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

°C-ute to disband in 2017

cute

Today, it was announced that the eldest group in H!P currently will disband at Saitama Super Arena in June of 2017.

Honestly, while the timing was surprising, the overall thoughts were that it wasn’t as much of a shock considering the tenure they’ve been pulling since they’ve debuted.  I love the group and as much as I think Airi, Maimi, and Chisato were the vocal powerhouses, Saki and Mai were pretty integral as well!

More news is that they’ll release one more single and won’t take part in the Winter H!P concerts.  Makes me think there’ll also be a best album thrown in like when Berryz called it a day.

Don’t know what other surprises are in store, but it’ll be a nice run towards the end!

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Tsubaki Factory gains 3 members?…WHT?!?

Yup!  Announced today at a Fanclub event, the group annouced 3 new members (all from the Kenshuusei…so let’s get to know them!

Saori Onoda

onoda

Probably the most familiar face of the trio, Saorin kind of took up Karin’s mantle when she started doing the Pinkss stuff and even then she surprised many for her Shindan Test performance opting for a recorder solo!  To me she stands as a good face for the group next to Yumeno currently.  It’ll be interesting to see what she’ll bring, but I have a feeling she’ll be a lead next to Yumeno and Kiki.

Mao Akiyama

akiyama

The next gal up is Mao Akiyama!  Though I am sad to say that between her and the other girl that’s coming up, I don’t have too much of an opinion on them.  With Akiyama though, she is known for her dancing abilities so that’ll come in handy for more upbeat songs.  We’ll see how things go!

Mizuho Ono

onomitsu

The last girl, Mizuho is really an enigmatic to the group as she kind of runs in the middle of the road leaving nothing that really sets her apart from her KSS sisters.  She has gotten better singing since her induction to the KSS, but how it’ll stand amongst the other 8 will be interesting.

Overall, I feel like moving Tsubaki to a 9-nin group might be a little overkill, but I feel like the group really needed a spark as not many fans are won over quite yet.  While I see Saori being a good choice, it’ll be worth seeing if Mao and Mizuho can add something else as well!  Though announcing this not even a week after the 6-nin released “Hitorijime / Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo” is beyond weird

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Manaka Inaba graduates from Country Girls

inaba

Today, it was announced that Manaka Inaba from Country Girls has graduated.  For me, this isn’t all too surprising because she’s been absent and on hiatus for a couple months now due to her asthma which apparently hasn’t gotten better.  The notice did say she’ll remain a part of UF, but to what degree is unknown currently.

It’s a bitter and sudden closure as she only sung on three singles, but she was kind of the hidden ace amongst the group due to her amazing dancing skills and her voice which could go between a powerful voice and to a cutesy squeak.  While I wonder if they’ll replace with someone (as ANGERME did recently), I kind of hope one of the Hokkaido KSS gets added just for the whole Country Musume/Girls status quo.

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Time for some Kenshuusei news!

So over the last week we’ve gotten some pretty interesting news concerning the Kenshuusei!  So let’s talk about it all!

ksshokkaido

Top Row: Hikari Sato, Haruka Ota, Mei Yamazaki
Bottom Row: Kanami Ishiguri, Minori Kawano, Yume Kudo, Ryo Kitagawa

The biggest news is that a new branch of the Kenshuusei program was created for members from Hokkaido!  Though that 6/7 are from Sapporo (Kitagawa is from Rankoshi), these our are new trainees. Now what they’ll do during this time is still up in the air currently (though they did perform “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa”).  It makes me wonder if this is a pre-conceived group in waiting or not (as they have a profile picture above) whereas the normal KSS don’t (yet).

yokogawashimanohashimotonakano

On the other side of the program, it was announced that Yumei Yokogawa, Momoko Shimano, Nagisa Hashimoto, and Rion Nakano had finished their training a few days before the announcement of the Hokkaido branch.  With the first three, age was pretty much the factor on why they are all gone (though for Yumei, I’m sure it was her lack of talent…sorry but not sorry).  As for Rion, there was not a lot of reason for her leaving, but maybe she wanted to go back and focus on school or something.

With the Kenshuusei (not counting the Hokkaido girls) going to just 16 members (plus Tsubaki), they might focus on gaining new girls for a while, though with 2 new songs, anything can happen.

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Warp back to 1997 & 1998…Year Recap!

So I’ve decided to start tackling the old H!P and slowing reaching up the year (a grand task at hand!).  What’s a better way than to start from the humble beginnings of H!P?…or at that time the 6 together were just called Hello!  Well, two years because 1997 had only two releases and that would’ve been too short of a blogpost.  Also some pictures are going to be from more recent stuff (because apparently promo shots back then were near to not existing at the time).

Also, as it is a Year Recap, it’ll be done like the ones I tend to usually do at the end of every year :D…so this won’t be any different (except currently, there’s no Eggs/Kenshuusei XD)…so shall we dive right in!

Morning Musume

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ainotanemorningcoffee8summernighttown8daiteholdonme8firsttime

At the late months of 1997, Sharam Q lead singer Tsunku was looking for a female vocalist to join the band and held an audition to find said singer!  Really of course, it seems that Tsunku had found his winner between 6 girls (Nakazawa, Iida, Abe, Fukuda, Ishiguro, and Heike) though in the final round, it turned out that Heike was the winner, but it didn’t end there!

The remaining 5 were given a task: Sell 50,000 copies of their demo (or indies single as they’re called today), Ai no Tane and they will be given a major label debut.  It took 5 days, but they managed to complete this mission and was able to debut properly the next year in January (which was only a little above two months after) with their single Morning Coffee.  With about as much excitement there was though, Tsunku decided to hold auditions soon after for a 2nd Generation which ended up with Sayaka Ichii, Mari Yaguchi, and Kei Yasuda passing and becoming the 2nd Generation of Momusu and led to their next single, Summer Night Town, and their debut album, First Time.  Before rounding out the year with Daite HOLD ON ME! which was the ending theme to the group’s first movie.

GREAT SONGS

  • Morning Coffee – I mean there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be up here to be honest.  It’s a song that kicked off a really, long and exciting set of years.  Hearing that initially Kaori was supposed to lead the song but switched last minute for Natsumi is quite risky (as the latter had some pitch issues, but Kaori had some problems herself…but this was their 2nd song so what can I say?).  I really like the harmonies that these 5 have and the double lines are just so pretty to listen to.  Plus I have to say that Asuka and Kaori really stick out the most and I quite love it!
  • Summer Night Town – Well, it’s enough to say that their 2nd major single was just as strong!  Though I wasn’t expecting a change of genres after “Ai no Tane” and “Morning Coffee’s” more lighthearted and breezy tones.  Though I could say it was cashing in on the current trends in music and such.  This was also the 2nd Generation’s debut, but they were more or less non-existent here being back-up vocals.  Though one gripe was the vocals weren’t as tight as they were previously, but I’m sure it’s to share the rough sound we had.  Still, it’s a great follow-up!
  • Yume no Naka – Going into album tracks with Yume no Naka, I love the kind of throwback sound it got especially with the horns and overall groove.  There’s just something dreamlike about this and Kaori, Yuko, and Mari really sound good together especially with the lighter atmosphere!  Still my favorite track from the album sans the A-sides.
  • Usotsuki Anta – The only other album track that stuck out to me is Usotsuki Anta and that’s because of its upbeat sound and we get a LOT of Yuko in this track and I’m definitely excited since its mostly been an Asuka/Kaori/Natsumi fest.  Even Aya gets a couple lines. Vocally it’s one of the best songs off the album that’s for sure!

OK SONGS

  • Ai no Tane – Yeah, their first song, their indies, is kind of just middle of the road for me, even though this was new and foreign to me when I first heard of it.  I think maybe its just that “Morning Coffee” did the upbeat, breezy sound better for me and the vocals here are a bit more shrill as well except for the verses ironically.  Still, for a debut, this song is actually not that bad and screams nostalgic to current H!P fans!  Even the keyboard solo was so weird xD
  • Good Morning – Moving into the intro for their album, Good Morning definitely has that sunrise kind of feeling and the group harmonizing is quite nice to listen to (especially with 8 members in tow).  Though it does struggle to leave an impression outside of its chorus.
  • Wagamama – All I feel for the album is that it has this certain Western kind of sound and not so much J-pop at time (minus “Summer Night Town”).  The pop/rock feel I get from this suits Kei, Aya, and Sayaka who are the leads of the song.  Still the whole song sounds like it was meant for something else and not-so-much for Momusu, but the trio held it quite fine!
  • Daite HOLD ON ME! – As the group’s 3rd single, I felt like they tried to tackle a lot more than they should here.  I mean on top of the fact that it does remind me of “Summer Night Town”, the girls sound a lot more rough and hitting notes were ending up squeaky and off-kilter.  Though the rapping section was something the group hasn’t done yet…and it was interesting to say the least.  I do love the verses as they came off so sexy and mature too.

MEH SONGS

  • A MEMORY OF SUMMER ’98 – Being the first B-side for the group that wouldn’t make the album’s cut (“Morning Coffee’s” was “Ai no Tane” and was on the album too), A MEMORY OF SUMMER ’98 is a little strange nowadays due to the year at the end (but at the time it was something special for them).  That said, despite this being 2nd Generation’s debut, they were actually absent for this song.  Beyond that, the song was quite uneventful for me, even though the arrangement is light and pleasant (and with strings).  It just kind of was there for me, nothing bad, but nothing remotely memorable.
  • Dou ni ka Shite Doyoubi – If there was anything I could pull from this song is that the song made me think of like 70’s disco but cheaply made?  At least the intro of the song was trying to build into something cool, but then it turned into a hokey mess.  It just wasn’t working out.
  • Samishii Hi – Then there was the ending to the album.  I don’t mind the gospel-like arrangement and I could even give props to the solo lines within this song, but once another girl joins up, the harmonies just get too wobbly and uncertain for a lot of the groupings so everything feels all over the place.  A little too loose vocally (maybe too raw?).
  • Tatoeba – Then we have the B-side from “Daite HOLD ON ME!” and I could only think of “Wagamama” because it shares that Western vibe, but this one actually includes slide guitar to make it more fitting.  Though what makes me forget this is once again the vocals that seem to clash moreso than gel.  Also it does tend to drag way too long for me to care for.

ICKY SONGS

  • Mirai no Tobira – There was seriously one song that made me want to cry as I listen to the songs from their first year.  This album track is the only urban track (that wasn’t an A-side) and it’s just bizarre and doesn’t fit anywhere.  I’m not a big fan of the speak-rapping going on here and then the sudden switch of BPM to fit in the slower verses to just speed it back up for the chorus, which was in itself weaker than normal.

Overall: As the group began, I felt like they were going to be run-of-the-mill goody-girls.  Though with “Summer Night Town” and the 3 new members, I feel like Tsunku was starting to take some risks and seeing what works and what doesn’t.  Though I won’t lie and say the stuff they get in these early albums are easy to get into sadly…

Michiyo Heike

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getsotsugyoutopdaikiraidakedoaishisugiteteenagedream

If you’ve read above, then you already know that Michiyo Heike won the ASAYAN auditions to become the new singer for Sharam Q right?  WELL…it seems Tsunku had other plans and instead gave her a solo career (where guitarist from Sharam Q, Hatake, would work with her for a couple of singles.  She debut a couple days after Momusu with the single GET (which was the audition song that let Michiyo win).  It did initially have great sales (around 70,000) but then her follow-up singles Sotsugyou ~TOP OF THE WORLD~, Daikirai, and Dakedo Aishisugite ended up flopping hard in comparison!  Though after her 2nd single, she released her first album, Teenage Dream as well.

GREAT SONGS

  • GET – Despite that everyone heard GET in the auditions (and to be fair there were better turnouts than Michiyo in the final round), she definitely made the song her own and I was kind of happy that GET ended up being her debut.  Unlike the poppy sound that Momusu got with “Ai no Tane”, GET had a full-on J-rock sound (thanks to Hatake) and Michiyo’s mature voice suited the aggressive nature of the track which is awesome!
  • Sasaete Kurenakucha – If there was one song that I thought deemed better than “GET” though, it’s this edgy B-side from “Sotsugyou”.  Hatake sounds a bit more aggressive here and Michiyo sounds a bit more fitting for the sound as well.  She was even getting some cool screams in there too so it gave the song a lot more personality throughout!  Awesome B-side!
  • Onna no Evolution – I never thought an album song would manage to stick out to me, but Onna no Evolution keeps things simple yet really catchy, add on that Michiyo was pretty upbeat and sounded strong (even more than she did on “Skip” and “Start!”.  It’s just a great song and one of the true standouts from “Teenage Dream”.
  • Akai Tsuki – At least there was one other album song that really caught my attention and that’s Akai Tsuki which felt like it had the most effort on it and it heavily sounded 90s especially with the synth beats and speed.  Actually it has a certain avex feel, sort of Euro, but at the same time not…it was unique and a total surprise on her album.
  • Daikirai – I feel like after her 2nd single, it seems like she wanted to go back to the more gritty rock sound she debuted with and Daikirai was definitely in the realm of that plus that title was also kind of given.  It might not be quite as rockin’ as “GET”, but there’s something edgy here and the lyrics were just as much.  I just ended up loving it!
  • Dakedo Aishisugite (Mix for Single) – Yes, there’s a reason why its a single version here.  Either way, Dakedo Aishisugite is probably my favorite A-side Michiyo released in 1998.  It just perfects her pop/rock style to suit her voice and the overall strong and aggressive nature of the song.  There’s some synths that play around, but it’s still mostly guitars and drums here.  Just a cool song and one of the best ones to represent Hello!’s cast of ladies especially being the first solo member.

OK SONGS

  • Sotsugyou ~TOP OF THE WORLD~ – I was surprised that Michiyo’s first release in 1998 was going to be a cover of an old Carpenters track.  Considering that it’s a popular song that’s covered in Japan, Michiyo’s is a bit better than I was expecting and her mix of pop/rock is interesting.  Not a bad cover and Makoto did pretty well here.
  • Start! – The opening of Michiyo’s album kicks things off quite strongly with this track.  Now most of the song is a lot like “GET” with a more aggressive sound, but I will at opening was a bit overkill for me.  Disregarding that, I do think she did a great song here!
  • Skip – After the opening track, we got Skip and it’s upbeat and cute to listen to which is a nice contrast!  While I feel like Michiyo did get some help vocally, I didn’t mind this as it’s breezy and funky at the same time!  Fun little track overall!
  • Hitorigurashi – Another album song, I felt like Hitorigurashi was more safe than anything.  I do love the harmonica and the whole Western light it had (which once again a couple of Momusu songs had as well).  Like there’s nothing wrong with it and it could make for a nice, easy listen, but that’s what it really comes down to for me.
  • Fall the rain – As the B-side from “Daikirai”, it was a nice contrast from the more edgy A-side.  Though I do feel like it’s a leftover from her album and the kind of rock-ballad wasn’t the most exciting thing, but it’s a little interesting as a B-side.

MEH SONGS

  • Prepare – As Michiyo’s first B-side, it felt like it joined alongside the cute and upbeat songs Momusu were releasing and funny enough they gelled together.  The big difference is that Michiyo didn’t have the harmonies (and multiple members to fill things out).  The tune ended up being a little bit one-note IMO.
  • Furimukinaide – One of the other few Tsunku-produced songs, Furimukinaide was a strange album song because of the kind of pseudo-reggae, slightly rock tinged groove that throws me off.  Add on Tsunku doing backup vocals and things are just a little more stranger than normal.  Oh add on the random organ lines and it’s just a black sheep on the album.
  • Hey! Hey! Girls Soul – Ending her album, Hey! Hey! Girls Soul tried to mix up some 50’s diner-esque songs with some stranger things.  I couldn’t get behind some of the arrangement choices and Michiyo is kind of yelling some of her lines which is not exactly something I was expecting for a style like this.  Maybe a little too random for me.
  • Shinkokyuu Shiyou!! – If “Dakedo Aishisugite” was going to be that catchy rock song, I wasn’t sure what the B-side was going to be and it’s a little too sway-back and forth for me and seemed to be a total opposite to its A-side.  I will say the acoustic sound is nice and the harmonica part was interesting enough (though “Futarigurashi” already tackled that…but this song doesn’t seem to suit the single.

ICKY SONGS

  • Teenage Dream – The only thing I could really say it’s so icky is that its an interlude that really has no place on the album.  All it really is is just a lone piano melody for a whole minute.  I will say that it does feel like it’s leading to a more darker song…though it actually doesn’t.

Overall: She started so strong, but for some reason her sales just dropped to the wayside whereas Momusu continued to sell (could be because Tsunku focused so much more of his time on the group sadly).

Yuko Nakazawa

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karasunonyoubouodaibamoonlightserenadedaiissho

After Morning Musume released their first album, it was announced shortly after that Yuko would be given a solo career as an Enka artist (traditional Japanese folk music).  Though we would learn later that she wasn’t too big of a fan of this because it made her feel old on top of it being a little more of a niche genre.  She debuted a little under a month after “First Time” with the single, Karasu no Nyoubou and then released a second single (a duet with Enka artist, Gen Takayama), Odaiba Moonlight Serenade and then a week later, released her first album, Nakazawa Yuko Dai Issho.

GREAT SONGS

  • Karasu no Nyoubou – While I’m not the biggest fan of Enka (in the same reason, that Yuko wasn’t initially), I have to admit that this song is kind of cute and catchy.  I was also impressed that Yuko could handle Enka on her own merits despite being in an idol group simultaneously.  As a debut, it really came out of nowhere and the genre of choice while absurd, kind of made Yuko a totally different kind of soloist when compared to Michiyo.
  • Sutenaide yo – As the first album track, Sutenaide yo definitely hints a little of a cross between Yuko’s idol side and her new Enka side in a nice blend of both genres.  I definitely love Yuko’s voice here as it’s bright and full of l more relaxed and calm arrangement.  It’s a great tune to get to on the album that’s for sure!
  • Ame no Midousuji – So Yuko’s album actually is filled mostly with covers of old Enka songs, but strangely enough, I felt Ame no Midousuji didn’t fit the mold of the atypical Enka song.  I mean the horns, recorder, and strings do scream it, but Yuko’s straightforward singing made me it more like an idol song a bit (it could also be from the vocal layering as well).  Either way, it’s a pretty good song overall!

OK SONGS

  • Otonashibashi – I think if it wasn’t the recorder that wasn’t used, it would’ve been a simple ballad to listen to, but with the solos going on, the song really felt classic and soft for Yuko.  Unlike it’s A-side, “Karasu no Nyoubou”, Otonashibashi is more relaxed and focused more on Yuko’s light vocals which really were pleasant and almost heavenly to listen to.  Nice B-side overall!
  • Odaiba Moonlight Serenade – For Yuko’s 2nd offering, she teamed up with fellow UF singer, Gen Takayama for two songs!  The leading track, Odaiba Moonlight Serenade is not as quiet as her first single which is great and the arrangement is pleasant and upbeat, but sometimes I felt like Gen and Yuko didn’t match vocally, but it could just be the man/woman difference here.  It’s cute though and Yuko sounded really nice!
  • Tsugunai – If there was a safe Enka song in Yuko’s album, I feel like Tsugunai might just be that song because it does have the easy things that would be normally seen in Enka songs and while that can be bad, I do like Yuko’s performance enough that it just breezes by nicely.
  • Cosmos Biyori – Our next track makes this spot because of its sheer simplicity.  Like “Tsugunai”, the song has one defining feature and that’s the accordion in certain parts of the song…otherwise the same things I said about the above song can be brought to this track.
  • Etto Tsubame – I have to say, the intro to this song was something that woke up after a few of the other ballads that came before it, but outside of the arrangement, the song was a little plain, but Yuko once again had a really sweet voice so it didn’t bother me too much.  Not bad, but there’s clearly better.

MEH SONGS

  • Koibitotachi no Ballad – The B-side of her 2nd single also included Gen and it felt more of the same that I got from the leading track, though I did enjoy the strings a little more, but still the vocals are a bit wobbly and I think there was more Gen here which is ehhh.
  • Osaka Rhapsody – There are a lot of covers on Yuko’s album and maybe she should’ve just stuck to doing original tracks because Osaka Rhapsody felt so boring and forgetful to me.  It’s just kind of blah for me and to know that Yuko’s stuff is better sounding and all just doesn’t give this song favors.
  • Koi – It feels like we’ve had this song already in “Otonashibashi” with the lowbrow quiet ballad here which is OK, since there isn’t too many on her album, but this song is a bit too sleepy for me.  The harmonica (I think) is a nice touch and all, but otherwise, just a bit too light for me.
  • Eki – Oh boy, this song just left no mark on me.  I mean the majority of the song just kind of goes on by with not a lot of changes and yet the most memorable song was at the end where Yuko starts ad-libbing the chorus melody.  I mean for a cover song it’s ok, but not really memorable.

Overall: Of all the members of Hello!, I feel like Yuko had the busiest year as she had her share of solo work and her role in Momusu so she definitely had her work cut out.  Of her solo stuff specifically, it’s a mixed bag because Enka is still not a genre I delve into very much so meh lol!

Tanpopo

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lastkiss

In October of 1998, it was announced that a sub-group of Morning Musume was to be created to have a little maturity in their music vs. their normal place of being an idol (which was moving to a more R&B style).  Chosen members were Kaori Iida, Aya Ishiguro, and Mari Yaguchi.  Just a month later, known as Tanpopo would release their debut single, Last Kiss and that was their 1998!

GREAT SONGS

  • Last Kiss – Of all the debuts so far, I think Last Kiss was the best of them for sure!  There’s something chilling and dark about Last Kiss that really caught my attention and then hearing Kaori, Aya, and Mari sing in such a wispy way impressed me a whole lot more than they were doing in Momusu!  Add on that a lot of spotlight was placed on Aya and Mari (who while they were given some spotlight on the Momusu album) had a LOT more lines in this one song.  I just love this song!
  • Jikan yo Tomare – They weren’t lying when Tsunku said he wanted Tanpopo to go in a different direction and the B-side ended up being a bossa nova track!  I do love hearing a lot of Mari, but the other two are there as the lower vocals which is pleasant enough for me.  It felt like a song that suits a later generation for me

Overall: Even though they had debuted at the end of the year, I felt like getting these 3 into a unit was a smart idea and the whole mature sound they have is definitely impressive just by going with their 2 songs!  I hope it continues throughout next year!

Other Hello! Releases

morningcop

The only release that did fit anywhere else is actually a soundtrack for Momusu & Michiyo’s movie, Morning Cop ~Daite HOLD ON ME!~ the first time since the ASAYAN auditions that all 6 Hello! members were singing together on top of the new 2nd Generation of Momusu!

GREAT SONGS

  • Dakedo Aishisugite (Mix for Screen) – To be honest, I really couldn’t tell the difference between the OST version and the A-side cut besides the arrangement being more clear in the OST one?  Actually, I think another big difference is the guitar solo in the bridge…definitely different.  Still it’s Dakedo Aishisugite at the end of the day and still one of the more impressive Michiyo songs!
  • Daite HOLD ON ME! ~Sexy Long version~ – I was surprised Momusu’s 3rd A-side would be given a new take, but I actually really like this version a smidge more than the original!  I especially love the new opening that really gives this sultry and sexy vibe and it continues through the verses (even though they weren’t resung).  Actually most of the song is changed by arrangement but that’s actually so cool!

OK SONGS

  • Onegai Nail – As the only song on the OST to include all 9 Hello! members, Onegai Nail was pretty interesting and features more of the recent happenings with Momusu by being a little more urban overall and yet has a lighter vibe to it.  I do like the harmonizations here a lot and since just about everyone had a line in it so that’s always good.  It’s a pretty happy-go-lucky song though and it does stick out in this OST.
  • Yoroshiku! – Disregarding that opening with the lifeless excitement, the song comes off as a surfer pop track and it presents us with something different.  I do like the silliness and upbeat vibe from the tune and it would’ve made a good album song to go after “Good Morning”

MEH SONGS

  • Koi no ABC – The other Momusu song from the movie, Koi no ABC tried to take the same path that “Onegai Nail” did, but the urbanized sound is a lot more cheap sounding and the chorus is rather slower than majority of the song (and it’s short too).
  • Tsuyoku Naranakucha…ne –  The OST actually also came with a new Michiyo song as well, but sadly this was kind of more of the same I’ve came to expect from her releases so it just kind of falls under.  Though I do like Michiyo’s lighter vocals that aren’t too scratchy as they’ve been.  It just sounded like “Sotsugyou ~TOP OF THE WORLD~”.

Gains

  • Michiyo Heike
  • Yuko Nakazawa
  • Kaori Iida
  • Natsumi Abe
  • Aya Ishiguro
  • Asuka Fukuda
  • Sayaka Ichii
  • Kei Yasuda
  • Mari Yaguchi

My H!P Member Ranking for 97/98

  • 9. Kei Yasuda
  • 8. Kaori Iida
  • 7. Natsumi Abe
  • 6. Sayaka Ichii 

Since it is pretty early in the girls’ careers I still had to rank them for the time being and kicking things off is Kei-chan because she wasn’t a star player back then and she only had a seldom of times where she had lines to herself.  Not saying she’s the worst member, but she hadn’t had the time to shine quite yet.  Kaorin also finds herself here, but she had a couple noticeable places where she stood out (like Tanpopo).  Though she’s ranked low because her voice isn’t quite strong and she shows a lot of dead-face emotion in the PVs sadly.  Being the lead vocalist can be rough, especially in the case of Nacchi who led the singles in Momusu.  She’s got potential, though right now she sounds very pitchy to me…shame considering she’s not even the best singer in Morning Musume!  Same with Icchan as she’s slightly better, but she hasn’t had the push yet of being a front singer yet.

  • 5. Mari Yaguchi
  • 4. Aya Ishiguro
  • 3. Asuka Fukuda
  • 2. Michiyo Heike
  • 1. Yuko Nakazawa

At first, Marippe was going to sit in the latter half of the 9, but it wasn’t until her addition of her into Tanpopo where she finally rised up to the occasion and she has a pretty, yet higher pitched set of vocals.  She’s still kind of an enigma in Morning Musume, but she did manage to carve out a small bit of personality here which is also the same for Ayappe.  Though she’s had a little more time to get settled and like Mari, it wasn’t until Tanpopo happened where she finally had a chance to show her skills and she’s got a lovely set of deeper vocals.  In Morning Musume proper, I feel like my favorite vocalist is Asuka but she’s also the youngest as well which is just more impressive!  Michiyo for me is 2nd because she does have a lot of power in her voice and being the winner of the ASAYAN auditions is something (and she didn’t have to go through an indies period).  However I feel like Yuko gets the top spot for doing the most of the year and delving into a genre that’s not entirely familiar to fans of the idol world!  Plus her vocals are so pleasant when singing ballads and Enka songs yet she gets very little in Momusu…

 

NEXT TIME, 1999 and finally Hello! Project is created!!!

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ANGERME gets another new member!

kasahara,jpg

So at today’s opening day for the H!P annual Summer concert, it was announced that ANGERME was getting their 5th Gen member, and surprise, surprise it’s Momona Kasahara!

While she hasn’t been a member for too long, I can’t help but feel that she wasn’t too ready from going by her Test Recitals (even though she did win alongside Momohime Kiyono in this years).  I do love that she loves Eri Kamei, but she slightly felt weaker than normal, but considering her improvements in the year between, maybe she’ll find her spot within the group, though she is all-in-all taking over Meimi’s place so who knows what she’ll bring.

 

 

ON A RELATED NOTE…

The Hokkaido auditions have finally completed and there’s 7 members joining, though with the way the site is wording it, it sounds like they will start as the Hokkaido branch of the KSS, but at the same time sounds like they’re a group already XD…I’ll be making a post about this on 7/30 (their debut date)

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Morning Musume PVs Through the years!: Arigatou Riho and Kanon!

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but that’s only because I managed to actually keep up and get to the current releases Momusu have been put out.  At this point in time I’ve reached a milestone where I’m finally seeing members I saw joining the group now leaving to greener pastures to put it that way with 9th Gen members: Riho Sayashi & Kanon Suzuki.  So in this post we’ll be talking about Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi, ENDLESS SKY, One and Only, Utakata Saturday Night!, The Vision, and Tokyo to Iu Katasumi.

Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi

The Song: As the first A-side from Riho’s final hurrah, we have Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi which was originally supposed to be a solo track, but canned for some reason (mostly by the fact that Riho wasn’t exactly leaving H!P after this, but still).  Still it is the slowest of the tracks!

What Genre is it?: Sounds quite like a ballad, mixed in with some synth elements

The Premise: None

The Setting: To me it seems like it’s in a large room (well most of the PV with the choreography), though once we get into solo shots, it feels like the girls are in various places in this house.  Though it feels like Riho gets a special setting, it actually is a different part of the house?, just darker and with lights surrounding her.

The Outfits: I was kind of surprised from the simplicity of the setting and it bled into the outfits as well where all the members have a simple white outfit.  Though, once again, Riho has 2 extra outfits (for her solos) and instead it’s a little more mature with once being a little more formal with pants and such and a black dress for another.  While, I’m not surprised by this, I feel like H!P was going through this love of simple white outfits and it was starting to bother me a bit at the time

The Choreography: It feels like we’ve finally started to close the door on formation dances and returning to what the Platinum era was doing with dances.  It’s very smooth and a lot of sudden pops to fit with the beats of the song.  Of course with the focus on Riho, she gets two major dance solos (because she was the leading force behind the choreography).

PV as a Whole: As a whole, Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi was a total surprise and a nice drift off from the electro songs for the time being.  All the ladies looked heavenly, even if the video was lacking color and vibrancy (which only was fixed during Riho’s solos).  I do feel that it was a good song to show off our graduating members and the power she brought with her dancing.

ENDLESS SKY

The Song: There’s really not much to say about this song, or well what is special about it compared to the other two tracks of the single.  While not as heavy on Riho as Tsumetai was, it was a little more upbeat in arrangement and tried to be as happy as it could despite the implications with Riho leaving (especially the ending with Duu shedding tears)…like she did in “Mikaeri Bijin”…

What Genre is it?: Pretty much a mid-tempo EDM track, think “Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” basically and you’re pretty close to what ENDLESS SKY is all about.

The Premise: None

The Setting: If you thought the washed out, white-over-white look in the previous video was bad, then ENDLESS SKY felt like a cheap throwaway in comparison.  It almost looks like “Ima Sugu” with the pillars going on, and of course white curtain all over the place.  If it wasn’t for the outfits, this could’ve been a LOT worse than it should have been.  You can tell there’s some blue/purple hues going on to try to add a little more flair, but it just fades out for me.  Then there was the falling feathers and the scenes where the group are either laying/sitting in the circle as well which doesn’t do much favors to the otherwise blah set.

The Outfits: That being said, the outfits were really the only colors we had as they were wearing a get-up split between members of both blue and purple outfits.  I mean at least it helped the members pop out more from the background to say the least.

The Choreography: I have to say, I don’t remember much of this dance.  After “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi”, I think we were spoiled a bit.  I mean I remember a lot of finger-pointing and some hand shakes that came off odd to me.  Not the most memorable of them all.

PV as a Whole: ENDLESS SKY felt almost too much of a shrug from H!P.  I’m not sure what happened, but the PV’s overly simplistic look kind of bored me to death.  Luckily, the members actually emoted nicely and added much personality to a rather drab PV.  Definitely a weaker one of recent times next to “TIKI BUN”.

One and Only

The Song: As the most energetic song from the single, One and Only was the first track that everyone knew about because of the whole tie-in with J-MELO and the sheer fact that it’s the first song that’s sung entirely in English!  While there was no solos to be found in this song as opposed to the previous two PVs, we did get to see a lot from the girls!

What Genre is it?: Not quite rock, not quite EDM…kind of in between!

The Premise: None

The Setting: I’m not gonna lie and say they’re at a location, but it’s actually green-screened, almost to the levels of “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa”.  The group dance is in front of a revolving globe, where as another shot has them surrounded by blue clouds like they’re above the clouds!  As for solo shots, it’s an abstract thing, though it does look like an actual background with light bars, but it could also be more green-screen too!  Add lyrics in the actual video too!

The Outfits: It feels like it’s been quite a while since the group had more than one uniformed outfits for a PV so this is quite a treat.  Majority of the video has them wearing different kinds of clothing but all share some amount of white and a plaid (black/red) look.  The other outfit is only seen during the group shots in the clouds where they were all white (again) but in a more casual style.

The Choreography: At least the choreography doesn’t feel half-assed compared to what ENDLESS SKY was.  It’s a mad catchy dance and it feels like it’s rather easy to do as well.  Probably one of the more memorable parts of the PV!

PV as a Whole: I think the energy and just seeing how much fun the girls were having, making this PV, was probably the best of the single.  Despite the need for green-screen through most (if not all) of it, One and Only was just so much fun to watch and Miki was just all over this single too.  Fun song and video it got!

Utakata Saturday Night!

The Song: After leaving Riho to finally graduate, it wasn’t long until Zukki would announce her full graduation out of the company.  With that, this song was actually the last of the three A-sides to be revealed due to that and left us wondering what was going to be in store for Zukki’s final song.  To be fair, it’s such an amazing track and just brings out so much happiness and all that Zukkiness was just what everyone needed before she bowed out.

What Genre is it?: It’s a little EDM, but it’s definitely got some funk and disco here (a little like “Sukatto My Heart” too).

The Premise: None

The Setting: I think the best way to describe it is like they took C-ute’s “Bye Bye Bye!” hexagonal set and threw in some Berryz’ “Asian Celebration” shenanigans like the disco balls and shiny things!  Interesting things to not, that some of the solo shots are set in front of repetitive screens and there’s DJ Zukki as well!  Simple set, but worked well with everything else that was going on!

The Outfits: The outfits for this one are pretty simple, just shiny yellow, blue, and pink dresses for everyone!  With some feathers to top it off!  Though Zukki does get an extra outfit during her monologue in the bridge.  She gets a Red/Orange suit with a big yellow polka-dotted bow and a boa to kind of make it work together.

The Choreography: With the song being mostly under a disco/funk style, the dance was to be pretty fun and energetic and it didn’t disappoint in that regard!  I did love the throwback to C-ute’s “Massara Blue Jeans” with the hip thrusts and the ~utakata~ pump was cute too!

PV as a Whole: I haven’t been this impressed by a PV from Momusu for quite a while and USN! was definitely a knock out of the park!  The effects were quite nice and felt exciting, to the amount of times we get to see all the members (especially Zukki!).  I especially loved her monologue where she claimed that the video was coming to an end and reminding us to keep smiling (as it was always her wish for her fans).  It was a realization that many didn’t expect but hit hard and she’ll be missed a lot!

The Vision

The Song: It seems that as of recently, H!P has been getting into these vocal/dance splits in the song as its happened with “Oh my wish!” and ANGERME’s “Nana Korobi Ya Oki”.  Though this is Momusu’s 2nd ordeal and once again the girls that didn’t sing in Oh my wish! (Fukuchan, Eripon, and Daaishi (Ayumi)) were sadly sat out for this one and acted as the visual representation of the track here.  Though I suppose it’s to be said that 12th Gen had a little more of appearance here, but not quite there yet!

What Genre is it?: It’s basically the sequel to “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe” with the fluttery piano lines and light EDM affairs

The Premise: None

The Setting: For most of the video, the dance is shot on a stage (it’s startin’ to get old H!P >.>) though I first thought it was in a training room, which is bizarre, but eh!  The other shots are taking in a white room surrounded by chandeliers and linen?  It’s a little boring to say the least, but much more elegant than whatever happened in “ENDLESS SKY”.

The Outfits: Trying to mesh with the white background of the solo shots and the overall beige feel of the choreo section, the outfits weren’t too bad being half blue, half white skirts.  The only thing that truly bothers me is the white strip of cloth hanging off their backsides, it kind of looks like toilet paper honestly

The Choreography: Sadly, the focus of the dance is placed upon Erina, Mizuki, and Ayumi which was impressive don’t get me wrong (though Eripon had some hiccups), but the rest of the group looked odd?  Though it was cute how Sakura and Masaki had some moments togethers and the verses were nicely done too…it’s just the chorus that is strange.

PV as a whole: While I do think it’s the weakest of the 3 A-sides on Zukki’s graduation single, the song itself is really pretty and has seriously grown on me since it was first performed.  I think these simpler PVs are a bit underutilized with money, but then again when is that a new thing?  Still great song, meh PV.

Tokyo to Iu Katasumi

The Song: Being the first song from the single to be performed, the song drew a lot of weird opinions, but for me Tokyo to Iu Katasumi was just something a little more aggressive and that was missing from the group at least not since “Oh my wish!”  Still, it was a decent track but the other two kind of ranked higher than it xD

What Genre is it?: Aggressive EDM, maybe not trance-like, but it has beats and guitar riffs!

The Premise: None

The Setting: For the first half, it felt like it was just going to be one setting with the group in a circular set surrounded by spotlights…it feels slightly familiar for some reason.  Luckily the setting does change when we hit the 2nd verse where the girls are backstage (of some place).  It gets better during the bridge with more scenes of the girls just relaxing/getting ready.  There wasn’t a whole lot of that sadly.

The Outfits: Where I think the PV starts to slip are the outfits which were a bit random and didn’t make much sense in the long run here.  The pink and blue candy striped outfits just looked out of place for everything (especially since it’s mostly a darker looking PV).  Though the backstage scenes had the ladies in just casual clothing so it was OK, but the uniformed outfits just didn’t work here.

The Choreography: Which was made worse with the choreo this time around.  I wonder what the idea/concept was about it, but lord did it not work with this kind of aggressive sound.  There were some cool parts to it, but the chorus is where it just messes up and looks goofy.  Not fitting to the song at hand.

PV as a Whole: You could say the video gets a weird look from people and I would agree because from the wacky candy outfits to the arm flailing choreography to the stark contrast to everything else the PV had to offer, I feel like the director/stylist/choreograper never spoke to each other about how this was going to come together and sadly it didn’t work.  Luckily, the song is pretty bangin’ so I suppose that’s a good thing!

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Half Year Roundup!

So it’s the beginning of June basically so it’s time to do a well…halftime report for what’s been going on with all the groups!

Morning Musume ’16

So the year began basically from the onslaught of change from the group releasing “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only two days before the year began and Riho Sayashi graduating on the final hours of 2015.  Though it didn’t quite end there with Kanon Suzuki announcing her graduation in February. From that we would get her final single “Utakata Saturday Night! / The Vision / Tokyo to Iu Katasumi” (and a vinyl of their previous single) to celebrate her time with the group before she bids adieu at the end of May.

C-ute

Like Momusu, the group was riding off the wave from their 9th album released at the tail end of 2015 before returning in April for the first single of the year with “Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou? / Summer Wind / Jinsei wa STEP!”which turned out to be really nice before Chisato at the end of May announced a small hiatus due to her having voice nodules (which she’s going to have surgery to deal with).

ANGERME

With the looming announcement in 2015 from Meimi announcing her graduation, we had little time to have a sendoff for her and to introduce everyone to the group’s new member Moe Kamikokuryo.  It took a while but we did get the single announcement and release date for April with the single “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku / Itoshima Distance / Koi Nara Tokku ni Hajimatteru”.  With Meimi graduating a day before Zukki, it’s going to be a draining day for wota!

Juice=Juice

The group this year so far has been a little more active but its been set back for some odd things.  First, Tomoko announced a short break to deal with her endometriosis, but powered on their LOOOONG tour and their drama, Budokan.  The group themselves released a single (currently the only double A-side of the year so far) with “Next is you! / Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai” and then slid a digital single out with “Otona no Jijou”.  3 songs? Not bad.

Country Girls

A lot of people were excited to see what CG was going to release with two new members in the group (Funaki and Yanagawa) and they released their single “Boogie Woogie LOVE / Koi wa Magnet / Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu” to good expectations and then an OST mini-album for their stageplay “Kizetsu Suru Hodo Aishiteru!”.  Though all that culminated to an announcement that Manakan was going on hiatus for the summer as she had a return of her asthma.

Kobushi Factory

Kobushi I would say had a regular year so far.  The only big thing that happened was that the group released their 2nd major single “Sakura Night Fever / Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin / Osu! Kobushi Tamashii” to a surprisingly favorable crowd!

Tsubaki Factory

On the other hand, I feel like Tsubaki had a LOT of presence so far this year.  Starting the year off with their 2nd indies single “Kedakaku Sakihokore!” an expansion OST of their “Thank you Very Berry” stageplay AND their first mini-album in May (“Tsubaki Factory SOUND + VISION Vol. 1”), and some appearances with Country Girls’ stageplay, I feel like the push is pretty suregoing here.

Kenshuusei

Well the 6 months for the KSS has been lighter than normal.  We did get 5 new members in Kotomi Ono, Kurumi Noguchi, Kirara Yonemura, Sakiko Kodama, and Momohime Kiyono.  Also Miu Takemura had finished her training.  Beyond that, they had their test and there were 4 winners: Akiyama, Inoue, Kasahara, and Kiyono.

 

====FUTURE===

Momusu does have a song with no release yet in “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” since it’s first appearance last year, it’s probably going through multiple edits (especially since now Riho and Zukki aren’t in the group).  Also we’re due for the announcement of the 13th Gen sometime soon, though after Zukki’s last performance, it was announced that no one and that it will be held again at a later date.

Country Girls have 4 songs unreleased: “Kiss Yori Saki ni Dekiru Koto”, “Mousou Rehearsal”, “VIVA!! Barairo no Jinsei”, and “Rhythm ga Yonde Iru zo!” while the first two was explained because Musubu and Nanami joined and they had to pull it back, the other two were just recently performed but no announcement of a single?

Juice=Juice recently performed a new track titled “Jouro” but that’s about it that’s really known.

Kobushi is the first group to announce their 2nd single of the year. The first two tracks are titled as “Bacchikoi Seishun!” and “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” with the 3rd single being told is a cover of an old anime them for this year’s Idol Matsuri.  Most think it’s “Suki Suki Song”, but it’s not confirmed.  HOWEVER, they also performed a song before the single’s announcement titled “TEKI” but nothing else is known beyond that well other than Tsuno Maisa was involved.

Tsubaki Factory performed a new song in the Moritaka classic “Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo” and that’s not surprising as they’ve covered “17sai”.  Not much else is known.

The Kenshuusei’s only news is that there’s a new song about to be performed in a couple days!  Which turns out to be named “Hello! Massara no Jibun”

Momusu, C-ute, and ANGERME are releasing vinyls of their released singles…all receiving a remix.

Rumors are floating that Buono! might release new music to hype up for their performance at Budokan, but that’s just about it.  Though Miyabi’s audition finished up and there were two winners: Yuuka Nihei and Hikaru Kobayashi…despite not having  group name, they’ll be interesting to see as they are both set to debut at the Buono! concert.

 

BASICALLY! TOO MANY UNRELEASED SONGS

 

 

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2016’s Kenshuusei Shindan Test!

Looks like it’s that time of the year again where the Kenshuusei have a pretty big test and hope to win.  Unlike last year’s mega amount of changes, this year it feels quite different as only four members left (which 2 were Yanagawa & Funaki and the other 2 I’ll talk about at the bottom) and we gained 5 new members.

Also like last year, Tsubaki managed to perform a new song, another Chisato Moritaka song, this time “Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo”.  Though beyond that, let’s see what the trainees brought to the table, shall we?

Mao Akiyama

Song of Choice: Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai

Wow, kicking the test off is the song that’s the most recent of the bunch from Juice=Juice.  Honestly, I really like how Akiyama tries out these harder songs (and more recent tunes) for sure.  After struggling with her “The Power” last year, I was surprised at how much better she got with this song.  She does sound like she’s yelling a lot of it, but she’s quite confident in it so, I ended enjoying it a little more than expected.

Kurumi Takase

Song of Choice: Moonlight night ~Tsukiyo no Ban da yo~

Being one of the sheer favorites last year, I was surprised she chose the album opener from Momusu’s 10th album to tackle.  It seems she was trying to mimic the various members through the track, especially the Sayumi/Linlin line in the original.  For as fascinating as it was, I didn’t think Kurumi did as well as she did with “Senobi” as she somehow faded towards the end…but she’s still in the higher tier vocally within the group.

Kotomi Ono

Song of Choice: Akai Freesia

Being the first of the newcomers, Kotomi sure picked a well-known track for newbies in Melon’s Akai Freesia.  I will say, her voice is kind of a hard listen (almost slightly akin to Yumei’s).  I also could tell she was quite nervous and slightly monotone and couldn’t keep up with the melody very well.  A lot of training will have to happen as she has potential, but it’s really difficult to see where that point is currently

Hikaru Inoue

Song of Choice: Sayonara Usotsuki na Watashi

Seems that Hikarun really likes Berryz (she’s done Otona na no yo! and now another sing in the same year essentially.  Also after showing how much she’s gotten through last years “Nakimushi Shounen”, I was very excited to see how she tackled this track.  There’s really nothing to say, she impressed me once again with a more difficult track here.  I mean she’s getting vibrato which is a plus! The only thing she messed up on is holding out loud notes, but beyond that…still one of the best performances!

Sakiko Kodama

Song of Choice: Yumemiru Fifteen

Wow, I’m surprised Sakiko got the crowd going and she’s new like WHOA!  It’s funny how her voice suited the song almost snuggly with her voice.  She’s still sort of green as she forgets lyrics here and there and her voice loses energy through various areas (those high notes she’s able to hit unlike when Minami Nomura did this song a couple years back).  I’m interested on where she goes in the program for sure!

Kurumi Noguchi

Song of Choice: Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe

From the new KSS, I was surprised Noguchi would chose to do a slightly more mature song tackling this song from Momusu ’14.  For me, she definitely sounded nervous which effected a lot of the first half of the performance, but once the song hit the louder areas, she was more comfortable.  She has a lot of potential, but needs to learn a little more control in loud parts, but she’s pleasant to hear.

Kaede Kaga

Song of Choice: KoiING

On the flipside, one of the eldest of the KSS currently, Kaedii decided to switch things up and tackled a ballad (where in the past she had more energetic songs).  I have to say, her voice sounded different here than whenever she sings loud songs which might excite fans of hers.  For me, her voice sounded too different, but she managed to sing it with passion and is more impressive than I thought.

Kokoro Maeda

Song of Choice: SHOCK!

After last year doing “Suki na Senpai”, I was hoping for more from her and she’s gradually rising in the ranks so I was excited to hear this.  She’s getting better that’s for sure and her take on SHOCK! is something I wasn’t expecting.  She still has some kinks in performing, but her singing loud is bringing more yays than quiet parts (plus she needs to keep close to the mic there >.>).  Also being nervous from how well Kaga did was so awwwws.  She’s improved so much!

Momona Kasahara

Song of Choice: Itoshiku Kurushii Kono Yoru ni

I think this gal really likes Eri Kamei because it’s a second year in a row where she did a song connected to her (last year was “Haru Beautiful Everyday”.  Unlike last year though, Momona sounds a lot more confident and doesn’t sound flat and lifeless which is great for her!  Definitely an improvement was made here for the better!

Saori Onoda

Song of Choice: Watarasebashi

Saori once again choosing to do an Ayaya song?  Unlike her powerful performance of “GOOD BYE Natsuo” last year, she decided to go for a ballad here!  I was always impressed by the things she’s done so far and it shows because she sounds delightful and has a nice voice for the track but wait…she has a recorder solo?!?  How surprising, yet cute of her to pull off…one of my favorites!

Kirara Yonemura

Song of Choice: The Matenrou Show

One of the youngest additions out of the 5 newbies, Kirara as cute as she is decided to tackle a song that’s a bit slightly mature for her, but with the disco vibes going on.  I actually thought she was decent and managed to keep up with the song and notes quite well.  The problem is while she did great in those aspects, the power in her voice is still noticeably weaker so the song sounded thin.  More training can easily fix this I hope, but as a first timer, she was surprisingly good.

Ruru Danbara

Song of Choice: Hatsukoi Cider

I mean it’s Ruru, where can you go wrong with this gal?  Tackling one of the more fun Buono! songs, Hatsukoi Cider was an easy choice for her to tackle.  I do think she’s being a little bit shouty, but it’s a lot more tamed than the last couple of years she’s had songs that asked for power.  Not much else to really say though, Ruru is still one of the best vocalists in the KSS.

Kizuki Horie

Song of Choice: Kiss me Aishiteru

Horie just knows the songs I love and now kicked it with a C-ute song and she delivers again a powerful and lovely performance of this energetic song.  I feel like she was trying to mimic some members, but I liked her versatility.  I have to say, there really was nothing wrong with this performance, just straight up one of the vocally best of the evening for sure!

Rion Nakano

Song of Choice: Yattaruchan

So last year, Rion did “Yuugure Koi no Jikan” and all I could think of was how nervous she was singing and now this year with Yattaruchan, her confidence is leaps and bounds and she was just having fun with the tune.  However, not all was golden because her trying to tackle this song is difficult (especially having problems during Meimi’s big solo line).  Though the cute side of things was done well…maybe I would’ve focused on a song with note movement…but this was an improvement for her.

Yumei Yokogawa

Song of Choice: Momoiro Kataomoi

I already knew going into this that it as going to be the hardest song to listen to, but I hate to say, but, Yumei has slightly improved from last years mess.  Her voice is still struggling to find its place and it’s distracting, but she’s managed to have bits of good moments, despite taking baby steps…it feels like the training is SLOWLY starting to work its way through I feel like…I just hope it moves faster…

Momoko Shimano

Song of Choice: Crazy Kanzen na Otona

Moving from “Suki-chan” last year to this sexy song from our NGP girl, Shimano was trying to impress with a song I love.  I feel like she was trying to sing quieter than the track so hearing her was a little struggle.  I do feel like she sung a smidge better, but I feel her diving into notes to be a little maddening.  It’s not bad, but still needs work.

Nagisa Hashimoto

Song of Choice: Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON

Last time this was performed in a Shindan Test, it was the first one where Rie Kaneko.  When it comes to Nagisa’s performance, I was surprised she was doing worse than she did in her “FOREVER LOVE” of last year.  She actually was off-tempo and her voice was breaking here and there (though it sounded like she was heavily dancing so it might excuse some things).  Not bad, but not as great as last year.

Mizuho Ono

Song of Choice: Romantic Ukare Mode

In last years test, I felt like of the newbies then, I felt Mizuho was the best of the 7 introduced and was curious to where she stood this year since others had started to blossom.  Covering a Mikitty song, I was excited to see how it’d turn out and my first thought was that Mizuho sounded a little like Chisato here and there :0  She handled the song well and she’s gaining power in her voice which is a plus too.  Great performance!

Mizuki Kanatsu

Song of Choice: Inspiration!

I definitely remember Kanatsu singing in last years test with the strange decision of tackling “Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai”.  It seems she did it again choosing a B-side from “Renai Revolution 21”.  Her voice comes off light and airy so unfortunately it doesn’t suit the funk-based track very much.  I feel like she’s grown a little bit, but she needs to learn to be consistent in volume (or handling the mic), but I love the little vibratos she puts in…cute to say the least!

Reina Ichioka

Song of Choice: Glass no Pumps

Then we have the other elder of the Kenshuusei and Reina having Glass no Pumps is interesting to say the least.  While I do admit she’s improving every year, this year with Glass no Pumps, she did sound like she was struggling with breathing control and trying to come off sexy but ending up getting off kilter.  Not her best performance…

Momohime Kiyono

Song of Choice: Tsumetai to Kaze Kataomoi

Ending the test, we have our last of the new batch of KSS and Momohime was given this song, Riho’s farewell A-side.  When I first her speak, I was like oh god this could be the worst performance.  HOWEVER, once she started singing, it was like a slap in the face.  She managed to sound amazing (except for the falsetto note at the end of the chorus).  While it might not be the best performance, it’s the most unexpected of the bunch

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HERE’S THE RESULTS

BEST DANCING: Akiyama (Since we probably won’t get visuals until H!S next week, I’ll just take their word for it, but the first performance winning this is shocking!)

BEST SINGING: Takase (I mean, she was top billing as it is, but seeing her win over others like Onoda, Horie, and Kaga…quite alarming to say the least, but still Congratulations!

JURY AWARD: Inoue (last year, Inoue won a special award from Captain and she was part of the jury this year.  I mean it should count for something…I’m not sure of the specifications of how/why she got the award, but yay for Hikarun!!

BEST PERFORMANCE: Kiyono & Kasahara (Runner-up: Takase) – Now I hate to be that blunt, but I definitely couldn’t see how Kasahara won this at all as she was more run-of-the-mill more than anything compared to most other performances…at least with Momohime, it was down right impressive doing that song.  Though kudos for Takase managing 3rd in all this.

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So here’s my personal best performance to worst!

1. Horie
2. Onoda
3. Inoue
4. Kaga
5. Takase
6. Danbara
7. Akiyama
8. Ono M.
9. Kiyono
10. Noguchi
11. Maeda
12. Kasahara
13. Ichioka
14. Kodama
15. Yonemura
16. Hashimoto
17. Shimano
18. Kanatsu
19. Nakano
20. Ono K.
21. Yokogawa

okamototakemura

I guess it should be mentioned, since I haven’t written news about it, but both Okamoto and Takemura had finished their training (although I feel like Honoka didn’t even DO any training as she went AWOL for most of 2015 before she left and Takemura was the last of her Generation (herself, Kana Saito and ANGERME member, Maho Aikawa).  Miu never stuck out to me, so it wasn’t too big a loss for me…but either way…letting you all know!

 

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Did they have a good graduation? PART 1: The First Generation

So I’m stating a new, short series about Morning Musume’s ladies and whether they had decent graduation singles or not as it’s been documented quite a bit that certain members had better songs to leave over other members and such, so I though I would judge that by the obvious facts and by their music (though I’ll be going from the A-side (or A-sides), its PV (or PVs), and B-side (B-sides).  The first post will be about the first 5 members of Momusu so let’s dive in and check them out!!!

Asuka Fukuda – Memory Seishun no Hikari

fukuda

Yup, Asuka will always be known as the first member to graduate from the group and it feels like she’s the only one who really didn’t care for it all and just had negative emotions coming out of it when she returned to the public eye…as such, she did have an important factor being the first to least

memoryseishun

A-side: When it comes to the A-side, we were going through a shift of group power with Natsumi becoming the leading voice of the group.  So when Memory Seishun no Hikari came out, it didn’t really feel like it focused very much on Asuka.  It was also a switch to a stronger urban R&B setting so it wasn’t something Momusu was used to at the time.  However, looking at the color-coded lyrics, Asuka did have the most solo lines which is absurd seeing that it’s only 3 lines in length as the rest of the song was a whole lot of melodies, and Nacchi/Kaorin solos.

PV: I think the PV did it worse because there was a LOT of Natsumi shots in the song and on a lesser amount, Kaori here (and the 3 bros dancing xd).  Though on Asuka’s lines she’s there for it, but if I didn’t know she was leaving, I would call it usual business.  Not even the ending really hints at this happening either.

B-sides: 

Happy Night: Now the first B-side was Happy Night and it doesn’t seem to feature anything prominent for Asuka, instead focusing more on the other members (Sayaka & Kei pretty much).  Hell, she’s only there for choruses and some of the pre-chorus…oh well

Never Forget: However, Tsunku did manage to surprise us when we got a 2nd B-side (a first for Momusu) and even more awesome, it was a solo track for Asuka!  I mean it’s such a good sendoff and Asuka really gave it her all for this so it made up for the lack of importance in the rest of the single.

OVERALL: I would say the one that started the trend for graduation singles in Momusu, Memory Seishun no Hikari was a good single despite most of it wasn’t surrounding her except Never Forget which was surprising yet awesome to see.  I’d say she’s on the top of the list, so let’s see how the other 4 fared

Aya Ishiguro – LOVE Machine

ishiguro

Here we are at Ayappe as she would be the 2nd member to leave the group, oddly enough at a time where Morning Musume was being risky after choosing one new member to join the group (Maki Goto).  While I never really understood why’d she’d leave after LOVE Machine became the huge thing it had become…I wonder what it left us to remember her by…

lovemachine

A-side: For such a song that left its mark in J-pop history, when I first heard it, I knew it was where Maki started but never knew was also a graduation single for Aya and sadly wouldn’t have known that until I looked into the single’s history.  Poor Ayappe got sidelined for this song as she has ONE solo line in the track.  Her ~akarui~ line though somehow sticks out in my mind.  Really though, the single was really more focused on Maki’s first appearance more than Ayappe’s final single.

PV: The PV is almost the same exact way, although we see everyone in a lot of shots including Aya herself, Gocchin was the focus for most of it which while disappointing is somewhat understandable.  Could have fooled me though that Aya was leaving.

B-side: 21seiki – I hate to say though, its B-side, 21seiki did nothing for Aya in anyway as the song is sung entirely in unison.  The song itself is kind of slow-paced as well so I’m just kind of like…this could’ve EASILY been a Aya solo to be honest.

OVERALL: Compared to Asuka, Aya got shafted for her final single and that’s partially possibly due to Maki’s introduction to the group.  Still for being one of the most recognized songs in Japan, many people tend to forget that Aya left through this single and honestly there’s no hint of it here so she’s definitely below Asuka in how H!P handled it.

Yuko Nakazawa – Renai Revolution 21

nakazawa

Next up is the de-facto first leader of the group Yuko who graduated 4th (after Sayaka) due to her well coming to the fact that new blood was joining the group and she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the youthful energy in the dances and such…so let’s see what this song has!

renairevolution

A-side: With the 4th Generation becoming more comfortable in the group, it feels like they were starting to get pushed as members alongside Maki who was still at this point a major figure in the group.  With Yuko in the song she got two solo lines which is one more over Aya ironically lol.  Still, not a lot of importance here

PV: The PV did show a lot of Yuko in comparison to past PVs (except maybe “Koi no Dance Site”) but I think everyone got the same amount of view time though (except Maki obviously).  So really, not much of a focus or notification that Yuko was leaving the group.

B-side: Inspiration! – I do think that Yuko might’ve been better represented, but with Inspiration! just about everyone else gets a solo line, though it’s still better than nothing.

OVERALL: I would say Yuko would be on the lower half of things as her final single didn’t really show that she was leaving, nor I don’t think she needed it because of the fact she had an ongoing solo career as well in Hello! Project so I mean, she wasn’t going too far away…

Natsumi Abe – Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT

abe

Ah, the eternal youth member, I feel like Nacchi could’ve gone farther if not for the solo career she got before she graduated.  Nacchi left during a really busy time for Momusu (who had just added another generation for their biggest iteration of the group’s history).  Really though it as impressive but was Natsumi given any special moments in the single?

aiaraba

A-side: I think I’m seeing a similar pattern here after Yuko with the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of spotlight for Nacchi.  I mean yeah she had a pretty lengthy solo in the first prechorus, but considering that Natsumi has always been a leading voice in the group, this isn’t a new subject of matter.

PV: With everyone wearin the same outfits for the most part, I feel like there was no true focus on anyone more or less Nacchi.  Though she was up front in the dance quite a lot which might be the smile light shining for her graduation.  Plus the older members surrounding her during her solo is also quite nice for her as little as it may be.

B-side: Dekiru Onna – Unfortunately it doesn’t bode very well for the B-side here as the only solo lines were given to Mikitty, Charmy, Ai-chan, and Aibon.  The only times you hear Nacchi is her lines alongside Kaori and Mari which is only a seldom couple times unfortunately.

OVERALL: When it comes to Nacchi’s final single, I think she did less than Yuko did when she graduated honestly.  Likewise, I assume because of the solo career Natsumi had she wasn’t given anything special because well she’d still be in Hello! Project for the time being.

Kaori Iida – The MANPOWER!!!

iida

Then we come to the last of the original 5 to graduate, I knew that it was going to be a huge deal because it was the last of the original members that started the group up.  Really was surprised though her final A-side would be tied to a baseball team, but hey keeping it original I suppose.

themanpower

A-side: Talking about the song, Kaori had only two solo lines and one is kind of in front of other girls singing which is eh expected.  I hate to say though, she really didn’t pop out anywhere else in the song.

PV: I have to mention though that the main PV chosen sucked SO MUCH because it was just the dance-shot meaning there was no focus on anyone in particular especially none for Kaori unless she went to the front line of the dance.  However, things played out a little better in the Another Edition version of the PV.  While she still doesn’t take center stage, she is seen with Yaguchi a lot (as they were the eldest members by generation).  Not as prominent especially for being the last of her generation but whatever lol.

B-side: Love & Peace! HERO ga Yattakita. – Ouch, after listening to this song, I was surprised that everyone BUT Kaori got a solo line in this track…I mean, I wasn’t sure why but that’s a bit cold-shouldered.  Eh…

OVERALL: You’d think as being the final 1st Gen member, you’d get something special for your final single, but Kaori kind of fell to the wayside and like didn’t even exist in its B-side, but like Natsumi and Yuko, she also had a solo career so the loss or lack of importance in the single wasn’t too rocky or bad for that matter.

  • Asuka Fukuda
  • Yuko Nakazawa
  • Natsumi Abe
  • Kaori Iida
  • Aya Ishiguro

That’s pretty much the standings so far and I’m quite surprised that the member that left first got the best treatment of a graduation single than ones who stayed the longest (though on the flipside of that coin 3/5 didn’t really need much spotlight as they had other opportunities to shine).

Next time, we’ll dive into the 2nd and 3rd Gen and hopefully it’ll shake up the standings a little bit more!

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