Microphone: Meeting you was a necessity

by Rinoa on April 6, 2010 · 5 comments · AddThis

Hamasaki in Microphone
Black Hamasaki making an appearance in Microphone as well as in Sexy Little Things

Microphone is the first song from Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus which was leaked online and was chosen as the leading song for this album. Furthermore it was also the first promotional video which was aired on television. It is neatly blended in with Sexy Little Things, where the final scene is re-winded and re-utilised as the introduction for Microphone.

The setting is largely modified from minimalistic to gothic. Nonetheless the heavy usage of black and white is ever-present. It was filmed in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. The video highlights themes of repression, concealment, control and the notion of being true to yourself.

In each and every random scene that is displayed, the first impression is of prim and proper families and typical workers, such as a clown, a soldier and a janitor. Like most people they are anxious to hide their transgressions from what might be categorised as abnormal. Therefore they might see their passions and desires as something to be ashamed of and try to suppress them.

But, you know, there’s the days when
When I don’t even want to see your face, it’s that hateful.

However an omnipresent god-like presence seems to be always manipulating the overall situation and direction of the plot. This presence cleverly reveals the true nature of all these people by flipping through, rewinding and fast-forwarding through the scenes as if using a touch screen remote control when things get too boring. The janitor’s passion is for dancing, the soldier feels restricted in the austere outfits and tears her clothes away and the clown is actually a pyromaniac

Stepford Family
White-Wigged Hamasaki & the Stepford Family

The family setting struck me most. It seems to be highly strung, where everyone seems to be forcing themselves to be nice to each other even if they can barely stand the sight of each other. The family seems to be a combination of Victorian and Stepford families who are dead set on rules and being prim and proper. However beneath the veneer of a traditional family, cracks start to appear and the family is portrayed as dysfunctional. The sister is actually a brother dressed up as a girl, the parents seem to be coldly ambivalent of each other and Hamasaki is extremely uncomfortable in the shoes of a well behaved daughter.

In the end the omniscient presence shoves the “sister” towards “White-Wigged” Hamasaki. This is practically the straw that broke the camel’s back for her and she gets fed up of keeping up appearances and the whole family starts bickering. Hamasaki climbs on the table while her family try to drag her back.

I’m pushed by gravity, and I’m pulled by gravity,
Meeting you was a necessity.

The “Black” Hamasaki seems to symbolise the “hidden-true” side of Ayumi who loves singing and defines herself by her music. She determined in breaking down all the barriers and simply be herself, without any social inhibitions. Maybe it’s the desire of wanting to be different or simply to be herself and not caring about what anyone else thinks.

Red Ayu
The one who was manipulating everything...

In the final scene it is strongly hinted that through the whole time the “Red” Hamasaki (from Sexy Little Things) was manipulating the whole situation all along. She holds a small modernistic screen where she recorded the whole video and grins smugly at her handiwork, while she rewinds the whole video. Taking into account the mood of Sexy Little Things, one can theorise she just did it for entertainment purposes to wind the people up and compile something which revealed the true colours of human beings.

I won’t lose my way anymore, I don’t have any regrets.
Meeting you was my destiny.

Personally, I am quite fond of the lyrics, especially since they’re so different from anything she has written before and provide a very powerful message. Refreshingly enough Hamasaki does not talk about a loved one or a past love. The lyrics depict a love-hate relationship between Hamasaki and her microphone. It is quite straightforward that the microphone is a metaphor for her love for music.

Human beings need a focus in their life, a constant which defines them and ignites passion within them. For Hamasaki music is her passion. No matter how much she changes and those days where she’ll just wish to give up everything, she’ll still hold on to her musical career. She firmly believes that it was her destiny to become a musician and it defines her as a person. In her musical career she has no regrets and even though sometimes she cannot understand why she loves music so much, she is well aware that without her music she is not herself.

You know this: The me without you
Is not me at all.

Microphone Screens
The three different versions of Ayu and the Old Royal Naval College.

Author’s Note: A big thanks goes to maikaru from Ayumi Hamasaki Sekai who does my favourite translations of Hamasaki’s songs.

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About the author

Rinoa enjoys spending her free time writing articles, most particularly reviews, biographies and news articles. Her favourite artist is Ayumi Hamasaki but she enjoys listening to a wide range of musical talents from all over the world.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel UNITED KINGDOM November 21, 2011 at 9:17 am

The Old Royal Naval College was where I studied last year for my final year at university! How I wish I could have been around to see Ayu. I didn’t realise she’d been there until the first time I saw the “Microphone” PV! The “black” Ayumi singing with the band was filmed in the Painted Hall, it’s a breathtakingly extravagant place.

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Ayu fan UNITED STATES April 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I’ve never commented before, but I’m so excited to see you post about Ayumi again. I really love your reviews of her stuff. I was sad to see that you didn’t review NEXT LEVEL. Will you be reviewing Rock’n'Roll Circus? I hope so. Thank you for posting this :]

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Rinoa April 14, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Hiya! Glad to see you comment here for the first time then! I am happy to see some enjoy my reviews. I will deffo be reviewing Rock’n'Roll Circus but I’m planning to review/do a mini interpretation of her promotional videos. Thanks a lot for commenting!

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harunoyukino April 7, 2010 at 9:22 am

excellent analysis, as always, Rinoa. i always love reading your entries most. the microphone is indeed a metaphor for music, but i also think that the microphone represents the voice of the inner self, as if she is “amplifying”, if you will, and thus revealing one’s true nature…

kakkoii!!

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Rinoa April 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Many thanks for the compliment harunoyukino! And the idea that the microphone represents the true inner self is quite interesting too! I never thought about it… it’s quite cool actually. I really enjoy these interpretations for promotional videos so thanks for the input! :)

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