Neva Eva promo photo
|Artist: Hitomi Shimatani
Product Code: AVCD-31233/4
Release Date: 2007.06.06
Debut Ranking: #16
First Press: Offshot Clip
Label: avex trax
Hitomi’s 2007 has certainly been yet another hectic year. With two singles and one album under her belt, Hitomi would immediately start working on a summer single. Apparently sales do not equate to Hitomi’s energy since she has been very busy and rather positive, despite the fact that sales kept sliding miserably. In any way, summer was sounding rather promising with yet another change of style. With her stunning looks and her bright personality, Hitomi would yet release another exotic single for 2007.
This single would provide a yet another new style and genre for Hitomi. However, this was no surprise for most of her fans, since Hitomi has been genre hopping since the beginning of 2007. Furthermore Hitomi is well known as being a genre chamaleon. A new genre just got fans mildly curious on which direction she would turn to this time, but provided a minimal surprise impact. In any way, Hitomi would take her fans to the tropical coasts of South America with ska and mellow Latin beats.
For those not familiar with ska, it is a Jamaica-originated music genre that combines elements from Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz, rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bassline, a scratchlike tempo, accented guitar or piano rhythms on the offbeat; and in some cases, jazz-like horn riffs. Originating in the late 1950’s, it was a precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Yet once again, Hitomi would experiment with a genre which is fairly old.
“Neva Eva” would try to move towards creating a different image for Hitomi and having a well defined theme to fit for summer, rather than providing a generic J-Pop single. Hitomi would be featured with a carefree, fun-loving personality in the single photoshoot. Rather than aiming to be feminine and beautiful, as she usually does in her photoshoots, she moves towards a casual and striking image. The promotional video was aimed at surprising her audience and would feature her as an office lady. Hitomi attempts a comic approach to show her fans the “New Hitomi” who wishes to break from her trademark image and experiment with different styles. Hitomi would cut her long locks in heavy layers and dye her hair in a mahogany colour.
This single would be announced on the 20th March, a few days after the release of “PRIMA ROSA”. The title song would be used as the theme song of Nippon Television Network Corporation wrestling relay “Wrestling 2007″. Considering the fact that Hitomi is one of avex’s experimental artists, her management team decided to aim for a rather unusual promotional campaign. The promotional video was initially aired on her official website and it was only after the release date that the promotional video managed to get aired on music channels. Several guests would be spotlighted within this single. Animal Hamaguchi, a famous retired wrestler, who is also the father of a famous sportswoman who won many Olympics medals, would appear in the promotional video and accompany Hitomi on several promotional activities. Furthermore Pistol Valve would perform with Hitomi.
The promotional campaign was fairly different compared to her previous releases. Hitomi would only perform the single in four variety shows and would appear on a few magazines. Hitomi’s office lady persona was rather geeky; she would be featured in glasses, colourful clothes and a bun on most public appearances. Furthermore Hitomi, along with Hamaguchi would visit avex headquarters during a meeting to perform “Neva Eva”. This would receive a lot of media coverage and attention.
Despite all the efforts at creative promotion this single would make it’s debut at #16 and would fall to #22 on the weekly charts on Oricon, selling 8,175 copies. It is still charting, after five weeks and has sold over 10,000 copies. Considering the quality of the single, these sales are quite low. However it is definitely an improvement from the past two singles. It has charted higher than both and sold more than “Dragonfly”. In any way the reason for the poor sales were probably the weak tie-in, the original genre and the bizarre, comic style of the single. Considering the fact that most experimental singles rarely manage to sell well, I suppose this single didn’t fare so badly after all.
1. Neva Eva
“Neva Eva” is probably slang for “Never Ever” or “New Eve”. In any way the title is quite eye-catching and attractive. It is highly probable that the choice of the genre was Hitomi’s choice since almost everyone knows that Hitomi is in love with exotic music, particularly South American music. However, rather than going for the Latin genre, which has proven to be not so popular, the ska genre was selected for this single. Whether this choice has proven to be more favorable is debatable, but the composer did manage to create a fairly modern composition despite the fact that the genre is a little outdated.
The song is rather upbeat, catchy and lively. The brass arrangement creates a rather chaotic and energetic atmosphere which manages to be extremely catchy and is perfect for dancing to. The happy atmosphere combined with the groovy tune has led to mixed feelings between fans. Several fans found this song rather uplifting and fun, while others who enjoy her more serious side were not very happy with this song. In the end, it is one of those songs which you either hate or love.
I personally loved this song because it had heavy tropical influences and the extensive brass use sounded very attractive to me. During the bridge segment where Pistol Valve perform solo with electric guitars and trumpets is rather impressive, because it displays fully the musical talent of these musicians. Hitomi’s vocals managed to synchronize with the energetic pace of this song with ease, but then Hitomi’s brilliant vocals seem perfect for anything so I wasn’t exactly surprised.
The live performances for this single were quite bizarre. Hitomi wore the office lady outfit, with different colours and combined with striking accessories. Although the focus was on being a funny performance, I felt that the outfits were a bit over the top. The glasses were too weird and geeky and her fringe was weird and unnatural, making her look a bit ridiculous. The bright colours were just too chaotic. On the other side the performances were generally okay, Hitomi’s vocals were on the spot and the choreography was fun to watch. I feel they tried to create a crazy presentation, but maybe it would have been better if there were more backing dancers to create a more credible performance.
The promotional video is very original and pretty interesting. It displays the typical daily life of an office lady in Japan. The image of efficiency and hard work is emphasized quite well. Hitomi would take the role of an office lady (OL), along with Pistol Valve and her backup dancers. Exactly at nine in the morning, the office ladies would start working: checking their schedules, accepting phone calls, working on their computers. Naturally Hitomi is highlighted and she is depicted as a super OL. Animal Hamaguchi is the boss of the firm and he is shocked at her efficiency.
At five, work is terminated and the scene shifts to how an OL would go out and relax for the rest of the day. Most of the choreography is featured here. The choreography is quite simple and naturally focuses on a comic direction. However it’s quite entertaining to watch and it’s well directed. I really enjoyed how they blended choreography with daily cosmetic rituals and human mistakes. I can confidently say that this promotional video is her best of 2007 and it will remind fans of a blend of Ai Otsuka and Koda Kumi’s style. It was rather fun to see a blend of sexy and funny in one video.
“Hakuchûmu”, which translates to “Daydream” in English, is simply another typical mellow counterpart for most upbeat singles. However rather than being a ballad, this song is an exotic mid-tempo song, written yet again by Hitomi herself. The lyrics are rather mature, matching with Hitomi’s relaxed vocals. It can be classified as an easy-listening jazzy song, with a tropical groove. The brass selection is still highlighted once again. The mood fits well with the title song, which is excellent in itself because it provides a holistic theme for the whole single.
However the composition is quite simple and is not very memorable. Overall it’s one of those relaxing song you would listen to once in a while and another song to add onto your playlist if you do enjoy the Latin genre. Otherwise it’s just one of the typical Latin songs Hitomi enjoys releasing and it doesn’t exactly provide a lot of new elements.
This single was definitely a step up from her previous two singles in 2007. Everything seemed to be quite solid, compared to how the other two singles seemed a pretty rushed job. I really enjoyed the whole tropical genre, though I would have loved to see a beach promotional video to fit the whole theme. However the office lady image was very entertaining to watch.
There were some flaws in the promotion and the presentation of the single though. The whole “different” promotional campaign didn’t exactly work so well. The promotional video took ages to air, which probably was not a positive factor towards sales. Although the official website did provide the promotional video, most find it more convenient to be aired on television. Furthermore the fact that the focus seemed more on online promotion rather than the traditional campaign might not have been as groundbreaking as her management team has imagined.
I would highly recommend this single for those who enjoy listening to something different from the typical formula of J-Pop releases. The whole concept is well defined and the promotional video is clearly rather amusing, most particularly if you enjoy humorous videos. Although it is not the best single release of Hitomi, it definitely managed to create an exotic single with a well defined theme and an interesting concept.
- Neva Eva
- Neva Eva (instrumental)
- Hakuchûmu (instrumental)
- Neva Eva Music Clip
- Neva Eva (Music Clip Making)