The relationship between indie and idol music is something I keep coming back to on these pages with each new manifestation. It should be obvious by now that the distinction between the two subcultures is porous and getting more so with idol management companies recruiting songwriters and collaborators from the indie and underground scenes and indie organisers increasingly booking idol groups at their festivals and events. It always seems to have been a one-way thing, however, with indie talent employed in the service of idol imagery. One thing we haven’t seen much of is people from the idol scene reconsidering their identity in the other direction, and this makes Chome Chome an interesting proposition.NTsKi: Chome Chome
Ntski started out performing a few years ago as a full-on idol-type singer under the name Sichicken, complete with schoolgirl uniform, horrible songs and furiously para para-ing fans, but here her identity has taken a sharp turn away from that world.
Chome Chome is an understated, offbeat pop tune based around the core of a simple beat and a cut-up acoustic guitar sample. There are similarities, especially in the vocal delivery, with the kind of stuff singers like Yuki and Chara were doing (albeit with much bigger production budgets) in the late 90s and early 2000s, and it builds effectively without losing sight of its essentially amateur, bedroom vibe. It’s also one of those refreshing sorts of pop songs that manages to be catchy as hell without rubbing your face in it.
In terms of the visual aesthetic as well, while the video is awash with cuteness, it’s a world away from stage-managed idol-ish cuteness. The fashion and accessories Ntski plays with reflect more the sort of carefully nurtured cuteness that comes from having a personal awareness of style (and the time and money to cruise the fashionable backstreet boutiques of Tokyo) than the cartoonish parodies of clothes more common to idol culture. In the end, despite the teddy bears and children’s toys that proliferate throughout the video, Chome Chome is actually a disarmingly mature piece of work.