Track Review: Tentenko – Good bye, Good girl

Out of all of the former members of punk-rock idol group BiS (Brand-new idol Society), the most interesting from a musical standpoint was always Tentenko, who could talk eloquently and at length about everything from noise and hardcore punk to …
By Sean Mulrine

Out of all of the former members of punk-rock idol group BiS (Brand-new idol Society), the most interesting from a musical standpoint was always Tentenko, who could talk eloquently and at length about everything from noise and hardcore punk to space-age pop, Hello!Project, and kayoukyoku. When BiS split up and the members went in seperate ways and began starting work on new projects, Tentenko turned down job offers and chose instead to become completely independent so as to focus on the things that interested her.

Which brings us to “Good bye, Good girl”, Tentenko’s first song to receive a proper release. Although she had been composing and recording her own music since her school days, it’s only now that she’s in a position to make a living from doing so. (A recent crowdfunding effort to raise 500,000 yen to start her own label left her with almost two million, roughly 11,000 pounds or 17,000 dollars.)

“Good bye, Good girl” is a song that’s not shy about wearing its influences on its sleeve, a hazy 80s-inspired electro-pop track rolling along on a Roland bassline groove. Swirling vintage electronic toms dance into one ear and out of the other while synth licks shine like neon signs on a dark night. Filled with Tentenko identity, it evokes the Shouwa-era music scene where acts like Yellow Magic Orchestra reigned: not surprising, since some of Tentenko’s favourite artists include Hosono Haruomi and her personal hero Togawa Jun. Though this kind of throwback sound is increasingly common in Japan’s pop music world today, with Especia’s Kuru Kana and Curumi Chronicle’s Touch Me being just two examples, Tentenko’s appreciation for this era is genuine, her own; unlike those acts she’s in complete creative control of the music she’s making.

Tentenko was born in Sapporo, in the northern island of Hokkaido. She moved to Tokyo for university and then stayed there, taking in all the music the city had to offer. It’s easy to connect the titular “good girl” with her, as the character in the lyrics begins a life of her own while the big city swallows her up. Lines like “Good bye, la la la, farewell / to that diary full of dreams […]” and “Good girl, she’s a good girl, but sometimes she’d gaze somewhere off in the distance” seem to come from her own experience with living as an adult for the first time. True to Tentenko’s taste in the grisly and mysterious, however, the lyrics are actually written in reference to an infamous and unsolved murder case , which creates a striking gap between the subject matter and the techno-kayou sound, widely used in the 80s for innocent idol singers whose subject matter rarely became more than tales of unrequited love. Fitting, of course, for the Tentenko who stated in an interview with a smile that for her the ideal way to die would involve “a lot of blood pouring out of your eyes!”.

The music video for “Good bye, Good girl” is also extremely Tentenko-like. Filmed on VHS, complete with extra-lo-fi effects achieved by dropping the tape deck (!), it’s full of scenes reminiscent of things like the pop music videos of the era it evokes and the bizarre Taiwanese jiangshi zombie horror flicks that inspired her stage name. Watch below:

With her artistic identity now firmly established, Tentenko is ready to move ahead to new places: already, she’s organising her own events, producing a line of clothes and accessories, appearing on a tribute album to legendary musician Kashibuchi Tetsuro, revived her high-school band Florida, and directing her own horror films. And since she’s working independently, fans can enjoy her surreal worldview just as she intends. Good bye, good girl, hello Tentenko.

Tentenko official SoundCloud

Tentenko on Twitter

Tentenko official blog

Tentenko’s first single “Good bye, Good girl.” will be released through her own label TENTENRECORDS on the 14th of January 2015 in two editions.