Well, we’re back to what has been the most active years in Hello! Project with 3 new groups a rebranded group and probably the most new members H!P has had in years on top of Tsunku graduating from the company due to his fight with Cancer and eventual vocal loss. There’s a lot to talk about though with the year that was 2015, so shall we get started?
Morning Musume ’15
Of course kicking things off we have Morning Musume ’15 (yes, I have to mention that they had a slight name change to fit the year). The year begun with the leaving fuzz of Sayumi Michishige’s graduation and the addition of the 12th Generation: Maria Makino, Akane Haga, Haruna Ogata, Miki Nonaka. This finally culminated to the group’s first single with the new girls, “Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru / Yuugure wa Ameagari / Ima Koko Kara”. However, things weren’t quite as exciting as the new girls barely had facetime in the songs alongside the controversy over Zukki and her injury with Karin from Juice=Juice taking over for two of the 4 PVs released for the single.
After that, they did go into their stageplay for the year with “Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “TRIANGLE”” and subsequently released a mini-album for it (later on as a fuller DVD+CD release)
Shortly after, they would release their 2nd single of the year, “Oh my wish! / Sukatto My Heart / Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” to a much happier group of people as it changed quite a number of things around and turned out to be a much enjoyable single before things changed.
In October, it was announced that our ace and main face, Riho Sayashi, would be graduating in the final days of 2015, but not without a last single in “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only” and then the group will once again shift names to Morning Musume ’16.
Yup, I’m sure this was expected of me for sure and I’m here to oblige. *NOTE*, Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to talk about “Watashi no Nanni no Wakacchanai” as it hasn’t had a proper studio release (though I do love it!).
- Yuugure wa Ameagari – Even though it does seem like it takes up the slow song ala “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe”, Yuugure wa Ameagari also seem to have this rather Platinum Era sound that I’ve always enjoyed even if they run it somewhat dry. Also even though the PV was heavy on the Karin-loving, she’s not anywhere in the song which is a plus, but the song was already a Fukuchan/Sakura/Maachan/Riho lead as it is. I really did like the song though and there’s a lot of good parts throughout, like I said above though…was disappointed in the lack of focus of 12th Gen, but it’s whatever.
- Urayameshi Gari ya no Dice & Urayameshi Gari ya no Dice (Kiri no Uwasa ver.) – Moving to the “TRIANGLE” songs, this song (sung by Maachan and Haachin and honestly it’s one of the more quirky songs, but I actually dug it. I think it’s the fukny beats or the way both ladies sing this one. The rerelease of the song was just a quick change of lyrics, but ultimately the same thing which is good!
- Suwasuwa Shuushuu – As the song sung by all the Suwasuwas in the play (12th Gen, 2 Kenshuusei and 2 Engeki Joshi-bu members (do they count as H!P?) Suwasuwa Shuushuu was another song that really stuck out in the stageplay. Unlike the other EDM songs that filled out H!P, this one specifically faced a more trance-like state that sounded a little bit like Perfume’s music which was impressive (why don’t H!P goes in this direction???).
- Furereba Kokoro ga Afuredasu (β ver.) – Sung solo by Riho at first, this updated track definitely outranks the one from the mini-album by adding Ayumi and Haruka lines after it. Another short song, but I kind of liked it and felt more together than just Riho’s part alone.
- Oh my wish! – Moving to the 2nd single they released, we have the leading track, Oh my wish! and OH MY GOODNESS was this unexpected. Instead of the usual suspects leading, the torches were given to Haruka and Zukki for this one and they handled it with flying colors. Also is probably why Fukuchan and Riho were relegated to being part of the dance team (those two, Ayumi, and Eripon didn’t sing, just danced. While the song is the usual high-speed EDM that we’ve gotten accustomed to, it’s still a pretty epic song for the two back girls (even new members Akane and Haruna got spoken dialogue during the bridge).
- Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki – I wasn’t sure at first what to think of the 3rd A-side from their 2nd single, but it was finally slightly something different…almost akin to “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa”. Being a song mostly led by Masaki, I was kind of surprised by this choice, but was impressed as she’s gotten better with singing. Though Miki and Maria was given a chance to shine here which is nice on top of some good parts for Harunan and Eripon.
- ENDLESS SKY – Hearing ENDLESS SKY definitely reminded me of “Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” with it’s airy synth sound (but a little more danceable in comparison). There’s something quite bright about it and I’ve found myself humming along to its melody and hearing Riho a lot made me quite happy.
- One and Only – So just like with “What is LOVE?”, this song is also used for J-MELO as a theme for the song, but this time around there’s a twist. This song is entirely sung in English! Even though there’s some odd accents going on and no solos unfortunately, One and Only actually stuck out better than the aforementioned song. It is weird that it was chosen to be a part of Riho’s final single though…
- Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru – As the song many were hoping to showcase the new girls, this one was just a haphazard mess both song-wise and promotion-wise. The tune is more of that wild EDM craze that Tsunku was perfecting. Though the verses can be a turnoff due to its stop-and-go situation, I think the chorus was pretty badass and the Iroha poem being strung in as the pre-chorus was clever! Even the PVs were a bit controversial due to Karin being all over the main PV (thank god that Another ver. of the PV exists).
- Triangle Alpha & Triangle Beta – As the opening theme to their stageplay, Triangle Alpha might not have been the electronic song I was hoping for, but it’s still a decent song otherwise. I do like the light dance beats and the vocals from Riho, Haruka, and Ayumi are nice too. Triangle Beta is the same song with some different lyrics and different solos from the main characters. Overall it’s a nice song overall!
- Furereba Kokoro ga Afuredasu – Basically what I said about the Beta version in the GREAT section, just without the extra lines from Ayumi and Haruka. Otherwise it’s the same song, so it’s not too much of a loss.
- Te wo Hanasanai & Te wo Hanasanai (Sairoku ver.) – The Sakura/Haruka duet, I liked how simple the song was and the two vocalists sound really nice (though Haruka did it better). The Sairoku version changes one singlular line so it’s another song that really doesn’t matter which version you listen to.
- Ten no Otsuge – I’m not sure what it is with my liking this song but its march styled arrangement and punchful lines from Fukuchan (who is singing the song itself) and some spoken dialogue from Akane and ex-Berryz member, Maasa. Still a bit on the short side, it was nice and made me think of “LILIUM”.
- Suwasuwa Tsukamaero – Another short song that somehow left an impression on me, It’s got a little more edge to it than all of the other songs from the OST. I was also surprised to see that Maria gets a little limelight here even though her lines are a bit shrill to the ears. The big focus is on Maachan’s big solo line…damn she’s just getting so much stronger!!
- Sukatto My Heart – While this song has grown on me more after a while, I initially wasn’t too into it because of its whole “Uptown Funk” melody but for some reason, it’s funky vibes and fun energy did catch on. Sadly of the songs from the 2nd single this year, Sukatto My Heart felt very typical (although the sudden push for Masaki was in all three songs…).
- Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi – Originally made to be a Riho solo and changed to a full group song, I wasn’t expecting a mid-tempo track. There’s parts where I hear “Memory Seishun no Hikari” and some other songs, but for the most part it’s a nice song overall with the kind of light guitar licks and the “Ai no Gundan” synth quips. Interesting song. Although the PV was pretty entrancing regardless!
- Ima Koko Kara – Being the first song to come out to the open as it was being released as the theme for the Precure movie, Haru no Carnival, I was expecting something vibrant and exciting like when Berryz’ “Gag 100 Kaibun Aishite Kudasai” was used for the same series. The song itself is kind of there and worst part is that it just ends at a really random point (no bridge or final chorus). It’s just kind of forgettable as an A-side and probably my least favorite A-side of the year.
- Sakura no Koi – As one of two tracks only found on the mini-album OST, Sakura no Koi is a duet between Ayumi and Haruka and I thought it was alright, but the arrangement is a bit simplistic for my tastes with just acoustic guitar and some percussion. Also Ayumi is straining a little bit here more than normal. Just a bit meh.
- Rosewood no Kokuhaku – The other track on the mini-album, is also another duet, this time with Sakura and Ayumi. I could say the same things as I did with “Sakura no Koi”, but Ayumi’s vocals are a bit more relaxed though and Sakura is trying to sound more dramatic, but I think her verses are way better than her chorus vocals.
- Iota no Koi – While I do enjoy the Charlie Brown, lowkey shuffling going on in this mostly Fukuchan/Maasa duet…it wasn’t a lengthy song and the point where I was actually starting to enjoy it fully, it fizzles out with Maasa’s closing line.
- Sakura, Tsukunoma no Shiawase – It’s essentially the same feelings I’ve had with “Sakura no Koi”. Yeah, nice vocals, but the arrangement is pretty damn sleepy…at least the song is short (like most of the TRIANGLE OST).
- Nee, Milk – 23 seconds of Ayumi singing all by herself and honestly, had no place to even be on the OST due to how short this except is…what the hell…
Predictions from last year!
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
Actuality: Well we did get a lot of EDM still, but I feel like since there was no album this year, it didn’t feel like it went overboard. Though someone is leaving the group and it isn’t Harunan :0…Instead it’s Riho…
Predictions for 2016: Not sure really since they’ll be starting 2016 without their lead voice Riho, so I assume that Masaki will be taking a stronger role in vocals and possibly Miki & Akane alongside Eripon, Zukki, and Duu. Musically, I also am not sure especially with Tsunku stepping down…maybe moving away from EDM finally? Maybe another audition is announced?
Of course Berryz was involved in Hello! Project (though for two months before they went on their indefinite hiatus). However, before their grand finale, they released their final album (which is a best album), Kanjuku Berryz Koubou The Final Selection Box and then bid their farewell.
As for the members, Momoko went on to become leader of Country Girls, Captain and Chinami are H!P advisors, Maasa does Engeki Joshi-bu Musicals, and Miyabi hosts GREEN ROOM (a new UFP/H!P YouTube show that goes behind the scenes and is also holding auditions for a new group currently), Yurina has been doing TV appearances while Risako remains the silent member as she hasn’t done anything after the split.
- Love together! – As the final song that Berryz released a PV for, I thought this was the closure the fans wanted over the rather obtuse “Romance wo Katatte” (even though it’s grown on me immensely). Love together! was nice and a little surprising that it wasn’t a goodbye ballad, but something upbeat yet lyrically suited the group perfectly. The synthwork though was great and the members sounded so good. I thought the live version they did as their finale to their last performance was soooo perfect and really captured a strong memory especially for fans who followed them since the beginning.
- Heroine ni Narou ka! (Early Ver.) – So the 6th Disc of the album included some rarities and some other goodies. One of the oddballs was an early recording of Heroine ni Narou ka! which made me wonder why this was a thing. There was only a couple things different like Yurina not being the overly filtered voice (it was Miyabi instead), the 2nd verse has a musical drop, and Miyabi doesn’t do her belting in the final chorus. Otherwise, it’s the same arrangement and lyrics…interesting choice…but why…and I still do love this song regardless!
- GET UP! Rapper (Unreleased Cover Ver.) – The 6th disc also included 3 cover songs and by the way all three sound, it’s definitely not made from this year…more like around 2006’s “3 Natsu Natsu Berryz Mini Berryz” because none of the members sound like their current voices. Anyway, this SALT5 cover is a mini-grouping of Momoko, Maasa, and Chinami and while the vocals don’t carry the same weight as the original singers do, it’s still pretty cool that this happened, but once again why’d ya hold it back for so long?
- Thank You Very Berry (New Recording Ver.) – Yup, it also came with 3 newly recorded songs from stageplays Berryz did and this one is the only one with solo lines for members. Seeing as Tsubaki Factory just did the same stageplay after this album was released is a bit strange and honestly I still prefer this take over the rookies. Most of the song is sung between Momoko, Risako, and Maasa and I was happy to say that this is a GOOD ballad. I LOVE the melodies and chords these three in particular pull off and after the spoken dialogue between Risako and Captain’s character the remaining members join in (with a nice lengthy Captain solo). Definitely a rare thing for me to love a ballad, but damn this was good!
- Warera Jeanne (New Recording Ver.) – As the upbeat stageplay song included, Warera Jeanne while doesn’t have solo lines for anyone, I did like the dramatics and the energy in the chorus was really neat to hear! Something you don’t hear too very often in H!P and was liking the arrangement the most here.
- Pittari Shitai X’mas (Unreleased Cover Ver.) – As the lone cover that includes all 7 members, this Petitmoni cover actually does a good job fitting with younger voices (in comparison to the original members involved) and the upbeat and fun arrangement has a lot of interest from me. I also immediately though this was recorded way earlier because this song makes it REALLY easy to tell how young the vocals were in this cover, decent song overall!
- Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai (04-13-15 Kanjuku Complete Ver.) – I’m not sure why there’s so much emphasis with this song. I mean we have the updated one from “Berryz Mansion 9kai” and then this one from the best album and a live version from “Petit Best 16″…I will never get this version completely because the arrangement is kind of farfetched and making it graceful by fusing orchestral sounds in between the R&B beats is awkward. What’s strange is that they also go between the original vocals and the one from the update off their “Berryz Mansion 9kai” album. It’s a neat idea, but I don’t think it quite meshed very well.
- Marui Taiyou (Unreleased Cover Ver.) – Sung by Risako, Yurina, Captain, and Miyabi, this Taiyou to Ciscomoon track never really caught my attention back then and still doesn’t exactly do much for me. Doesn’t help that none of the members get solos and Tsunku also sings (though he does that in “GET UP! Rapper” too)…yeah kind of forgettable, though it does make me think that maybe there was to be a winter themed mini-album which might explain this and “Pittari Shitai X’mas” happening.
- Yatto Aeta ne (New Recording Ver.) – Finally we have the 3rd stageplay song included and Yatto Aeta ne was the forgetful one of the three. While it’s a ballad like “Thank You Very Berry”, this was a bit more boring with everyone singing in unison and the arrangement kind of taking up a sound like ballads they’ve done as B-sides or album tracks. All I can say is that vocally it’s nice…but nothing spectacular.
Predictions from last year!
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.
Actuality: Well, it seems like no one besides Momoko is doing music fully, though I can’t complain because everyone is doing something to kind of stay in the fans’ minds. Captain and Chinami are advisors (and the former has really shown leadership skills (something I would’ve loved to see as Maimi has only been really a voice while Captain has been training Kenshuusei and getting involved with the formations of Kobushi/Tsubaki Factories and Maasa has been doing great with the stageplays. I’m curious to see what turns up for Miyabi’s auditions and the remaining two members: Yurina and Risako…not sure…
Like last year, I felt like °C-ute once again felt like they got the short end of the stick with releases this year with two singles and an album (two if you count the one released in Mexico). The other big news that’s connected to the group is the leadership from Maimi as she became the H!P de facto leader.
This year the group did release two singles in The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / GamushaLIFE / Tsugi no Kado wo Magare and Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ / Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!. With their performance out in Mexico, they released a region-only album, Cutie Selección Por los Fans Mexicanos which in a way is similar to their French best album they released in 2013. Though surprisingly they would finish up the year by releasing their 9th album, °Cmaj9.
- The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ – I’m rather not surprised that this was easily enjoyed at first listen when I turned the first A-side the quintet released. There’s something about that really fit the group’s more mature style nowadays and the dance/PV was quite unique. The beat was strong I wasn’t bothered by Nakky and Maimai leading the verses (well they had duet lines with Maimi and Airi as well, but still). This was pretty cool!
- Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! – I didn’t expect the group have a rock song like Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!, but I really like the striking arrangement and the members gave great performances even if it was mostly Airi, Maimi, and Chisato. The only thing I didn’t really care for was the PV with the spliced in Wrestling shots…it was distracting (and like with “Arigatou’s” PV, cheesy as hell). Still the song stuck out in a great way!
- Jounetsu Ecstasy – Marty Friedman always makes songs sound so good so it’s no surprise that I ended up loving Nakky’s focus song, Jounetsu Ecstasy. I also tend to remember this going up against “GamushaLIFE” earlier in the year to be the 10th Anniversary song. The track is just edgy and gives us the cool that I needed from them this year!
- Digitalic→0 (LOVE) – Another song I figured I was going to enjoy was Maimai’s focus song which is more and less just as electronic as her last one. The track has a heavier loadout of dubstep, but continues to gives us that cool H!P electro sound (which was on lower amounts this year compared to last year).
- Urayanjau – Airi’s song was an oddball song amongst the new songs because we haven’t heard something like this from the group prior. It’s got this R&B meets K-pop vibe to it, but it continues to sound playful and just exciting without having to focus on the arrangement.
- Tsugi no Kado wo Magare – Ignoring the fact that this is a cover of a Takui Nakajima song, Tsugi no Kado wo Magare might not have hit as strong as “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!”, this had a little more drama in its lyrics and the mix of strings and guitars was pretty cool and the arrangement was pretty sweet, just not one of the songs I stay on for too long.
- GamushaLIFE (Acoustic Ver.) – Being a track exclusive on the vinyl release of “Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ / Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!”, I was kind of surprised that it was done that way. Anyways, GamushaLIFE does sound slightly better than the intro with less arrangement. Though I’m a bit disappointed with the fact they didn’t resing it. The piano and light strings though sort of even out the negatives though.
- °Cmaj9 – As the opening for the group’s album, this short introduction definitely reminded me of doowop for some reason and I liked that they played into the title of the album by singing in the chord of C Major #9. Though the fact the track’s lone lyrics consist of the title (and at first I thought they were saying ~she major nines~) it’s an OK intro.
- Iron Heart – Like with ANGERME’s “Tomo yo”, this song is great for live performances! It’s got the pop/rock sound mixed with a whole bunch of energy! While it’s not as badass like “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! was, this song is pretty much a fun ride the entire way through!
- Otoko to Onna to Forever – Getting into the member-specific songs from the album, I kind of thought Chisato’s track was pretty different with it’s spy-esque nature and sultry feel. It’s just a really smooth song for the group to pull off and just suited being the first song of the 5.
- Yokaze no Message – Being the lone new ballad from the album, Maimi’s song definitely had anime ending on its mind in arrangement. Especially in its opening where it begins with the chorus. It’s one of the more better ballads to come from H!P in recent times, so I definitely enjoyed it!
- °Cmaj9 (reprise) – The closer of the album is a lot like the intro except it’s a bit slower and the first seconds had the group descending into the chord (unlike the ascending happening in the intro). Nothing too special, but it made the album come full circle.
- Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ (tofubeats remix) – As the bonus track from the album, this remix of Arigatou is rather interesting (stands out better than past remixes that’s for sure.). tofubeats changed the original’s dramatic slow pace and easily replaced it with a laidback R&B sound which is rather pleasant! I still do think it’s odd that there’s no Arashi remix, but it’s whatever lol…
- GamushaLIFE – As the song that’s tied to the fact the group has been going for 10 years (sounds like some early hinting like Berryz), GamushaLIFE never really caught on this year for me. Something about doesn’t seem very memorable and certain parts it does remind me of “Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita” with it’s poppy sound. I guess the thing that sticks out is the rapping bridge, but otherwise…meh.
- Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ – It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a ballad as an A-side (“Kono Machi”). Like it’s rockin’ A-side, “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!” it’s known as the wrestling team hymn and sadly it’s just as forgettable as “GamushaLIFE”…the melody is rather plain and despite the good vocals, it’s just in one ear and out the other a bit too quickly.
Predictions from last year!
I hope that with Berryz going on hiatus, the group will be back on top and have an amazing year.
Actuality: Well, the year didn’t exactly push the group into something huge, even though the fact they went to Mexico was probably the biggest thing they’ve done in 2015. Release-wise at least they did release an album (excluding the best album) so there was a little more push this year than the 3 singles they released last year.
Predictions for 2016: From the way it’s heading and how slow their releases have gotten, I have a gut feeling that 2016 is when they’ll announce their “indefinite hiatus” though if Maimi goes, who’s going to lead H!P? Ayacho?
After having such a big 2nd half of 2014, 2015 was something on people’s mind when we got our first listen to ANGERME and their 3 new members; Mizuki Murota, Rikako Sasaki, and Maho Aikawa. Even better they begun the year showing off their first single, Taikibansei / Otome no Gyakushuu. Lest be said that it went over VERY well and everyone was loving the hell out of it. However, it was shortlived as two months later Kanon Fukuda announced that she would be graduating at the end of the year and a month later announced there would be another audition for a 4th Gen.
July gave us their next single with Nana Korobi Ya Oki / Gashinshoutan / Mahou Tsukai Sally and then the group kind of went silent for a bit before we got into the last stretch of the year.
With the end of the year getting closer we finally got the graduation single for Kanon in Desugita Kui wa Utarenai / Dondengaeshi / Watashi but I feel that the single was shadowed by the announcement of the winner of the auditions, Moe Kamikokuryo who I’m sure will be replacing Kanon once she graduates out at the end of November. Though before that we get ONE more release with a member-selected best album, S/mileage / ANGERME SELECTION ALBUM “Taikibansei”. Not sure if there’ll be more surprises before 2015 close but I doubt it hahah.
I must’ve jinxed myself because the final thing announced from ANGERME is that Meimi Tamura is going to graduate from the group and H!P in the Spring…oi!
- Taikibansei – Like with “Tsugi no Kado wo Magare” this is also technically a Takui Nakajima cover as well. What a way to kick off the year with this energized song! I love the horns and the group sounds so lively with this one. Even better is that we get to really hear Murotan in this song as she gets a beefy solo alongside Ayacho! It might have overstayed its welcome for the year, but I can’t deny its catchy hooks and exciting arrangement.
- Otome no Gyakushuu – Then its sister A-side comes in and I’m loving the neo-gothic vibes out of this one and there’s something that reminds me of “Mystery Night!” for some reason. Just like “Taikibansei” though, it seems only Murotan is the only one of the new girls to get a solo which is a slight bummer, but I still fell in love with the dark edge and hearing Kanana and Rinapuu getting solos made up for it as well.
- Nana Korobi Ya Oki – Though they really nailed it down with the first A-side from the second single of the year. It’s like they took “Otome no Gyakushuu” and amped it up with energy and power! I love the fact that Maho also has a solo line through the song and she sounded good, but does need some more training xD. Still, this song was ANGERME hitting hard and I was just floored!
- Gashinshoutan – I wasn’t sure what to expect as like “Taikibansei”, this is also an 4-kanji idiom thing (that people were starting to think was going to be a normal thing for ANGERME but that last single says otherwise). It’s a pretty funky song as well, but I was more surprised for every member getting a solo line in some fashion (also I noticed a lot of Rinapuu here which made me happy! It’s still an exciting song and it was a ridiculously fun song!
- Dondengaeshi – I have to say that this song sounded so anison, but I wasn’t complaining because it was wild and has a lot of punch especially in the chorus where it gets chaotic and just throws a lot of punch in your face! It’s definitely one of the best songs out of H!P this year and it just really put ANGERME to a new height of performance…GOOD JOB!
- Marionette 37°C – I think the song that stood out the best from the best album is actually the Halloween-like song. Something about the arrangement is really neat and the group sounds quite decent (I heard a lot from Rikako and Rinapuu throughout). But the added elements and drive for this song was much needed and stood out from the other 5 new songs for sure!
- Mahou Tsukai Sally – Like what Morning Musume ’15 did earlier in the year, ANGERME decided to cover a song from an old anime series and while I did like this one more than “Ima Koko Kara”, this is still in a position that’s less exciting than the songs above. I enjoy that it focuses on Murotan, Rikako, and Aiai and they pulled off the song well enough, it’s just not at the same calibur as other songs.
- Desugita Kui wa Utarenai – I’ve fully fell in love with “Dondengaeshi”, but this song was a bit too much of a mess for me to follow along, but I did enjoy the fact they went with such a quick-paced rock song. It’s just a little too much for my ears to handle unfortunately. Though big shout outs with Yuki from Lovendor for being involved in the arranging!
- Watashi – As the oddest sounding song of the bunch of A-sides ANGERME released, this one was a different situation as this is the graduation song for Nyon. The tune is quite poppy and quite danceable (though the dubstep parts could leave). Nyon’s voice does remind me of her days in Shugo Chara Egg! / early S/mileage which is strange but neat overall! It’s still a bit odd considering the other songs that came this year.
- Kousaten – So the next two tracks are from the Regular only version of the best album released at the end of the year (and ironically the two songs that were promoted slightly (on tour before Kanon’s graduation). Kousaten is the ballad and it seems like it’s a song from the remaining members of ANGERME to Kanon. The arrangement is nice enough even if it doesn’t stretch the limits or anything, but hearing all 8 members have lines is pleasant!
- Tomo yo – The other slightly promoted song, Tomo yo is definitely a song that hits you in the face right from the start! It reminds me of Momusu’s “Namidacchi” with the energy and closing feel it’s giving me. While there’s little to no solos here, I do kind of like the force of it all and it turned out to be a fun song for the group.
- Namida wa Chou ni Kawaru – Seems like ANGERME seemed to tackle the same genre that Juice=Juice did with “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS” with the synthy latin sound. I kind of enjoyed the loud and brash feel of this song and it just swung nicely the entire time. Also, most of the members sound different than normal…how strange right?
- Asekaite Carnival – Limited B’s 2nd exclusive actually reminded me of the above track by holding similar latin sounds, but definitely was festive and much more brighter of a song than the sexier “Namida wa Chou ni Kawaru”, I will say it’s a smidge better, but the thing that kept it from hitting great were these weird passages of dubstep in the pre-chorus…wtf was that all about??
- Kakugoshite – I’m not sure why but Kakugoshite is an odd song for me despite DANCE MAN took part in this one. I can hear the slight disco-ish feel, but it’s countered with some guitars. Something about this one though feels a bit one-note. I think the hook is a bit annoying while the chorus is catchy…just an odd song from the best album.
Predictions from last year!
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!!!
Actuality: Well it took two singles to get there, but I think Mizuki, Rikako, and Maho have done a nice job standing out amongst the other 6 members (maybe Maho needs a little more training, but she’s not bad). Unfortunately the other half of the prediction is that Nyon is leaving this year
Predictions for 2016: I actually don’t know what to expect in 2016 other than watching Moe become active within the group. Hopefully keeping up with the epic singles that we had this year would be great. Not sure when Ayaka will announce her graduation, but I know it’s not going to be too long.
Like C-ute, I felt like Juice=Juice also once again had a quiet year, with only one single and technically two albums this year, it’s been quite the slow year otherwise (but that’s only because the group went on a very BUSY tour schedule for the year.
The year began with the group rereleasing their stageplay, Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Koisuru Hello Kitty” with the DVD of the play and a longer CD tracklist then released their single Wonderful World / Ça va? Ça va? before releasing their first album FINALLY, First Squeeze!.
The remaining second half of the year was of them focusing on their tour, but they are the first to announce their first release of 2016, so I can’t wait!
- Nakayoki Koto wa Utsukushii Kana – The only song that really stuck out from the stageplay they did on the rerelease. Tomoko rather surprised me here by singing a much more upbeat and fun song as well! Plus the bouncy arrangement and just overall bright energy was actually something this play needed more of.
- Ça va? Ça va? – So the 2nd A-side from the lone single the group released this year, actually was pretty damn good for the group. I do like they’re continuing with the experimental genres this time taking in some French Pop (or just trying to add effects to make it seem like it). It’s a fun song and the group sounds a lot more lively than usual which I loooove! I also like hearing a bit more Yuka and Akari as well…funky, but cool track!
- CHOICE&CHANCE – I was sooo elated to see that Juice=Juice were going to promote their album as much as they did and choosing this song as a promotional material and get a PV at that, this song was the cool song I was waiting for for quite a while and it stood out immensely! It has a lot of punch to it and adding some vocal effects to the girls while sounds a little odd, suited the track. This song was just one of the best songs this year.
- Erabareshi Watashitachi – I do remember mentioning this song last year because it was performed for quite a while without any release (this track was performed before Senobi / Date ja nai wa Uchi no Jinsei wa released). Finally with a studio cut, the song definitely cemented my love for it (plus it was the only new Tsunku-made song on the 2nd disc). It’s got a lot of punch like “CHOICE&CHANCE” with a bit more guitars rockin’ out as well. I definitely added this banger onto my iPod!
- GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS – When I reviewed the album, I definitely said that the song reminded me of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”, but the kind of dirty rock sound suited the group surprisingly well and this is a good chanting-friendly song to perform on tours. I also love the characters that everyone sings especially Sayubee and Kanatomo. Very rockin’ song!
- Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.) – Moving to their cover disc, I thought this cover of the classic Taiyou to Ciscomoon A-side was really good. They’ve been covering this song in my performances (as early as before Aina left the group). I do like the arrangement changes and the group sounds upbeat and cute (which is a bit different than the more mature voices of T&C). Though I think many people will credit this to Sayuki as she gets a LOT of the bigger notes and ad-libs.
- Narihajimeta Koi no BELL – There were also some covers where the arrangement wasn’t touched, just Juice=Juice singing them. This Ongaku Gatas cover is pretty faithful despite the difference of members. It still shares the same awkwnardness of the original (primarily the whole ~ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh~ lines before the chorus…still doesn’t work.
- Last Kiss – The last two covers on the disc were split groupings between the five and this ended up being a duet between Karin and Sayubee. Being a cover of a pretty mature song from Tanpopo, I wasn’t sure if the vocals were going to match the cold and soothing sound. Karin’s voice is a bit too youthful (honestly Tomoko would’ve kicked this song’s ass!). Sayubee though handled it though and I quite enjoyed it.
- Itsumo no Asa – I feel like a lot of Koisuru Hello Kitty was plagued by too much spoken dialogue, but there were a couple songs that handled it a bit better than others. Itsumo no Asa is mostly a solo for Kanatomo and I enjoyed the kind of Western sound mixed with the playfulness of the piano. Also the ~tick-tock~ lines from the other members added a nice catchy hook…overall, decent song!
- Mittsu no Lulu (Ningen ver.) – Disregarding the opening, this version of Mittsu no Lulu is a bit dramatic and a totally difference to a lot of other songs. The piano does keep things lively and upbeat, but I feel like it was slightly more serious than other tracks. I still think it is plagued a bit much from the dialogue, but it’s nice.
- Tsubasa Ochiteku – Then there’s Tsubasa Ochiteku which was the depressing and lonely sounding song (might have fit “Week End Survivor” actually). Sayubee though gives a good emotionl performance and when the song opens up to its peak, she definitely sings with a lot of fire and passion and I can’t deny that it was pretty cool.
- Todoke Todoke Todoke! (Reprise) – Despite that I already reviewed the main tracks of the next two in this category, we did get reprises of them. This one of Todoke Todoke Todoke! is quiet and simple in arrangement, yet once again, Kanatomo gets to sing a lot here and it’s just soooo good! While Karin’s vocals are so cutesy, I think it fit well too.
- HELLO! (Reprise) – The final song from the OST, this reprise of HELLO! might not sound different to the main track, it’s still fun and upbeat and it does feel like it would give closure to the play. I just wish there was more upbeat songs on the second half of the album because it was just straight out ballads.
- Ai・Ai・Gasa – Moving to their album songs, I was definitely enjoying the disco-esque song that called back some 2011 H!P. I do love the fact this album pushed Yukanyan and Aarii a little more than their typical one-liners and background vocals. I’m actually surprised it took them this long to bring back an arrangement like this and it works for the group!
- Umaretate no Baby Love – Though we got two on this album with this being the second track. There might not be a whole lot difference between this and “Ai・Ai・Gasa” because of the similar arrangements. I also got some weird “Magic of Love” similarities, but this is a fun song, but I do prefer the above song a bit more overall.
- Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase! – I’m not sure why, but I thought of Melon Kinenbi for some reason. Mirai e is something a little different from the other songs on the album by being just a fun pop song that sounds like something I would’ve heard from other idol groups (ironic right?). I like the dance-pop summer beats going through the track and the group sounds decent!
- Tsuzuiteiku STORY – As the poignant ballad of the album (and the other promotional song), Tsuzuiteiku STORY isn’t a bad song as much as other ballads I’ve heard before. I do enjoy hearing everyone’s vocals blend in the arrangement and the chorus is nice too. It does remind me of “Furusato” for some reason, I also thought the synths and sitar were interesting together too. Yeah, not bad!
- Kousui (J=J 2015 Ver.) – Their Melon Kinenbi cover wasn’t bad actually. The arrangement update was probably a bit more impressive than the vocals here, but they weren’t bad either, I just liked this arrangement a lot. Also, there’s no heavy dependence on just one singer like the original.
- Scramble – While I’m not too familiar with the Gocchin original, the fact that the arrangement didn’t change should say a lot because I do like it a lot (and after hearing Tsuzuiteiku STORY, I hear familiar sitar stuff going on too). I like the upbeat arrangement and it sounds like a song they would release!
- BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! – So the other mini-group contained Kanatomo, Aarii, and Yukanyan for this memorable Petitmoni cover. While I don’t think vocally it was going to surpass the original, I did like hearing Akari and Yuka all over the place! Love & hate a bit much huh? Still, it could’ve been worse so I thought it was OK.
- Ningen no Sekai e! – Getting into the songs that I just couldn’ get into, we start off with basically the remainder of the “Koisuru Hello Kitty” OST. I mean I do like the intro with it’s lighthearted and silly feel. Though the song is plagued by way too much exposition, plus it’s like a bunch of songs strung together. Kind of messy in places and they don’t connect very well.
- Diary – I do like the harp that plays within the first part alongside Karin’s light vocals but after a while it just seems to fly by my head with little impressions. It’s just rather unfortunate and a bit one-note.
- Mittsu no Lulu (Omocha no Kuni ver.) – While I do love that Karin and Tomoko get to sing together the arrangement sounds a lot like other tracks that I already mentioned above. I’m not saying it’s mad lazy, but once again forgetful.
- Ningen no Sekai – I thought it was going to be another take of “Ningen no Sekai e!”, but the difference is pretty stark as it starts off with Karin and piano/strings before the bouncy, brassy side enters and Sayubee starts to sing as well as Tomoko. Same issues though haunt this track too.
- & YOU – Despite that I love hearing more Akari and Yuka for once, & YOU is a pretty basic ballad overall and the simplicity just kind of put me to sleep. It’s also just a bit too long for my tastes too at over 4 minutes.
- Only choice – While I do think this song is a bit better than “& YOU” and it’s merely a Karin solo with the same piano/strings arrangement, I feel like there was a little more emotion and effort given here.
- Good bye Kitty – I feel like we were given another “Diary” with harp accompanying Karin once again, although the song adds some flutes and acoustic guitar. Still, it’s just as lifeless and kind of boring overall, add some dialogue and a short length and it just flies by.
- Ano Ko no Okage – With this string of ballads, it was hard to get pulled back into the OST as I was still in a snoozing zone. There was a long bit of dialogue before Akari, Tomoko, and Yuka start to sing. Luckily it does build up so it somewhat caught my attention but then it just straight up fizzles out and leaves me bored again…
- Wonderful World – Finally getting back into the group’s main releases, their lone single of the year was both a hit and a miss. The miss was mostly due to this track in particular. Maybe it was just from coming from “Koisuru Hello Kitty” but it does have an overly joyous sound and kind of escapes the group’s motif of being cool. It’s just a bit out-of-character, but the song didn’t catch on…plus the whole ~la la la~ section is SOOO annoying!
- Ai no Diving – I thought I was going to enjoy this song because it’s totally different from the usual, but this song had a hard time sticking to me. I think the weird rhythms in the song throws me off everytime and things just don’t add together. Not a favorite or even close!
- Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun – With this song, it started off nicely and in a cute way, but damn the arrangement is weak and very lacking to me (where’s the bass beats?). I think if it was given a much broader sound than the muffled tones we got, I think this song would’ve been great, but this is just lacking!
Predictions from last year!
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).
Actuality: Well, they did manage to release their first album and everything, but they definitely weren’t at the forefront of H!P’s minds this year and they kind of released good songs here and there.
Predictions for 2016: With them, I’m unsure what will happen with Juice=Juice in the next year. Like I said, they weren’t at H!P’s minds for most of the year and the group themselves were shadowed just by all the other groups due to new members and new debuts, so it’s an awkward phase for them. Maybe they’ll pick up a new member or two to catch up?
So I did make a profile for them last year, but that’s because they were announced as a group then, this year though we finally had Country Girls debut! Initially, Itooshikutte Gomen ne / Koi Dorobo was going to be an indies single and a release for the 5-nin (Momoko was still with Berryz) before the company changed their minds and pushed the date back til after Berryz Koubou said their goodbyes and made it a major label debut.
The single did quite well and most of it due to Uta Shimamura‘s leading presence in the music videos!
Though things got quiet for the group and moreso for Uta until in June where she suddenly announced her graduation from the group immediately (almost in a similar fashion to Juice=Juice’s Aina Otsuka).
This didn’t help much because this was shortly before the group announced their 2nd single Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne / Tamerai Summertime and the hole that Uta left was rather obvious and it led to Chisaki to lead most of the single (hmmm).
Things got REALLY quiet once again until the group’s one year anniversary came and they announced two new members (both Kenshuusei) would join the group: Musubu Funaki & Nanami Yanagawa. Hopefully things will settle down a little bit for the next year and they’ll release the songs they performed before the end of this year as a single with the new members!
- Itooshikutte Gomen ne – I was so curious to hear what CG would be like at debut and with Itooshikutte Gomen ne, this song was the cute song that just worked! From the breezy pop vibes to hearing Uta, Chisaki, and Mai just throwing such a lovely presence throughout. I still would’ve loved to hear that 5-nin cut (sans Momoko) but I doubt it because of how H!P is avoiding this song like the plague since Uta left the group.
- Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne – So the other primary A-side, it’s weird to see this song because this was a song kind of edited at last minute because of Uta. Chisaki’s HUGE appearance is really statling, but since she’s playing the girl to Mai’s more boyish character is just adorable! While it holds no candle to the above song, it’s got a lot of charm and the PVs themselves really gave the 6 new light (especially Momoko who’s become the kind of butt of the joke, but it’s in a fun and lighthearted way. Both did a lot of good this year!
- Koi Dorobo – I feel like the secondary A-side of both singles kind of waned a bit, but still are enjoyable. I feel like Koi Dorobo put the light more on Risa and Manaka here and they have such interesting voices to go with them. I do like the kind of surfer pop arrangement in this track and the energy is bright and fun and just was catchy.
- Tamerai Summertime – I feel like this mid-tempo swaying track was a nice change of pace from the cutesy stuff of the other 3 songs. It’s just a nice song to sit and listen too and once again a little more focus was put on Yamakki, Manakan, and Momochi. I do think that I kind of forgot about this song in the long run, whenever it is playing I do find myself humming along.
Predictions from last year!
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!
Actuality: Well that first part didn’t happen because it was changed after that post to be major and 6-nin. While it was sad that Uta left (and seem the sales were affected a little bit), they did better than I thought they would.
Predictions for 2016: With Funaki and Yanagawa joining the ranks, I hope that means we get to see more of them, have Itooshikutte Gomen ne return to setlists and perhaps having Momoko letting this group fly on their own.
So not even 2 days after the new year began, we get an announcement of a new group that included only Kenshuusei. It included Ayano Hamaura, Minami Nomura, Rena Ogawa, Natsumi Taguchi, Rio Fujii, Sakurako Wada, Rei Inoue, and Ayaka Hirose. The first state of business was waiting for the name of the group which ended up being a decision made by ex-Berryz member, Saki Shimizu.
Shortly after, they announced their first indies single, Nen ni wa Nen / Survivor, which the latter was used for their stageplay, Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Week End Survivor” which also came out with its own OST.
There was a short slow period for them before the surprising announcement that only after one single, they would debut on a major label with their first single, Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan / Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta / Nen ni wa Nen (Nen’iri ver.).
After the single released, the group kind of remained quiet performing on tours and such, I can’t wait to see what comes next for them.
- Nen ni wa Nen & Nen ni wa Nen (Nen’iri ver.) – As the group’s main debut song, I wasn’t expecting the group to kick things off on a strong foot with a rockin’ track. Nen ni wa Nen does a good job showcasing every member and I’m loving the edge the girls brought. Though it was made even better when the song was edited for their debut major single. Not too much was changed besides the ~NEN!~ in the intro and redone vocals! I have to say it challenges other great debuts like “Massara Blue Jeans” and “Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenkya ne” for favorite debut!
- Survivor – Found as the secondary A-side on their indies single and the main theme for Week End Survivor it took a more darker route in comparison to “Nen ni wa Nen” that’s for sure. I love the creepy aspects of the song and hearing Hamachan opening the song gave me this lonely and cold atmosphere that was replaced by an edgier rock arrangement. I actually ended up loving this song a lot more than “Nen ni wa Nen” too which is pretty strange considering this is unfortunately a stageplay song (they haven’t performed this since the stageplay…).
- Koko Kara Dashite – Talking about the OST, I guess it’s time to go through some. I love the slow intro to give the group a nice section to sing melodically. Though after the passage, teh tune turns into this angsty beat-driven tune. Yeah, the singing might not be at the same production level as their main songs, but it’s still a cool song.
- Tsuzuku Omou – I also think the beat reminds me a little of the above track for some reason. I’m enjoying this heavily emotional track and hearing some members like Hamachan, Minamina, and Ayapan singing, but it seems Reirei took a lot of the lines here and she handled it better than most members. Definitely a cool song too xD.
- Memory – A duet between Ayano and Ayaka, Memory stuck out to me with it’s sad sound and piano-led arrangement was a interesting break from the more aggressive songs on the OST. Simple, but the melody stuck to me, plus the two sounded quite nice, especially together!
- Sagashidase – Though I think the song that really caught my attention, Sagashidase is a funky and aggressive solo for Reirei and her deeper vocals are impressive and she handled the song with power and a sense of confidence. Sakurako and Minami does have a couple lines and join Rei in the final chorus…this is epic, though so short >.<
- Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan – Back to the major debut, Dosukoi took the notes from “Nen ni wa Nen” and gave us another awesome pop/rock song with forced growls and punches in the arrangement which I love like crazy. I also ended up falling in love with the PV. It’s a whole lot of fun and the group was just as energetic if not more with this recording!
- Sayuri – I will say, the kind of spooky accordion rhythm with the prickly piano melody is really cool though after a while it does start to lull in my head and I lose focus. Probably the best part is when the song empties out and 6 of the members get a solo line. Still, it’s a solid song and puts a creepy feel to the OST.
- Sayonara – At first, I didn’t care for the lone piano arrangement and Hamachan singing the tune solo (even though she was the last alive in the stageplay). After a decently filled passage, the remaining members join and bass fill the speakers too. It still doesn’t exactly call out to me like “Sayuri” does, but it’s a good conclusion to the play.
- Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta – When it comes to this Sharam Q cover, I feel like the group might not have been ready for something like this (I mean the song is rather full of shenanigans as it is). I do love the arrangement though and the dance is quirky enough to stand out from the PV. There is one glaring issue and I’m not sure why but having Hamachan and Renako sing together is ear-piercing…still it’s a good A-side for them.
- Nemuri no Rondo – Introduce, Doubt, Fluctuations, Lost, and Belief – Other than the fact that the group aren’t singing (these are merely interludes). I mean arrangement-wise they’re decent, but there’s 5 of them and that’s a bit much for me when it’s the same melody throughout, just arranged slightly different each time. Although Lost is probably the best of them.
- Sayuri ~Prelude~ – Though this is played before the main song (and a “Nemuri no Rondo”), this prelude has a short excerpt from Rio…beyond that it baffles me to why it’s there (kind of like “TRIANGLE’s”, “Nee, Milk”. Just seems absurdly unnecessary.
- Koukai – The only non-interlude to be meh, Koukai is the vanilla ballad of the OST and it’s sung by Hamachan who I didn’t think suit ballads with her high-ranged vocals. In the end, the song was a bit too empty and the vocals weren’t helping the situation much…
Predictions for 2016: I really am not sure what could be in store for Kobushi Factory, but I hope they don’t lose a member (because 8 member units that aren’t Momusu have been known to lose members ala Berryz and C-ute).
Thought we fans would have enough to deal with after all the new members? NOPE! In April, we get a surprise annoucement on Hello! Station that Saki Shimizu struck again and formed a new group, Tsubaki Factory which includes the Kenshuusei: Riko Yamagishi, Kiki Asakura, Yumeno Kishimoto, Kisora Niinuma, Ami Tanimoto, and Risa Ogata. Also, if you haven’t noticed, the group’s name is supposed to rival Kobushi Factory!
At debut the only song in their repertoire was a cover of a Chisato Moritaka classic, 17sai. Sadly, it hasn’t been released as a single, but eventually in September, we had their first indies single, Seishun Manmannaka!. Then a month later, release a stageplay single for their Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Thank You Very Berry”. After that the group just went silent beyond tour performances until November where they premiered a new song in Kedakaku Sakihokore! although it makes the final release from H!P in the year that was 2015.
- Kedakaku Sakihokore! – Taking from their first indies, Kedakaku Sakihokore! is continuing on their route of their electro sound and it’s a major upgrade after their cover of “17sai” and even “Seishun Manmannaka!”. There’s a lot more of a pulsing beat like the former and the equal line distribution from both and it really gives off a powerful punch. There’s even a rapping section between Kishimon and Risamaru which we haven’t heard in H!P in quite a while, so this is quite an interesting song to end the year.
- Seishun Manmannaka! (First Take) – I have to say, a lot of people thought they were going to get a flowery cute song at debut, but surprise, surprise, the group got an EDM song to debut with. While it’s a simple track for the group, they still sound like they’re having issues blending together (and Ami, but that’s for obvious reasons). I also stuck this into OK because it seems there’ll be an updated version down the line.
- Ano Ko ga Utau no wo Mitanda – I was kind of surprised Maasa sung the first line of this track. Though the song is kind of an interesting mid-tempo song. I think of the three songs from the stageplay, I was rather impressed with this one as this had crazy solos all over the place. It’s got this cute wintry vibe to it too. Decent overall!
- Kaijuu no Ballad – As the only upbeat song from the group’s stageplay single, Kaijuu no Ballad was a bit short, but I kind of dug it! It’s fun to listen to and the piano is exciting to hear. Despite the group’s cuter vocals, it suited the track and the chorus was really cool too! I just wished it was longer…
- Thank You Very Berry – So I already had mentioned that Berryz Koubou did resing the tune for their final bow of an album, so hearing Tsubaki tackle this song was a bit curious. While I didn’t thnk it was on point like Berryz was, it was a nice try and they also took out the dialogue in the bridge for some reason too! It’s a OK retread, but not better than Berryz’ original.
Predictions for 2016: Maybe to stick to being an indies group for at least 3/ of the year before going major (while it was smooth for both Country Girls and Kobushi Factory becoming major so fast, I don’t have the same feelings for Tsubaki currently). Maybe a new member to strengthen the vocals up…but otherwise I’m curious as they’re the newbies.
Hello! Pro Kenshuusei
I don’t think the Kenshuusei did as much as they did in 2014 because of the fluctuation of members this year, although it did surprise they didn’t continue to release new songs AT LEAST.
To start things off, the year kicked off with Ayano Hamaura, Natsumi Taguchi, Rena Ogawa, Minami Nomura, Rio Fujii, Sakurako Wada, Ayaka Hirose, and Rei Inoue announced to be chosen for a new group (which later became Kobushi Factory) and the group officially graduated from the KSS program in November.
A month later we would see their first album, ① Let’s Say “Hello!” finally make its appearance on online stores and made available to everyone and not just at Nana Tamagos.
At the end of February though, Kana Mikame would be the first KSS to “complete her training” and a new member, Kurumi Takase would take up her place.
Then two months later a series of events started happening! First off, we got 8 new members that joined before the test recitals: Mao Akiyama, Nanami Yanagawa, Honoka Okamoto, Kokoro Maeda, Mizuho Ono, Rion Nakano, Mizuki Kanatsu, and Momona Kasahara.
On the other hand we also got news a couple days later that Riko Yamagishi, Yumeno Kishimoto, Kisora Niinuma, Risa Ogata, Kiki Asakura, and Ami Tanimoto were chosen to represent a new group as Tsubaki Factory (though they’re still considered KSS by the end of the year). Also in the update was that Kana Saito had finished her training.
Things became quiet after that little rush section up until November when Musubu Funaki and Nanami Yanagawa were chosen to join Country Girls. A day later, Honoka Okamoto had finished her training (though she’s been MIA basically since after the recital tests >.>
- Say! Hello! – Yeah, I’m coming back to these songs because I had little time with them when I did last years mega-post. Since I’ve had longer time to spend on them (and the fact the album was released to the public this year), I want to see if anything changed. Honestly, this song still impresses me after all this time despite soundng like 2011 H!P songs to a T. I still think Manakan’s epic line in the end of the first chorus was perfect and the tune itself is fun and catchy too!
- Onna no Sono – This was another song that struck me in a good way because it was fitting of the time where EDM was all over H!P as a whole. While there wasn’t as much this year, Onna no Sono is still a cool song to listen and hearing Minami and Murotan getting the solo lines was pretty cool. It was also the song Kobushi Factory started with when they were first announced and that made me enjoy this song a lot more!
- “Idol wa Robot” tte Showa no Hanashi ne – Even though the color-coding of this song is damn near impossible, it’s still a ridiculously catchy song even with having a year with it in headphones. I like the beats and the chorus is just easy to hum with more or less sing with. I also to love the bridge of the track too!
- Crying – I’m not sure why but I definitely get Buono! vibes from this song by taking a poppy/rock song and making it their own. I don’t think it stuck on me as much as it did back then, but it’s still makes for a good listen occasionally.
- Seishun Beat wa 16 – Last year, I didn’t exctly give a damn about this song, but for some reason it seriously started to grown on me. I felt myself liking the kind of shoujo-esque sound mixed with some 80s synth-pop. Plus it sounds hopeful and yet fun at the same time. It’s an odd song for me to like, but it just became a really good song to listen to.
- “Koishitai Shinto” – This song also found itself growing on me too just as much as the above song. I still find it humorous with the English MCs introducing the song, but they add this punch that the song otherwise couldn’t have. Plus the arrangement has some pretty epic parts…though I can’t say most of the song is working (maybe a different set of girls should’ve tackled this).
- Table Seki Aitetemo Counter Seki – Seems like this song actually grew less on me (actually it’s my least played song from the album). When compared to most songs on the album, this one felt flat and the same beat led really nowhere. Plus it’s the only song (not counting “Ten Made Nobore!”) where there’s no solos to be had…just not my kind of song anymore.
Other H!P Releases
I suppose the first isn’t totally considered a H!P release, but I do think it should be worth mentioning that “Ima Koko Kara” was a major part of the Precure movie! in the single titled, “Precure All Stars Haru no Carnival♪” Shuudaika Single.
I was surprised that we didn’t really get releases outside of the main groups this year, like the Atsumechaimashita albums or even anything from SATOYAMA/SATOUMI (surprised by the latter because it would’ve been a perfect time due to the influx of new members in H!P. We did get our annual Petit Best 16. Though beyond that, nothing else really!
- Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai (Berryz Koubou Last Concert 2015 Berryz Koubou Ikube~! Ver.) – The only exclusive song on the compilation album, this is just a live performance of their song in their final tour. Really there’s not a lot to say here, but I would’ve much preferred the “Love together!” performance…it was a LOT more emotional for everyone.
Other Releases from Ex-H!P this year!
- Ex-Momusu member, Natsumi Abe released her 3rd studio album, “Dreams”
- Ex-Country Musume member Azusa Kobayashi released a special single only sold at venus, “My daughter”
- Ex-Juice=Juice member, Aina Otsuka released her debut indies single “Dreamer”
- Yuu Kikkawa releases a single, “Hana” before her third album, “YOU the 3rd. ~WILDFLOWER~
- Ex-H!P Egg member Irori Maeda releases her 2nd single, “Twinkle Star Light / Himitsu”
- Arisa Noto’s group, StylipS released three singles this year, “Mayomayo Compass wa Iranai”, “Give Me Secret”, and “Dramatic＊Cycle”
- THE Possible announced a label switch to Up-Front Create, changed their name to Ciao Bella Cinquetti and released a single, “Omotesandou / Futako-Tamagawa / Never Never Give Up” before Yurika Akiyama announced her graduation in August.
- Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) only released their third album, “Third Album (Kakko Kari)”
- Lovendor released their first major label single “Iin ja nai! / Fuutsu no Watashi Ganbare!”
Gains and Losses
- Ayano Hamaura (to Kobushi Factory)
- Natsumi Taguchi (to Kobushi Factory)
- Rena Ogawa (to Kobushi Factory)
- Minami Nomura (to Kobushi Factory)
- Rio Fujii (to Kobushi Factory)
- Sakurako Wada (to Kobushi Factory)
- Ayaka Hirose (to Kobushi Factory)
- Rei Inoue (to Kobushi Factory)
- Kurumi Takase
- Mizuho Ono
- Rion Nakano
- Nanami Yanagawa (and to Country Girls)
- Mao Akiyama
- Honoka Okamoto
- Kokoro Maeda
- Momona Kasahara
- Mizuki Kanatsu
- Riko Yamagishi (to Tsubaki Factory)
- Yumeno Kishimoto (to Tsubaki Factory)
- Kisora Niinuma (to Tsubaki Factory)
- Risa Ogata (to Tsubaki Factory)
- Kiki Asakura (to Tsubaki Factory)
- Ami Tanimoto (to Tsubaki Factory)
- Musubu Funaki (to Country Girls)
- Moe Kamikokuryo
- Kana Mikame
- Miyabi Natsuyaki
- Saki Shimizu
- Risako Sugaya
- Maasa Sudo
- Chinami Tokunaga
- Yurina Kumai
- Kana Saito
- Uta Shimamura
- Honoka Okamoto
- Kanon Fukuda
- Riho Sayashi (though still H!P)
My H!P Member Ranking for 2015
- 62. Risako Sugaya (-46)
- 61. Yurina Kumai (-58)
- 60. Chinami Tokunaga (-35)
- 59. Miyabi Natsuyaki (-53)
- 58. Aika Mitsui (-17)
- 57. Ami Tanimoto (NEW)
- 56. Moe Kamikokuryo (NEW)
Really, it might not be fair to be putting 4 Berryz members at dead last, but literally they haven’t done much since the indefinite hiatus really. Rii & Yurina have ultimately dropped off the radar, but the latter has been showing up on shows. Chii & Miya on the other had have started GREEN ROOM (sort of like Hello! Station), however Chinami is going on hiatus to study English abroad in which Mittsi just returned from and is now promoting goods and concert reprts in English!!! While she has performed (at the last concert of 2015), beyond that she’s stuck to the background and backstages! At least starting at the back-end of current members, I feel like Ami came in just a little too green when Tsubaki was announced. She kind of is weak in almost every thing except looking adorable…and vocally she was literally sounding like she didn’t put in effort…she has since started her idol growth in a good rate currently and hopefully will end up going up this ranking at the end of 2016. As for Kamiko, she’s the newest member of H!P (joining ANGERME in November). From what we saw from auditions, she’s basically already on point and will fit in VERY smoothly after Nyon’s graduation. Hopefully by the end of next year, she’ll rise up heavily as she hasn’t properly debuted yet.
- 55. Haruna Ogata (-12)
- 54. Maria Makino (-22)
- 53. Natsumi Taguchi (NEW)
- 52. Haruna Iikubo (-15)
- 51. Mai Hagiwara (-13)
Getting into the current H!P members now, I feel with the surge of new members, a lot of the members pre-2015 got pushed down in the rankings. Haachel wasn’t too high on my list last year, but since she properly debuted this year, I definitely think she’s the weakest of the 12th Generation. Her singing isn’t quite there as well as her dancing, but I do enjoy that she’s an oddball like Zukki and her duet with Maachan in the “TRIANGLE” OST was actually pretty nice. Maria kind of falls in the same place as she hasn’t got a whole lot of attention, but at the same time she has? I mean she’s got solo lines over Haachel and Akanechin, but she’s got some vocal training to continue on. It’s strange to say, but Taguchan has never really been high on my ranks (when she was in the KSS), but she’s definitely got the least amount of show time on Kobushi releases I feel like. I hope she’ll start to come out of her shell in 2016. Despite being sub-leader, Harunan is still the weak link in the 10th Generation, but she’s becoming a great speaker for the group alongside Fukuchan! Maimai is just kind of where she’s usually at, I do like that she leads occasionally and her voice is slightly getting better, but she’s still kind of catty most of the time.
- 50. Saki Shimizu (-36)
- 49. Nanami Yanagawa (NEW)
- 48. Ayaka Wada (-24)
- 47. Chisaki Morito (-1)
- 46. Maho Aikawa (-6)
Despite that Captain is now out of H!P, I feel like of the 6 Berryz members that left H!P, Captain kept things afloat by becoming an advisor for the company (alongside Chinami) but she’s done quite more as she was the one to make the idea of Kobushi and Tsubaki rivals that share the legacy of Berryz Kobo. Plus she choreographs with some of the groups so it’s a nice plus! Not even been in the program for a year, Yanamin has seriosuly come out of nowhere to become a part of Country Girls. She just joined KSS and just steam-rolled her way into the group, can’t wait to see what she’ll be capable of. Ayacho continues to rollercoaster her way around my enjoyment and this year wasn’t exactly the best year as her voice took a more nasally route (especially in “Taikibansei”). She’s definitely one of the prettiest members in H!P, I can admit to that. After Utachan’s sudden departure they had to find someone to take her ace spot and for some reason they chose Chisaki to take over, sadly she currently doesn’t have a lot of personality going for her and she came off as green in all the Country Girls songs this year, maybe it’s me that has to take focus, but she’s in a group of very strong personalities that isn’t helped with Nanami and Musubu joining. Currently, Aiai is the weakest member of ANGERME, but she’s coming along nicely and the training is helping since she’s a bit like Yanamin as she joined the group quickly after joining the KSS.
- 45. Uta Shimamura (0)
- 44. Risa Yamaki (-18)
- 43. Ayumi Ishida (-16)
- 42. Maasa Sudo (-31)
- 41. Riko Yamagishi (NEW)
Surprise, surprise that Utachan would be the lone member to not budge in numbers (yet still be somewhat higher than other members. Even if she was just in only two songs (on one single), Uta really had made a mark in such a fast time for Country Girls. She was easily brought up to become an ace, but as fast as that came to be, she would end up leaving as fast as she came in. With Country Girls, I feel like currently Morito is the weak members, but I feel like Yamakki is also under the same feel because she hasn’t exactly risen to the top in the group like some of the others have. I mean her drawings in “Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne” were pretty nice, but beyond that I don’t feel like she’s shown off her personality. I just hope she’ll begin to step her game up (and with the two new girls) it might prove somewhat difficult! I suppose with Riho out of the way at the beginning of 2016, I feel like Ayumi may be able to take the place as the dancer of the group, but she dropped for me as she didn’t really appear as much as she did in 2013/2014. Though visually she was pretty appealing and she has not lost that spark! Of the ex-H!P Berryz members, I feel like Maasa did the most of the 6 members with becoming the leader of the Engeki Joshi-bu group of members and having a lot of interesting parts in “TRIANGLE”, “Week End Survivor”, and “Thank You Very Berry”. It’ll be interesting to watch her in 2016 (despite this being her last time in a post like this). As we get into another member from Tsubaki Factory, Rikoriko is some what a love/hate relationship. At times she can be fun to watch and her face is so naive and curious, but when she sings, you can tell it’s her and she can be meh sometimes or on point. I think a little more training will do more good I’m sure of it!
- 40. Miki Nonaka (+2)
- 39. Ayano Hamaura (NEW)
- 38. Saki Nakajima (-8)
- 37. Rena Ogawa (NEW)
- 36. Yuka Miyazaki (-3)
Chelsea (yes, that is Miki’s nickname), is starting to really come to her own and after Morning Musume’s recent single, it seems like she’s being vocally pushed the most out of the 12th Gen. I think a lot of people were not expecting her to be the stand out, but with the English and the push in singles, she’s one to look out for in the future. While I’m surprised that Hamachan wasn’t chosen to join ANGERME (although the vocals for that group went in a different direction than in 2011/2012, her being added in Kobushi Factory was surprising, but considering that she and Natsumi were the eldest of the Kenshuusei…I was happy that she got to debut and while I’m not too certain about what she is in the group, I do like her there! I don’t think Nakky (or C-ute for that matter) stood out this year, but she’s still the strongest dancer and “The Middle Management” really stuck out to me when it comes to Nakky. A member I wasn’t expecting to debut, Renako was another member I wasn’t too hot, even though she’s a pretty one (and looks a little like Sakura). She might be Kobushi’s weakest member vocally, but she brings in elegance to the group which is a nice contrast to the more wilder or edgier members. Still kind of my least favorite member from Juice=Juice, Yukanyan has started to push her self in the group and the opportunities from the album has pushed her to start singing more~. I kind of hope it gets better in the next year.
- 35. Kisora Niinuma (NEW)
- 34. Kiki Asakura (NEW)
- 33. Sakurako Wada (NEW)
- 32. Momoko Tsugunaga (+3)
- 31. Rikako Sasaki (-15)
I am still kind of shaking off the surprise that Tsubaki was announced so the members haven’t fully set themselves in stone quite yet so with both Niinuma & Kiki, they both are kind of just in the middle of the road. I will say Kisora has gotten much better vocally this year and Kiki right out of the door sounds pretty strong (and reminds me of Aichan for some reason). Wadasaku is one of my Kenshuusei oshis, so hearing that she was going to debut with Kobushi made me so happy. After this year, she feels like she’s been pushed to the back a little and its mostly because most of the members are just promoted more (I think she and Taguchi need to step it up!). Momochi is quite the strange one, in the first quarter, I wouldn’t have put her too high because of the small time Berryz had before their hiatus…then she switched gears and became the “playing manager” for Country Girls and they played up her age and place within the group with their singles. She actually grew on me during the year and mostly is the reason she went up spots! I kind of thought that once Rikako joined ANGERME, she would’ve been the lead of her generation, but she runs in the middle between the three. With Maho being the one that needed more training, Rikako is visually the front as she’s got the powerful dancing down, but her voice isn’t at the same capacity as her gen-mate, Murotan.
- 30. Kanon Fukuda (-10)
- 29. Risa Ogata (NEW)
- 28. Musubu Funaki (NEW)
- 27. Akari Uemura (+4)
- 26. Rina Katsuta (-2)
It seemed not so long ago I was introduced to Nyon, and hearing this year that she would graduate towards the end of the year, was surprising, yet not. Kanon was looking a bit out of place and felt like she wasn’t totally giving her all. Even though she didn’t fully do a whole lot different than in previous years, we do learn she wanted to write lyrics (and she had with “Watashi” and Ciao Bella Cinquetti’s “Doushiyou, Watashi”). Now, she’s graduated and leaves us with Ayacho as out last 1st Gen member. I think Risamaru is one of the better members to come from Tsubaki Factory. While she was one of the newer KSS (longer NGP KSS), Risa has had time to get her vocals in place and she’s doing really well! Even the rapping in their 2nd indies single was just impressive! Funakki has always been a surprise to me with the small frame, yet a big voice…she was always near my top when it comes to KSS members, so I was happily relieved to see her join Country Girls near the end of the year (although I kind of wished she joined MM). Aarii actually slightly stepped it up this year by having more solo lines than ever (especially in their “First Squeeze!” abum). She’s still the same way I felt before by being visually great and now singing decently. I could say the same for Rinapuu with standing out more than she has been in her years within the group. Hell, she had a surprising big amount of focus this year in comparison with having a lot of solo lines! I’m happy she’s stepping up as much as she is and I hope to see more next year!
- 25. Yumeno Kishimoto (NEW)
- 24. Mizuki Fukumura (-12)
- 23. Mai Ozeki (+21)
- 22. Rio Fujii (NEW)
- 21. Mizuki Murota (-6)
It’s strange that I consider Kishimon the best of her group currently because I never fully noticed her in the Kenshuusei. Though I’m happy she’s standing out quite frankly beyond her tan skin and interesting looks. It’ll be interesting to see where she’ll be at the end of next year as she’s got a lot of time to grow! As her first year as leader of Morning Musume ’15, Fukuchan is doing OK, nothing totally stood out, but nothing that had me worrying about the group (besides Riho). In the group, she’s stood back a little to let other members grow and I appreciate the gesture…though with Sakura becoming more and more the vocal lead, she’ll have a lot of competition. I don’t know what it is about Ozeki but her ikemen character to her unique raspy vocals kind of make me smile and her turnout in Country Girls this year just plastered a smile on my face…it really makes me want to make her an oshi!!! Talking about oshis, Riorio has been a favorite of mine since the 2nd Gen S/mileage auditions and now she’s finally debuting AND managed to become sub-leader for Kobushi Factory too! She’s been a solid member so far and she’s also taking the more boyish role and I’m more than fine with that! Murotan definitely did not disappoint when it came to 2015 with her debut into ANGERME! Right off the bat she had the ONLY solos on her debut single alongside Rikako & Maho and she’s been a beam of happiness in the group and a lot of fans felt relieved and joyful seeing her put love and passion into her performances!
- 20. Akari Takeuchi (-3)
- 19. Minami Nomura (NEW)
- 18. Masaki Sato (+16)
- 17. Karin Miyamoto (+1)
- 16. Erina Ikuta (+20)
With the hype surrounding ANGERME and the rebranding, it was hard to focus on a lot of the 2nd Gen (minus the big Meimi announcement). Takechan struggled a little for me this year and yet she was still floating around with solo lines and such. She’s still a fun gal and great to watch live so she only slipped by a margin. With Minamina, I felt like I didn’t know much about her at the beginning of the year, but when she and the other Kobushi members sang “Onna no Sono” her voice stood out (as she had the only solo when they performed). Since then, she’s ridden the middle lines nicely with good dance abilities and a nice tone to her voice. I just wonder if she’ll lead in a song over bigger voices like Hirose, Inoue, and Hamaura. Seems like a lot of Momusu stood out to me this year, while I’m not a fan of Maachan‘s character still, her vocals have started to become REALLY pleasant and the big push she’s had this year was interesting to say the least. I can only wonder if she’ll start to take over more spots now Riho is out of the picture. I’m sure I’e said it already this year, but Juice=Juice barely stood out this year although for better or for worse, Karin did a little more than the others it feels. I mean the 4 J=J PVs were pretty nice to feature her, but a lot of the big talks were in the fact she was in “Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru” and “Yuugure wa Ameagari” to fill in for Zukki due to her injury. That in itself was ballsy and I like that she went with it, despite the conflict and internet rage. Still, she’s just the cutie and her voice is still quite bright! Like Maachan, Eripon turned it up this year and really has become more of a visual surprise than a vocal one (although her lines in both “Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” and “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” is making wonder if she’s tapping into some potential vocal leading. Still she’s more visual now and every pose she makes is just striking and forces you to remember her (similar to what she did in “One Two Three”). I just hope she continues this route and starting getting more lines!
- 15. Akane Haga (+24)
- 14. Rei Inoue (NEW)
- 13. Sayuki Takagi (0)
- 12. Manaka Inaba (+17)
- 11. Kana Nakanishi (-1)
I’m not sure what draws me to Akanechin, but her presence is so child-like and she’s really enjoying her time in the group. She’s still the one I’m most curious about when it comes to the 12th Generation of members, but she’s got something special going on…also those serious looks in the PVs are really good for some reason. I just hope there’ll be more presence from her in the upcoming year. At the beginning, Reirei was also quite an unknown factor when she joined the KSS for the short time before Kobushi was created. After that and hearing her tackle the first line in “Nen ni wa Nen”, she was BIG surprise and for someone so small she’s got a lot of potential in her voice. Add her stint on Oha Star, she’s becoming a strong character within Hello! Project! Sayubee, The other Juice=Juice member that really kind of fell to the wayside, to me at least. I felt like despite the amount of lead vocals she’s taken, I just didn’t notice her much beyond that and “Wonderful World” was a wreck of a song so that didn’t help her move up in the standings. While I kind of wish Manakan would use more of her powerful vocals instead of the squeaky cute ones, she’s an amazing dancer and the fact she joined the Dance Club has really let her hair down and just give it her all! Maybe with Funakki joining (who also has cool deep vocals), maybe they’ll get lucky and release a badass song! After “LILIUM” last year, Kanana did slide back a smidge, but it seems like with every release ANGERME puts out, her lower rance is being used more and she sounds more epic and different! I wonder if she’ll take Meimi’s place as a powerful vocalist after she graduates…
- 10. Riho Sayashi (+11)
- 9. Ayaka Hirose (NEW)
- 8. Maimi Yajima (+11)
- 7. Meimi Tamura (+2)
- 6. Sakura Oda (+1)
Even without the fact she graduated from Morning Musume ’15, Sayashi left a strong impression throughout the year with 12 months of strong performances and a better voice especially in her final single. Really though, she’s come a long way this past year and it’ll quite evident that she’ll be missed in future MM songs. A new member of the KSS and now leader of Kobushi Factory, Ayapan impressed many with her vocals throughout all of the releases the group had and showed a whole lot of confidence despite being somewhat new to H!P (she was a NGP can’t wait to see what she’ll bring as the years go by! As the now leader of H!P, Yaji started the year off strong by taking to the now-made Kobushi Factory members, but then kind of slowly drifted off while Captain did a lot of announcing. In C-ute, I think I noticed everyone but her in the music scene, but I suppose that might be good. Still a beauty though! With the recent announcement of Meimi graduating in the Spring of 2016, we might have little time, but she stood out a lot this year. Her voice just keeps getting more powerful and epic and her ear to expressing those emotions is just downright awesome! With such short time, I just hope she graduates with a bang! I’m pretty sure that Odasaku has become the voice from Momusu as she’s gotten a lot of lead time this year (like Maachan). She’s still pretty damn awesome and her range is getting better. Really interesting member and she’s only just getting better and better!
- 5. Haruka Kudo (+3)
- 4. Airi Suzuki (+1)
- 3. Kanon Suzuki (-2)
- 2. Tomoko Kanazawa (+2)
- 1. Chisato Okai (+1)
Duu definitely found herself sticking out in MM’15 most of the year, yeah the first half wasn’t very exciting, but when she co-lead with Zukki in “Oh my wish!” and then having a LOT of screentime for “ENDLESS SKY”, she was definitely pushing for lead this time and I quite enjoyed that and she’s quite a strong vocalist nowadays so I hope she’ll be pushed more in the new year. It feels like that C-ute had a pretty safe year and the members themselves have essentially kept to the same ranks (though with the giant influx members, it was stretched further). Airi for the most part kept around the same place (moved up one spot due to Berryz disbanding). She’s still an amazing idol and just continues to impress year after year. Like Duu, Zukki was quite the member for the year. I mean she did begin things with an injury that had her sit in the sidelines for their first single (and cause some controversy), but she came back strong for “Oh my wish!” and led in the song. Though she’s still my favorite member in Morning Musume ’15. Kanatomo always mystifies me with her awesome vocals! Though she might not have had as much spotlight this year (and with J=J’s low release count she was kind of forgotten, but she still remains as one of my current favorites in H!P. With Berryz gone, Chisa definitely was the one to finally take top slot for the year and for good reason! She’s done a lot of promoting, her presence in H!P and C-ute is so strong and she’s just a ball of awesome energy! Yay Chisato!!!
- Yumei Yokogawa
- Mizuki Kanatsu
- Miu Takemura
- Rion Nakano
- Momoko Shimano
- Kokoro Maeda
- Reina Ichioka
- Mizuho Ono
- Momona Kasahara
- Nagisa Hashimoto
- Mao Akiyama
- Saori Onoda
- Hikaru Inoue
- Kizuki Horie
- Ruru Danbara
- Kurumi Takase
- Kaede Kaga
YAY, finally done with the year! Enjoyed the read? It was pretty fun to do, H!P might not have had as much, but the variety was there so I definitely enjoyed it, I can only wonder what 2016 will bring!