Quirky electro-pop trio from Hiroshima10 January, 2011 by Chad
Perfume is a 3 member female act from Hiroshima that are best known for their amusing dance moves, performed to ultra catchy techno-pop tunes. While they have only found mainstream success in recent years, the group spans a decade long history, beginning as an indie pop act formed by three schoolmates.
I was first introduced to Perfume back in 2007 during the release of their 9th single, Chocolate Disco (which was bundled as a double A-side together with Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow). Chocolate Disco’s ridiculous tongue in cheek lyrics brought a smile to my face and as a long time fan of techno and electro-pop myself I was quickly won over by the song.
Perfume was originally formed in 2000 by Kashino Yuka, Kawashima Yuuka and Nishiwaki Ayaka, three schoolmates at the Hiroshima Acting School. However, Kawashima Yuuka decided against the project to focus on her studies and thus Oomoto Ayano became her replacement instead. It was said that the group’s name was derived from all 3 original members having the world 香/-ka (france) in their name. However, this was later revealed to be a retrofitted story to give meaning to the name.
After a delayed start, the girls officially debut in 2001 under a small Hiroshima label. Like any other young girl group, the trio started their career singing formula sugary sweet pop songs. However, from the start they had injected their zany stage art like dances into their performances.
With their graduation, the girls moved to Tokyo where they joined another idol group, BEE-HIVE for a while. Here they met with capsule’s Nakata Yasutaka who became their producer when they returned to being their own act. (Nakata continues to produce Perfume’s music even now). Under him, Perfume took on a techno-pop sound. The group continued to release singles but were met with little success.
In 2005, Perfume finally signed up to a major record label, Tokuma Japan Communications where they consequently released the singles Linear Motor Girl, Computer City and Electro World. But it wasn’t until their 4th major single, Chocolate Disco that the girls found their big break. The song debut at #20 on the Oricon charts and sold over 9000 copies their highest so far. To Perfume’s good fortune, the song caught the attention of Kimura Kaela and she ended up playing their music on her radio show.
Through Kimura Kaela’s show, Perfume’s music won over a television commercial director who decided to collaborate with the group. Their next single, Polyrhythm was created as the theme song for the NHK Kankyou Recycling Campaign. Polyrhythm met with commercial success, peaking at #4 on the Oricon charts and selling over 77,000 copies.
2008 became Perfume’s most successful year yet. The public finally took notice as Perfume’s catchy electro-pop sound and quirky dance moves won over fans. The group’s follow up single, the double A-side Baby Cruising Love/Macaroni debut at #3 on the charts. Perfume’s popularity skyrocketed as their first major album GAME sold over 450,000 copies to take the #1 spot. GAME became the only techno-pop album in history to do this since Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Naughty Boys” in 1983. Their next single love the world, continued to make history, by being the first ever techno-pop single to reach #1.
For all their achievements, Perfume secured a spot during the year end Kouhaku Uta Gassen. With Perfume’s ongoing success, the group has since appeared in all Kouhaku’s since 2008. That year, the group also performed sellout concerts at two of Tokyo’s most prestigious concert halls, the Budokan and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.
Perfume spent most of 2009 touring the nation, only stopping for a single single release, One Room Disco that once again topped the #1 spot. They also released their second album ⊿ (Triangle) that also reached #1, selling over 300,000 copies.
The group’s catchy tunes fit well as jingles for television commercials and Perfume and their songs have continued to feature in various advertisements. Triangle’s NIGHT FLIGHT was used as the theme song for Pino ice cream and Perfume also performed a cover of The Cardigan’s Lovefool in one version last year’s Pepsi Nex commercials.
The group’s 3 most recent songs, Fushizen na Girl/Natural ni Koishite, VOICE and Nee have all also been used to promote different products.
VOICE and it’s B-side 575 were used in the Nissan and KDDI ads respectively, while the trio are show performing Fushizen na Girl and their most recent single, Nee in Natural Beauty Basic commercials. Their wide public coverage have ensured that Perfume’s singles continue to sell better than any electropop group has ever hope to.
As an ending note, an interesting tidbit of information. Many of Perfume’s Limited Edition releases contain a special surprise within the packaging itself. For example, Nee’s booklet comes scented and Fushizen na Girl’s insert reveals hidden patterns when held up to a light, One Room Disco’s cover also reveals a surprise when held up to the light. Due to the scarceness of their earlier releases, singles prior to Baby Crusing Love actually fetch a fair ransom. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to invest in the group’s earlier singles as I did with AKB48.
Perfume have even become the subject of their own internet meme.Click here to search CDJapan for Perfume and other related items.