Bed-In: Rich – a tacky time travel with Tokyo’s trashiest duo
I guess everyone has those guilty pleasure kind of favorites. Things that you know are bad by all standards, but still you just can’t stop loving them. For me Bed-In‘s videos were such a thing: I ran into one of them a couple of months ago and I was hooked in an instant. I mean, how could anyone dislike something as shamelessly trashy as this:
Pure camp genius, with the throwback ’80s / ’90s look, the deliberately bad “acting”, the dance moves, the whole rebellious office lady theme, all that glitter, the kinkiness, the ridiculous looking flames, the outlandish supporting cast and the worst-of-the-’80s costumes, that always make sure singer / guitarist Mai Chusonji‘s boobs are properly on display. It’s all an extremely fine example of “so-bad-its-good”. The song itself was similarly trashy and fun, but at first it wasn’t much more for me than background music for the video.
So, when they came out with their first full album, RICH, back in July I wasn’t too thrilled to give it a listen… until UK’s JPU Records picked it up for Worldwide online distribution, which got me curious. But honestly? I still was not expecting much, but the album eventually turned out to be a fun listen. The good thing about it is that they are not going for a very specific style or era, it is more as if they just picked up various things from the ’80s & ’90s, threw it all together in their little mixing pot and the end result is something quite amusing. The albums starts off with GOLD no kaikan and Poker Game, two of the best tracks and they already have everything that makes Bed-In so much fun. The fast beat evokes the heydays of the Para Para / EuroBeat movement (especially the deliciously tacky sound of JPop trio D&D, one of my main Japanese guilty pleasures), there are vocal parts straight out of early, Love Machine era Morning Musume, and of course we have the omnipresent influence of the more dance music oriented ’80s pop idol acts.
And the ladies’ vocals fit into the mix smoothly: Mai’s voice is a bit more high-pitched, while Kaori Masukodera‘s is stronger, so they give a nice contrast when needed, but they are also fine with vocal harmonies when that’s what fits the song. Earlier Mai was in a psych garage rock band called Rei no K (例のK), that really had nothing at all to do with what she is doing here, as you can see it on the live videos floating around on youtube (here) and Kaori’s group, Yo-Say-Tachi (妖精達) also sounds nothing like Bed-In. It is more akin to Shena Ringo‘s early output, however their outfits are a completely different matter: all shiny and glittery, but cheap looking at the same time, so they are clearly a forerunner of the Bed-In look (again, see for yourself on youtube). But still, they are far not as outrageous as Bed-In, known for their crazy stage shows, complete with panty flashing high kicks, where they act like a twisted copy of all those run-of-the-mill teeny idol girl groups, that has swarmed the Japanese music scene since the rise of Morning Musume and AKB48 (Wanna read a bit more about girl groups in Japan? Check the LDH feature). Except they are a helluva lot more fun to watch.
But while RICH is a nice album, that evokes a lot of memories and presents them in a quite amusing way, it is far from perfect. Beside some true gems, there are also a couple of lesser tracks, like Nariagari VICTORY, their shot at old school hip-hop, which is interesting at best. And after that, about halfway thru the whole album slows down a bit, thanks to a couple of filler tracks, but then fortunately C chou Venus!, the track from the video above comes along and saves the day. It is truly one of the highlights, that sums up everything that makes Bed-In so much fun: mad, incredibly trashy retro sound, that is full of energy and comes from the pure love these weird ladies clearly have for their childhood favorites.
Is this the album of the year? Definitely not. But it does not even try to be that, it is just an extremely entertaining love letter to music from the past, that despite its 100% retro roots somehow still manages to sound fresh. And even though there might be some parts that can be fully appreciated only by fans of old JPop, most of the music is rooted in the global music trends of the ’80s, so it will make everyone who is even a bit familiar with that era feel nostalgic… and especially with the raging retro wave, that’s been going on for a couple of years now, I guess Bed-In might find its global audience.
(RICH is available Worldwide through JPU Records)
01. GOLD no Kaikan / ＧＯＬＤの快感
02. ♂×♀×Poker Game / ♂×♀×ポーカーゲーム
03. Summer Dream
04. Give me! ~ Ai Shiteru~ / Ｇｉｖｅ ｍｅ！～哀・してる～
05. Nariagari VICTORY (ft. Cypress Ueno & Roberto Yoshino) / 成りアガりＶＩＣＴＯＲＹ（サイプレス上野とロベルト吉野×ベッド・イン）
06. Taiyo wo shinjite… / 太陽を信じて．．．
07. ROSA – Miwaku no varilite – / ＲＯＳＡ －魅惑のバリライト－
08. Vacant Heart Syndrome
09. SEXY HERO
10. C chou venus! / Ｃ調び～なす！
11. Mayonaka no distance / 真夜中のディスタンス
12. Shirokurotsukanai (ft. UNJASH) / 白黒つかない（ft. アンジャッシュ）