The birth of a new type of pop idol?31 January, 2007 by Chad
Now part of DefStar Records, AKB48 began producing singles on a 3 month basis. Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru (制服が邪魔をする), was the surprising followup release to AKB48’s major debut. Translated as “The uniform is getting in the way”, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru drew public attention with it’s controversial music video.
This time only a select group of 14 members appear and sing in the single’s release. The Senbatsu were made up of familiar faces from past singles, with the exception of Team K’s Masuda Yuka. By this time, Narita Risa had been completely phased out in favor of Shinoda Mariko.
While still raunchy, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru’s lyrics describe nothing more than the thoughts of a high school girl in love. And for the most part, the song’s video is a literal visualization of the lyrics, with the famous Shibuya crossing acting as a focal point.
As expected, Maeda Atsuko plays a central role in the video. The little addition where she meets an known figure, gives the song a separate meaning, hinting at the taboo subject of Enjo Kosai or Compensated Dating. Now, Enjo Kosai isn’t always what you’d think it is. But combined with Seifuku ga Jama’s lyrics, the video leaves little to the imagination.
As with their last DefStar single, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru came in two varieties, a limited CD+DVD first run and a CD only release. However as many Aitakatta limited editions remained unsold, the Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru limited sets were produced in a smaller quantity, making it one of the rarer to find releases.
As common a theme as it was for mainstream artists, back then, it was rare, if not completely unimaginable for female idol groups, to stray beyond an innocent and sugary sweet image. In line with AKB48’s theme of “keeping it real”, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru shattered any preconceptions with it’s suggestive lyrics and provocative dance moves, at the risk of otaku suicides everywhere.
In many ways, this image change bears a remarkable resemblance to the more recent pop evolution in Korea. The global K-pop craze possibly explains why the grittier AKB48 remains popular among foreigners. The theme wasn’t quite as well received in Japan though as Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru and the subsequent Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou, remain some of AKB48’s poorest selling singles. The two are also the only two A-sides not to appear among the fan voted top 100 songs for the past two years.
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