CHU-LIP promotional photo
|Artist: Ai Otsuka
Product Code: AVCD-31177/8
Release Date: 2007.02.21
First Press: Sticker
Debut Ranking: #2
Label: avex trax
Ai Otsuka, affectionately nicknamed as Ai-chin by her fans is quite well known for her unique, bizarre and hyper releases. It has almost become a tradition for Ai-chin to release an upbeat single in the beginning of the year, which is highly anticipated by her fans. After four months of musical inactivity, Ai Otsuka discarded her “girl next door” image and returned with her new creation, “CHU-LIP”.
Following her usual creative trends, Ai Otsuka’s single had a rather well defined theme which was adopted for the lyrics, promotional clip and the artwork included. It was quite evident that Ai was aiming to surprise her audience with her creative concepts. She posed for the photoshoot in a platinum blonde wig and had a huge kiss mark on her cheek. She looked like a schoolgirl being kissed by her grandma before going to school. Many fans were surprised and mystified. Yet this was only the tip of the iceberg…
Since Ai Otsuka is a rather popular addition to avex’s company, she tends to have a rather rich promotional campaign. This single was announced in December and the covers were released on New Year’s Day. This single was also the third one that included an offshot clip (after “Momo no Hanabira” and “Frienger“). The title track got a tie-in with a dorama, “Kirakira Kenshui“. Ai was scheduled to appear on the most prominent variety shows and various music magazines. Online promotion wasn’t neglected either. Her official website had a rather innovative layout. Also, avex released a commemorative item for this single, which was a cell phone strap. As always, her single was sounding to be a promising release.
“CHU-LIP” made it’s debut at #2 but fell to #3 on the weekly charts on Oricon. Overall it sold 92,829 copies to date, making it one of her lowest singles to date. Despite the disappointing sales for Ai’s standard, this single was a decent seller and will probably manage to reach 100,000 copies by the end of the year. The reason for this single not selling so much was probably because it’s got a style which is too unique and bizarre for the audience to accept. Another reason could be the fact that “Kirakira Kenshui” had rather low ratings, which reduced the exposure of this single.
“CHU-LIP” is another creative play on words by Ai-chin. “Chu” is frequently used to refer to a kiss and “lip”, apart from the literal meaning, refers to a tulip. In fact, “CHU-LIP” is actually another creation of Ai, a tulip which has the petals which resemble a kiss mark. The illustration is featured on the cover artwork and a sticker of this kind of tulip was released as a first press extra. The creative process of this single was yet another collaboration of Ai and Ikoman. Ai wrote the lyrics and composition, while Ai and Ikoman worked on the arrangement.
“CHU-LIP” is a midtempo pop-rock creation with an extremely lively mood. It has a rather unique style, which is radically different from any releases in the past. The song starts off with drums and electrical guitars which are played throughout the whole song. However there are also frequent insertions of trumpets which add to the hyper mood of this song. Personally I feel this song has a rather addictive quality which gets you replaying this song over and over.
The lyrics are rather amusing and I feel are probably her most enticing. Ai Otsuka reflects on the age-old theory that a person will subconsciously fall for a person who is similar in personality to their opposite-gendered parent. Thus she feels she’s turning like her mom but she feels that the only proof that matters is that she loves her partner. Also Ai mentions how she finds herself imitating her partner’s habits. This explains the frequent use cross-dressing by her backup dancers and Ai herself who wears a dress over a pair of jeans.
The live performances of this song are rather entertaining. Ai had a wardrobe set, which consisted of the “washroom outfit” in different colours. avex hired a large number of backup dancers who wore outfits to reflect the central theme of “CHU-LIP”. The three dancers from the promotional video were also included, most notably the guy who wore a huge puffy dream and rather visible make up. I leave it up to your imagination to figure out what kind of crazy performances were aired on television.
The promotional video raised a lot of controversy amongst the western audience. I must admit it’s got a rather “shock quality” but this aspect was a pleasant surprise to me. It has an extremely fresh and energetic quality within it, without looking recycled. I’ve always feared that at some point of her career Ai’s upbeat promotional videos would fade into random and generic clips which would be overshadowed by her previous releases. However this clip was a successful and unique one with a rather humourous theme and with totally new concepts.
Probably the reason why this video was so creative was because Ai worked with the director Takahide Ishii for the very first time. Takahide Ishii is a promising young director who has been slowly gaining recognition in the J-Pop scene. He is well known for his unique style and his habit of inserting computer graphics within a promotional video. In 2006, he started working with Ayumi Hamasaki and since then he has filmed most of her videography, most recently her promotional video for “part of Me”. In any way, his input has certainly managed to create a rather exciting new promotional video. An interesting thing to note is that Ishii made a cameo appearance for the first time in this PV.
When watching “CHU-LIP” for the first time, you are bound to remain staring at the screen in disbelief for a few seconds. It’s rather vivid and definitely full of crazy elements. The colouring style used is extremely vivid and has a lot of red and pink hues. What was rather amusing to note was that despite the fact that everything in this video was beyond crazy, Ai remains serious and terribly cute. My favourite scene is when she’s trying to seduce a guy, despite the fact that he is so not interested in her. It was simply hilarious and displayed a new side of Ai which I had not seen before.
Fans have linked the lyrics with the promotional video suggesting that Ai is showing how one grows to become like their partner after being with them for so long. Also they have linked the first two persons appearing in her videos with her parents. Despite the fact that many fans have tried to interpret this apparently random video, there is no official interpretation. Ai wrote in her diary and mysteriously avoided to explain anything but asked her fans not to take it too seriously.
2. Kimi ni Kaeru.
“Kimi ni Kaeru.” is the mellow counterpart of this single, translating to “Returning to You”. Similarly to Ai’s b-sides, this song is a ballad with an emotional mood and has a similar style to these ballads. It is extremely reminiscent of her summer single “Neko Ni Fuusen”. The tone is extremely soothing and flows flawlessly. The composition is fairly simple. Ai’s vocals sound rather polished and blend extremely well with the backing instrumentals.
Although this song sounds more fitting to be released in autumn or late summer, the lyrics clearly depict the atmosphere of winter. The lyrics are rather poetic and romantic, reflecting a bittersweet love. Despite the fact that I’m rather fond of this track, I cannot help but notice how it has a lot of elements similar to her earlier ballads. This factor, along with being a b-side, makes this song a rather overlooked and underrated song.
This single managed to grab my attention as soon as I saw the cover art. Maybe the reason was because I love blonde hair. However I must say that Ai looks simply adorable with blonde hair and looks so much younger than she actually is. I have really enjoyed the fact that every aspect of this single was refreshing and extremely creative, especially her promotional video. It was rather fun trying to figure out Ai’s hidden meanings within this single.
Despite the fact that this single did not sell as many fans have imagined, I can see why this single wasn’t a huge hit. “CHU-LIP” has an extremely unique style which steers away from the typical mainstream releases. For this reason a more narrow margin can enjoy this bizarre style of this single. Nonetheless I feel this single is another quality product released by Ai where every tiny detail was cared for. This factor makes me appreciate Ai as a creative artist rather than simply a singer. Personally I am rather content with this release and I do hope she continues on with this direction in the future.
- CHU-LIP (Music Clip)
As a final note, I wish to take this opportunity to wish eyn, a fantastic happy birthday. Enjoy your day mate and take some time off to relax. I also wish to thank Celsius005 for his translations and zyzzyva for her insightful interpretations. Without them this review wouldn’t be half as good as it is.