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Half Year Roundup! 2018 Edition!

So here we are with a little under two weeks before the big news drops for Hello! Project and the new additions that are going to be added.  So with the halfway point past, it’s time to delve into what has happened so far!

Morning Musume ’18

The year began with the group continuing to promote their album, but released a digital single, “Hana ga Saku Taiyou Abite” before releasing a mini-album, to commemorate the group’s 20 year tenure, “Hatachi no Morning Musume” which included old members of the group mixed in with the current members!  Though in March, Haruna Ogata announced her graduation in June before releasing the last single with the group, “Are you Happy? / A gonna” before she officially left.  Plus currently they’re doing the stageplay for “Pharaoh no Haka ~Hebi Ou Sneferu~” which also had a small OST released

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The year was pretty slow at the start, but once April hit we got the sad news that the last original member from the S/mileage days, Ayaka Wada announces her graduation for sometime in the Spring of 2019.  Then they released their next single, “Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi / Uraha=Lover / Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acoustic Ver.)”.

Juice=Juice

Likewise, Juice=Juice was mostly quiet at the beginning of the year and didn’t get to their single until April with the release of “SEXY SEXY / Naite Ii yo / Vivid Midnight” before an interesting twist happened in June where former Country Girls’ member (and current leader for the Hokkaido Kenshuusei), Manaka Inaba was added to the group!

Kobushi Factory

After the triple loss from 2017, Kobushi Factory was kind of floating around and IMO, quietly released their first single of the year, “Kore Kara da! / Ashita Tenki ni Naare”.

Tsubaki Factory

Continuing from last year, Tsubaki finally released the full single (Teion Yakedo was a preview single), “Teion Yakedo / Shunrenka / I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~” and afterwards was pretty quiet from the group up until the end of June.

New Units

After learning what was going to happen with Ichioka, Takase, and Kiyono, it was that two groups would be made!  After a little while in early June, Ichioka added Rika Shimakura, Saya Eguchi, and Shiori Nishida to her group while the other two added Yuhane Yamazaki, Kokoro Maeda, and Minami Okamura to their lineup while the final lineup will be announced at the Summer tour!

Kenshuusei / Hokkaido Kenshuusei

So in the half of year we had quite a number of losses and no gains yet!  Already from the recent batch, both Sayaka Goto and Momoko Hashimoto had both left, as well as then leader Hikaru Inoue & Hokkaido’s Ryo Kitagawa had left as well!  On top of the above happenings as well concerning the new units.  Though the Hokkaido girls managed to release a single, “Hankouki! / Ice day Party” and the KSS released their sophomore album, “Rainbowx2”.

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Future Happenings

Both of the Kenshuusei releases will get a general release with the Summer Tour

Tsubaki Factory is first up with their next single, “Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai / Junjou cm / Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta” in 3 weeks.

Juice=Juice to release their sophomore album, “Juice=Juice#2 –¡Una Mas!- in August. The first to have Manakan (though on quick notice, so she’s only going to be in a couple songs here.

Kobushi Factory will release a single in August as well, “Kitto Watashi wa / Naseba Naru…not much else is known about the upcoming single yet!

Momusu will release a DVD+CD of their Pharaoh no Haka stageplay as well!

 

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Manaka Inaba returns to idol full-time and joins who?!?

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Yup, on today’s Hello! Station, it was announced that Manakan would return as a full H!P member and was subsequently placed in Juice=Juice!

To be honest, I’m not quite sure how to take the news because we went from a 5-nin Juice=Juice to an 8-nin in under a year.  Add on that she’s back with Yanamin of all people since H!P refuses to make Country Girls active again (y’know since Momochi graduated and the after-effects of Ozeki / Yamaki going on hiatus).  Still, it is odd timing since the 7-nin J=J just announced their sophomore album the same day they were told of Manakan’s addition.  So…we’ll see, she’s pretty strong of a singer & dancer and since Juice=Juice isn’t quite as sugary as Country Girls are she can prolly start showing off her real prowess (like Funakki in ANGERME)…so I can’t wait for the first single / release with them!

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Updates on the 2 upcoming groups? Excuse me?!?

So waking up today, I was greeted with not just the title of Juice=Juice’s sophomore album, but there’s even more that had to deal with the two groups that are going to debut at the Summer H!P tour!

Ichioka’s Group

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As you remember, Ichioka’s group would be based on Performance and so we have the Kenshuusei chosen for the group, Shiori Nishida, Rika Shimakura, and Saya Eguchi.  Now, I will say that the only one that I’m heavily happy for is Shimakura as her Test Recital performance was really impressive and was one of the better ones for the evening!  As for Shiori & Saya, they both had OK performances, Shiori’s less likened for her yelling in her performance.  Still, it does feel like good choices to have for Reina to work with since Rika can bring her own while the other two seem to be working up to the same level ^^

Takase & Kiyono’s Group

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On the other side, Takase & Kiyono’s more theatre-esque group has also added 3 Kenshuusei to their lineup; Kokoro Maeda, Yuhane Yamazaki, and Minami Okamura.  Now, I’m pretty happy with both Maeda & Yamazaki joining the group due to their more finessed style and strong vocals that both of them have (I was impressed by both of them at the Test Recital).  As for Okamura, she’s still of the newer side, but her Test performance showed a lot of progress that was made and she’s rising quickly, so it’s nice they chose her.

 

NOTE: These aren’t the final lineups as the audition is still going and member will be added before the Summer cons start off!…but what we have right now is really exciting here!

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Warp back to 2001…Year Recap!

Ahhh we’re back jumping to the past and taking a look at the year that was 2001 which was pretty fruitful going forward with all the groups and such.  Even going as to making more soloists and further making a name for H!P…so shall we start it up?

Morning Musume

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So Morning Musume is up first and things got quite interesting just from the beginning of the year.  At the end of January, we saw the release of the group’s first best album, Best! Morning Musume 1 then a couple weeks later a release for their fanclub, Morning Musume Fc Special CD which included a message from each member at the time and a solo track respectively too!

Though, during this time, it was announced that Yuko Nakazawa would be graduating from the group in April, but not the company because she wanted to do more outside the group as she was getting a bit too old to handle more of these complex dances that the group were incorporating.

After releasing their next single, the ever-loved The☆Pea~ce! and during that time period though, an audition was being held and it bore 4 winners from it (well, 3 primarily, but 1 was more of a pity addition).  In the end, we got Ai Takahashi, Risa Niigaki, Makoto Ogawa, and Asami Konno.  After that they released their next single (and debut for the new girls), Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ and that brought us to the end of the year!

GREAT SONGS

  • Say Yeah! ~Motto Miracle Night~ – Personally, it was one of the first songs I ever heard from Momusu, so this has got a LOT of bias behind it.  As the lone new track from the best album (and the last to feature Yuko in Momusu entirely), I was kind of surprised at how superhero-esque the song sounded.  It sounds cool, but keeps the youthful sound that the group had recently tried to take over.  Add some Aibon/Nono monologue in the bridge and lines for everyone and you just get an amazing song…a good reason to get the best album.
  • Yoshite, Yoshite… – Getting Yossie’s solo next must’ve been a blessing disguise because I feel like her voice would suit a mid-tempo pop/rock kind of track.  Yossie’s vocals are still quite in a higher register as she hasn’t hit the lower push, but there’s hints of it throughout.  Of the 4 new members, I feel like she got the best track of them but it’s pretty close with another.
  • Renaitte Naani? – Aibon finishes off the album with her solo and I loved the pan flutes in the introduction for sure and the song keeps this laidback sound for the entire way and while Ai has a LOT of room to improve, her first solo song isn’t that bad her young voice wasn’t as overboard like Tsuji’s were.
  • The☆Pea~ce! – As the first single without Yuko, The☆Pea~ce! was a shock to many who were used to getting some normal song with the group finding themselves more comfortable being idols, but this song made the group into a bunch of spazzes with tons of youthful energy.  Of course, the song’s lyrics were also kind of nonsensical too, but it just made the song more fun and ridiculous on top of being madly catchy!  Plus, there’s a nice interlude with Rika-chan so that was her push for the single, but everyone seemed to really stand out in some way from the song to it’s hilarious PV!  One of the group’s best songs!
  • Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ – When I saw that for this song, the leads were going to be between Yossie, Gocchin, and Nacchi…I was floored.  Mostly because this became the song that Yossie is known for because she took on a male persona for the PV and she owned it immensely!  Now, I’m slightly bummed that the newly added 5th Generation didn’t do much for the song (just a solo intro line from Risa Niigaki).  Still, the whole big band vibe and the personality and drive from the leads just push this song to the front of the line!

OK SONGS

  • Manatsu no Tanjoubi – Nacchi’s solo of the FC album kind of runs from being OK to just being Meh primarily because it hits some nice points and the clapping rhythm adds a nice touch but on the flipside, the chorus is a bit too kiddy and the song itself sounds quite dated even in this time and day.  Nacchi though sounds pleasant though and while there’s not a lot of vocal versatility found here, it’s enough to make the song OK in the long run.
  • Anata no Kami no Kaori – If I took “Manatsu no Tanjoubi” and stripped everything except the acoustic guitar, this is what we would’ve got.  Being as this is Kaorin’s solo track, Anata no Kami no Kaori is light and easy to listen to, on top of throwing some harmonica in the arrangement.
  • Marine Sports! – As we get into Marippe’s solo track, I’m starting to feel that most of the tracks involved sound more appropriate for a group like…OH I DUNNO…Country Musume perhaps?  Mari’s is the biggest offender to this because of all of the banjo and country-like arrangement.  Mari though does sound into it and she sounds pretty good.  The song itself works too even if it’s a bit hammy.
  • Gochamaze LOVE – I’m happy that Gocchin’s song breaks from the overdone Country songs for something a bit more playful and somewhat feels like a March.  It’s kind of kiddy like Nacchi’s solo and the dialogue in the bridge is a bit out of place, but the tune is inoffensive.
  • Rikaishite! > Onna no Ko – I guess the same could be said about Rika’s solo and I’m happy that 4th Generation had something to REALLY shine on this time.  It’s nice to know that while Rika-chan isn’t the best at singing, the song she got is a bit more cuter and focuses on her cute act.  It’s still not a song I’ll probably be coming back to but like “Gochamaze LOVE”, it’s here nor there.
  • Popcorn Love! – As the B-side for “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~, I feel like Popcorn Love! while not the better song overall, did a good job showcasing the new members (and for that matter, the members that weren’t the leads in the A-side).  My overall thoughts on the new members is pretty decent, even Konkon managed to sound decent and not as bad as Tsunku was making it out to be.  Even better is that Goto, Yoshizawa, and Abe were the last members to get solo lines so it was funny to me.

MEH SONGS

  • Y.u.u.wa.ku – Being the eldest member and soon to be graduating, I felt like the Fanclub album was nice for Yuko to kick things off, but I wasn’t expecting the album to begin with a ballad.  Though while it’s nice for Yuko to get a ballad, it’s a bit barren and kind of oversimplified.  I do like the piano melody and the beating drums help, but I get this feeling of cheapness throughout.  It’s a little forgettable compared to Yuko’s other ballads.
  • LOVE -Keisan Chigai- – Right from the beginning, I already felt like I’ve heard the arrangement between Kaori & Mari’s solos.  Though I will say it’s nice to see Kei-chan get some spotlight here, but it feels like her vocals gel a lot like Maki’s funny enough.  I’m just kind of over the country songs for now.
  • NON STOP – Couldn’t totally get away from the country arrangement and it hits one of the new members, Nono.  Considering each track off the album is a play on their names, Nono’s track is just a bit abrasive in comparison to the rest of the tracks.  I also didn’t feel like Tsuji sounded all that great and was trying to cute her way through the song.  It’s just kind of bleh xD
  • Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru – Knowing this song is used quite a bit as the ending song for tours, Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru is a song that really doesn’t resonate with me very much.  It’s a positive/hopeful track for the group and the recording makes it sound live even though it isn’t.  There’s also no solos to be found (just mini-groupings).  It’s just a bit corny for my tastes to be honest lol.

OVERALL: It felt like a pretty light year in comparison to the last two years from Morning Musume.  I mean the best album happened, but that only had one new track on it and then we had two singles (one to bear a new generation at that).  The fanclub album was kind of its own random thing (like the “Wake Up Call” album) but I mean solo tracks is always a way to showcase your members, albeit quickly shot down once Yuko left and the four new members joined…weird overall, but it was a OK year.

Michiyo Heike

Seems like 2001 was a little less busy for Michiyo once again.  She kicked off the year in February with her 9th single, Kekkyoku Bye Bye Bye before kind of disappearing until July where she was involved in the shuffle units for the year.  She would finish the year by releasing Propose in November.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kekkyoku Bye Bye Bye – I wasn’t expecting Michiyo to follow-up her last single with another upbeat track but I wasn’t going to argue with it because it’s one catchy song tackling R&B/Dance once again.  I loved hearing Michiyo starting to sing with more power and control and while the song still sounded fresh from the 90s, it’s a tune that I think many of her fans think about (other than “GET”).  What caught me off guard was the gothic-like bridge, but it was pretty badass at the time.  Awesome song for her to get!
  • Propose (Hard Crunch Version) – Interesting that they included a different take on the A-side here, but here we are with Propose again, but this is different in the arrangement.  Instead of the poppy side of things, Propose now has more of a pop/rock vibe with guitars/synth and heavy drums integrated.  Overall, it has more punch than the original and that was all I needed for this song to be memorable!

OK SONGS

  • Ame Ame Yoru – It seems like Michiyo was trying to strike lightning twice with this B-side from “Kekkyoku Bye Bye Bye” and she somehow it missed.  It’s also kind of sounding a bit like what Maki released as her debut so this is feeling almost a clone.  I will say that Michiyo has a lot more oomph to it, but the song is just a smidge messy.
  • Propose – As the other A-side released, she backed off from the R&B and took for more of a calming pop track this time around.  I initially was confusing it for another similar title, “Prepare”.  Luckily it’s not that and it’s just its own thing.  For being a mid-tempo number, Propose is bright and Michiyo is singing in a more higher register this time too and it’s not bad despite not the best place for her.  It’s not bad, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the single she released earlier in the year.
  • Papa to Mama – The B-side to “Propose”, Papa to Mama sends me back to her earlier releases where she had the lighter pop/rock sound (from her first album).  Though it’s standard fare at this point and the only keeping me interested is her vocals as they’re so much better than what it used to be and the cool guitar solo in the bridge.  Nice track, could’ve been better, but this’ll do.

OVERALL: Like I said, Michiyo hasn’t had a busy year with just the two singles, but they were pretty decent singles at best so it’s not like she’s losing too much steam in that respect.  Still, I would’ve enjoyed seeing a little more of her this year considering the additions of more soloists (Maki & Aya).  It just would’ve been nice I guess to see her show why she’s the first soloist in H!P.

Yuko Nakazawa

Moving to our 2nd soloist, Yuko kicked off her 2001 with her 5th single, Kuyashi Namida Porori before jumping back to Morning Musume to finish her tenure in the group in April before releasing her next single, her first as a full-time soloist, Futarigurashi in August and so finishes her 2001.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kuyashi Namida Porori – Hearing Yuko’s next A-side, I definitely started to dig this cool side of her and noticed that she fully ditched her enka roots for something a bit more poppy and up-to-date.  For once it’s not a ballad which for her fans might be a breath of fresh air.  It slightly reminds me of “Shanghai no Kaze” by keeping a smidge of its Oriental sound, but the rest of the song is just a smooth R&B style.  I really found myself liking this song a lot!

MEH SONGS

  • Koi no Kioku – As for “Kuyashi Namida Porori’s” B-side, Koi no Kioku is a much lighter affair as it’s a ballad.  Unlike previous efforts, this ballad isn’t Enka related so we’ve got our straight pop ballad.  There’s some parts that I do enjoy like the non-vocal sections that sound fluid and flowing, but once Yuko sings and the chorus happens, it’s very standard to me and just loses me in almost every way.  She’s got better ballads out there though.
  • Futarigurashi – Even though she did manage to slow things down again for her 6th A-side, Futarigurashi like “Koi no Kioku”, falls a bit behind with its sound.  I do love how confident Yuko sounds and her voice has some power behind it, but the song itself is a bit lacking, feeling like an album song more than an A-side.
  • Kouen Doori no Kissaten – I don’t know why Yuko’s songs have felt lacking, but this was almost OK, but I was bored with this song after the introduction with the acoustic guitar line.  Beyond that and some other places in the song, the rest is just a bit too draggy for me and I was kind of over it.

OVERALL: While it was understandable why Yuko didn’t release much (“FOLK SONGS” and her graduation in Morning Musume), I felt her solo releases were meh at best with the exception of Kuyashi Namida Porori.  I think the shift in style after Yukidon joined really forced her hand and for some reason Yuko got blah releases for it.  I hope her future releases will be better

Tanpopo

Ahh, Tanpopo had a pretty straightforward year after redebuting the year previous.  Of course they released two singles in the year with February’s Koi wo Shichaimashita! & November’s Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru.  That was their year with nothing to big out of the ordinary!

GREAT SONGS

  • BABY CRY – Unlike it’s cuter A-side, “Koi wo Shichaimashita!”, BABY CRY takes more of a chance by having more of a heavier pop/rock vibe in its arrangement.  It also helps that Rika, Aibon, Nono, and Kaori sounds a bit more sassy than normal as well which adds character to the song.  It does go by quick, but it’s an impressive B-side that’s for sure.

OK SONGS

  • Koi wo Shichaimashita! – As the quartet’s 2nd single with the 4-nin, Koi wo Shichaimashita! continues to show off Tanpopo more as a cuter group than the original plan of having a mature group.  It does feel like a retread after “Otome Pasta ni Kandou”, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt anyone.  It’s an OK song and for me it does get catchy once in a while.
  • Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru – Tanpopo doing another wintry song after “Seinaru Kane ga Hibiku Yoru”?  Seems a little weird to me doing it again, but it’s with a different set of girls this time around.  Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru like “Koi wo Shichaimashita!” kind of ended up the same way I felt for that.  The aforementioned Winter song that came before it was a lot better so it made Oujisama kind of blah for me, but its arrangement is a bit more interesting.

MEH SONGS

  • Nenmatsu Nenshi no Daikeikaku – The only song that really didn’t catch on from Tanpopo in the year, this B-side from “Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru” is a bit of a snoozefest featuring an acoustic arrangement and unison vocals through 90% of the song.  I do like when the chorus hits, but that’s really the only area that catches my attention versus the rest of the song

OVERALL: Tanpopo’s year was pretty straightforward with just the two singles (one more than last year xD).  Though I can’t say they left much of an impression in 2001 however since the only track that really popped out was a mere B-side.  So here’s hoping the next year is better!

Coconuts Musume

Ahhh Coconuts Musume, after the shake-up all over last year with losing Chelsea, April, and Danielle and gaining Lehua, it seems the group would finally sustain some sense of stability and they kicked it off with releasing their single, Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen in August after being involved in the Shuffle units that year

(Future message: This would be the last time the group would release anything together after the single as the 3 remaining members went off to do other things in H!P (and Lehua graduated too, but that’s next year).

GREAT SONGS

  • Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen – After going into a weird funk with their last couple of singles, I was happily blown away by Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen by incorporating of the current sound that Tsunku was opting towards on top of keeping the tropical vibes that the group was known for.  While I was still bummed that Danielle had left the group, I think Ayaka, Mika, and Lehua gave their best performance in this song and it’s just a fun and hopping track.

OK SONGS

  • Koibito Boogie Woogie! – I wasn’t expecting the group to have an actual B-side, so this was a bit of a treat to come to.  Even moreso that it’s a boogie-woogie styled song (something that Coconuts Musume wasn’t known for).  Though unlike the goldmine they hit with their A-side, I feel like the trio sound off and a bit too quiet against the arrangement.  It’s an alright song, but Jounetsu was a LOT better.

OVERALL: Short year for the group and would’ve liked more if their sound was going to continue to be like Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen.  At least the 3 were busy with other things to keep things going for a while (Even sadder that it’s what killed the group unfortunately).

Country Musume ni Ishikawa

Country Musume went through a lot this year well in comparison to last year, but after the movie, I felt like they were on the right path.  However, early in the year, their producer Yoshitake Tanaka after going through failed auditions left and right, handed the group to Tsunku.

In April, Tsunku announced that Country Musume would be “borrowing” a Morning Musume member in Rika Ishikawa and changed the group’s name to “Country Musume ni Ishikawa” and released two singles together, Hajimete no Happy Birthday! & Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan.

Then they finished their year off with their first album, Country Musume Daizenshuu ①, which included songs from all four iterations thus far.

GREAT SONGS

  • Hajimete no Happy Birthday! – Just like Tanpopo, it seems Tsunku was wanting to change Country Musume to a more cuter group, but I feel like it works for the trio since it’s just cute and catchy all-around!  Even though Rika was already a well-known member, she added quite a bit here and while it feels like she’s pushed as the lead (though Rinne gets just as much while Asami is pushed to the back).  Still, the song is good and it’s no surprise it’s one of the more memorable songs in H!P’s history.
  • Hajimete no Happy Birthday! (country version) – I didn’t think they’d ham it up further with this Country sound, but they managed to do it with this alternate take of the A-side.  I mean instead of the cute-esque Tsunku arrangement, this one sounds like what it should’ve for the group and I really liked its farmland sounding arrangement and the group sounds better???  Even though I really enjoyed the main version, this version is better!
  • Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan (Hyper Dance Version) – So instead of a country version, we get an electro version of Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan?  Hey, I’m not going to argue with it because it actually worked and it sounds like current H!P but with older voices.  I love the beats more and the melody is nice and smooth as well…a surprise indeed!

OK SONGS

  • Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan – Getting into the other A-side of the year, Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan did feel like it was trying to buy off the popularity off of “Hajimete no Happy Birthday!”.  I do like how the song is a bit more thicker sounding and not as sugary cute.  I do like the line distribution here too as all three members share an equal amount of solos.  Still something is slightly off about it.
  • Onna no Ko Toshirabe Time – As the main new track off their first album, Onna no Ko Toshirabe Time is mainly Rinne & Asami singing together with Rika as a special guest (weird considering the group was already “ni Ishikawa” anyways.  The song itself is upbeat and reminds me of the earlier singles, but I’m not quite certain if I’m enjoying the vocals as they’re much squeakier than normal.  Rika has one part really, so it does feel like the actual Country Musume members got to shine here.
  • Docchi ga Kirei Desu ka – The other two songs on Daizenshuu 1 were saved as solos for Rinne & Asami and this one was saved for Rinne.  I have to say that Rinne surprises me more whenever I hear her because she can be so nasally in the cuter songs, but when it gets serious, she sounds really good.  The acoustic mid-tempo track is catchy and really was the best of the 3 new tracks the album had to offer.

MEH SONGS

  • Kataomoi wa Hot Milk – Kataomoi wa Hot Milk is the Asami solo and it’s a bit of a sleeper song for me.  Taken as a mid-tempo ballad, I feel like this song would’ve been better off as a B-side in one of the earlier singles.  Asami’s vocals aren’t all that great either so it’s just kind of a forgetful song.

OVERALL: I was initially worried when Tsunku decided to add Rika to the group (initially it was going to be a rotation of Momusu members).  Though I guess from the sheer popularity the group got after Hajimete no Happy Birthday!, she was chosen to stay.  It was a nice year for the group and the songs were mostly pretty decent.

Petitmoni

Seems like with other groups, Petitmoni had a straightforward year, with only two singles released in year in BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! & Pittari Shitai X’mas!.  That was pretty much it for them for the year!…well besides an exercising video…but that’s beyond the point XD

GREAT SONGS

  • BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! – What’s there to say about this gem?  It may be my favorite song of the entire year.  I wasn’t expecting the trio to release something so spazzy, but also so epic and powerful.  There’s just something that works between Kei-chan, Gocchin, and Yossie here and it was just right timing.  I love how upbeat it is and the energy that’s kept throught the song is just wild and always a ride to listen to…like I said it’s one of those historic H!P songs that everyone has to listen to!!
  • Waltz! Ahiru ga 3ba – What a bizarre track the B-side of “BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!” is.  After the energetic and powerful A-side, Waltz! Ahiru ga 3ba is a bit of an acid trip to listen to.  Like the title hints, the tracks is a waltz which is something H!P doesn’t do normally.  I will say the arrangement is quirky and something I’d dig more into.  On top of the fact that the trio sounds almost hypnotic (might be due to the echoing/layering that’s going on as well).  Lyrically, it heavily feels like a Children’s song, but I kind of dug it all…maybe not as much as I did with the A-side, but this was a pretty good offering for a B-side.

OK SONGS

  • Pittari Shitai X’mas! – Wasn’t expecting Petitmoni to release a Christmas song as their 4th A-side, but here we are.  Instead of the offerings we got from Tanpopo, Pittari Shitai X’mas! is upbeat and idol-like and full of Tsunku-isms (which are starting to leak into all of H!P’s music funny enough).  Unlike the previous single, the song felt almost too expected, like there wasn’t much surprise to it…it’s OK, but nothing totally special.

MEH SONGS

  • Yume no “Tsu・zu・ki” – Moving to the B-side of the Xmas single, I feel like this track drags a whole lot due to the sluggish rhythm and beats.  I would say the good part is that the trio gets to sing a lot more, but the song is kind of droopy and forgetful for me.

OVERALL: After the shaky single that brought in Yossie, they definitely struck gold this year and released two pretty decent singles.  Not much else happened, besides the VHSs but it was a calm year for the group.

Melon Kinenbi

Really not making much of a strong impact in the news-worthy way, Melon Kinenbi has a pretty short year with only two releases (though they had other appearances in other releases like many of the other H!P girls!).  They released Denwa Matteimasu in March and This is Unmei in October.

GREAT SONGS

  • This is Unmei – I think at this point, no one could predict what would come out next from the quartet and they hit gold with their 4th A-side.  It’s a bizarre song having a kind of orchestral deal, but with some surprises like singing in syllables and then building to this epic pop/rock song that flips the song 180 degrees.  Song is mostly Ayumi & Masae, but Megumi & Hitomi get some parts of their own (especially the dialogue in the bridge).  Awesome song and still one of their signature and best songs!

OK SONGS

  • Denwa Matteimasu – As the group’s 3rd A-side, I wasn’t sure what Melon Kinenbi were going to be releasing since A-sides previous have been of different sounds and styles.  Listening in, this song kind of gives me a similar vibe like “Amai Anata no Aji” but less dramatic and more straightforward.  I do like the verses, but I wasn’t ready to figure in that Shibata would get HEAVY amounts of lines here.  It’s Ok, but not too much of a memorable one for the group.
  • Mou Mattemase~n! – The B-side to “Denwa Matteimasu” is a smidge better than its A-side giving more of a unification for the group with equal line distribution.  The thing that keeps it in the OK section is that the arrangement isn’t that memorable, but it does have a bit more oomph.  Ok song overall!
  • Wa! KacchoE na! – After the wild “This is Unmei”, I was curious to hear what could possibly suit as the B-side and yeah it’s a bit of a downer when compared to its leading song, but by its own merits, the song is one of those tracks that I can imagine being nice for live performances as it has a cheery vibe to it.  All the members get lines and it feels as equal as “Mou Mattemas~n!”.

OVERALL: Despite that the group had just as light of a year as last year, the group was a bit more active in H!P so I would say they did better.  As for their group releases, a bit better than last years as well and this awesome gem of a song in “This is Unmei” solidified my interest in them!

Yuki Maeda

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Seems like Yukidon’s shtick is to just release one single a year and she didn’t miss that mark with her lone release in the first day on 2001, Tokyo You Turn.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tasogare miss you – I think of Yukidon’s songs, I feel like this B-side is VERY underrated!  As a B-side, I wasn’t expecting a much more exciting effort from her and with her vocal talent as strong as it is, it worked out nicely for her and one of the surprised that H!P had throughout the year.

OK SONGS

  • Tokyo You Turn – I think it seems that Yukidon’s 2nd single was trying to stray away from Enka and experiment with a similar style that Chinatsu Miyoshi was going towards and its made certain with this single.  That being said, the song definitely had a 90s sound to it but of course the difference was that Yuki had a MUCH better voice.  Considering I’m not much of a ballad fan, this didn’t do too much, but this was actually a decent song for Yuki who was still early in her H!P career.

OVERALL: I feel like she’s majorly underutilized in H!P with only just one single release (especially since it was released on New Year’s Day).  What the hell was she doing the whole year otherwise?

Sheki-dol

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After their debut last year, Sheki-dol pushed forward in their careers with a surprising announcement of a new member in Mami Suenaga in March and so the trio would release their 2nd and 3rd indies singes, Tetteiteki Unmei & Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu. before a twist was announced that not only that Ibuki Oki would leave the group and Saki Arai would take her place and the trio would major debut with the single, Ai wa Muteki ~Hatachi no Yoru no Chikai~.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tetteiteki Unmei – I wasn’t expecting the trio’s 2nd indies to be such a winner for me.  It continues to bring the pop/rock sound that the duo debuted with, but it threw in some sitars and some cool chanting moments that really stuck to me.  I’m a bit surprised that despite being the new member, Suenaga had the most lines.  Either way, this song was pretty interesting and had a pretty cool PV (for something in the early 00’s).

OK SONGS

  • Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu. – Probably their most well-known song (due to it being a tie-in to Crayon Shin-chan).  Unlike the charged up previous A-side, Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu. tries to keep their pop/rock sound but make it more cute and playful.  I do appreciate the better line distribution here, but something about the song feels lacking to me.
  • Ai wa Muteki ~Hatachi no Yoru no Chikai~ – As the group’s major debut, I was kind of hoping to see something that leveled up to “Tetteiteki Unmei” or even better, but this song is kind of just in the middle.  For its time though, this song sounded unique in Hello! Project an I could compare this to something Buono! has done in recent times.  The only drawback though is its sung in unison so there’s literally no way we could’ve tell newcomer’s Saki Arai vocals here (and there was no PV either).
  • Ganbacchaumonnee! – Oh hey, another loud song that sounds like it would be fun to hear performed live!  It’s a pretty bumpy song with a solid drive and despite the trio not having strong vocals, they use it in a way that could be saved for chants and performances.  I will say the marching bridge with the dialogue was a bit out there, but the guitar solo was awesome!  Overall, not bad…but really the trio’s major debut did nothing to show off the group’s vocals singularly.

MEH SONGS

  • Tetteiteki Unmei -Destiny Version- – So we get an alternate version of Tetteiteki Unmei that changes a lot of the arrangement around that it seems rather foreign compared to the original cut.  I think the more acoustic sounding arrangement isn’t all that bad, but trying to work in the vocal melody (and how loud the girls are supposed to be) feels juxtaposed and really doesn’t mesh well in the long run…Nice try I guess?
  • Koi wa Moshou! – As the B-side to “Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu.”, I kind of figured, it wasn’t going to be as interesting to me and I was right.  It’s a slower song for the group, but with more of that sound that they had in their debut which wasn’t helping much here.  Add on that the tune is sung in unison and I’m kind of just bored of it.

OVERALL: I liked that the group got a bit more effort put in this year after their debut, but was surprise by the additions of both Suenaga & Arai and loss of Oki.  Great that they managed to get a major debut and I hope to see more of this trio in the next year (Oh how wrong this turns out…).

Minimoni

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So going back to last year, Mari Yaguchi had asked to make a group of girls that were short and Tsunku allowed it initially giving her Nozomi Tsuji Ai Kago but later was given Coconuts Musume’s Mika Todd as the final piece of the puzzle and so Minimoni was formed.

2001 came through and the group started their official activities as a group beginning with their debut single, Minimoni. Jankenpyon / Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! and followed it up with their follow-up single, Minimoni. Telephone! Rin Rin Rin / Minimoni. Bus Guide.

In December, a sort-of? spin-off group was formed to promote mostly for the anime series, Hamtaro with a group named Minihams (which is just Minimoni still) and released their first single, Minihamazu no Ai no Uta.

GREAT SONGS

  • Minimoni. Jankenpyon – For the first group to debut in H!P in 2001, I was curious because it had an interesting set of girls working together.  What I wasn’t expecting was cutesy children’s music for them especially since Marippe & Mikapon have sung more mature songs in the past so it was a BIG shift for me.  Though once I shook off the genki scare, this song ended up being surprisingly catchy and ridiculous for the right reasons.
  • Minimoni. Bus Guide – I guess off their 2nd single, I kind of preferred this song over the telephone song because Bus Guide was cute, but it had some depth to it and had a bit more effort and a unique sound to it.  I do like that the group is also singing here whereas in the aforementioned, was just doing more chanting.

OK SONGS

  • Minimoni. Telephone! Rin Rin Rin – How do you follow-up such a funny debut?  I guess by doing it again, but they definitely kiddied it up for this one which is based around a ringing telephone.  This is kind of where I drew the line for silly, fun songs and just WAY too kiddy for my tastes and this is the crossing line because while it has moments that were catchy and cute, it was definitely hammed up to maximum.  So I can only say its just OK, but nothing that’s going to be permanently placed on my iPod.
  • Minihamazu. no Ai no Uta – I wasn’t sure what the direct difference from regular Minimoni songs to the Minihams songs, but honestly that’s why I put them together.  Minihamazu. no Ai no Uta is definitely peppy and cute as usual, but I feel like vocally, it’s a smidge underwhelming, but I do like some of the song like the prechorus and the chorus is cute AF.
  • Minihamazuntakatatta! – Funny enough, when I first heard this B-side, it reminded me A LOT of “Summer Reggae! Rainbow” with the tropical vibes and chords occasionally.  It’s a bizarre song and the quartet are goofing off more than they usually do.  Not bad and I might consider this more than the A-side actually.

MEH SONGS

  • Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! – As for the other A-side from their debut, I think I wasn’t into this one as much due to that it was a bit more safe but at the same time kind of goofy since it was strangely enough about seasons.  Something about Christmas and then something about tempura.  I don’t know, it just didn’t stand out to me in comparison to “Minimoni. Jankenpyon”.

OVERALL: As the first year for Minimoni, I will say I wasn’t expecting a Children’s group to be created and yet get SUPER popular after their debut!  So far musically, it’s just been really cute and very sugary in comparison to most of H!P so they stick out, but it seems like a VERY niche style as well…

Maki Goto

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So it seems from the sheer popularity Gocchin had during 2001, it seemed that Tsunku decided to give her a solo career and in March, debuted with Ai no Bakayarou and followed it up with Afurechau…BE IN LOVE in September!

OK SONGS

  • Ai no Bakayarou ~trance trip version~ – I was surprised we’d get a remix of Maki’s debut instead of a proper B-side and I actually easily prefer it to the original mix because the slower tempo and cooler vibes is much more fitting and has a lot more interesting moments as well.  The high notes aren’t as annoying or out of place either so all in all…awesome remix here!
  • Afurechau…BE IN LOVE – Boy does this sound throw me back to the days where Western artists had this kind of R&B/Pop mix.  It’s not a split like “Ai no Bakayarou” was, but this song really shows off Maki’s vocals (if not slightly weak with the squeaking).  Definitely a 90s pop track through and through.
  • LIKE A GAME – As Maki’s first official B-side, LIKE A GAME is following up “Afurechau…BE IN LOVE” with another song that feels like a throwback to 90s music (granted this is 2001, so the shift wasn’t too nostalgic I bet in that time).  I do like the sounds and arrangement and Gocchin delivers vocally a bit more strongly than she did with the A-sides.

MEH SONGS

  • Ai no Bakayarou – For being Gocchin’s solo debut, Ai no Bakayarou is interesting because it seems that Tsunku is paing her as the R&B/Pop artist but mixed in some ethnic bells and whistles to a dance beat and we have this for a debut song.  It’s not a bad song persay, but my only qualm is Maki can’t do this super high notes that are prevalent in the choruses of the track and they kind of ruin the song for me, personally.  I get that this is a big song for hers, but ugh…

OVERALL: Being the debut for her after her rising popularity was reaching fever pitch, I guess it was going to happen that Maki would get a debut on her own.  For the most part it went smoothly and nothing out of the ordinary.  Two OK singles overall.

Aya Matsuura

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From last year, we had auditions and ended up with three winners, two of them went on and formed Sheki-dol while the last was Aya Matsuura and was held back from debuting a little while to get herself just right for her solo debut in April with Dokki Doki! LOVE Mail and followed it up with 3 more singles in the year; Tropica~l Koishite~ru, LOVE Namida Iro, and 100kai no KISS.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tropica~l Koishite~ru – Just on her 2nd single and somehow she struck gold with this song that upped the energy and happiness and really made Aya stand out amongst the other soloists with a summery and bright song.  It’s a great song and a good follow-up after her debut!
  • Yuugure – Even the B-side from her 2nd single was able to stand out a lot to me with its lighter affair and interesting use of layering in her vocals so it sounds a bit retro and like something from the 70s.  There’s just something ethereal and soothing about this track that just worked and made a nice contrast to “Tropica~l Koishite~ru”.
  • LOVE Namida Iro – Taking things a little bit differently than the previous two A-sides, LOVE Namida Iro while still upbeat feels more like a smidge serious of a song, but still carries itself lighter with its poppy vibes and funky instrumentation.  It’s another one of her big songs and I can see why…it’s just that decent!

OK SONGS

  • Dokki Doki! LOVE Mail – I was curious to see what Ayaya would find herself in the list of soloists that already exist and it seems she gets the upbeat pop songs.  For a debut song, it’s not bad at all, but it doesn’t quite ring out to me like many other debut songs have in the past/future.  Aya’s vocals are cutesy, but not genki and sugary as they can get.  It’s a decent beginning!
  • Machiawase – As the B-side to her debut single, Machiawase made me think she was taking a page from Gocchin’s sound with 90s R&B sound, but there’s something light and pure about this one.  Ayaya also sounds really pleasant and like an innocent idol who just debuted!
  • OO Joshi Kousei no Shuuchou – As the B-side to “LOVE Namida Iro”, I wasn’t expecting Ayaya to drop a pop/rock track, something she hasn’t done yet into the fold.  Though, I have to say it’s not one that really stuck to me despite it already feels like Aya is more confident in her vocal skills which is awesome to see.  It’s alright, but definitely B-side material.
  • 100kai no KISS – As the 4th A-side she released just in 2001, I wasn’t surprised it was touted as the wintry mid-tempo ballad!  The song itself feels a bit light for my tastes and the small R&B boops and sounds like in “Machiawase” make a reappearance and it kind of feels a little odd.

MEH SONGS

  • MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU – Ok, so maybe the B-side to “100kai no KISS” was more of a Christmas tune, but good lord was this a song that didn’t really need to happen.  The arrangement is a bit too droll and while I like Ayaya once again singing under light filters like in “Yuugure”, the song just puts me to sleep and she does way too much of the ~la la la~-ing in this song so it really became a bother.

OVERALL: It seems a lot of Tsunku’s interest this year went straight to Ayaya with 4 singles on her own this year!  It worked out because her leading songs have been really nice through the year.  I wonder how well she’ll do during her 2nd year!

Rika Ishii

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Well, it’s a bit odd to hear, but kind of in a quiet way H!P had added another girl to the family in Octover, one Rika Ishii who initially started out acting under Up-Front before being chosen to become the Douyou Onna, meaning that she was going to be involved with the first Douyou Pops album.

Other H!P Releases

Together! -Tanpopo・Petit・Mini・Yuko-chunatsupaartysummerreggaedancingmatsuriLOVE Century -Yume wa Minakerya Hajimaranai- 8folksongsThe Douyou Pops 1 Christmas to Fuyu no Uta Shuupetitbest2Cover Morning Musume ~Various Artist Covers _MORNING MUSUME

Going into the other Hello! Project releases that were released in 2001, there was quite plenty to have dealt with.  Kicking things off is a surprising quadruple/split compilation release between Tanpopo, Petitmoni, Minimoni, and soloist Yuko Nakazawa with Together! -Tanpopo・Petit・Mini・Yuko-.  Taking their best known songs and some surprises within it!

Next up was the return of the shuffle units with theming of Matsuri split between all of them!

  • 3nin Matsuri – (Rika Ishikawa, Ai Kago, Aya Matsuura) – The first one is with the smallest amount of members which included new H!P member Ayaya.  They were given the upbeat summer song, Chu! Natsu Pa~rty.
  • 7nin Matsuri – (Michiyo Heike, Mari Yaguchi, Ayaka Kimura, Asami Kimura, Ayumi Shibata, Lehua Sandbo, Maki Goto) – The middle group, this reggae-inspired group of course took up the mantle of this Caribbean genre of music with their song, Summer Reggae! Rainbow.
  • 10nin Matsuri – (Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Kei Yasuda, Rinne Toda, Mika Todd, Megumi Murata, Masae Ohtani, Hitomi Saito, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Nozomi Tsuji) – Finally, this big grouping came together to celebrate Japanese matsuris with their song, Dancing! Natsu Matsuri.

Of course, Momusu had started to do stageplays and of course they had some help from various other members of Hello! Project on their play, LOVE CENTURY -Yume wo Minakerya Hajimaranai-.  (will not review the songs here)

Next thing up was actually a surprise considering that Sayaka Ichii had graduated from H!P/Morning Musume, so when FOLK SONGS an album released as a duet release between Yuko Nakazawa and herself, it definitely took interest, despite the album is a cover album.

I guess you can say the same about the next release, The Douyou Pops 1 Christmas to Fuyu no Uta Shuu which is also a cover album, but the difference here is is that it’s current H!P members covering Children’s songs that pertain to the holiday season.

Of course, getting closer to the end of the year, it seems that the Petit Best made a return with Petit Best 2 ~3, 7, 10~

Though it wouldn’t close out the year without some SUPER bizarre release, but at the year’s end we have this tribute album sung by Americans called Cover Morning Musume ~Various Artist Covers “MORNING MUSUME”!~.  Of course I’m not going to review this because this is non H!P members singing H!P songs xD.

GREAT SONGS

  • Chokotto LOVE (2001 Version) – Starting with songs from the singular quad release compilation.  It seems we get updated cuts of a couple songs and this one from Petitmoni really doesn’t do too much besides swap out Sayaka with Yossie’s vocals.  Otherwise, the song is still remotely the same and still upbeat and cute to listen to!
  • Dancing! Natsu Matsuri – Who knew the group with the most members would be the ones to strike gold this year.  Something about this group tackling the actual Japanese matsuri sounds and ideals is pretty awesome and while 10 members seemed pretty big, they sounded together and exciting.  Mix that with a punchy arrangement and hilarious moments and we get this awesome song!
  • Kono Hiroi Nohara Ippai – As the first track off the FOLK SONGS album, I really wasn’t expecting an ethereal, space-like arrangement to kick things off especially since it’s a cover album and what not and the knowledge of hearing Sayaka’s voice again was really nice!  It does open to more of a pop/rock kind of session and it’s a pretty decent track.  Yuko does come in, but her voice isn’t the one the song is focused on.  It’s a nice track to open the album and get reacquainted with Sayaka.
  • Ano Hi ni Kaeritai – Seems we finally hit our first solo from FOLK SONGS with a café-friendly track from Sayaka.  What I mean is this song is taking from Mediterranean music with the light and brisky arrangement and fluttery flutes that pop in and out in occasion.  Icchan’s vocals are just relaxing and very pretty to hear.  It’s one of the standouts! 
  • Furusato – To those that felt Momusu’s original Furusato was too much Nacchi and not enough members, we do somewhat get a reprieve with a self-cover of it on FOLK SONGS which is sung by Sayaka and Yuko (both of whom were in the original recording, mind you).  The arrangement was toned down a bit with synth flute and acoustic guitar/piano/light percussion and sounds a bit more natural.  I will say the two sound beautiful in the verses, but they kind of sound rough doing the chorus together for some reason.  It’s a decent self-cover overall!
  • Aru Hi Totsuzen – At least there’s an upbeat track on the album like the opening tune and unironically it’s once again a Sayaka solo with Bamba Hirofuni (the male vocalist here). It’s catchy and the duet actually feels like a decent duet as well…the only qualm is that it doesn’t even make 3 minutes so it’s a quick track for the album.
  • Shuushifu – I don’t know why I like this baroque, but R&B-like track, but as the only song to include both ladies with a 3rd artist (Takao Horiuchi), this was probably the biggest surprise on the album (besides the self-cover of “Furusato”).  The beat is cool and the mood is sensual and somewhat mysterious and Yuko and Sayaka are just great here!  It’s probably my favorite song off this album!
  • MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU (holly night version) – I was surprised to see that an Ayaya B-side was going to be on a Petit Best, more or less getting a new version.  I’m not too big of a fan of the original since it’s just boring and plain to me, but this “holly night” cut snips off the instrumentation and replaces it with jingle bells and some ~oooohs~.  It’s very soothing to the ears and Ayaya sounds pretty as well…this is definitely the preferred version!  Also, it’s shorter too!

OK SONGS

  • Tanpopo (2001 Version) – Unfortunately, I can’t say that the updated cut of Tanpopo (which is now sung with Aibon and Rika and no Ayappe) isn’t quite as smooth sounding.  Tanpopo as a song felt mature and suited more mature vocals so it really didn’t feel right hearing Ai or Rika as their vocals were both higher registers than the original remaining members.  I mean it’s not terrible, but the original kind of sounds more fitting to the original trio than the updated quartet.
  • Akai Nikkichou (by Nakazawa Version) – I was pretty surprised to see a solo cut of Akai Nikkichou being present on the compilation here and like the Petitmoni/Tanpopo tracks, I was just expecting just Yuko singing over the original’s arrangement, but it has a different set of sounds going on and Yuko does a Japanese take of the intro dialogue (the original of course had Danielle do it in English).  What I can say is that, it’s pretty decent of a self-cover, but I don’t think the arrangement needed any updating.
  • Chu! Natsu Pa~rty – With the shuffle units, I was pretty curious with the theme of Matsuris and with the smallest shuffle unit including Aibon, Rikachan, and new member Ayaya, it was definitely a summer song to witness.  It’s definitely cute and the higher, squeakier vocals suited the bubblegummy sound I got.
  • Koibito mo Inai no ni – Unlike the opening track to the album, Koibito mo Inai no ni is probably the first thing I thought of when the title FOLK SONGS was announced because I was thinking lowkey songs that would fit in some campfire, like “Hello! Mata Aou ne”.  I hear a lot of Ichii over Nakazawa still…though this song was as memorable to me.
  • Aki Demo nai no ni – At least 3rd song from the album and we finally get some spotlight with Yuko.  I’m liking the lighter atmosphere with focus on acoustic guitar and piano with some light percussion to fill in the spaces.  I really do like how Yuko and Sayaka mesh with their soft vocals especially with Yuko being pushed more forward.  I also liked the bridge but I couldn’t place what the instrument was?  Either way, pretty song.
  • Matsu wa – I knew this song was familiar to me (in the future, W would cover this as well).  Anyways, Yuko and Sayaka’s cut of Matsu wa is slow and relaxing to the ears and gives me faint R&B vibes but also this light pop vibes.  After a while the song does start to feel like it’s dragging its feet, but considering I already like this song (thanks to W), but vocally this is pleasant!
  • Hana to Ojiisan – We get another Sayaka solo and this one gives me a playful vibe with a bit of a circus vibe for some reason, but there’s something new here to deal with and it’s the fact that Ichii is not alone but with a male singer, Jiro Sugita.  He doesn’t really do too much other than to harmonize with Sayaka in certain lines.  It’s an interesting song, but nothing that stays in my mind.
  • Toki ni wa Haha no nai Ko no You ni – There’s something mysterious about this Yuko solo, but at least it woke me up after getting through “Nagoriyuki” with it’s crooning strings and interesting rhythm & beats.  It’s also a smidge draggy with no chorus to really speak of and the arrangement doesn’t go anywhere either, but Yuko’s vocals were dreamy and the song wasn’t too long (ends at 3 minutes).
  • Salvia no Hana – As the last solo from FOLK SONGS, Sayaka once again gets a bit more of an interesting track that has more than just the basic instruments by having some synths involved.  Though the bridge is what caught my attention by including electric guitar.
  • Tsubasa wo Kudasai – As the final track from FOLK SONGS, I wasn’t expecting the duo to cover an anime track, but it’s a different take because it’s more of a ballad than various other covers of this song.  It’s the closest to sounding somewhat like an idol track and the rolling drums in the verses are unique here.  Not bad, not bad.
  • Jingle Bell – Opening the Douyou Pops album, we start off with a Christmas song that everyone knows somehow, someway, Jingle Bells (or Jingle Bell for some reason here).  Featuring Marippe, Coconuts Ayaka, Ayappe and new H!P member, Rika Ishii the song is what you’d think it’d be.  Nice that all 4 members have equal lines and I’m impressed by Ishii for her first stint in H!P.
  • Akahana no Tonakai – Aibon, Makochan, and Coconuts Ayaka sing together for their cut of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and I have to put a warning that all the arrangements from “FOLK SONGS” and moving to this album, it’s heavily cheesy and CASIOs are just running rampant through the songs here.  This tune sounds cheap, but luckily the trio sound nice.
  • Santa ga Machi ni Yattekuru – Hearing saxophones in a song like this is always nice to hear and this is a rather nice rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town (though once again, they changed the lyrics out from the original, for some odd reason). Plus it helped that they chose some good singers to tackle this from from Kei-chan, Coconuts Ayaka, Rinne, and Ayaya, so this may be my favorite from the album!
  • White Christmas – It’s something when you get some of the better H!P vocalists for a song, but they kind of knocked out of the park with this rendition of White Christmas.  Yeah, the song has always been a slow crawl of a song but Nacchi, Ai-chan, and Mika did a pretty nice job of it.  Even better that Mika’s part is entirely in English and she sounded amazing!
  • Kiyoshi Kono Yoru – The Douyou Pops album ends with everyone getting together to sing Silent Night and it’s non-offensive in such a good way!  It is interesting to note that the remaining Country & Coconuts Musume members get to sing the English passage of the track, but otherwise it’s a nice chorale and good closer to this odd album.

MEH SONGS

  • Summer Reggae! Rainbow – 7-nin Matsuri’s song was a total surprise (well not really because of looking at the title), but H!P tackling Reggae music just seemed so out of left field.  On top of taking Gocchin, Marippe, Michiyo, both Kimuras, Ayumin, and Lehua here, it felt like an odd coupling of girls.  Despite the song being incredibly corny and the music feeling a little cheap, that chorus is rather catchy.  Though I think that bridge is terrible XD…no more Tsunku!
  • Hello! Mata Aou ne (3-nin, 7-nin, 10-nin, 20-nin Matsuri ver.) – Found as the B-side to all 3 shuffle unit singles (and the 20 on “Petit Best 2”), Hello! Mata Aou ne, is for all intents and purposes a campfire song and it shows right from the intro.  It’s somewhat cute with the whole sing-a-long vibes I get, but I can see why H!P has mostly forgotten about this track.
  • Kamome wa Kamome – One of the more forgettable tracks is this Yuko solo from FOLK SONGS as it’s kind of the bare minimal arrangement that most of the album had already contained.  Yuko does sound pretty, I’ll give it that.  It’s just that the song otherwise is one that would put me to sleep easily.
  • Nagoriyuki – I figured there would be another song to kind of put me asleep and it’s another Sayaka solo but this one suffers from minimal arrangement with just light strings & acoustic guitar.  I just couldn’t remember the melody after I had listened to it, but the song just flew over my head.
  • Aa~ Yokatta – Yup, another case of a song that just is a bit too simplified and just doesn’t stick to me like other songs had.  Piano/acoustic guitar is just a bit overdone here and the tone of the song itself just doesn’t lend itself to particularly stick out amongst the other songs from the cover album so it too also flew over my head.
  • Shiroi Iro wo Koibito no Iro – Didn’t W also cover this song too?  Either way, after the boring “Aa~ Yokatta”, this song decides to walk right in and throw banjos into the mix.  H!P and banjos don’t really mix well together and it still stands despite that Sayaka and Yuko sound good (especially since Yuko leads the harmonizations).  Still…this is still a bit cheesy.
  • Santa Claus ga Yattekuru – Here Comes Santa Claus is funny enough a lot shorter than I remembered as a child, but here we are and this (and most of the songs are SUPER short when it comes to Douyou Pops albums).  Sung by Yossie, Aibon, Asami, and Ishii, this is a smidge embarrassing, mostly coming from Yossie’s quips in the track…like…your “Mr. Moonlight” stuff doesn’t belong here lol!
  • Yuki ga Odoru – Considering this is based of a Czech song, this song feels odd on the album.  Sung by Marippe, Gaki, Charmy, and Asami….it’s such a simple, but kind of annoying song and the vocals (especially between Charmy & Asami) were rough to say the least.
  • Kaze mo Yuki mo Tomodachi da – Yeah, this is Frosty the Snowman here sung by Nacchi, Gaki, and Ishii.  Granted, lyrically it’s not Frosty, but something a bit more generic?  I don’t know, but it’s nice that Nacchi and Ishii gets some decent lines and they both sound decent and Gaki as young as she was then didn’t sound too strong, but could hold her own?  Still the tempo felt slow and kind of frumpy sounding too…meh…
  • Mama ga Santa ni Kiss Shita – What a scandalous song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is and once again shifting lyrics around, but this felt cheap like the “Frosty the Snowman” cover was lol!  I do like the 4 ladies (Kei-chan, Tsuji, Rinne, and Mika) get equal line distribution…I was so tuned out from it all.
  • Omedetou Christmas – I have to say, I love the music box sound of the opening and ending of this cut of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and all and even better when Mika and Coconuts Ayaka sing the first passage in English, but once Konkon, Kaori and Asami join in they sound really rough together…I think if they left those 3 out, this would’ve been much higher up.
  • Morobito Kozorite – I kind of was surprised to hear pipe organ open up this take on Joy to the World as it sounded dark and foreboding, but then the goofy H!P cheap horns kick in and the song kind of just throws the song on the floor.  I mean oddly enough Kaori is the only one of the 5 involved to have solo lines.  I will say it’s nice to see Mikapon & Coconuts Ayaka have an English set (though the yelling was bizarre too).  Just left Asami and Ishii to kind of sit back.  Kind of a cringey cover if you ask me.
  • Yuki – As the other song given a PV (“Akahana no Tonakai” being the other), Yuki featured Rinne, Tsuji, and Konkon for this one and learning this is a Japanese song that was to kids in education, it’s nice they included that here.  Though, the vocals were just absurdly high-pitched, even Rinne who was the eldest in the song sounded just as squeaky and annoying as Tsuji who was on full effect annoyance (hell, to say that Konkon didn’t bother me is saying something!).
  • Oshougatsu – Moving onto songs that deal with New Year’s, Oshougatsu is a REALLY short song that features Yossie, Rinne, Coconuts Ayaka, and Ishii and it’s a surprise that the latter two have more solos than the more popular members.  It’s boring and plain and just didn’t resonate with me.
  • Ichigatsu Tsuitachi – I thought “Oshougatsu” was short, but this song feels even shorter.  The thing I do like is that it has a nice Matsuri-esque sound about it and Gocchin, Makochan, Charmy, and Ai-chan have equal lines, but it’s pretty basic and how quick it goes by doesn’t leave much of an impression.
  • Tako no Uta – Like I’ve mentioned earlier, banjos and H!P do not mix well and despite Tako no Uta, like “Yuki”, is a Japanese school-taught song, just doesn’t work even if you use two of your popular members, Gocchin & Ayaya.  They sound decent, but the hokey arrangement just kind of throws any interest out for me.
  • Renai Revolution 21 (Cho Cho Cho cool remix) – Onto Petit Best songs, we get another remix for a Momusu song, this time for Renai Revolution 21.  For what it is, it’s more of a chilled out remix of the song and I thought it sounded cool and funky, but then once the verses kick in, it feels way too slow than it needed to be (the singing sounds slow too).  If it was sped up a little, it would’ve done better.

ICKY SONGS

  • Minimoni. Dancing – Considering that Minimoni was the only group that hadn’t had any changes, they were given two new tracks for their participation in the compilation album.  This 40 second track just seemed like useless fluff and really didn’t do anything for the quartet.  It’s fitting as a cute little ditty, but it just doesn’t stick to me.
  • Minimoni. no Uta – The other track (which is a minute long) was just as unnecessary and oddball, but at least this song has a little more going for it because all for members spell out the group’s name and sing it with some extra bit.  Though, the organ is cute…but still kind of ick.
  • Pokipoki Pocky – Like the Minimoni songs, Pokipoki Pocky is a short 1 minute track from Momusu to promote Pocky of all things.  The song is found as a hidden track on Petit Best 2 and really isn’t worth the listen because it’s so frantic and there’s just so much Pocky snapping sounds and the girls repeating the title…yeah…I suppose it’s somewhat nice…but why?

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • Aya Matsuura
  • Mami Suenaga
  • Ai Takahashi
  • Risa Niigaki
  • Asami Konno
  • Makoto Ogawa
  • Rika Ishii
  • Saki Arai

Losses

  • Yuko Nakazawa (from Momusu)
  • Ibuki Oki

My H!P Ranking for ’01

  • 31. Saki Arai (NEW)
  • 30. Asami Konno (NEW)
  • 29. Nozomi Tsuji (+1)
  • 28. Makoto Ogawa (NEW)
  • 27. Ibuki Oki (-3)
  • 26. Rika Ishikawa (+3)
  • 25. Megumi Murata (-9)
  • 24. Asami Kimura(+3)
  • 23. Lehua Sandbo (0)
  • 22. Ai Takahashi (NEW)
  • 21. Risa Niigaki (NEW)
  • 20. Ami Kitagami (+5)
  • 19. Rinne Toda (-11)
  • 18. Kaori Iida (+4)
  • 17. Ayumi Shibata (+11)
  • 16. Ai Kago (+1)
  • 15. Rika Ishii (NEW)
  • 14. Hitomi Saito (+1)
  • 13. Mami Suenaga (NEW)
  • 12. Ayaka Kimura (+6)
  • 11. Yuki Maeda (-9)
  • 10. Kei Yasuda (+9)
  • 9. Natsumi Abe (0)
  • 8. Aya Matsuura (NEW)
  • 7. Masae Ohtani (+3)
  • 6. Yuko Nakazawa (-2)
  • 5. Michiyo Heike (+7)
  • 4. Mika Todd (+9)
  • 3. Maki Goto (+2)
  • 2. Hitomi Yoshizawa (+19)
  • 1. Mari Yaguchi (+5)

Sorry, this one took forever, I can’t promise that 2002 will be any quicker considering how many of those Douyou Pops albums comes out and it’ll be insane, but I’ll try to get it out sooner than this one took!

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Ayaka Wada to graduate from ANGERME/H!P in Spring 2019

Wada_Ayaka_-_Manner_Mode_promo

So it seems the day has come where one of the eldest members in H!P is going to finally graduate.  According to her blogpost, Ayacho doesn’t wanna quit singing/dancing but wants to take it a step further on top of other paths that she wants to take and it’s pretty awesome to see her follow out further.

Personally, while I never found her to be the best singer in most things she’s done (especially in the original S/mileage lineup to current ANGERME), she’s always had personality in spades and she just kept getting prettier and prettier as the years gone by.

Now the question becomes who will become H!P’s next leader (and ANGERME’s next leader as well).  Still, at least we have a year with Ayacho so let’s cherish it!

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1 Audition, 2 groups? Something to be excited for!

So here we are again in Audition land and this time it seems H!P is going to make two groups out of this one, hopefully (considering the last audition only ended up with 7 Kenshuusei members, one who already left, mind you).

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So FINALLY news that’s going to push Ichioka’s group forward, it seems her group will focus on being a “performance” group and that could really mean anything, but it seems vocals & dance being the primary focus…might get a C-ute-like group out of this I feel like.  Granted as she’s still the lone member & such, it could go either especially if some of the members added are from the KSS then she might be passed (though she’s gotten better vocally, so it wouldn’t hurt for more support to come in.

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Though I think the bigger news is that we finally get confirmation of what’s going on with Takase and Kiyono and it’s another new group!  I was hoping it was a group and not so much them being thrown into Engeki Joshi-bu.  So unlike Ichioka’s group, this group is going to be more theater-esque to add with their singing/dancing so I feel like it’s going to be a bit more silly like Berryz Kobo was.  Though they could be more serious considering how good these two are vocally so who knows!

 

Seems like we’ll get the winners and first releases sometime in the Summer tour or a little later, but I’m excited…it’s nice to see something going on now (though I hope Country Girls can make a comeback fulltime too).

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Haruna Ogata to graduate MM’18/H!P in June

Morning_Musume_Ogata_Haruna_-_15_Thank_you,_too_promo

So it was announced today that in June, 12th Gen member, Haruna Ogata, will be graduating from Momusu (and H!P) to focus on university studies.

 

You know personally and it might offend some people, but Haachin really didn’t bring much to the table when it comes to the group and she really had never popped up on my radar (which is a current issue that still permeates within the 12th Gen girls sadly enough).  With Haruna, I feel like she was/is the worst vocally of the current lineup and due to the fact that she’s had little time to showcase herself (well in studio recordings), I felt no connection to her so this is kind of 0 emotion for me unlike both Duu & Zukki previous.

To be fair, I hope she gets far and builds a great future for herself and it’ll be nice to see her return once in a while

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Hello! 2017! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

Boy has this been a crazy year with many graduations, surprising turn of events and new members galore with some fun releases from all the groups involved…so shall I get myself started!!!

NOTE: This year, I think I’m going to skip the stageplay OSTs this year as none of them really stood out to me sadly, and there was a LOT…but I’ll at least mention the ones that were found on Petit Best 18.

Morning Musume ’17

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Always with the longest group to begin things out!  Anyways the year sort of began a bit last year with the announcement of the group adding two members in Kaede Kaga Reina Yokoyama.  Their first thing was to be involved with that ABK48 song, “Get you!” but right before it was sadly announced that Masaki Sato was going to be out on hiatus due to an injured back which ended up with her missing the first single of the year “BRAND NEW MORNING / Jealousy Jealousy” which also included a slightly different take of “Get you!” and “Morning Misoshiru” which was a redone take of “Morning Coffee” meant to promote miso soup.

Then it was announced during their “Pharaoh no Haka” stageplay round that Haruka Kudo was going to graduate towards the end of the year.

Then in a twist during the summer, Country Girls went into hiatus and their members (alongside other new H!P members) were shuffled to existing groups and Chisaki Morito would join as the lone 14th Generation and would be included in the group’s next single, “Jama Shinaide Here We Go! / Dokyuu no Go Sign / Wakaindashi!” which was also known as Duu’s final single and the return of Maachan!

As December was nearing Momusu did a one/two punch of an announcement of a digital single, “Gosenfu no Tasuki” & a new album finally, “⑮ Thank you, too” before Duu would go on and graduate on 12/11.

GREAT SONGS

  • BRAND NEW MORNING – Considering this is the debut for the 13th Generation, it was rather uncertain how they’d turn out, but suspicions were laid to rest as both Reina and Kaede managed to hold their ground in this powerful and cool song!  I was also impressed to see Eripon have a strong line as well.  All I will say that it was a bit sad that Maachan was absent for this one, but she really doesn’t do much in the song after she had returned anyways, lol.
  • Dokyuu no Go Sign – As the most energetic song off the 2nd single, Dokyuu no Go Sign was bursting with life and the girls are quite excited to be a part of a song like this!  I wasn’t expecting the song to be split between vocals and dancers (like in many of their previous songs).  The girls that were chosen to sing did bring a nice amount of fun and expression though!  I will say that I was blown away by Sakura, Fukuchan, Akane, and Harunan here though.  Just a song to break the mold for the year and it was much appreciated!
  • Wakaindashi! – Well for a song that’s meant for our graduate, Duu to have, Wakaindashi! was a great way to celebrate her time with the group!  This poppy, tropical house sounding mid-tempo tune is just breezy and very sentimental to listen to and the nods to Duu on top of her many solos is just great!  Of course there was lines for the 3 youngest members (Reina, Akane, and Maria) and that was a nice thing to include too.  Great graduation song!
  • CHO DAI – Honestly, I’m still digging this song from the album review I did on my main blog because it’s so mysterious and the beat is kickin’ and quite memorable to me.  I just love when they repeat ~cho daaiiii~ over and over up until the chorus where the synths get a little more active.  My only concern are those high notes still as that’s pretty hiked up there!  Still, it’s a pretty cool track!
  • Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai – Yeah, it’s goddamn time they’ve finally released this song!  It’s been two years and with a couple members having left (or joined) I figured it wasn’t gonna be like when they first performed it during their PRISM tour.  Having the studio version though feels so good and it just fills my headphones perfectly!  I love the repetition and the EDM is just enough to get me pumped up…Like I said, it was worth the 2 year wait!!!
  • Seishun Say A-HA – Like “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai”, we had to wait quite as bit (but not quite as long as) for this one to have a studio cut.  Just like the aforementioned song though, this song was also worth it because it’s catchy and great for pumping crowds up with those chants in the chorus.  It might be on the lower end of the Great songs, but I still dug it.
  • Mou Gaman Dekinai wa ~Love ice cream~ – My favorite of the 3 shuffle groups on the album, this one sung by Haachin, Akane, Kaedii, and Reina and I was excited to hear more of the latter two as they still feel rather brand new (no puns intended).  I definitely get anison themes in this pop/rock track and once again I love that they breakaway from the EDM a little bit.  It just sounds cool and unique on the album and having all the members that haven’t really got to shine is always a welcoming sight to behold!

OK SONGS

  • Jealousy Jealousy & Jealousy Jealousy (Album Version) – So the other A-side from the first single of the year, I feel Jealousy Jealousy was the more polished and classy song amongst the two.  The track is pretty cool though and the synth horns sound cool alongside the strings as well.  Though I can’t quite put a finger on why it isn’t a great song to me.  I also love hearing Miki taking a bigger role as well.  As for the album version, very little seemed to have changed besides adding Masaki and Chisaki to the song in some small parts so it feels as if it didn’t change any.
  • Get you! – As the song that the group and Rino Sashihara worked together on, I was surprised it would get a single version that’s slightly different from the one from AKB’s album.  The biggest difference is that there is less Sasshi and solos from Sakura, Haruka, Mizuki, and Ayumi.  I do think the arrangement is a tad bit boring (but mostly because Akimoto’s works tend to sound similar to one another).
  • Jama Shinaide Here We Go! – As the leading A-side for the 2nd single they released in 2017, Jama Shinaide Here We Go! was our first taste of Chisaki Morito being a part of Momusu and she had a lot of facetime in the PV!  The song itself it was a little difficult to point out her voice amongst the crowd of other voices.  Still, this is a pretty decent EDM track from the group despite not totally standing out amongst the crowd.
  • Romance ni Mezameru Mousou Joshi no Uta – As the first album song you run into, I was curious to how I’d feel about it because it was the only track that wasn’t really previewed during the group’s tour.  It definitely makes me think of “What is LOVE?” with those aggressive synths and rhythms.  It’s somewhat cute and a bit crazy and I kind of dug it.
  • Style of my love – Sung by Harunan, Sakura, and Maria I was thinking the song was going to be a cute one and I was pretty damn close if I say so myself.  Not quite as cute as some of the stuff that was connected to Sayu, but the saxes really connect the idea.  I do love that Harunan and Maria have gotten better as singers, but they still can’t quite get to Sakura’s levels.  Either way, the tune is pretty nice but it’s in the lower end of the OK songs.
  • Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari (Morning Musume ’17 ver.) – It was pretty much a known fact that the group was due for one of these songs.  It’s been quite a while and we have a whole new set of girls to deal with.  Not much to say though if you’ve been a fan for a long time and know this song and what’s its shtick is.  I will say that Miki getting that all English in her solo line is great though!
  • Ai no Tane (20th Anniversary ver.) – Normally, I’d be so excited to see Ai no Tane being redone but it had already to much better reception!  Though they do share the same arrangement, this one was all of the current Momusu members.  So the excitement isn’t quite as large.  At least this was a more valiant effort than “Morning Misoshiru” was.

MEH SONGS

  • Morning Misoshiru – As it was the beginning of celebrating 20 years of Momusu, it was no surprise that “Morning Coffee” would be worked in the group’s celebration.  I do feel like the song felt more cheap from the instrumentation and the changing of one word (in the chorus), there was just no interest from me though it’s nice that Maachan was in both of the single’s B-sides.  It’s somewhat cute, but I could’ve been simply OK with just the original.
  • Gosenfu no Tasuki – So this was a surprisingly announced song that the group released prior to the album (why it’s not on the album is beside me because it’s rather mediocre, although NOW I know it’ll be on a 2018 mini-album they’re releasing).  The tune seems like a typical unison sounding ballad and I wasn’t sure how it tied to anything of theirs.  There are solos from Sakura, Mizuki, shockingly Miki luckily which it meant things would be OK…but the song just feels lacking to me.  Odd song overall…
  • Narcissus Kamatte-chan Kyousoukyoku Dai 5ban – I’m not sure what it is with this song with the wacky long title, but the song doesn’t quite resonate with me as with other songs from the album.  I do like the crazy amount of solo lines for all the members which is impressive, but the song doesn’t seem to pave new roads that have been already dug out from other tracks.  Plus the tone shift in the choruses just seem out of place maybe?
  • Koi wa Toki ni – As the last of the shufflings with Fukuchan, Eripon, Ayumi, Maachan, Duu, Miki, and Chiichan.  I kind of found myself kind of lost with it.  Like I know it’s not a terrible song, but on an album chock-full of EDM songs, Koi wa Toki ni seems pretty middle-of-the-road and it feels like the song doesn’t quite have the oomph, other songs do.  Although that bridge is kind of cool…

Predictions from last year

I’m hoping for a push for 12th Gen even if Maria is getting the push currently. Not sure what else could be said, maybe an album to get things rolling?

Actuality: I really don’t know what to say on that first part, I think 12th Gen overall took a backseat once again (maybe a little bit of a Miki push this year).  Though they did get a little more appreciation from the album which FINALLY happened!

Predictions for 2018: Considering this is going to be big for Hello! Project next year, there’s really no amount of surprises that could happen (and that’s something to say considering Momusu gained 3 members and lost Duu).  I think someone will graduate next year…either Harunan or Eripon…but it’s hard to say otherwise…maybe a best album? (15 A-sides with no album kind of just says eventual best album).

°C-ute

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Well it had to happen and we were reaching our end line with °C-ute due to last year’s announcement of their disbandment in 2017.  They kicked off their year with what would become their final single, “To Tomorrow / Final Squall / The Curtain Rises” and they began their final performances with a best album, “°COMPLETE SINGLE COLLECTION“.  Then they had their last performance on June 12th.

Since their disbandment it seems 4/5 of the remaining members at the time have been releasing (or getting ready to) solo music (everyone but Maimai).

  • NOTE: They did release a Live CD of their final performance, but I’m not going to review all those live cuts…but I will say it was pretty awesome they did that!

GREAT SONGS

  • The Curtain Rises – A little surprise of the 3 A-sides, this one didn’t feel like a goodbye song but this track is pretty good since it’s what °C-ute does best which are dance tracks!  There’s just something about it that really pulled me in and once again caught me off guard.  There’s a little odd rap section here, but it worked and the after-chorus was pretty badass too.  Definitely a cool song for them but not quite as epic as “Mugen Climax” was last year.
  • Yuki ga Chirari – Moving to stuff found on their best album, I was surprised by this special treat.  It’s basically “Sakura Chirari” but a switch of a lyric and the fact that Megumi Murakami was still a part of the group when the song was made.  She feels so natural here and suits this hoppy song!  Still, it’s a fun song to listen to but made slightly better with Megu and Airi here.
  • Juliet Juliet – If you thought waiting for “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” was mad, waiting for this rarity took almost a decade xD.  Juliet Juliet is basically “Namida no Iro” with different lyrics but the same arrangement.  Like “Yuki ga Chirari”, it’s a decent alternate cut of a song, but I kind of wished this had the “Shin Seinaru” arrangement lol.
  • Yume – That intro though!  It definitely gives me anison vibes and the rest of the song kind of does the same.  I really like the brightness of the song that remind me somewhat of “Ai wa Maru de Seidenki” but a bit more pop/rock here.  It’s a pretty nice song for them to release (makes me wonder why they didn’t promote any of the new songs from the best).

OK SONGS

  • Final Squall – Hey, it’s fine that Final Squall reminds me heavily of “Tsugi no Kado wo Magare” because I loved that song.  Final Squall felt a bit more stronger of a song to leave things behind with.  I definitely remember Airi and Chisato for some reason the most in this track and they held their own with that powerful chorus!  I think they should’ve promoted this song a WHOLE lot more!  The only thing that bothered me was the rapping…but otherwise, pretty good track.
  • Come Together (°C-ute ver.) – I’m rather curious to how this happened.  A song that’s sung by Ongaku Gatas, I wonder if °C-ute was originally planned for it and then it was switched perhaps?  I meanthe vocals sound way younger here of course, but the arrangement is no different.  Actually vocally, I prefer this over the Ongaku cut…hmmm odd!
  • Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku (Winter ver.) – I had totally forgot they performed this like once on one of their tours.  This wintry edit of their big ballad song might not be the most intriguing bonus on that 6th disc, but I do appreciate how appropriate it sounds!
  • Samurai☆Baby – Considering this song was used for one of their older stageplays, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it and unsurprisingly it does sound low quality (primarily because it felt like a live recording).  The song does have potential though and I like the spacey vibes I get from it (strange as it has Samurais in it).  Cute song overall.
  • Zenbu Owatta Kaerimichi – I guess this was promoted the most? (just going from the fact it’s on Petit Best 18).  Anyways, this song is strange primarily it’s a cute AF song that sounds more appropriate on a Momusu album.  It’s pretty youthful and reminds me of when H!P was focused on their anime tie-ins.

MEH SONGS

  • To Tomorrow – For being one of three of their last A-sides, I feel like To Tomorrow somehow felt chintzy and just a bit hammy.  Of course I like hearing the group and their lines and they sound nice, but the song itself just felt a bit weak, especially for being one of their goodbye songs.
  • Ataru mo Hakke!? – Unlike “Samurai☆Baby”, I feel like Ataru mo Hakke!? is a bit more cheesier to listen to and it feels like the group wasn’t really into the song either because I felt bored by it.  It just sounded vanilla and unmemorable to me.
  • RIN – Of the 3 songs introduced on the best, I wasn’t really sure where I stood with RIN because it’s kind of an album song to me with no real memorable parts, but it moves into different sections quite quickly too.  It’s an oddball song that really doesn’t stick out to me…is that strange?

Predictions from last year!

Honestly, with the group only having half a year left to do anything and them now finished with H!P concerts (except their own), all I can see them doing is releasing one more single and a best album (hopefully the same kind of way that Berryz did).

Actuality: Yeah, this was surprisingly easy to predict and it came true!

ANGERME

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It seems that every group had some kind of crazy year and ANGERME is not innocent of it either.  It begun with the announcement that Maho Aikawa was going on hiatus.  That meant that their first single of the year, “Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai / Namida Iro no Ketsui / Majokko Megu-chan” was going to be without her, but before that, they released a much fuller release from last year’s stageplay, MODE

Then it led into the summer concerts and what not and the big shuffle led to Musubu Funaki Ayano Kawamura joining ANGERME and they’d do Yumemiru Television and they would release a DVD single to close the year, “Manner Mode / Kisoku Tadashiku Utsukushiku / Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends“.

Though on the last day of 2017, it was finally announced that unfortunately Maho decided to leave the group…

  • NOTE: Despite them performing “I Musou Strong!” this year, there’s no studio cut, so it won’t be talked about here.

GREAT SONGS

  • Majokko Megu-chan – As the Momona-centered 3rd A-side from the first single of the year, it’s no surprise it had to be a cover song like “Mahou Tsukai Sally” was.  Still, despite the slightly sexual lyics, the song is exciting and the jazzy/rock feel of the track was exciting and cute!  Though despite Kassa being lead, the other members get a line to themselves throughout so it feels so varied and awesome!
  • Kisoku Tadashiku Utsukushiku – I really wasn’t expecting a part deux to “Otome no Gyakushuu” here, but I really dug hearing Takechan & Funakki open up this goth ditty here.  I love the dramatics and the strings strewn throughout.  It’s pretty unique and the song has such an interesting PV to go along with it which is aweshomes!

OK SONGS

  • Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai – Being the primary A-side from their first single of the year, I was kind of surprised that this was chosen as such because the song is quite the hodge-podge of a mess here.  I do love the intro and verses of the song the most here, but the waltz-heavy pre-chorus and the oddly shaped chorus is a bit jarring and reminds me of 2012-13 H!P where Tsunku just kind of cut n’ pasted different parts of various ideas to somehow make a whole song.
  • Namida Iro no Ketsui – It seems like this is our first ballad as an A-side released by ANGERME (and by that, S/mileage too!).  Being a song that focuses around Rikako, Murotan, and Kamiko, the song is a bit of a slow burner and I do slightly cringe with Rikako’s voice being all over such a soft song, but there’s something rather memorable about the track.  It’s nice and the meaning behind it is sweet of them!
  • Manner Mode – As the rockin’ lead of their 2nd single, Manner Mode is pretty cool and it has an edgier feel in comparison to other songs released during the year.  I mean it’s got the soul and energy of an ANGERME song which is exciting to always see and a lot of the members sound great too, but it seemed slightly safe.

MEH SONGS

  • Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends – I think the only misstep is this mid-tempo track that focuses on Kamiko, Murotan, and new member Kawamuu and the song is just a bit too straightforward for me.  I do love hearing Mizuki in her own in the track, but Ayano’s squeaky vocals don’t fully suit the song very much.  It’s not just that much of memorable song for me from them, at least it’s the only bummer.

Predictions from 2016

Same as I said last year, I’m not so sure where ANGERME will land for the next year.  I mean of course, more growth for Kamiko & Kassa that’s for sure.  With Maimi leaving H!P, will Ayacho become the new leader or will she pass and just graduate?  It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next year!

Actuality: Well, Ayacho did become the new H!P leader so that answered my thoughts on it last year.  As for growth for Moe/Momona…I would say Momona got the push here from “Majokko Megu-chan” moerso than Moe, but it wasn’t like she was invisible.  Though I really wasn’t expecting 2 new members to join the fray on top of one being in hiatus for the whole year.

Predictions for 2018: ANGERME should get no more members, there’s quite a bit of them now (their biggest iteration since 2nd Gen became sub-members).  So, maybe a less wild year…maybe one graduation?

Juice=Juice

2017juice

jidandadanceGoalashitafiestafiesta

Juice=Juice had a much improved and interesting in comparison to the last few!  It did begin slightly slow and on a regular schedule with one single in Jidanda Dance / Feel! Kanjiru yo and then things decided to go crazy!

The summer concerts had begun with the knowledge that 2 members were going to join the group (the group’s actual 2nd Generation with Nanami Yanagawa Ruru Danbara.  It was also known that songs that Juice=Juice were performing last year, Goal ~Ashita wa Acchi da yo~ Jouro were going to be released digitally before their actual first digital single (and the first with the new members), Fiesta! Fiesta! was released.

  • NOTE: The group has done quite a few new songs this year, but those 5 don’t have studio versions so they’ll be passed up this year, though it does look like the making of an album!.

GREAT SONGS

  • Jidanda Dance – With last year’s “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”, I was starting to see Juice=Juice letting loose and having a bit more fun with their music and the ideals continue with the main A-side of their first single this year!  It’s goofy and has a very wacky arrangement, but yet somehow keeps my attention (even the oddly placed Ondo-styled bridge was funny, yet worked).  Definitely a song H!P needed during the year.
  • Fiesta! Fiesta! – We finally get to see our first taste of both new members, Ruru & Yanamin here and the song being latin-flavored already made me excited and they did not disappoint.  Hell, Ruru gets the first solo and she owns the hell out of it!  I just love the energy of the song and it’s so festive and powerful. It was surprising it wasn’t released physically and just left for digital (and where’s our full PV damnit!!!)

OK SONGS

  • Goal ~Ashita wa Acchi da yo~ – With the two digital songs released (before they gained their new members) I was wondering what they were waiting on because this was first performed last year.  What I can say about this one is that it kind of gives me Buono! vibes here and I kind of dig it but at the same time it feels like a leftover song from “First Squeeze!” as well.

MEH SONGS

  • Feel! Kanjiru yo – The other A-side from their first single, Feel! Kanjiru yo was a total 180 from the excitement that came from “Jidanda Dance” by being one of their more softer offerings.  I don’t know why, but this song just doesn’t affect me very much in the long run and the only thing I remember are those synth brass lines.
  • Jouro – Performed as early as last year, Jouro was kind of a strange song for the group because they hadn’t really released anything this kind of cute (though it does remind me of “Wonderful World” and “Arekore Shitai!”).  It’s just that I don’t think J=J can handle cuter songs very well IMO.
  • Wonderful World (English ver.) – It’s Wonderful World but in English…there’s really not much to say because I still dislike the song heavily…and it’s made that much worse by the Engrish that’s hard to understand at times.  To be quite honest, even though it’s a B-side to “Fiesta! Fiesta!”, I’m not quite sure if I hear the new members involved here.  Still, my thoughts haven’t changed much since the original cut.

Predictions from 2016

With their long-ass tour finally coming to an end, it’s really going to be a surprise to see where the group goes next.  It doesn’t seem like things will change (if anything I would be surprised if Kanatomo graduates due to her endometriosis, but who knows)

Actuality: Happy to say that no one graduated, but the opposite happened with the surprise addition of two new members (their biggest since their original lineup).  Otherwise things felt more streamlined this year, though one physical single and the rest being found on iTunes/Recochoku is a little different.

Predictions for 2018: Kind of hard to tell, I’m sure Ruru & Nanami will find a stronger foot as more releases come by (especially with 5 unreleased songs).  As for the rest of them, it’s hard to say once again what Juice=Juice will do after their World Tour is done…maybe Yuka graduating?

Country Girls

2017country

goodboybadgirlarigatouotomomochiKonamaiki Girlkaitewakeshite

Boy, where do we begin with this?  Well, from last year, us fans were already knowing that Momoko Tsugunaga was going to graduate late Spring of 2017 so she started off with the final single with Country Girls, Good Boy Bad Girl / Peanut Butter Jelly Love and the release her solo best album (which in this post her solo stuff will be mentioned later on down the post) but it also included a full disc of unreleased (and new) Country Girls songs.  That would be the final thing she did before she graduated.

Though in a weird and cruel twist of fate, it was announced that Risa Yamaki Mai Ozeki were going to be on a weird semi-hiatus to focus on their studies which might not have been so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the other 3 members would be shuffled to other groups permanently, so the fate of Country Girls is kind of on thin ice so to speak.

Though at the Summer concerts and later on released digitally, they did one song, Konamaiki Girl and after that, the group became inactive until nearly the end of the year with another digital single, Kaite wa Keshite no “I Love You”.

Though not technically directly involving the group, but past member Manaka Inaba had returned to H!P, but is currently the leader of the Hokkaido branch of Kenshuusei.

GREAT SONGS

  • Peanut Butter Jelly Love – As the song that’s more connected to Momochi’s graduation, Peanut Butter Jelly Love opens very sweetly from a solo from her and the song turns into this cuter pop track that’s akin to stuff like “Koi Dorobo” and “Wakatte Iru no ni Gomen ne”.  It’s just a happy-go-lucky song and shows off their sweeter side!
  • Mousou Rehearsal – It’s finally nice to see the remaining unreleased songs finally get a studio version (despite they had to change it because of different line-ups).  This song in particular is upbeat and sweet to listen to and hearing Funakki in a higher register is rather humorous and at times sounds like Manakan.  It’s just a good time here!
  • Rhythm ga Yondeiru Zou! – Though I actually prefer this song a lot more because there’s a better hook here and the tune is just a bit more goofy and lets the group let down their hair more.  Plus, hearing all 6 members just sound great together is always a treat.  Plus the random as hell bridge was something to behold….  Crazy song, but one that I’ll remember a LOT.

OK SONGS

  • Good Boy Bad Girl – As the primary A-side from the single, I was interested from the title before hearing it and turns out the song is a bit more rock-laced than previous efforts!  Plus, it’s nice to hear a lot from Funakki here who really fits this style nicely.  It’s got a lot of nice things going on and hearing the members tackle something a bit more gritty is great to see!
  • Kiss Yori Saki ni Dekiru Koto – Despite that I did indeed review this song last year (because it was on “Petit Best 17”), I have to put it on here because it went through some changes like Manakan’s vocals were replaced by Funakki & Yanamin.  Besides that, the song’s arrangement remains the same and it’s still a cute song from them and just an adorable song to hear.
  • Gizagiza Heart no Komoriuta – Interesting to see the group cover another song from The Checkers (the same band that they covered their song, “Namida no Request” last year).  I really liked the opening and how Musubu, Nanami, and Mai had the first lines and it grows into this catchy pop/rock that has a feel of the past but not quite as heavy as some of their previous A-sides had been.  Cool song for them, just wish they performed this more often!
  • Kimama na Kataomoi – Thinking about this track, I wasn’t expecting the group to release a song that’s more suited for Wintry times in May lol.  Seriously, Kimama na Kataomoi just sounds like it would be amazing with a snowy PV.  I was also liking the amount of Momoko here (which might explain why this hasn’t been performed much).  Definitely a cute one for them and I would love to see this (and “Gizagiza Heart no Komoriuta”) performed more whenever they return.
  • Konamaiki Girl – While not the first song performed by the 5-nin (that was left for the MEH songs), this was released a while after Momoko graduated out and after the hiatus announcement.  Though I think of the songs in this category, this might be on the lower side because it feels like a song that was left off Momoko’s best album.  It’s cute, but not quite the song to really stick out for them.
  • Kaite wa Keshite no “I Love You” – As a total surprise for the end of the year, another digital single pops up and like “Konamaiki Girl”, it’s pretty damned cute of them to release, but it’s a bit more sparkly and adorables.  Though it’s probably on the lower end due to it not really bringing anything special to the table, it’s just nice to see the 5-nin back together for another bout!

MEH SONGS

  • Idol Sotsugyou Chuuijikou (2017.5.4 Live @ Nakano Sun Plaza) – There’s something to be said about graduation songs and this one in particular takes it to a strange level where the song is technically the grad letter from the remaining members to Momoko.  Also, the song does feature Sharam Q’s Makoto as he was the MC at this live performance.  The actual music & singing isn’t bad persay, but the majority of the track is the girls talking to Momoko.  Too much dialogue for a song to be a musical track IMHO.
  • Ashita Kara wa Omokage – The same problems find themselves in this track which was one of the 4 brand new tracks from the Country Girls disc of Momoko’s best album.  The arrangement is about as country as it gets from Country Girls so far which is nice, but once again the goddamn dialogue takes me out of the song.  Yeah, I really couldn’t deal with this or “Idol Sotsugyou Chuuijikou”.
  • VIVA!! Barairo no Jinsei – Of those unreleased songs, I actually couldn’t care too much about this song.  Though it does slightly stand taller than “Ashita Kara wa Omokage” with having no spoken dialogue in the tune.  Though I couldn’t really get behind the country-esque arrangement and it felt a bit corny and hammy to listen to.  Just not a song I find myself going back to.

Predictions from 2016

That said, I’m sure when Momoko graduates, Yamakki will be appointed leader, but I wonder if we’ll get new members to kind of boost it back up beforehand to fill the spaces Manakan and Momochi leave behind.

Actuality: I actually don’t remember if it was confirmed that Yamakki was going to be leader, but it really doesn’t matter now considering the hiatus the group is going through now so not even new members will help out.

Predictions for 2018: It’s really hard to guess where Country Girls is going to be in 2018.  What with Morito, Funaki, and Yanagawa now permanently in Momusu, ANGERME, and Juice=Juice respectively.  Though I assume that perhaps Yamaki & Ozeki will be shuffled into units as their schooling will probably be somewhat finished.  Though could we get Inaba to perform with the 5 Country Girls for one time???

Kobushi Factory

2017kobushi

shalala

Good lord where do we begin?!?  Actually the beginning half of the year was pretty OK, a bit quiet from them because they were finishing up promotions of their first album.  Though in the Spring it was announced they were going to do a stageplay & a movie titled JK Ninja Girls and they announced a single to coincide with that whole thing, Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa / Eejanaika Ninjanaika.

Then chaos ensued with Rio Fujii announcing her graduation at the end of the Summer tour.  HOWEVER, it was announced a couple weeks prior to the beginning that her contract was terminated!

Shortly after it was also announced that Rena Ogawa had gone on hiatus due to anxiety (the same reason ANGERME’s Maho Aikawa went on her hiatus for), but unlike her she ended up leaving the group as well in September (though some people think it’s for a scandal that happened).

December came around and we find out that Natsumi Taguchi had also left the group due to some scandals as well, dropping the Kobushi group to 5 members in a matter of half a year.  That said, nothing musical has been released from the group since the first single they released this year.

GREAT SONGS

  • Yami ni Nukegake – For an insert song for the play/movie, I actually feel like this got pushed moreso than “Eejanaika Ninjanaika” did without even having a PV!  This was definitely my favorite track from them this year as it has a lot more oomph and all the members somehow got memorable lines all over with this funky/brass heavy arrangement.  Pretty cool, sad now that the groupings are gonna be odd without Riorio/Renako/Taguchan.

OK SONGS

  • Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa – As the only song they released this year that wasn’t involved with their stageplay in some fashion, Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa is kind of the ska/rock song the group released.  Honestly, it’s not that bad and continuing their streak of pop/rock songs, this was a nice offering and hearing the 4 mains get solos (Hamachan, Reirei, Ayapan, and Minamina) was nice, but this wasn’t a graduation song so it’s no surprise the back girls didn’t get anything.
  • Eejanaika Ninjanaika – As the main theme for both the stageplay & movie, Eejanaika Ninjanaika presented itself like a Japanese showgirls-y kind of track and it’s silly and goofy with the Ninja theme and all, but it was humorous at times.  Plus the members here had a bit more equality in line distribution it feels like.  I kind of dug it a little more than “Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa” but not enough to be a favorite from them.

MEH SONGS

  • Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi – The other B-side from the single was also an insert song for the stageplay (just that).  It’s the only miss because this song sounds like a continuation of “Eejanaika Ninjanaika” but somewhat cuter.  The male voices do kind of ruin the song for me, but the song itself just doesn’t work for me altogether.

Predictions from 2016

Well, I hope they continue strong and not lose anyone that’s for sure!

Actuality: Hmmm, sounds like the opposite happened doesn’t it?  I mean one actual single (not counting the OST for “JK Ninja Girls”) and losing 3 members in a matter of 5 months felt like Kobushi was pretty down in the dumps from this year

Predictions for 2018: I just want them to return to music for once!  Maybe add some new members to kind of soften the triple loss they’ve endured.  Musically, not quite sure…more rockin’ songs!

Tsubaki Factory

2017tsubaki

hatsukoisunriseshuukatsusensationteionyakedo

I think out of all the groups this year, I feel like Tsubaki Factory stayed out of the mess that was going on with member changes and whatnot of 2017 (though they did in 2016 add Mao, Saori, and Mizuho) so I guess maybe not because those three debuted in the first single of the year, Hatsukoi Sunrise / Just Try! / Uruwashi no Camellia which is also credited as the group’s major label debut as well!  They followed it up with Shuukatsu Sensation / Waratte / Hana Moyou though Kiki Asakura did have to miss a dance shot or two for the single as she had suffered the same injury Maachan did for Momusu though she has since made it back (slowly though).

They surprised fans by releasing a preview digital single for Teion Yakedo which is actually for a single due out in February.

GREAT SONGS

  • Hatsukoi Sunrise – As the group’s major label debut and debut for Mao, Mizuho, and Saori…it left me wondering how the girls would fit in the group and Hatsukoi Sunrise was a great showing for the now 9-nin group!  The song is powerful and energetic and just a lot of power behind it!  I really love hearing the new girls getting their solos and the well-known members already were sounding much better after their indies singles.  I really ended up enjoying this song a LOT and it’s one of my favorites this year!
  • Shuukatsu Sensation – Ugh, that opening set of lines that opens up their primary A-side from their second offering of the year, it’s an instant earworm and it just keeps up the entire time and I ended up loving it all!  I think the more goofy approach from the hooks and the cool atmosphere really worked (though it was awesome to see Yumeno and Mizuho own their lines!).  Another valiant effort!
  • Waratte – Moving to the 80’s accented 2nd A-side from their second single, Waratte really scratched that funky vibe that I’ve been missing for most of the year and Tsubaki really made it pretty neat and catchy.  It feels like a more synthy “Shuukatsu Sensation” but really made it separate and cute!
  • Teion Yakedo – I wasn’t expecting to be talking about this song because it’s supposed to release in 2018 as the group’s next single, but they surprised people by releasing it as a “preview” digital single and I still found it fitting as it does give me Winter vibes.  It’s pretty straightforward compared to most of the other songs they released this year, but it’s got a nice drive about it.

OK SONGS

  • Just Try! – As the song first previewed from their first single of the year, Just Try! seems a bit too robotic for my tastes.  I think it’s one of those songs where Tsunku wanted to cut’n’paste stuff from other songs to make one full one.  I will say, the verses are what caught my attention, but it’s so robotic and lifeless and the chorus is just repetitive to me.  Maybe not the best song to show off a debut when compared to “Hatsukoi Sunrise”.
  • Uruwashi no Camellia – Giving us some throwback, Uruwashi no Camellia was toted as the cute song from their major debut and it shows!  The intro that made it sound like it was coming from the 40s was an interesting twist and once the tune opens up, it’s a lot more upbeat and the whole jitterbug style is really cute for them, despite them not being a group that’s known for cute songs.
  • Hana Moyou – You know what, I wasn’t sure what to think of the song initially because it reminded me of various C-ute songs of recent times with the more serious drive and heavy amount of synths.  I do like solo lines from everyone especially Ami who while vocally still kind of eh, isn’t totally being left behind.  The chorus is what bothers me for some reason especially the transition into it as it’s just jarring to me.  Still, I really liked the aggressiveness out of it and the bridge is badass with the guitar solo!

Predictions from 2016

With the group debuting on a major label, I’m hoping for a smooth debut.  Not sure if the group is ready to lose a member but it could happen and if anything it might be Riko, though it’s just that she’s the only member I’m not noticing too much currently and she now has to compete with 3 new members.

Actuality: Good news was that there was no graduation/lost member and their debut went very smoothly…so smoothly that they just won the Best New Artist at the Japan Record Awards so that’s an amazing thing to have done!

Predictions for 2018: Maybe an album or something like that?  I feel like they have enough to have one now luckily!  I just hope nothing else happens beyond that ^^

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei / Kenshuusei Hokkaido

2017kss

2017hokkaido

reallittlegirlHello! Massara no Jibun 8

Where do we begin?!?  I guess we can begin with the fact that the Hokkaido branch of KSS announced a single released in February titled, Real☆Little☆Girl / Kanojo ni Naritai!!!.

Then a rather quick announcement that Marie Yoshida had finished her training a bit after her stint in Nega Poji Poji was finished up before the Spring Test Recital and the removal of the Tsubaki Factory members from the KSS too.  On top of that, new members were announced; Rena Doi, Rika Shimakura, Natsume Nakayama, Minami Okamura, Saya Eguchi, Riai Matsunaga, Marina Hibi, and Ichigo Yamada.

The test recital was quite the doozy as there was many on-the-spot announcements made from Hikaru Inoue becoming the KSS leader and that Ruru Danbara, Reina Ichioka, Ayano Kawamura, Kurumi Takase, and Momohime Kiyono were going to become H!P members (the latter two not initially, but they’ve since become members through official goods and some music!).

A couple months later in June, it was finally decided where some of those members were going to do.  Ruru & Ayano would join Juice=Juice & ANGERME respectively alongside a couple Country Girls due to the inactivity that group was going to be in and that Reina will be the leader of her own group (which as of the end of 2017 has not gone further than this).

They all performed as H!P members at the Summer concert and shortly after due to UPCOMING! having started to release digital songs, the Kenshuusei slowly released 3 of the 4 original songs that they’ve performed in 2017; Hello! Massara no Jibun, Isshakudama de Buppanase!, and Arigata-Meiwaku Monogatari.

In September, Manaka Inaba had returned and her first duty was to be the leader for the Hokkaido branch.

Towards the end of the year, the auditions that were announced during the Summer tours had concluded with no winners and initially there was an announcement of a couple of the finalists choosing to join the KSS; Nanami Kubota, Anna Shutto, Ruru Kanemitsu, and Yuriya Matsubara as the other 4 were still deciding on whether or not to become a KSS and in the end 3/4 decided to become KSS; Momoko Hashimoto, Sayaka Goto, and Shion Tamenaga.

  • NOTE: Yeah, thought “Medatte Do Dance” would release before the end of the year, but I guess that didn’t happen.

GREAT SONGS

  • Arigata-Meiwaku Monogatari – I thought “Isshakudama de Buppanase!” was going to be their cool song, but they threw this song, first performed at their Summer tour.  This song is heavy and pretty powerful for the Kenshuusei and it’s such an awesome sounding tune showing off some attitude from the trainees and really sticks out amongst the new batch of songs the Kenshuusei have been pulling off.

OK SONGS

  • Real☆Little☆Girl – As the Hokkaido girls’ original song, I was quite curious since the group of girls hadn’t had a real showoff time quite yet.  I think this song did a great job showcasing the 7-nin and they are so adorable in this song.  The tune does feel like something more suited for Country Girls from its arrangement being slightly poppy but slightly boogie-woogie too.  Sometimes the ~odore odore odore~ parts could drive people off the wall, but I personally didn’t mind this as much as in other songs that kind of overdo it.  Still, the Hokkaido girls did well here and I’m surprised there wasn’t a 2nd single from them.
  • Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido ver.) – As much as I used to loathe hearing this song (being performed to ad nauseam levels when it was first released) since the KSS released MANY more songs, I’ve finally managed to somewhat enjoy the song a little more.  Not bad, but the fact there’s no solo lines for the members is a slight bit more sad.
  • Isshakudama de Buppanase! – At least this one found itself sticking out to me as the girls had to sing in a lower register in comparison to many other of their songs.  The tune definitely has a certain charm about it that reminds me of some of Kobushi, ANGERME, and Juice songs with the peppiness and rockin’ atmosphere (ignoring the bridge with the fireworks).

MEH SONGS

  • Hello! Massara no Jibun – After the first album, I was hoping for new material from the KSS and they didn’t disappoint in that aspect.  However, the first song they first performed earlier in the year, Hello! Massara no Jibun is giving me the same cheesy vibes that “Ten Made Nobore! did.  There’s just not a lot for me to grasp onto and I quickly forgot about it.

Other H!P Releases!

thumbnailfurusatonoyumeMiss Henkan!! 7arigatouotomomochiInoue no Uta 6Obaka Neko to Obaka Neko Baka no UtaMin Min Rock'n'RollGobaku ~We Can't Go Back~ 6pienezzaainotane20petitbest18Zouni de Kenkashitenja Nee yo 3

Thank god this was more filled out than last year!

First to talk about is definitely not H!P-related it just happened that Momusu was involved in one of the songs from AKB48’s album, Thumbnail.  More specifically it was just Rino Sashihara being involved with Momusu for a song!

Next up is a release from the SATOYAMA side of things from a new (short-lived) group consisting of Kamiko, Nakky, Ayumi, and Kanatomo named Kamiishinaka Kana titled Furusato no Yume.

Next up (I’m just gonna group them altogether here) UPCOMING started releasing original songs digitally every other week (or in some cases gaps longer between).  A song between Maachan/Duu in Miss Henkan!! (and an alternate take), Hikarun & Reirei in Inoue no Uta, Kanatomo & Harunan in Obaka Neko to Obaka Neko Baka no Uta, Yokoyan & Funakki in Min Min Rock’n’Roll, and Yukanyan, Maria, and Kawamuu in Zouni de Kenkashitenja Nee yo.  These songs were more for the humor and strangeness of things so that’s why I feel like they’d go together.

As a graduation gift to the fans, Momoko Tsugunaga had a best album titled Tsugunaga Momoko Idol 15 Shuunen Kinen Album ♡Arigatou Otomomochi♡ and released a digital single that was connected prior (but wasn’t a part of the album), ♡Otomomochi Densetsu♡.

More digital singles were abound with a release from the newest additions to H!P: Reina, Ruru, Kurumin, Kawamuu, Momo with their collab song, Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~.

With Buono! now split, it was celebrated with one more release, which is primarily their last live concert…but there is a special, Buono! Live 2017 ~Pianezza!~ COMPLETE BOX which included about 99% of their discography on CDs which should be mentioned here!

Then Momusu surprisingly released a single (a self-cover of) Ai no Tane but the surprise is that the original 5 members returned to sing along with the current members!

Last, but not least there was the annual release, Petit Best 18.

GREAT SONGS

  • Iku ZYX! FLY HIGH – As the first group she was involved in, the shortlived ZYX, she chose to sung a solo cut of this and it really showed how much she’s grown as a singer and her deeper tone is refreshing but I’m so used to the original take so it took a while to get used to the fact it was just Momoko.
  • Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai – Now this song was going to be at the top because this was a song that centered mostly around Momoko already.  Hearing a Momoko solo is nothing because I knew she’d handle it perfectly.  Compared to her younger self, Momoko does sound more mature, but you could tell she was giving a youthful performance.  While I have never been a BIG fan of her voice, I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing this!
  • Hatsukoi Cider – Now I have to mention that Momoko has two different cuts of solo Hatsukoi Cider and this is the one from the Momoko best album!  I have to say she sounds strong and while maybe not quite as powerful as Airi and Miyabi, she held her own for this solo cover.  Pretty awesome!
  • Peanut Butter Jelly Love – It was nice they had included her first and last song she was involved with Country Girls and I felt she handled this a bit better than “Itooshikutte Gomen ne”.  She sounds fine and taking over the girls lines, it was almost as if this was a song meant to be sung solo.  One of the best tracks from that first disc!
  • Inoue no Uta – Back to the goofy tracks, we have one from surprisingly Kenshuusei leader Hikaru Inoue & Kobushi’s Rei Inoue for a song about their surname xD.  Of course both are pretty known for strong vocals so having them duet is awesome and to top it off, the song is like a nostalgic trip for 80’s rock!  Throwing in some nods to some American Classic Rock tracks!  It’s a great song, sucks that it was a short song…
  • Min Min Rock’n’Roll – Of the humorous digital singles, I thought this one from Musubu and Reina was just awesome and my favorite of the 5 released during the year!  A song about Cicadas is just funny and then making it sound like surfer rock and it just worked in its favor.  Though let’s be honest, Funakki made this song and I’m always impressed with her vocals and she stood out so much.  Yokoyan didn’t hinder though and her non-as-trained vocals sound nice alongside Funakki’s sound.  Great song for the year!
  • Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~ – I wasn’t expecting a track like this to pop out!  A song sung between the newest members to H!P and I was happy to hear some of these members take some solo parts and really make them their own and some of them deserved the limelight!  The song itself is minimalistic in arrangement, but it’s cool and funky and just really works to their favor!
  • Hatsukoi Cider (Suzuki Airi version) – I would say the best of the Buono! bonuses is Airi’s take of Hatsukoi Cider (considering she was all over that track initially so it doesn’t feel totally out of place that I liked hearing this version).  Best vocally between the 3 STILL!
  • Ai no Tane (20th Anniversary ver.) – I thought they had already celebrated their 20th year after “Morning Misoshiru” came out so I was pleasantly and heavily happy to see them make a new version of Ai no Tane.  What I wasn’t expecting to see what Yuko, Ayappe, Nacchi, Kaorin, and even friggin’ Asuka return to join Momusu for this collaboration and I was FLOORED with it all.  I was so happy the 0G members got the solos like it was in the original and they sound so heavenly.  Crazy dream this is but I’m happy it happened!
  • Yami ni Nukegake (Movie Version) – Really though, there’s not much to say as this song is still pretty awesome between this version and the one found on Kobushi’s single!  The only difference is the ending and that really doesn’t make too much of a change either way for me.  It’s still a powerful song and I love the energy of the song!

OK SONGS

  • Get you! – Considering this is different from the one that was on the “BRAND NEW MORNING / Jealousy Jealousy” single, Get you!’s main and ONLY difference is that Sasshi is singing more here and there’s less Momusu.  I mean otherwise it’s the same song and Sasshi isn’t so bad but it’s obvious she’s a voice that’s unusual when put up against Momusu!
  • Miss Henkan!! & Miss Henkan!! (Alternate) – Chosen as the first of the goofy short song duets, Miss Henkan!! is an oddball of a song about saying phrases and then misinterpreting them.  I like the rockabilly/big band arrangement but it’s the whole shtick that was a bit odd.  Though it was nice hearing Maachan & Duu having fun.  As for the alternate, it was essentially roles reversed.  Not bad, but a strange tune nonetheless.
  • Ganbacchae! – As the opening track of the first disc of Momochi’s best, I’m so happy that this song came full circle because this was the first song Momoko was involved in when she joined as a Hello! Project Kid.  Plus it’s just sweet that she’s singing it solo and the background singers are still the original Kids members is just so sweet and sentimental.  It was a great way to open that album!
  • Koi wa Hipparidako – Maybe it’s just me, but I never had a strong connection to this song (I’ve never gave it much attention, so I missed why it’s initially important for Momoko other than it’s a Berryz song).  Interesting that it’s an album song though.  Not a bad solo, but not quite sure it was chosen?
  • Arigatou! Otomodachi – Another Berryz song from a mini-album this time, Arigatou! Otomodachi seemed to always be around when Momoko’s around so I figured this was one of her center songs as well.  Like “Koi wa Hipparidako”, it’s a song that doesn’t totally resonate with me because I wasn’t a fan of Berryz in this time (plus it’s a part of H!P I haven’t fully delved into yet).
  • Moshimo… – This one was a no brainer for me to be included because she was originally a part of the song (a 5-way between herself, Fukuchan, Nakky, ManoEri, and Ayacho) from the “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku” single.  Now this one I was definitely more like *shrugs* because it was a bit straightforward, but hearing Momoko’s solo cut is cuter and fits her entirely a lot more than it did originally.
  • Itooshikutte Gomen ne – Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think this song should’ve been given the solo treatment from Momoko.  I know this is important because it was Momoko’s first single with Country Girls, but it just sounds empty without Mai, Chisaki, Manaka, Risa, and Uta sadly…though I’ll give Momoko props for sounding decent.
  • Momochi! Zutto Otomomochi – As the lone NEW track from Momoko’s best album, I wasn’t expecting her to have a song that sounds natural and not be synths and genki.  The song feels quite sentimental and she sounds pretty good (even throwing in some nods like a ~Yurushite Nyan~~.  Decent song overall and good way to sendoff Momoko!
  • Hatsukoi Cider (Tsugunaga Momoko version) – So the Buono! best did include some bonus tracks in the form of Hatsukoi Cider solos from all 3 members.  As I’ve said, this is different from the solo found on Momoko’s best album, but the only difference is just in time and vocals.  If I recall, these solos are technically from the Event V of the single (why it was chosen as bonuses now is beyond me).
  • Hatsukoi Cider (Natsuyaki Miyabi version) – Miya’s is more of what I was expecting for a solo take and she sounds like what I’d expect her to be back then and she still sounded pretty decent!
  • Pharaoh no Haka – As the main theme from Momusu’s stageplay this year, I wasn’t expecting the song to be a little over 2 minutes in length, but in those 2 minutes, the song goes through a really neat direction with grandiose arrangement layered on top of an Egyptian motif.  I heard a lot of Sakura and she impressed like she always does.
  • Zouni de Kenkashitenja Nee yo – As a surprise near the end of the year, Zouni de Kenkashitenja Nee yo, a song between Yuka, Maria, and Ayano, the tune is quite strange because it feels like it has multiple arrangement from the pop/rock chorus to the anime-like section and the jazzy tones through the verses.  It’s a bit wacky as a whole, but it makes it so memorable!

MEH SONGS

  • Furusato no Yume – Seemed so random for a new SATOYAMA unit to show (especially considering Nakky was mere months from graduation too!).  I’m already not too fond of ballads so this wasn’t going to help things for me.  What’s worse was that Ayumi tanked performing this during HinaFest which soured the song for me more.  It’s just a boring song overall.
  • Otomomochi Densetsu♡ – As the weird digital single that preceded Momochi’s best album, Otomomochi Densetsu is just an odd song to me to listen to because it’s a cheer song that she performed on a bus tour.  The arrangement just feels cheap and it feels like a song that would fit next to her exercise song she did back when she was still in Berryz.
  • Obaka Neko to Obaka Neko Baka no Uta – I suppose this doesn’t count too much, but it’s a song about cats sung between Harunan and Kanatomo.  Normally I wouldn’t be too shady, but this song drags just a bit too much for a near 5 minute track.  I will say this song made me happy that Haruna was starting to sound good vocally and that’s saying something singing next to someone like Tomoko who’s known for being a top singer.  It’s just the song works like a lullaby and slowly puts me to sleep.
  • Yumemiru Television – Of the 3 OST songs from Petit Best 18, I definitely thought the weakest was this one.  Though I know it more because it was the first time we’d hear Kawamuu and Funakki in ANGERME, but otherwise the track is pretty hokey and kind of cheap.  In a way I suppose it can be catchy, but it’s not doing much for me!

Gains / Losses

GAINS

  • Rika Shimakura
  • Marina Hibi
  • Saya Eguchi
  • Rena Doi
  • Minami Okamura
  • Riai Matsunaga
  • Ichigo Yamada
  • Natsume Nakayama
  • Ruru Danbara (to Juice=Juice)
  • Reina Ichioka (to ???)
  • Ayano Kawamura (to ANGERME)
  • Chisaki Morito (to Morning Musume ’17)
  • Musubu Funaki (to ANGERME)
  • Nanami Yanagawa (to Juice=Juice)
  • Kurumi Takase
  • Momohime Kiyono
  • Manaka Inaba
  • Anna Shuttou
  • Nanami Kubota
  • Ruru Kanemitsu
  • Yuriya Matsubara
  • Momoko Hashimoto
  • Shion Tamenaga
  • Sayaka Goto

LOSSES

  • Marie Yoshida
  • Airi Suzuki
  • Saki Nakajima
  • Maimi Yajima
  • Chisato Okai
  • Mai Hagiwara
  • Momoko Tsugunaga
  • Rio Fujii
  • Rena Ogawa
  • Natsumi Taguchi
  • Haruka Kudo
  • Maho Aikawa

My H!P Member Ranking for 2017

  • 63. Aika Mitsui (-4)
  • 62. Riho Sayashi (-2)
  • 61. Maho Aikawa (-6)

 

  • 60. Mai Hagiwara (-4)
  • 59. Haruna Ogata (-2)
  • 58. Saki Nakajima (-9)
  • 57. Natsumi Taguchi (-12)
  • 56. Rena Ogawa (-6)

 

  • 55. Rio Fujii (-17)
  • 54. Nanami Yanagawa (-10)
  • 53. Ami Tanimoto (0)
  • 52. Akane Haga (0)
  • 51. Ayano Kawamura (NEW)

 

  • 50. Mai Ozeki (-20)
  • 49. Riko Yamagishi (-3)
  • 48. Kisora Niinuma (-7)
  • 47. Momoko Tsugunaga (-15)
  • 46. Kurumi Takase (NEW)

 

  • 45. Ayumi Ishida (-9)
  • 44. Momona Kasahara (-5)
  • 43. Reina Yokoyama (+15)
  • 42. Manaka Inaba (-24)
  • 41. Reina Ichioka (NEW)

 

  • 40. Ayano Hamaura (-3)
  • 39. Momohime Kiyono (NEW)
  • 38. Chisaki Morito (-4)
  • 37. Yuka Miyazaki (-10)
  • 36. Ayaka Wada (+6)

 

  • 35. Maria Makino (+12)
  • 34. Miki Nonaka (+17)
  • 33. Haruna Iikubo (+17)
  • 32. Rikako Sasaki (+3)
  • 31. Risa Yamaki (-7)

 

  • 30. Minami Nomura (-4)
  • 29. Saori Onoda (+14)
  • 28. Masaki Sato (-13)
  • 27. Sakurako Wada (-7)
  • 26. Ayaka Hirose (-17)

 

  • 25. Rina Katsuta (+4)
  • 24. Kiki Asakura (-3)
  • 23. Karin Miyamoto (-13)
  • 22. Akari Uemura (+11)
  • 21. Mao Akiyama (+27)

 

  • 20. Erina Ikuta (+9)
  • 19. Ruru Danbara (NEW)
  • 18. Risa Ogata (+5)
  • 17. Kana Nakanishi (-3)
  • 16. Maimi Yajima (+12)

 

  • 15. Sayuki Takagi (+7)
  • 14. Kaede Kaga (+3)
  • 13. Mizuki Fukumura (+3)
  • 12. Mizuho Ono (+43)
  • 11. Rei Inoue (+14)

 

  • 10. Mizuki Murota (-5)
  • 9. Moe Kamikokuryo (+3)
  • 8. Yumeno Kishimoto (+3)
  • 7. Akari Takeuchi (-3)
  • 6. Chisato Okai (-4)

 

  • 5. Tomoko Kanazawa (+1)
  • 4. Airi Suzuki (-3)
  • 3. Sakura Oda (+4)
  • 2. Musubu Funaki (+6)
  • 1. Haruka Kudo (+2)

Kenshuusei

  • Yuriya Matsubara
  • Anna Shuttou
  • Nanami Kubota
  • Ruru Kanemitsu
  • Momoko Hashimoto
  • Shion Tamenaga
  • Sayaka Goto
  • Rin Hashisako
  • Natsume Nakayama
  • Ichigo Yamada
  • Haruka Ota
  • Marina Hibi
  • Minori Kawano
  • Saya Eguchi
  • Kanami Ishiguri
  • Sakiko Kodama
  • Hikari Sato
  • Mizuki Kanatsu
  • Kotomi Ono
  • Minami Okamura
  • Yume Kudo
  • Kokoro Maeda
  • Rena Doi
  • Riai Matsunaga
  • Shiori Nishida
  • Mei Yamazaki
  • Kurumi Noguchi
  • Kirara Yonemura
  • Ryo Kitagawa
  • Rika Shimakura
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Yuhane Yamazaki
  • Kizuki Horie

And that’s 2017!!! What a crazy year this has been x.x;

 

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Maho Aikawa bids farewell to H!P

AikawaMahoUmakuIenaipromo

So after nearly a year of silence from Aiai, it was finally announced on the last day of 2017 that she has indeed decided to leave ANGERME and H!P today.  Considering that this took forever to find out because she had the hope to push through, it just wasn’t enough and she didn’t want to have panic attacks performing with the group.

Personally, it’s kind of here and there for me as she wasn’t a big member in the group (the worst vocally between her and her gen mates, Rikako and Mizuki) and she only lasted about 5 singles (and a best album) worth which didn’t cement much considering she barely got solos as well.  It’s a loss indeed, but I’m not quite sure she left too much of  a mark on me.

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Petit Best 18

petitbest18

Track Listing

  1. Zenbu Owatta Kaerimichi / °C-ute
  2. Momochi! Zutto Otomomochi / Momoko Tsugunaga
  3. BRAND NEW MORNING / Morning Musume ’17
  4. Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai / ANGERME
  5. Jidanda Dance / Juice=Juice
  6. Peanut Butter Jelly Love / Country Girls
  7. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa / Kobushi Factory
  8. Hatsukoi Sunrise / Tsubaki Factory
  9. Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~ / Reina Ichioka, Ruru Danbara, Ayano Kawamura, Kurumi Takase, Momohime Kiyono
  10. Real☆Little☆Girl / Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido
  11. Furusato no Yume / Kamiishinaka Kana
  12. Yami ni Nukegake (Movie Version) / Kobushi Factory
  13. Pharaoh no Haka / Morning Musume ’17
  14. Yumemiru Television / ANGERME
  15. Miss Henkan!! / Haruka Kudo & Masaki Sato
  16. Inoue no Uta / Rei Inoue & Hikaru Inoue
  17. Obaka Neko to Obaka Neko Baka no Uta / Haruna Iikubo & Tomoko Kanazawa
  18. Minmin Rock’n’Roll! / Musubu Funaki & Reina Yokoyama

1. Zenbu Owatta Kaerimichi

While I’m not surprised that once again °C-ute opens the album up, but I’m more surprised of the song they chose to open this compilation with because it was one of three new songs that was found on their “°COMPLETE SINGLE COLLECTION” best album prior to their disbandment.  That said, unlike Berryz’ final track, this also wasn’t promoted much so I thought they would’ve pulled “Final Squall” or even “To Tomorrow” (the latter being on the Blu-ray, ironically).  The song itself I’m kind of torn about.  I love the intro with the swerving synths and subsequent areas of the song.  Though right after, the song goes into this hokey, cutesy track that might’ve worked for the quintet back during their first three albums, not this far in their careers and their vocals seem a bit too mature (especially Maimi).  Actually, just from the chords, it gives me this odd feeling of 2008/09 when H!P was doing their run with anime themes like some Guardians 4 stuff.  It’s OK, but definitely wasn’t expecting °C-ute’s pick to be this one.

2. Momochi! Zutto Otomomochi

The other song I was quite surprised, but not really to see was Momoko’s solo song that was found on her solo final album best?  It’s odd, but yeah this was technically the only new song from her (disregarding the Country Girls disc).  The song is a bit slower and luckily not a super genki track that Momochi has definitely done in the past >.>.  This song is kind of nice taking for a lighter acoustic pop/rock style and while I never thought Momoko was an amazing singer, she held her own here.  Unlike °C-ute’s track, this definitely feels like a sentimental goodbye track.  Not bad!

3. BRAND NEW MORNING

The rest of the album were easy guesses for me to be included here (H!P hasn’t released a WHOLE ton of things this year).  Anyways as per normal we’re continuing on this leg of the album of songs released by groups tenure with Momusu’s pick.  Really though it wasn’t much a shock to me.  BRAND NEW MORNING marks as the debut for the newly hatched 13th Generation members; Kaede Kaga and Reina Yokoyama, but at the same time it was released when Maachan was on hiatus due to physical injuries.  The tune is a lot more aggressive than the previous two tracks and I wholly welcome it.  The whole marching feel is strong and all the members seem to give off this very in-your-face performance as well, especially for both newcomers!  Really awesome song and definitely made it known that this was a ~brand new Momusu~ here!

4. Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai

Next up is ANGERME’s selection and it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago it released (June actually).  Though in my mind, it just doesn’t feel old to me, but in reality it kind of is.  After I reviewed the single initially, I still feel like the song belongs back in 2011/12 due to the mish-mash of ideas and shifts in composition from a darker EDM sound to a waltz and to a general pop feel in the chorus.  I do like that the elder members (Ayacho, Rinapuu, Kanana, and Takechan takes the center vocals here), and the remainder were sitting back a bit (plus Maho was on hiatus due anxiety).  I’ve gotten used to the herky-jerky arrangement and such so the tune has grown, still not their best, but it’s decent enough for them.

5. Jidanda Dance

Juice=Juice comes next and it’s literally their only physical single they released this year.  Jidanda Dance is quite something as it’s crazy upbeat and silly to listen to.  Little bit surprised that “Fiesta! Fiesta!” wasn’t included but Jidanda Dance is a fine choice considering it’s the last song to include the 5 of them before new members joined.  I really like the bright atmosphere of the song and I love the chorus here, but like a couple of other tracks, wasn’t expecting an Ondo-styled breakdown.  Other than that, this was exciting and was impressed at everyone’s vocals!  It’s a song that really leaves itself as an earworm of a song and Juice=Juice hasn’t had a song like this in a long while!

6. Peanut Butter Jelly Love

Of the 2 A-sides they could’ve chosen, I think this one was the more popular one between this and “Good Boy Bad Girl”.  It does strike a similar sound to other songs in their discography, but it’s pleasant enough.  I also love Momoko’s introduction as her higher register has this cooing feeling before the tune turns into something like “Wakatte Iru no ni Gomen ne”.  There was a whole lot of Momoko, but it seems there was some showing of Yamakki, Chiichan, and Ozeko here so that was nice to see and even Yanamin and Funakki.  It’s a lighthearted and breezy track, sucks that it might be the last Country Girls PV (and physical single) for quite a while…

7. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa

Just like Country Girls, it seems Kobushi Factory was only able to squeeze out on single this year (too busy with JK Ninja Girls and the fact they lost both Riorio and Renako).  At least they managed one more single with the original 8 members with Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa (which wasn’t involved with the stageplay/movie).  The song continued to show the group as a pop/rock sound but this time has a ska-like feel to it.  Not quite sure why, but the song gives me a goodbye vibe, but the positive lyrics reinforce its place to show perseverance.  It seems that the only solos here though were for Hamachan, Ayapan, Reirei, and Minamina.  Yeah, neither Rena or Rio got spotlight (then again one got fired and the other left for “anxiety”)…what a bad year for Kobushi to have…

8. Hatsukoi Sunrise

On the other hand, Tsubaki made big strides in 2017 starting with 3 new members; Mizuho Ono, Mao Akiyama, and Saori Onoda and the fact they had their major debut this year!  Of course bring in the leading A-side of said major debut here!  Hatsukoi Sunrise is probably one of the best songs from H!P this year hands down!  It’s powerful, energetic, lots of great moments to be had as well.  It feels like after “Hitorijime” the original 6-nin got a lot better vocally and could stand tall (maybe not so much Riko and Ami) but adding the new members gave a stronger foundation to build on.  Great song and a good way to kick things off in the year!

9. Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~

I have to say of all the tracks that were shown off during the Summer tours, Gobaku was the one I was expecting of them to make its way here because it featured the newly debuted girls (Reina Ichioka, Ruru Danbara, Ayano Kawamura, Kurumi Takase, and Momohime Kiyono) well I say mostly because Ichioka is a leader of a currently unknown group of girls and Takase and Kiyono are kind of just floating around, doing stageplays at the moment.  The song itself is funky and screams cool.  Of the 5 girls though, I think Kawamura is the weakest as her voice is a bit squeaky where as everyone else got a lower timbre.  Definitely a grouping I didn’t see coming, but I appreciated this a whole lot!  Awesome song!

10. Real☆Little☆Girl

So the Hokkaido branch of KSS was technically the first to release in 2017 and that surprising to see them release a physical single apart from the actual Kenshuusei.  I thought the song was bright and fun to listen to and in some ways made me think of Country Girls’ more rockabilly stuff.  It was also awesome to hear the 7 of them manage solos throughout the track as well!  It’s pretty youthful and the song has quite an earworm tone about from those ~utae, utae, utae~ and similar lines.  Fun little ditty overall!

11. Furusato no Yume

Did everyone forget that there was a SATOYAMA release this year?  Yeah, I have to raise my hand too because this went under the radar for the most part during the year (it was performed at HinaFest, but Nakky left the group shortly after because C-ute disbanded and whatnot).  A group formed of Moe, Ayumi, Tomoko, and Saki, I wasn’t quite sure how it’d turn out between two decent singers (Moe, Kanatomo) and the lesser sounding singers (Nakky, Ayumi).  Though in the end, it didn’t really matter because the song was just a snoozefest all-around.  The arrangement is pretty standard piano/strings with light synths and percussion.  Yeah this was just not all that memorable to me.

12. Yami ni Nukegake (Movie Version)

Moving onto stageplay songs it seems we start off with Kobushi and their JK Ninja Girls song although I think it’s just an insert song though (considering it was a B-side on their actual single).  Now concerning the movie version, it’s a bit shorter than the one from “Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa / Eejanaika Ninjanaika”.  Mostly due to a different ending.  With Yami ni Nukegake being promoted quite a bit (especially on tours), I can see why Kobushi likes performing it a lot because it’s loud and features their growling.  I just liked how everything sounded for them and a much more preferred song than the one found earlier on this compilation from them.

13. Pharaoh no Haka

Moving to Momusu’s stageplay of the same name, I actually hadn’t listened to the OST quite yet and I was intrigued they were going to tackle Egyptian-like songs and Pharaoh no Haka doesn’t disappoint in that respect.  Actually the tune sounds just as grandiose as their last stageplay song, “Higashi no Chihei, Nishi no Towa”.  However it’s only a little over 2 minutes so the epic growth doesn’t quite reach, but it’s a nice concept and the theme song makes me curious to what the rest of the OST is like.

14. Yumemiru Television

Of the 3 stageplay songs, I kind of wasn’t expecting ANGERME’s song to pop up, simply because of all the songs on the compilation, this one came out last (October) and that said was also the first time hearing their new members (Funaki & Kawamura) being a part of the group.  The song itself sounds kind of cheap sounding (those CASIO synths really seem to make that a thing).  I do like that it’s a fuller song than “Pharaoh no Haka”, but it’s kind of lame-ish to me.

15. Miss Henkan!!

The remaining 4 songs on the compilation were released during the summer months as digital singles and all are duets with various H!P members.  The first to be released was between Maachan & Duu for this quirky ditty so to speak.  With a slight rockabilly vibe, the tune is more or less a joke tune as most of the time the song is Duu saying one thing and Maachan kind of warping it around.  I wasn’t too interested in the song because of its shtick, but it’s nice to see the two having fun with this one.

16. Inoue no Uta

Next up is the duet between Kobushi’s Reirei and KSS leader Hikarun as they have the same last name as one another, Inoue no Uta!  At first I was surprised of the two performing together, but it’s a pretty cool song and my favorite of the 4 because it’s pop/rock and gives nods to various 80s classic rock songs!  A little bummed it’s only a little over 2 minutes in length, but it’s catchy and fun (plus as a huge bias towards Hikarun, it’s great to see her get this kind of promotional material).

17. Obaka Neko to Obaka Neko Baka no Uta

Following that rockin’ experience we tone it down immensely with a song about cats, a duet from Harunan & Kanatomo this time.  Unlike the other 3 digital tracks, this is an actual full track (almost 5 minutes) and I was left confused and slightly bitter.  The song itself is a very café friendly tune with simple instruments led by acoustic guitar.  I will say, Haruna sounds pleasant here and Tomoko as well, but together…it’s not quite graceful but it’s enough.  Still a song about cats…how random!

18. Minmin Rock’n’Roll!

The final track on the compilation is a track between Funakki & Yokoyan and I also kind of dug the surfer rock vibes I get from this.  Once again, I was happy to hear Musubu showing off her vocal chops here and she sounds great all-around and we get a better grip with how Reina sounds and she’s got an interesting, husky voice.  On top of that, throw in the “cicada” voices and you get this goofy and silly song and yet it’s just cute to listen to.

Tracks Recommended

  • Hatsukoi Sunrise
  • BRAND NEW MORNING
  • Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~
  • Inoue no Uta
  • Minmin Rock’n’Roll!

What a crazy year 2017 has been huh.  Just going from the compilation this year, there was a lot of variety in the songs we got despite not having too many releases ironically.  I would say this has a lot of the -do listen- songs and there were some surprises (C-ute, Momoko and the digital singles).  Not bad, could’ve been tweaked better, but this was a decent year it feels like.

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