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

Hello! 2016! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

on February 12, 2017

Seems like it’s that time of year to look back at the year that was 2016.  After the rather amazing amount of new talent being found it felt like things were starting to settle down a bit and the focus was just on making the groups a bit more outstanding and fixing what was needed, of course we gained and lost more as well.  Shall we begin?

Morning Musume ’16

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Starting with Momusu of course, they had begun their 2016 coming right off the graduation of ace member, Riho Sayashi and the release of their last single of 2015 (which was released a couple days prior to the new year).

However things didn’t quite yet end on the sadder side of things when in February, Kanon Suzuki announced that she was graduating fully at the end of April, though it wasn’t without their next single, Utakata Saturday Night! / The Vision / Tokyo to Iu Katasumi to send Zukki off and on the same day a vinyl release of their previous single, Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only.

Not much happened really except their stageplay, Zoku 11-nin Iru! Higashi no Chihei, Nishi no Towa had kicked off during the summer.

Things didn’t start picking up until September when a new single was announced for November, Sexy Cat no Enzetsu / Mukidashi de Mukiatte / Sou Janai before the announcement of 13th Generation cane on 12/12 with just only Kenshuusei members, Kaede Kaga and Reina Yokoyama.

Then on Christmas, we get word that Momusu (plus Kaede & Reina) will be involved on an AKB48 song with Rino Sashihara on their 8th album…it’ll be pretty interesting that’s for sure.

THE SONGS

(NOTE: Once again…it seems that “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” has still not been released in a physical (or digital release)…weird that it’s almost 2 years in a row….so once again, can’t review)

(NOTE 2: With the stageplay album, it’ll mostly be about the East version except one track from West which was radically different)

GREAT SONGS

  • Utakata Saturday Night! – Being the main track that really focused on Zukki (sorta), Utakata Saturday Night! was a rather refreshing song to break from the EDM with something that’s more discotheque and just full of life!  I really liked the arrangement and pacing and all the Zukki parts were great (even if the dialogue in the bridge oddly reminds me of Miyabi’s in “Asian Celebration”).
  • The Vision – The 2nd A-side of Zukki’s graduating single also struck a nice chord for me.  I will say that it does kind of come off as “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe” pt. 2, but there’s something floaty and elegant about the track up to the lively chorus.  What is interesting is that once again, Fukuchan, Eripon, and Ayumi are absent from the song (as they are the dance team so they are silent for a reason).  I was surprised that Masaki and Sakura were the leads, but they sounded great taking up the front slots.  Cool song overall!
  • Higashi no Chi Aritosuka.re (WEST) – As the only song that wowed me from their stageplay, this version of Higashi no Chi Aritosuka.re has this really Celtic kind of arrangement to it and it sounds lively and really adventurous of a song despite it sounds like a group effort as there’s no solo lines.  Not sure if the tune needed a fadeout though…
  • Mukidashi de Mukiatte – For being surrounded by a bunch of other EDM songs in their recent catalog of tracks, I found Mukidashi to be quite surprising and really catchy at the same time.  I feel like the tune goes into trance and more of those heavier sounding tunes.  Plus it does have a lot of good line distribution which helps out a lot!  Definitely the best of their 2nd single of the year.

OK SONGS

  • Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi (TYPE B) – I was surprised Momusu would release a vinyl for the single and it did rang some bells for people, but mostly it did fly by without too much recognition.  The exclusive track though was an alternate version of Riho’s graduation song (well it was supposed to be xD).  The tune itself was stripped down musically and turned into a formal ballad and I have to say while it doesn’t sound like too much effort was put into it, a lot more solo lines were available.  A nice bonus, but it’d take a lot to beat the original.
  • Tokyo to Iu Katasumi – As the first song that was shown off, many fans to me felt like they were split from the song to the outfits/PV.  While the song is still an EDM song through and through, I do enjoy the addition of some guitar riffs to throw spice.  I like the aggression however and the punch with some of the execution of lines is pretty spot on.  Decent song overall!
  • Higashi no Chihei, Nishi no Towa – As the main theme for their stageplay, Higashi no Chihei does remind me of a mix of both “LILIUM” and “TRIANGLE” with the push of a darker song.  I do like that Duu was getting a lot of lines in the track and the remainder of the cast sound great too.  Though it might not be as great as other theme tracks, it does its part well.
  • Suki Dakara…… – When the single preview was released, I was kind of surprised to hear Sakura & Haruka doing a duet together and it actually turned out well because they both were giving such powerful lines throughout.  Though the WEST version is definitely preferred if you like Duu while the EAST is for Sakura fans.  Interesting ballad to say the least!
  • Higashi no Chi Aritosuka.re (EAST) – The Eastern take of this song to me fell a little bit in comparison to its WEST counterpart, but this isn’t too bad either giving us a stronger folksy vibe (something akin to some Kalafina songs).  It’s alright, but it does feel real short.
  • Nishi no Chi Aritosuka.ra – Another track that was also slightly different depending on which version you listen to.  I did end up enjoying both in the same light.  The EAST had more of an acoustic feel while the WEST had a lot more flutes and Ayumi had a different vocal melody with the lyrics.  It’s an interesting set of tracks to say the least.
  • Tsuyoki Koku wo Motomete – It’s nice to see Maasa make appearances throughout.  I do like the darker themes with the march arrangement, but I do feel that Maachan kind of takes me out of the song a bit due to her voice just grating on my ears, luckily the WEST version cuts down on that.
  • Baceska wo Korose! – Another track that reminded me of “LILIUM”, Baceska wo Korose! has a really dark glow in it and the inclusion of electric guitars adds a nice depth to the song.  It also helps that Maasa is also singing through this.  Funny enough that it’s only one of a couple songs that are at a good length.
  • Mayoi no Mori – As one of the more striking ballads from the OST, this Sakura solo really showcased her prowess in her vocal talent and it shown through very powerfully.  One of the better songs here, though avoid WEST’s version (Ayumi sings this by herself instead).
  • Bokura no Shinnen – Probably at the bottom of the OK songs, Bokura no Shinnen might not seem to really stick out, but since it’s a track between Ayumi, Sakura, Duu, and Fukuchan, I appreciated the simplicity of the song.
  • Ou no Tsutome – Even though the WEST version with Ayumi wasn’t all that great vocally, I definitely took to Fukuchan’s solo in the EAST counterpart as she had such powerful vocals and her deep tones really stuck out to me.  Once again, simple in its arrangement, but definitely an impressive track.
  • Teki wo Ute! – Another dramatically heavy song, Teki wo Ute! was a track that kind of broke through some of the monotony of the album.  I still couldn’t tell who was singing but it felt like a mix of Miki and someone else.  It was cool, but like “Bokura no Shinnen” it kind of hung on between being OK or MEH.
  • Sexy Cat no Enzetsu – Maybe it’s just me but I was surprised that Morning Musume would do a song that really had no chorus.  Still, the song is pretty quirky and has a lot punch despite it not really once again sticking out from the normal.  I did enjoy it though, since it was a Oda, Duu, and Fukuchan lead.  It’s an interesting choice for an A-side, but it’s cute.
  • Sou Janai – Like “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu”, Sou Janai doesn’t really bring anything new to the table that hasn’t been already done by Momusu, but it’s nice to see that Maria has the leading role in the track.  The EDM is OK and the song entirely is OK as well…there’s really not much else to say about this one but it falls in the average category for me.

MEH SONGS

  • Utakata Saturday Night! (Kawanabe Hiroshi REMIX) – Seemed like Momusu had once again released a vinyl version of Zukki’s graduation single and it included a remix as its exclusive track.  The remix is still pretty faithful by being disco, but it’s a little bit long and the arrangement doesn’t really move things along and it’s a bit repetitive as things go which makes things a bit more tiring.  Luckily when the group does sing the track, it’s pretty cool.
  • Ai no Kotoba – A lot of the stageplay tracks here are mostly because they kind of bored me and nothing really made them stand out from the other tracks.  Ai no Kotoba did have longer time to have a longer impression, but this song is plain and simple…maybe a little too much, but I appreciate Ayumi and Duu singing together.
  • Wo Tomodachi ni Naritai! – Though there are other songs that just was meh altogether like Wo Tomodachi ni Naritai! which takes up the folk route like some stuff from their “LILIUM” play.  Vocally it wasn’t quite there and the middle dialogue breaks the song for me.  I will say the arrangement was the only worthwhile thing here.
  • Sensou ga Hajimaru – Another case of nice arrangement, but the vocal melody is just a bit boring.  It didn’t help that it was only about 1:20 in length so it didn’t manage to make much of an impression.  There wasn’t even any solos to be had, so it fell a bit flat.
  • Tsumetai Kaze – Didn’t I just hear this arrangement back in “Sensou ga Hajimaru”?  Its got the same kind of angsty feel to it, but the vocals this time were a LOT deeper than I expected.  For a 2 minute track, Tsumetai Kaze went by fast too…meh…
  • Nani mo Kataru na – Seems like all the ballads kind of run in the same vein with similar arrangements to one another.  Nani mo Kataru na does start off with a couple of the girls singing together before some solos happen, but the arrangement is way too copied for me to take interest…
  • Maya no Hi – As the track that ended both discs, I was hoping for something powerful, but nice enough as the closer to happen, but Maya no Hi (like “Nani mo Kataru na” is another one of those quiet to grand ballads but with not a lot of substance behind it.  When I listened to this album it just felt like they were going through the waves at this point…Maya no Hi was a pretty meh way to close things out…

Predictions from last year!

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?

Actuality: Well to be fair, Zukki left so she didn’t quite get to shine more than I had hoped for, but Maachan did become center alongside Odasaku for a couple songs.  Musically, it’s been still more of the EDM, but I do feel the whole formation style is gone for now and yes, an audition was announced, but there are no winners yet!

Predictions for 2017: I’m hoping for a push for 12th Gen even if Maria is getting the push currently.  Not sure what else could be said, maybe an album to get things rolling?

°C-ute

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This year for °C-ute was pretty much quiet, but there was some big news.

The year began with the group continuing to promote their 9th album (which had released two weeks before 2016 began).  They followed that up with a new single, Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou? / Summer Wind / Jinsei wa STEP! and its vinyl cut and spent most of the Spring and Summer months touring before in August where they dropped the announcement that the group would disband in June of next year.

They ended off their 2016 with another single (with no mention that it’s their last), Mugen Climax / Ai wa Maru de Seidenki / Singing ~Ano Koro no You ni~ and that was their 2016.

GREAT SONGS

  • Summer Wind – Even though the whole single was great, I did feel like Summer Wind is a really flowing track to listen to.  Being one of the more mysterious songs of the year, Summer Wind is just something different to me and stuck out from a lot of H!P songs this year.  Plus, hearing everyone tackling something a bit slower, but has an energetic chorus was pretty awesome!
  • Mugen Climax – After the announcement of their eventual disbandment, I was hoping that their first single after wasn’t going to be their last single and so far I’m happy it is the case.  Mugen Climax though would be an amazing way to end it since it was just epic in every way!  Taking a little of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and adding a twist.  It’s goth, but done in an idol-like way that it just seemed to work together!  One of the bests this year!!!

OK SONGS

  • Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou? – As the leading A-side of the single (though it could be argued for “Jinsei wa STEP!” as it has more appearances and such), Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou? was a pretty nice piece to hear from them to show off their more mature side.  I do get a nice Motown vibe from it and hearing Airi really impressed me here as well!  Pretty good A-side!
  • Jinsei wa STEP! – Did we move into more of a nostalgic trip?  I seriously got some vaude-like vibes out of this one and Jinsei wa STEP! was pretty cool and gave us a more sassier C-ute this time around.  It’s pretty quirky though and like I said, gave the girls a much more sly sound for the group, a definite grower that is!

MEH SONGS

  • Ai wa Maru de Seidenki – I was hoping the group’s 2nd single would impress me just as much as the first single, but besides “Mugen Climax”, I was pretty disappointed with the remainder of the single.  The first track quickly reminded me of “Bagel ni Ham & Cheese” and “Tokai no Hitorigurashi” just meshed together and forced to be a thing.  It’s a much cuter song than I was expecting and sadly it just wasn’t quite up to par to everything else the group released.  Oh yeah, Mario Kart for sure!
  • Singing ~Ano Koro no You ni~ – As the song from the single that started the mindset that the group is pretty close to being over, Singing is more akin to them looking back in their careers together.  The tune itself has a nice march-like feel to it and all, but it just seems weird (especially since this isn’t their final song).  I do think it’s a nice song vocally though.  Oh yeah, there’s a very odd inclusion of laughter too…which is bizarre in a slower song like this.

ICKY SONGS

  • Jinsei wa STEP! (Lil’Yukichi Remix feat. Cherry Brown) – Probably the worst track of the year, the vinyl exclusive remix for Jinsei wa STEP! was just unnecessary mostly due to Cherry Brown.  The song itself was shifted to more of a hip-hop sound and that in itself doesn’t suit the vocal melodies from the group.  Then there’s the rapper that really just doesn’t need to be there either.  I will give him that his Japanese was decent, but the two ideas just do not go together!

Predictions from 2015

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?

Actuality: I guess my gut feeling was correct with the group announcing their disbandment during the year.  Though the question of who takes Maimi’s place is still up for grabs

Predictions for 2017: Honestly, with the group only having half a year left to do anything and them now finished with H!P concerts (except their own), all I can see them doing is releasing one more single and a best album (hopefully the same kind of way that Berryz did).

Buono!

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What a total surprise right?!?  The year began with the COUNTDOWN concert that happens each year at New Years and Buono! actually came back together for some performances that night and announced that they would be holding a concert at Budokan in August (a little early if you ask me to make such an announcement TBQH).

So after about 7 months, the hype was building and the trio announced a DVD single, Solatido ~Nee Nee~ right before the concert was held.

Then after that, pretty much nothing…just all member going back to their respective groups and the leading track ending up on Petit Best 17.

GREAT SONGS

  • Rock no Seichi – I actually preferred the B-side of the single a little more as it really brought back the rockin’ vibes that Buono! was definitely known more for in their later years.  I even like they threw in some nostalgic trips in their with the whole p-a-t-i lines from “Bravo☆Bravo”.  It’s got the same bright vibe as I would expect and the trio sounds great!  Wished it was an A-side so it got a proper PV…

OK SONGS

  • Solatido ~Nee Nee~ – As it was the trio’s comeback A-side, Solatido needed to really catch up after their long hiatus and I feel like the song is a bit more poppy than I felt which reminded me of things from their “SHERBET” mini-album.  It’s a good song for them and worth the wait I’d say.

Overall: After Miyabi left H!P with the “indefinite hiatus” of Berryz, I felt like that meant Buono! was also closing its doors too because she was pretty important to the group and such.  Though I was elated when they were forming together again despite that it was only for a big performance, but the single was a nice surprise too!

Predictions for 2017: With both Airi & Momoko now heading towards graduating from H!P, the question of Buono! disbanding is once again in peoples minds, but I feel like it’ll be true with Momoko actually focusing on teaching and Airi with w/e.  I would say maybe a best album but “The Best Buono!” already exists and the trio hasn’t released too much after that album dropped so who knows…

ANGERME

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Going back to last year, it ended with a surprising announcement that Meimi Tamura would be graduating from ANGERME in the Spring and on top of that, watch the newest member Moe Kamikokuryo debut within the group.

It led to the group’s first single of the year, Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku / Itoshima Distance / Koi Nara Tokku ni Hajimatteru to be released and then we said goodbye to Meimi at the end of April

Skip to July at the beginning of the H!P Summer concerts and a shocking reveal that ANGERME gained another member, this time from the KSS, Momona Kasahara and we waited for her debut single to drop in October titled, Umaku Ienai / Ai no Tame Kyou Made Shinkashite Ningen, Ai no Tame Subete Taikashite Ningen / Wasurete Ageru.

Then we cut to November when they released a preview disc for their stageplay, MODE and that pretty much ended their 2016.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku – As the leading song for Meimi’s last and Moe’s first single, Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku was easily the standout song for the first half of the year.  The track is hard-punching and very quick-paced for the girls.  I really do love the song and it just and everything energetic and just epic on all accounts!  Also our first taste of Kamiko’s voice is pretty outstanding!
  • Umaku Ienai – Then we move into the 2nd single and debut for Momona and Umaku Ienai was an interesting track to say the least.  Majority of the song is pretty awesome and has that funky style that Takui Nakajima loves to pull (he also did “Taikibansei”).  Though if there was anything questionable, it was the whole 2nd verse to the final chorus where it felt like an entirely different song.
  • Ai no Tame Kyou Made Shinkashite Ningen, Ai no Tame Subete Taikashite Ningen – As the first song revealed with its PV, Ai no Tame… was our technical first listen to Momona and since she has the first line, she had a pretty OK voice albeit sounds better in the lower ranges.  As another EDM song for the group, it might not have the energy or speed like “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku” but it’s still pretty cool and has a cybernetic, yet mysterious sound to it and I loved that!
  • Wasurete Ageru – I’m not sure why, but when I first heard this song, I was easily reminded of past songs like “Ii Yatsu”, “Aa Susukino”, and “Itoshima Distance”.  I also do love the line distribution in this track as it felt so equal and hearing SO much Rinapuu made me squee in joy!  For more of a serious song, it just sounded beautiful.

OK SONGS

  • Itoshima Distance – As I’ve said about “Wasurete Ageru” above, these two tracks do sound similar and has a similar emotional flow to it.  Though this one has a lot of saxophones running about in its arrangement.  I also do love the line distribution here as well and we have an amazing line from Moe.  Also does it feel like 3rd Gen had a lot of push in this one (not like in “Mahou Tsukai Sally”) but pretty close?
  • Koi Nara Tokku ni Hajimatteru – Credited as Meimi’s graduation track (in the same way Zukki’s was handled), Koi Nara Tokku ni Hajimatteru is a weird one to say the least.  As the first Tsunku song since the group became ANGERME, Koi Nara didn’t really do anything for me at first, but as time went by it did grow a little bit.  It has the quirks that I’ve gotten used to from Tsunku, but that chorus with the shoved lines is a bit gross (not like how bad it got in “Egao no Kimi wo Taiyou sa”.
  • MODE – As the theme for their stageplay, MODE is definitely a change of pace in comparison to their main releases as this song is upbeat and poppy to say the least.  I do enjoy the breezy composition and the girls sound pleasant!  Plus, there’s some small parts that are just cute to hear!
  • Sakura no Uta – I love that Kanana got to sing a rather goofy song in her deeper voice and it was actually a good mix (even if the arrangement could be replicated on a CASIO.  Short song, but I definitely thought it was cute.
  • Hanako no Uta – Then we get Rikako’s solo which sounds like a carnival-like waltz and that impressed me initially and then Rikako started singing and she was playful and her rolling some of the words was cool to hear.  A great surprise coming from a member who isn’t normally toted as a strong vocalist.
  • Michiko no Uta – As the ballad of the OST, Moe’s solo did a great job of showing off her vocals (at least in a more solid setting than the one liners in the main releases).  She sounds pristine and I am excited to see what she’ll be like in the future.  The arrangement is a bit sleepy though, I will say that though, but it was more for me to hear Moe.

MEH SONGS

  • Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku (SWG REMIX) – Despite that all of the vinyls remixes were kind of sucky, I do think Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku had some kind of potential.  It did include some of the original sound, but overall, the track is missing something about it and the vocal melody sounds off with the new chords of the remix.  I will admit, the low-bearing electric guitar is cool!
  • Aiko no Uta – After hearing “Hanako no Uta”, this was was the follow-up and the arrangement felt like it barely changed as it still has the waltz style going but instead of Rikako at the helm, it’s actually Rina.  It’s not terrible, but it just sounds WAY too similar to the aforementioned track.
  • Kayo no Uta – You think I’d be wild for the bossa nova track, but it’s led by Kassa and while I’m happy she joined the group, her voice is just still in KSS mode and it still wasn’t all that great.  It’s a nice try, but I just wasn’t into this one in particular.
  • Believe in Me – Ayacho…I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’d be ever OK with your voice being the only one in a song.  I mean it’s better than I was expecting, but her pronunciation of the title is funny and the arrangement feeling like a pseud0-gospel song is also humorous.  What a strange song xD
  • Oshare wa Onna no Sentoufuku – As it was the only other song to feature everyone else in the tune, Oshare wa Onna no Sentoufuku is a bit more respectable track even if Ayacho does take up a lot of the song.  It reminds me of something that Momusu would release back when they debuted.  That said, it’s not too memorable because it does remind me of “MODE” just a bit much.
  • Fashion Magazine – The final track from the OST is sung between Ayacho, Kanana, and Takechan.  I do like the energy of the track and the chorus is somewhat catchy, but once again it does come off sounding a little cheap for me.

Predictions from 2015

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.

Actuality: To say first, Kamiko did manage to really standout from the group even after the surprise addition of Momona.  Singles-wise were pretty damn good especially the 2nd one of the year.  Still no graduation from Ayacho, but instead from Meimi (which I’m surprised I forgot to mention in the predictions >.<).

Predictions for 2017: Same as I said last year, I’m not so sure where ANGERME will land for the next year.  I mean of course, more growth for Kamiko & Kassa that’s for sure.  With Maimi leaving H!P, will Ayacho become the new leader or will she pass and just graduate?  It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next year!

Juice=Juice

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Like last year, it seemed like Juice=Juice didn’t do quite a lot due to the fact they were continuing on this crazy 225 tour.  Though they did surprise us by being the first H!P group to technically release in 2016 releasing in February.  (Tsubaki’s single came out 12/31 but was ongoing for 1/1 too).  What was made interesting about their first single of the year, Next is you! / Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai was that it was credited as a “NEXT YOU / Juice=Juice” single.

NEXT YOU was the fictional group used for Juice=Juice’s TV dorama, Budokan.  What was interesting is that they also were the only group in H!P to release a digital single in Otona no Jijou which was released in March.

Things got really quiet though for a long time while the group was continuing to tour, but the group announced a new single (which was supposed to release back in August but was pushed back entirely to October.  At least it was released as Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ / KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! / Ashita Yarou wa Bakayarou and they also finally finished their tour in November.

  • (NOTE: As they also performed two unreleased tracks in “Jouro” and “Goal ~Ashita wa Acchi da yo~”, they will not be reviewed until they’re released)

GREAT SONGS

  • Otona no Jijou – Weird that I found the digital single a lot more intriguing and cool as a song for the group!  Despite that it sticks with its NEXT YOU theme (and having “Next is you!” being mentioned in the song, Otona no Jijou really pulls its weight and the lines are quite even, interestingly enough.  It should’ve been a part of the single and not only released via iTunes (or later on Petit Best 17)…
  • Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ – What an unusual song for J=J to release, but I ended up loving it.  I’m really enjoying its EDM sound and how it’s a club vibe but also a ballad in a way (then there’s the chanting to go with the arrangement too!).  There’s only a couple parts that really rain on its parade and that’s the breakdown and the choice to have the song fade-out to end on a weird note.
  • KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! – There was something that really excited me when I heard that KEEP ON would be sort of a tribute to the late Michael Jackson and it really shows with the funky 80s pop that MJ really crowned with.  J=J though sounds great too and has a lot of punch to this song (even if at certain points, members sound INCREDIBLY flat in execution of some lines).  It’s a surprisingly awesome track and really popped out for the 2nd half of the year!

OK SONGS

  • Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai! – As the song from the first single of the year credited straight as Juice=Juice, Karada Dake ga initially didn’t impress me because it did kind of work next to “Next is you!” a bit too much to my liking, but after a while, it reminded me more of “Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru”  It’s a decent song, but they’ve done better!

MEH SONGS

  • Next is you! – I felt like something was off with Juice=Juice’s first single of the year because neither song really spoke to me.  I mean they both were quite EDM-centric and standard for H!P so maybe it’s why they mostly came off as lukewarm.  With Next is you!, I wasn’t sure what’s up with the song, but it reminded me of something Berryz would do.
  • Ashita Yarou wa Bakayarou – We hadn’t had a rockin’ song for quite a while from J=J (at least not since their “First Squeeze!” album) and I don’t where I stand with the song even as we’re going to the final month of the year.  I do like the edgy rock sound it has, but it gets taken away once the chorus hits and then it feels like its been done before.  Change it and I would’ve been loving the song, but the chorus ruined it for me.

Predictions from 2015

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?

Actuality: Sadly, it seemed like what I said above continued to be the name of the game this year.  They did have the TV dorama, but that ended and it was back to the same bout of silence like we did last year (but with less music, because they didn’t release an album).

Predictions for 2017: With their long-ass tour finally coming to an end, it’s really going to be a surprise to see where the group goes next.  It doesn’t seem like things will change (if anything I would be surprised if Kanatomo graduates due to her endometriosis, but who knows)

Country Girls

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So at the end of 2015, Country Girls were still shaking off all the changes from losing Uta and gaining Nanami Yanagawa Musubu Funaki and they started off with their first single with the group; Boogie Woogie LOVE / Koi wa Magnet / Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~.

They then started to focus on their stageplay Kizetsu Suru Hodo Aishiteru! However, in the middle of it all, it was announced that Manaka Inaba would be going on hiatus due to a return of her asthma which sadly led to her having to graduate in August.

The group then continued on and released their 2nd single of the year with Dou Datte Ii no / Namida no Request before in November, then leader, Momoko Tsugunaga announced her graduation for June 2017 to focus on teaching.

Last thing they announced is a new single slated for February 2017!

  • (NOTE: The group did perform 3 unreleased songs in the year; Mousou Rehearsal, VIVA!! Barairo no Jinsei, & Rhythm ga Yonderu Zou!, but won’t talk about them due to not having a physical release.)

GREAT SONGS

  • Boogie Woogie LOVE – As the first A-side of the year from the group and the proper debut for both Musubu and Nanami, I have to say I was really loving the rockabilly vibe here and the energy is quite awesome for a song like this.  Add on that it showcased the two new members quite a lot (especially Funakki who has such a powerful voice already!).  Definitely a flashy song, but sassy and fun too!
  • Koi wa Magnet – The whole single felt like it was split on focus depending on the grouping.  For Koi wa Magnet, it feels like the spotlight was on Manaka, Risa, and Momoko.  That said, the tune is strangely enough more mature and a bit leaning on the cooler side of songs from Country Girls.  I definitely love the arrangement and style (reminding me of some 80’s J-pop).  Though I’ll probably remember this more for being the PV with the cool Manakan dance solo.  Still, awesome song overall!
  • Kizetsu Suru Hodo Aishiteru! – Moving onto the stageplay songs (well, the actually theme for the play), Kizetsu Suru Hodo Aishiteru! brings things back to that rockabilly vibe that was pulled from “Boogie Woogie LOVE” earlier in the year.  Yes, it does include Tsubaki Factory (but the release was specifically around for Country Girls).  Still, this was fun and upbeat and all the members sound exciting just as much as the aforementioned!
  • Okite – Sung by Chisaki and Tsubaki’s Riko, Risa, and Kiki, Okite has a cool vibe too, especially in the beginning with the melodic lines and salsa-like groove.  After the opening bits, we get lines from everyone whose singing in a lower range which is awesome!  Short, but memorable!
  • Taman’nai Summer – Sung from Tsubaki’s Kishimon, and Mai, Musubu, and Nanami…I have to say it might not fit here very well because it’s lead mostly by Yumeno, but either way, Taman’nai is upbeat and full-on rock ‘n roll which is pleasant and really fits Country Girls’ overall sound throughout the year.  Cool track!
  • Namida no Request – So the secondary A-side of the 2nd single they released in the year, Namida no Request seemed to focus moreso on Chisaki, Momoko, and Risa than the other 3 members (who were present).  The song itself is a cover of a classic song from The Checkers.  As simple as it is, I really do love it a lot more than “Ranrarun” as a cover and throwing in saxophone solos from Yanamin was a nice touch as well!  Definitely cute but so very them!

OK SONGS

  • Diana – I really shouldn’t even put it here because the song is a Kisora solo from Tsubaki.  After hearing “Namida no Request”, I can see the comparisons between the two, but this feels more minimalistic in arrangement.  I do like Niinu’s vocals here and the saxes are cute too so it’s a pretty decent track in the end!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Tsukamitai – It’s nice that a couple tracks from the stageplay have more CG members involved like this song which had Manaka, Mai, Yamakki, and Tsubaki’s Kishimon.  The track itself is another rockabilly track from the OST so it does find itself lost in the songs, but by itself it’s quite exciting and I love the guitar solo!
  • Yakusoku Shite ne – The song that really seemed outta place on the OST was the Funakki & Yanamin duet, Yakusoku Shite ne.  It doesn’t like any of the songs and the intro comes off as something a kayoukyoku singer would use in their music.  That said though, the two members sound beautiful together and when they singing two seperate melodies.
  • Seaside Bound – I love the beach vibe I get from this track sung mostly by Yamakki with Niinu and Ami as backups.  It’s fun and bright and colorful, but quite short and I feel like Kisora and Ami could’ve been passed up and it wouldn’t have been a great loss to the song.
  • Dou Datte Ii no – Because “Namida no Request” focused on the older girls, Dou Datte Ii no had more of a lean towards Mai, Musubu, and Nanami here and as such the song is also heavily bathed in rockabilly/rock ‘n roll.  Though it’s probably the lowest on the OK part because I do feel like the yelling in the song is a bit too much even if the arrangement is also a bit repeating after “Boogie Woogie LOVE” and most of the “Kizetsu Suru Hodo Aishiteru!” OST.

MEH SONGS

  • Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~ As the 3rd A-side from the first release of the year  and the one that seemed to focus on Chisaki and Mai…this Linda Scott cover I think tried to convey a certain cuteness that the two members have, but I felt the song was surprisingly short and really repetitive for some reason and it just didn’t totally gel for me.  I did like the PV though with its storyline and the touch of reminding me of “Choto Mate Kudasai!” and “Mahou Tsukai Sally”…still the song is just kind of blank space for me.
  • Honto no Shimai Mitai – A duet between Manakan and Chisaki, Honto no Shimai Mitai is OK, but I’m not the biggest fan of Manaka’s sugary vocals.  Plus, the arrangement isn’t totally strong either, but it has that diner romantic vibe.  Despite that we did get this in the preview CD and thus had more time, I had completely forgotten it!
  • Kore ga Yume Nara – Same kind of issue here, but this time it’s Manaka and Yumeno and the song is a pretty basic piano/strings ballad.  Not much more to say about it sadly.

Predictions from 2015

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.

Actuality: Well the two new members have shown up quite well and did a solid job this year! and “Itooshikutte Gomen ne” did return to regular rotation which is a nice touch!  What I wasn’t expecting was that Manaka leaving and then Momoko announcing her graduation for 2017.

Predictions for 2017: That said, I’m sure when Momoko graduates, Yamakki will be appointed leader, but I wonder if we’ll get new members to kind of boost it back up beforehand to fill the spaces Manakan and Momochi leave behind.

Kobushi Factory

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Kobushi Factory pretty much sailed through the year with no losses or gains, just releasing a single in the first quarter, Sakura Night Fever / Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin / Osu! Kobushi Tamashii & a single during the summer, Samba! Kobushi Janeiro / Bacchikoi Seishun! / Ora wa Ninkimono and then rounding out the year in November, their first album, Kobushi Sono Ichi.

GREAT SONGS

  • Sakura Night Fever – Even though we had our technical first listen of this song from H!P during one of the concerts where everyone was singing (not sure if Kobushi was created then or not, I think they had just been announced as a unit actually).  This KAN cover though was changed to fit the group’s image and I really like that it’s upbeat and just energetic and exciting and deserved its popularity!  Plus it really gave Taguchi some spotlight in the PV so I really liked it gained her some fans!  Still, LOVE this song a lot!
  • Osu! Kobushi Tamashii – While I did say down below that “Chotto Guchoku ni!’s” problem was a lot with the growly vocals, I actually didn’t quite get bothered by them much here.  As the song follows with some Ouendan substance, the track is pretty much what I wanted and I love hearing everyone especially Minami and Ayaka…they sounded amazing here!
  • Ora wa Ninkimono – Once again another cover is on the great list for Kobushi!  It seems that covers are pretty good for them!  I actually much prefer this version over the original Shin-chan version which isn’t saying much because the original was sung by the main character (who can’t sing xD).  Though I do love how much the girls are having fun and Fujii try to sound like Shinnosuke is humerous and goofy!  Definitely a surprising song for me to fall in love with but damn is this exciting!
  • Isogaba Maware – Moving to the songs from their album, Isogaba Maware might start off like a certain band from the 90s that really characterized the Grunge genre, the song quickly moves away and gives into to its poppy side.  I really enjoyed the melody and harmonies of the girls and just the overall rock vibe I got!
  • Kenmei Blues – If there was a song that I thought was just BADASS, Kenmei Blues was definitely the song to come up front and lay out its colors.  Though props to Hamachan, Minamina, and Ayapan for just sounding cool and sassy.  Though the arrangement is neat as well giving me this kind of slight spaghetti Western vibe throughout.  Yeah, this is up there as song of the year for me!
  • This is Unmei (Kobushi 2016 Ver.) – I LOVE Melon’s original version so when I saw that Kobushi’s cover was going to have its arrangement updated, I was worried a bit, but the changes aren’t very changing, just upping instruments and violins.  I have to say that I enjoyed this version even if it is a bit weaker to the original.  Plus having equal line distribution between 8 members here was fantastic!  Definitely a worthy cover for them.
  • Koi no Jubaku – Not gonna lie, but I always wished Berryz would have updated this song with their current vocals (because this was their 5th single and they were pretty young).  Though with that wish shot down, at least we got a second choice by having Kobushi cover it and it’s what I was hoping for with more mature vocals.  It does sound a smidge more to-the-books and less raw like Berryz’ version, but I really liked the vocals in this one!

OK SONGS

  • Samba! Kobushi Janeiro – Kobushi’s song for the Olympics was a definite change of pace for the group moving away from their pop/rock vibes for an actual samba song.  I do love the partying vibe I get from the track and the girls sound good here (and the arrangement is bouncy and fitting too).  Though I have to admit that when the group’s album dropped this song felt VERY out of place and is the only track to lack some kind of guitarwork.
  • Bacchikoi Seishun! – At least Bacchikoi Seishun! sounded a little more like what I was expecting from the group.  Though I am in kind of an area where I felt like Kobushi tackled a similar sounding track (a little bit of “Dosukoi!”, “Nen ni wa Nen”, and “Chotto Guchoku ni!” all wrapped into one track.
  • Zanshin – As one of the slower songs off the album, Zanshin stuck out to me with its harmonica-led opening and its sentimental kind of sound but without making it a ballad.  It’s a solid song overall and really doesn’t have any probems about it!
  • TEKI – I was worried that we wouldn’t get this song (especially with how many unreleased songs there were this year as it is), but we got TEKI finally and I’m still rather lukewarm about it even if I do like it.  What I mean is that the song is ONLY 2 minutes long and while it does cover everything it needed to, I would’ve rather had saw a minute added at least!
  • Kobushi no Hana – So their album ended with a ballad which is no surprise, but was more taken aback that it was chosen to promote the album.  I do like that they did tackle a ballad for once and for the most part sounded nice (though who knew Sakurako could sound SO PERFECT here).  Though I could live without the lyric smashing in the pre-choruses…that was mishandled a bit.
  • Maji Bomber!! – For a Berryz song that demands power and fierceness, I feel like Kobushi’s cover manages to uphold that style and come off quite cool.  I will say that maybe Risako/Miyabi leads were a little more appealing to me and occasionally I feel the straining here in Kobushi’s version a bit more, but this isn’t totally bad.
  • Kawaii Kare – Another Melon song that I love to death, Kawaii Kare was an interesting song as it brought the Melons to a much EDM-ish area.  For Kobushi’s version I felt like they were struggling a bit in vocals especially letting girls like Fujii and Renako take some of the BIG lines of the song.  Though besides that, decent cover, but could be better in time!
  • Icchoume Rock! – Another Berryz cover, Icchoume Rock!, like Maji Bomber!! is OK overall, but the energy is slightly lacking versus the original but I do again enjoy the line distribution for the most part (Reirei could stop doing the growling anytime now…).  It’s a fun live song, but I think studio-wise its got some problems.

MEH SONGS

  • Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin – Not sure why I was so unmoved by this A-side, but I felt like Chotto Guchoku ni! highlighted an overload of a style that I was slightly getting tired of and that was forcing this VERY aggressive & throaty style (aka growling).  Didn’t help the song was pretty repetitive and just not my kind of song (even if the chorus was nice).
  • Mijuku Hanjuku Torotoro – I’m not sure why I got Buono! vibes out of this track, but this one compared to the other new songs from the album kind of felt forgettable and just doesn’t do much.  I do like the intro and the fact that Kanon Fukuda wrote the lyrics here and the rapping section was amusing at that, but overall…it was a bit vanilla.
  • GO TO THE TOP!! – Just like the track above it, I had a hard time remembering it on the album as it didn’t quite offer anything new that hasn’t had been heard before.  Especially sharing some vibes from “Chotto Guchoku ni!”.  The sound does feel a bit more Western like some Disney pop/rock songs, but otherwise the song is kind of meh to me.
  • Seishun Gekijou – I will never understand why they chose this song to cover (originally a duet between Berryz & C-ute for a stageplay).  It’s a simple piano/strings ballad and there’s an extra male voice thrown in some of the more broader points, but I felt nothing for the tune.  It just didn’t work for them and the male voice mixed in with 8 young girls vocals just don’t mix very well.
  • Da Di Du De Do Da Di! – Of all the Momusu songs there are, why did they choose this one from the 2nd album?  Not gonna lie, I was expecting more out of this one because the original had nods to various other songs that the members from Momusu were doing, but since Kobushi doesn’t have that kind of versatility, the song ended up being more blah and repetitive, especially towards the end!  Just a bit disappointing as a cover.

Predictions from 2015

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).

Actuality: Luckily enough, they didn’t lose any members and instead steamed through very strongly with their releases and just overall attitude and I LOVE that they just melded into this amazing group!

Predictions for 2017: Well, I hope they continue strong and not lose anyone that’s for sure!

Tsubaki Factory

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I felt like Tsubaki Factory had the busiest year this year.  They opened up the year with the release of their 2nd indies single, Kedakaku Sakihokore! followed shortly with a full release of their Thank you Very Berry stageplay before finally releasing their 1st mini-album, SOUND + VISION Vol. 1 in May.

They took a small break until August when they released their 3rd indies single, Hitorijime / Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo and not even a week later at a fanclub event, announced 3 Kenshuusei joining the group; Mao Akiyama, Saori Onoda, and Mizuho Ono.

Though they didn’t release anything for the remainder of the year (well, a couple of the members were involved in the Nega Poji Poji stageplay), they are the first group to announce a single for 2017 setting for the debut for the new girls as well as making the transition to major label!

GREAT SONGS

  • Kedakaku Sakihokore! – Released right at the beginning of the year (technically the last day 0f 2015, but it was held to branch into 2016, Kedakaku Sakihokore! was a surprisingly great song for the group!  Considering that I had a full year with this track (was on last year’s Year Recap), it was nice to return to this track.  Still in the realm of EDM as when they debuted, this track just as a lot of punch to it and the duet rap between Kishimon and Risamaru just impressed me a LOT!
  • 17sai – Not going to lie, but I was ecstatic to see this finally make its studio appearance.  As it’s known as Tsubaki’s first song performed as a group, this Chisato Moritaka cover has got a glossy EDM makeover.  I LOVE the beats and while the recording seems very early, I still quite enjoy the peppy beats and cutesy side of the group.  Though, it’ll be interesting how they’ll fit 2nd Gen in.
  • Hitorijime – I was definitely excited to see what Tsubaki would do next after the mini-album and they dropped Hitorijime and what a cool song for the group to get.  It definitely has a Platinum-era MM feel to it but what surprised me a lot was Kishimon who rose to the occasion with her best performance yet!  Not to say the others did a bad job as they handled it pretty well too!  It just surprised me they released the single not even a week before adding new members >.>
  • Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo – Another Moritaka cover huh?  Just like “17sai”, Watashi ga Obasan i Nattemo was given the EDM drench and while many people hate it for kind of grossing the original out, I kind of dug it too even if the sawblade synths were a bit much here and there.  At least vocally most of the members have shown growth (Ami especially).  Cool song overall!

OK SONGS

  • Kyoshitsu ni wa Nani mo Nai wa – Something about the march arrangement caught my attention and then hearing Kiki and Yumeno duet for this track was even better as they’re the two best of the 6 members.  Still there’s the problem of the song being too short and all, but it’s one of the nicer ballads.
  • Yumemiru Kodomo wa Itsuka Shiru 2  – While I’m sure having this song on here is cheating a little bit, Yumemiru Kodomo was laidback and relaxing as a listen.  Though once again, a bit too short and a lot of the song was sung by former Berryz member, Maasa Sudo.  Kishimon is in the 2nd half and she didn’t too bad for the most part.
  • Roku Nichi Bozu no Koi – Yup, definitely cheating with this one because it’s only Maasa singing in the track.  Unlike all the other songs on the OST, Roku Nichi is the most aggressive track and it borders to some kind of punk rock sound.  Weird, but I kind of dug it overall!
  • Ano Subarashii Ai wo Mou Ichido – I know the song is a cover (a shortened version) and that Kisora, Ami, and Risa are once again singing together and Kiichan has the lead here which is pretty impressive for the most part.  Unlike other ballads, this once feels a bit more filled out so it was more complete and decent of a listen.
  • Seishun Manmannaka! – So here we are again with the group’s debut single though it’s on this recap due to it getting an edit from the mini-album release.  I still do like the song even if it isn’t as great as “Kedakaku Sakihokore!”.  The changes are pretty small (mostly derived in the final shouts of ~manmannaka!~ changed from just Kiki in the original to all 6 members in the update).  Decent song, not sure if it was worth the update (should’ve kept it for when the new girls joined tbh).
  • Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~ – As the mini-album was first released at the SATOYAMA event, it was no surprise that Tsubaki would cover this Peaberry song (which was also a redone version of the original Cabbage Hakusho <.<).  Having the Tsubaki members softened the song quite a bit from Riho & Ayaka’s originals, but this song still has the problem of throwing in “Furusato” haphazardly (and not editing it ONE bit).  A bit better than Peaberry’s but still has the GIANT issue.

MEH SONGS

  • Wasuremono – I have to say, while it’s nice that we finally get to hear Kiki get some spotlight, Wasuremono was just a bit boring for me even when Ayasa and Anna (the Engeki girls) join, the song just seemed to just snooze on by for me.
  • Itami wo Close – Kishimon’s solo seemed to be the same way as Kiki’s initially with the boring piano arrangement, but it does change into something a bit more upbeat and goofy.  Sadly the song is a bit too short and doesn’t really feel much completed ended rather abruptly like that.
  • Itsumo Miru Yume – It just seems like the ballads of the play never really left much of an impression and Riko’s solo does showcase her a lot more than I expected and she does show potential.  Still the arrangement is sleepy and kind of passes over me on top of being really short.
  • Onoka Pekoemon – A track sung between Kisora, Ami, and Risa, we finally have a track that isn’t a ballad but something upbeat and funky (and oddly reminds me of “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu” in places).  Problem here is that the song is repetitive like crazy and VERY short too.  I wished it was a bit longer since it had the potential to be good!

ICKY SONGS

  • Oden no Uta 2 – There’s no way to explain it, but this Riko solo bothered me so much when I first heard it.  It’s her, marimba, and accordion.  Very minimalistic and Riko’s voice was pretty cringeworthy here without some kind of help.

Predictions from 2015

Maybe to stick to being an indies group for at least 3/4 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.

Actuality: Wow, I actually got it right with being indies at least til 3/4 of the year gone by (announcing their major debut in February of ’17 in September).  I even called for a new member, I didn’t expect to add 3 into the mix though!

Predicitons for 2017: With the group debuting on a major label, I’m hoping for a smooth debut.  Not sure if the group is ready to lose a member but it could happen and if anything it might be Riko, though it’s just that she’s the only member I’m not noticing too much currently and she now has to compete with 3 new members.

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei / Kenshuusei Hokkaido

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So the Kenshuusei in 2016 were pretty much kept quiet most of the year with the exception of some additions and some losses.

The first big noteworthy thing was in January when the KSS obtained 5 new members in Kurumi Noguchi, Kotomi Ono, Sakiko Kodama, Kirara Yonemura, and Momohime Kiyono.

Then in March it was announced that Miu Takemura had finished her training.

When July hit though, at the beginning of the H!P Summer Tour, after winning the test recital back in April, Momona Kasahara was chosen to join ANGERME.  Then a month later, a new branch of the KSS was announced to be located in Hokkaido on top of Yumei Yokogawa, Nagisa Hashimoto, Momoko Shimano, and Rion Nakano finishing their training.

A couple of weeks later, the members that were going to be a part of the Hokkaido branch were announced; Mei Yamazaki, Haruka Ota, Kanami Ishiguri, Minori Kawano, Ryo Kitagawa, and Hikari Sato.

August came around and a few things happened like Tsubaki gaining three new members in Mao Akiyama, Saori Onoda, and Mizuho Ono and  then a week later adding new members in Ayano Kawamura, Reina Yokoyama, Yuhane Yamazaki, Marie Yoshida, Shiori Nishida, and Rin Hashisako.  

Though it wouldn’t be the last thing because Morning Musume added two KSS into their lineup in November with Kaede Kaga & Reina Yokoyama being the chosen winners.

Add on that many of the KSS were chose to be involved in the stageplay, Nega Poji Poji to which a OST single was released for it.

GREAT SONGS

  • Ima wa Dame – With the release of Nega Poji Poji, I was surprised there was more Kenshuusei members involved than Tsubaki Factory members so I felt like the release itself was more for the former than the latter.  The only song from the preview single that wowed me was Ima wa Dame which was sung by Tsubaki’s Rikoriko and KSS members Kaedii (before she joined MM’17), Horie, Kanatsu, and Kiyono.  I don’t know why, but the song felt so 90s but at the same tim, showcased the girls in such a nice way!  Mostly impressed be Kaede, Kizuki, and Momohime.

OK SONGS

  • Nega Poji Poji – As the song performed by the entire cast, Nega Poji Poji in comparison to other titled tracks to H!P’s other stageplays, I felt like Nega Poji Poji is the most upbeat and idol-like of them.  I do think it gets surprisingly repetitive the longer I listen to it, but if I ignore the chorus, the rest of the song is catchy I’d say!
  • Ima Made Ikitekite Doukou – As the ballad of the release, it was sung by Tsubaki’s Ono and KSS members Takase, Maeda, and Yoshida and Engeki member Onoda.  I thought it was straightforward and simple overall.  I suppose it rides between OK and Meh just because of how plain it ended up.  Though the reggae bit was a nice touch and added some spice to the arrangement.

MEH SONGS

  • Tempura Tabetai – Somehow, I feel like KSS’s Ichioka, Ono, and Nishida and Tsubaki’s Kiki and Risamaru.  It feels like I definitely heard this in a different play before this one with the poppy piano lines.  It didn’t resonate with me and I couldn’t remember it after hearing it.

Other H!P Releases

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Sad to say, but the only other release came in the form of the yearly annual compilation album released by H!P, Petit Best 17.  It did come with a new song, sort-of…

OK SONGS

  • Kiss Yori Saki ni Dekiru Koto (’15 5-nin Ver.) – The exclusive track in question is actually an unreleased song from Country Girls.  That being said considering it’s bracket hints, the song technically was first performed in 2015, before the addition of Yanamin and Funakki and before Manakan left the group.  Hearing the studio version is a lot like the stuff they were releasing in that time period (around “Wakatte Iru no ni Gomen ne / Tamerai Summertime”).  It’s a cute upbeat track and hearing all the members sound decent!

Gains & Losses

Gains

  • Kurumi Noguchi
  • Kotomi Ono
  • Sakiko Kodama
  • Kirara Yonemura
  • Momohime Kiyono
  • Momona Kasahara (to ANGERME)
  • Haruka Ota
  • Mei Yamazaki
  • Yume Kudo
  • Hikari Sato
  • Minori Kawano
  • Ryo Kitagawa
  • Kanami Ishiguri
  • Mao Akiyama (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Saori Onoda (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Mizuho Ono (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Ayano Kawamura
  • Reina Yokoyama (and to Morning Musume ’16)
  • Marie Yoshida
  • Shiori Nishida
  • Yuhane Yamazaki
  • Rin Hashisako
  • Kaede Kaga (to Morning Musume ’16)

Losses

  • Miu Takemura
  • Meimi Tamura
  • Kanon Suzuki
  • Yumei Yokogawa
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Rion Nakano
  • Manaka Inaba

My H!P Member Ranking for 2016

  • 60. Riho Sayashi (-50)
  • 59. Aika Mitsui (-1)
  • 58. Reina Yokoyama (NEW)
  • 57. Haruna Ogata (-2)
  • 56. Mai Hagiwara (-4)

So at the end of the ranking, we start things with Riho.  The reason she’s placed so far back as she is is mostly due to the lack of activity in H!P this year, hell did she even contribute to anything this year?  Add that for some reason she’s still in H!P anyway makes me curious to why she is still.  Mittsi at least did a little bit of work under the company in translating some concerts/performances before she went on hiatus again to focus more on perfecting her English.  After them, Yokoyoko is in the back because despite being the newest member to join H!P, we really haven’t heard her voice yet and with her being a Kenshuusei for less than half a year, there’s really not much info on her yet, so by next year I’m sure she’ll climb up the ranks.  Haachin is definitely showing some improvements, but the lack of focus for the 12th gen hasn’t really been good for the girls this year (except Maria).  She’s still the worst in the group, vocally, but her personality is shining quite nicely.  For Maimai, it feels like she’s over being an idol as she was going from being in a scandal to actually sounding worse than she did in years previous.  I think with the group disbanding next year, I’m actually happy to lose her voice in the company honestly.

  • 55. Mizuho Ono (NEW)
  • 54. Maho Aikawa (-8)
  • 53. Ami Tanimoto (+4)
  • 52. Akane Haga (-37)
  • 51. Miki Nonaka (-11)

Just like Yokoyama, Mizuho has only been a Kenshuusei for a little bit, but at least she had a test recital to get our first full listen before she joined Tsubaki and she definitely sounded a little like Chisato there.  I still do think she’s pretty enigmatic at the moment but that will change when she debuts in 2017.  I feel like Aiai was pretty much in the back this year what with Moe & Momona debuting and such.  She did have some good lines like in “Ai no Tame…” and “Wasurete Ageru”, but she didn’t stand out too much for me this year.  While Ami has shown growth as a member in Tsubaki, she stills comes off supremely green and a bit weak in the group.  With 3 new members having joined, she’s going to have to work harder to stand out.  I’m not even sure what I feel about Akanechin currently because it feels like she has the potential to really be a strong vocalist, but like I said above, 12th Gen felt forgotten this year and Akane’s big moment was the short spoken line in “Mukidashi de Mukiatte”…hope she gets pushed a little in 2017.  That said Miki also had that problem, but she had a bit more lines than Akane.  Her English side is being used, but not to its full potential IMO.

  • 50. Haruna Iikubo (+2)
  • 49. Saki Nakajima (-11)
  • 48. Mao Akiyana (NEW)
  • 47. Maria Makino (+11)
  • 46. Riko Yamagishi (-5)

For Harunan, she more or less stayed in the same setting, she did get more push this year than in quite a while, but she’s still an odd voice to listen to as well.  I feel like her time is starting to come to an end with the group though, but here’s hoping she starts getting pushed a little more.  Nakky once again fell to the wayside for me this year, but it’s not due to anything she did, it’s just that it’s been more of a Airi, Maimi, and Chisato show this year.  I’m hoping their final releases get some push for her.  Maopin is pretty new and we haven’t heard her much quite yet in Tsubaki, but from the KSS test, she did pretty well and won the Dancing award so I feel she’ll be a great dancer for the group.  Of the 12th Gen, Maria got the big push by having lead vocals in “Sou Janai” at the end of the year.  While I felt like there were better singers who could’ve sounded better overall.  She does do a good job selling it though and maybe she’ll get more training.  Rikoriko actually went up?  I actually felt like while she did better than some members, she almost felt invisible this whole year.  Like I said with Ami, with new members, Riko will have to work REAL hard to stand out (especially since she’s leader of the group).

  • 45. Natsumi Taguchi (+8)
  • 44. Nanami Yanagawa (+4)
  • 43. Saori Onoda (NEW)
  • 42. Ayaka Wada (+6)
  • 41. Kisora Niinuma (-6)

Taguchan primarily caught my attention early in the year with “Sakura Night Fever” where she played the main role of the tree and I’m not sure why but since then she’s been in and out of the music (mostly back girl, but she still gets solos).  She’s tiny, but she’s quite adorable when she gets camera time so I’m hoping to see more of her!  Since she debuted this year, Yanamin came out of the gates, kind of meh.  She was overshadowed by her gen-mate, Funakki and only really stood out in “Namida no Request” due to her playing saxophone in it.  I’m hoping to see more about her in the new year, but right now she’s just kind of there.  With Saorin, she has been doing well with herself before becoming a member of Tsubaki Factory.  She had the stint with PINKSS and then her recital performance of “Watarasebashi” (with a recorder solo, no less).  So she’s been wanting to debut quickly and now she will in Tsubaki.  With the recent announcement that Ayacho will become the next H!P leader after Maimi graduates, I was surprised as she’s also close to graduation age.  Beyond that, Ayacho was Ayacho this year, being the last original member from what was known as S/mileage, I feel like Ayaka is letting the other members get the spotlight and sharing the fame with the new girls!  Niinu like a couple other members were having trouble sticking out, but unlike them, Kisora is one of the main vocalists so it seems a bit weird all the same.  I have hopes that she’ll get better once they fully debut!

  • 40. Rena Ogawa (-3)
  • 39. Momona Kasahara (NEW)
  • 38. Rio Fujii (-16)
  • 37. Ayano Hamaura (+2)
  • 36. Ayumi Ishida (+7)

Renako might not be Kobushi’s strongest vocalist or dancer, but her visual appearance is just glowing and you know she’s trying her best and her voice is quite noticeable in the songs she’s gotten solos in which helps her to stand out too!  While I didn’t think too much about her in the first half of the year, Kassa was a little invisible except for the KSS test recital (where she won), but I wasn’t expecting the announcement that she would join ANGERME (especially a single after Moe’s debut AND Meimi’s graduation.  Though she’s starting out OK, a bit better than Maho when she debuted with the group and she has a nice low tone (when she goes for it that is).  Riorio is just a fireball for Kobushi and she was practically pushing her way to the front with her nods in “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” and her Shinnosuke impression in “Ora wa Ninkimono” to powerful lines in the group’s cover of “Kawaii Kare”.  While she isn’t as the same caliber as other members in Kobushi, she’s a force to be reckon with.  Maybe I should have switched Rio with Hamachan but she’s been a pretty solid performer this year and she keeps getting better, especially in the vocal department.  With Riho gone, it seems like Ayumi has been pushed a little more as a voice within Momusu.  She’s still a pretty amazing dancer and while her voice is a bit wonky sometimes, she powers through it and I can’t blame that on her!

  • 35. Rikako Sasaki (-4)
  • 34. Chisaki Morito (+13)
  • 33. Akari Uemura (-6)
  • 32. Momoko Tsugunaga (0)
  • 31. Erina Ikuta (-15)

Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like because of all the ANGERME happening throughout the year, some of the members were kind of pushed back to make due for the new members (and graduating member).  Rikako felt like one of the ones that was hit the most, though she did get major lines in a couple of the A-sides (primarily “Itoshima Distance” & “Wasurete Ageru”).  She still is quite the lead though in dances so she has that to handle things!  For the first time since she’s joined, I’ve started to notice Chii-chan a bit more and she’s getting better too.  Her personality is starting to show and I do like that she’s let her hair down so now she looks a bit more mature.  She’s still outclassed vocally by Funakki, but she’s getting there.  Aarii like I said about other J=J girls were in the back this year with not much to remember them by.  I’m not sure why, but she kind of went under the radar for me (though her shots in “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!” were pretty neat!).  With her recently announcing her graduation, Momochi has had a pretty good run and her help with Country Girls actually has done her much better than her time in Berryz (though she’s toned down that sugary voice a LOT since then too).  Eripon…she just looks so good these days and can really pull off that sexy look (especially in “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu”).  She’s also starting to get a bit more facetime in the group and she nails her lines quite nicely too!  A very impressive showing, but not quite a shocking as it was last year.

  • 30. Mai Ozeki (-8)
  • 29. Rina Katsuta (-3)
  • 28. Maimi Yajima (-20)
  • 27. Yuka Miyazaki (+9)
  • 26. Minami Nomura (-7)

After such a rambunctious year, it feels like my oshi in the group keeps going between Mai and Musubu and sadly the latter one, I do feel her early tomboyish character is starting to die off for a more elegant look and she looks and sounds great still, just the storm of new talent had got the best of her and she dropped due to that.  Same can be said about Rinapuu as I felt like she had her biggest year yet.  She was a surprisingly major voice through their 2nd single of the year and facetime has risen for it.  She has come a long way and it’s great she’s getting her due process!  Not sure why I put Maimi this low this year, but I felt like she didn’t really stick out this year and songs were more focused on Airi & Chisato.  She was in the middle, not bad, not good, just passable I feel like.  Yukanyan for some reason gained a few places, but I still didn’t find too much about her, but everyday she looks so much like Junjun…but she did have some decent exposure in the two singles that were released, but the rest of the group had a bit more to show (once again).  Of the Kobushi members, Minamina sits in the middle even though she is a part of the leading vocals, just not as promoted as much as Rei, Ayaka, or Ayano it seems, but she sounds decent and she has those memorable lines in a lot of the A-sides they’ve done!

  • 25. Rei Inoue (-11)
  • 24. Risa Yamaki (+20)
  • 23. Risa Ogata (+6)
  • 22. Sayuki Takagi (-9)
  • 21. Kiki Asakura (+13)

From being a surprise when Kobushi Factory debuted last year, Reirei seems to have gotten comfortable as a lead in the group and she has pipes amongst the group which is great, but I think Rei dropped a bit from some of the growling that was occurring (I hope they move away from that in the next year).  A big jump for me is Yamakki rise in the ranks as she was pretty amazing this year and she’s gotten to be a more dependent member (especially after Manakan left).  Seeing as Momoko is leaving though, I’m pretty sure she’ll pass the leader torch to Risa and she’ll lead Country Girls well!  Risamaru also seen some growth as she was pushed as a lead in “Kedakaku Sakihokore!”, there’s something about her that strikes me in a good way, it’s like she’s quite talented and she’s hidden some of it away.  Though with new members, let’s see how she does in 2017!  For Sayubee, I feel like she’s a little overexposed in the group being the power vocals between the 5 and the straining is starting to show a little bit even if she’s impressive at tackling those big vocals.  I feel like she might injure her vocals though if this is going to continue for a couple more years sadly…Not only does Kiki remind me of Ai-chan, she’s got impressive vocals despite not having the push yet.  I’m still kind of weirded out by the wonky eyes, but she’s growing on me and she’s quickly becoming a great asset to Tsubaki!

  • 20. Sakurako Wada (+13)
  • 19. Meimi Tamura (-12)
  • 18. Manaka Inaba (-6)
  • 17. Kaede Kaga (NEW)
  • 16. Mizuki Fukumura (+8)

For being one of the more support members of Kobushi, Wadasaku sounds like she’d be more of a center voice but really isn’t for whatever reason.  She really showed her awesome vocal skills in “Kobushi no Hana” and would prefer her voice sometimes over Ayapan…maybe we’ll see a push for her in the year?  Despite having one single before graduation, Meimi didn’t quite have as much fanfare as I was hoping for, but she left on a good note becoming one of S/mileage/ANGERME’s best vocalists!  It was even sadder with Manakan’s sudden departure as she also had one single she was involved in the year.  She was pretty prominent though in all 3 songs and she gave cool, cute, and sassy and it just feels like we lost an amazing member WAY TOO soon, but health is more important, so I understood why she had to graduate.  While it might be a little too early to be placing a new member this high, Kaedii has been in H!P KSS for a REALLY long time and seeing her being added to Momusu was shocking, yet refreshing from the younger crowd joining.  Kaede had a good year otherwise, her test recital was different for her and she sounded just as impressive as she had years previous.  Not to our Momusu leader, Fukuchan, she started to get more push as a lead and she sounds just as good and clean as ever.  I have to say, there’s not much to say xD and it’s not the lack of her doing anything, but she’s keeping a good foot to the group and she’s still quite a joy to watch and she keeps getting cuter for some reason xD.

  • 15. Masaki Sato (+3)
  • 14. Kana Nakanishi (-3)
  • 13. Kanon Suzuki (-10)
  • 12. Moe Kamikokuryo (+44)
  • 11. Yumeno Kishimoto (+14)

I’m kind of enjoying the push that Maachan has been getting and she’s getting more charismatic in her performances which is still giving me hope that her voice will mature in a great way, though this recent revelation of her back issues and her current break is worrying to say the least, hoping she’ll return and be healed to perform soon!  Kanana might not have had the spotlight as she had in previous years, but she’s still ANGERME’s secret weapon with her voice and whatnot.  Considering it felt like Rina and the new girls had a lot more facetime, I hope she isn’t pushed back again.  Ahhh, my favorite Momusu member as of late graduated this year and it kind of came just after Riho did.  With Zukki, it was short timing and we only had one more single to hear her sing and while most of the single didn’t have her up front, we did get “Utakata Saturday Night!” which showcased her quite proudly!  Still a bit bummed about her gone, but I’ll survive!  It seems people forget that Kamiko actually debuted this year though joining the group last year.  I have to say right out of the gate, Moe’s voice shocked me and despite her height, she’s a powerhouse waiting to happen!  Not sure how UFP will handle her in the next year since while the first single focused on her (and Meimi leaving) the 2nd had a bit more focus on Kassa…though Moe had some standout moments too!  After debuting, I wasn’t sure where Kishimon would land, but after hearing her voice in “Hitorijime” I was blown away and she’s got to be the best vocalist in Tsubaki currently (though it could change with the new generation).  Also the short hair she’s donning is very much better looking than the long hair she had.

  • 10. Karin Miyamoto (+7)
  • 9. Ayaka Hirose (0)
  • 8. Musubu Funaki (+20)
  • 7. Sakura Oda (-1)
  • 6. Tomoko Kanazawa (-4)

Kicking off the top 10, we bein with Karin who for some reason managed to creep back into my interests.  Even though as I’ve said, Juice=Juice didn’t quite have the fruitful year that other groups did (mostly because of their tour), but Karin stood out in all the PVs.  Unlike Sayuki, she doesn’t seem to be stressing nor taking her ace role to quite the degree.  Not a bad year for her.  Funny that Ayapan remained in the same spot this year, but honestly she’s doing just fine currently.  Her voice is still one of the major things that powers Kobushi’s songs and she has a cool attitude about it all.  I just enjoy her everytime she has lines as she’s one of the best vocalists in current H!P (not counting C-ute xD).  Though it was challenged easily by the other new Country Girls member, Funakki who just kicked down the doors to impress and boy did she in “Boogie Woogie LOVE”.  Since then she’s kind of become the comedic one and she’s so cute but yet has this awesome voice on her that rivals some of current bests!  I can’t wait to see what will come of the next year!  Odasaku, while still sounding amazing and leading the vocals in Momusu just slightly lost a spot, but she’s consistent and I’ll take that.  I will say this recent pushing of Sakura and Masaki together is interesting, but I wonder how long it’ll take before they try other duet lines.  Kanatomo dropped a few spots due to once again the lack of J=J this year and the small hiatus she took.  Still, Tomoko is a pretty awesome singer and since she’s back in the group, she’s getting lines but Karin/Sayuki is once again taking majority of lines.  Hope things will go better for her in the new year.

  • 5. Mizuki Murota (+16)
  • 4. Akari Takeuchi (+16)
  • 3. Haruka Kudo (+2)
  • 2. Chisato Okai (-1)
  • 1. Airi Suzuki (+3)

Not sure what happened, but somehow Murotan & Takechan rose to the occasion and risen up through the ranks to make top 5 this year for me!  From Mizuki, she looks like she’s naturally loving her position in ANGERME and considering she’s the go-to member for vocals in the group, she’s getting a nice push and really sticking out (plus that smile & wink combo she pulls is infectious!).  Takechan though stepped up as a lead vocalist and it especially showed once Meimi left the group, but it’s cool to see her grow even more from when she debuted in S/mileage.  Duu seemed like she was getting pushed this year and her husky voice was getting easier to point out in songs and her being one o the 3 leads in “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu” was awesome!  Last, but not least the top two are C-ute members!  While I love Chisa, even I have to admit that Airi had to be the top member, but both members really brought it this year vocally and performance-wise.  Airi just outdid Chisato for just being all over C-ute (and Buono!) this year and she just is hands down the best member of the year.  Chisato though was great too and it makes me wonder where she’ll end up once C-ute ends…

Kenshuusei

  • Rin Hachisako
  • Yuhane Yamazaki
  • Shiori Nishida
  • Marie Yoshida
  • Ayano Kawamura
  • Mei Yamazaki
  • Yume Kudo
  • Kanami Ishiguri
  • Hikari Sato
  • Haruka Oota
  • Minori Kawano
  • Ryo Kitagawa
  • Mizuki Kanatsu
  • Kirara Yonemura
  • Kokoro Maeda
  • Reina Ichioka
  • Kotomi Ono
  • Sakiko Kodama
  • Kurumi Noguchi
  • Momohime Kiyono
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Ruru Danbara
  • Kurumi Takase

PHEW! DONE!!!!, let’s see what 2017 will have for us fans!!!

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2 responses to “Hello! 2016! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

  1. Chanting says:

    2016 was definitely a year of major losses (you and me both! Zukki!! T_T).

    It’s hard to believe Kamiko just joined! She is a force to be reckoned with. I love how clean her voice is, and she’ll only get better from here! 😀

    Sakurako’s line in “Kobushi no Hana” was a great surprise for me too, she SOUNDS GOOD!

    I’ll definitely be sad to see C-ute leave, but we’ve got some amazing soon-to-be vocal powerhouses and performers in the ranks to look forward to 🙂

    • solarblade says:

      Yeah!, I’m still missing Zukki a lot, but Kaedii is a nice reprieve 😀

      I also agree with Moe, I was more surprised she was one of the finalists in 12th Gen and somehow didn’t make the cut then, but throw in a somewhat unnecessary audition for ANGERME and BAM XD

      2017 will be quite the year to say the least, I hope there’s just more music (less OST stuff)

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