Let’s state the obvious: Mori Calliope can be called the true ‘powerhouse idol’ of the Hololive English group. And that has been obvious to her extensive discography, one of the largest among Hololive members, aside from Hololive Japan staples such as Tokino Sora and Hoshimachi Suisei. Her discography, which has raked in millions of plays and views, has all shared the same message: a rebellious persona with the perfect dash of direct-hit encouragement.
Her discography is not just your typical artist’s lineup, but rather tells a story of progression. Her first-ever EP DEAD BEATS tells the story of her lore and rebellious nature, while her second EP Your Mori is a direct call-to-action for creators. Added to those are one of the many features she did, including her city pop-ish performance on Yona Yona Journey with TAKU INOUE and her wholesome performance and lyricism with HoloMyth’s Journey Like a Thousand Years.
Now, her journey as a music artist has reached new heights: Her first-ever full album UnAlive is released this year. Amid a growing number of audiences that still likes the “idol” being stereotypically “cutesy and pop-ish,” Mori once again broke those barriers not just through her persona but the message that it brings.
The album’s first track, Q, featuring fellow HoloMyth member Gawr Gura, is an anthem for these two talents to tell the world that they would prefer to push forward instead of fighting others for life. Despite the lightness of the track’s theme, it somewhat echoes Mori’s previous tracks about opinion from other people, including the infamous Off With Their Heads’ line of “Ya want a balanced following? Then start creating, stop tweeting.”
After this, we are introduced with Dead on Arrival, an electro-swing track muddled with Calliope’s hard-hitting verses on her lore as a death reaper. Melodic-wise, some listeners might be put off by it, but that’s the beauty of it: art is an evolving theme, and so is music. The album perfectly balances the odd beauty of these beats with their staple equally-divided verses, evident by the next track Graveyard Shift, featuring the Japanese VTuber duo BOOGEY VOXX.
Meanwhile, Lose-Lose Days was a much lighter track that echoes her presence at Hololive, and with slight hints of departing from the message of her previous EPs. For instance, the line “I was all bark, no bite” is a direct contrast to a line from Excuse My Rudeness, But Could You Please RIP? “All my life [has] been no bark, all bite.” Despite the confusion that she thinks her journey has been, pretty much like an oxymoron of being focused albeit aimless, she will smile through and “make you guys proud.”
This song is a great segue to the next track, HUGE W, which at first sounds like a meme track, but actually is a dubstep/rap track which might throw listeners off, but it’s that one track that’s worthy for a rave. And being the EDM head I am, this grew on me. Melodies aside, the lyrics really show a rebellious side of Mori, with lines such as “No order, yes havoc, no borders, on doom.”
Following that, the tracks Resting Power and Scuffed Up Age are once again a more mellow approach to Mori’s inner musings, with topics ranging from identity crisis, a search for the inner spark within us, living amid a chaotic reality, among others. And for me, listening to these two tracks reminds me of her two previous tracks End Of A Life and Cursed Night, where she openly talks about her vulnerability despite the rebel she is. This is once again supported by her track Ouroboros, which tells the story of questioning her role as an idol. In it, it evokes a sense of whether her reach is actually worth it, or is she stuck in an endless loop, much like how the ouroboros is a snake that bit its own tail, signaling that the beginning ties up with the end, and it starts all over again.
Perhaps it’s more than fitting why Mori Calliope ended the album with the track UnAlive, which tells us her desires to continue the journey amid the chaos. In a world that is obviously rapidly changing, she goes on to say that “she will sing” for her to move on and for our own good. She closes off the track by saying in everything we do, there’s no turning back for we are here to shine.
Mori Calliope’s UnAlive album shows us that anyone can be a rebel, but for it to be justified, we need something impactful for the greater good of others that matter to us. Mori really embodies this theme of igniting the straight-forward persona she is, but never afraid to actually open up to others to show their weak side in order to serve a lesson and to move forward. I think UnAlive is an actual tapestry of what Mori Calliope is like: crass and loud, but yet having the most genuine personas out in the larger VTubing community.
In one of those times that seemingly resembles our Scuffed Up Age or perhaps just one of those Lose-Lose Days, perhaps it’s fitting more than ever to utilize our Resting Power, always reflecting on the next steps in order to find our finest hour. Maybe in the end, we all have to get at least one Huge W.
Featured Image: Image still from “UnAlive” music video by Mori Calliope
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