Single review: OK Go! x Perfume - I don't understand you

OK Go! x Perfume - I don't understand you | Single review

Perfume appeared in one of Ok Go's videos and so Ok Go then appeared in one of Perfume's. So it wasn't much of a surprise that the two groups decided to collaborate on a song, marking one of the first time's that either group had ever done a musical collaboration that has been committed to a studio recording and been released.

There are many similarities between OK Go and Perfume visually, so it's no surprise that two groups eventually converged from opposite ends of the earth. But musically, there is no correlation between them. So the thought of them doing a song left me full of intrigue into how it would sound. The end result is just a complete mess.

"I don't understand you" is most definitely an OK Go featuring Perfume song. Hence why their name is listed first in the billing, along with the fact that Damian Kulash, lead singer of OK Go, is the dominant vocalist on the group, and that he co-wrote and co-produced the song with Perfume producer Nakata Yasutaka.

There are many issues with this song. So let's break them down one-by-one.

Perfume not being able to speak / sing fluently in English is the first issue here. OK Go sing in English and the predominant language on the song is English. Perfume provide backing vocals and ad-libs in Japanese, which very often is just them singing in Japanese what OK Go have sung in English. In some places it works, in others it doesn't. The glaring thing is that a conscious effort was made to try and downplay Perfume's vocal input due to them not being able to sing fluently in English. What would have made more sense would have been for Perfume to taken the lead and then had OK Go contribute to the chorus in English. The whole thing sounds like Perfume doing karaoke to an OK Go song.

Secondly, the production on the song is just weak. The verses are drab and the chorus just comes out of nowhere. For a guy whose song structure and production style used to be so wrought with thought and laser sharp precision, it's baffling that such a messy song has slipped through the cracks. Then again, the consistency in Nakata's work has been his only consistency over the past 3 - 4 years. So I can't say that I'm surprised.

For two groups who have such amazingly controlled visuals and musical styles (less so for Perfume these days) I'm stunned that this song ended up the way that it did. On paper I honestly couldn't think how this could work and the end result shows that it didn't. But the sad thing here is that it could have if a bit more care was taken and it was thought through. Everything about the execution of this song feels lazy. I listen to it and I don't understand why Perfume are even on the damn song. They add nothing to it. And the two groups are at such opposite ends of spectrum's musically in every single sense, that a collaboration between them doesn't make sense any way.

Nothing about this song seemed geared towards anything in particular. Perfume's presence on the song isn't enough to make OK Go fans become Perfume fans, and the song isn't good enough to make Perfume fans get into OK Go. So it all feels a bit moot.

What should have transpired musically here is that Nakata should have produced a song for OK Go without Perfume and OK Go should have co-written a song for Perfume and contributed vocals to it. In my review of Perfume's 5th studio album Cosmic explorer, I had mentioned that the hooks on songs such as "Cosmic explorer" and "Star train" could have benefited from a set of group male vocals to make them more powerful. OK Go would have been a great choice for this. But bringing the two groups together for this just made no sense, regardless of them turning up in each others' videos.

"I don't understand you" is disrespectful to both OK Go and Perfume fans. Slap dash nonsense at its finest.

RATING: 1 / 10

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