Iroppoi Twilight Game

For those who like H!P ^_^, plus a learning experience!

Rei Inoue joins Juice=Juice

Kobushi_Factory_Inoue_Rei_-_Seishun_no_Hana_promo

Not even 2 days after Kobushi Factory called it a day and disbanded, it was announced through a Juice=Juice livestream, Kanatomo announced that Rei Inoue would be joining Juice=Juice and her activities with them begin once Karin Miyamoto graduates.

I’m actually not surprised because Rei does have a powerful voice and really suits with the rest of the group surprisingly well.  It’ll be interesting to see how she’ll land in the group, maybe doing lead, who knows?!?

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Petit Best 20 2020

petitbest20

Track Listing

  1. Moshimo… / Hello! Project Mobekimasu (Momoko Tsugunaga, Saki Nakajima, Erina Mano, Ayaka Wada, Mizuki Fukumura)
  2. Kowarenai Ai ga Hoshii no / 7AIR
  3. Pharaoh no Haka (“Pharaoh no Haka ~Hebi Ou Sneferu~” Ver.) / Morning Musume ’18
  4. Fantasy ga Hajimaru / Morning Musume
  5. Mirai no Tobira / Morning Musume
  6. SEXY SNOW / W
  7. Lalala no Pipipi / Morning Musume (Sayumi Michishige)
  8. Wakaindashi! / Morning Musume ’16
  9. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa / Kobushi Factory
  10. Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa / Morning Musume ’14
  11. Complex ni Sayonara! / Minis.?
  12. Mukidashi de Mukiatte / Morning Musume ’16
  13. aMa no Jaku / S/mileage
  14. Real☆Little☆Girl / Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido
  15. Watashi no Kokoro / S/mileage
  16. My Days for You / Erina Mano
  17. Towa no Uta / Berryz Kobo
  18. Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai / Berryz Kobo
  19. Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko / C-ute

CD2

  1. Campus Life ~Umarete Kite Yokatta~ / C-ute
  2. Shinnen Dake wa Tsuranukitoose! / Morning Musume (Sayumi Michshige, Erina Ikuta, Riho Sayashi, Kanon Suzuki, Haruna Iikubo)
  3. Urayanjau / C-ute
  4. Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de / Morning Musume (Riho Sayashi, Kanon Suzuki, Masaki Sato, Haruka Kudo, Sakura Oda)
  5. 46-okunen LOVE / ANGERME
  6. Everyday Everywhere / Taiyou to Ciscomoon
  7. Final Squall / C-ute
  8. Be Alive / Morning Musume
  9. Natsu Shogun / ANGERME
  10. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~ / Tsubaki Factory
  11. Iku ZYX! FLY HIGH / ZYX
  12. Uchouten LOVE / S/mileage
  13. Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance / Berryz Kobo
  14. MY BOY / Buono!
  15. Happy Daisakusen / Morning Musume
  16. Kanousei no Michi (2005 Version) / Aya Matsuura
  17. Wasurete Ageru / ANGERME

CD3

  1. “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? / Juice=Juice
  2. Keseyashinai Kimochi / Kobushi Factory
  3. Otona no Jijou / NEXT YOU
  4. Akai Earphone / ANGERME
  5. Onaji Jikyuu de Hataraku Tomodachi no Bijin Mama / S/mileage
  6. Help me!! / Morning Musume
  7. Never Never Surrender / Juice=Juice
  8. Yuuwaku no Kyuujitsu / C-ute
  9. VERY BEAUTY / Berryz Kobo
  10. Love & Pea~ce! HERO ga Yattekita. / Morning Musume
  11. The Vision / Morning Musume ’16
  12. Chance! / Kirari Tsukishima starring Koharu Kusumi
  13. Honto no Jibun / Buono!
  14. Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.) / Juice=Juice
  15. ♡Momoiro Kataomoi♡ / Aya Matsuura
  16. Only you / Morning Musume
  17. One Two Three / Morning Musume
  18. Sexy Cat no Enzetsu / Morning Musume ’16

(NOTE: All the songs were selected by H!P members, I won’t mention them all, but I will if needed to.)

1. Moshimo…

Of course as the eldest member in Morning Musume kicking off this Petit Best, Fukuchan chose Moshimo… and I wasn’t surprised because she was a part of this track originally alongside Momochi, Nakky, Manoeri, and Ayacho.  Since it was a B-side from the “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku” single, Moshimo… was definitely the cuter of the 3 songs from the single and it shows with the quintet involved.  Returning to this, I forgot how upbeat the track is and I really like the intro at least.  Though vocally, it’s kind of here and there since it’s more of the squeakier & poor singers and Fukuchan XD.  It’s not bad though and a fair way to kick this long compilation off.

2. Kowarenai Ai ga Hoshii no

Wow jumping quite a bit back in time, we have 7AIR’s lone song, thanks to Eripon’s choice.  It’s going to be a strange compilation because of crazy changes in styles and the various eras H!P has.  It was such a jump back to this R&B bop here.  I’ve talked about it a lot in the past and not much has changed in my opinion of it.  If it was my honest opinion, it could’ve just been 4AIR because Rika, Ai-chan, Mai, and Masae had the more fruitful solos while the other 3 (Mika, Atsuko, and Gaki).  I still like the kind of TLC-esque vibe I get here and the main vocalists are really nice to listen to (granted they were getting decent at this point).  Good song, but could’ve utilized its members in a better way.

3. Pharaoh no Haka (“Pharaoh no Haka ~Hebi Ou Sneferu~ Ver.”)

I think one of the most interesting choices on this compilation is this track chosen by Ayumi Ishida and it’s because it’s the only stageplay song on this 3 disc bombshell.  Considering that, it’s a very unique sounding song though with it’s Egyptian theme and what not.  I do enjoy vocals here despite Morning Musume doesn’t normally sound like this, but since it’s an OST song it’s also rather short.  I like how dramatic it is and it just stands out as one of the more stronger stageplay themes out there.

4. Fantasy ga Hajimaru

As an album track from “Fantasy! Juuichi”, Fantasy ga Hajimaru was one of the highlights and it’s very much in tune as a synthy dance track.  It’s shown off pretty quickly when Sayumi has the first solo (and it’s a nice lengthy one).  Actually this song has a LOT of Sayu in it surprisingly as during this time period, she was only used for her robo-voice which I suppose was nice considering Sayu was never a strong singer in Momusu.  The tune itself is really catchy and just bops the entire time.  I enjoyed this a LOT!

5. Mirai no Tobira

Wow Odasaku, you really dove back for this choice huh?  Yeah, Sakura actually chose a track from Morning Musume’s first album, “First Time” and I’m kind of shocked because it’s my least favorite song from said album to because it seemed a little out of place and somewhat messy to listen to.  Jumping back from 2011 to 1998 was shocking but this song really?  I mean it’s kind of a 90’s urban hip-hop tune with the original two generations singing here.  It’s messy and just doesn’t really stick to me…ooph.

6. SEXY SNOW

Moving forward to a B-side from W’s (Kago & Tsuji) single “Robokiss”, SEXY SNOW is another random choice, but a pretty good one regardless as the song is upbeat and pretty nice to listen to especially with strings and fiddle alongside the poppy dance beats as well.  Aibon and Nono sound great and cutesy and listening to it more made me wonder why it wasn’t an A-side first of all!

7. Lalala no Pipipi

Like I said, during this period, Sayumi was so recognizable under auto-tune and filters that her natural voice was just non-eistant, but for some reason it became her shtick for the last couple albums she was involved in.  This solo track from “13 Colorful Character” reminded me a lot of another track she did in the past, “Suki da na Kimi ga” and it really felt like treading repeated ground here.  It’s sugary sweet and the steady beats and robotic feels are interesting, but it’s not all that memorable to me.

8. Wakaindashi!

I’m not seeing why Akane wouldn’t pick this because this was pretty much the first time she had a solo line (that wasn’t spoken dialogue).  Though the song was mostly known as Haruka Kudo’s last track with the group and it’s a sentimental tropical house-sounding track which was unusual but refreshing because it wasn’t so frenetic and wild.  I really do love this song and saying goodbye to Duu was sweet and not-so depressing in a way, it was just sweet.

9. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa 

Huh, I guess current groups are also included since Kaedii chose this Kobushi Factory song.  One thing I tend to remember that it was their ska song to perform and it was surprisingly positive and just rockin’.  Though I think the song is more known because it was the last time we’d see Kobushi perform as an 8-nin (since Rio, Natsumi, and Rena left after this single).  I still enjoy the energy and powerful performance they all did here and remains one of the group’s best songs!

10. Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa

As the first A-side after Tsunku announced the group was going to add the year to the Morning Musume name, Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa was also the 2nd single under Sayumi Michishige’s leadership and I feel the song kind of fell into a strong EDM territory (moreso than the usually would pull).  I will say I was impressed with the arrangement and how unique it was for the time, but I’m still not all that OK with the vocal smushing here…it feels like a tongue twister of a song to sing in karaoke.  Still, the feel of the song is cool and just really nice and hearing Riho is somewhat nice here.

11. Complex ni Sayonara!

Chiichan got lucky here because Complex ni Sayonara! is actually the only new song from the compilation here.  It’s spent like almost over a year in hibernation before being included here.  Now since it’s new I should mention it Minis.? is actually a unit that was created for a book with ex-Berryz member, Yurina Kumai, consisting of Morito, Yokoyama, Kamikokuryo, and Funaki who were at that time the shortest members.  The song of course is without Kumai but hey let’s listen?  The song reminds me oddly of old H!P but with video game synths?  It also makes me think of Minimoni, but I really like the 4 members here.  It’s upbeat and keeps me interested and the like I said the 4 members adds a lot of character here especially Moe and Musubu.  What a surprise to be included here!

12. Mukidashi de Mukiatte

I’m happy to see the new members get included and be able to choose a song and with Rio Kitagawa’s choice she chose one of my favorite MM songs of recent times with Mukidashi de Mukiatte which is one of the times where this obsession over their EDM-style worked in spades and just left me dancing all around.  It’s in your face and has many cool moments throughout its arrangement.  All time favorite (or at least one of them).

13. aMa no Jaku

Jumping back again to another debut song, S/mileage’s to be exact and it’s kind of a nostalgic trip for me since this was the first single to have Ayaka, Kanon, Yuuka, and Saki (it feels like it’s been forever, on top of the name change to ANGERME).  It’s just soft beginnings because aMa no Jaku felt like a nice anime outro with some cute vocals from the four.  I do wonder why Homare chose this (I wonder if the compilation album had liner notes?).  I enjoy it still and it’s easy to sing-along groove just felt nice to listen to after the last couple of songs.

14. RealLittleGirl

No surprise that Mei would choose this as she was originally part of this song and it’s nice she wanted to represent the Hokkaido girls like this.  The song itself wasn’t that memorable to me in the long run especially since it felt rather vanilla of a song, but it made sense since it was a trainees song.  It’s cute and upbeat and has that fun energy to it, but to me it kind of flies by me.

15. Watashi no Kokoro

So the last 5 songs on this disc were chosen by Kobushi members (funny enough probably was lucky since they’re disbanding soon).  Hirose chose this S/mileage album song from their sophomore album and of course it’s a ballad of all things.  I mean to be fair, I barely remember the song as it is, but there’s a lot of Kanon, Ayaka, Akari, and Meimi in it, but it was nice to see Rina and Kana singing too.  I mean it’s not the most profound ballad, but I suppose it’s passable.

16. My Days for You

Things get a little more upbeat with this ManoEri A-side and it’s a relaxing pop/rock track and it’s a little interesting to me since it feels like a Springtime kind of song with its progression and since Erina’s voice is just as kind of soft yet idol-like, it kind of works here.  I mean the song isn’t one of her best ones, but I feel like it was at least memorable and not entirely bad here.

17. Towa no Uta

Interesting that we get this track which was half of Berryz Kobo’s final single as a group.  Since it was their kind of their farewell sort of, it was nice hearing the group tackle more of a mix of pop/rock and EDM (kind of like a slower “Maji Bomber!!”).  I do like all the members getting solos and while it gets overshadowed by “Love together!”, Towa no Uta was for the fans which is funny because…

18. Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai

We hop back to Berryz’ debut A-side and the two were connected.  Though they are pretty different arrangement-wise.  I was surprised that it had a mix of Indian vibes and the kind of hip-hop flow but with idol antics with the 8 young members here.  Yeah the vocals might sound strange because of they’re super young sound, but it was definitely a nice risk taken.  Also on PB20, this one of 3 songs that more than one member chose the same, in this case, Sakurako and Musubu chose this (I think, they really should’ve avoided it and made each H!P member choose a unique song with no repeats).

19. Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko

The first disc ends off with a rather interesting choice in a C-ute song.  It’s a bit more pop/rock than I remembered hearing it last funny enough.  Though I can’t say it’s one of my favorites from the group, if anything the song just doesn’t quite sit well with me as an A-side…it feels more like a Buono! B-side if anything but with C-ute’s vocals which were still growing (Airi & Maimi were fine, Chisato was getting better, and Maimai and Nakky were still super cutesy).  Not really much of a fan of this one.

CD2

1. Campus Life ~Umarete Kite Yokatta~

Seems like C-ute also starts up the 2nd disc and it’s with another rather eh track from them.  Seeing as Disc 2 is ANGERME & Tsubaki Factory choices, I noticed that the songs were a bit more interesting and random.  Though Takechan, this one though?  I don’t know why, it was a song that came out right after their probably most unfair A-side, “SHOCK!”.  Campus Life brings the group back to more of a breezy upbeat pop vibe that’s calm, but idol-like that’s for sure.  Especially with Airi, Maimi, and Chisaki with most of the solos, it’s quite nice after the aforementioned single.  Looknig back though Campus Life still doesn’t quite rise above some of their more outstanding tunes.

2. Shinnen Dake wa Tsuranukitoose!

It seems the ANGERME girls chose some pretty random choices moving forward.  Kawamuu decided she’d choose this B-side from “Wakuteka Take a chance”.  That said, this was a track that was split between the Morning Musume members, in this case it was Michishige, Sayashi, Ikuta, Suzuki, and Iikubo singing here.  The song itself really isn’t all that great though mostly due to the vocals here which were kind of mediocre for the most part (especially since Harunan & Eripon have the most solos over the other 3 members.  Add on the frantic arrangement that’s rather sugary and it just gave me a headache.

3. Urayanjau

Next is an album song from C-ute, from well….”Cmaj9″!  Though this is a song that had a definite girl leading the track and in this case Airi Suzuki had the focus whereas the other members had a smaller presence.  I really liked this back then because it was pretty unique of a song and the kind of K-pop-like tone was interesting and suited Airi pretty well.  I guess coming back to this years later, I do question the way the vocals are filtered…it’s a little hollow and strange sounding to be honest.  Still, I do appreciate it and is a nice choice from Murotan.

4. Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de

Another Morning Musume B-side chosen from another ANGERME member? (this one chosen by Rikako).  Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de is handled similarly to “Shinnen Dake wa Tsuranukitoose!” in where it was a split grouping performing, this one only having Sayashi, Suzuki, Sato, Kudo, and Oda.  I’m a little surprised that the focus is around Maachan and Duu here in this more cutesy and girlier song.  It’s not really all that memorable either due to its sing-a-long-y feel here and it just felt lifeless.

5. 46-okunen LOVE

Not surprised to see ANGERME members choose songs they were a part of (I mean they’re still a big group).  46-okunen LOVE was a song that Kamiko was a part of and it was a pretty awesome song for ANGERME getting back into the whole disco vibe and such.  It might not have me saying a whole lot, but I do really love the energy and power behind the members especially Takechan, Kamiko, Rikako, and Funakki.  It’s just a fun and groovy song and really sticks out in their discography.

6. Everyday Everywhere

Its definitely notable that this and “Mirai no Tobira” are the oldest songs on the compilation for sure and Kassa choosing this song was really out there and I commend her choice since it’s such a good Taiyou & Ciscomoon A-side.  Being more of a slow jam that’s pretty sensual and romantic as they come, I found myself entranced by both the arrangement and the lovely set of vocals from the quartet.  It really does feel nostalgic to me for those early 90’s R&B tracks and I’m really happy it was a song chosen by Momona to be included.

7. Final Squall

Moving to one of the 3 A-sides C-ute released before they graduate, Final Squall was definitely the one that sent me the message that yes, the group was going away.  Even the song itself kind of had the finale kind of feel.  It does remind me of “Iron Heart” but with an abundance of strings in it arrangement.  The energy is nice and hearing the 5 ladies are singing quite passionately.  They definitely went out with a bang and this was a good song to boot!

8. Be Alive

Another song from “13 Colorful Character” this time Be Alive features all of Morning Musume.  Like “Final Squall” though it does feel like a song that’s an ending to something because of its melody.  It does start off like a ballad, but it does grow into more of a dance track to kind of make it a little more positive and upbeat.  A little bummed that only Reina and Riho had the only solos though.  I do hear a lot still today and it’s not even close to reaching Momusu’s best tracks, but I suppose it’s OK.

9. Natsu Shogun

Fair enough that ANGERME’s newest member chose a song from the group, though it is surprisingly recent of a choice too!  That said, this digital song that released back in 2018, Natsu Shogun is still what I’d call ANGERME’s take on “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro”.  I still really like the intro that’s really Japanese and had me think it was going to go one way before the summer vibe and beats kick on switch things up.  I will say I did grow to like the rapping section, but otherwise not really a song I’d go back to.

10. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~

Now it’s time to see what the Tsubaki Factory girls chose…and hmmmm the group’s leader, Riko decided to choose this song which was from their first album, “first bloom”.  I really do like that it was going towards more of a funk vibe (kind of like Juice=Juice’s “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”).  Though it is a little plain thinking on those lines and the chorus is a little messy an the striking high notes that some of the members hit are a little sketchy, but I commend them for having another fun and lively song.

11. Iku ZYX! FLY HIGH

I wonder how many times I’ve actually talked about this song.  I mean granted it was a pretty popular song and it still strikes a nice chord whenever it comes on because it’s got a lot of sass and power and despite 5/6 of the members were super young in its release, it’s still sticks out as one of H!P’s best.  I love how upbeat it is and how it feels nostalgic without going too far back and hearing 5 of the H!P Kids and Yaguchi singing was a preview for what was to come!

12. Uchouten LOVE

Moving to S/mileage for this A-side (kind of known as the final quartet single before Sakitty left and the sub-members joining, Uchouten LOVE was a sugary rush of synths and cuteness from the 4.  This sawblade synth blast of sound might not hold up today IMO because it’s so gritty and loud, but I did enjoy the energy behind it all.  Also the Tsunku ~ah-hoo~ is kind of eh.  Still, it’s just sad this was the final song with the original 4 S/mileage members.

13. Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance

Wow, Kishimon chose a fun one to include.  I still believe that Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance is one of the strangest H!P songs out there and especially for Berryz who pretty much ran with this whole monkey theme going to the point of dressing like them and including choreography that also reflected this.  The song itself is strange no doubt, but I kind of enjoyed it (maybe the after-chorus is a little finnicky) but it’s overly hammy and ridiculous and yet genius all at once.  One of the more unique songs in Hello! Project.

14. MY BOY

Buono! comes in with MY BOY and my goodness this was a total banger of a song especially in this line of releases they had during this period.  I was so surprised Buono! could have something so cool and edgy as such.  I actually found myself loving the song’s arrangement and hearing Airi, Miyabi, and Momoko own the song was just a perfect moment for them.  It’s just one of my all-time favorites and I’m happy that Kiki chose this one!

15. Happy Daisakusen

The first thing that pops up about Happy Daisakusen” is how easily it reminds me of “Be Alive” minus the more ballad-like parts.  What I mean is that it also feels like a goodbye song but covered in positivity.  This B-side from “Help me!!” was the one that included all the members and the solos went by tenure but reversed during the 2nd verse which was pretty sweet.  Solos were once again mostly Reina & Riho, but I think the song was better handled than “Be Alive”?  Yeah, still not quite up there…but it’s cute I suppose.

16. Kanousei no Michi (2005 Version)

This was an abstract choice for Saori to choose here.  She chose an album song from Aya Matsuura but on top of that, chose the version that was found on Ayaya’s best album.  Even though I had listened to it last year, Kanousei no Michi wasn’t a song that really sticks out in my mind and this revision of this song made it harder to remember since it was stripped down to strings, piano, and some synths.  Yeah, not really my kind of song and just blah, but I do respect Saorin choosing such a specific song.

17. Wasurete Ageru

CD 2 ends with Maopin’s choice and she got to choose a rather good ANGERME song in Wasurete Ageru.  I really like the mix of strings in an sitar-led song that felt kind of sad but still danceable.  ANGERME seemed to really excel in these songs especially since everyone in the group managed to get a solo, even the new member at that time, Momona.  I noticed a lot of Takechan, Murotan, and Rinapuu here and it just worked a lot.  One of their better A-sides!

CD3

1. “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no?

Yeah, this was not OK letting 3 of the members choose the same song (in this case Kanazawa, Dambara, and even Tanimoto).  Yeah it’s Juice=Juice’s choices that open the 3rd disc.  Though it’s a song that released last year (2019).  I mean it’s a decent song, but I think it’s slightly overrated.  I like the anison groove and considering this was one the final songs leader, Yuka Miyazaki took part in…I was hoping for a lot of lean to include her, but she had ONE solo here.  It’s OK for the most part and one of the better songs they released.

2. Keseyashinai Kimochi

If “Mirai no Tobira” was the oldest song in the compilation, then Keseyashinai Kimochi is the most recent that was added (from Kobushi Factory’s 2019 album, “Kobushi Dai Ni Maku”).  Chosen by both Takagi & Hirai, this song is still kind of settling with me because of how recent it is so I still have fresh feelings for it.  I still am trying to get myself into it because it feels like something another group has done, but better.  Plus, it’s a little interesting to hear Kobushi Factory singing lighter and not in their normal grittier feel and instead, a more upbeat and idol-like track.  Still, the song is pretty OK I’d say, but not the best Kobushi released last year.

3. Otona no Jijou

Maybe you’re curious as to who NEXT YOU is and wonder if they’re another group, not really persay, it’s basically Juice=Juice (as they were known in their show, Budokan).  I definitely remember this being an odd song because it was originally a digital single before appearing on their sophomore album.  Anyways, Otona no Jijou is pretty EDM-heavy and a lot of synths and beats.  I will say it’s nice to hear all 5 Juice=Juice members getting some decent lines (Karin, Sayuki, Tomoko, Akari, and Yuka).  Good song overall and good choice too from Karin herself!

4. Akai Earphone

Another 2019 song, Akai Earphone is an album track from ANGERME’s 3rd album, “Rinnetenshou” and probably the standout track from said album too.  Being a bit more punchy with its EDM-style, Akai Earphone was really good at showing off the member’s vocals throughout.  I do find it funny I hear ~Bluetooth~ in the song xD.  Still, the members get solos all over (except Haruka again…).  It’s a pretty cool song overall and like I said one of the best from the album and of 2019!

5. Onaji Jikyuu de Hataraku Tomodachi no Bijin Mama

It’s funny moving from their more recent to the past, when it was S/mileage (and just seeing Ayacho being in both of these songs).  This A-side (S/mileage’s 3rd major single), had the group really hit the ground running by giving them a Buono!-esque sound of a song.  I was not expecting this from the quartet, but it really gave them a fun and punkish track to have fun with.  I do like how all 4 get to shine (even if Yuukarin & Nyon get the most lines as they have spoken dialogue too).  I’ve warmed up to the song since I first listened to it, but still not their best work, but it’s a fun track overall!

6. Help me!!

Oooph, thanks for this throwback to 2013.  Help me!! was a pretty interesting A-side for Momusu primarily as it was the debut for current member, Sakura Oda and was during the huge wave of this kind of formation choreography they were kind of promoting.  While I still attack it for being a poor song to her live because of the immense shouting that’s going on, I really like the synths/stringwork at play here and the vocals between Sayu, Reina, Fukuchan, and Riho were interesting, but I think Sakura got the big moments as she got some solos in the pre-chorus (I mean there was like 2 of them)?  Electro Momusu was pretty cool still at this point!

7. Never Never Surrender

I needed this to remember this next track from Juice=Juice (an album track from their sophomore album).  I kind of liked the bagpipe-like intro to the song and then it kind of becomes a chant-heavy song that sound pretty good live (kind of like “Keseyashinai Kimochi” does) and just has a nice beat to it.  Little surprised that Yukanyan and Yanamin only got one solo, but overall it’s a fun tune to listen to!

8. Yuuwaku no Kyuujitsu

I had totally forgot about this track for sure, especially since I had to really think on where it came from.  It’s actually a C-ute B-side from “Tokai no Hitorigurashi / Aitte Motto Zanshin” and boy I’m embarrassed that I forgot it.  This also marks as now its songs that BEYOOOOONDS members chose as this is Reina’s choice.  The song itself is kind of a hot/cold situation here because I LOVE the verses as they bring in more of the cooler side of the group, but the chorus just comes in suddenly and it’s just peppy and cutesy which is kind of yikes.  Still, I like hearing all of them singing together, but it’s just that chorus that throws the song way off.

9. VERY BEAUTY

Oh wow a rather middle-time period of a song from Berryz Kobo here this time.  VERY BEAUTY was such an interesting change of pace for the group as it was a bit more laidback and toned down from previous A-sides.  I’m a little surprised that solos belonged to Risako, Miyabi, and Yurina (and one small one from Chinami) which of course was pretty bleh, but it’s what it is.  For me, the song doesn’t quite stick out to me and it kind of feels plain and boring but it is interesting hearing Risako struggling to hit her notes in this one, it felt bad IMO.

10. Love & Pea~ce! HERO ga Yattekita.

This B-side from Momusu’s single, “THE Manpower!!!” was another interesting choice on this release (chosen by Shiori Nishida), this is an interesting choice as it’s kind another song you’d normally see being performed during an encore or something.  It just has the beat to it that fans can fist pump to.  While I myself is neither here nor there for the song I do appreciate mostly everyone gets a solo, except Sayu, Yossie, and Kaorin (the last was her last B-side in the group).  OK song overall!

11. The Vision

I remember how pretty this song sounded when it first released in 2016 with the twinkly piano melody and mix of the synths and beats (which reminded me of “Toki no Koe Sora wo Koe”).  I also remembered that Ayumi, Fukuchan, and Eripon were absent from the song as they represented the dance group for the PV of the song leaving Sakura and Maachan to kind of lead the song.  I did like that 12 Generation (Maria, Haruna O., Akane, and Miki) had a bit more of an appearance doing the verses.  It’s just a mix of really what was good at the time and it’s such a memorable song for me!

12. Chance!

I could only question why Kurumi chose this song which is an A-side released by Koharu Kusumi (during her stint in the Kirari series).  It comes to probably no surprise that I was never really a fan of Koharu’s vocals during her tenure and her solo works have always been sketchy to me as not only it had her vocals, her releases were all tied to a madoka girl anime which made me slightly cringe more.  Chance! isn’t has overblown as other songs in her discography, but her singing capability has not much left to be desired from.  Flat and maybe slightly tonedeaf?  Not her worst, but not really near the middle either…

13. Honto no Jibun

Kokoro chose this song which is Buono!’s debut track!  Considering this was kind of near the same time period “Chance!” was around, Honto no Jibun being also connected to an anime (Shugo Chara!) it had me slightly worried, but with Airi, Miyabi, and Momoko handled the song like they would their significant unit.  While this is kind of lighter than what Buono! would end up releasing, the pop/rock styling suited them (maybe less Momoko as her high-pitched vocals stand out sharply in the song).  It’s a pretty solid debut though and to see how this trio grew after was great!

14. Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.)

Surprised that vocal queen of BEYOOOOONDS, Yuhane would choose this more or less the Juice=Juice take of Magic of Love because let’s be honest the original Taiyou to Ciscomoon version is soooo much better.  Though talking about Juice=Juice’s take from their first album, they didn’t do too heavily bad, but they were trying their damndest to bring in that same soulful power that the original had though it was mostly Sayubee and Karin and maybe some Kanatomo (with one solo for Yuka & Aarii).  I’ll even give kudos to Sayuki for trying her best to mimic Ruru’s original belts, but she does wail so it kind of feels a bit tight for me.  Still, it’s not terrible, but it’s hard to do this song full justice.

15. Momoiro Kataomoi

Minami Okamura unsurprisingly would choose a cutesy song, but I didn’t think she’d go that far back to choose this pretty popular Aya Matsuura song.  While I have heard this song a lot more after I started this blog, this song is growing more and more on me, though I still think there’s other songs that outrank this one.  With Ayaya having this summer bop, Momoiro Kataomoi is cute and fun to listen to (though the Tsunku-quips are slightly distracting to me).  I mean this chorus is pretty legendary and I think most fans of H!P could him the melody out!  Not bad!

16. Only you

I found it funny that the last 3 songs on PB202020 are Momusu songs starting with Only you.  This was the 2nd Momusu single to include 9th Gen (Riho, Fukuchan, Eripon, and Zukki) and it was a drastic shift from the single previous.  Only you is kind of the start of this EDM hype that Morning Musume were about to drown themselves in, but this had leftovers from the Platinum Era (dance beats/strings) as well.  Of course I was impressed that Ai-chan was owning the song alongside Reina while Riho surprisingly shows up here and there.  Gaki though had the sad opportunity to have the pre-chorus but her voice was thickly layered with auto-tune which was odd.  Regardless, the song was cool and had a good mix of the present and past at that time.  Still one of my favorite Momusu songs!

17. One Two Three

Then the big single happened, what really got Momusu back into people’s minds!  One Two Three was just an interesting song because of its hard lean on the EDM sound (and some people even compared it to K-POP sounds, thinking about it, it does kind of remind me of SHINee’s “Lucifer” in a way.  Though, this was also when I was kind of getting bummed in line distribution because it was mostly Reina and Riho at the reins with some Sayu and the remaining members only got syllables for solos…kind of sad.  Still a pretty awesome song though and still one of the more memorable songs from the group!

18. Sexy Cat no Enzetsu

What an odd way to close out disc 3 (and the compilation in general) with Utano’s choice of Momusu’s Sexy Cat no Enzetsu.  This 2016 A-side was so much later on than “One Two Three” so so many member changes had happened since then.  I mean, it was exciting to see and hear that Sakura, Fukuchan, and Duu lead the song in this classy, dance track with lots of saxes in the arrangement.  Still a fun song though and interesting, but much respected choice!

Tracks Recommended

  • Mukidashi de Mukiatte
  • aMa no Jaku
  • Wakaindashi!
  • Fantasy ga Hajimaru
  • SEXY SNOW

 

  • MY BOY
  • Iku ZYX! FLY HIGH
  • 46-okunen LOVE
  • Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance
  • Everyday Everywhere

 

  • The Vision
  • Only you
  • Akai Earphone
  • “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no?
  • Sexy Cat no Enzetsu

*Sorry about this review being a lil late!*…I was pretty surprised to see that H!P not release an actual Petit Best and instead to a celebration for the series by letting all the H!P members choose a song of their choice and fill out 3 discs.  Luckily a good portion of those songs are pretty good and such and some members chose surprising songs (like the OST song, old songs, and even in the case of Chisaki Morito’s choice; a brand new song!).

If I had to be brutally honest though, I think I would’ve rather had an actual Petit Best that went through the year instead (or maybe have done both?).  I feel like 2019 is going to go down as the one where there was no true PB.

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H!P Profiles: Minis.?

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L to R: Chisaki Morito, Musubu Funaki, (Yurina Kumai), Reina Yokoyama, Moe Kamikokuryo

So in October of 2018, in kind of a quiet announcement, Yurina Kumai announced a book that included the other 4 titled Complex ni Sayonara! and no one really thought much of it until the Hello! Fes concerts in the same month when the group (sans Kumai) performed together in an original track of the same name.  This quartet under the name of Minis.? performed a couple more times with the same track, but we wouldn’t get the release of their original song until the “Petit Best 20 2020” compilation in that year.  Not much has happened since though and it might mostly been a one-off unit since Funaki would be graduating in 2020.

Style of Music: Their only song is kind of cutesy and upbeat, almost reminding me of Minimoni’s poppy sound just updated and with better vocalists.

 They never released a PV for the song oddly enough, so all we have is pretty much this live performance of the song

Overall: It has been quite a while since H!P had a one-shot unit (not counting those SATO units), but Minis.? literally had no fanfare of introduction to the H!P world and while it felt like Minimoni with the members being shorties.  Didn’t help that their song was left in the oven for like almost 2 years before randomly appearing on a Petit Best as well.  I mean it’s cute and all, but they could’ve been promoted a smidge more IMHO.

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Karin Miyamoto to graduate from Juice=Juice/H!P in June

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Sorry, I was a little late with this news but yeah, a couple weeks back, Karin Miyamoto released a video announcing her graduation from Juice=Juice and Hello! Project in June to well end up as a soloist in Up-Front (explains the many unreleased songs she performed last year).  I think of all of the graduation announcements made in the last year, Miyamoto’s is probably the least surprising, but it’s also because she’s pretty much been a veteran for the longest time as well dating back to her Eggs days and her first prominent exposure in the “Champloo” album.  I will say I’m a bit surprised about becoming a soloist under UFP and not stay in H!P (the last soloist was ManoEri soo…).  So I can’t wait to see what she does once she leaves (though this announcement simultaneously gave us their next single which is also will be Karin’s last, “Pop Music / Suki tte Itte yo” in April.

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Mizuki Murota graduating from ANGERME/H!P on March 22nd T.T

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So in a surprise announcement today, Murotan announced that she’ll be graduating from ANGERME and H!P on March 22nd, which is the date of Hina Fest.  Apparantly she had been thinking about this since 2018 so I guess I could see this being the right time, but damn ANGERME just losing members like flies as this being the 5th in a year’s time (Wada, Katsuta, Nakanishi, and Funaki).

Murotan was a favorite even when she was in the Kenshuusei and I was happy she was chosen to bring in the name change and different approach to S/mileage.  A great belter and powerful presence was always great to see and it’s sad we only get 2 months with her (hoping a single will be released to kind of give her a graduation alongside Funakki’s).

That said, Funakki’s graduation was pushed back to the end of ANGERME’s tour so I suppose yay?

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Kobushi Factory to disband in March

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Yup, a week into 2020 and we get our first shocking announcement from Hello! Project that Kobushi Factory will indeed disband in March.  It seems that Hirose, Hamaura, and Nomura want to do something else (not exactly in the music industry, just something different).  In Sakurako’s case, it was the 5 or nothing at all and with this she’ll be retiring from the industry while Rei will remain in H!P as a soloist (which may or may not lead to her joining a different group, I’m sure.

I had thought the group had found their footing with their 2nd album, but it seems after the triple loss, they’ve been rather struggling and I guess this was the best route to take.  Granted it’ll be interesting to see how H!P will deal after losing Country Girls in 2019.

They did announce their final single set for March 4th, but now it’s just watching what H!P is going to do next.

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Hello! 2019! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

2019 was a pretty wild year it seems and ironically enough, it was everything that wasn’t the music but more of the numerous additions and graduations that had happened.  Let’s hop right in and talk about the year that was 2019!

Morning Musume ’19

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Seems like Morning Musume ’19 had a pretty small year in releases.  They began the year with their 4th best album, Best! Morning Musume 20th Anniversary which was a continuation of their last Best! Morning Musume album.  They then followed it up with a single in June with Jinsei Blues / Seishun Night.

The remainder of the year was surrounding the announcement of 3 new members in Mei Yamazaki, Homare Okamura, and Rio Kitagawa and then literally nothing, but they did announce a new single (for 2020 though).

GREAT SONGS

  • Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai (Morning Musume ’15 Ver.) – You all already know that I love this song to pieces, but this was a nice surprise from the best album to include this version of the song which included Riho & Zukki (but not Reina, Kaede, or Chisaki).  It always had bothered me why they never put this song out back then despite not being a HUGE song for them, it was stewing until those 2 members were gone.  The line distribution was better and you can easily hear both Riho and Kanon with their lines.  Like I said, a total treat here!
  • Koishite Mitakute – Kind of surprised we were given two new songs for the best album with the first being Koishite Mitakute!  With the intro, I was getting upbeat “ENDLESS SKY” vibes with it, but after that leaves, the song continues being upbeat, but kind of uplifting and cute to listen to.  I mean hell, Akane, Reina, and Miki has the first lines!  It’s a happy song and really was something I was missing from Momusu!
  • Jinsei Blues – As the leading A-side, Jinsei Blues kind of continues with this kind of wide dance sound that was explored in “Are you Happy?” with the heavy drums but more experimental feel to it.  I really seem to love the verses/pre-chorus a whole lot with the chorus being a little more straightforward.  Definitely was a nice surprise to hear and kind of made up for the other A-side somewhat.

OK SONGS

  • Akogare no Stress-free (Morning Musume ’18 Ver) – Funny how Morning Musume were the only group to get their own version of this Hello Pro All Stars track.  Really not much to say here though because there isn’t many solos here and the arrangement is entirely the same, it just feels like there’s less girls involved versus the original.  Not bad though
  • Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara (TV EDIT) – Never understood why a shortened version of Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara was included.  It’s just the opening, verse, and choruses here and while I do love the song in its entirety I just think shortened variants are just odd padding for the best album.
  • I surrender Aisaredo Ai – The 2nd of the new tracks (and the one that promoted the best album), I surrender Aisaredo Ai is pretty hectic all things considering with a bit more of a rock focus in its arrangement here.  It does kind of remind me of “Chikyuu ga Naiteiru” from a couple of albums ago and the same results kind of stick here.  It’s fine, but for me could get a little too messy and rambunctious with repeated listens.  Not exactly my style, but what can ya do?
  • Seishun Night – Seems like the group is returning to its disco-funk vibe with Seishun Night which tries to be a little more spicy and upbeat like what “Utakata Saturday Night!” did, but I don’t quite remember much of it.  I do like the rapping sections with Ayumi, Sakura, Miki, Mizuki, and Masaki.  Otherwise besides the focus on Chisaki, I really don’t remember much out of this one.

Predictions from 2018

Kind of unsure where the group is going next year, hopefully a little more active musically since there really wasn’t a lot this year IMO. I’m sure someone is going to graduate, but I’m not sure if there’ll be auditions since I feel like the group is full. Who knows with them!

Actuality: So with me not knowing fully what to expect out of MM’19, I’m surprised they released less than they did last year with just the best album and one single.  Though I am happy that no one graduated, but more surprised that 3 members joined as well.

Predictions for 2020: With 3 new members, I definitely hope the trio have a decent debut within the group, but I hope this means this time that the group will release more music too!  As for graduations, maybe Fukuchan as she’s been the eldest for a while, I also get a feeling that Eripon might graduate too for some reason.

ANGERME

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Honestly, I would say ANGERME had the craziest year this year starting from last year with Ayaka Wada announcing her graduation for this year and the addition of Haruka Oota Layla Ise which culminated into a couple releases, first was their OST for their stageplay, Time Repeat ~Towa ni Kimi wo Omou~ and their simultaneous April debut and graduation single, Koi wa Accha Accha / Yumemita 15nen.

Although Ayaka would be in one more release in the form of their 3rd album, Rinnetenshou ~ANGERME Past, Present, and Future~ in July before her graduation.

Before the Summer tour though, a new announcement was made that Kenshuusei member, Rin Hashisako would be joining.the group.

Though things kind of taken a weird turn for the group when in June, Rina Katsuta announces her graduation in September, but oddly enough didn’t participate in the next single (only really leaving her solo song for that single)

After Rinapuu graduated, Kana Nakanishi also announced her graduation set for December which means their next single, November’s Watashi wo Tsukeru no wa Watashi / Zenzen Okiagarenai SUNDAY will be her last single, but also the debut for Rin.

Though the mess isn’t over when in October, Musubu Funaki also announced her graduation set for next year…so she might get one more single in.

  • NOTE: Both solo songs from Katsuta and Nakanishi will be discussed below in the Other H!P Releases as they were released separately digitally too.

GREAT SONGS

  • Koi wa Accha Accha – Since the single they kicked off the year with was both a graduation and a debut single, I wasn’t entirely surprised they split it both ways with both A-sides here.  Koi wa Accha Accha was the debut side for Haruka and Layla and I think the group was trying to play this song off similarly to “Taikibansei” with some of its promotion.  I really like the Indian flavor to the song, almost reminiscent to C-ute’s “The Power” with how danceable it is.  As for the new members, they both have a singular line and I think I’m liking Layla’s booming voice though. On the other hand, the heavy-handed auto-tune on Momona’s big line before the final chorus was a little much, but otherwise….what a fun song to have!
  • I Musou Strong! – FINALLY, it seems its been forever since we’ve known about this song and finally it gets a studio cut as the first track on the group’s 3rd album.  The tune from the beginning just screams made for live performances so I totally get why it wasn’t initially picking up on me on first listen, but the longer I listened to it, the most I started loving it again and it’s just loud and a great to kick things off for the album!
  • Akai Earphone – It’s funny that a LOT of the album kind of went unnoticed (or not performed prior to the release), Akai Earphone was one of the few that was performed and it definitely still at the end of the year was the one track that immediately stood out from the album.  After “I Musou Strong!’s” big opening, Akai Earphone continued with this powerful sound that focused more on the synths.  I definitely was surprised at the amount of solos (though did Haruka get one?).  Still, the song was pretty awesome and one of the best songs in 2019.
  • Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart – Not sure how ANGERME always seem to ace these kind of funky discoheque kind of songs and Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart is a pretty cool and vocally fun song to listen to as the group just sounds lively and hearing members like Rinapuu, Takechan, Funakki, and the rest of them get some cool solos is great!  Another song I kind of wished gotten a PV.
  • Jinsei, Sunawachi Panta Rhei – Ayaka seems to enjoy opening songs on the album because she did again for this track which feels somewhat similarly to “Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart” with both tracks having a disco/funk flair about it (it reminds me more of “46-okunen LOVE” moreso oddly as I’m relistening to this).  It’s a bit more energetic of a song and the group really sounds just as much too!  I did like the bridge the most here as it’s brass and a guitar solo too!  It’s just a solid track for sure!
  • Zenzen Okiagarenai SUNDAY – I think this A-side was my favorite between the 4 ANGERME released within the year.  Being more of a mystical kind of downtempo track, I was happy Tsunku was involved here.  It’s kind of cool though and hearing the group sounds nice even with the track getting more trappish and bass-heavy adding more of a light dance vibe to it.  I think the robotic/dubstep bridge is weird af, but the song is really unique that’s for sure!

OK SONGS

  • Flag wo Bukkawase! – As their album had mini-groupings with a couple of their songs, I was curious with this one because it was between Akari, Mizuki, Layla, and Haruka.  My curiosity was more towards hearing the latter two members because I hadn’t had a good song to really form an opinion on their vocal talents.  Of course with Takechan & Murotan they’re pretty good with the rock’n’roll arrangement here.  As for the other two, I’m definitely enjoying Layla’s deeper vocals and there’s room for improvement for Haruka too so I’d say it was a good song overall.
  • Kaeritakunai na. – Ayacho opens up this track with a lone piano and it just seems to grow with different members as the intro continues on.  Not quite sure where I was standing with this song really because it was a bit of a slow crawl during the verses, but the chorus opens up into this upbeat dance track which is a nice change, but still has that hopeful sound to it that reminds me of “ENDLESS SKY” from Momusu especially that ploppy, synthy after-chorus.  Not a bad track overall!
  • Mou Ippou – Honestly, I love the opening to Mou Ippou that’s for sure (was that Funakki that had the adlib?).  Though once the loud drums appear, the song kind of turns from “Akai Earphone” to something like a mix of funk/synthpop/rock?  I don’t know but those drums are a bit too much for this and kind of distracts the melody, but it does give the vocals more pop.  Though the much needed break is in the bridge for some reason, but it’s shortlived as it kind of goes back to being loud.  Definitely screams album song.
  • Kagami no Kuni no Hinekure Queen – There were more mini-groupings to be found from the album!  This one featured Kana, Momona, Moe, and Ayano and it wasn’t surprising they were given more of a cute song here.  This was also somewhat interesting as the group didn’t have many of these on the album so it was a nice change of pace.  Wasn’t surprising though that I thought Kamiko and Kanana were the standouts for the song because Kassa and Kawamuu had some striking vocals and they’re somewhat weaker?  Regardless, the tune was cute enough, not the most memorable in the year, but it’s passable.
  • Kon’ya mo Suteki ni Ochitsukenai – That left us with Rina, Rikako, and Musubu to take the 3rd grouping track.  I’m not quite sure what style I’d put this under really, but it seems to be more chaotic/cute moreso than “Kagami no Kuni no Hinekure Queen” was.  I just find it really interesting that it’s these 3 members singing together.  I think I kind of feel similarly the same here, but I feel like this song’s arrangement is a little too busy, but the vocals are decent!
  • Watashi wo Tsukeru no wa Watashi – With both Ayaka and Rina gone, the group did manage to find a new member in Rin Hashisako and she debuted under this song.  I have to say though, the song itself isn’t anything totally special to me as it feels similar to stuff already done in H!P.  Rin doesn’t really get any lines (small ones) so most of it is left to the other members.  Not the best A-side they’ve done, but it’s OK.
  • Myouban, Galaxy Gekijou de – I was surprised to see ANGERME have a B-side on their single (if I remember correctly, they haven’t had one since “Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita” before the name change.  After listening to ANGERME’s songs this year, it does kind of fall into the same category like with “Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart” and “Jinsei, Sunawachi Panta Rhei” with a little more lean on the jazzier side of things but still has than funky tone to it.  I kind of like it, but those two aforementioned songs are a bit more memorable.

MEH SONGS

  • Yumemita 15nen – As the other half of that single was more focused on Ayacho’s graduation from the group, Yumemita 15nen is a little bit of a nod to the group’s debut song, “Yumemiru 15sai”, but nothing connected in style here.  This one is more bright and uplifting of a song and fitting as a graduation song.  That said, I wasn’t totally into the song and couldn’t really remember it as an A-side.  I do like the strings solo in the bridge and Ayaka’s solo afterwards, but yeah…just forgettable to me besides the reason it exists.
  • Watashi no Yumemita 15nen – If I thought that “Yumemita 15nen” was boring, then this song is even moreso especially since it’s Ayacho’s solo track.  Though I was bummed that the song used the same melody, but different arrangement and the same lyrics.  I just don’t know why they didn’t simply give her a legitimate original song because this is more boring to me than the above track.

Predictions from 2018

Besides the fact that Ayaka is graduating, I am curious to see the group’s dynamics going into the new year…Possibly another graduation, but this one for Kanana (she’s getting up there in years) or possibly Takechan (who has been in H!P for quite a while). Though I’m definitely curious to see how Haruka and Reira will fit.

Actuality: Wow, I mean while Ayacho doesn’t count, I definitely guessed that Kana was going to graduate from the group.  What I wasn’t expecting was Rinapuu to graduate between them and Funakki announcing hers.  As for the other half, I don’t think either Haruka or Layla have found a prominent place in the group yet (their debut and follow-up single really didn’t shed much light on them (maybe Layla?).

Predictions for 2020: I’m hoping Funakki gets a solo song when she graduates, but I don’t think it’ll happen because she hasn’t been in ANGERME too long (then again Yanamin got two graduation songs, so wtf).  I don’t know if anyone else will leave (Akari is still kind of a prediction, but who knows).  I also hope that Haruka, Layla, and now Rin will get more of a push in the group moving forward into the new year!  Though I can’t help that maybe they’ll try to add more members to bring the group back to that golden number of 12 since it seemed that was the pattern for a while.

Juice=Juice

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Juice=Juice seem to also have a pretty exciting year it seemed when it came to its members and for that didn’t have a lot of releases.

It began with February’s single, Bitansan / Potsurito / Good bye & Good luck! which was Manaka Inaba‘s first single with the group (she debuted last year on their sophomore album).  However, it was also Nanami Yanagawa‘s last single before her graduation.

Come June, Yuka Miyazaki had her last single with the group, “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? / 25sai Eien Setsu before graduating as well.

Though also in June, the group announced surprising news that new members were joining the group and were revealed to be KSS members Riai Matsunaga Yume Kudo.  Though it seems that H!P wanted to be odd about debuting them and went with having them debut with a rerelease of their previous single, but have the main A-side feature the new girls (and no Yuka), released in October.

And that was pretty much it for Juice=Juice for 2019.

GREAT SONGS

  • Potsurito – I think the song that stood out from the first single of the year, Potsurito was kind of a nice change after “Bitansan”.  Unlike the synthy upbeat dramatic track, Potsurito takes more of a ballad-like stance but uses electronics to kind of spice things up.  It shows mostly in the the chorus where it kind of goes full-on dramatic and kind of hits you hard with its explosion of sounds.  It’s definitey unique for them in the year and really stuck out the longer I listened to it.
  • “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? – As the leading track for the other single, “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” is definitely giving me some anime opening vibes and I’m totally here for it!  With the opening lines held by Karin and seemingly Ruru and Manaka beings leads while everyone else gets their own couple of solos (well Yukanyan only got one, which is sad as this is her final single with the group).  It’s a really good song though and another one of my favorites!
  • “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? (New Vocal Ver.) – I still am kind of disappointed that Riai and Yume pretty much debuted on an already known track, moreso their last single, but I suppose it’s a thing.  With Yuka now having left the group, the line distribution was going to be tossed around, I didn’t think much because Yuka had one solo, but I wasn’t expecting the other group members getting different lines.  For example, Ruru opens the song up instead of Karin.  Honestly, I was here to get a sample of what the new members would sound like and honestly Riai and Yume fit in like a glove in this song, both having some good vocals and sass that matches up with the rest of Juice=Juice.  Still a great song overall!

OK SONGS

  • Bitansan – Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I’ve heard this song a couple times in Juice=Juice’s catalog like in “Kaze ni Fukarete”.  I’m surprised to hear this kind of sound return and I kind of enjoyed that I heard a lot of Karin, Manaka, Tomoko, and even Ruru here.  Though if I had to say something, I feel almost the same way as I did about ANGERME’s “Watashi wo Tsukeru no wa Watashi” in that it’s kind of a safe song for the group.  Though it’s not bad in any shape.
  • Good bye & Good luck! – So of course, the 3rd A-side from their early 2019 single was going to focus on Nanami Yanagawa who was graduating.  Not quite sure if I like Nanami’s solo for the intro, but once the song gets going the tune is pretty happy and definitely was nice to hear all the members singing in a hoppy way.  As a sendoff song, it wasn’t bad and its cutesy side was a nice change after two rather solemn tracks.
  • 25sai Eien Setsu – There was no surprise that Yuka was going to get a sendoff song in her final single and 25sai Eien Setsu (like “Good bye & Good luck!”) is kind of more of a happier sounding song (seems like these songs this year all kind of felt that way).  This one doesn’t bother me much because Yuka gets a lot of time to sing (between duets and solos towards the end).  Actually she’s the only one to get solos in the song so yay for that.  That said, while cute these kind of songs just kind of go over me.  Not bad, but not entirely memorable.

Predictions from 2018

Besides Yanamin & Yukanyan graduating, I’m actually unsure what’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll have 3 singles?

Actuality: Yeah there really was nothing I could predict out of Juice=Juice last year besides the graduations that had already been announced.  Though the group only had two singles released (that re-release doesn’t count in my eyes).  Oooph.

Predictions for 2020: I wanna say that Riai and Yume’s actual first single (that isn’t a blah re-release) will be pretty strong and will show more of what they’re capable of.  I don’t think they’ll add more members, but I do think Kanatomo may be thinking of graduation if not Miyamoto as well (with her surge of solo content she’s been performing).

Country Girls

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One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~ _ Natsuiro no Paletteseasonscountrygirlsdaizenshuu

Country Girls’ 2019 was going well right up until the end of the year basicallys lol.  The year for the group began in March when they released their first mini-album, Seasons, which had the digital songs they released in the last two years, a new song (which was a send-off for Yanamin) and an updated classic before Nanami Yanagawa‘s graduation

The group went back into silence up until the Summer concerts and released a new digital single in August, One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~ / Natsuiro no Palette.

Then October happened when they announced that the group would be disbanding at the end of December.  It’s pretty much because both Risa Yamaki Mai Ozeki will be graduating from H!P on 12/26 to do other things (Risa is also leaving College Cosmos too).  On top of that news, Musubu Funaki would also be graduating, but it seems she’s leaving in 2020 so I won’t talk about that.  As for Chisaki, she will remain in Morning Musume.

It was followed up shortly with the announcement of their best album, Country Girls Daizenshuu ① which had 99% of their discography on it before finally disbanding.

GREAT SONGS

  • Zutto Zutto – For whatever reason, the intro of the song gives me jungle vibes, but it turns into a cool Tsunku-led track here.  Though once Chisaki enters the song, it kind of becomes a happier sounding track with a nice beat and some good vocals throughout.  It feels interesting as a song and the bits where it sounds like a Donkey Kong game is really interesting too.  For being the group’s final song, they went out with a solid track!

OK SONGS

  • Itooshikutte Gomen ne (’19 five girls version) – “Season’s” other interesting track was an updated version of the group’s debut song.  Of course since only half of the group was present in the original (Risa, Mai, and Chisaki), I was curious to hear a version that also included Musubu and Nanami. For the most part it’s OK and hearing Yanamin get Utachan’s opening line was not surprising in the least.  It’s still Itooshikutte Gomen ne, but I feel like I miss the original’s raw vocal talent from the newbies and hearing Momochi’s vocals as well. Decent as it gets though!
  • One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~ – I was surprised that this kind of came out of nowhere for the group considering they were promoting and performing “Natsuiro no Palette” for a bit prior yet this one was the one that got the PV.  I was surprised that the song’s initial feeling reminded me of a 90’s sitcom with the arrangement and that added saxophone.  I do remember hearing a LOT of Mai and Funakki in the song that’s for sure I think this was where I noticed Mai’s lisp was kind of going away?  Regardless, this was a nice song from the now quartet!
  • Natsuiro no Palette – So the track that we got to hear during the Summer concerts, Natsuiro no Palette was kind of one of those tracks that just kind of exists for the group as it’s kind of cutesy but it has synths and whatnot.  I enjoyed the lighter vibes, but it feels almost throwaway for whatever reason.
  • Hajimete no Happy Birthday! (2015 Country Girls Ver.) – I wasn’t expecting UFP to be hiding some unreleased tracks from when the group was in its beginnings.  Of course it wasn’t surprising that they’d cover popular Country Musume songs here.  I also have to remember this was recorded 4 years ago.  Hearing Uta again is kind of nice and she sounds better here than she did in her debut and with Mai and Chisaki leading alongside her, it made for a good cover.  Even the updated arrangement fits nicely along too.  Overall, good job here.
  • Uwaki na Honey Pie (2015 Country Girls Ver.) – While it didn’t share the updated arrangement like “Hajimete no Happy Birthday!” it’s stil Uwaki na Honey Pie which is great because it is a good song.  Though, I can’t explain while vocals are good, they aren’t quite as strong.  Still, I had a good time listening to this again and happy to see Uta did record more before leaving the group.

MEH SONGS

  • Yowaki Joshi Taibu Todoke – As the only new song on the “Seasons” mini-album, I had mentioned that the new song was a send-off song for Nanami (good lord, is she the only H!P member to get two send-off tracks? I’d say Sayumi Michishige would maybe not count because she got a solo track and a sendoff, but may be the closest).  Sadly, comparing this to her other one, “Good bye & Good luck!”, I don’t think this one came close.  I will say that it is cute and hearing all 5 members get solos (of course Yanamin had the most here).  Still, this feels like almost B-side tier of a track and slightly disappointed it was the only new track.

Predictions from 2018

For next year, the only thing set in stone for the group is Yanagawa’s graduation leaving Country Girls as a quartet. Beyond that, its really up to the company to what they wanna do since it feels like Morito & Funaki are comfortable in their groups while Yamaki does College Cosmos. I guess I’m expecting Ozeki to be placed in a group though. As for releases, maybe 2 songs?

Actuality: Well, I mean most of that came true in some sort of way with Morito and Funaki releasing more under their other groups, but I’m happy we got more than 2 songs from Country Girls despite the knowledge that they’d be disbanding at the end of the year.

Predictions for 2020: While we were given a sliver of a chance that the group could be revived down the road, I think for now closing this chapter is fine.  If the revival happens does happen, I hope it’s for a good reason!

Kobushi Factory

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ohnoounoukobushidainimaku

I think of all the units in H!P, I feel like Kobushi Factory had the steadiest year with not a lot of changes happening at all unlike most of the groups (besides BEYOOOOONDS, but they debuted so that don’t count).

Kobushi only had their two releases, April’s Oh No Ounou / Haru Urara single and their October sophomore album, Kobushi Dai Ni Maku.

GREAT SONGS

  • Oh No Ounou – It feels like it’s been a while since Kobushi really had one of those silly songs for the fans (maybe “Kitto Watashi wa” could make a case, but nothing like this.  Ou No Ounou is very much Kobushi Factory with it’s pump-up rockin’ feel, but it adds its humor by these oddly recorded ~oh nos~ that make me chuckle at how they’re delivered in the song.  I feel like I now enjoy hearing the members utilizing their more fierce vocals in these kind of tracks and the chorus is bouncy and catchy!  I think I was impressed by Ayapan the most here, her voice is just so gritty here, though I’m loving Minami & Sakurako too!
  • Come with me – Going into the album songs, 5 of the tracks were focus songs (in which each member fronted a song).  Being the first of the new songs from the album, I was curious to see where the group would land as a quintet after the triple loss of members. Being an Ayaka-led song I was happy that it turned out as well as it did with it’s very quick-paced jazz arrangement (almost quickstep maybe?).  Rightfully said though, Ayaka sounds awesome and the rest of the group does too, it just feels so energized of a song and is completely 100 most of the track!
  • Dokan to BREAK! – I think the feelings I had with “Kame ni Nare!” seemed to be fixed with this heavy rock song and I’m kind of loving the vocal prowess of all 5 members here.  It just feels so open and the girls have such an open field to really let themselves go and I appreciate that about this track.  One of the standouts from the album like “Come with me”.
  • Ashita no Watashi wa Kyo Yori Kirei – Saving Hamachan’s song towards the end of the album, I was loving that it opened with just acoustic guitar and the girls singing along and it was just nice to hear Ayano singing alongside everyone and then the chorus hits and the harmonies were just pretty to listen to.  Though after that, the song grows more into a more upbeat “Haru Urara” and I’m pretty ok with that especially since it came with a nice guitar solo.  Really solid end to the album if not ruined because of the bonus track a bit.
  • Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin (Acapella Ver.) – If the hint from “Nen ni wa Nen” wasn’t enough the album had a second disc of 6 acapella versions of songs.  I had wondered what possibly Kobushi could pull off here.  After the previous effort, I had high hopes and Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin is a nice change of pace as it showed a bit more complexity in their style.  My only qualm is that Hamachan leads more of the lyrics which is a bit disappointing for not showing off the other 4 members in a better light.  Still, pretty impressive!
  • Sakura Night Fever (Acapella Ver.) – Ok, I didn’t think I wanted this, but after hearing it, I feel like this was the song that could’ve suited this acapella facelift and it’s got a lot of nice harmonies and just good sounds throughout.  I mean Ayano is still leading, but the other members have a lot to do in this one and it just feels full and together.  Definitely the best of the acapella tracks!

OK SONGS

  • Haru Urara – Being their spring song, Haru Urara was a softer change of pace after “Oh No Ounou” and maybe could’ve been a song from their last couple of singles, but I think this was a rather nice track for the group.  Hamachan actually sounded pretty nice.  It’s pretty above good here and this was what I was hoping Kobushi would do for a more serious song rather than tracks like “Naseba Naru”.
  • Nen ni wa Nen (Acapella Ver.) – Kind of a nice extra from the single (and a slight hint of what’s to come within the year from the group) we get an acapella take of their debut indies single!  I’m pretty surprised it happened but the turnout wasn’t a total bomb and the quintet managed to keep up especially with the beatboxing from I think Reirei!  Interesting take on the song that’s for sure.
  • Suki Kamo Shirenai – It’s funny what I first listened to this song (which is Rei-lead), it was pulling my brain at how similar the song was sounding to some other H!P tracks in the library to me.  Though it clearly dawned on me that it’s super familiar to Juice=Juice’s “Bitansan” and that was released earlier in the ear so sadly my interest kind of waned a bit.  Coming back to it for the end of the year, it still gives me those vibes, but I also feel like the melody is better set up for Rei and (especially those verses when Hamachan changes tones from minor to major).  Beyond that it’s almost a clone song…
  • Hirakinaocchae! – Getting into Minami’s leading track, Hirakinaocchae! of the 5 kind of stands on its own as a Kobushi track because it’s purely a pop/rock song that’s for sure.  I have to say, watching Minami grow as a singer has been a smooth but noticeable ride and she has stable vocals when you get down to it and a song like this is a great place for her.  Still not terribly a song I’d go back to too often, but enough that I wouldn’t be bothered if it came on!
  • Unlucky no Jijou – Sakurako is up next with her focus track and this one definitely comes off sounding like a good ending theme to an anime for the reasons of pop/rock with piano/strings in the background.  Sakurako does sound nice and she’s also getting better as a singer and catching up to the rest of the group.  It might not be as good as “Come with me” or even “Hirakinaocchae!”, but I’d say I’d enjoyed this one as much.
  • Kame ni Nare! – Another song that features the members equally (the songs performed a while before the album was even announced), Kame ni Nare! to me feels like the “TEKI” of the album where the group is just rockin’ out and having a great all time, especially since there’s chants in it too (which worked better than in “Yes! We are family”.  It is a little frantic which is why it’s not higher for me, but it’s okee.
  • Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa (2019 ver.) – I mean I get why this was updated for the album (due to Rio, Rena, and Natsumi up and leaving two years ago and somehow “Eejanaika Ninjanaika” was omitted as well from the album) but I feel like Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa didn’t need this because it sounded a bit better in the original cut versus this one.  It’s still a decent ska song, but just leaves a slightly bitter taste for me being included and updated to just have the 5 remaining members.
  • GO TO THE TOP!! (Acapella Ver.) – Despite GO TO THE TOP!! not being one of the more memorable songs from “Kobushi Sono Ichi”, I kind of figured it was going to happen since they were already doing acapella performances with the song prior to the album.  I really loved the opening with the harmonies and the song itself was pretty cool with the beatboxing, but once again so much Hamachan…
  • Samba! Kobushi Janeiro 2019 (Acapella Ver.) – I had to research on what the 2019 had meant because it was the only one on this disc that had the year date placed in the title, but it seems like the lyrics were changed a bit (to be a little less about the Rio Olympics I suppose?).  I do like that the other members got to do a little more but Ayano is still kind of leading this.  I think of the 6 acapella songs, this was the weakest of them.  Just didn’t wow me like the others.

MEH SONGS

  • Keseyashinai Kimochi – Once again, I feel like Kobushi Factory is kind of trying to get their own cut of another Juice=Juice song, this time from “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”.  Meaning it’s kind of an upbeat funky song, though this one is a bit slower and has a bit more of a laidback fun kind of vibe.  Not quite sure why, but the song just doesn’t quite come together for me as well as others from the album.
  • Yes! We are family ~Kobushi ver.~ & ~FC Machida Zelvia ver.~ – Not quite sure why this kind of tossed the flow of the album off, but Yes! We are family is kind of the cheer song of the album and while it I’m liking hearing a lot of Ayaka here again, the song feels lacking in energy and power.  Not really all that intriguing of a song and the FC Machida Zelvia is the same arrangement, just different lyrics so it really didn’t help much to elevate things here.  Although, I was surprised it ended with the “Nen ni wa Nen” melody.
  • LOVE Machine (Acapella Ver.) – It’s funny that Kobushi would tackle Morning Musume’s classic, LOVE Machine in an acapella form, but that definitely made me curious. After hearing it, I’m kind of torn between liking it because it’s impressive, but also kind of slightly turned off because of it too. I do feel that of the 6, this does have some instrumental help (the synth line before the verses is very modified sounding). Plus it just doesn’t have that kick to it that the original had which makes this a little one note to me. I just don’t care for it I guess.

Predictions from 2018

Just to be more active again, while I don’t know if there close to a sophomore album, or even gaining new members (considering the ONLY YOU audition), it’s a little bit of a mystery to what’s next for Kobushi Factory.

Actuality: I would say they were more active but it was only one single and their album, so a bit more you could say.  No new members oddly enough, but still going strong as the 5 for now!

Predictions for 2020: It’s still a mystery what’s really going on in Kobushi Factory, I mean they’re still doing fine as the 5 and no one seems to be truly close to graduation, so anything can really happen for them (3 singles maybe?)

Tsubaki Factory

tsubaki2019

sankaimenodateshinwanineteenharukanaru

If I had to give the bad luck trophy out this year, it would definitely have to go to Tsubaki Factory because they only released a measly 4 songs this year (ignoring the OST).

While they were still promoting their first album in the beginning of the year, Tsubaki Factory wouldn’t come back until February with the first single, Sankaime no Date Shinwa / Fuwari, Koi Dokei.

Things seemed alright up until May when it was announced that Kiki Asakura was once again going to take a hiatus for the same problem she had last year, but this time it seems that it affected the group because they only released a digital single in August, Nineteen no Shinkirou (’19 Summer Ver.).

The only other thing the group really released was their DVD+CD release of their Summer stageplay Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 6 Gaiden ~Tasogare no Kamen~ and the announcement that Kiki would return for their next single in 2020.

GREAT SONGS

  • Fuwari, Koi Dokei – Unlike the brash “Sankaime no Date Shinwa”, Fuwari, Koi Dokei comes off as a softer song from the 9-nin and I’ve been appreciating the group doing more slower songs as of late.  There’s just something really relaxing and the end of the choruses with the ticking-clock sounds is neat and adds to the atmosphere.  It’s sad that it’s my favorite of the 4 songs they released this year, but at least this one ranks up their with some of their bests.

OK SONGS

  • Sankaime no Date Shinwa – As the leading A-side, Sankaime no Date Shinwa just immediately kicks things into gear with a rather aggressive dance/guitar riff that shockingly catches me off guard.  Though the song is pretty much a harder take of something like “Hana Moyou” or even “Junjou cm”.  I’m kind of liking the rockin’ additions, but I feel something isn’t right?  Maybe it’s the transition from choruses to verses?  I don’t know, but it’s a little messy in places but it is pretty energetic.
  • Mou Saikou! – I was wondering when we’d get the TROLLS songs (the other one is going to be on their 2020 single >.>), but Mou Saikou! was the B-side from their lone single of the year.  I really can’t put into words how I feel because it isn’t a H!P song (more of a cover with their lyrics).  It’s really hard to see Tsubaki Factory given such a girly and anison-ish song (honestly, feels like it could’ve been an old S/mileage song).  It’s sugary sweet and just genki af, but I suppose it works for Tsubaki in a strange way.

MEH SONGS

  • Nineteen no Shinkirou (’19 Summer Ver.) – I didn’t think they’d perform a new song in the Summer tours, but more surprised they’d release it without Kiki in the song (because of her hiatus).  Though it does feel like one of those encore songs meant for end performances because of the energy and the pop/rock arrangement of it all.  Not really my cup of tea and the vocals aren’t exactly impressing me here either.  Just curious if they’ll change it in 2020 (since it’s a B-side to their single and brings Kiki back in).

Predictions from 2018

I really don’t know actually. After their first album, it’s really open for anything from additions to graduations, but I’m hoping for 2 singles at least (and maybe get those Trolls songs released).

Actuality: Well even for the simple guess for at least 2 singles, it didn’t really come true since it was just only one physical and one digital single.  Though we did get one of the two TROLLS tracks so I suppose that’s fair!

Predictions for 2020: 3 singles, especially since they’re the first group to release a single in 2020, so I hope UFP doesn’t get lazy!

BEYOOOOONDS (CHICA#TETSU, Ame no Mori Kawa Umi)

beyooooonds2019

meganenotokonokofushiginokuninoalivebeyooooond1st

FINALLY!, we have a new group and bless that they finally got BEYOOOOONDS to do things besides only perform at lives.  Granted they didn’t start until May with a little preview in the form of a short OST for their stageplay, Fushigi no Kuni no Alice-tachi.

Though their debut single was up shortly awhile later in August with Megane no Otoko no Ko / Nippon no D・N・A! / Go Waist which was apparently good enough that right after in November they released their first album, BEYOOOOOND1St.

As for the sub-groups, they both got 2 songs each but they’re in BEYOOOOONDS’ releases so I’ll just throw them in here since it’s related.

GREAT SONGS

  • Megane no Otoko no Ko – As the group’s first song ever performed, it was fair to have it be their debut A-side (or at least 1/3rd of it).  When I first heard it, I was curious because it was given a story (which explains it’s lengthy intro to the track, with the dialogue starting with Momohime and leading to the rest of the group acting out the story before the song actually begins).  I already had found myself loving it’s quick-paced EDM sound and the fact that I hear most of the group get solos (Miyo, Honoka, and Utano were added after this song was first performed, so they have like no lines here sadly).  Still, I love the fire behind the track and I really liked the goofiness overall, great debut song!
  • Nippon no D・N・A! – Though since the other two A-sides were brand new to listeners, I was very intrigued to hearing them and the 2nd A-side of the single was shockingly pretty catchy in all the right ways!  With the song opening with Miyo pretty much shouting lines before the group goes into this cool sound for its verses before it gets to its incredibly catchy chorus.  The only thing that really threw me off was after the first chorus where Minami & Kokoro have their spoken sections, it felt strange tbh, but I still think the song is pretty rad and showed of BEYOOOOONDS as a cool group too.
  • Go Waist – Not sure what was going on but when I heard that Go Waist was a humorous tune that uses the melody of a song originally sung by The Village People, I was a little worried, but I feel like Go Waist is a song that may have could’ve been done years ago in H!P.  It’s definitely the poppiest of the 3 A-sides, but there’s something about it that makes it stand out.  Maybe the catchy chorus, or even the bridge where it completely changes genres and Saya takes over (even if it’s spoken dialogue).  Still, this is even goofier than “Megane no Otoko no Ko” and I appreciate this kind of song even if it’s part of their debut!
  • Atsui! – I was initially wondering why they had left this song off their single (because it was performed before their debut single for quite a while, but I guess UFP wanted to keep this to promote the album and boy did it end up being a pretty standout choice!  I definitely was not expecting the group to go all-in on the hard rock genre, but this was a POWERFUL and loud song for them (especially when you consider the blunt lyrics) too.  From the nice piano intro from Honorin to just the in your face atmosphere of the tune itself, I was floored and impressed!  I did like they kind of went meta for the bridge with Rika, Minami, and Saya talking about that being the only slowdown of the song…it’s just full of personality and it really impressed me!
  • We Need a Name! – I was so happy to see Miyo, Honoka, and Utano actually get a track to themselves (considering none of the three are in Ame no Mori Kawa Umi or CHICA#TETSU, which is what this song is kind of about).  Seeing as the trio is thinking of a name to call themselves they made it into a song and we just have a good time here.  I’m loving that Miyo is that first to sing followed by Honoka before the tune opens up into this kind of showtunes-y kind of sound.  It’s another humorous but it really shows off the members (especially Honoka’s piano skills).  Yeah, this was a nice surprise, although I’m questioning how I feel about Utano’s vocals.
  • Kinoko Takenoko Daisenki – I was raising an eyebrow when I saw the meaning of this track and had to know what this was going to entail and I was NOT disappointed in this one because it’s trying to be a mixture of a lot of styles for this rather epic track (reminding me of S/mileage’s “Shin Nippon no Susume!” with the shifting styles and just overall randomness yet epicness it had.  I really loved every part of the song and is rather unique for H!P.
  • Gannen Bungee Jump – Unlike the jazzier vibes of the track before it, “Koi no O-swing”, Gannen Bungee Jump adds a bit more funk and upbeat energy and I quite found myself enjoying hearing the members having fun here and the arrangement is just bright and energetic and kept me tapping my foot.  I mean that’s what it’s all about and it’s one of the more surprisingly good tunes here.
  • Renai Bugyo – Though I think Renai Bugyo was the nicest track to be added, being a bit more EDM-centric and more following the current trends other than some of the Japanese sounds that filter throughout.  I don’t think it’s enough to be Parapara, but it’s sound would fit DDR games.  Not sure why I get Minimoni vibes here, but this was a pretty fun song to listen to.

OK SONGS

  • GIRL ZONE – As the first Ame no Mori Kawa Umi song song we got, when H!P said this group was going to be more theatrical based, I wasn’t expecting GIRL ZONE to be what the group got.  It’s a little more harder than anything BEYOOOOONDS had up to this point with the grittier electric sound it had, but I do enjoy the aggressive natureof the verses (even if the slight falsetto is unusual).  I think where the song slightly loses me is its chorus which is odd happier-sounding than what the verses show off.  Still, the song is still pretty cool and RFRO did a pretty good job here.
  • Bunkasai Jikkou Iinchou no Koi – Just like “Megane no Otoko no Ko”, this B-side actually opens with a minute-long skit intro which I feel like may work in live performances, but in studio recordings, it’s a bit too much for me to take interest in.  Once the song kicks in it does kind of remind me of a slower and more controlled “Atsui!”.  It’s less frenetic and the arrangement kind of gives me Buono! vibes, but totally its own thing.  Still, it’s not the most memorable song either and just flies by.
  • Toei Oedo-sen no Roppongi Eki de Dakishimete – CHICA#TETSU closes out the single with their first song and immediately it was giving me some nostalgic H!P vibes like from the days of S/mileage (“Short Cut” comes to mind).  It’s also unlike any other track off the single because it pushes CHICA#TETSU as the cutesy group with this song.  Plus the 4 members sound really nice together and the tune altogether is just pleasant!
  • Takanawa Gateway Eki ga Dekiru Koro ni wa – At the point when I saw CHICA#TETSU get another song and it also had to do with a train station like the above track, I kind of toted them as the train unit lol!  I feel like when I listen to this track, it does keep up the cutesy feel that started in “Toei Oedo-sen no Roppongi Eki de Dakishimete” but it has a 70’s pop track kind of groove that lets it stand out a bit.  Not sure which of the CHICA#TETSU’s songs ended up better, but I think these two work together.
  • Koi no O-swing – Another song that I was OK with, Koi no O-swing takes more of the big band/jazz style here and I was surprised at how classy and yet was surprised with the vocals they chose (going for more of the higher sounding girls).  I think I heard a lot of Minami and Rika for some reason I think they’re the main vocalists for this track on top of Honoka and Saya.  It’s a nice song and a lot more chill than many of the other songs on the album!
  • Nobishiro ~Beyond the World~ – As the album’s closer, Nobishiro unsurprisingly takes up as the group’s first ballad and it’s pretty slow-paced but slightly soulful so it has a bit more of a sway to it versus other ballads as of recent.  It’s nice that it isn’t a total borefest and it even changes midway to a more upbeat tune.  It really wraps up the album with a pretty bow I’d say.

MEH SONGS

  • OOOOOVERTURE – Not sure what I was expecting as the introduction to the album, but it definitely wasn’t something dramatic and grandiose as this with a full orchestra.  I think it may have been a humorous choice to do this, but it definitely doesn’t work especially since “Atsui!” was the next track on the album anyways, I did love the way how the choir closes it with them chanting ~BEYOOOOONDS~ over and over before it ends, otherwise…I could’ve lived without it.
  • Sokora no Yatsu to wa Onaji ni Saretakunai – I was caught off guard with how sudden it opens up with those quickly sung lyrics for this 2nd Ame no Mori Kawa Umi track.  While it does continue to make RFRO look more like the cooler group in comparison to CHICA#TETSU, I wasn’t as impressed with this song as I was with “GIRL ZONE”. I do like the guitar solo in the track that almost rivals “Atsui!”, but then it’s back to those smushed lyrics the precedes the verses.  I don’t know, I’m just not into this one from the album.
  • Sayokyoku “Megane no Otoko no Ko” – While I do know and respect this was a Honoka solo piece as she’s only playing piano in this short interlude, I think placing before “Megane no Otoko no Ko” which already had a lengthy opening section was kind pouring salt on the wound.  I will say I did enjoy Honoka’s skills, but I think like with “OOOOOVERTURE” I could’ve lived without it.

Predictions from 2018

I wouldn’t be surprised if the first couple of releases will be under BEYOOOOONDS before they debut as their own group, I’m curious about what name Miyo, Honoka, and Utano’s group will inherit (and yay a new trio group!).

Actuality: I was sort of right with the fact that BEYOOOOONDS would take front and center for the releases while the sub-units are kind of secondary, not quite sure if those two/three groups will get separate, physical own releases in the new year or not.  Still no name for the trio though, if “We Need a Name!” is anything to go by LOL.

Prediction for 2020: With BEYOOOOONDS now passed their first album, I feel like UFP will promote them a lot in 2020 hopefully with no losses and maybe a name for the trio (it’ll be funny what they’ll do with their song should it happen).  Not sure if RFRO or CHICA#TETSU will get their own release, but I’d like to see a dual release.

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Unit

HPKUnit-FCEventCheerful

If I had thought BEYOOOOONDS was going to be the last group introduced for a while (considering how long it took for the group come together), we get a strange and interesting announcement in July

The H!PKSS Unit formed of Kirara Yonemura, Nanami Kubota, Ruru Kanemitsu, Madoka Saito, and Kanami Ishiguri was announced but was also stated the members could be pulled out and others may join.

Most of the year had them perform in different live concerts with not a HEAVY amount of work for them to do really.

Though the biggest news was towards the end of the year in late December, Ruru Kanemitsu had left the company and unit, leaving them at 4.

Predictions for 2020: I’m sensing something will be announced that has to deal with them in 2020 whether it’d be a replacement to Ruru’s open spot, an indies single, or even an actual debut…it’s an open case right now.  Interested though to see if they get their own music in the new year.

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei / Kenshuusei Hokkaido

KSS19KSSH19

Despite the Kenshuusei didn’t release any music (they did perform 3 new songs, but no actual release for them yet), they were still pretty busy this year!

It begun in January when it was announced that Sakiko Kodama had left and that Hokkaido member, Minori Kawano would go on hiatus (which is as of the end of the year, still happening).  Then in April, Mei Kusunoki would also leave the program.

June came along and Riai Matsunaga and Yume Kudo would end up joining Juice=Juice as well as Mei Yamazaki joining Morning Musume ’19 and in July, Rin Hashisako joining ANGERME.

In the same month of July, the Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Unit was formed (as mentioned above).

Though closing July, it was announced that Anna Shutto, Kotomi Ono, and Hikari Sato had finished their training.

August comes around and we get a boost of new members joining the Kenshuusei; Ruri Hiromoto, Honoka Hashida, Miku Nishizaki, Yuki Hirayama, Momo Kitahara, Kisaki Ebata, Runo Yofuu, Hasami Uemura, Ayana Murakoshi, and Ririka Hashimoto (Hashimoto joining the remaining Hokkaido girls) joined up.

December also brought two more girls to the Hokkaido branch: Karin Nishimura and Hina Shibuya and at the end of the month, Ruru Kanemitsu would leave the program.

Other H!P Releases

choiakudevilkoisurusakanahentotteokinooshareDoushite Bokura wa Yaruki ga Nai no katenshinonamida

Wow! for the first time since the first entry of the series, 2019 didn’t have a Petit Best release, but we did have a couple interesting releases that fell into this category.

Two releases happened at the end of March, first was a rather jaw-dropping surprise of a release from W, Choi Waru Devil which contained both their cancelled single and some tracks that were planned to be on their also cancelled 3rd album.

The other was from a new, but super short-lived SATOUMI unit consisting of Sayuki Takagi, Yumeno Kishimoto, ex H!P members Maimi Yajima, Saki Nakajima and UFP artist Marina Okada (which would be her final release before she left the company the next day).  They released the digital-only single, Koisuru! Sakana-hen.

The rest of the other releases were solo digital singles from Rina Katsuta in September (Totteoki no Oshare wo Shite), Karin Miyamoto in October (Doushite Bokura wa Yaruki ga Nai no ka) and Kana Nakanishi in December (Tenshi no Namida) for both ANGERME members, it was their graduation solo song and for Karin….just for the hell of it?  She performed in a solo live tour and performed a bunch of new songs and just released one of them digitally.

GREAT SONGS

  • Choi Waru Devil – It still wows me that W surprised their fans prior to their momumental return at Hina Fest with this release.  Though it seemed this tune was familiar to me for some reason considering this was supposed to be the B-side of the single (“Dou ni mo Tomaranai” was the leading track before the single’s cancellation).  Though it was later seen sung by Nono in her solo album as “Chibi Deviwl”.  Hearing the original cut with Nono & Aibon was just nostalgic and must be noted that their vocals are from before the hiatus/disbandment so I did have to get used to that and surprised they just kept the old vocals for the entire release.  I really liked the Halloween-esque vibes here and the duo sound quirky and fun as they should be.  It’s still a pretty neat song from the duo and nice to see H!P/UFP closing W’s chapter with the things that we were missing.
  • Harusaki Kobeni – So the 3rd song from the single started on cover songs that were planned for their cancelled 3rd album and I was curious to what we had missed out on.  Harusaki Kobeni is kind of W doing the cute shtick with the arrangement being a bit more girly and breezy.  I really like the sound of it and them using that whispy tone like they did in “Robokiss” was cool too!  Very nice tune!

OK SONGS

  • Dou ni mo Tomaranai – So this was the A-side we were supposed to get after “Miss Love Tantei” huh?  Granted, the song was a cover (and I’ve known this song because Morning Musume covered it on their “COVER YOU” album).  I had to pull my mind and feeling to when this should’ve released and this would’ve been the weakest A-side after the other two singles that were in that “W3: faithful” era.  It’s an OK cover song and suits the duo since they were well known for their covers.
  • Kojin Jugyo – Other than “Dou ni mo Tomaranai”, Kojin Jugyo was a song I was familiar with (misono’s cover) and so I had that to think about when I heard this song.  The tune is a bit more rockin’ than other tracks they had but it also included some idol horns to add that touch.  I’m liking both Aibon’s and Nono’s vocals here and they gave a pretty lively performance.
  • Koisuru! Sakana-hen – I was sure the SATO series was dead, but then they surprised us with this digital single (which was released simultaneously with the W single as well).  I had wondered if this had counted as an H!P released since there was more non-H!P involved versus the two that were involved.  The tune was overall OK , simple, cute , and upbeat and keeps that going throughout, it did remind me of “Mou Saikou!” though.  I did like they gave Marina solos considering it was her last song under UFP.  Not bad for a SATO song though.
  • Totteoki no Oshare wo Shite – I know, this song was on ANGERME’s last single of the year, but this was released almost 3 months earlier digitally so I decided to place it here.  With this being Rinapuu’s solo before she graduated, I was happy she got her chance to shine with this one and it’s funny because this artsy, poppy tune gives me deja vu moments to Sayumi Michshige’s graduation song, “Shabadabadoo~”.  It’s cutesy, bouncy, and just sugary all over.  I kind of liked it though, but it might be because Rinapuu was my bias in ANGERME.
  • Doushite Bokura wa Yaruki ga nai no ka – Like I said above, Karin had a solo tour and she debuted a lot of tracks during it, but I was pretty bummed that only one of them had a release, more or less digitally.  The tune is kind of a pop/rock with a lot of piano involved which is nice and Karin’s voice is still pretty nice to hear.  Still, I was kind of middle-of-the-road with it because it’s not as upbeat or as loud as it could be.

MEH SONGS

  • Uchi ni Kagitte Sonna Koto wa nai Hazu – I think of the 5 songs featured on the W single, this Chisato Moritaka cover wasn’t quite as interesting to me, but it did have an interesting kind of surfer groove to it which did make it stand out, but it just doesn’t feel interesting and I don’t think the duo had solos, well except for the small section in the bridge.  Don’t know, it just didn’t really do anything for me.
  • Tenshi no Namida – So towards the end of the year after her last single with ANGERME released with no fanfare for her upcoming graduation, Kanana slipped this song digitally a few days before she left.  Unlike Rina’s song, Kana’s is pop/rock basicness here and sadly I’m not as intrigued by it on top of Kanana’s weird vocal tone used here (I personally like her lower tones, so this kind of mid-to-high tone is just a bit cringe.  Granted I didn’t get a LOT of time with this song, but I already knew this was forgettable.

Gains / Losses

GAINS

  • Yume Kudo (to Juice=Juice)
  • Riai Matsunaga (to Juice=Juice)
  • Mei Yamazaki (to Morning Musume ’19)
  • Homare Okamura
  • Rio Kitagawa
  • Rin Hashisako (to ANGERME)
  • Ruri Hiromoto
  • Honoka Hashida
  • Miku Nishizaki
  • Yuki Hirayama
  • Momo Kitahara
  • Kisaki Ebata
  • Runo Yofuu
  • Ayana Murakoshi
  • Hasumi Uemura
  • Ririka Hashimoto
  • Karin Nishimura
  • Hina Shibuya

LOSSES

  • Sakiko Kodama
  • Nanami Yanagawa
  • Mei Kusunoki
  • Yuka Miyazaki
  • Ayaka Wada
  • Kotomi Ono
  • Anna Shutto
  • Hikari Sato
  • Rina Katsuta
  • Kana Nakanishi
  • Risa Yamaki
  • Mai Ozeki
  • Ruru Kanemitsu

My H!P Member Ranking for 2019

  • 65. Homare Okamura (NEW)
  • 64. Ayano Kawamura (-12)
  • 63. Haruka Oota (-12)
  • 62. Momona Kasahara (-13)
  • 61. Rin Hashisako (NEW)

 

  • 60. Reina Yokoyama (-9)
  • 59. Yuka Miyazaki (-19)
  • 58. Minami Okamura (-12)
  • 57. Ami Tanimoto (-5)
  • 56. Ayumi Ishida (-11)

 

  • 55. Rio Kitagawa (NEW)
  • 54. Riko Yamagishi (-1)
  • 53. Erina Ikuta (-18)
  • 52. Layla Ise (+6)
  • 51. Maria Makino (-8)

 

  • 50. Nanami Yanagawa (-27)
  • 49. Mei Yamazaki (NEW)
  • 48. Utano Satoyoshi (+11)
  • 47. Risa Yamaki (-3)
  • 46. Saori Onoda (-14)

 

  • 45. Rika Shimakura (-3)
  • 44. Kana Nakanishi (-8)
  • 43. Ayaka Wada (-9)
  • 42. Reina Ichioka (-5)
  • 41. Shiori Nishida (+11)

 

  • 40. Kisora Niinuma (-12)
  • 39. Riai Matsunaga (NEW)
  • 38. Yume Kudo (NEW)
  • 37. Kurumi Takase (-7)
  • 36. Ayano Hamaura (-11)

 

  • 35. Akane Haga (+13)
  • 34. Miki Nonaka (-3)
  • 33. Miyo Hirai (+28)
  • 32. Manaka Inaba (-5)
  • 31. Rina Katsuta (-12)

 

  • 30. Saya Eguchi (+24)
  • 29. Chisaki Morito (+4)
  • 28. Mao Akiyama (-6)
  • 27. Honoka Kobayashi (+33)
  • 26. Karin Miyamoto (-2)

 

  • 25. Minami Nomura (-4)
  • 24. Mai Ozeki (+17)
  • 23. Rikako Sasaki (-5)
  • 22. Kokoro Maeda (+17)
  • 21. Kiki Asakura (-4)

 

  • 20. Akari Uemura (0)
  • 19. Risa Ogata (-5)
  • 18. Sakurako Wada (+8)
  • 17. Yuhane Yamazaki (+21)
  • 16. Masaki Sato (0)

 

  • 15. Mizuho Ono (-6)
  • 14. Momohime Kiyono (+15)
  • 13. Moe Kamikokuryo (-5)
  • 12. Rei Inoue (+3)
  • 11. Yumeno Kishimoto (-6)

 

  • 10. Musubu Funaki (-4)
  • 9. Mizuki Murota (-5)
  • 8. Sayuki Takagi (+4)
  • 7. Ayaka Hirose (+6)
  • 6. Kaede Kaga (+5)

 

  • 5. Mizuki Fukumura (+5)
  • 4. Ruru Dambara (+3)
  • 3. Tomoko Kanazawa (-1)
  • 2. Akari Takeuchi (+1)
  • 1. Sakura Oda (0)

Kenshuusei

  • Minori Kawano
  • Karin Nishimura
  • Hina Shibuya
  • Ruri Hiromoto
  • Honoka Hashida
  • Miku Nishizaki
  • Yuki Hiriyama
  • Momo Kitahara
  • Kisaki Ebata
  • Runo Yofuu
  • Ayana Murakoshi
  • Hasami Uemura
  • Ririka Hashimoto
  • Nanami Kubota
  • Shion Tamenaga
  • Ichigo Yamada
  • Madoka Saito
  • Karin Onoda
  • Yulia Matsubara
  • Natsume Nakayama
  • Kirara Yonemura
  • Kanami Ishiguri

And there you have it, closing out the decade going through what was a rather bumpy 2019…Let’s hope 2020 fares much better!!!

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Catching up with the H!P news, Gomennasai!

Finally with some time to sit and write about news that I missed out on for the last couple of months, I just wanted to talk about the two big ones that are happening towards the end of the year!

Kana Nakanishi to graduate in December

nakanashi

At the end of September, with the hype of their next single (being the first with Rin) coming up, it was kind of just announced out of the blue that Kana Nakanishi was going to graduate from H!P in December (the 10th to be exact).  Though with the time between, the single was released and unsurprisingly Kana didn’t get special treatment in her final single (I mean to be fair Katsuta wasn’t a part of the single itself, all she got was her digital song being a bonus to the single).  Still, I felt like Kanana got the end of the short stick to be honest.

Granted, she really never pushed herself in the group so she ended up being kind of forgotten in the more recent ANGERME songs (comparing this to how she was in her S/mileage days with “Yattaruchan” and “Choto Mate Kudasai! and even her solo song in “LILIUM”.

(I guess I should also mentioned that Rinapuu had a pretty nice sendoff, like I said above, she got a solo song “Totteoki no Oshare wo Shite” which was released a couple days before her graduation, digitally.  Though for whatever reason it was thrown on ANGERME’s November single too…almost two months after XD.

Country Girls disbandment…or?

countrygirls19

After releasing their digital single, I thought things might have just go the way the last couple years from them, but in mid-October, it was announced that the group would be disbanding towards the end of the year (12/26).  Though it’s more that, Yamaki and Ozeki are graduating out on that day, with Yamakki, she’ll also be leaving College Cosmos and the entertainment industry on the whole.

The announcement doesn’t end there as Musubu Funaki also announced her graduation from ANGERME in March (meaning she may have a single to go out on).

As for Chiichan, she’ll just remain in Morning Musume (the only member that didn’t have a graduation announcement luckily).

HOWEVER, the “or” of this is that the Up-front director is thinking on adding new members and begin anew…which I feel is a bad idea and kind of just spits on these four that had remained as a group.

 

I’m sure we’ll get some new single announcements during the Winter tour, but these should be the last newsworthy things for 2019!

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Warp back to 2006…Year Recap!

After the rather empty feeling of 2005, I come into 2006 with the hopes that there’ll be more releases and better musics!  So let’s dive in ok?!?

Morning Musume

mm2006

sexyboyambitiousmegamix30aruiteruRainbow 7ribbonnokishi7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini! 28

Morning Musume in 2006 is already looking a bit more busier than they were last year!  Starting in February with the group’s 7th album, Rainbow 7 and a month later with their next single SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~.

Though in April it was announced that 5th Generation members, Makoto Ogawa and Asami Konno would graduate from the group after their next single, Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan released (although Makoto would graduate a little later than Konkon due to stageplay importance from Ribbon no Kishi ,which also got an OST in July).  After Ambitious, there was a special single released to commemorate the group reaching 30 singles with a remix called Morning Musume Mega Mix 30.

Cut to November when the group released Aruiteru which followed by a December mini-album (a Xmas mini) 7.5 Fuyu Furu Morning Musume Mini!.  Though before the mini’s release there was an audition as well and one winner came out from it, a young Aika Mitsui joined!

GREAT SONGS

  • Purple Wind – As one of the album songs to include all 10 members, Purple Wind brings back the fun disco/funk vibes that was kind of more of a big thing a couple years ago for the group and I’m very happy to see its return here.  Liking the fun atmosphere and the ladies all sound really into it too which is a surprise (honestly, this could’ve been an A-side).
  • SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~ – As the first single after “Rainbow 7”, SEXY BOY picked up the pace by releasing a parapara-like song here and I was definitely here for it!  I really like the heavy dance beats and the cool vocals set for this one especially with Ai-chan, Miki, and Reina leading the pack.  It’s just a foot-tapping kind of song and really sticks out in their discography!
  • Odore! Morning Curry – I don’t seem to give credit where it’s due when Morning Musume does a random song just for the hell of it and it sure is a surprise as it’s the B-side from “Aruiteru” which that was a more sentimental and warming song where this is a tune about making good curry XD.  The song’s arrangement is pretty out there and pretty fast-paced and I’m just surprised they let Gaki & Yossie do these aggressive solo lines (the hook).  It’s just a bizarre song and it’s soooo good!

OK SONGS

  • HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN? ~Nihon wa Donna Kanji Dekka?~ – I wasn’t sure how Morning Musume would open their 7th album, but it seems they decided to go hard with HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN?  I was kind of shocked by it all and was liknig the energy.  However, I don’t think the voices really felt edgy enough (especially when you had rather non-gritty vocalists get more lines like Eri, Koharu, and Sayumi).  I think the song could’ve had more Ai-chan, Yossie, and Mikitty instead who can somewhat make it feel powerful.  Still, as the album’s opening track, this was a great way to kick things off!
  • INDIGO BLUE LOVE – It seems the album like some previous ones, once again splits the group into smaller pairings for some of the album tracks.  INDIGO BLUE LOVE only features Reina, Risa, and Eri and I was curious to see how’d this one would turn out.  The tune feels like H!P is finally catching up with its R&B arrangements and they don’t feel so dated.  Add on that all 3 members got equal line distribution so I’m happy to hear both Gaki and Kame get better as singers with this song.  Not bad of a song!
  • Mushoku Toumei na Mama de – So this song (which only had Yossie, Ai-chan, Mako, Konkon, and Mikitty) is actually the album’s ballad and I kind of knew that I was going to slightly enjoy more than other album songs here.  I mean there’s a lot of each member (surprisingly mostly Makoto) here and they carry the song pretty smoothly.  One of the better songs from the album!
  • Chance Chance Boogie – Coming in strong with that big band flavor is “SEXY BOY’s” B-side, Chance Chance Boogie which definitely follows through with the genre.  It’s pretty much to the point and it’s just quick and fun and surprised that the longest solos went to Risa, Eri, Ai, and Sayumi.  Still, the song is fine by B-side standards, but not quite the levels that could push it to the top.
  • Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan – That said, when it came to the next single (which is also Makoto & Asami’s last single, Ambitious wasn’t quite the heavy hitter than I was expecting.  It’s speedy and interesting with its mix of dance & strings, but there’s just something missing here.  I really do like the uplifting chorus and the powerful vocals from (hey, Mako & Konkon get their big lines here).  Still, it’s just not a strong A-side especially as a graduation single for two members.
  • Morning Musume Mega Mix 30 – As a celebration of Morning Musume reaching 30 singles, they released a limited single (like 500 discs?) and of course it included a megamix of all 30 singles in a 14 minute track.  It does start off with a little of “LOVE Machine” and then “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan” but after that it’s in chronological order.  I kind of like that the remixer did a good job being able to connect all 30 songs in some way (if not slightly jarring).  Though not all the songs got the love here (“Koi no Dance Site” wasn’t represented well, “Shabondama” got like one word….like that’s depressing as hell and “Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT!” only got the title as did “Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima” & “THE Manpower!!!” got one line repeated 3 times), but the other songs were represented OK I guess (maybe “LOVE Machine” got a little TOO much love in this megamix honestly.  However, I did like the feat done here and was pretty cool especially with Yossie ending the track with a member roll call, just kind of sucks it’s a rarity in the H!P books.
  • Aruiteru – It’s been a while coming, but Morning Musume hit No.1 on ORICON charts again with Aruiteru which compared to previous A-sides isn’t so vastly different, but yet is in the same way.  With the group as 8 members, Aruiteru is actually kind of a slower song for them, but in the same fashion kind of the happy-go-lucky way of encore songs but this time with the effort put in as an A-side.  It’s just a heartwarming tune although maybe the la-la-las are a bit overdone here but otherwise, yeah not bad for an A-side!
  • Kirakira Fuyu no Shiny G – So as the 2nd track of the Christmas-themed mini-album the group released (first track was “Aruiteru”), we learn that the mini has mostly solo (or small groupings since all members did take part in some fashion).  Reina is the first up with this track and I don’t think it’s a terrible song, but it doesn’t quite live up to standards here.  I do like Reina’s vocals and it’s cute, but I’m not quite sure why I’m not fully into it.
  • Samui Kara Fuyu da Mon! ~Doumokou mo Naissu yo Mikitty~ Miki is the next member to get a Wintry song, but unlike Reina & Ai’s, she’s got some helpers for this song!  Recently created C-ute members, Chisato Okai and Mai Hagiwara.  They don’t get many lines, but their appearance is happily surprising.  Maimai sounds nasally, but I kind of enjoyed Chisa’s tone.  Though the focus is on Miki and she of course sounded great throughout and suits the more upbeat holiday feel.  Not bad!
  • Kotatsu no Uta ~jyuken story~ – Were they going to try to R&B for one of the songs from the mini-album?  I suppose so because this Yossie, Gaki, and Kame track has a bit of a feel to it thats like “INDIGO BLUE LOVE”.  The trio are using more of their sultry voices and it kind of works in a way, I like the quiet whispy vocals.  It’s just classy, but it does feel weird on the mini lol!

MEH SONGS

  • Aozora ga Itsumademo Tsuzuku You na Mirai de Are! – It’s strange we get this song as the 3rd track because it immediately feels like the tune was going to replace “Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru” as that kind of happy-go-lucky encore song that Morning Musume really likes to have.  I will say, this is a little more energetic and whatnot and the only solos went to Gaki, Kame, Ai-chan, and Mikitty.  Still, the song doesn’t quite leave much of an impression and like I said, its placement on the album seems bizarre to me.
  • Sayonara SEE YOU AGAIN Adios BYE BYE Chaccha! – Kind of going for an ethnic vibe for the next track (which is kind of the last of the new songs, because one is a remix and the other is a new version of an older song).  I quite found myself asking why we needed another song that’s probably better used for encores, but it lacks depth because it’s just simple lyrics and the only solos are from spoken dialogue which is a bummer and makes the song unusually long.  Music is catchy, but everything else is just meh.
  • Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wa Ookiizo!~ (Mattaku Sono Toori Remix) – I really didn’t know why they decided to remix Chokkan 2 for the album as its absurd because they took out what was so memorable about the song and left it as an empty husk that’s way too repetitive now with the whole ~souda, souda, souda, mattaku~ all over the song moreso now.  The melody is not even there and it just feels lacking.  Yeah this was a pretty weak remix!
  • Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 3 – Really?!?  A 3rd version of a song that isn’t even 2 years old?  I mean it does try by replacing the saxophone lines with harmonica, but otherwise it’s basically “JKM2” but less Kaori, Mari, Rika and now Koharu was added which made the song even more lazier than normal.  What a poor way to close the album out honestly!
  • Watashi ga Tsuiteru. – As the B-side from “Ambitious!”, Watashi ga Tsuiteru. is just kind of bland in every way possible from the arrangement that almost feels like it’s from their 5th album with that acoustic pop/rock feel and the ladies kind of not really singing but kind of are and overall just kind of feels lame.  Almost like a less interesting “Aozora ga Itsumademo Tsuzuku You na Mirai de Are!”.  It’s pretty forgettable.
  • Yuki/Ai×Anata≧Suki – Not quite sure what this title is all about being written up like that, but this is Ai-chan’s solo for the mini-album.  Though before the song begins, we have a near 2 minute opening dialogue from Gaki and it does go a bit too long and once it does finally begin, the arrangement is just boring and while Ai does a great job singing the song, it just doesn’t entice me much.  Then it just sort of ends when Gaki returns and speaks more as the rest of the track fades out).  It’s a little weird how it was handled for a song that really isn’t that interesting.
  • Wa~ MERRY Pin Xmas! – So it seems they paired Sayu and Koha once again for this Christmas track that ends off the mini-album and I can immediately say that I was more interested in this than in “Rainbow Pink”.  It feels cute and maybe a smidge 80s but it’s a lot more filling as a song despite both not being great singers.  Still, it’s not quite that great though as it’s still vocally too much for me.

ICKY SONGS

  • Rainbow Pink – When I saw this title, I had no idea what was to come from this track, but I saw that this was a song between Sayumi and Koharu and started to heavily worry as Sayu isn’t all that great a singer and Koharu is still pretty new and I had little time to really hear her.  After this, I kind of cringed with this one as it’s surprisingly super sugary and too much for me with those kind of squeaky high vocals like they were doing.  The song (after that really bad introduction dialogue) just isn’t really that good and lacks bass and just something to pull it together.  What a bad idea!

Overall: Morning Musume in 2006 was pretty busy it looked like.  Though I hope we’re done with losing members for a while after Ogawa and Konno graduated.  I will say that I’m liking the group’s direction for now and more curious to see what Aika will bring.

Yuko Nakazawa

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After being mostly MIA back in 2005 (with the exception of her participation in Puripuri Pink), she has returned although a small return regardless when it comes to her releases.  She only released one single, Urara, in September and that was that for 2006.

MEH SONGS

  • Urara – As the leading song of the single, Urara was another song that would be forgotten in her discography as its more of a mid-tempo ballad.  Granted, Yuko as per usual, sounds pretty enough and all…but the arrangement is a little tiring in some ways.  Doesn’t help that the chorus is the title in variations which makes me feel like it was a bit rushed?  I don’t know, it just wasn’t that great of a song for me.
  • Rokugatsu no Hanayome (June bride) ni Akogare – Though much of the same can be said of the B-side of the single.  Instead of “Urara’s” full ballad sound, June bride is mostly acoustic guitar and strings and it feels even more basic of a song because of that and I had a harder time remembering what this one sounded like.  Oh wells…

Overall: Despite being mostly quiet last year and felt like it was the same this year, it was nice she managed to release a single, even if it’s a mediocre one at best.  Let’s hope she releases more next year!

Country Musume

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Daizenshuu 2

Even more quieter than Nakazawa last year, it seems Country Musume returned this year but under different circumstances.  It seems the group has dropped back to 3 meaning Fujimoto & Konno were gone (mostly due to Konno having graduated), but the trio did release a 2nd album (which was more or less a best album with one new track), Country Musume Daizenshuu ② released in August.

OK SONGS

  • Kakumeichikku KISS – Yeah, the lone new track they released in the year, Kakumeichikku KISS only does feature the 3 remaining members (Asami, Mai, and Miuna) and I was happy they went back to something upbeat though wondering what was with the banjo inclusion.  It’s got a solid beat about it and its cuter side is charming and hearing all of the members is nice (even if Mai & Miuna get majority of the solos).  Not bad I guess!

Overall: Was happy to see Country Musume return in 2006 though was kind of disappointed that it was just with a best album with only one new song to show for it.  Figured that Konkon was leaving the group from the graduation, but Miki leaving was a little surprising…but since we’re back to three…I’m curious to see if they have any more to come.

Melon Kinenbi

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onegaiindiesfruitykillertune

Melon Kinenbi had a pretty strange year that’s for sure.  They released their June single, Onegai Miwaku no Target / Crazy Happy! (to the surprise that it was also an indies single shockingly).  They then went silent up until December when they released their first best album, FRUITY KILLER TUNE.

GREAT SONGS

  • Onegai Miwaku no Target – What a surprise that Melon’s would release this single as an indies release considering I don’t think they were going through rough times in the company.  Onegai Miwaku no Target though is one of the group’s most recognizable songs (it seems H!P LOVES to cover this a LOT these days).  I enjoy when Melon tackles rock and this song filled that quota too.  While it might not be as powerful as something like “This is Unmei”, this track is good and hearing all the members get some time in the spotlight here is great!

OK SONGS

  • Crazy Happy! – As the other A-side of the single, I barely see this mentioned anywhere so I was curious to why this was kind of a forgettable one.  The tune itself is rockin’ but not quite at the same exciting level as its sister A-side and the only solos were for Masae & Hitomi (which is a rapping section in the tune).  Otherwise, it’s duos and unison parts and I just wasn’t as deeply interested in it.  Still, I can’t say it’s a bad song because it does feel like something a B-side would sound like.
  • LEATHER – As the only new track from their best album, I was curious to what LEATHER would be like versus their other songs on it and this is like is the single from this year had a bit more synth involvement and you get this track.  Majority of the song is like “Crazy Happy!” in where the group is singing together or in pairs but this one gave all 4 girls one solo line each (towards the end).  I like it a bit more than “Crazy Happy!” but not by too much.

MEH SONGS

  • Kousui (Hard Flavor Remix) – So FRUITY KILLER TUNE included a new track and a new remix and well the remix came first on the tracklist, but we got a new remix for Kousui which I guess was their best song up to that point.  I’m not quite sure what happened here by changing it from a lighter R&B song to an awkward dance remix just baffles me.  The pounding beat didn’t add much and the vocal melodies just weren’t working with the chords and new sounds added here.  Makes the song worse in my opinion.

Overall: Melon seemed to have an off year for 2006 because they just had that odd indies release and then the best album.  Kind of an odd, maybe scary year if fans were thinking they were going to disband or something.  Still at least we got a little more than we did the year before.

Yuki Maeda

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omaenonamida

So 2006 was a strange year for Yukidon.  It seemed when she announced a new single, it was titled originally as “Nagai Tunnel” and with it came the announcement of her graduating from H!P.  HOWEVER, when it came closer to release in July, the title changed to Omae no Namida wo Ore ni Kure and anything about the graduation disappeared as well.  Interestings….

GREAT SONGS

  • Omae no Namida wo Ore ni Kure – It always amazes me how underrated Yukidon was in H!P especially with such vocal talent found here.  The song felt a bit more strongly Enka-tinted and yet more dramatic than past A-sides of hers.  Though I really enjoyed the dramatics here and Yuki’s vocals just are progressively getting better with each release.  A gem in the company for sure!

OK SONGS

  • Kaze Kaikyou – Unlike the A-side, Kaze Kaikyou tones things down quite a bit focused on the acoustic guitar and accordion here.  There’s some other instruments flowing throughout, but this ballad puts the focus on Yuki’s vocal control and while I thought her style popped more in “Omae no Namida wo Ore ni Kure”, this kind of felt more emotional and yet soft as well.

Overall: Kind of shocked that she was initially going to graduate, but cancelled it.  Still think she’s underrated, but fair that she’s singing a very niche genre of music too.  The single she released was pretty good though.  Wonder what’ll be released next year.

Maki Goto

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Gocchin’s 2006 was pretty straightforward with three singles; January’s Ima ni Kitto…In My LIFE, June’s Glass no Pumps, and October’s SOME BOYS! TOUCH.  Really not much else to say here lol.

GREAT SONGS

  • Glass no Pumps – Seems like Gocchin was getting fashionable with her next A-side, Glass no Pumps and for the first time I feel like she was going for the sexy, mature vibe and it turned out pretty well!  I really love the groove of the song and the arrangement just suited Maki’s vocals superbly.  Plus the hooks are just nice and that chorus is so earworm-heavy.  Shockingly good!
  • SOME BOYS! TOUCH – Who knew Tsunku had it in him to write this song up for Maki and after how well she handled “Glass no Pumps” it was pretty fair to give her a much bolder and sexier song like SOME BOYS! TOUCH and boy did Maki knocked it out of the park with this one!  It’s so sexy that it oozes it all over from Gocchin’s light and airy vocals to the gritty verses and upbeat chorus.  I really loved it!

OK SONGS

  • Ima ni Kitto…In My LIFE – After her best album, she released Ima ni Kitto…In My LIFE and it was an interesting choice for an A-side as it’s kind of more upbeat and something a bit more synthy, but doesn’t have much going on.  There was just something that was preventing it from getting to the top, but I think it’s a solid, poppy track (maybe to me it feels like an album song).  (Also, curious to why it wasn’t included in her last album in H!P).
  • Kitto Kareshi ga Dekiru Houhou – As the B-side from “Ima ni Kitto”, Kitto Kareshi ga Dekiru Houhou was a bit more in your face with the synthy jazz style it was going for (maybe it was big band?).  The tune had a nice feel to it, if not slightly messy in places, but Maki was also able to keep the song lively and fun which I’m sure it was going for.  Not bad either, maybe a bit on the shorter side (a little over 3 minutes).

MEH SONGS

  • LOVE Kan Coffee – This track, the B-side from “Glass no Pumps” just a little odd for me to listen to for some reason.  The weird chords in the synths at the beginning were a little odd, but it was the synths that flourished in the verses are just a little TOO rough and kind of odd to include in a song that also had horns and fluttery synths as well alongside Maki’s lighter vocals.  Good song vocally, but ruined by the arrangement.
  • ALL OF US – Not surprised with a title like ALL OF US would be more a ballad for her.  Though it is a bit of a 180 from “SOME BOYS! TOUCH” with the typical ballad instrumentation and brighter sound.  This was definitely B-side material as it just doesn’t leave much of an impression on me, sadly.

Overall: Not much to really say about Maki’s year except her A-side game was pretty strong overall and Ima ni Kitto…In My LIFE is growing on me too.  Though the B-sides could be left behind and I won’t miss them too much.  I’d say it was a good year though!

Aya Matsuura

aya2006

sunawokamuNaked Songs

Ayaya also had an interesting year this time around.  While she was finishing up with stuff from DEF.DIVA, she did release a single in February with Suna wo Kamu You ni…NAMIDA.  Unfortunately, she ended up having to take a hiatus due to an injury which sat her out most of the year until the last couple months when she joined Miki as a part of GAM and released her fourth album, Naked Songs at the end of November.

GREAT SONGS

  • Rock My Body – Going for more of a funkier vibe, Rock My Body has a little more oomph going on in the arrangement than “Feel You Groove” and for that it really ranks up for me and it’s the most liveliest I’ve heard Aya in some time so this was a pretty nice treat!  Definitely the best from the album that’s for sure!
  • LOVE Namida Iro – Yeah, really happy to see LOVE Namida Iro get touched up on the album and since it took out a lot of the original arrangement’s synthwork and replaced it with more natural instrumentation and I definitely appreciated it.  Aya sounds better too especially with the jazzier arrangement.

OK SONGS

  • Feel Your Groove – As the opening track to her Naked Songs album, Feel Your Groove is a pretty relaxing island-like song it feels like to me.  I’m just loving the background harmonizations and the soothing arrangement of the song.  Ayaya also did a pretty good job here with this setting.  Not a bad job here!
  • Oshare! – So you might be surprised to know that while it’s considered her 4th album, but only has 5 new songs, but the rest are revisioned arrangements of some of her older songs.  I would say these songs got a more laidback stripped acoustic takes on it (feels like an actual band was involved).  I will admit this new sound is nice, but I also adore the original, so this was a nice change of pace.
  • I know – Curious at some of the choices, but at least I’m happy with knowing I know made the cut.  Now the changes weren’t as heavy as it was with “Oshare!” because the original was quite jazzy and brassy as it was, it just felt like it was an actual band performing it on top of updated vocals from Aya.
  • Hajimete Kuchibiru wo Kasaneta Yoru – There seems so be a lot of love for Aya’s 1st album era as the songs chosen were from there.  Hajimete Kuchibiru wo Kasaneta Yoru was originally an R&B track so I was pretty happy to see this being given the “Naked Songs” treatment as I call it.  So we have more of a sultrier and jazzier vibe of a song and it really works with the track.  It’s just such a good song to get touched up and I appreciated this.
  • Dokki Doki! LOVE MAIL – Even her debut track got the treatment here and while I can’t say I liked this as much as I did with “LOVE Namida Iro”, this new take was also a nice treat here.  Definitely a large change of pace versus the cutesy idol-like original so this is pretty neat. :3  Not bad!
  • Tropica~l Koishite~ru – Yeah, despite losing the summer vibes of the original and being replaced by jazzier instrumentation, this new take on the song is pretty nice to see the least.  Similar feelings I have towards it like I did with “Dokki Doki! LOVE MAIL”.  The original is better, but this isn’t bad at all.
  • Don’t Know Why – Covering this older song (but was re-introduced due to Norah Jones’ cover of it).  It was presented a bit like Norah’s version with some light instrumentation with piano and acoustic guitar.  Personally, Ayaya’s version isn’t bad persay, but her pronunciation isn’t the best and the song is pretty much thrown down because of it.  Still, she tried though and it wasn’t a total trainwreck.
  • Suna wo Kamu You ni…NAMIDA – To be specific, this is the version found on “Naked Songs” and it is pretty different than the single version released earlier in the year.  It took out the boring arrangement and made it more acoustic and added bongos too with some other small things.  I like this though a bit more than its original at least so it made it much more memorable.
  • dearest. – As the album’s closer, dearest. is also a ballad, but this one actually stood out to me because it was handled better as the song had a stronger melody and Ayaya did a lot better with an emotive performance.  This was a great way to end the album and surprisingly well done too.

MEH SONGS

  • Suna wo Kamu You ni…NAMIDA – As the only A-side Ayaya released in the year, I was kind of hoping she at least bring it, but despite this song actually doing the job and being one of her more popular songs in her discography, I never really seem to remember it because it’s another ballad.  I mean it’s really hard to care about songs like these so this was just a little forgetful.
  • Happiness – The B-side from the single, Happiness doesn’t quite fix the problems that I had with the “Suna wo Kamu no You ni…NAMIDA”, though it is a smidge better too.  Not quite the boring song nor as sleepy as its A-side, but Happiness doesn’t quite impact me much.  I do appreciate the more acoustic sounding track, but I just don’t find it memorable either.
  • Hitori – Of the new songs sadly, Hitori was pretty disappointing of the 5 new tracks.  If anything, it just reminds me of the A-side she released in the year.  Just a pretty plain ballad here.  At least Ayaya sounds really nice, but I just couldn’t deal with how blah the song was otherwise.

Overall: Ayaya I would say had a pretty decent year with just the one single and album.  Though I will say the single was pretty mediocre, the surprise was her album that I kind of felt like it was a mini-album and a concept album.  Still, Aya did a better job sticking out to me than she did in the previous year!

Natsumi Abe

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sweetholicthestressamasugita2nd ~Shimiwataru Omoi~ 89hakujaden

Nacchi’s 2006 was a pretty busy one it seems like!  It started off at the end of March when she released her sophomore album, 2nd ~Shimiwataru Omoi~.  Then she took a VERY small break (two weeks) where she released the single Sweetaholic then followed that up with June’s The Stress and October’s Amasugita Kajitsu.  The last thing she released in 2006 was an OST of her stageplay in November, Hakujaden ~White Lovers~.

GREAT SONGS

  • F.O. – I think personally this song should’ve opened up the album instead of “Gakusei Jidai” because it’s a LOT more upbeat and just has this really nice opening feel to it.  It does have a similar 80s vibe (but the tune is more sparkly and has horns).  Nacchi though sounds good though and while it’s not bombastic, it’s smooth and really fits with the tune’s funky bass slaps and brassy sound.  Yeah, I really enjoyed this one!
  • The Stress – Ironic that Abe’s 8th single would be a cover of Chisato Moritaka’s 8th single, The Stress.  I’m kind of liking the kind of smooth dance-like feel of the song and Nacchi’s softer vocals are pretty fitting for the song.  Add on the interesting arrangement and it really works, but the rapping in the bridge could just disappear (it definitely wasn’t Tsunku, but it’s just as cringey.  Nice jazzy A-side overall!
  • Amasugita Kajitsu – Her other A-side she released in the year, Amasugita Kajitsu is pretty solid actually.  It does remind me of “Datte Ikitekanakucha” with the lighter dance-pop sound.  For whatever reason I feel like Nacchi’s vocals suits this almost to a T.  Though I do appreciate that she hits high notes quite smoothly this time making it stand out in a good way.
  • Yannacchau – As the B-side from “Amasugita Kajitsu”, Yannacchau is poppy that’s for sure, but it caters to more of an R&B crowd like late 90s Janet Jackson.  It’s light and breezy and just relaxing to listen to.  Nacchi, once again fills in the vibe and I kind of enjoyed a lot (especially with how disappointed I was with “The Stress'” extra tracks).

OK SONGS

  • Gakusei Jidai – Opening Nacchi’s 2nd album, Gakusei Jidai gives me a strong 80’s pop vibe whenever I listen to it and for that I kind of liked it, but being more of a mid-temp song that kind of sticks to the same sound for the song, it does somewhat feel one-note. Natsumi does sound nice and keeps the focus together, but I think the song could’ve had more impact if it had more movement and had a bit more going on.
  • Chottozutsu ne. – As the last full song on the album, Chottozutsu ne. is another slower song on the album, but it feels a bit more like easy listening which stood out from the album for me.  Nacchi’s lighter and softer vocals suit the arrangement better than most songs here.  Good, but still doesn’t quite reach high for me.
  • Sweetaholic – As the first single she released after “2nd ~Shimiwataru Omoi~”, Sweetaholic is kind of more of the same stuff we’ve been getting after “Koi no Hana”.  Though it is kind of reminding me heavily of “Gakusei Jidai” with its mid-tempo slight 80s pop sound.  Though I will give it that there’s a bit more going on which was what I was hoping would be in the aforementioned song but wasn’t.  Not bad of a song overall!
  • I’m in Love – As the B-side from “Sweetaholic”, I’m in Love was a totally different feel than what the leading track brought instead of the cuteness, I’m in Love sounds a bit more dramatic and actually sounds like a theme for a dorama too!  I’m enjoying the strings mixing it up with the slower rock theme here and Nacchi pulled it off vocally!  Pretty nice B-side!

MEH SONGS

  • Yuugure Sakusen Kaigi – A problem that I also felt with “Gakusei Jidai” ends up being a bit of a bigger problem for Yuugure Sakusen Kaigi as it’s another mid-tempo track, but it’s kind of more leaning towards a pop/rock track with guitar solos throughout.  I don’t think rock band sound really fits with Natsumi, but it doesn’t help that the arrangement is a bit sleepy and plain to me.  There’s just something disconnected here and I’m not sure what that is.
  • Tokyo Michikusa – I was wondering where the ballads were and we finally get to Tokyo Michikusa and was not at all shocked to find out that I wasn’t into the track.  It feels like something Yuko Nakazawa would sing with the piano/string mix into a light tune.  Nothing that really sticks out in my mind unfortunately.
  • Elevator Futaripocchi – Not sure why I was even less interested in Elevator Futaripocchi, but good lord this song really felt weird to me.  It does start off feeling a bit like “Tokyo Michikusa” with the light instrumentation, but as time goes on, the tune adds more and feels like a slower “Yuugure Sakusen Kaigi”.  What’s more strange is that Nacchi sounds oddly pitchy here as if she was going for girly and squeaky.  Not really into this one.
  • The Stress (Kiki Version) – So the remainder of The Stress single contained remixes of the song and the Kiki Version comes up first and instead of the jazzy arrangement from the original, it has a mixture of Indian and rock vibes about it and it’s a pretty odd take.  Though I will give it kudos by removing the male rap and have Nacchi do one instead and add some new things to the remix.
  • The Stress (shakabone HIDE Remix) – The other remix is just kind of bad as well.  It does try to go for more of a tribal dance vibe, but it feels like it weakens the tune more, plus the call guy in the song is really rough and while he adds the missing energy to the song, his voice is a bit too scratchy for me.  Not enough Nacchi to be honest as well.

ICKY SONGS

  • Nichiyoubi What’s Going On? – Why do I feel like “Mirai no Tobira” was like the thought process for this track because while it didn’t sound terrible, it felt dated and the fact that Tsunku was all over this track with Nacchi trying to mix cool and cute into this odd hip-hop idol song just didn’t sound good together.  I just couldn’t deal too much with this one and is the worst off the album, in my opinion.
  • Ending – I personally think Nacchi didn’t need an outro for her album, especially since the one we got was just her talking as the track slowly fades away.  Really for me, it just wasn’t necessary and kind of closes the album in an odd way.

OVERALL: I would argue to say that Nacchi had a decent year with her releases.  Minus the OST, I feel like her releases were pretty good at least singles-wise.  Her 2nd album was kind of blah to me though but that’s really it there.

Berryz Kobo

Berryzmarch2006

jiririkiteruwaracchaoumunasawagi3 Natsu Natsu Mini Berryz 36

Berryz in 2006 was a pretty straightforward one with what I call the standard amount of releases within the year.

They kicked it off in March with their single, Jiriri Kiteru before releasing a summer-themed mini-album in July with ③ Natsu Natsu Mini Berryz.  Then we rounded up with an August single in Waracchaou yo BOYFRIEND and December’s Munasawagi Scarlet.

GREAT SONGS

  • Jiriri Kiteru – It’s been a while since we’ve heard Berryz tackling a more serious sounding track and I was pretty excited when I first heard Jiriri Kiteru.  I just love the addition of piano to make things a bit more dramatic, but it also kept up with Berryz’ more dance-centric sound.  Of course the tune would be led by the usual 4 suspects, but I heard a LOT of Miyabi in this one.
  • Halation Summer – I think the biggest surprise was that this song was brought back to be covered (considering the original was part of Coconuts Musume’s debut).  Being that it was only Saki, Maasa, and Momoko singing in the track it made me super curious giving these 3 all sorts of solos here.  I will say I was super impressed by all 3 and their fluent Japanese really helped the song out on top of the updated arrangement.  This is definitely a cover that’s way better than the original for sure!
  • Munasawagi Scarlet – At least the last of the A-sides in 2006 was pretty decent.  I really like they chose to throw some electric guitar in the mix and gave a song that felt like a chant and a push for the group.  I’m starting notice Risako’s vocals getting scratchy as well as Yurina’s going deeper too.  Regardless, the track has a lot of oomph to it and really made up for how lukewarm “Waracchaou yo BOYFRIEND” turned out.

OK SONGS

  • Maji Natsu Sugiru – As the first track to come up on the mini-album, Maji Natsu Sugiru is definitely Summer sounding and I really like the acoustic guitar being added to the cuter arrangement for the song.  I mean for what it is, it’s surprisingly nice to listen to and really fits the mini’s theme perfectly.
  • Yeah! Meccha Holiday – So for 3 tracks on the mini-album, they’re all cover songs and the first is actually a Risako solo covering that big Aya Matsuura song.  Granted, I already knew that Risako wouldn’t get to the same levels of greatness that Ayaya did, but some parts she kind of sounded right, but others sounded a bit too nasal and squeaky.  The arrangement has slightly changed too, but not too terribly.  Overall, this was pretty nice!
  • Chu! Natsu Pa~rty – Figured that this 3nin Matsuri song would be covered since it literally has Summer in its title.  This one though is sung by Chinami, Miyabi, and Yurina.  Likewise with the Risako solo, vocally it’s a bit weaker and the arrangement has changed slightly, but it’s still Chu! Natsu Pa~rty at the end of the day.
  • Suhada Pichipichi – When I first listened to this song, I couldn’t help but think of Minimoni with that frantic upbeat energy.  Though while the song is pretty much tailored to Berryz vocally, the song is just upbeat and quite fun to follow along.  Silly and youthful, but it’s just a fun song and did much better than it’s A-side.

MEH SONGS

  • Toshishitsu Taiki – The B-side from “Jiriri Kiteru” was quite a bit of a difference against its leading track.  Instead of the dramatic dance track, Toshishitsu Taiki was more of a poppy R&B track, but it lacked a lot of things that would’ve made it even better.  I just kind of zoned it out it felt like. Just was a weak B-side overall.
  • Natsu Remember you – Though the other new song on the mini-album, Natsu Remember you was more or less the forgettable track on the 6-song tracklist.  Unlike the upbeat “Maji Natsu Sugiru”, this one is a bit more mid-tempo and tuned down of a song.  I do appreciate all the members getting solo lines all over, but the tune kind of just put me to sleep.
  • Waracchaou yo BOYFRIEND – As their first A-side after the summer mini-album, this A-side was given a bit of a Motown-ish/doo-wop look, something back in the 50s almost.  There was just some kind of disconnect here and I’m not sure what it was.  I do like the harmonization, but that chorus is super rough to listen to.  I may be my least favorite of their A-sides up to this point.
  • Aitai Kedo… – The B-side from “Munasawagi Scarlet” tones things down to more of an acoustic pop track, almost reminescent to “Natsu Remember you” and “Aisuru Hito no Namae wo Nikki ni”.  That said this track doesn’t really leave much of an impression, but it does show all the vocals changing (with the girls going through puberty it seems).  Just so white to me.

OVERALL: Berryz might not have had as many songs as they did last year, but they group is showing growth with each release.  Helps that some members’ vocals are actually changing so I’m curious to see where Berryz will head within 2007.  Pretty good overall!

W

W2005

The year began with an announcement of a new single in Dou ni mo Tomaranai and the group’s 3rd album aptly titled, W3: faithful, but then unfortunately it never came to fruition due to Ai Kago ending up in a pretty big scandal which pretty much had her sit out for the year.

v-u-den

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v-u-den had a pretty short year it seems with only just releasing two singles: Issai Gassai Anata ni ∮A·ge·ru♪ in May and Aisu Crea~m to My Purin in November.  Pretty short year I say, right?

GREAT SONGS

  • Aisu Crea~m to My Purin – With the last A-side kind of being a big disappointment, I was hoping that the other A-side would fix things up and by god does Aisu Crea~m to My Purin hits it out of the park for me.  I really do feel that v-u-den excels at being sexy especially with two cutesy vocals and the more sultry tone out of Erika.  This one is just fun and silly and really caters to the fans.  The arrangement is really cool too and just feels sexy and almost like they’re teasing.  Yeah, this was awesome!  One of my favorites from 2006!!!

OK SONGS

  • Kyou mo Mattemasu – As the B-side from “Issai Gassai”, the tune might still be riding the cutesy line, but it’s not overly done with this track.  It’s just a simple song and oddly feels more appropriate for Berryz Kobo to have cover since this tune is more down their lane moreso than v-u-den.
  • Shuwa – It seems that both B-sides of the year were kind of just OK songs.  I do appreciate that this one is a bit more active of a song and the pop/rock arrangement does a nice job, but I find it hard to remember this one after a while.

MEH SONGS

  • Issai Gassai Anata ni ∮A·ge·ru♪ – If the cover art wasn’t evident enough, this A-side is actually more of a Summer track and it’s oddly enough the cutest thing they’ve released so far.  That said, while I do think cute works for both Rika and Yui, I can’t quite say the same for Erika.  It’s the kind of corny cute that I’m not really into and after having lots of serious-ish song from the trio, a song like this just kind of makes me cringe so it’s not a favorite of mine.

Overall: I’m not sure why v-u-den had as small of a year as they did, but I was kind of half/half on both of their releases which I suppose is like a passing grade right?  Regardless, I hope they’ll be more active in the next year.

DEF.DIVA

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DEF.DIVA didn’t really have too much to do in 2006 with their only release being their indies single in March, LET’S GO Rakuten Eagles.  The only other thing they did was a collaboration with Morning Musume & Berryz Kobo on the year’s Petit Best.  Otherwise with all 4 members busy with their solo careers (or Rika with v-u-den).

OK SONGS

  • LET’S GO Rakuten Eagles – For being a cheer song, I wasn’t sure what to expect since “THE Manpower!!!” was really neat and interesting.  What we got with DEF.DIVA feels more like what I was expecting originally with a baseball cheer song.  I do enjoy that all 4 members get a solo, but the majority of the song is just repetitive and kind of overstays its welcome.

OVERALL: Despite DEF.DIVA really only being truly active in the early half of the year, they kind of seem to disappear but at least all 4 members kept being active though.  I mean a cheer song really wasn’t much for me…so I was bummed they didn’t continue.

°C-ute

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massarasokudakishimeteookinaaideWakkyanaiZ-rCutieQueenVol1-r

So while the 7 remaining members of the Hello! Project Kids (Maimi Yajima, Airi Suzuki, Mai Hagiwara, Erika Umeda, Megumi Murakami, Chisato Okai, and Saki Nakajima) were performing together as a unit as early as Berryz’ conception, the group were FINALLY given a name and a new member in Kanna Arihara who was from the Eggs prior and they were finally given a debut as an indies unit!

They started off with 4 indies singles in a span of 3 months with May’s Massara Blue Jeans, June’s Soku Dakshimete, and August’s Ooki na Ai de Motenashite Wakkyanai (Z).

That all culminated in the group’s first album, Cutie Queen VOL.1 in October.

Sadly, though it was announced a couple days later that Megumi Murakami had graduated from the group with no graduation ceremony to focus on studies.

However the year ended off with the group actually going to have a proper major label debut within the next year!

GREAT SONGS

  • Massara Blue Jeans – Wow, this was a debut to kick things off with!  There’s nothing quite like hearing slap bass mixed in with a pretty upbeat dance track as such as this on top of Kanna shouting the name of the song to really kick it off.  It just really lights up the song especially with a lot of variation it feels like.  I mean you have Maimi, Airi, Megumi, Erika, and Kanna having solo lines all over and it’s really cool to hear them (a little odd for Chisato, Saki, and Mai to not have any lines really, but).  Still, this was a pretty amazing debut song for C-ute!
  • Soku Dakishimete – Their follow-up to their great debut, Soku Dakishimete doesn’t quite have to oomph their debut had, but it’s still a pretty strong song in of itself.  Little surprised to see Megumi (mostly), Airi and Maimi have the lone solos, but there’s enough to get by in the song.  I just really kind of liked the idol pop feel and while I’m still loving the slap bass of their bass, the bass here is quite nice too.  Little less liked but I still think it’s a great song for them.
  • Ooki na Ai de Motenashite – As the group’s 3rd indies single, Ooki na Ai de Motenshite changed the group’s sound pretty wildly by instead of going the cool route like the previous two single, this one was sugar-coated to the max here.  It’s very idol-happy and the verses are so sparkly and cute it’s almost overload at points.  Though if “Soku Dakishimete” wasn’t the obvious notification, I noticed that Megumi, Airi, and Maimi have already become the trifecta of leads here.  The other 5 members really don’t stand out much and that might be the biggest fault here.  Still, I dig this song a lot and it stands the test of time.

OK SONGS

  • Time Capsule – As the first new track to show up on their album, Time Capsule is one of the more slower songs the group ends up singing and of course it’s led by the trifecta but oddly enough Erika comes to the front lines too for this one and while she the weakest of the 4, she handles it gracefully.  I do enjoy the downtempo R&B feel of it though and softens things after the 4 A-sides that came before it on the tracklist.
  • EVERYDAY YEAH! Kataomoi – Maybe one of the more interesting songs from the album, unlike majority of it, this one has Maimai leading the song and while she had Nakky are both during this period (and mostly throughout the group’s history) the weakest singers, Mai’s cuteness kind of shines through as she sings the hooks here.  I’m also pretty happy to see that all 8 members get solo lines throughout (with the main 3 getting the most not shockingly).  It’s a fun song to listen to and one of the catchier early songs!
  • As ONE – Another album track, As ONE is kind of the more cooler song of the album tracks because of the more danceable sound it has.  Although, surprised that while the trifecta & Erika have solo lines, it’s just one each and the rest is sung together (though it should be said that Airi leads the chorus on here own).  It’s not a bad song overall, but I find it to be hard to remember when returning to this album.
  • Yes! Shiawase (°C-ute Ver.) – The album ends with two cover songs both are from the same group (albeit this one is a T&C Bomber cover, while the other is a Taiyou & Ciscomoon cover, whatever).  Anyways interesting choices because neither song were A-sides for the group so I was intrigued to say the least.  With Yes! Shiawase, the tune was pepped up a bit to make it more happy-go-lucky and it seemed to work with C-ute here.   Everyone gets solos and they all sound perky and upbeat with the track, so I give props here!
  • ENDLESS LOVE ~I Love You More~ (°C-ute Ver.) – As the other cover song, C-ute was trying to mature up for this one and while I do appreciate the upgrade in arrangement, fitting to more of what’s in H!P at the moment, I don’t think the girls (Airi, Maimi, Megumi, and Erika) handled it well enough to make it believable here.  Maybe Maimi and Megumi but not the other two.  Still it’s an OK song, just not the best on the album.

MEH SONGS

  • Wakkyanai (Z) – This 4th A-side was an off one for me, but it seemed to be an odd release because it was never given a proper PV first of all (leaving us with a live performance of it) and it just didn’t have the same pop that their previous efforts had up to this point.  Interestingly enough it’s mostly Airi and Megumi leading the song (with a solo line from Kanna and Chisato).  The tune itself is a little more live friendly, but it doesn’t quite capture the cuteness of “Ooki na Ai de Motenshite” unfortunately.  It’s an odd song and one of their weaker A-sides.

OVERALL: I feel like C-ute had a pretty great year to kick things off, despite them being indies for the entire time.  Great energy and personalities, I could see them going places.  Though I will say the shocking graduation of Megumi is going to shake up the group a little bit considering she was a main vocal, so the trio is already down to a duo…maybe Erika will step forward when the group actually major debut in the next year!!

Kirari Tsukishima starring Koharu Kusumi

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Oddly enough in April, Morning Musume’s then newest member, Koharu Kusumi was given a voice-acting role of the main character Kirari Tsukishima in the anime, Kirarin☆Revolution.

Which actually from the start led to Koharu to begin a solo career with the songs releasing being opening & ending themes for the anime starting with her July single, Koi☆Kana & October’s Balalaika.

GREAT SONGS

  • Balalaika – Though I wasn’t ready for her 2nd A-side to come in changing things up so fast.  Getting that Russian jig going for Balalaika, the tune is much more upbeat and action-oriented and I’m a bit surprised about it all.  Though, I’ve seen Koharu start to find her voice with this track and while still kind of emotionless, her higher range is coming out and it’s adding much spice.  Funny to say it’s her best A-side (and best selling too!).
  • Mizuiro Melody – Of all the songs she’s done, this B-side from “Balalaika” probably has the biggest anison sound of the 4 songs with its arrangement and chords here.  I really do like the pop/rock vibe that feels like was the basis of what Buono! would become interestingly.  Yeah, Koha’s voice isn’t quite great and she sounds odd hitting low notes, but this was a pretty good B-side for what its worth!

OK SONGS

  • Koi☆Kana – As the debut for Koharu’s solo efforts, Koi☆Kana isn’t a terrible start despite me full knowing that she isn’t a strong singer like most of the other Morning Musume members out there.  The tune is kind of a mix of cutesy anison, pop/rock, and something with horns all over, almost ska-like.  I think I can listen to this one and not go yikes at it!
  • SUGAO-flavor – As the first ending theme, SUGAO-flavor tones things down a bit for a mid-tempo ballad and I think this is the nicest I’ve heard Koharu yet since her debut in Morning Musume.  It’s not asking for her to be aggressive or sugary which is nice.  Despite her tone is kind of deaf and lacks personality, I feel like this was done nicely (albeit could be sung better by other H!P members).

OVERALL: I was wondering what Tsunku meant when she was the miracle ace and it’s starting show when Koharu got the VA gig and the solo career which seems to be doing great after her first two singles!  Still not the best singer, but I can see her becoming bigger with this situation and I’m backing that up.

GAM

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For whatever reason with DEF.DIVA going into inactivity, Tsunku decided to strike again and pair Miki Fujimoto Aya Matsuura together and name the group Great Aya and Miki (or GAM for short).  Not sure of much more information on why the group was created, but they debuted in September with Thanks! and a follow-up single in October, Melodies.

GREAT SONGS

  • Thanks! – As the duo’s debut single, Thanks! kicks things off with a rowsing guitar solo mixed in with a steady dance beat.  For a good portion the two do sing together which is nice and they get solo lines each which is even nicer since both at this point are probably H!P’s best singers.  It’s a solid debut to say the least and I’m just happy to see Ayaya back in a more active setting!
  • Melodies – Songs like these made me wonder why Tsunku didn’t just reform Gomattou because this is pretty much in the same lane as what “SHALL WE LOVE?” could’ve been if that trio continued (especially since Gocchin was still active too).  Melodies in comparison to “Thanks!” is more toned down and has a sultrier R&B vibe about it which sounded amaing for both Ayaya and Mikitty!  I mean the PV was a bit fanservive central, but the song was pretty awesome too!

MEH SONGS

  • Shinkirou Romance – Though the B-side from “Thanks!” is sadly a bit boring to my ears.  Toning things down a lot to give us this somber mid-tempo ballad with Shinkirou Romance.  Granted it did showcase both vocalists better than its A-side, but the arrangement’s sleepy feel doesn’t really help the situation in my opinon.  Just kind of a boring song here.
  • Melodies (Piano Dokushou Version) – While the single didn’t have a true B-side, Melodies came with a piano version nd it’s just a little too bare for me to care about considering it’s just the duo and some piano.  It feels extremely empty and made me miss the beats and flow overall.  Kind of just a lazy inclusion here.

OVERALL: While I’ve said I don’t know why Tsunku could’ve easily reformed Gomattou here, GAM was a familiar throwback to those days and I’m happy it was Aya and Miki here (especially the former as she hadn’t done anything this upbeat since like 2003).  While I do question the fanservive (that was already covered by v-u-den this year anyways), I do like this unit and wondering what comes next!

THE Possible

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In August, it was announced during a stageplay, CRY FOR HELP, that Kanami Morozuka, Aina Hashimoto, and Yurika Akiyama were going to debut as a unit named THE Possible.  Though it wasn’t the last additions as in September, Kaede Oose joined and in October, Robin Shouko Okada and Yuki Goto filled out the remainder of the unit, all 6 members being Hello! Pro Egg members.

They made their indie debut in November with Young DAYS!! and followed that up a month later with Hatsukoi no Kakera.

GREAT SONGS

  • Young DAYS!! – As the group’s debut, Young DAYS!! doesn’t quite reach the same heights as other debut songs did within the year, but it doesn’t mean the song isn’t catchy and decent to listen to.  I think the biggest surprise though is that there’s actually no solos in the song which really didn’t help me tell the girls apart.  That said though, I like the happy energy this song gives and can be catchy at times.  It’s no “Massara Blue Jeans”, but it has its place!
  • Hatsukoi no Kakera – With their 2nd single, it seemed like the group was going to channel a song that felt like something from the 70s almost with how old-timey and classic it sounded (plus the PV kind of felt that way too).  I kind of enjoyed the change of sound for this one and we even had the chance to get to hear the girls better.  Though most of the song was sung by Yurika and Aina, there was spoken dialogue for the other 4 girls and the tune ended with solos from Yuki and Kaede so there was that.  Interesting song overall and showed a little more variation in H!Ps music in the year.

OK SONGS

  • Anata ni Muchuu – As the group’s first B-side (from their 2nd single min you), Anata ni Muchuu is kind of a it’s there song, feels like a cover but I don’t think it is kind of deal.  It does feel like an oldies song too set in the summer, but I think I’m OK with it?  I do like the verses where one girl sings and more are added to the harmony as it goes by, that was nice.  Though I can’t help but feel like it’s a smidge bland.

OVERALL: As the 2nd unit to be created from the Eggs, I kind of feel they were given a shorter stick in promotion than anyone else in H!P within the year, but I’m not quite sure why.  I don’t wanna say it was a fluke, but they haven’t really popped on the radar for me despite having two A-sides I enjoyed…maybe next year is when they’ll pop out.

Hello! Pro Egg

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I feel like H!P Egg actually was a bit more active this year than the last two altogether.

It began in January when Kanna Arihara left Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai and joined C-ute when they officially formed and Saki Mori joined in her stead.

Cut to April when a digital single was released that included Egg members, Kanon Fukuda, Sayaka Kitahara, Robin Shouko Odada, and Mirei Hashida titled Sora ga Aru.

In June, auditions were held for Egg additions and 3 winners came out of it, Erina Mano, Momoka Komine, and Manami Ogura who promptly joined.

As mentioned above, in August through October, THE Possible was formed of 6 of the Eggs (already talked about).

Then in September in limited stock, Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai released their first (and only) single, Minna no Ki.  Though when Kaede Oose in the same month left to join THE Possible, Ayumi Yutoku took over her spot.

(NOTE: Putting the Tomoiki single here becuse it is their only single and it is all Eggs so it’s fair.)

OK SONGS

  • Sora ga Aru – Being a very random release with some surprisingly random members of the Eggs, this tune feels like a rejected Country Musume, but that said I kind of liked the acoustic guitar mixed in with that Mediterranean sound.  What I didn’t exactly care for was that the song was entirely sung in unison so I couldn’t tell them apart.  It would be interesting to see this tune brought back, but I highly doubt they would.
  • Minna no Ki – Considering Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai was the kind of environmental unit that was kind of fitting with Ecomoni, their A-side, Minna no Ki was kind of uplifting but not as terrifying as “HELP!!” was that’s for sure.  Though I was bummed to hear once again it’s mostly in unison, but there was spots where it was duet lines which I guess is a plus.  Though I notice Yuuka’s voice quite obviously in the song (she has the super squirrely voice amongst the five).  The song is cute though I’ll give it that.

MEH SONGS

  • Shiritai Koto Ippai – As the B-side of the single, Shiritai Koto Ippai gives me late 90’s pop vibes with those synths and the chords and the way the song is portrayed here.  Just like “Minna no Ki”, the song is sung in unison, but unfortunately there’s no spots for omembers to shine throughout.  It just felt like a generic song to me and while the guitar addition puts a little spice to it, it just didn’t work for me.

OVERALL: It’s nice seeing the Eggs finally getting somewhere in H!P what with Yui Okada being the only exciting thing to happen until this year.  Seeing Kanna join C-ute was great and also strange since the 7 other members have been together for a long time now.  Nice to see Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai and THE Possible existing and releasing music which gave me hope for other members to do things like the Sora ga Aru single too.  Hope it continues!

Other H!P Releases

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Only 2 other releases really popped up in the year!

The first was a digital single released by Ai Takahashi in July, Yume Kara Samete and the other was the end-of-the-year annual, Petit Best 7

OK SONGS

  • Ready Go! – I get that this may also be a cheer song too, but Petit Best included a new track that had Morning Musume, DEF.DIVA, and Berryz Kobo singing together in an upbeat kind of cheering song.  It’s pretty decent and I like its upbeat nature, though once again it’s in unison so it doesn’t quite reach high for me, but it’s a nice listen I suppose.

MEH SONGS

  • Yume Kara Samete – Really wasn’t expecting for Ai-chan to just drop this song digitally for fans.  I think it was for a drama she was involved in, but Yume Kara Samete didn’t really do much for me considering it’s a ballad (which is probably why I really wasn’t into it).  Though I can confidently say she sounds so good and velvety here which really helped out, but the song itself is a snoozefest.
  • Morning Musume Mega Mix 30 (Radio Edit) – So the megamix got a shortened version for the Petit Best dropping it all the way to 3:30 in length which is totally botched version because it cuts out so much of the original megamix to the point it makes you wonder why the hell they couldn’t include the full thing.  Hell it doesn’t even include all 30 singles up to this point…just what happened here?

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • C-ute
  • Koharu Kusumi (as a soloist)
  • GAM
  • THE Possible
  • Aika Mitsui

Losses

  • DEF.DIVA
  • Asami Konno
  • Makoto Ogawa
  • Megumi Murakami

My H!P Ranking for ’06

  • 54. Kaori Iida (-47)
  • 53. Ayaka Kimura (-12)
  • 52. Atsuko Inaba (-15)
  • 51. Mari Yaguchi (-25)
  • 50. Kei Yasuda (-14)
  • 49. Ai Kago (-35)
  • 48. Nozomi Tsuji (-42)
  • 47. Aika Mitsui (NEW)

54-47 were inactive during the year!

  • 46. Kanami Morozuka (NEW)
  • 45. Sayumi Michishige (-11)
  • 44. Asami Kimura (-4)
  • 43. Asami Konno (-14)
  • 42. Miuna Saito (-3)
  • 41. Chinami Tokunaga (-10)
  • 40. Mai Satoda (-20)
  • 39. Yuki Goto (NEW)
  • 38. Kaede Oose (NEW)
  • 37. Robin Shouko Okada (NEW)
  • 36. Maasa Sudo (-8)
  • 35. Yui Okada (-16)
  • 34. Yurina Kumai (-17)
  • 33. Saki Nakajima (+13)
  • 32. Koharu Kusumi (+1)
  • 31. Megumi Murata (-1)
  • 30. Mai Hagiwara (+17)
  • 29. Momoko Tsugunaga (-7)
  • 28. Kanna Arihara (NEW)
  • 27. Chisato Okai (+18)
  • 26. Erika Umeda (+17)
  • 25. Yurika Akiyama (NEW)
  • 24. Makoto Ogawa (-6)
  • 23. Maimi Yajima (+21)
  • 22. Risako Sugaya (+2)
  • 21. Yuko Nakazawa (+14)
  • 20. Ayumi Shibata (-9)
  • 19. Saki Shimizu (+9)
  • 18. Rika Ishikawa (-15)
  • 17. Aina Hashimoto (NEW)
  • 16. Hitomi Yoshizawa (0)
  • 15. Miyabi Natsuyaki (0)
  • 14. Airi Suzuki (+28)
  • 13. Hitomi Saito (-5)
  • 12. Masae Ohtani (-8)
  • 11. Eri Kamei (+12)
  • 10. Aya Matsuura (+2)
  • 9. Megumi Murakami (0)
  • 8. Reina Tanaka (+2)
  • 7. Natsumi Abe (+14)
  • 6. Risa Niigaki (+19)
  • 5. Yuki Maeda (+33)
  • 4. Ai Takahashi (+1)
  • 3. Maki Goto (+11)
  • 2. Erika Miyoshi (-1)
  • 1. Miki Fujimoto (+1)

And there we have it, 2006 completed!  Lots of changes happened enough to make 2007 an interesting year to kick things off!

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Warp back to 2005…Year Recap!

Yup, it’s 2005 now and we have a quickly growing roster after the inclusion of the Hello! Pro Egg!  So let’s see how well 2005 was!

Morning Musume

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Huh, while it may look like Morning Musume had a more slower year, it is further from the actuality.

The year began in January with their single, THE Manpower!!!, which was also Kaori Iida‘s final single with the group and then she graduated at the end of the month.

Cut to their next single in April with Osaka Koi no Uta. This would be Rika Ishikawa‘s final single and she would graduate the next month to focus on v-u-den.  HOWEVER, a couple weeks prior to the single’s release, magazine FRIDAY put out some photos that showed Mari Yaguchi with a man and sadly because of the scandal, she had to graduate fully from Morning Musume (she was a leader for a little over two months, but with the scandal, leadership was moved to Hitomi Yoshizawa)

During all this chaos, the 2nd try of auditions found another winner, in Tsunku terms, he found the “miracle ace” in a young Koharu Kusumi and she would debut with the group in July’s Iroppoi Jirettai.

Then we get to their last single of the year and it was originally going to be “Koi wa Hassou Do the Hustle! and release in October, but due to the low interest from the fans, they had to scramble for a new A-side and redid a song they released last year, “Chokkan ~Toki no Shite Koi wa~” to Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wo Ookiizo!~ and released it in November.

GREAT SONGS

  • THE Manpower!!! – I was so confused with the group’s first A-side of the year as it wasn’t typical of a song for the group instead going for more of a chanting feel with its chorus and this odd robotic feel with a slight march feel to it too.  Still, after hearing Ai-chan’s and Yossie’s fakes, I was completely into the song and dug the beats and sass all over.  The only two disappointments were that it was Kaori’s last single with the group and the fact that the PV was just a measly dance shot.  Otherwise, this was a great way to kick off 2005 for the group!
  • Iroppoi Jirettai – After the loss of three members in the last two singles, we finally leveled out a smidge with a new member in Koharu.  That said we do get a spoken intro from both Eri and Koharu before the tune dives into its Latin-esque arrangement.  I really love the arrangement and fire behind it all and despite we don’t really get to hear Koha (she has the opening line and one other solo).  It’s just a powerful song and I’m happy to hear Ai-chan, Mikitty, and Reina lead (although Miki’s line at the end of the 2nd chorus is a bit honky and odd) but this is still an awesome song!
  • Ai to Taiyou ni Tsutsumarete – I really wasn’t ready for “Iroppoi Jirettai’s” B-side but this track is definitely a nice change of pace for them.  With a rather slow tropical sound, I kind of fell into it’s laidback feel pretty quickly and we get solos from all the member which is pretty awesome too!  The only qualm I have is the filters they placed during the verses, but otherwise this was a nice B-side to have.  Also, no surprise Koharu doesn’t sound bad here which says a lot going forward (I hope…)

OK SONGS

  • Love & Peace! HERO ga Yattakita. – With the leading song (“THE Manpower!!!”) being a cheer song for the Rakuten Eagles, I was surprised that this song felt moreso if not more of one here.  It’s got a bit more oomph and the tune has a bit more of a rock arrangement here too.  I do like that Mikitty, Ai-chan, Yossie, and Reina have most of the main vocals, but it doesn’t highlight much of anyone else, more importantly, Kaori (though I think because she had a solo career she didn’t need/want that spotlight despite being the group’s leader since Yuko left.
  • Osaka Koi no Uta – As the single to last feature Rika and Mari, I was curious to hear how it all went down.  Not sure what style this track is, but it was a little more mature for the group, but still kept that dance feel.  I mean considering it was Rika’s final single she had quite a bit of spotlight alongside Ai-chan and Mikitty (Mari’s sudden departure was after the song’s completion hence no limelight, but she did have some recognizable lines).  It’s a frantic song I feel and it just doesn’t let up until the ending.  Not their best entry, but I kind of enjoyed it.
  • Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wo Ookiizo!~ – Being a rushed song, Chokkan 2 slightly ended up being better than its original track its based off of.  Changing the lyrics and the fact that Kaori, Rika, and Mari were gone and Koharu filled in a spot made things a little more interesting.  The arrangement also was updated and feels more complete too.  Though I did dislike the half PV/half live performance route it took to promote it (while its B-side got a full PV).
  • Koi wa Hassou Do The Hustle! – So here is the original A-side (before “Chokkan 2” took over) and quite honestly, I would say it wasn’t quite up to par after the other 3 singles the preceded it.  It’s pretty poppy and has funky guitars mixed in with a fun chorus, but there’s just something slightly generic about it too that really doesn’t sit well.  Still I like that it did get a PV and here all the members stood out in it for me~

MEH SONGS

  • NATURE IS GOOD! – Is this somehow connected to Ecomoni?  I don’t know but this B-side from Rika/Mari’s last single is a bit too chintzy for my interests.  I mean Rika did get the first line which made sense.  Surprised that solos were only given to Rika, Mari, Makoto, Hitomi, Risa, Reina, and Eri which most were shorter lines.  Though what gets me is the kind of corny feel I get from the lyrics (most importantly that vapid chorus).  I do like the pop/rock, but I just couldn’t stand how preachy it was.

Overall: Morning Musume in 2005 was a bit of a rocky one that’s for sure.  It’s also probably the lightest year of content from them since their debut strangely enough and the graduations of Kaori & Rika (and sudden departure of Mari) was just fuel to the fire here and Koharu wasn’t quite what the group was needing.  Maybe 2006 will be better for them.

Melon Kinenbi

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Short year for the group for some reason, but they only managed one single this year in February’s Nikutai wa Shoujiki na EROS.

GREAT SONGS

  • Nikutai wa Shoujiki na EROS – I was not ready to hear Melon Kinenbi be super sensual and sexy for this A-side (which apparantly was the last song done by Tsunku).  There’s just something so right with Melon pulling this song because it just sounds so right for them.  Props to Hitomi and Masae for owning the sexyness throughout and Ayumi and Megumi for adding a bit more of a lighter side to it all too.  Really it’s one of their best songs in their discography for sure!!

OK SONGS

  • Hotondo ga Anata Desu. – As the single’s B-side, Hotondo ga Anata Desu. has a lot of the same vibes from its leading track with some new buzzy synths acting as the melody with some acoustic guitar thrown in for the mix too.  It’s a little quicker than EROS, but there’s just something that feels like it could’ve been leftover from “THE Nimaime”.  Not bad, but after the legendary Nikutai wa Shoujiki na EROS, this kind of pales in comparison.

Overall: I’m pretty curious as to why Melon Kinenbi only had the one single this year, it just felt empty without them.  Granted they did have the best A-side of the year so I mean that’s pretty interesting to say the least.

Maki Goto

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Maki had a pretty interesting year for 2005 beginning with her 3rd album, 3rd Station in February.  Time went by and she released a single in July with Suppin to Namida..

Time would go on further until December where she released two best albums, one officially, Goto Maki Premium Best  and one for Hawaiian stores with Goto Maki 2005 Nendo Genteiban Single Best and that was her year!

GREAT SONGS

  • Rairai! Shinfuu – I was wondering what this 3rd album could bring and as the 3rd of the new songs, Rairai! Shinfuu is definitely something new and unique for Gocchin with having a bit of a Chinese sound to it (considering in two parts Maki actually counts in Mandarin) so that’s pretty cool and the tune itself is upbeat and bouncy and actually brought some life to the album!  Probably my favorite from the album!

OK SONGS

  • Singapore Transit – Did Gocchin get a song that was meant for Yuko by accident or even Ayaya?  Yeah, I was feeling a little bit of dejavu when I first listened to this track because of the overall acoustic pop feel of it all which is a broad change coming after “Yokohama Shinkirou”.  It’s nothing too particularly special on the album, but it’s nice regardless and Maki sounds lovely so it works.
  • Positive Genki! – It seems that all H!P artists are going to need these exciting tracks to amp up the crowds at lives and Gocchin has obtained hers with Positive Genki! and I find it pretty cool that she’s singing in a different tone than before and her aggressive, but lively energy works well with the song.  It could’ve been a bit more heavier, but this is a good song!
  • Station – Huh, we really went back to her debut era with Station huh?  Yeah, it’s a LOT like “Ai no Bakayarou” and “SHALL WE LOVE?” with the dated 90’s glittery R&B sound.  At this point, it does seem quite out of place and weird with the times but there’s something neat about it at the same time.  It may be odd with Maki singing slower than the beat, but it added some variety to the album.
  • Moshimo Owari ga Aru no Nara – As the B-side from the lone single, Moshimo Owari ga Aru no Nara follows a similar path like “Station”, but it’s much less serious in tone and Maki vocals gives this uplifting feel to it.  It is a little confusing in the prechorus, but it cleans up with its nice chorus.  Definitely a unique song for Maki that’s for sure.
  • Ai no Bakayarou (Bakayarou Version) – As I get into the updated tracks from her best album, I really had a hard time pinpointing what was so different in this version, but I believe she resung it perhaps?  Those really high notes in the chorus don’t seem so painful to listen to here.  Really, though I couldn’t tell…
  • Suki Sugite Baka Mitai (Goto Version) – While I haven’t talked about this song originally done by DEF.DIVA in this post yet, I won’t say too much because the arrangement remains the same and we’re left with Maki singing the song without the other 3 members.  I don’t mind this actually and she could’ve released this as an A-side if she wanted to, but that wasn’t the case.  The dance-pop style just works here!
  • Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON (2005 Natsu Hello! Version) – Interesting she decided to include this song as a live cut and not the studio version here.  Of course this song is always a good time to listen to and Maki gave a pretty powerful performance though I’m slightly disappointed it’s a shortened version (no 2nd verse/chorus).  Still, it’s a pretty good performance here!
  • Olivia wo Kikinagara (2005 Version) – At first I had to think because I knew I haven’t came across this song in her discography, but this is actually a cover of a pretty old ANRI song of the same name.  While it’s another ballad this year that kind of had similar instrumentation, but I think this one stuck to me and Maki gave a decent cover here and the chords are just pretty!
  • Afurechau…BE IN LOVE (Premium Version) – I REALLY LOVE the introduction to this version of Maki’s 2nd single and I love that this new version of the song twists it to a more sensual and intimate song with heavy bass and a more sultrier tone.  I will say the chorus is a little weird, but the rest of the song just sounds amazing in my earphones!
  • PLEASE GO ON (Korean Ver.) – As I said with the Korean version of “Suppin to Namida.”. Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON also suffers to the same extent with the weird tone Maki sings throughout as if it’s less powerful and weak.  Though it still is the song I can’t hate it too much, but this definitely is a weaker version and I can definitely tell the weird accent going on (and the bridge….talk about a missed opportunity).

MEH SONGS

  • Watarasebashi (Goto Version) – It wasn’t that long and yet we get another H!P artist covering this Chisato Moritaka ballad?  Likewise with Aya’s last year it’s in no way a bad ballad, but I don’t think Maki needed to cover this so soon after Aya’s if you get me.  Even then, I think Gocchin has much better ballads out there.  Though I do like the acoustic solo in the bridge, but otherwise not that interesting to me.
  • Renai Sentai Shitsu Ranger (Goto Version) – Maybe it’s just me but I was curious to this version of last year’s Nochiura Natsumi single getting covered, but I spose it’s similar to when the Gomattou girls did their own version of “SHALL WE LOVE?”.  That said, this solo cut feels weaker than the original mostly in the arrangement (and the curiosity of why it’s longer?).  Maki sounded fine though, it just lacked the oomph the original had…
  • 19sai no Hitorigoto – Appropriate enough, the album closes out with a ballad in 19sai no Hitorigoto and it does sound more grander than other ballads on the album, but these are the ones that pretty much put me asleep.  I will say Gocchin gave a great performance and the strings/piano/drums are doing a good job, but this wasn’t my kind of song.
  • Suppin to Namida. – Which hurts moreso because Suppin to Namida. was the A-side to come out after her 3rd album and it carries a lot of the same instrumentation found in “19sai no Hitorigoto” which really killed the mood for me.  The only difference is the melody which is fair, but like two similar songs one after the other just didn’t help me.
  • Sayonara no LOVE SONG (Junjou Version) – So right from the beginning, I knew that they changed the arrangement a bit for this A-side.  Instead of strings and whatnot, it’s more like this odd harpsichord and it kind of adds this classy feel to it that seems to feel odd with the drums and bass that enters further in the song.  Still, doesn’t make me enjoy the song better or less.
  • “Hatachi no Premium” – As the other new track on the album, “Hatachi no Premium” ends off her best album in a more exciting and upbeat way.  It does feel weak of a song to me as it just reminds me of “Ganbacchae!” in the weirdest way but it lacks the arrangement’s exciting glow.  This just feels cheesy and doesn’t quite fit?
  • THANK YOU MEMORIES (Korean Ver.) – So when the best album released in Korea, it came with two more tracks which were Korean versions of two of her A-sides.  I wasn’t surprised with Suppin to Namida. getting the treatment as it was her most recent single.  Now I can’t fully say, but I’m not as impressed with her Korean, but I can’t totally say it doesn’t sound terrible either.  While vocally it does make Maki seem weaker singing this ballad, but that’s just me.  Not really all that great IMO still.

ICKY SONGS

  • Ekizo na DISCO – Not really sure what was being passed around the offices the they decided to make this song the opening track for Maki’s 3rd album, but it’s just annoying and really creepy all-around with the demon Tsunku lyrics and Gocchin’s odd try being sexy and whispery which was more distracting than anything (honestly the arrangement isn’t bad, but everything else is terrible!).

Overall: I’m not sure what to say about Gocchin’s 2005, it was kind of not as busy as last year that’s for certain but like her releases were all over the map.  I mean her 3rd album was kind of middle-of-the-road as well as her single but two best albums is bizarre and I really wasn’t sure if H!P knew what they wanted to included in Premium Best XD

Aya Matsuura

aya2005

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Like Maki, Aya had a break year too, but even moreso!  She did begin the year in February with her single, Zutto Suki de Ii Desu ka before releasing two best albums (like Maki), Aya Matsuura Best 1 & 2005 Nendo Genteiban Single Best at the end of March.

The last thing she did was another single, Ki ga Tsukeba Anata in September.

GREAT SONGS

  • Yume – Ahhhh, I was hoping Ayaya would return with something more sassier and with Yume, she tackles a more Soulful side to her music and I really dug the groove and the jazzier setting.  Figures also that Aya really puts on a show with this song and to no surprise it ended up being more memorable than its A-side!

OK SONGS

  • Zutto Suki de Ii Desu ka – As the single preceding her best album, Zutto Suki de Ii Desu ka is such an interesting tune as I feel like it could be an anime theme in a strange ay especially with the chords and the additional sax melody but also with the deep bass throughout.  I also really fell in love with the guitar solo in the bridge too.  Yeah, this is a pretty nice song and makes up for the last couple.
  • Sougen no Hito (TSUNKU♂Mix) – So unlike Maki’s best where there was a lot of new versions of old songs, Aya only got two new versions.  Sougen no Hito was a pretty big hit for Aya and it’s no surprise it got a new edition, but this new Tsunku cut (he also worked on the original), but it does feel like a single recording as Ayaya’s vocals sound more live than in the original studio version.  I suppose it’s nice but nothing special?
  • Ki ga Tsukeba Anata – Her first A-side after her best albums and I’m finding myself happy with what we got which is a little more upbeat with some rock elements about it.  While it doesn’t show that Aya is going back to more silliness anytime soon, this might come close with its lightheartedness.  It’s pretty good overall!
  • Yuujou ~Jou Kalbi~ – I kind of was hoping for another jazzy track for its B-side but Yuujou kind of takes similar instrumentation from “Ki ga Tsukeba Anata” and took it a little slower and we got this track.  Not sure where I stand with it because while the arrangement is a bit sleepy, Ayaya sounds nice here too….

MEH SONGS

  • Kanousei no Michi (2005 Version) – I am pretty curious to why this song was chosen as I don’t recall seeing this being much of a popular song (since it’s not performed much currently).  This new take on this track from her 3rd album features more of Aya in the front and yet less instrumentation leaving with acoustic guitar and strings.  Unfortunately it doesn’t stand out and really bores me sadly.

Overall: It seems like Aya made this year the one to release the best album, but I think she got the short end of the stick with just 6 tracks to look at this year.  Though the mood of her music has seriously matured and I feel like she’s left the idol-pop side of her behind.  Not sure if I like it entirely though…

Kaori Iida

kaori2004

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So the only release Kaorin did for 2005 was her 4th album, Plein D’Amour ~Ai ga Ippai~ which she released in December.

GREAT SONGS

  • IRRESTIBLEMENT ~Anata no Toriko~ – Oh hey, it seems Kaori is doing something a bit more progressivly upbeat and more interestingly, she’s singing this entirely in French and I kind of like the change of pace on the album (which is about midway).  While I can’t exactly comment on Kaori’s pronunciation here, it seems like she did as best as she could and her light voice works with the more upbeat arrangement fronted by strings.  Yeah, this was pretty nice!
  • Eureka no Kaze – Hey, another upbeat track to listen to!  I really like the ethnic opening to the track before Kaori begins singing for sure but even when she does start singing the track really catches my attention.  Not sure what else to say, but it’s just a really good track here.

OK SONGS

  • Sakura no Hana ga Saku Koro – It seems this was the song that promoted the album (I’m only guessing because it was on Petit Best 6 of all things).  This tune seems to follow a lot of what her last album had which is more of a dramatic strings angle like “Aegekai ni Dakarete” did.  It’s not a bad tune and feels more of the same good things that were from her previous album.
  • Onaji Basho de – I feel like Kaori is bringing back that Mediterreanean feel back on this album with the return of the accordion alongside the rather soft arrangement with acoustic guitar and bongos.  Kaori though sounds really nice and tune’s overall melody is just hypnotic and pretty to listen to.  Another sweet song!
  • Souvenir – More of that shuffling, airy light feel continues on the album with Souvenir and while it lacks the accordion that “Onaji Basho de” has, the song instead has a fluttery flute instead and I just feel like I’m sipping coffee outside in Italy or Greece.  It’s just that chill and such a moodmaker.  Not bad!
  • Hirahira to – Next song up, Hirahira to is one of the more middle-of-the-road songs from the album as while it does give me gondola vibes while listening to it, it also doesn’t quite stand out like most of the other tracks found on the album.
  • Ai no Kotoba – I think what catches my interest about Ai no Kotoba is that it’s a LOT like “Souvenir” with the same relaxed and laidback arrangement (even including that lovely flute).  I guess it’s pretty much a clone of a song, but these kinds of songs really somehow works with me.

MEH SONGS

  • Bloom – As the opening to the album, Bloom was such an odd song to listen to that’s for sure.  It feels like Kaori jumped back a couple decades for this song.  It feels like some fluffy 60’s song with some oldie flute melody.  I mean Kaori does sound really pretty in the song, but otherwise the song just doesn’t work for me.
  • LA NOTTE DELL’ADDIO ~Wakare no Yoru~ – So after the French song, we jump into a song sung in Italian and honestly, this like “Bloom” feels like it’s a style that was lost a long time ago with this CASIO-heavy keyboarded ballad.  Yeah there’s just something rather cheaply made about this track and with the fact it’s a cover doesn’t quite make it better either.  At least Kaori sounds nice.
  • Mirai Yohou – Another slower song on the album, Mirai Yohou is kind of a completely sleepy song for me.  Initially, the harmonica was helping from the intro, but the rest of the song is very lowbrow and just kind of very boring (even when the chorus happens).  It’s just rather plain.
  • Mikka Okure no Christmas Card – I figured as much when I saw the title of the song, it was going to be more of a ballad and have some kind of Wintry feel to it.  Though I’m not sure if I’m into the keyboards being a main part of its arrangement and the jingle bells was making it more slower too.  Yeah, just a bit bland of a song.
  • Papillon – As the finale to the album, Papillon was kind of more of a bummer as a closing to the album as it’s another kind of straightforward mid-tempo track from Kaori.  I mean it’s fair enough being the closer. but there’s just nothing really sticking me to the song either.

Overall: Kaori really had a very quiet year for 2005 with just this album (which released towards the end of the year) and her only other appearance is in the Shuffle Unit for the year.  Still, nothing to interesting otherwise besides the album.

Natsumi Abe

Natsumiabe2005

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After the drama that happened the year previous, Nacchi recharged and returned in April with the single, Yume Naraba.  Then followed up with August’s Koi no Hana and a Hawaii-only best of mini-album, 2005 Nendo Genteiban Single Best.

Then she leaves us with Takaramono in November, which is curiously credited as “Sen” as that was the main character of the drama the song was tied to.

GREAT SONGS

  • Koi no Hana – After the sleepy A-side previous, Koi no Hana does a little better of a job at catching my attention, but it skates across that 90’s R&B feel that Maki is more known for.  It is pretty different and maybe would’ve been better as the A-side after “Datte Ikitekanakucha”.  It’s glossy and Nacchi sounds cute if not slightly thin, but it’s a decent A-side!
  • Aozora – I was surprised a lot that I ended up really liking the B-side to “Takaramono” a lot more than the main track and it’s mainly the feel that Aozora is more folksy and more easy listening than I thought it’d be.  Though I really love the verses, it ives a mystical vibe to the song and it really caught my attention.  Yeah, this was pretty great!

OK SONGS

  • Yume Naraba – As the first A-side released in the year, Yume Naraba was more of what I was expecting with the tune being a mid-tempo R&B track with some pretty sweet vocals from Nacchi.  Like many of the songs this year though, it’s pretty much in the middle for as it’s not one of her more standout A-side, but it isn’t a bad track overall.
  • Ai Hitohira – As the B-side from “Koi no Hana”, Ai Hitohira takes a more chilled out respones as it’s got some jazy guitar with a more mellow tone that kind of is soothing and really works with Nacchi’s light vocals too.  I do think the solo in the bridge is the olnly strange part, but otherwise I quite dug this one!
  • Takaramono – So this A-side really pulls things back for Nacchi as it’s a ballad for her. Initially, I wasn’t really into the strings/acoustic guitar approach for the song, but it does somehow grows as things move by and the arrangement grows to add some more instrumentation.  While it isn’t a song I would personally go back for, this is one of the better produced ballads in the year.
  • Takaramono (another side) – So the single came with an alternate version of the leading track where it’s even more laidback and quiet with light acoustic guitar and sounds of nature playing in the background.  Even Nacchi sounds more calmer here making the song feel a bit more sleepy.  It does grow like the original, but the instrumentation is different to fit this version.  It’s an interesting version to say the least and I might come to like it more than the

MEH SONGS

  • Sora LIFE GOES ON – What is up with the ballads this year?  It feels like they’re all rather throwaway and rather forgettable.  This B–side from “Yume Naraba” slows things down even further and kind of just feels like another ballad in H!P for me and with the only nice feature is the electric guitar that kicks up during the 2nd verse.  The kind of adds a little something, but not enough to make me remember more.

Overall: With kind of the same route that Aya took with her year, Natsumi’s 2005 was pretty light in releases, but at least the releases were solid and makes up for that space she had in the later half of last year.  Pretty good year!

Berryz Kobo

berryz2005

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A lot of interesting things happened for Berryz this year oddly enough.  So they released three singles to kick things off with Special Genera~tion (March) , Nanchuu Koi wo Yatteruu YOU KNOW? (June), and 21ji Made no Cinderella (August).

Though in September, it was shockingly announced that Maiha Ishimura was going to be graduating from the group to go back and focus on studies and left the group in October.

Though at the mid of November they did a trilogy of releases in a month’s time.  Starting with the group’s sophomore album, Dai ② Seichouki, a new single in Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai, and a weird mini-album, Special! Mini Best ~2.5maime no Kare~ to round the year off.

GREAT SONGS

  • Special Genera~tion – Why am I not surprised that Special Genera~tion would go onto become one of Berryz’ most popular hits in amongst the A-sides they released.  I love the energy and how relentless the group sounds in the track (considering Miyabi, Risako, Yurina, and Momoko has the most standout solos throughout).  It’s just a song that really sticks to you and it’s just ridiculously awesome!
  • Nanchuu Koi wo Yatteruu YOU KNOW? – The follow-up single after their big hit was surprising because they went back to mature vibes for this one, but with a heavier electronic arrangement here.  It was an instant like out of me despite that the front 4 only having lines.  Regardless, the tune is upbeat and something I really needed from H!P in 2005.
  • Sabori – I think of the songs from the album, Sabori really stuck out to me with it’s really unique arrangement and slight 80’s feel to it.  Plus it’s just nice to hear everyone singing together and they sound as powerful as they did in “Nanchuu Koi wo Yatteruu YOU KNOW?” and I appreciates that.  The chorus could’ve had a bit more tempo added, but the song is really nice!
  • Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai – When this trilogy of releases happened with Berryz, I was wondering what they could do with the knowledge that it’d be a song tied to the rather popular Precure series and the first A-side post-Maiha as well.  Though we did get a clear direction from their 2nd album.  Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai was just out of left field being incredibly cutesy and goofy and it helped with Momoko leading the song (with the other girls playing roles behind).  Just a great song overall and Berryz doing goofy fun right!

OK SONGS

  • Yume de Do Up – This laidback B-side from “Nanchuu Koi wo Yatteruu YOU KNOW?” is a bit different for the group giving us a lighter affair of a song with it’s tropical feel and it’s pretty unique for them.  I do like that the group evened out the lines (to the point where Maasa, Chinami, Maiha, and Saki gets lines in the verses).  It’s a pretty good B-side though and makes me want more songs like this…actually it oddly reminds me of “Ai to Taiyou ni Tsutsumarete” from Momusu too!
  • 21ji Made no Cinderella – Something retro comes this way with 21ji Made no Cinderella, but it was more felt like a cutesy girly track which makes sense with the title.  Of course like the other A-sides the main 4 lead (but curiously Chinami got a solo in the 2nd verse).  That said, it doesn’t quite reach the levels like the previous two singles managed to do and once again doesn’t feel like Maiha left much of an impact as this was her final A-side.
  • Joshi Basketbu ~Asaren Atta Hi no Kamigata~ – As the first new track off their album, Joshi Basketbu is of course something a bit more youthful for the group and might remind me of “21ji Made no Cinderella” in a couple ways but this time the focus is on Saki, Chinami, Maasa, and Yurina here while the other three have more minor roles in the song.  Not bad and keeps the group going…good song!
  • Ohiru no Kyuukei Jikan. – Slowing things down for a rather mid-tempo and relaxing tune, Ohiru no Kyuukei Jikan. is kind of like the song that’s almost filler, but it’s like a happier “Bye Bye Mata ne” in the way it’s got that nice togetherness about it.  I do like conversation with the back girls and having the main 4 song is nice too.  It’s just a feel good song.
  • Nigiyaka na Fuyu – When it came to the B-side from the Precure single, I kind of thought it was just bland and kind of boring.  I did like that it was upbreat and whatnot but after listening to “Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai”, this was tame in comparison.  Add on that there’s no solos and I was ready to write it off.  Though I did learn that Mari Yaguchi was in the song (her first time singing in a H!P song since her leaving Morning Musume back in April (this single was in November).  Still, the fact she didn’t get no solos either kind of bummed me out a bit.  It’s OK, but nothing spectacular.

MEH SONGS

  • Koishiteru Toki wa Itsumo… – With the B-side from “Special Genera~tion”, I wasn’t quite sure what they were going for here.  I mean I’m liking more of an equal line distribution well mostly (curiously why Risako got one solo and Maasa didn’t get any at all).  Add on that the song really didn’t leave much on me, but I do like the high notes Captain and Momoko try for together in the chorus.
  • Himitsu no U・ta・hi・me – I think I get the same feelings with this B-side as I did with “Koishiteru Toki wa Itsumo…” with being more of a middle track that’s supposed to be more cuter for the group.  I will say I do like hearing more of the back girls and Maiha got a lot of presence in the song too.  Though I’m not too fond of the way they sing the chorus so mechanically.  Just kind of a bland song here.
  • Aisuru Hito no Namae wo Nikki ni – One of the more forgettable songs from the album, Aisuru Hito no Namae wo Nikki ni would be best described as a country ballad (like early Country Musume style) with acoustic & slide guitars with light drums filling the rest.  Maybe it’s just me, but like younger ladies like Berryz stick out like sore thumbs trying to be (in love) and given such a slow-moving tune.  Yeah, it’s just meh…
  • Berryz Kobo Koushinkyoku – For being titled a March, this song does not quite fit that bill here!  The tune is pretty much the last track and fair enough it’s kind of celebratory with the girls chanting and being so lively.  Though likewise, I’m kind of annoyed by it and just doesn’t really leave much of an impression otherwise.
  • Arigatou! Otomodachi – As part of the last in the trilogy, the group released a weird best mini-album to kind of bring in the Holiday season, which only included one new song out of the 6 on the mini-album and Arigatou! Otomodachi kind of fits that Wintry feel.  Although I can’t help that it reminds me of “Nigiyaka na Fuyu” off the single prior to this release minus Marippe and actually having solos.  I know it’s one of the more popular songs Berryz had, but I just didn’t get it.

ICKY SONGS

  • Special OP – It’s basically the intro to their sophomore album, but it’s roughly 50 seconds long and honestly reminds me something Minimoni would’ve for an intro.  Lots of brass in a fanfare-like way and it does play a melody (not sure from what song though, it that’s the case…well probably “Berryz Kobo Koushinkyoku”).  I guess it makes sense, but doesn’t really work with “Special Genera~tion” right after.
  • Special END – I suppose, the way the album ending with a relaxing melodic lullaby using the melody from “Berryz Kobo Koushinkyoku” is cute and all but with the group having conversation over it is a bit distracting since it’s so jumbled and unclear what they’re talking about.  It’s an ending I suppose…

Overall: When it came to Berryz, they had a pretty interesting year with their releases especially that smushed schedule towards the end of the year.  Sad to see Maiha graduate (Future talk: luckily no one else left the group after this) but after thinking about it, she was a back member and really didn’t have a LOT of highlights, but still sad nonetheless.  Curious to see where Berryz go after such a strong year in releases!

W

W2005

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W had a pretty straightforward year I’d say in 2005.  They kicked off the year with February’s single Koi no Fuga before releasing their sophomore album, 2nd W a month later.

The rest of the year only had two singles from them; May’s Ai no Imi wo Oshiete! and September’s Miss Love Tantei.

GREAT SONGS

  • Koi no Fuga – I mean I wasn’t surprised W would return to do another cover song for an A-side and it shows heavily with Koi no Fuga.  There’s just a lot of like 40’s/50’s big band sound and I’m just loving the swing of things and Aibon and Nono sound really nice especially together (helps that I really liked it after their first album).  It’s just slick and cool and great albeit surprisingly short too…so sad!
  • Dekoboko Seventeen – What I wasn’t expecting was after the intro, they turned the dance beats up even further and boy this song was just punchy and really aggressive for a song from W.  I really liked arrangement here and it’s just fits well after stuff like “Sentimental Boy” and “Samishii Nettaigyo” but the difference was that it was an original track so it was a nice surprise!  Plus, Ai and Nozomi are just killing it.  Yeah, loving it!
  • Ai no Imi wo Oshiete! – Back to original A-sides again, I’m pretty happy with that.  I really don’t know why they chose to once again the technopop route for this A-side, but the video game-esque sounds and groove really caught my attention and boy they really cake it up for this one and I’m here for it.  Ai and Nozomi sound so adorable and suits the style of the song entirely.  It’s definitely one of my favorite A-sides from them.
  • Miss Love Tantei After the cuteness of the previous single, Miss Love Tantei is more dance-focused and the beats are pretty cool and the duo sounds sassy and cool (especially that rap section with mostly Tsuji at the front).  It’s just a cool track and really showed off some versatility between the two so it’s another winner here!
  • FRIENDSHIP – Kind of surprised that the B-side to “Miss Love Tantei” kind of had a similar genre going on, but unlike the sassiness of the leading track, FRIENDSHIP is happier and has some really nice vocals (mostly from Aibon here).  It’s just catchy and the energy is there too!  I was pretty surprised with this one!

OK SONGS

  • Furimukenaide – With the B-side from “Koi no Fuga”, Furimukenaide sounds also like a cover song as well since it’s got an oldie kind of groove to it and it’s a bit more playful with the duo using their higher range throughout.  It’s a nice ditty of a song but not quite as punchy like its A-side which really stood out to me.
  • Samidare Renka – Sandwiched between “Robokiss” and “Aa Ii na!”, we have Samidare Renka and it was a bit bizarre being as the album’s first ballad.  I actually was intrigued by its placement but was ready to listen to them tackle it and it feels more like Aibon led the song while Nono was kind of backup here.  Though I am happy that Ai is leading as her vocals work in such a lighter setting.
  • Dakishimenaide ~Nikkitsuki~ – Another lighter track from the album, Dakishimenaide is a little more interesting than “Samidare Renka” by being a bit more like a lighter R&B track.  It’s not bad, but it does remind me of something that could’ve been featured back on Minimoni’s last album.  It’s almost crossing into meh territory, but it’s still got something relaxing about it.
  • 18 ~My Happy Birthday Comes!~ – After that odd March, we get into 18 ~My Happy Birthday Comes!~ and I was instantly hooked with the kind of funky/disco-ish arrangement and bright atmosphere.  Once again, the duo’s vocals bring a lot of color to the song and together, 18 was just a really solid track!
  • Juushichi no Natsu – While quite not as heavy as “Dekoboko Seventeen”, Juushichi no Natsu is kind of a technopop track and it’s much more of a cuter approach as well.  I definitely get reminded of some of the other technopop tunes around this time and while Nono & Aibon sing pretty decently, it’s kind of in the middle for me.
  • 17sai yo Sayonara (ARRIVERDERCI) – I was wondering what was coming with this track which had a capitalized Italian word in its title, but it seems like this is another cover song (like “Juushichi no Natsu”) but unlike the mentioned song, this one is slowed way down to a more softer, jazzier song and I can appreciate this a lot as both members sound really nice and the mood is super relaxing!  One of the more surprisingly good songs from the album.
  • Jinx – What an interesting B-side that “Ai no Imi wo Oshiete!” had as it’s a total 180 from the leading track.  In some ways it reminds me of “Robokiss” with the whispy singing in the verses, but then the chorus is a bit more darker?  I think the song is unique and keeps my attention throughout.  Yeah not bad!

MEH SONGS

  • W no Theme – No surprise when I find out there album opens with a introduction track and it seems this may be a theme W could use for performances.  The first half isn’t quite all that interesting, but once the dance beats enter and W start to sing, I was slightly intrigued but at the same time annoyed at how repetitive things was.
  • Mada Mou Chotto Amaete Itai – As the album’s closer, Mada Mou Chotto Amaete Itai doesn’t seem like the song to close the album (honestly would’ve preferred “17sai yo Sayonara” to have closed the album out) and it’s kind of a weaker song from them because the style just feels Western and sort of forgettable in a way.  I don’t know, I just didn’t connect with this one.

ICKY SONGS

  • Daburuyuu Joshi Koutou Gakkou Kouka – Boy, I was NOT expecting the duo to really return back to those Minimoni days for this track and this really threw the album off track with how ridiculously kiddy it came off.  Plus, the background vocals don’t really help the situation, but at least unlike “Berryz Kobo Koushinkyoku”, this IS in fact a March.  Still, I really couldn’t understand why it was on the album if anything.
  • INTERLUDE – Seeing as it kind of a weird 25 second transition track, I was pretty thrown off by it because “Koi no Fuga” fades out for its ending it leads into INTERLUDE with the duo kind of being super excited and loud while “Juushichi no Natsu” kind of begins.  Pretty useless though otherwise and makes me question its inclusion to the album.

Overall: I would say W had a pretty good 2005 (which I can’t really say much to other acts of the year).  They had 3 rather strong singles and a fun sophomore album to throw too, it seems they really got their style going and I can’t wait to see what 2006 brings (*cough*).

v-u-den

vuden05

kacchoizeajisaiaiaihitorijimekurenainokisetsuSuite Room Number 1

So it seems v-u-den had a pretty straightforward year it seems and was happy to see them release more after “Koi no Nukegara”.  So their year had 4 singles; Kacchoii ze! JAPAN (in March), Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari (in May), Hitorijime (in August), and Kurenai no Kisetsu (in October)

Then at the end of October, the trio would release their first album, Suite Room Number 1.

GREAT SONGS

  • Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari – With their 3rd single, v-u-den seemed to take things a bit more seriously with Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari and it’s pretty cool, but I could also see people thinking it’s a little strange.  It’s mostly due to the tick-tock/snap effect played in various places like the pre-chorus and choruses.  Also REALLY happy to see a lot of Erika in the track too!  There’s just something interesting about the song that really stood out (besides the herky-jerky moments) but this song flows so nicely otherwise.  Great song!
  • Aimai Me MIND – I definitely wasn’t expecting Aimai Me MIND to be more danceable than it’s A-side, but I was happily taken aback by the different feel of the song being more darker and sullen.  Plus all 3 members just get solos left and right which felt great to hear.  I’m starting to see that members are slightly unique in vocal tone and easily could tell them apart.  Another underrated gem to be quite honest.
  • Kurenai no Kisetsu – As the group’s 5th single, it’s been always something different with each release so I was so interested to hear this and this one is a little closer to “Kacchoii ze! JAPAN” with it’s tone and style, but it’s a little more romantic in a way.  It’s not a typical song and I’m liking vocals here a lot with the harmonies and back and forth stuff that happens in the prechorus.  Yeah, this was neat too and a song that’s quickly growing on me.

OK SONGS

  • Kacchoii ze! JAPAN – As the trio’s 2nd single together, Kacchoii ze! JAPAN is definitely not like their debut, instead being upbeat and danceable and less rockin’!  I will say, I adore the addition of some traditional Japanese elements, but there’s just something odd about the song maybe from Rika leading most of it to the weird English lyrics in the verses.  Even the PV was kind of a bit random as well.  Just an odd A-side for them!
  • Bi ~Hit Parade~ – So the B-side from “Kacchoii ze! JAPAN” is also kind of a weird one for me to listen to but it’s in no way a bad song.  I’m liking the better line distribution (both Rika & Yui have the most lines) and with Yui having a bit more edge in her voice than before, but the arrangement is a bit thin, especially with the verses.  There’s a lot of bass, but not much else involved and the chorus isn’t much improvement as well.  Maybe not as strong as its leading track, but I suppose it’s fine.
  • Hitorijime – After the really impressive “Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari”, I was curious to see where v-u-den would go next and Hitorijime wasn’t quite the direction as this time they follow more to the 90s R&B sound for this track.  I can’t quite say it’s the most interesting A-side they have because it doesn’t quite bring much to the table and I guess seeing the line distribution be this even is great!  Still, kind of plain otherwise.
  • Ai ~Suite Room~ – In one of the few rare occasions, they gave a PV to an album song and in this case it was this song for v-u-den.  We return to more of that cutesy style for Ai, but this is more dance pop in a way and a little more refreshing for the group.  I could’ve lived without the English background singers, but I still find myself enjoying the tune!
  • Tea Break – Maybe I put a little too much hope for this one because the introduction was giving me some nice 80s vibes and the beat was heavier and cooler, but once the trio comes in, the song lightens up a fair bit.  That’s not to say its bad though because it’s another song that does a good job highlighting Rika, Erika, and Yui.  I think it could’ve been better but what we got was decent.
  • Kuchibiru Kara Ai wo Choudai – Of the album songs, I think Kuchibiru Kara Ai wo Choudai has the most intriguing arrangement going for more of an Arabian tone and with the vocal stylings from all 3 members.  It’s suppose to be a little more silly but it contrasts with its broad sounding chorus.  Yeah, I’m really enjoying this song too!

MEH SONGS

  • Owaranai Yoru to Yume  – With Owaranai Yoru to Yume, I think slowing down and making it kind of pop/rock but not really is an easy way to make things boring and plain and unfortunately, while “Hitorijime” was OK at the end of the day, its B-side is pretty forgettable.  I even think the trio sounded a bit dead too and didn’t work with the arrangement.
  • Naishin Kyaakyaa da wa! – Wow, I didn’t expect another B-side to essentially disappoint me, but I immediately knew that with how bubbly and upbeat the arrangement was, it wasn’t going to last long with me.  I think the keyboards of the song make it sound older than it should and has a certain old H!P feel to it.  The trio doesn’t sound bad, but there’s been better songs.
  • Kurakura Dinner Time – Another album song, Kurakura Dinner Time kind of suffers the same fate as “Naishin Kyaakyaa da wa!” with its kind of bland cutefulness here.  I mean the clapping rhythms are nice, but why do I get this odd feeling that it sounds like that damn Ecomoni song…?  I really couldn’t be bothered with this song and it’s just weak for me.
  • Magokoro no Michi – After the catastrophe that was “Pajama na Jikan”, Magokoro no Michi marks as the final track beore the outro and once again we’re dealing with a ballad, but it’s not as crap as the aforementioned track.  There’s the typical instrumentaion (strings & piano) and a softer presentation from the trio.  That said though, it’s not my kind of song so it’s just blah to me.

ICKY SONGS

  • Check-in –  The opening to their album is a 50 second track that only has the them arriving to a hotel (makes sense with the album’s theme), pretty much a conversation, little odd that it leads into “Kacchoii ze! JAPAN” but it’s whatever.
  • Pajama na Jikan – I think the only song that really disappointed me was the tune which is supposed to be a lullaby which is nice on paper, but how they did this song was just a bit terrible here.  The song itself is a bit too slow for me and it pretty much drags on, but I think what’s worse is that in the prechorus, Yui has these incredibly high notes she’s singing for like 8 measures and they are just too much for me to handle and ruins the song if not already from the arrangement.
  • Check-out – So v-u-den’s album ends with the outro kind of tying together with the intro by having an alarm waking up and the Front Desk telling them it’s time to go as the trio start panicking to get ready to leave.  I mean it makes sense, but just odd?

Overall: I really liked v-u-den’s 2005 as there was a LOT of variety with their music and they’ve been pretty decent, they hotel-themed album was pretty interesting even if some of the songs were lukewarm.  I feel like with more time they’ll be even better and just have energy and power and a great look to them for the future!

DEF.DIVA

defydiva2005

Suki Sugite Baka Mitai

Interestingly enough in September, it was announced that a new group would be created with 3 of the soloists, (Natsumi AbeMaki GotoAya Matsuuraand Rika Ishikawa to form DEF.DIVA!  They only did release their one single for the year, October’s Suki Sugite Baka Mitai.

GREAT SONGS

  • Suki Sugite Baka Mitai – As the group’s debut, Suki Sugite Baka Mitai was a really interesting song feeling a bit more of an 80’s pop song with some dance beats and interestingly smooth vocals.  There’s just something about this that really catches my attention and it doesn’t help that all these vocals are all over the song.  It’s cool and catchy and fun to listen to, one of the best songs to release this year.

MEH SONGS

  • Suki Sugite Baka Mitai (CRAZY J-G JAZZ Remix) – So the single came with 2 remixes of the song and the first one is a jazz remix and it’s a little too freeform for me to really make this song work together.  I feel like the two ideas clash really harshly and it’s hard to focus on both the melody of the lyrics and the melody of the jazz instruments.  Yeah, it’s just a tad bit messy here.
  • Suki Sugite Baka Mitai (Joou Remix) – Oh?  Are we trying to recreate “SHALL WE LOVE?” with this remix?  Yeah, it seems that this remix brings in that old and tiresome 90’s R&B for this remix and while it definitely mixed the two ideas better than the Jazz mix, it’s still rather weak and kind of makes the song more bland ironically.

Overall: I kind of wonder why they keep beating a dead horse by grouping these members together repeatedly.  Though the twist in this one is Rika is a part of the group.  I guess it’s fine because their one A-side this year was really good!  Though I think the remixes are just no.  Curious to see if they continue into the next year!

Hello! Pro Egg

800px-Hello!_Pro_Egg_July_2005

The trainees this year weren’t all that active really, just maybe some concerts and what not but a couple things happen.

Maho Ohyanagi (July) and Miyuki Kawashima (September) left the program.

Then in October, the first Egg unit was created with Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai that included Yuuka Maeda, Arisa Noto, Konatsu Furukawa, Kanna Arihara, and Kaede Oose and debuted at the Culture Festival for environmental purposes (like Ecomoni beforehand).  Though they didn’t release any music in the year.

I guess the other big thing was that Hello! Pro Kansai was created with winners from the audtions, Manami Iwashima, Ai Suma, Nana Nakayama, and Asami Abe on top of Irori Maeda joining as well.

Other H!P Releases

OnnaKanashiiOtonaPetit Best 6 12

Quite a short list at the end huh?  Yeah, for some reason there weren’t many releases that were outside of the groups so all we ended up with the shuffle unit single which was unique because this time majority of H!P was not involved in it!

  • Sexy Otonajan (Fujimoto, Murakami, Natsuyaki) – They were given a sultry, bossa nova track, Onna, Kanashii, Otona.
  • Elegies (Shibata, Takahashi, Satoda, Tanaka) – This quartet had the danceable cool song, Inshouha Renoir no You ni.
  • Puripuri Pink (Nakazawa, Iida, Inaba, Yasuda) – With these 4, they were given the Autumn ballad, Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki.

And as always, we have Petit Best 6 which would be found at the end of the year.

GREAT SONGS

  • Onna, Kanashii, Otona – When it came to the shuffle units of 2005, I was pretty surprised that it was cut down to just 11 of the H!P members being involved, but things were settled in with the first song from Sexy Otonajan.  I really wasn’t expecting the song to be super sultry and have a sly and sexy glow to it, but I think it was more made by the fact by the vocals.  While I had no doubt Mikitty would kill it, I was more blown away by Megumi who just kind of owned it here.  Miyabi though kind of was the oddball of the three.  Still, this was a pretty nice song and definitely made me want Megumi to debut BADLY!
  • Inshouha Renoir no You ni – Though Elegies were definitely not slacking either for this single.  As the dance track of the single, Inshouha Renoir no You ni was just a cool and pretty neat track here.  With Ai-chan, Ayumin, Mai, and Reina in the song, I was quite surprised to just see this powerhouse (almost as if it’s like DEF.DIVA 2 with the great vocalists).  It’s just an awesome track and I really love the hooks in the song the most!  Another great 2005 song!

OK SONGS

  • Chokkan ~Toki to Shite Koi wa~ (LIVE Ver.) – Kind of odd that Petit Best 6 included a live version of the first Chokkan and not the 2nd one because that was the one promoted.  I mean, I’m not entirely sre what to say other than it’s a good live cut, but really why was this included?

MEH SONGS

  • Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki – Seeing the four members involved (Yuko, Kaori, Atsuko, and Kei) I was kind of hoping it would’ve been on par with the Elegies song, but for some reason that was a MISSED opportunity here.  First of all, it’s a ballad which is already kind of a bad sign, but it’s moreso when you learn that the song is sung entirely in unison so it kills interest altogether.  I don’t know, but the fakes in the background (not sung from the members, mind you) is just really odd too!

ICKY SONGS

  • HELP!! ~Ecomoni no Acchi Chikyuu wo Samasunda. 2005~ – Like I said, there’s just no hope for this song to really make much more of an impression, but since this is the 3rd take of the song, the magic is still not there and the song is more funny than serious as it should be.  Not sure what’s all different from this and the last time (maybe the raps?)  I don’t know, but this song just still is rather bad to me.

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • Koharu Kusumi
  • Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai
  • DEF.DIVA

Losses

  • Kaori Iida (from Morning Musume)
  • Rika Ishikawa (from Morning Musume)
  • Mari Yaguchi (from Morning Musume)
  • Maho Ohyanagi
  • Miyuki Kawashima
  • Maiha Ishimura

My H!P Ranking for ’05

  • 47. Mai Hagiwara (-3)
  • 46. Saki Nakajima (0)
  • 45. Chisato Okai (+2)
  • 44. Maimi Yajima (+1)
  • 43. Erika Umeda (0)
  • 42. Airi Suzuki (-13)
  • 41. Ayaka Kimura (+1)
  • 40. Asami Kimura (-10)
  • 39. Miuna Saito (-18)
  • 38. Yuki Maeda (-26)

(38-47 did not appear in any releases in the year)

  • 37. Atsuko Inaba (-26)
  • 36. Kei Yasuda (-18)
  • 35. Yuko Nakazawa (-10)
  • 34. Sayumi Michishige (+6)
  • 33. Koharu Kusumi (NEW)
  • 32. Maiha Ishimura (+6)
  • 31. Chinami Tokunaga (+10)
  • 30. Megumi Murata (+7)
  • 29. Asami Konno (-7)
  • 28. Maasa Sudo (-4)
  • 27. Saki Shimizu (+9)
  • 26. Mari Yaguchi (-9)
  • 25. Risa Niigaki (-6)
  • 24. Risako Sugaya (+10)
  • 23. Eri Kamei (+5)
  • 22. Momoko Tsugunaga (+17)
  • 21. Natsumi Abe (-19)
  • 20. Mai Satoda (-6)
  • 19. Yui Okada (+12)
  • 18. Makoto Ogawa (+5)
  • 17. Yurina Kumai (+16)
  • 16. Hitomi Yoshizawa (+16)
  • 15. Miyabi Natsuyaki (+20)
  • 14. Ai Kago (-10)
  • 13. Maki Goto (-8)
  • 12. Aya Matsuura (-6)
  • 11. Ayumi Shibata (+5)
  • 10. Reina Tanaka (+10)
  • 9. Megumi Murakami (+17)
  • 8. Hitomi Saito (+1)
  • 7. Kaori Iida (-4)
  • 6. Nozomi Tsuji (+4)
  • 5. Ai Takahashi (+2)
  • 4. Masae Ohtani (-3)
  • 3. Rika Ishikawa (+11)
  • 2. Miki Fujimoto (+6)
  • 1. Erika Miyoshi (+14)

So there you have it, probably one of the weakest years in Hello! Project in releases it feels like.  Here’s hoping the next year will impress better!!

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