve this position.[52] The album is currently the group's highest selling album, as well as Nakata Yasutaka's highest-selling produced album or material in his career.[53] After Game, Perfume released three more studio albums: Triangle, JPN and Level, all peaking consecutively at number one on Oricon and were all certified platinum respectively.[54][55][56]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Yasutaka Nakata, all music composed by Yasutaka Nakata.

CD
No. Title Length
1. "Polyrhythm (ポリリズム Poririzumu?)"   4:09
2. "Plastic smile"   4:36
3. "Game"   5:06
4. "Baby Cruising Love"   4:41
5. "Chocolate Disco (チョコレイト・ディスコ Chokoreito Disuko?)"   3:46
6. "Macaroni (マカロニ Makaroni?)"   4:39
7. "Ceramic Girl (セラミックガール Seramikku Gāru?)"   4:34
8. "Take Me Take Me"   5:28
9. "Secret Secret (シークレットシークレット Shīkuretto Shīkuretto?)"   4:57
10. "Butterfly"   5:41
11. "Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow"   3:49
12. "Puppy Love"   4:32
DVD
No. Title Length
1. "Polyrhythm (Live at Liquidroom Nov.8 '07)"    
2. "Seventh Heaven (Live at Liquidroom Nov.8 '07)"    
3. "Macaroni: Original Version"    
4. "Ceramic Girl: Drama Another Version"    
5. "Macaroni: A-chan Version"    
6. "Macaroni: Kashiyuka Version"    
7. "Macaroni: Nocchi Version"    

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Japan (RIAJ)[57] 2× Platinum 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Spending All My Time" has been identified as an English-language song from many worldwide sources. Because the lyrics consist mainly English words and with reliable sources accounted to this, it is taken as an English song, not a Japanese song.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "パフュームの元初期メンバー 河島佑香の脱退理由とは一体なに?". トレンド探偵局. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Sweet Donut スウィートドーナッツ (CD single). Perfume. BeeHive. 2003. BEHV-0006. 
  3. ^ a b Monochrome Effect モノクロームエフェクト (CD single). Perfume. BeeHive. 2003. BEHV-0008. 
  4. ^ a b Vitamin Drop ビタミンドロップ (CD single). Perfume. BeeHive. 2003. BEHV-0009. 
  5. ^ "宇多丸×掟対談【第1章 出会い】". Yomiuri Online Pop Style Blog. 
  6. ^ Robson, Daniel, "Will the world wake up to the scent of Perfume?", Japan Times, 18 May 2012, p. 18
  7. ^ "Perfumeの祝福でカエラ&瑛太の結婚式がダンスフロアに" (in Japanese). natalie.mu. 
  8. ^ "動画サイトで大ブレイクPerfume ネット仕掛け説まで取りざた" (in Japanese). j cast news. 
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  10. ^ a b c "Perfume Interview" (in Japanese). bounce.com. 2008-02-07. Archived from the original on 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2009-06-02.  (English translation)
  11. ^ "An interview with Yasutaka Nakata". cnngo.com. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
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  23. ^ http://www.universalmusic.com/corporate/detail/1220
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  29. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbiSxunJatM
  30. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYaxQYf_EdI
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  34. ^ "Perfume is determined new image character of "Eskimo Pino"". CDJournal. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
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  39. ^ "Music Magazine July 2010" (in Japanese). Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
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  45. ^ a b "Single Top 50". contents.oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  46. ^ "ゴールド等認定作品一覧 2009年3月" [Works Receiving Certifications List (Gold, etc) (March 2009)] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. April 10, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  47. ^ Martin, Ian (May 30, 2008). "Perfume Biography - Songs, Highlights, Credits and Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 6, 2015. 
  48. ^ Martin, Ian (May 30, 2008). "Perfume Discography - Songs, Highlights, Credits and Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 6, 2015. 
  49. ^ a b Malt, Andy (6 April 2015). "Q&A: Perfume". Completemusicupdate.com. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  50. ^ a b "Perfume attends "Cars 2" world premiere in L.A.". tokyohive.com. April 6, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  51. ^ Robson, Daniel (6 April 2015). "Will the world soon wake up to the scent of Perfume?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  52. ^ "Perfume becomes first technopop group at #1 since YMO". tokyograph.com. April 23, 2008. Retrieved November 21, 2008. 
  53. ^ Nakata Yasutaka's album discography
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  57. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Perfume – Game" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. 
Preceded by
I Loved Yesterday by Yui
Japan Oricon Charts number-one album
April 23, 2008
Succeeded by
Dream "A" Live by Arashi