I remember holding a book so decadent, the warn away edges and the dog-eared pages seemed to melt away in my hands. The local library stocked a curious bunch of Korean texts. Some were old – like the one in my grasp – and some were relatively new. I returned the book to it’s original spot and continued to the other side of the shelf. A stash of magazines lay awkwardly, jig-sawing their spines into a rather ambitious mountain. I gathered as many as I could, carrying them to the nearest table.
The magazines were slightly off colour, having faded in the sun. I clasped the first one gently, as if it were a curio, some undiscovered treasure foreign to me. It was, of course. I can’t read Korean. But a picture translates more easily. Boundless beautiful smiles from beautiful faces stared at me from every page. Various personalities dressed to the height of the vogue consensus. These magazines were the who’s-who in Korean popular culture. They also included sections on the western and asian music scene.
When I reached an issue dating back to 2000, I was confronted with a pleasant surprise. A few articles in, ten Japanese girls caught my gaze. –I WISH’ sat on the page in big Romanized letters. A warmth filled my body, tenderising my heart, softening my face and tightening my stomach. I remembered what it felt like to fall in love with Morning Musume all over again. A feeling that can only come with time. A longing that can only surface with hindsight. Like a man trying to recapture his past through whisky bottles and old photo albums, I was drunk on nostalgia. It felt good. Really good, if ultimately unrewarding.
When I read Zush’s post I could sense the same kind of empathy. So much so, I had to write down this small account. In fact I laughed into the seat of my chair when he wrote the words –we two old timers chatting on various H!P things’. I imagine us sitting in a bar with a few beers in our hands, smiling at the ceiling, picking at the labels on our bottles, sighing through our melancholy faces every time we finish a sentence. Morning Musume has a way of making you feel old, and this brings with it a naivety – the innocence of youth, envying it in old age. I can’t help but feel that this topic is going to make Zush and I feel very, very old.
I searched through my archives after reading Zush’s post and watched the –I WISH’ PV a fair few times. I guess this song was ahead of its time. One for the future. Because when I first heard it I didn’t quite get it. Now further down the line with a better knowledge of Morning Musume’s history, the song’s sentimentality echo’s like a fond memory.
[to be continued]