A Reason to Dance: “cute girls doing cute things” Discography Review

Jonathon Chatham, Staff Writer

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 A long time ago, I had held the belief that music couldn’t speak to me. I had felt as though it was merely a medium for the background that provided noise when no other noise was available. But eventually, I discovered that music can be so much more. I realized that music isn’t a background medium; it is one of great skill that can create emotions in people that no other type of art can. 

One artist that sparked feelings similar to only a handful of others goes by the name “cute girls doing cute things,” stylized all in lowercase. Now, before any adverse reaction kicks in, I ask that you look past the odd name, because, partly due to the ongoing Japanese anime motifs throughout the artist’s songs and albums, it holds a special place outside of its influences that creates something new, different, and special.

The closest thing to describe this music would be lo-fi or hip-hop, but that would be minimizing the music that this artist puts out. Every song put out by the artist has little to no lyrics, with exceptions including using a sound bite of “ha” as a motif in the song titled “HA!,” with similar short sound bites used in a handful of the other songs that this artist has created.

The creative and unique sounds are really where the artist is able to put everything out there. While everything that the artist does is relatively contained within the scope of more artificial music, electronic dance music, and lo-fi, with hip-hop related beats thrown, the music still shines being able to do seemingly anything it wants to, no matter the genre, whether in single songs or in whole albums.

The artist has various singles, such as “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things,” one of their first songs, and “Too Spicy,” their most recent, released November 19. Additionally, the artist has a total of 4 albums. The first is a collection of singles entitled “cutie jams vol. 1,” to which there is no second volume. Most of the albums from this artist tend to be more so a collection of singles rather than a story to be told, which, while disallowing continuity and message from an album to be created, it allows many more unique songs to be heard.

The second and third albums from this artist are entitled “Slice of Life 1” and “Slice of Life 2,” both of which feature cover art from the same artist, which, in addition to the names, creates somewhat of a link between the two albums. But the artist’s latest album, I strongly believe to be the artist’s best. “SCENE” is a masterclass in telling a story through music alone. And, while I don’t believe that this artist’s best song is on “SCENE,” without a doubt, the majority of their better songs take over on their latest album.

SCENE” demonstrates to the utmost of its potential how to tell stories and describe emotions through music. The song titles alone tell a story, with each song exuding the emotion that is presented in the title. “excited!,” “let’s go!,” “this is fun!,” “look, i’m flying!,” and “what a lively tribe!” make up the first leg of the journey in “SCENE. They represent a relatively simplistic leg of the journey, but one that is important for kicking off this journey. Each of the songs, especially “this is fun!,” not only excellently describe what the emotion is, but make the listener feel that emotion as well.

 Another one of the great pieces of musical storytelling that this author uses is song transitions. Towards the end of the song “look, i’m flying!,” the song shifts from the more electronic focused music of the beginning of this album, to the same beat, but instead with the more traditional sound of the marimba marking the introduction to the next song’s leg, “what a lively tribe!

The next leg of this journey includes the songs “what a lively tribe!” and “farewell.” “what a lively tribe!” starts off this section of the journey, beginning with a winding down of unknown music, or rather the descent from “look, i’m flying.” But what is the most important of this second leg is the song “farewell.” With the loss of the exclamation point at the end of the songs, it represents a change from the excitement from the beginning of the album, into the more explorative portion of this album.

The second to last leg of this album, including “temple of water,” “my fantasy,” “crystal lilies,” and “unexplored dungeon,” represents a much more physically sense of exploration. Quite literally, there is an exploration of a temple of water, described as the protagonist’s fantasy, characterized by crystal lilies, then the temple turning into an unexplored dungeon. The song that sets this leg apart from the others is “my fantasy.” The song begins with the sounds of nature, solidifying the protagonist in the real world, all while a piano slowly shifts downward in tone and volume. Once the piano is gone, a sound that can only be defined as ‘twinkling’ comes in, along with the sound of bubbles popping and a distinct clapping noise, indicating neither the protagonist nor the viewer are in the real world. The rest of the song takes both the protagonist and the viewer on a trip through the protagonist’s psyche, adding sounds later such as a deep electronic bass, dubstep, and ending on a xylophone that goes down in speed and pitch, just as the piano did.

The final leg of this journey is a more introspective one, featuring “life lines,” “why are we dancing,” “witch, send me back to,” and “clown world.” Beginning with “life lines,” the tone of the album shifts again, now instead of a fun explorative mood, the tone of the songs becomes more somber, but not quite sad, almost as though this is a reflection on the journey that had been taken. “why are we dancing” starts off with a tune similar to that you’d hear in more traditional dancing music, but the tone of the song becomes more downtrodden as it goes through, possibly indicating the meeting with the witch within the next song.

While I won’t deny that there is a message to be heard, possibly one of forced happiness in a “clown world,” I believe the last two songs on this album work best as two things, each near-perfectly encapsulates the feeling of their song title. “witch, send me back to” does an amazing job at starting off aggressively to match the feelings of both the protagonist and witch, then turning into a more conversational tone, then only having one sound that indicates the protagonist returning home, then finally with a sad tone at the end that hints at what’s to come for the protagonist as well as the sadness of the witch being alone again. The album ends with “clown world,” which basically throws away the conventions of excellence that this album had, opting to be a fun song filled with clown honks, a spunky EDM beat, finishing the album on a fun yet not necessarily complete note.

My personal favorite song from this artist is “Hide and Seek.” The main reason that this is a standout, especially of the artist’s first three albums, is because it does many of the things that “SCENE” did, but instead in the course of one song. With this song, one could imagine a singular game of hide-and-go-seek tag. The song begins simply with a drum beat and a distinct ‘ting’ noise, with an electric guitar coming in shortly later, which starts at a lower note and a slower pace, then accelerating similarly to “Jaws.” I imagine this directly as the counting down of the seeker, waiting to go find the hiders.

The song then goes into the instrumental chorus of the song that represents the hiders on mission. Before switching to another beat, the guitar in the background drops out, as does the ‘ting,’ left only with the harmonica going sounding like an alarm of sorts. This comes true when the music suddenly switches, becoming much more fast-paced, indicating that someone is being chased. When this ends, the song transitions again, this time into a low string instrument, in a more slow and somber tone, indicating that the hider got caught.

From there, the instrumental chorus kicks back into gear, this time with a bass instead of a guitar, before again switching to a much calmer tone representing the hider, seeing a serene environment with a soft humming in the background while the beat is maintained by a triangle. The music continues to swell, with more background humming, and an elegant string instrument providing extra emphasis and how beautiful what the hider is seeing. 

Unfortunately for the hider, this all falls down again; the guitar comes back, indicating that they have been found, and the chorus kicks in one last time. This time, not as a seeker seeking, but representing the victory of the seeker as well as the loss of the hiders.

I strongly believe that the core of this music is what makes it so worthwhile. Unlike many of the current pop songs, the lyrics don’t feel lifeless or coy; the non-lyrical music is unique and creative, and most importantly, the heart of the author truly comes through in the amazing work they’ve made.

Ultimately, “hide and seek” as well as “SCENE” are what exude what I find to be outstanding about this artist. Though the artist may not use words to get their stories and experiences across, they come across excellently through the superb mixing and mastering this artist does. I have yet to find a single flub or gaff in my dozens of hours listening to them. Each song is unique, yet still conveys the image of the artist. There is no reason not to listen to this artist! It will be a unique experience for each and every person who listens to it.