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

Hello! 2014! What have you brought us this year? RECAP!!!!~~

Welp! It’s that time of year again where we bust through the year that was and it’s the end of 2014 and quite a number of things happened this year within Hello! Project and it’s definitely worth being a fan this year as I feel an era is slowly ending and beginning anew!  In this post, it’ll be like last years with not much changing in the format I’ve done!  So let us begin!!!~

Morning Musume ’14

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Starting of course with the flagship group, Morning Musume started off with a bang by having the first day of the year, the first under their new name Morning Musume ’14.  With the first single of the year “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa / Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai / What is LOVE?“.  I think the response has had some time to sink in on people so the name change wasn’t a BIG deal after all.  Then came a surprising album from them with “Morning Musume ’14 Coupling Collection 2” which compiled their B-sides from where they left off from the first Coupling Collection to the last single they released in 2013.  Which was followed by their next single “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe / Password is 0“.  Shortly after, there was an announcement of a 2nd try for a 12th Generation and the sad announcement that long-standing 6th Gen member, Sayumi Michishige was graduating at the end of the year.

Cut to October and a series of things happened.  At the beginning of the month, we finally had our new generation consisting of Maria Makino, Akane Haga, Miki Nonaka, and Haruna Ogata.  While the majority has not really formed a solid opinion on the new members, they will officially begin activities in 2015.  A couple of days later, Momusu went to New York to perform and released an album to commemorate, “One Two Three to Zero” (an album to celebrate Sayumi’s time as leader…it has all the A-sides she’s been leader of and some group B-sides as well).  Then a couple days after, released Sayumi’s graduation single, “TIKI BUN / Shabadabadoo~ / Mikaeri Bijin” and then finally released their long-awaited 14th studio album, “14 Shou ~The message~” and then Sayumi said farewell at the end of November.

Of course 2014 is ending and the group will change their name to Morning Musume ’15 on New Years.

THE SONGS

Yup, this section is back and I will do it the same way I did, 4 states of enjoyment.  I will also put down to note for Momusu, on the Coupling Collection 2 album, “Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!” was slightly edited where the transition from “Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki Negatterun da yo!” doesn’t exist.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai – Starting this off, I was definitely rockin’ to this song for most of the year!  There was something so powerful and cool about the track from the opening with the repeated title, to the verses and then the sass from Riho and Sakura as well.  The tune just represented the Sochi Olympics to a T.  Definitely an epic song and great representation of the EDM style that Tsunku stepped up with.
  • Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe – The primary A-side from the 2nd single released in the year, Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe was a softer side to the EDM craze so it was more of a mid-tempo dance track like “AS FOR ONE DAY” with a lot more synths.  I also loved that there was more melodies and shared lines moreso than solo blips.  A very soothing song from the group, though I am so tired of hearing that scattered piano line in Hello! Station…getting REAL tired of that.
  • Mikaeri Bijin – Talking about Sayu’s graduating single, I was surprised we ended up with two almost.  This one is the remaining 9 members saying goodbye to Sayumi and interestingly enough wasn’t done by Tsunku.  Being only one of two ballads released by Momusu this year, I actually like this more than the other coming up.  The entire song is in unison and I liked it a lot especially the pre-chorus where they sing in a lower key than normal and the chorus is just so heartbreaking but so sweet.  Definitely a song I wasn’t expecting to love, but ended up totally…great A-side!
  • Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi – Then we get into the songs from the album and honestly, I wasn’t expecting a Riho/Sakura duet to by so high-up considering the first song they did together, “Daisuki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusenai” was a pretty meh song.  From the beats and synths to the similar arranged area to Martin Garrix’s “Animals”, Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi was a total banger and the duo sounded SO MUCH BETTER together the way they were here.  Seriously, the sly and slick verses are seriously badass!
  • Watashi wa Watashi Nanda – The other album track was actually a full group tune, I just love this song for some reason, but I think it’s the fact it had some acoustic guitar and some natural sounds (like piano) thrown into the arrangement.  Also, I felt like the group had more line distribution than other tracks, so that was an obvious win!  Overall, good song and was worth hearing Haruka and Zukki more!

OK SONGS

  • Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa – Ah, the early Christmas present we were given last year, Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa is admittedly a bright and happy-go-lucky song that’s for sure.  I’ve mentioned before on the review blog I have, that I really did like the song when it came out, but after having near a year with it, I’ve had problems with enjoying it as much as I did.  Mostly, from the construct of the lyrics.  I dislike shoving lyrics into measures to try to fit as much as possible.  I would’ve been OK with maybe one or two parts like that, but Tsunku just went overboard here and that’s mostly the reason it settles into the OK category for me.  I will say the mid-8 section and the bridges are awesome!
  • What is LOVE? – Personally, I think I grew tired of this song after hearing it so much, but this song was pretty big for them internationally, so I can’t blame the overexposure I’ve had to this one.  It’s very heavy and fast and has such a cool arrangement though…I will definitely remember this song as the ~Is it necessary?~ song just because of Maachan and Sayu.
  • Password is 0 – When we had a first snippet of the tune (same time that it was known that the song would be also a collaboration with Morisanchuu (though wouldn’t it be Morinichuu since one of the members was on pregnancy leave?).  Luckily, I’ll talk about that version later.  The Momusu-only version is OK.  I have a tendeny to love any EDM song to come from Tsunku, but this year has been taxing on me.  Password is 0 was the first one that I just simply got tired of.  Overplayed and the repetitive taglines just kind of pushed me away, though there’s part’s I do love like Riho and Sakura’s epic parts…but otherwise…it was just ok.
  • TIKI BUN & TIKI BUN (Album Version) – I put these two together simply becuase the album version didn’t really do anything TOTALLY different from the single version beyond a new intro and different mid-8 section.  TIKI BUN suffers a lot of my qualms from “Password is 0” from the repetition and the tiredness from the EDM.  Though the intro of the single version is so badass and the verses without the ~tiki bun~ is neat too, plus the pre-chorus was cool diving into some deep bass.  Still, kind of lacking something big about it.
  • Asu wo Tsukuru no wa Kimi – The other ballad of the year, Asu wo Tsukuru no wa Kimi didn’t pull on the heartstrings as much as “Mikaeri Bijin” did, but I liked the simple arrangement and the fact that members had solo lines all over the place.  There was just something so magical and Disney-like with the song and it kind of surprised me.  Of course it was the only ballad from their album so it stuck out so much to me which probably helped it out a LOT.
  • Otona ni Nareba Otona ni Nareru!? – Rounding out the OK songs, Otona ni Nareba Otona ni Nareru!? on first listen never stuck out to me for some reason even though it did have Zukki, Eripon, Duu, Ayumin, and Maachan singing together for this hi-octane EDM track.  Plus the backgirls get some awesome voice-time here.  It did have to grow on me though which does put it on the lower end of the spectrum with OK songs.

MEH SONGS

  • Password is 0 (Morimusume ver.) – So I can’t believe they let this happened to be honest.  Morisanchuu was a familiar name to me because they had collaborated with Mika Nakashima so I was more than worried when they joined up with Momusu.  The song itself musically is the same, but Riho and Sakura were essentially replaced by the Morisanchuu ladies and I know it’s for humor, but it wore off almost immediately for me as I would’ve rather heard Riho and Sakura belt it and not the other two passing kidney stones >.>.  Suffice to say, this version is just for completionists (honestly are there people that like this version more than the original version?).
  • Shabadabadoo~ – I know people are still grieving over Sayu’s graduation and many have been gushing about her solo song since it has that sentimental thing going for it.  Though I have to say I really don’t care about this song.  I will say that my favorite thing is the jazzy/lounge vibe from the song, but it should’ve stayed that way.  Once the synths blips happen, I was turned off and as much as Sayu grew as a vocalist, her non-auto-tuned voice is a bit brazen (and she admits it in the song!).  I think if Tsunku had laid off of the synthwork here it would’ve been higher.  That’s why we have “Lalala no Pipipi”, man…
  • Waraenai Hanashi – Maybe it’s just me, but the male rappers throw me off so much in this song.  I think without them, this song would’ve been much higher too because it’s another high quality EDM track (yeah…ok maybe not too high because I was so zoned out from the sheer amount of dance tracks on the album itself).  It was a song that just flew over my head, but I do love hearing Ayumi all over the song!

ICK SONGS

  • Koibito ni wa Zettai ni Shiraretakunai Shinjitsu – The only song that really made me groan was the song between Fukuchan, Harunan, and Sayu.  I get it’s a song for the leaders/sub-leaders, but the song is like the “Otome no Timing” / “Osaka Umainen” / “Guruguru JUMP” where the song is way sugary than normal.  To be honest, I would’ve LOVED to have had this be a rock song like the intro said…such false advertising XD.  Add on that no one in general was singing well enough and you got this steamy mess.

Predictions from last year!

Well, I definitely think there’ll be a new member at some point next year, but I also think Sayu will stick around for 2014 if not, at least to the end of the year.

Actuality: 4 new members! and Sayu managed to stick around for most of 2014!

Predictions for 2015: A year without an overabundance of EDM.  Other than that, I couldn’t even think of anything becuase the group isn’t too old still and I’m sure all the current members will stick around for a few more years (if anyone, Haruna could leave, but I HIGHLY doubt that).  MM ’16 for sure too xD

Berryz Koubou

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In 2014, Berryz finally managed to hop out of meh-land and have Tsunku actually pay attention to them.  They begun the year with their interesting single, “Otona na no yo! / 1-oku 3-senman Sou Diet Oukoku” and then a week later released their next best album, “Berryz Kobo Special Best Vol. 2“.  Couple of months later, they would celebrate their 10 years together with a single, “Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni / Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!?“.

Sadly the excitement was suddenly shot when the group announced they’ll be going on an indefinite hiatus starting in early 2015 and released what it would be their final single, “Romance wo Kattate / Towa no Uta“.  Then it was announced that Momoko Tsugunaga would join the Country Musume revival group as teacher after her time in Berryz finishes.  They also announced a final best album in 2015 to kind of close the chapter with Berryz.

 THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • 1-oku 3-senman Sou Diet Oukoku – I would easily declare this song as the oddest tune released this year.  It did run with Tsunku’s EDM phase, but it sounded so futuristic and cool that I definitely got behind it.  While I did think the topic was a bit odd (and how Maasa was getting bigger -.o) the tune is definitely a strange one.  Still, the over-repeating actually gave the song a strong impression (and didn’t annoy me, even if the repeating was at MAX in this on).  Still, it’s one of Berryz’ best songs.
  • Koiseyo! – One of the two new tracks from the best album they released, Koiseyo! was definitely the better of the two.  Something about the song just came off powerful and cool, even when the chorus is a bit more lighthearted.
  • Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni – When the group released their 10th Anniversary single, Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni was a surprising twist to their sound because while the group is known for their amount of odd songs, this one had a very aggressive March rhythm to it and that kind of punch was such an awesome feel.  Add the strings to give it such a striking sound and this was a winning song for me.
  • Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!? – On the other hand, the secondary A-side from the single was also such a catchy song and one whose lyrics celebrated the group’s 10 years of existence.  While the fact that the horse whinnies were a bit random at first (2014 was the year of the Horse), it kind of added that random hokey and random sound Berryz seem to accels in.  Even before the announcement of their indefinite hiatus, this song did seem like a premonition of things to come, but I still loved it!

OK SONGS

  • Otona na no yo! – With the primary A-side from the first single they released this year, Otona na no yo! to me was a pretty good song, but Berryz really blew out the year with a lot of other songs.  I also thought the song felt like a more upbeat take on “Aa, Yo ga Akeru”.  I don’t know but it’s just a groovy tune and despite not being on the great songs, it’s definitely the better of some others.
  • Romance wo Kattate – If I didn’t know Berryz was essentially disbanding I would’ve just simply called this a typical H!P Winter song (like “Samui ne.” & “Aitai Lonely Christmas”) but this is their final A-side released and I found that this taking more precedence than “Towa no Uta” surprising as it seriously didn’t say final A-side.  Beyond that, this is a pretty nice wintry song and despite the “Here Comes the Sun” intro, the rest sounded great and the kaleidoscope effect in the PV was pretty sweet!
  • Towa no Uta – This one did remind of something that Buono! would’ve released because of the guitar-laced arrangement.  I also felt like this was surprising that this was the secondary A-side because I felt between this and “Romance wo Katatte” this one was more appropriate of the occasion.  Though they would make “Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!?”, this song” and “Love together!” as a trilogy of good-bye PVs.

MEH SONGS

  • Onna no Ko Shika Wakannai Choudo Aru no – I’m not sure why, but the other new track off their best album never stood out to me as well as “Koiseyo!” did.  Though some of the synthwork sounds a lot like “Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!” (which was released after this song :0 ).  This one just kind of flew over my head with not a lot of an impression even after I listened to it again.

Predictions from last year!

I expect Tsunku will switch to paying attention to Berryz and they’ll have some pretty good singles, though I still wonder when that graduation announcement will happen.

Actuality: I would say Tsunku paid good enough attention to Berryz this year, even though it was 3 singles and a best album.

Predictions for 2015: Is there much to predict?  I mean the group will disband in March.  Though I would hope that at least 2 of the members besides Momoko will keep performing so we’ll see.

°C-ute

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To be honest, °C-ute, I had figured that compared to last year’s HUGE push, I was expecting them to continue the push, but then Berryz was aiming towards their hiatus announcement and sadly the group got the least amount of exposure this year…and I mean the least amount even compared to all the other H!P groups active this year.  They began the year with “Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitamita / Love take it all” and followed that up with two more singles for the year, “The Power / Kanashiki Heaven (Single Version)” and “I miss you / THE FUTURE”.  Yeah, that was all they released this year (well, there’s one more but that’ll be talked about later on in this post).

GREAT SONGS

  • I miss you – Yeah, you can tell how much I was into °C-ute this year that the great songs was from the final single of the year.  I miss you was such an interesting song because it was a surprisingly short song, but all the fact they used 3 different vocal melodies in the tune.  Also, it’s been a while since Maimi actually led a song so that was nice to give to her.  What a cool song they got though!
  • THE FUTURE – The other A-side from the single was something the group really needed this year with THE FUTURE.  At first, I was intrigued because the previous single had a song titled “The Power” so I figured it was connected, but I don’t think so.  The tune is really powerful and has some great guitar riffs and punching synths.  I just love the song!

OK SONGS

  • Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita – Part of the first single released from them in 2014, Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita on first listen was really weird because it reminded me WAY TOO MUCH of “Tokai no Hitorigurashi”.  After some time, the song grew on me and now I kind of prefer over said song, but I loved Chisato in this tune…it’s a bright and bouncy song and °C-ute managed to work this out.
  • The Power – Somehow I wasn’t expecting the group to release a kind of Bhangra-ish song in the form of The Power.  It’s got a nice beat and the vocals are great, I can’t remember why I don’t love it as much as I thought it would.  I do enjoy it when it comes on my iTunes and it’s still one of the better upbeat songs from them, but I just don’t know.

MEH SONGS

  • Love take it all – There’s just something that struck me in the oddest way with Love take it all.  Now the other A-side sounded like “Tokai no Hitorigurashi” and all, but this one felt like “Aitte Motto Zanshin” which was from the same single.  So this single felt like dejavu to me.  Love take it all though didn’t feel like it was much to me…just kind of forgettable in the long run.
  • Kanashiki Heaven (Single Version) – I know Tsunku was taking it a lot more slowly due to his cancer and all, but this was something I was loathing because it was already 2 years since the original Airi/Chisato duet came out.  I had already dealt with the song on two occasions (the original & the separated versions), so why oh why did we needed this version because besides the new arrangement, the remaining three °C-ute members did not need to have joined (and they didn’t add much of anything in this version).  I would’ve put it in the ick section, but I still like Kanashiki Heaven and the new arrangement is nice, but not enough to raise it higher than it should.

Predictions from last year!

“Bigger sales and stronger appearance!  Hopefully another year of no worries ^^.”

Actuality: I think the opposite happened here lol.  The sales, I think remained at a nice high point for the group, but they suffered with the lack of importance or news from them this year.  (Overshadowed mostly from the Berryz hiatus, new members joining Momusu, S/mileage, and announcement of Country Girls).

Predictions for 2015: I hope that with Berryz going on hiatus, the group will be back on top and have an amazing year.

S/mileage / ANGERME

ANGERME

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If it wasn’t for the big news at the end of the year, S/mileage would’ve been the group that had little to do this year, but then again they were involved all over the place.  I mean they released two main singles “Mystery Night! / Eighteen Emotion” and “Aa Susukino / Chikyuu wa Kyou mo Ai wo Hagukumu“.  Though they also released a stageplay single titled “S/mileage’s JUKEBOX-MUSICAL “Smile Fantasy!” Theme Kyoku” that came with two different versions, the single had only three tracks and the DVD released had a fuller tracklist with solos from the girls!. Then it happened.

In a Hello! Station episode, Ayacho and Nyon announced that there would be a 3rd Generation for the group, although they would be Kenshuusei-only, but the bigger surprise is that the group will change their name to kind of make S/mileage for the 6-nin and the 3 others that had been a part of the group.  The winners were Rikako Sasaki, Mizuki Murota, and Maho Aikawa!  In December, the group finally announced the name change as ANGERME. Weird, but Kanana explained that it was French for “Angel Tears”.  Though the group will begin activities in 2015.

GREAT SONGS

  • Mystery Night! – I know many are really split with this song because of it’s lyrical content and the PV it got, but good lord this song is just awesome!  I love the darker tone of the song and the strings added such a nice mix and adding the strong vocals from Meimi and Takechan and it’s just an awesome track from them!
  • Chikyuu wa Kyou mo Ai wo Hagukumu – Like other EDM songs this year, this one also followed “Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai” where repeating the long title so much adds a really cool vibe.  I was surprised that Ayacho and Takechan actually led the song, but it’s still an amazing song with cool moves and a nice PV (even if it was diet “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe”.
  • Yumemiru 15sai – Now you may be wondering what I’m on about including this, but the “Smile Fantasy!” had solos on it from each of the members performing one of the already established S/mileage songs.  Awesomely enough all the tracks have been touched with some new arrangements.  Yumemiru 15sai’s arrangement has been sped up and is sung only by Meimi!  I was impressed by the new sound and Meimi sounds amazing!
  • Yattaruchan – Wow, what a difference the lack of girls can make a song.  I was surprised how deep Kanana’s voice has really gotten to the point the song had to be lower pitched for her to be able to tackle this fun song!  Like I said before, Kana has really stepped her vocal game up and she sounds REALLY deep nowadays.

OK SONGS

  • Eighteen Emotion – Ahh, something that isn’t EDM from S/mileage!  The tune was peppy and reminded me of upbeat songs from 4-nin S/mileage.  The group is singing all over the place and they sound like they were excited to be this one and I’m enjoying the tune even after its release.
  • Aa Susukino – Onwards, we have Aa Susukino which reminded me a lot of last year’s “Ii Yatsu” with the sort of Emo-musume sound and quirky stuff throughout it.  I did enjoy hearing a lot of Meimi and Kanon here with some spoken dialogue from Ayaka and Rina.  I thought the aforementioned song was a bit better, but this is a rather cool song for the group.
  • SMILE OVERTURE – Being the introduction and a short one at that, the music is so cute and upbeat and I love the way how they introduce one another.  That’s basically it, but there was just something so adorable about this opening track.
  • Asu wa Date na no ni, Ima Sugu Koe ga Kikitai – Rinapuu’s solo found itself here because it did receive the least amount of changes here.  Her voice though sounds just right for the tune as it was one of the more cutesy 4-nin S/mileage songs out there and she did it justice.
  • Jitensha Chiririn – Takechan chose a pretty interesting solo, taking a slower track to tackle.  I do love that her voice made it sound more full without the squeaky vocals that came with the original.  Overall a solid performance.
  • ONE DAY & ONE DAY (Shinroku ver.) – The shorter of the two ballads they released, ONE DAY was the easier to swallow and to be honest, I could slightly like it on a good day because all the ladies are without filters and everything and they sound so pretty in the song.  Plus the arrangement is pleasant enough for me to get into as well.  Definitely a surprising song to come from S/mileage (though that effect is taken away since it is from their stageplay single and the Shinroku version does add a different arrangement, but still ultimately a nice song.
  • aMa no Jaku – The last solo on the stageplay release was from Ayacho and it was a 180 from the original.  It’s actually made as a ballad.  Initially, I am not much of a fan of Ayaka’s voice, but she did a nice job and for some reason it does bring me back to when she debuted with the group.  Though of the solos, she still has the worst performance because she goes off-pitch throughout which surprises me a lot!
  • Cur~tain Ko~runrun – Also from their stageplay single, the third track from that single was alright and brought back the more youthful and sugary sound.  Despite the atmosphere and the somewhat squeakier vocals, I was happy to hear a lot of Takechan and Meimi here.  I was even more surprised it made it onto Petit Best 15 :0  Still, it’s a bouncy song and has character and I liked it.  Plus they named each other off, neat!

MEH SONGS

  • Watashi no Kokoro – Nyon’s voice is OK, but giving her this ballad was maybe overkill for me.  It just didn’t quite capture my interest like the other solos did.

ICKY SONGS

  • Joujou Kumikyoku “Smile Fantasy!”  & Joujou Kumikyoku “Smile Fantasy” (Shinroku ver.) – The worst song the group released is also from their stageplay single.  To most people who can tolerate a 10 minute track, kudos to you, but this one was so difficult to sit through because it’s a LONG ballad and I just lost interest after a couple minutes in.  Add on that “ONE DAY” is the better choice here.  The arrangement is nice as it changes into some interesting stuff and I hear a lot more Rinapuu, but I just couldn’t get past the length and the updated version changes little which doesn’t do much for me.

Predictions from last year!

Maybe a Budokan performance that’s all about them?  Maybe make 2014, the year for Rinapuu to shine since Kanana did this year?  Maybe, JUST MAYBE a 3rd gen?  We’ll see!

Actuality: To think that I actually got most of this right!  They did get a Budokan performance!  Rinapuu might not have got a lot of spotlight like Kanana did in 2013, but I’ve noticed her a lot for some reason this year with stuff like Sato no Akari, Smile Fantasy! and even “Aa Susukino”.

Then 3rd Gen happened, even though I didn’t expect the group to change their name because of it.

Predictions for 2015: ANGERME will stand out and the new members will manage to fit into the group with little problems.  Not sure how else to say it but I hope it doesn’t mean that Ayacho and Nyon are planning to leave this year…keep that for next year plz!!!

Juice=Juice

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Now for me, I don’t think Juice=Juice had as great of a year like they did in 2013 (when they debuted and all), but it doesn’t mean they didn’t release good music along the way.  Most of the year was just single releases with “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS / Arekore Shitai!“, “Black Butterfly / Kaze ni Fukarete” and “Senobi / Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa“.  Before releasing their stageplay mini-album, “Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Koisuru Hello Kitty” Original Mini-Album“.

Though they did perform one song “Erabareshi Watashitachi” but hasn’t really been released yet, so I hope this means they have an album on the horizon.  (BTW, I won’t be reviewing that since it hasn’t had a studio release).

GREAT SONGS

  • Kaze ni Fukarete – Something about Ju=Ju going for their sort of Emo-musume sounding track, Kaze ni Fukarete is an interesting song that mixed their EDM-ish sound with a sort-of Celtic vibe.  Plus, I thought Karin sounded amazing here in comparison to everyone else involved lol.
  • Senobi – Then they just became EDM with Senobi’s release.  This song is very electronic and has a lot of punch (like a lot of their releases had been this year!  I guess Tsunku started to pull back on their experimentation a bit and released this.  I liked how they paired Yuka, Aarii, and Karin together and Sayubee and Kanatomo as they went back and forth in the chorus.  Plus Sayuki’s lines in the after-chorus is so cool mmmmph.
  • Shooting Star – Something about this stageplay release was odd all-around.  Shooting Star though was a pretty pleasant track, despite being mostly a Karin solo which was also probably why the mini-album was somewhat weak.  I love the acoustic guitar arrangement here and I think I heard Sayubee and Kanatomo (the other two might be here too oops).  Still, it’s a nice song to listen too!
  • Anata ga Wakaranai – Probably the other song that’s worth a listen, Anata ga Wakaranai lets Karin, Sayuki, and Tomoko to really put their dramatic vocals to use and it sounds so good.  Though if it wasn’t obvious Tomoko sounds the best since she has a lower voice.  I think I heard Yuka and Akari too, but it wasn’t as strong of an appearance.  Still, a good dramatic track for sure.

OK SONGS

  • Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS – In the first half of the year, it seems like Tsunku was trying to experiment with Juice=Juice with latino flavors.  The first was this one that had a similar groove like Momusu’s “Iroppoi Jirettai”.  For the most part, the song is pretty classy and cool, though the repeating ~hadaka no~ somehow butchered the chorus for me…still it’s a driving force and the smooth vocals suited the tune.
  • Black Butterfly – The other latino track, Black Butterfly was more of a tango.  I really love the verses of the song as they sounded mysterious and sensual and Karin just aced the whole feeling of that area.  The chorus is where it sort of slips with the ~bulack buttaahfulye~ and everything, that didn’t fit too much even though it is the hook of the tune.  Still, it’s a unique song from the group and the dramatics is nice.
  • Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa – When the single was announced I honestly had forgotten about it until the week it was released.  I had to listen to both songs and “Senobi” really knocked it out of the park and I had totally forgot how Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa went.  Listening to it again, the song is pretty upbeat and energetic and would make a good parallel to S/mileage’s “Eighteen Emotion”.
  • Todoke Todoke Todoke! – I think I’m split on this track because while I do love that Karin and Tomoko take leads here, it’s muddled by breaks during the song for exposition to the storyline from the stageplay.  Musically, it’s a simple piano/strings ensemble with small parts with drums.  I do love that it slowly gains momentum til it becomes a stronger tune.

MEH SONGS

  • Arekore Shitai! – Now this song is definitely right up S/mileage’s alley.  As the other A-side from the first single they released in 2014, I quickly had forgotten what this song sounded like because it just came off as a generic happy idol song with not many hooks to send out.  Even now, the tune is struggling to leave an impression.
  • HELLO! – The first track from their mini-album, HELLO! was such an odd song to come out because it really doesn’t stick too much to one arrangement before flying around other places.  The intro is cute and bouncy as one would expect from their stageplay containing Hello Kitty.  Add in some random conversations as well as transitions to ballad-form and then back to speed…it’s just a little messy.
  • Honto no Kimochi – This song was just boring.  Coming after “Anata ga Wakaranai” on the tracklist, it was not surprising that this would be disappointing because it’s less dramatic and just has 0 energy.  Definitely Ju=Ju’s most forgettable song since their debut.

Predictions from last year!

Since they didn’t exist in 2012, time to start the tradition for the new group.  Honestly, I feel like they’re going to fill that space Aina left…though I don’t know who.  Also, debut album definitely has to happen.  Other than that, who knows…

Actuality: Neither of my predictions happened which is surprising in some ways.  Though due to H!P’s new blood, they were put on the backburner this year.

Predictions for 2015: An album for sure! (hopefully not a best album).  Also they’ll be up at the front of releases (or at least put out great songs).

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei

kenshuusei

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Time to give the Trainees their own section huh?  Well the year began with the announcement that their 3rd single, “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa / Ten Made Nobore!” would be released to the general public and not just be an event-only single.  Then 8 of the Kenshuusei members: Tanabe, Hamaura, Yamagishi, Sasaki, Kaga, Yamaki, and Oura would perform in a stageplay and release a single together, “Karen na Gasshoudan”.  After April though, we started losing a lot of members!  Fuyuka Kosuga (in May), Karen Tanaka, Hirona Oura (in September), Nanami Tanabe, and Kurumi Yoshihashi  (in November) had completed their training (or in layman terms, left the program) and gained three new members in between then in Maho Aikawa, Miu Takemura, and Kana Saito.

Then October happened and we lose more Kenshuusei, but they’ve been promoted to official H!P members with Maria Makino and Akane Haga joining Morning Musume ’14/’15, Mizuki Murota, Rikako Sasaki, and newcomer Maho Aikawa to S/mileage/ANGERME, and last, but not least Manaka Inaba and Risa Yamaki were chosen to be in the Country Musume revival.

In the mix of all that though, they would release their first ever studio album, “① Let’s say “Hello!“.  Plus it didn’t help that they also announced 9 new Kenshuusei members with Saori Onoda, Kiki Asakura, Nagisa Hashimoto, Kizuki Horie, Rei Inoue, Momoko Shimano, Ami Tanimoto, Risa Ogata, and Ayaka Hirose (6 of those 9 though were Nice Girl Project Kenshuusei, interestingly enough).

2015 is already showing signs of amazing because Fujii, Nomura, Hamaura, Taguchi, Ogawa, Wada, Hirose, and Inoue R. were chosen to become a group as well…so the KSS have had a REALLY busy year I’d say and will continue to be busy for the first half of the year.

GREAT SONGS

  • Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa – It just seems so long ago when this came out (technically December of last year, but the single was released this year).  I just love the EDM arrangement here and the amount of solo lines is amazing (even though listening to it now and most of the girls who got solos are either gone or in H!P directly now (Kurumin, Tanapyon, Kaneko, Fuuchan are gone, while Murota, Hamaura, and Ogawa are now full-on H!P members and Kaga is the lone KSS left lol).  Still, this was a pretty epic song and still is today!
  • Karen na Gasshoudan – So the stageplay single had only one original song on it (the other two were cover songs).  Something about Karen na Gasshoudan sort of suited H!P’s sound, but had a fun youthful side to it that brought some interesting vocals.  Especially with Tanapyon and Hamachan singing leads.  Happy that it made it on Petit Best 15 though!
  • Say! Hello! – Even though it follows the same sound as songs like “Shining Power”, “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku”, and even “The Matenrou Show” with the synth-brass sound that kind of overwhelmed H!P back then.  Having it return in a Kenshuusei song is actually not that bad and breaks the monotony from EDM-land so it stood out in a nice way.  At least the chorus is what really made the song pop for me.  Definitely an awesome to open the album with.
  • Onna no Sono – I was so happy that the Kenshuusei was able to put out another upbeat EDM track because it’s a solid song and has more energy to it than “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa” did.  Very heavy song indeed and sticks out from the rest of the songs Kenshuusei performed this year.  I love this song a lot, though makes me wonder if this could be a PV for the new group announced for the new 2015 group (that isn’t Country Girls)
  • “Idol wa Robot” tte Showa no Hanashi ne – The last song from the album that we got to hear, “Idol wa Robot” tte Showa no Hanashi ne is a bizarre song, even moreso than “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa”.  It’s actually a fun song to listen to and it doesn’t really seem like Tsunku had a hand in it for some reason.  It’s just goofy and cute all in one package.  I don’t know why but there’s something old H!P about this one, but something original at the same time…it’s good!

OK SONGS

  • Kikyuu ni Notte Dokomademo – Sung only by Hamaura, Kaga, Sasaki, and Yamagishi, Kikyuu ni Notte Dokomademo might be a cover of a chorale song and has been sung mostly by elders (as I’ve seen on YouTube, but the girls sung this was such a lighthearted tone that I could somehow enjoy and bounce with the tune.  Plus, the whole ~la la la la la laaaa~ part was so adorable.  As short as it is, it definitely won me over during the year.
  • Crying – So the first of many songs released prior to the album’s release, Crying didn’t connect with me at first until the studio version was finally released.  I mean besides coming off as a little bit like a Buono!, Crying did let us noticed Nomura quite a lot more as she has a good solo line within it.  Maybe it’s just the arrangement, but I got into it quite nicely and the piano/guitar solo in the mid8 was cool as hell!
  • Table Seki Aitetemo Counter Seki – I have to say the bounce of this song caught my attention since it was trying to be an EDM track, but instead had a younger snap to it like it was a S/mileage song in the making.  When it’s just the synths & guitars though, it’s a pretty heavy track and I quite liked it.  Two ideas smushed together, yup, S/mileage all over this one.

MEH SONGS

  • Annie Laurie – The other song from the “Karen na Gasshoudan” single, Annie Laurie (sung by Tanabe, Murota, Yamaki, and Oura) was my least favorite track off the single because it was such a plain-jane song and it was sung mostly together so there wasn’t much room to really showcase anyone within the four.
  • Seishun Beat wa 16 – I don’t know what it was about this track, but it sounded a lot more energetic live than the studio version we got from the album.  Considering most of this track is in unison, I didn’t get much of a feel for this one, except for the kind of cutesy, anime-ish feel I got from it which is nice I suppose.
  • “Koishitai Shinto” – There’s something pretty cool about the arrangement for this one.  Though I think where the song slipped is the male vocals (even though they do sound cool in some parts of the track).  Also the chorus is at a different tempo that just doesn’t work with the tune.

Predictions for 2015: With the announcement that 8 more are leaving the collective, I would suspect more will be added to bring the KSS back up to a larger level.  As for musically, I’m not sure if they’ll continue to release music, but I hope we get one release (besides the album). Another group maybe?!? Couple of the KSS gets added to groups?…but I doubt it.

Country Girls

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Then in November, we introduce our new group announced in 2015!  Though the creation stretches back to earlier in the year (March).  Mai Satoda made an announcement citing that she wanted to bring back Country Musume to activeness.

Initially, the auditions went on up until August, but the official H!P site announced there was no winners.

Surprise, surprise, in November there was actually winners with Risa Yamaki & Manaka Inaba from the Kenshuusei and new members Chisaki Morito, Mai Ozeki, and Uta Shimomura to form Country Girls!  As an added interest to make the group pop, Satoda enlisted Momoko Tsugunaga to be their “play manager”, but she won’t join the group until Berryz goes into indefinite hiatus on March 3rd.

Predictions for 2015: With their first single being indies and w/o Momoko, I hope Country Girls get off on a great foot.  Not sure what else I could say with predictions, but let’s hope for the best with them!

Other H!P Releases

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It seems like this year was the year of the compilation albums because that’s what most of the other H!P releases were.  Starting with the first day of the year (though they were released on New Year’s Eve to commemorate the performance through the new year), TOWER RECORDS started a series of compilations called the “Hello! Project no Zenkyoku Kara Atsumechaimashita!” series which invited performers and producers to choose from the H!P library.  Stretched 6 albums so far, we don’t know if there’s anymore in the horizon but it was a surprising, yet nice trip down memory lane! (even featured some interesting choices!).

SATOYAMA returned this year despite the TV series had ended and the interest was quickly dwindled because of it.  Though in some interesting choice, 3 more new SATOYAMA groups were announced for the year.

  • Sato no Akari – (Masaki Sato, Rina Katsuta, Akari Uemura) – Mostly known because this is the third time we see Maachan involved and the first for the other two members (Juice=Juice wasn’t a thing when SATOYAMA started).  Looking at the group, it’s definitely a cute group but interesting nonetheless.
  • Triplet – (Chisato Okai, Haruka Kudo, Sayuki Takagi) – I was so excited to see this grouping because it paired a lot of grittier vocals together and I love Duu and Chisa so hearing them together is amazing and Sayubee is just extra frosting.
  • ODATOMO – (Sakura Oda, Tomoko Kanazawa) – WOW, this was a treat, two of the strongest newcomers in 2014 put together and I was more than excited to hear it.

Anyways, the three groups released a simultaneous single together in April “Aa, Subarashiki Hibi yo / Dream Last Train / Kodachi wo Nukeru Kaze no You ni“.  Then the SATOness died down for the remainder of the year. Like I said, it seems to be the resurgence of the stageplay releases because it seems like one of the best releases this year came from MM’14 and S/mileage.  Like “Koisuru Hello Kitty” it fits with the other Engeki Joshi-bu titles as this was called “Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “LILIUM -Lilium Shoujo Junketsu Kageki-” Original Soundtrack“.  Very dark, but VERY cool nonetheless and was released 3 times (one included an edited track and two extra songs). When Berryz Koubou and °C-ute went to Paris this year, they released a joint best album to celebrate this happening titled “SUPPECIAL CUTIE BEST ALBUM ~Japan Expo 15th Year Anniversary Fans Selection Songs~“. Yeah, chosen by the fans!  It includes a lot of the grou’s signature songs and one song from Buono! and the Momoko solo track. Rounding out the year of course is our annual “Petit Best 15“.  Just the major songs this year, although it was great to see that it included three of the stageplay songs from the year.  AWESOME!

GREAT SONGS

  • Dream Last Train – Yeah, even I knew this was going to be on here because I love Haruka and Chisato together!  It’s also the only true upbeat song off the SATOYAMA single which is a bit of a bummer, but this song is quite worth it.  Very rockin’ yet upbeat, add the gritty vocals from the 3 gals and it’s just awesome!
  • Forget-me-not ~Watashi wo Wasurenai de~ – The opening song from the LILIUM OST, Forget-me-not is a pretty cool way to open the album up.  Being mostly a solo from Sakura, she performed the song quite amazingly and builds so nicely to close with piano is just pleasant.  Awesome intro!
  • Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? and Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? (Kanzenban) – It seems this was the favorite within the company as it was updated and featured on “Petit Best 15”.  It’s a much heavier hitting song and all of the girls who participated are here in this track so it’s a pretty full sounding song.  Now, there are small differences between the two versions, but the Kanzenban version is a little longer, but still pretty awesome!  Badass song overall!
  • TRUE OF VAMP – Sung by Riho, Meimi, and Ayacho, TRUE OF VAMP is another strong ballad from the stageplay and it was amazing to hear Meimi punch the doors out of this song and I loved her voice here.  Ayaka and Riho doesn’t do half-bad either…what a great ballad!
  • Kyoudou Gensou Utopia – Oh boy, a solo track for Haruka!  It actually sounds pretty powerful and she gives such a grand performance.  A lot of the arrangement reminds me of Final Fantasy (well most of these songs do).  Though it is pretty short, so I wish there was more from Haruka here, but I enjoyed it a lot!
  • Anata wo Aishita Kioku – A duet between Sakura and Kanana…this was amazingly surprising because I did not have the slightest clue that Kana’s vocals were capable of something so amazing.  To be honest, she sung better than Sakura :0  Yeah, add the cool beat and strong performance overall and it’s one of my favorites from the album!
  • Shoujo Junketsu – As the final track from the stageplay, Shoujo Junketsu is quite a dark song to end things with and I do love the building-up for sure and when it hits its loud point it’s just so good!  Definitely a surprising, yet cool way to end things off.
  • Sousou Shuukyoku “Stigma” – Mmph, that chorus is epic!  Stigma starts off dark but it quickly becomes an upbeat power song that I thought would’ve been an amazing opening to LILIUM.  Then again when you have Riho, Sakura, Meimi, and Nyon together…it’s awesoooome!

OK SONGS

  • Kimagure Zetsubou Arigatou – Since I finally had a year with the song and I still quite like it for a Riho solo.  I still do get caught off-guard by the ending with the gunshots, but beyond that, it’s a solid ballad and for the first time made me appreciate Riho’s vocals.
  • Kodachi wo Nukeru Kaze no You ni – The unit with Sakura and Tomoko, I was already in love with both of their vocals and was happy they were brought together, I just wished their ballad was a little more stronger, but it did showcase their vocals superbly which is why I can tolerate this tune poppin’ up on my iPod.
  • Sylvatica Nante Iranai! – As a mostly solo song for Riho, Sylvatica Nante Iranai! gives me this feeling of a quirky Disney song in the woods with its bounce and peppiness with the vocals.  Though it goes into a more serious and slow section before hopping back to its original placement.
  • Gensou Genwaku Innocence – Of the dramatic and droopy songs from the album, I wasn’t expecting Ayacho to get a solo in this direction.  She actually sounded good (except when she went louder, there’s some eh parts).  Still, the strings were beautiful and gave a really cool vibe throughout, even if it is 2:10 in length.
  • Aru Niwashi no Monogatari – A duet with Riho and Sakura appears on the album and with how good “Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi” was, I was wondering if this was where they finally got it right.  I love the arrangement with the acoustic guitar being the focal point and the flute ending was nice.
  • Hitoribocchi no Snow – At first I wasn’t intrigued because it reminded me of “Mayuki no Teaching” with that kind of floppy beat.  Luckily it picked up in the later half after Ayumi’s long solo part.  It was interesting to say the least and it’s nice to hear Ayumi sing by herself.
  • Mou Nakanai to Kimeta – A full-on Meimi solo here and she gives a rather nice performance, but I think it’s one of the forgettable songs because it’s just Meimi and a orchestra, but she sung it quite well!
  • Eien no Mayuki no Owari – I actually like the mechanical approach for this track because it gave me a sense of mystery and uncomfortable feels.  At first it was Riho only, but it adds the rest for most of the remaining time of the track.  Also, I love the ~ooooo-ing~ at the ending…creepy!
  • Himitsu no Hana ga Hokorobu – Sung by Zukki, Takechan, Rinapuu, and Ayumi…this song was on the re-release of the LILIUM soundtrack, it reminded me of “Hitoribocchi no Snow” with the bouncy rhythm, but it grew to a more mystical track and I quite liked the setting here…very smooth!

MEH SONGS

  • Aa, Subarashiki Hibi yo – While I do love the fact that Aarii and Rinapuu are featured here, I can’t not admit that they have somewhat weaker vocals amongst the other ladies in H!P, it didn’t help that the song was hard to listen to and it just kind of felt bland overall.  Plus, so tired of Masaki this year XD
  • Mayuki no Teaching – A song sung between Fukuchan and Nyon, Mayuki no Teaching is kind of frumpy sounding to me in the first half with the march style it had.  The two don’t really sound all that great though and I kind of just ignore it.
  • tofubeats no 10bun de Tanoshimeru “Hello! Project no Zenkyoku Kara Atsumechaimashita! Vol. 5” – I brought the megamix here since it was technically created for the album.  Including most of the songs from the 5th album, it featured a lot of songs that I never would’ve put together, means it’s a lot of odd transitions and mehness…10 minutes though too…oi ve.

ICKY SONGS

  • Princess Marguerite – If I thought “Mayuki no Teaching” was a struggle, this one was just too much for me to handle.  I hate Masaki’s overdone cute vocals and she upped that to a maximum level here.  Also included are Nanami Tanabe, Kaede Kaga, and Rikako Sasaki and they themselves sounded better than Maachan.  Luckily it is the shortest song from LILIUM, but it’s still a bad song
  • Neru Ko wa Cute – I might be cheating by including this, but I don’t recall this being released on CD until 2014.  As a stageplay song from 2007, °C-ute was still 7 members strong though were also vocally  all over the place and it shows with this tune.  I will say the biggest offender is the arrangement which sounds like it was made on a CASIO.  Put it all together and you get a really cheap-sounding song that shows how far stageplays have really come for H!P lol.

Other Releases from Ex-H!P this year!

  • Ex-Momusu member, Natsumi Abe released two albums this year “Smile・・・♥” (self-cover album) and “TOWARD THE LIGHT -Classical & Crossover-” (cover album).
  • Ex-Melon Kinenbi member, Ayumi Shibata released a cover album, “kick start”.
  • Ex-Country Musume member, Azusa Kobayashi released her 2nd mini-album, “Alexandrite”.
  • Ex-°C-ute member, Erika Umeda released her first mini-album “erika”.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Irori Maeda released her first solo single, “Yakusoku / Kimi Tokidoki Heart”.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Yuu Kikkawa released two singles this year “URAHARA Temptation / Ii jan” & “Amai Melody / “Suki” no Kazoekata”.
  • Ex-Hello! Project Egg member, Sayaka Kitahara released a single (under her avex group, COLORS), “Arashi, Tatsumaki, Hurricane / Koi no Saiten ni Youkosou”.
  • THE Possible released a single, “Yuuki Super Ball!” before they released their 3rd album, “1116”.
  • In a shock, Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) went through a year without releasing 8 singles!  They only released 3 singles and their sophomore album.
  • LoVendoЯ released two mini-albums, “Bukiyou” and “Ikujinashi” and then announced at the New Year’s Countdown that they’ll be debuting major in 2015!
  • StylipS released two singles “NOVA Revolution” and “Junsui na Fujunbutsu / Spica” before their first studio album, “THE SUPERNOVA STRIKES” dropped.

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • Maho Aikawa (and to ANGERME)
  • Miu Takemura
  • Kana Saito
  • Akane Haga (to Morning Musume ’15)
  • Maria Makino (to Morning Musume ’15)
  • Haruna Ogata
  • Miki Nonaka
  • Rikako Sasaki (to ANGERME)
  • Mizuki Murota (to ANGERME)
  • Manaka Inaba (to Country Girls)
  • Risa Yamaki (to Country Girls)
  • Uta Shimomura
  • Chisaki Morito
  • Mai Ozeki
  • Kiki Asakura
  • Saori Onoda
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Rei Inoue
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Ayaka Hirose
  • Ami Tanimoto
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Risa Ogata

Losses

  • Fuyuka Kosuga
  • Hirona Oura
  • Karen Tanaka
  • Nanami Tanabe
  • Kurumi Yoshihashi
  • Sayumi Michishige

My H!P Member Ranking for 2014

Yup, time to rank all the members, by what they did this year in H!P!  There’s a lot of new members to account for so let’s get started!

  • 46. Chisaki Morito (NEW)
  • 45. Uta Shimomura (NEW)
  • 44. Mai Ozeki (NEW)
  • 43. Haruna Ogata (NEW)
  • 42. Miki Nonaka (NEW)
  • 41. Aika Mitsui (-19)

So the list begins with the first 5, Chisaki, Uta, Mai, Haruna, and Miki.  They’re quite fresh in the world of H!P, but it’s nice they’re making rolls all ready.  I feel like Chisato though has the most mystery, despite being from an indies idol group prior.  Uta has a REALLY mysterious personality, but it’s charming at the same time and Mai is just adorable, now that she has the short hair going.  As for the new Momusu ladies, I like Miki a little more because of her English skills, but Ogata has a goofy personality and I’m liking it.  They’re still rather brand new, so I can’t rank them fully until the end of 2015.  As for Aika, she did jack-shit this year, literally nothing came from her besides some small updates but nothing H!P-related.  So I couldn’t rank her higher than this sadly (because I do like her, she just didn’t contribute this year).

  • 40. Maho Aikawa (NEW)
  • 39. Akane Haga (NEW)
  • 38. Mai Hagiwara (-1)
  • 37. Haruna Iikubo (-1)
  • 36. Erina Ikuta (-2)

Like the other new H!P members, I feel like I don’t know much about Aikawa (who was only a Kenshuusei for less than a year).or Haga.  Though I do know Haga performed “Nanchatte Renai” earlier in the year as part of her Recital Test.  Sadly, I don’t remember much of that performance as her generation-mates stood out a lot more otherwise.  Now we can get into people I know better.  How many times do I have to say it, Maimai will simply never see eye to eye lol.  I will say though time has done better for her and she doesn’t sound quite a horrid as she used to be, but there’s just something that pushes me away like “THE FUTURE”.  Harunan’s now Momusu’s sub-leader and I find that great and her speaking skills are quite awesome, but I still think she has the poorest vocals of the group (though her dancing has gotten better-ish).  With the new generation coming in, maybe that spot will be taken, but I hope she’ll be a great leader someday.  As for Eripon, she’s more or less stood out from last year.  All that I remember is that now, she’s become a nice golf player.  She’s getting a little better overall, but it’s somewhat miniscule compared to others.

  • 35. Momoko Tsugunaga (-2)
  • 34. Masaki Sato (-3)
  • 33. Yuka Miyazaki (-4)
  • 32. Maria Makino (NEW)
  • 31. Akari Uemura (-4)

As the year of Berryz announcing their hiatus, I was kind of happy to see some girls go and was hoping that Momoko would be one of them because she’s my least favorite member.  Sad to say, but I’m going to have to deal with her more as she’s going to help with Country Girls.  Otherwise, I really didn’t notice her too much this year.  I feel like Maachan is still regressing as she’s still utilizing such a pinchy cute tone (except for lives when she rarely uses it).  Plus, she’s so derpy and it’s slightly growing old, though with fresh blood…wonder if it’ll change her.  There’s no sense to really say anything about Yukanyan. She did nothing for me this year, but in that sense she didn’t do anything wrong either…she just blended too much to the background of Juice=Juice.  Honestly, as a leader, she should really step it up in 2015!  She might be new and all, but Maria stuck out because of her enjoyment of classic Morning Musume songs AND loves Sayu!  I’m anxiously waiting to see how she’ll integrate into Momusu.  Like Yuka, Aarii was kind of pushed to the back this year and didn’t really have a “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu” moment this year, though she has been dancing a lot in the front which is neat!  I hope she’ll stand out in 2015.

  • 30. Saki Nakajima (0)
  • 29. Manaka Inaba (NEW)
  • 28. Rina Katsuta (-2)
  • 27. Ayumi Ishida (-2)
  • 26. Risa Yamaki (NEW)

Nakky, didn’t move spots this year, which means she’s stayed pretty decent this year which is true.  Still a pretty amazing dancer and adding the pole-dancing this year in “Kanashiki Heaven” (along with Maimai) this year, she was pretty good elsewhere.  Another new H!P member from the Kenshuusei, Manakan was a great choice to add in Country Girls because she has that idol voice that’s higher pitched and she dances quite well!  I can’t wait to see how she’ll end up at the end of 2015.  Rinapuu actually stood out a little more than last year with “Aa Susukino” and “Aa, Subarashiki Hibi yo” and her snarkyness, but she’s still kind of a background girl in comparison to the rest of S/mileage.  Maybe with the new members joining and the rebranding of the group.  I’m not sure why Daiishi went down because I do love her this year with the epic dancing throughout the year and she’s been getting some more lines here and there too.  Still not used as much as others, but it’s going up.  Also a new member for Country Girls, Yamakki looks a lot like Nami Tamaki (another J-pop singer) and that already in my mind makes her standout in a good way.  Add her performance of “Onna no Otoko no Lullaby Game” and you got a solid performer this year!

  • 25. Chinami Tokunaga (-1)
  • 24. Ayaka Wada (+11)
  • 23. Sayumi Michishige (0)
  • 22. Rikako Sasaki (NEW)
  • 21. Riho Sayashi (-1)

Chinami’s another member that while I do like, I’m glad her time is right about up.  As much as I loved her through her tenure with Berryz, Chinami does have the weakest vocals, but they’re also so high-pitched.  She’s won me over with her personality and I’m just happy she stuck around for the whole ride!  I’m so surprised that Ayacho ended up this high up this year, but I felt like she did quite well in S/mileage.  Unlike her generation-mate, I feel like Ayaka has gotten more elegant and her voice isn’t as squeaky as before either.  I wonder what’ll be in store with ANGERME.  Our fearless leader, Sayu finally left the coop, but without giving one of the strongest years ever!  Though the way she left was sad and made moreso with her injury she gained (that crying was so hard to listen to).  Still, she’s such a trooper and left her mark in Momusu’s history in big bold letters!  As a new member for ANGERME, Rikako was such a fan favorite when she joined the Kenshuusei back in 2013.  When she joined ANGERME, the fans were elated and it shows because her “Kiseki no Kaori Dance.” was so energetic!  I can’t wait to see how she does!  Riho has inexplicably gotten better at singing this year and is a lot more stable and less screechy than last year’s mess and her dancing is still pretty amazing especially paired with Ayumi!  With Sayumi gone, one can wonder how she’ll end up (new generation, Fukuchan as leader and everything in between).

  • 20. Kanon Fukuda (-9)
  • 19. Maimi Yajima (-3)
  • 18. Karin Miyamoto (-3)
  • 17. Akari Takeuchi (-3)
  • 16. Risako Sugaya (+5)

For some reason, Nyon has really lost me this year, it’s like she didn’t really exist beyond hitting such sour notes in the S/mileage songs this year.  I just don’t know why she went so far down the list, hopefully it’s just a small bump and hopefully the new ANGERME members will help her come back to her usual goodness.  With Sayu out of the picture now and Berryz saying goodbye, I was surprised that Yaji was chosen to lead H!P.  I think it’s what she needs since she had fallen behind with C-ute (Airi and Chisato leading songs).  She’s already making good choices in 2015 (with going to the new KSS unit up-front and announcing they will be a group (OIC)…Karin for me has also kind of fallen back with Sayuki taking more of a lead in songs this year.  She’s still pretty awesome though and her voice is still pretty stable too, but I feel some of that initial popularity has slightly waned.  Takechan while went down, has managed to still wow me with her smokier vocals in S/mileage.  I hope she’ll push forward and stand out for 2015 amongst the new members.  Rii though has managed to move up because she didn’t sound as bad as she did the last couple of years.  With Berryz ending, I think she’ll leave on a good foot, can’t wait to see what she does next.

  • 15. Mizuki Murota (NEW)
  • 14. Saki Shimizu (+3)
  • 13. Sayuki Takagi (-1)
  • 12. Mizuki Fukumura (+1)
  • 11. Maasa Sudo (-1)

I was so happy to see Murotan finally join a group this year because she’s been my KSS oshi for quite a while now and BAM, she’s now in ANGERME.  Beyond that, she’s impressed me with “Karen na Gasshoudan” and just her overall existence in KSS this year, can’t wait to see what 2015 will be like!  Sad to see Captain miss out on leading H!P, but at least she has a legavy, I’ll definitely miss her being around and being such a top-notch dancer.  AHHH IM GONNA MISS HER!  I feel like that Sayubee has took the leading voice crown out from Karin and now seems to be the prominent voice in Juice=Juice in 2014.  While she did have some meh moments, she’s gotten better I’d say.  As the new leader of Morning Musume ’15, Fukuchan will definitely have her work cut out for her.  I can’t say that I noticed her a lot, but her voice is still pretty clear and nice to listen to.  You can tell that Maasa is essentially done with the group with what her kind of done attitude she had.  Though overall she did ok, but not quite as amazing as it could’ve been.

  • 10. Kana Nakanishi (+9)
  • 9. Meimi Tamura (0)
  • 8. Haruka Kudo (0)
  • 7. Sakura Oda (-1)
  • 6. Miyabi Natsuyaki (+1)

Where did this Kanana come from? I mean her voice really smoothed out and sounded great in “Aa Susukino” but she really pulled magic out in “LILIUM” she sounded so amazing and really made me appreciate her more in the group.  Meimi this year has stayed on the same level as she did last year, and I am still loving her power vocals too!  Can’t wait to see how she’ll punch ANGERME for the next year!  If it wasn’t for “TIKI BUN” I might’ve ranked Duu slightly lower, but on top of that she was in Triplet too and that was amazing for her.  I wonder if she’ll get some big lines for the next year, I hope so!  Odasaku didn’t have quite a great year like last year’s, but she still managed to be that powerful and strong voice in Momusu and that’s good.  Add on ODATOMO and “Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi”, she’s had a pretty good year!  Another voice I’ll miss, Miya to me will always be the voice of Berryz…so nice and sweet and that being said…Buono! will be missed!

  • 5. Airi Suzuki (0)
  • 4. Tomoko Kanazawa (0)
  • 3. Yurina Kumai (0)
  • 2. Chisato Okai (0)
  • 1. Kanon Suzuki (0)

Yep, my top 5 did not move this year they’ve just done wonderful this year.  Airi and Chisato basically just managed to stay put because they kept bringing it.  Kanatomo still impresses me with her epic voice and is becoming the main voice in Juice=Juice.  Yurina because she’s simply my Berryz oshi so there’s no way she’d leave the top 5 lol. However, I think this spot was definitely going to go to Zukki. I don’t think even she was ready for the amount of love she got in New York and I think this boosted her attitude by a great margin!  I hope she gets a lot more lines this year, but I’m only guessing hahah!

Kenshuusei

  • Ami Tanimoto
  • Ayaka Hirose
  • Rei Inoue
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Risa Ogata
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Saori Onoda
  • Kiki Asakura
  • Kana Saito
  • Miu Takemura
  • Yumei Yokogawa
  • Natsumi Taguchi
  • Kana Mikame
  • Kisora Niinuma
  • Ayano Hamaura
  • Reina Ichioka
  • Yumeno Kishimoto
  • Rio Fujii
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Riko Yamagishi
  • Rena Ogawa
  • Minami Nomura
  • Sakurako Wada
  • Musubu Funaki
  • Kaede Kaga
  • Ruru Danbara

I essentially had to put the new members (Tanimoto to Takemura) at the back because most are decently new and the others I just don’t know what they sound like yet. THAT’S 2014! PHEW, I can’t wait to do 2015’s!!!

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Of course 2015 would kick off with a couple of bangs!

So I have been passing up some new news that H!P released in the last month so I’m going to make a quick post about it.

In late November, we got word that we got 9 new Kenshuusei after many had left or became official H!P members throughout October.  Though I found it odd that we got two before the Nana Tamago performance where the remaining 7 were announced those include

  • Saori Onada
  • Kiki Asakura
  • Ami Tanimoto
  • Ayaka Hirose
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Risa Ogata
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Rei Inoue

The last 7 are interesting because they were Nice Girl Kenshuusei members…interesting rebuff if I’d say so but that’s not all!

Country Girls will release their first indies single together (without Momoko mind you) at the end of January titled “Itoshikutte Gomen ne / Koi Dorobo”

Though the big news came on the 2nd of January where ANOTHER KSS unit was announced consisting of

  • Ayano Hamaura
  • Natsumi Taguchi
  • Rena Ogawa
  • Minami Nomura
  • Rio Fujii
  • Sakurako Wada
  • Ayaka Hirose
  • Rei Inoue

Damn, H!P is getting big again and I’m excited like crazy.  Considering that this might be the group replacing Berryz as the other big group under the umbrella, I’m rather curious to how they’ll sound because most wouldn’t be my choices.  Hamachan, Taguchan, Renako, Riofu, and Minamina have such cutesy voices, so I kind of expect that would be their shtick.  Then there’s Wadasaku whose voice is more deeper than all of them, but she sounds great!  That leaves us with Hirose and Inoue who just joined the KSS only a month ago, but both have been NGP Trainees so they might really surprise us one way or another.

Of course , there’s no name currently…but I will make a profile soon enough.

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