Koda Kumi’s “Physical Thing” PV

The title track of Koda Kumi’s forty-fifth single Alive is about as exciting as dishwater. Ballads have never really been her strong suit, after all, she doesn’t have the smoothest of voices, instead flourishing in sounds that easily drown her vocals in bass. But just when you think she has reached the apex of boundaries’ final frontiers, she turns into Darth Kumi.

And now, your Monday Evening Phallic Imagery brought to you by the the c/w track “Physical Thing” and Rhythm Zone (I’ve never said this before, but seriously, it’s probably not safe for work).

Physical Thing PV ░ [ View ]

But what, no fake smoke to go with the fake cigarette? Not even a little?

“It seems crazy to cut smoking out of textbooks but within a few years they won’t be allowed in movies either. A woman can throw her newborn child from the roof of a high-rise building. She can then retrieve the body and stomp on it while shooting into the windows of a day care center, but to celebrate these murders by lighting a cigarette is to send a harmful message. There are, after all, young people watching, and we wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea.” (David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, pg 251)

Koda Clueless has never been good with subtlety, often misunderstanding the line between sexy and sex, and there is little she hasn’t done for shock value. But unless there are sex tapes yet to be released, we’re going to have to be content to snark anything she brings near her promotional video-d lips, including that cigarette. Ah, cigarettes, one of the last bastions of moral rectitude. It’s almost the last “controversial” object or action she hasn’t been filmed singing with or doing, until they put together one of those mock-docs and we see her do a line on a sheet of lyrics.

But the whole thing looks unrealistic and clumsy, and the fact that it’s done purely as a means to put both parents’ and fans’ knickers in a twist is what upsets me. In some ways, it makes it twice as less threatening, turning it into something of a joke (the pressing question becomes: will it or will it not tumble from her teeth in the middle of a dance step and set the room ablaze?). Clearly, I have fallen prey to it: the conversation generated by one cigarette that doesn’t burn or ever seem to ash is the conversation they want you to have. But still, the cigarette-a-look-alike is only shocking in so far as most teens today are of the truth generation, already forgetting that smoking was common on television and movies until fairly recently.

In reality, the cigarette is only distracting us from the real problem of this video. Forget the music, I can’t hum a single bar of this vacuous song after watching this twice, but the image of her red wig and wine bottle hand-jobs has been sealed like a cattle brand to my retinas. But then I’m an old-school feminist; if you really want to assert your sexual freedom, go burn a bra or something.

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9 thoughts on “Koda Kumi’s “Physical Thing” PV

  1. Noonan September 10, 2009 / 11:21 am

    Unless things have changed a lot in the two years since I’ve been there, in Japan they don’t have too many “truth” type things like we do. They are more concerned with the litter that tends to come with smoking, and with getting burned by a lit cigarette on a crowded street, which makes for some hilarious ad campaigns. (http://inventorspot.com/articles/japan_tobaccos_delightfully_dist_9553 and http://inventorspot.com/articles/japan_tobaccos_cheerfully_chidin_10542 I like #20) I don’t think the cigarette would be seen as an attempt to be edgy in Japan, but I could be wrong. Still I felt a little nervous watching this at work, for other reasons. And yes, Darth Kumi indeed.

    • Anna September 10, 2009 / 11:38 am

      You have a point there. I think the “edgy” part comes from the idea that even though there are still lots of smokers in Japan, certain types of people are expected to maintain a certain image and not to, i.e. celebrities, particularly girl “idols.” Girls have been known to get fired from groups just for being photographed smoking or even just hanging out with their boyfriends (Ai Kago, for example, who was caught lighting up and promptly banished from Morning Musume).

      But yeah, those ad campaigns are great. I still have the portable ashtray you gave me: “You’ll never find a stand ashtray in the best viewpoints.”

      • Noonan September 11, 2009 / 8:45 am

        Wow didn’t know that. Seems a bit contradictory, especially considering how pervasive smoking is in Japan. Well I take that back, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just a case of not falling on the wrong side of the inside/outside mentality.

  2. shay December 10, 2009 / 6:09 pm

    i didn’t like this song OR vid(which is waaaaaayyyy too mainstream american pop idol (particularly lady gaga) for my taste) either at first the song is catchy but it had to grow on me i wonder hy they made kumi sing so much english is the song we all know thats not her forte and just why is the vid so darn lady gaga anyway

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