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

Warp back to 2001…Year Recap!

Ahhh we’re back jumping to the past and taking a look at the year that was 2001 which was pretty fruitful going forward with all the groups and such.  Even going as to making more soloists and further making a name for H!P…so shall we start it up?

Morning Musume

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So Morning Musume is up first and things got quite interesting just from the beginning of the year.  At the end of January, we saw the release of the group’s first best album, Best! Morning Musume 1 then a couple weeks later a release for their fanclub, Morning Musume Fc Special CD which included a message from each member at the time and a solo track respectively too!

Though, during this time, it was announced that Yuko Nakazawa would be graduating from the group in April, but not the company because she wanted to do more outside the group as she was getting a bit too old to handle more of these complex dances that the group were incorporating.

After releasing their next single, the ever-loved The☆Pea~ce! and during that time period though, an audition was being held and it bore 4 winners from it (well, 3 primarily, but 1 was more of a pity addition).  In the end, we got Ai Takahashi, Risa Niigaki, Makoto Ogawa, and Asami Konno.  After that they released their next single (and debut for the new girls), Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ and that brought us to the end of the year!

GREAT SONGS

  • Say Yeah! ~Motto Miracle Night~ – Personally, it was one of the first songs I ever heard from Momusu, so this has got a LOT of bias behind it.  As the lone new track from the best album (and the last to feature Yuko in Momusu entirely), I was kind of surprised at how superhero-esque the song sounded.  It sounds cool, but keeps the youthful sound that the group had recently tried to take over.  Add some Aibon/Nono monologue in the bridge and lines for everyone and you just get an amazing song…a good reason to get the best album.
  • Yoshite, Yoshite… – Getting Yossie’s solo next must’ve been a blessing disguise because I feel like her voice would suit a mid-tempo pop/rock kind of track.  Yossie’s vocals are still quite in a higher register as she hasn’t hit the lower push, but there’s hints of it throughout.  Of the 4 new members, I feel like she got the best track of them but it’s pretty close with another.
  • Renaitte Naani? – Aibon finishes off the album with her solo and I loved the pan flutes in the introduction for sure and the song keeps this laidback sound for the entire way and while Ai has a LOT of room to improve, her first solo song isn’t that bad her young voice wasn’t as overboard like Tsuji’s were.
  • The☆Pea~ce! – As the first single without Yuko, The☆Pea~ce! was a shock to many who were used to getting some normal song with the group finding themselves more comfortable being idols, but this song made the group into a bunch of spazzes with tons of youthful energy.  Of course, the song’s lyrics were also kind of nonsensical too, but it just made the song more fun and ridiculous on top of being madly catchy!  Plus, there’s a nice interlude with Rika-chan so that was her push for the single, but everyone seemed to really stand out in some way from the song to it’s hilarious PV!  One of the group’s best songs!
  • Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ – When I saw that for this song, the leads were going to be between Yossie, Gocchin, and Nacchi…I was floored.  Mostly because this became the song that Yossie is known for because she took on a male persona for the PV and she owned it immensely!  Now, I’m slightly bummed that the newly added 5th Generation didn’t do much for the song (just a solo intro line from Risa Niigaki).  Still, the whole big band vibe and the personality and drive from the leads just push this song to the front of the line!

OK SONGS

  • Manatsu no Tanjoubi – Nacchi’s solo of the FC album kind of runs from being OK to just being Meh primarily because it hits some nice points and the clapping rhythm adds a nice touch but on the flipside, the chorus is a bit too kiddy and the song itself sounds quite dated even in this time and day.  Nacchi though sounds pleasant though and while there’s not a lot of vocal versatility found here, it’s enough to make the song OK in the long run.
  • Anata no Kami no Kaori – If I took “Manatsu no Tanjoubi” and stripped everything except the acoustic guitar, this is what we would’ve got.  Being as this is Kaorin’s solo track, Anata no Kami no Kaori is light and easy to listen to, on top of throwing some harmonica in the arrangement.
  • Marine Sports! – As we get into Marippe’s solo track, I’m starting to feel that most of the tracks involved sound more appropriate for a group like…OH I DUNNO…Country Musume perhaps?  Mari’s is the biggest offender to this because of all of the banjo and country-like arrangement.  Mari though does sound into it and she sounds pretty good.  The song itself works too even if it’s a bit hammy.
  • Gochamaze LOVE – I’m happy that Gocchin’s song breaks from the overdone Country songs for something a bit more playful and somewhat feels like a March.  It’s kind of kiddy like Nacchi’s solo and the dialogue in the bridge is a bit out of place, but the tune is inoffensive.
  • Rikaishite! > Onna no Ko – I guess the same could be said about Rika’s solo and I’m happy that 4th Generation had something to REALLY shine on this time.  It’s nice to know that while Rika-chan isn’t the best at singing, the song she got is a bit more cuter and focuses on her cute act.  It’s still not a song I’ll probably be coming back to but like “Gochamaze LOVE”, it’s here nor there.
  • Popcorn Love! – As the B-side for “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~, I feel like Popcorn Love! while not the better song overall, did a good job showcasing the new members (and for that matter, the members that weren’t the leads in the A-side).  My overall thoughts on the new members is pretty decent, even Konkon managed to sound decent and not as bad as Tsunku was making it out to be.  Even better is that Goto, Yoshizawa, and Abe were the last members to get solo lines so it was funny to me.

MEH SONGS

  • Y.u.u.wa.ku – Being the eldest member and soon to be graduating, I felt like the Fanclub album was nice for Yuko to kick things off, but I wasn’t expecting the album to begin with a ballad.  Though while it’s nice for Yuko to get a ballad, it’s a bit barren and kind of oversimplified.  I do like the piano melody and the beating drums help, but I get this feeling of cheapness throughout.  It’s a little forgettable compared to Yuko’s other ballads.
  • LOVE -Keisan Chigai- – Right from the beginning, I already felt like I’ve heard the arrangement between Kaori & Mari’s solos.  Though I will say it’s nice to see Kei-chan get some spotlight here, but it feels like her vocals gel a lot like Maki’s funny enough.  I’m just kind of over the country songs for now.
  • NON STOP – Couldn’t totally get away from the country arrangement and it hits one of the new members, Nono.  Considering each track off the album is a play on their names, Nono’s track is just a bit abrasive in comparison to the rest of the tracks.  I also didn’t feel like Tsuji sounded all that great and was trying to cute her way through the song.  It’s just kind of bleh xD
  • Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru – Knowing this song is used quite a bit as the ending song for tours, Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru is a song that really doesn’t resonate with me very much.  It’s a positive/hopeful track for the group and the recording makes it sound live even though it isn’t.  There’s also no solos to be found (just mini-groupings).  It’s just a bit corny for my tastes to be honest lol.

OVERALL: It felt like a pretty light year in comparison to the last two years from Morning Musume.  I mean the best album happened, but that only had one new track on it and then we had two singles (one to bear a new generation at that).  The fanclub album was kind of its own random thing (like the “Wake Up Call” album) but I mean solo tracks is always a way to showcase your members, albeit quickly shot down once Yuko left and the four new members joined…weird overall, but it was a OK year.

Michiyo Heike

Seems like 2001 was a little less busy for Michiyo once again.  She kicked off the year in February with her 9th single, Kekkyoku Bye Bye Bye before kind of disappearing until July where she was involved in the shuffle units for the year.  She would finish the year by releasing Propose in November.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kekkyoku Bye Bye Bye – I wasn’t expecting Michiyo to follow-up her last single with another upbeat track but I wasn’t going to argue with it because it’s one catchy song tackling R&B/Dance once again.  I loved hearing Michiyo starting to sing with more power and control and while the song still sounded fresh from the 90s, it’s a tune that I think many of her fans think about (other than “GET”).  What caught me off guard was the gothic-like bridge, but it was pretty badass at the time.  Awesome song for her to get!
  • Propose (Hard Crunch Version) – Interesting that they included a different take on the A-side here, but here we are with Propose again, but this is different in the arrangement.  Instead of the poppy side of things, Propose now has more of a pop/rock vibe with guitars/synth and heavy drums integrated.  Overall, it has more punch than the original and that was all I needed for this song to be memorable!

OK SONGS

  • Ame Ame Yoru – It seems like Michiyo was trying to strike lightning twice with this B-side from “Kekkyoku Bye Bye Bye” and she somehow it missed.  It’s also kind of sounding a bit like what Maki released as her debut so this is feeling almost a clone.  I will say that Michiyo has a lot more oomph to it, but the song is just a smidge messy.
  • Propose – As the other A-side released, she backed off from the R&B and took for more of a calming pop track this time around.  I initially was confusing it for another similar title, “Prepare”.  Luckily it’s not that and it’s just its own thing.  For being a mid-tempo number, Propose is bright and Michiyo is singing in a more higher register this time too and it’s not bad despite not the best place for her.  It’s not bad, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the single she released earlier in the year.
  • Papa to Mama – The B-side to “Propose”, Papa to Mama sends me back to her earlier releases where she had the lighter pop/rock sound (from her first album).  Though it’s standard fare at this point and the only keeping me interested is her vocals as they’re so much better than what it used to be and the cool guitar solo in the bridge.  Nice track, could’ve been better, but this’ll do.

OVERALL: Like I said, Michiyo hasn’t had a busy year with just the two singles, but they were pretty decent singles at best so it’s not like she’s losing too much steam in that respect.  Still, I would’ve enjoyed seeing a little more of her this year considering the additions of more soloists (Maki & Aya).  It just would’ve been nice I guess to see her show why she’s the first soloist in H!P.

Yuko Nakazawa

Moving to our 2nd soloist, Yuko kicked off her 2001 with her 5th single, Kuyashi Namida Porori before jumping back to Morning Musume to finish her tenure in the group in April before releasing her next single, her first as a full-time soloist, Futarigurashi in August and so finishes her 2001.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kuyashi Namida Porori – Hearing Yuko’s next A-side, I definitely started to dig this cool side of her and noticed that she fully ditched her enka roots for something a bit more poppy and up-to-date.  For once it’s not a ballad which for her fans might be a breath of fresh air.  It slightly reminds me of “Shanghai no Kaze” by keeping a smidge of its Oriental sound, but the rest of the song is just a smooth R&B style.  I really found myself liking this song a lot!

MEH SONGS

  • Koi no Kioku – As for “Kuyashi Namida Porori’s” B-side, Koi no Kioku is a much lighter affair as it’s a ballad.  Unlike previous efforts, this ballad isn’t Enka related so we’ve got our straight pop ballad.  There’s some parts that I do enjoy like the non-vocal sections that sound fluid and flowing, but once Yuko sings and the chorus happens, it’s very standard to me and just loses me in almost every way.  She’s got better ballads out there though.
  • Futarigurashi – Even though she did manage to slow things down again for her 6th A-side, Futarigurashi like “Koi no Kioku”, falls a bit behind with its sound.  I do love how confident Yuko sounds and her voice has some power behind it, but the song itself is a bit lacking, feeling like an album song more than an A-side.
  • Kouen Doori no Kissaten – I don’t know why Yuko’s songs have felt lacking, but this was almost OK, but I was bored with this song after the introduction with the acoustic guitar line.  Beyond that and some other places in the song, the rest is just a bit too draggy for me and I was kind of over it.

OVERALL: While it was understandable why Yuko didn’t release much (“FOLK SONGS” and her graduation in Morning Musume), I felt her solo releases were meh at best with the exception of Kuyashi Namida Porori.  I think the shift in style after Yukidon joined really forced her hand and for some reason Yuko got blah releases for it.  I hope her future releases will be better

Tanpopo

Ahh, Tanpopo had a pretty straightforward year after redebuting the year previous.  Of course they released two singles in the year with February’s Koi wo Shichaimashita! & November’s Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru.  That was their year with nothing to big out of the ordinary!

GREAT SONGS

  • BABY CRY – Unlike it’s cuter A-side, “Koi wo Shichaimashita!”, BABY CRY takes more of a chance by having more of a heavier pop/rock vibe in its arrangement.  It also helps that Rika, Aibon, Nono, and Kaori sounds a bit more sassy than normal as well which adds character to the song.  It does go by quick, but it’s an impressive B-side that’s for sure.

OK SONGS

  • Koi wo Shichaimashita! – As the quartet’s 2nd single with the 4-nin, Koi wo Shichaimashita! continues to show off Tanpopo more as a cuter group than the original plan of having a mature group.  It does feel like a retread after “Otome Pasta ni Kandou”, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt anyone.  It’s an OK song and for me it does get catchy once in a while.
  • Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru – Tanpopo doing another wintry song after “Seinaru Kane ga Hibiku Yoru”?  Seems a little weird to me doing it again, but it’s with a different set of girls this time around.  Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru like “Koi wo Shichaimashita!” kind of ended up the same way I felt for that.  The aforementioned Winter song that came before it was a lot better so it made Oujisama kind of blah for me, but its arrangement is a bit more interesting.

MEH SONGS

  • Nenmatsu Nenshi no Daikeikaku – The only song that really didn’t catch on from Tanpopo in the year, this B-side from “Oujisama to Yuki no Yoru” is a bit of a snoozefest featuring an acoustic arrangement and unison vocals through 90% of the song.  I do like when the chorus hits, but that’s really the only area that catches my attention versus the rest of the song

OVERALL: Tanpopo’s year was pretty straightforward with just the two singles (one more than last year xD).  Though I can’t say they left much of an impression in 2001 however since the only track that really popped out was a mere B-side.  So here’s hoping the next year is better!

Coconuts Musume

Ahhh Coconuts Musume, after the shake-up all over last year with losing Chelsea, April, and Danielle and gaining Lehua, it seems the group would finally sustain some sense of stability and they kicked it off with releasing their single, Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen in August after being involved in the Shuffle units that year

(Future message: This would be the last time the group would release anything together after the single as the 3 remaining members went off to do other things in H!P (and Lehua graduated too, but that’s next year).

GREAT SONGS

  • Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen – After going into a weird funk with their last couple of singles, I was happily blown away by Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen by incorporating of the current sound that Tsunku was opting towards on top of keeping the tropical vibes that the group was known for.  While I was still bummed that Danielle had left the group, I think Ayaka, Mika, and Lehua gave their best performance in this song and it’s just a fun and hopping track.

OK SONGS

  • Koibito Boogie Woogie! – I wasn’t expecting the group to have an actual B-side, so this was a bit of a treat to come to.  Even moreso that it’s a boogie-woogie styled song (something that Coconuts Musume wasn’t known for).  Though unlike the goldmine they hit with their A-side, I feel like the trio sound off and a bit too quiet against the arrangement.  It’s an alright song, but Jounetsu was a LOT better.

OVERALL: Short year for the group and would’ve liked more if their sound was going to continue to be like Jounetsu Yuki Miraisen.  At least the 3 were busy with other things to keep things going for a while (Even sadder that it’s what killed the group unfortunately).

Country Musume ni Ishikawa

Country Musume went through a lot this year well in comparison to last year, but after the movie, I felt like they were on the right path.  However, early in the year, their producer Yoshitake Tanaka after going through failed auditions left and right, handed the group to Tsunku.

In April, Tsunku announced that Country Musume would be “borrowing” a Morning Musume member in Rika Ishikawa and changed the group’s name to “Country Musume ni Ishikawa” and released two singles together, Hajimete no Happy Birthday! & Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan.

Then they finished their year off with their first album, Country Musume Daizenshuu ①, which included songs from all four iterations thus far.

GREAT SONGS

  • Hajimete no Happy Birthday! – Just like Tanpopo, it seems Tsunku was wanting to change Country Musume to a more cuter group, but I feel like it works for the trio since it’s just cute and catchy all-around!  Even though Rika was already a well-known member, she added quite a bit here and while it feels like she’s pushed as the lead (though Rinne gets just as much while Asami is pushed to the back).  Still, the song is good and it’s no surprise it’s one of the more memorable songs in H!P’s history.
  • Hajimete no Happy Birthday! (country version) – I didn’t think they’d ham it up further with this Country sound, but they managed to do it with this alternate take of the A-side.  I mean instead of the cute-esque Tsunku arrangement, this one sounds like what it should’ve for the group and I really liked its farmland sounding arrangement and the group sounds better???  Even though I really enjoyed the main version, this version is better!
  • Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan (Hyper Dance Version) – So instead of a country version, we get an electro version of Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan?  Hey, I’m not going to argue with it because it actually worked and it sounds like current H!P but with older voices.  I love the beats more and the melody is nice and smooth as well…a surprise indeed!

OK SONGS

  • Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan – Getting into the other A-side of the year, Koibito wo Kokoro no Ouendan did feel like it was trying to buy off the popularity off of “Hajimete no Happy Birthday!”.  I do like how the song is a bit more thicker sounding and not as sugary cute.  I do like the line distribution here too as all three members share an equal amount of solos.  Still something is slightly off about it.
  • Onna no Ko Toshirabe Time – As the main new track off their first album, Onna no Ko Toshirabe Time is mainly Rinne & Asami singing together with Rika as a special guest (weird considering the group was already “ni Ishikawa” anyways.  The song itself is upbeat and reminds me of the earlier singles, but I’m not quite certain if I’m enjoying the vocals as they’re much squeakier than normal.  Rika has one part really, so it does feel like the actual Country Musume members got to shine here.
  • Docchi ga Kirei Desu ka – The other two songs on Daizenshuu 1 were saved as solos for Rinne & Asami and this one was saved for Rinne.  I have to say that Rinne surprises me more whenever I hear her because she can be so nasally in the cuter songs, but when it gets serious, she sounds really good.  The acoustic mid-tempo track is catchy and really was the best of the 3 new tracks the album had to offer.

MEH SONGS

  • Kataomoi wa Hot Milk – Kataomoi wa Hot Milk is the Asami solo and it’s a bit of a sleeper song for me.  Taken as a mid-tempo ballad, I feel like this song would’ve been better off as a B-side in one of the earlier singles.  Asami’s vocals aren’t all that great either so it’s just kind of a forgetful song.

OVERALL: I was initially worried when Tsunku decided to add Rika to the group (initially it was going to be a rotation of Momusu members).  Though I guess from the sheer popularity the group got after Hajimete no Happy Birthday!, she was chosen to stay.  It was a nice year for the group and the songs were mostly pretty decent.

Petitmoni

Seems like with other groups, Petitmoni had a straightforward year, with only two singles released in year in BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! & Pittari Shitai X’mas!.  That was pretty much it for them for the year!…well besides an exercising video…but that’s beyond the point XD

GREAT SONGS

  • BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! – What’s there to say about this gem?  It may be my favorite song of the entire year.  I wasn’t expecting the trio to release something so spazzy, but also so epic and powerful.  There’s just something that works between Kei-chan, Gocchin, and Yossie here and it was just right timing.  I love how upbeat it is and the energy that’s kept throught the song is just wild and always a ride to listen to…like I said it’s one of those historic H!P songs that everyone has to listen to!!
  • Waltz! Ahiru ga 3ba – What a bizarre track the B-side of “BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!” is.  After the energetic and powerful A-side, Waltz! Ahiru ga 3ba is a bit of an acid trip to listen to.  Like the title hints, the tracks is a waltz which is something H!P doesn’t do normally.  I will say the arrangement is quirky and something I’d dig more into.  On top of the fact that the trio sounds almost hypnotic (might be due to the echoing/layering that’s going on as well).  Lyrically, it heavily feels like a Children’s song, but I kind of dug it all…maybe not as much as I did with the A-side, but this was a pretty good offering for a B-side.

OK SONGS

  • Pittari Shitai X’mas! – Wasn’t expecting Petitmoni to release a Christmas song as their 4th A-side, but here we are.  Instead of the offerings we got from Tanpopo, Pittari Shitai X’mas! is upbeat and idol-like and full of Tsunku-isms (which are starting to leak into all of H!P’s music funny enough).  Unlike the previous single, the song felt almost too expected, like there wasn’t much surprise to it…it’s OK, but nothing totally special.

MEH SONGS

  • Yume no “Tsu・zu・ki” – Moving to the B-side of the Xmas single, I feel like this track drags a whole lot due to the sluggish rhythm and beats.  I would say the good part is that the trio gets to sing a lot more, but the song is kind of droopy and forgetful for me.

OVERALL: After the shaky single that brought in Yossie, they definitely struck gold this year and released two pretty decent singles.  Not much else happened, besides the VHSs but it was a calm year for the group.

Melon Kinenbi

Really not making much of a strong impact in the news-worthy way, Melon Kinenbi has a pretty short year with only two releases (though they had other appearances in other releases like many of the other H!P girls!).  They released Denwa Matteimasu in March and This is Unmei in October.

GREAT SONGS

  • This is Unmei – I think at this point, no one could predict what would come out next from the quartet and they hit gold with their 4th A-side.  It’s a bizarre song having a kind of orchestral deal, but with some surprises like singing in syllables and then building to this epic pop/rock song that flips the song 180 degrees.  Song is mostly Ayumi & Masae, but Megumi & Hitomi get some parts of their own (especially the dialogue in the bridge).  Awesome song and still one of their signature and best songs!

OK SONGS

  • Denwa Matteimasu – As the group’s 3rd A-side, I wasn’t sure what Melon Kinenbi were going to be releasing since A-sides previous have been of different sounds and styles.  Listening in, this song kind of gives me a similar vibe like “Amai Anata no Aji” but less dramatic and more straightforward.  I do like the verses, but I wasn’t ready to figure in that Shibata would get HEAVY amounts of lines here.  It’s Ok, but not too much of a memorable one for the group.
  • Mou Mattemase~n! – The B-side to “Denwa Matteimasu” is a smidge better than its A-side giving more of a unification for the group with equal line distribution.  The thing that keeps it in the OK section is that the arrangement isn’t that memorable, but it does have a bit more oomph.  Ok song overall!
  • Wa! KacchoE na! – After the wild “This is Unmei”, I was curious to hear what could possibly suit as the B-side and yeah it’s a bit of a downer when compared to its leading song, but by its own merits, the song is one of those tracks that I can imagine being nice for live performances as it has a cheery vibe to it.  All the members get lines and it feels as equal as “Mou Mattemas~n!”.

OVERALL: Despite that the group had just as light of a year as last year, the group was a bit more active in H!P so I would say they did better.  As for their group releases, a bit better than last years as well and this awesome gem of a song in “This is Unmei” solidified my interest in them!

Yuki Maeda

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Seems like Yukidon’s shtick is to just release one single a year and she didn’t miss that mark with her lone release in the first day on 2001, Tokyo You Turn.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tasogare miss you – I think of Yukidon’s songs, I feel like this B-side is VERY underrated!  As a B-side, I wasn’t expecting a much more exciting effort from her and with her vocal talent as strong as it is, it worked out nicely for her and one of the surprised that H!P had throughout the year.

OK SONGS

  • Tokyo You Turn – I think it seems that Yukidon’s 2nd single was trying to stray away from Enka and experiment with a similar style that Chinatsu Miyoshi was going towards and its made certain with this single.  That being said, the song definitely had a 90s sound to it but of course the difference was that Yuki had a MUCH better voice.  Considering I’m not much of a ballad fan, this didn’t do too much, but this was actually a decent song for Yuki who was still early in her H!P career.

OVERALL: I feel like she’s majorly underutilized in H!P with only just one single release (especially since it was released on New Year’s Day).  What the hell was she doing the whole year otherwise?

Sheki-dol

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After their debut last year, Sheki-dol pushed forward in their careers with a surprising announcement of a new member in Mami Suenaga in March and so the trio would release their 2nd and 3rd indies singes, Tetteiteki Unmei & Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu. before a twist was announced that not only that Ibuki Oki would leave the group and Saki Arai would take her place and the trio would major debut with the single, Ai wa Muteki ~Hatachi no Yoru no Chikai~.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tetteiteki Unmei – I wasn’t expecting the trio’s 2nd indies to be such a winner for me.  It continues to bring the pop/rock sound that the duo debuted with, but it threw in some sitars and some cool chanting moments that really stuck to me.  I’m a bit surprised that despite being the new member, Suenaga had the most lines.  Either way, this song was pretty interesting and had a pretty cool PV (for something in the early 00’s).

OK SONGS

  • Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu. – Probably their most well-known song (due to it being a tie-in to Crayon Shin-chan).  Unlike the charged up previous A-side, Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu. tries to keep their pop/rock sound but make it more cute and playful.  I do appreciate the better line distribution here, but something about the song feels lacking to me.
  • Ai wa Muteki ~Hatachi no Yoru no Chikai~ – As the group’s major debut, I was kind of hoping to see something that leveled up to “Tetteiteki Unmei” or even better, but this song is kind of just in the middle.  For its time though, this song sounded unique in Hello! Project an I could compare this to something Buono! has done in recent times.  The only drawback though is its sung in unison so there’s literally no way we could’ve tell newcomer’s Saki Arai vocals here (and there was no PV either).
  • Ganbacchaumonnee! – Oh hey, another loud song that sounds like it would be fun to hear performed live!  It’s a pretty bumpy song with a solid drive and despite the trio not having strong vocals, they use it in a way that could be saved for chants and performances.  I will say the marching bridge with the dialogue was a bit out there, but the guitar solo was awesome!  Overall, not bad…but really the trio’s major debut did nothing to show off the group’s vocals singularly.

MEH SONGS

  • Tetteiteki Unmei -Destiny Version- – So we get an alternate version of Tetteiteki Unmei that changes a lot of the arrangement around that it seems rather foreign compared to the original cut.  I think the more acoustic sounding arrangement isn’t all that bad, but trying to work in the vocal melody (and how loud the girls are supposed to be) feels juxtaposed and really doesn’t mesh well in the long run…Nice try I guess?
  • Koi wa Moshou! – As the B-side to “Zentaiteki ni Daisuki Desu.”, I kind of figured, it wasn’t going to be as interesting to me and I was right.  It’s a slower song for the group, but with more of that sound that they had in their debut which wasn’t helping much here.  Add on that the tune is sung in unison and I’m kind of just bored of it.

OVERALL: I liked that the group got a bit more effort put in this year after their debut, but was surprise by the additions of both Suenaga & Arai and loss of Oki.  Great that they managed to get a major debut and I hope to see more of this trio in the next year (Oh how wrong this turns out…).

Minimoni

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So going back to last year, Mari Yaguchi had asked to make a group of girls that were short and Tsunku allowed it initially giving her Nozomi Tsuji Ai Kago but later was given Coconuts Musume’s Mika Todd as the final piece of the puzzle and so Minimoni was formed.

2001 came through and the group started their official activities as a group beginning with their debut single, Minimoni. Jankenpyon / Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! and followed it up with their follow-up single, Minimoni. Telephone! Rin Rin Rin / Minimoni. Bus Guide.

In December, a sort-of? spin-off group was formed to promote mostly for the anime series, Hamtaro with a group named Minihams (which is just Minimoni still) and released their first single, Minihamazu no Ai no Uta.

GREAT SONGS

  • Minimoni. Jankenpyon – For the first group to debut in H!P in 2001, I was curious because it had an interesting set of girls working together.  What I wasn’t expecting was cutesy children’s music for them especially since Marippe & Mikapon have sung more mature songs in the past so it was a BIG shift for me.  Though once I shook off the genki scare, this song ended up being surprisingly catchy and ridiculous for the right reasons.
  • Minimoni. Bus Guide – I guess off their 2nd single, I kind of preferred this song over the telephone song because Bus Guide was cute, but it had some depth to it and had a bit more effort and a unique sound to it.  I do like that the group is also singing here whereas in the aforementioned, was just doing more chanting.

OK SONGS

  • Minimoni. Telephone! Rin Rin Rin – How do you follow-up such a funny debut?  I guess by doing it again, but they definitely kiddied it up for this one which is based around a ringing telephone.  This is kind of where I drew the line for silly, fun songs and just WAY too kiddy for my tastes and this is the crossing line because while it has moments that were catchy and cute, it was definitely hammed up to maximum.  So I can only say its just OK, but nothing that’s going to be permanently placed on my iPod.
  • Minihamazu. no Ai no Uta – I wasn’t sure what the direct difference from regular Minimoni songs to the Minihams songs, but honestly that’s why I put them together.  Minihamazu. no Ai no Uta is definitely peppy and cute as usual, but I feel like vocally, it’s a smidge underwhelming, but I do like some of the song like the prechorus and the chorus is cute AF.
  • Minihamazuntakatatta! – Funny enough, when I first heard this B-side, it reminded me A LOT of “Summer Reggae! Rainbow” with the tropical vibes and chords occasionally.  It’s a bizarre song and the quartet are goofing off more than they usually do.  Not bad and I might consider this more than the A-side actually.

MEH SONGS

  • Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! – As for the other A-side from their debut, I think I wasn’t into this one as much due to that it was a bit more safe but at the same time kind of goofy since it was strangely enough about seasons.  Something about Christmas and then something about tempura.  I don’t know, it just didn’t stand out to me in comparison to “Minimoni. Jankenpyon”.

OVERALL: As the first year for Minimoni, I will say I wasn’t expecting a Children’s group to be created and yet get SUPER popular after their debut!  So far musically, it’s just been really cute and very sugary in comparison to most of H!P so they stick out, but it seems like a VERY niche style as well…

Maki Goto

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So it seems from the sheer popularity Gocchin had during 2001, it seemed that Tsunku decided to give her a solo career and in March, debuted with Ai no Bakayarou and followed it up with Afurechau…BE IN LOVE in September!

OK SONGS

  • Ai no Bakayarou ~trance trip version~ – I was surprised we’d get a remix of Maki’s debut instead of a proper B-side and I actually easily prefer it to the original mix because the slower tempo and cooler vibes is much more fitting and has a lot more interesting moments as well.  The high notes aren’t as annoying or out of place either so all in all…awesome remix here!
  • Afurechau…BE IN LOVE – Boy does this sound throw me back to the days where Western artists had this kind of R&B/Pop mix.  It’s not a split like “Ai no Bakayarou” was, but this song really shows off Maki’s vocals (if not slightly weak with the squeaking).  Definitely a 90s pop track through and through.
  • LIKE A GAME – As Maki’s first official B-side, LIKE A GAME is following up “Afurechau…BE IN LOVE” with another song that feels like a throwback to 90s music (granted this is 2001, so the shift wasn’t too nostalgic I bet in that time).  I do like the sounds and arrangement and Gocchin delivers vocally a bit more strongly than she did with the A-sides.

MEH SONGS

  • Ai no Bakayarou – For being Gocchin’s solo debut, Ai no Bakayarou is interesting because it seems that Tsunku is paing her as the R&B/Pop artist but mixed in some ethnic bells and whistles to a dance beat and we have this for a debut song.  It’s not a bad song persay, but my only qualm is Maki can’t do this super high notes that are prevalent in the choruses of the track and they kind of ruin the song for me, personally.  I get that this is a big song for hers, but ugh…

OVERALL: Being the debut for her after her rising popularity was reaching fever pitch, I guess it was going to happen that Maki would get a debut on her own.  For the most part it went smoothly and nothing out of the ordinary.  Two OK singles overall.

Aya Matsuura

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From last year, we had auditions and ended up with three winners, two of them went on and formed Sheki-dol while the last was Aya Matsuura and was held back from debuting a little while to get herself just right for her solo debut in April with Dokki Doki! LOVE Mail and followed it up with 3 more singles in the year; Tropica~l Koishite~ru, LOVE Namida Iro, and 100kai no KISS.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tropica~l Koishite~ru – Just on her 2nd single and somehow she struck gold with this song that upped the energy and happiness and really made Aya stand out amongst the other soloists with a summery and bright song.  It’s a great song and a good follow-up after her debut!
  • Yuugure – Even the B-side from her 2nd single was able to stand out a lot to me with its lighter affair and interesting use of layering in her vocals so it sounds a bit retro and like something from the 70s.  There’s just something ethereal and soothing about this track that just worked and made a nice contrast to “Tropica~l Koishite~ru”.
  • LOVE Namida Iro – Taking things a little bit differently than the previous two A-sides, LOVE Namida Iro while still upbeat feels more like a smidge serious of a song, but still carries itself lighter with its poppy vibes and funky instrumentation.  It’s another one of her big songs and I can see why…it’s just that decent!

OK SONGS

  • Dokki Doki! LOVE Mail – I was curious to see what Ayaya would find herself in the list of soloists that already exist and it seems she gets the upbeat pop songs.  For a debut song, it’s not bad at all, but it doesn’t quite ring out to me like many other debut songs have in the past/future.  Aya’s vocals are cutesy, but not genki and sugary as they can get.  It’s a decent beginning!
  • Machiawase – As the B-side to her debut single, Machiawase made me think she was taking a page from Gocchin’s sound with 90s R&B sound, but there’s something light and pure about this one.  Ayaya also sounds really pleasant and like an innocent idol who just debuted!
  • OO Joshi Kousei no Shuuchou – As the B-side to “LOVE Namida Iro”, I wasn’t expecting Ayaya to drop a pop/rock track, something she hasn’t done yet into the fold.  Though, I have to say it’s not one that really stuck to me despite it already feels like Aya is more confident in her vocal skills which is awesome to see.  It’s alright, but definitely B-side material.
  • 100kai no KISS – As the 4th A-side she released just in 2001, I wasn’t surprised it was touted as the wintry mid-tempo ballad!  The song itself feels a bit light for my tastes and the small R&B boops and sounds like in “Machiawase” make a reappearance and it kind of feels a little odd.

MEH SONGS

  • MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU – Ok, so maybe the B-side to “100kai no KISS” was more of a Christmas tune, but good lord was this a song that didn’t really need to happen.  The arrangement is a bit too droll and while I like Ayaya once again singing under light filters like in “Yuugure”, the song just puts me to sleep and she does way too much of the ~la la la~-ing in this song so it really became a bother.

OVERALL: It seems a lot of Tsunku’s interest this year went straight to Ayaya with 4 singles on her own this year!  It worked out because her leading songs have been really nice through the year.  I wonder how well she’ll do during her 2nd year!

Rika Ishii

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Well, it’s a bit odd to hear, but kind of in a quiet way H!P had added another girl to the family in Octover, one Rika Ishii who initially started out acting under Up-Front before being chosen to become the Douyou Onna, meaning that she was going to be involved with the first Douyou Pops album.

Other H!P Releases

Together! -Tanpopo・Petit・Mini・Yuko-chunatsupaartysummerreggaedancingmatsuriLOVE Century -Yume wa Minakerya Hajimaranai- 8folksongsThe Douyou Pops 1 Christmas to Fuyu no Uta Shuupetitbest2Cover Morning Musume ~Various Artist Covers _MORNING MUSUME

Going into the other Hello! Project releases that were released in 2001, there was quite plenty to have dealt with.  Kicking things off is a surprising quadruple/split compilation release between Tanpopo, Petitmoni, Minimoni, and soloist Yuko Nakazawa with Together! -Tanpopo・Petit・Mini・Yuko-.  Taking their best known songs and some surprises within it!

Next up was the return of the shuffle units with theming of Matsuri split between all of them!

  • 3nin Matsuri – (Rika Ishikawa, Ai Kago, Aya Matsuura) – The first one is with the smallest amount of members which included new H!P member Ayaya.  They were given the upbeat summer song, Chu! Natsu Pa~rty.
  • 7nin Matsuri – (Michiyo Heike, Mari Yaguchi, Ayaka Kimura, Asami Kimura, Ayumi Shibata, Lehua Sandbo, Maki Goto) – The middle group, this reggae-inspired group of course took up the mantle of this Caribbean genre of music with their song, Summer Reggae! Rainbow.
  • 10nin Matsuri – (Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Kei Yasuda, Rinne Toda, Mika Todd, Megumi Murata, Masae Ohtani, Hitomi Saito, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Nozomi Tsuji) – Finally, this big grouping came together to celebrate Japanese matsuris with their song, Dancing! Natsu Matsuri.

Of course, Momusu had started to do stageplays and of course they had some help from various other members of Hello! Project on their play, LOVE CENTURY -Yume wo Minakerya Hajimaranai-.  (will not review the songs here)

Next thing up was actually a surprise considering that Sayaka Ichii had graduated from H!P/Morning Musume, so when FOLK SONGS an album released as a duet release between Yuko Nakazawa and herself, it definitely took interest, despite the album is a cover album.

I guess you can say the same about the next release, The Douyou Pops 1 Christmas to Fuyu no Uta Shuu which is also a cover album, but the difference here is is that it’s current H!P members covering Children’s songs that pertain to the holiday season.

Of course, getting closer to the end of the year, it seems that the Petit Best made a return with Petit Best 2 ~3, 7, 10~

Though it wouldn’t close out the year without some SUPER bizarre release, but at the year’s end we have this tribute album sung by Americans called Cover Morning Musume ~Various Artist Covers “MORNING MUSUME”!~.  Of course I’m not going to review this because this is non H!P members singing H!P songs xD.

GREAT SONGS

  • Chokotto LOVE (2001 Version) – Starting with songs from the singular quad release compilation.  It seems we get updated cuts of a couple songs and this one from Petitmoni really doesn’t do too much besides swap out Sayaka with Yossie’s vocals.  Otherwise, the song is still remotely the same and still upbeat and cute to listen to!
  • Dancing! Natsu Matsuri – Who knew the group with the most members would be the ones to strike gold this year.  Something about this group tackling the actual Japanese matsuri sounds and ideals is pretty awesome and while 10 members seemed pretty big, they sounded together and exciting.  Mix that with a punchy arrangement and hilarious moments and we get this awesome song!
  • Kono Hiroi Nohara Ippai – As the first track off the FOLK SONGS album, I really wasn’t expecting an ethereal, space-like arrangement to kick things off especially since it’s a cover album and what not and the knowledge of hearing Sayaka’s voice again was really nice!  It does open to more of a pop/rock kind of session and it’s a pretty decent track.  Yuko does come in, but her voice isn’t the one the song is focused on.  It’s a nice track to open the album and get reacquainted with Sayaka.
  • Ano Hi ni Kaeritai – Seems we finally hit our first solo from FOLK SONGS with a café-friendly track from Sayaka.  What I mean is this song is taking from Mediterranean music with the light and brisky arrangement and fluttery flutes that pop in and out in occasion.  Icchan’s vocals are just relaxing and very pretty to hear.  It’s one of the standouts! 
  • Furusato – To those that felt Momusu’s original Furusato was too much Nacchi and not enough members, we do somewhat get a reprieve with a self-cover of it on FOLK SONGS which is sung by Sayaka and Yuko (both of whom were in the original recording, mind you).  The arrangement was toned down a bit with synth flute and acoustic guitar/piano/light percussion and sounds a bit more natural.  I will say the two sound beautiful in the verses, but they kind of sound rough doing the chorus together for some reason.  It’s a decent self-cover overall!
  • Aru Hi Totsuzen – At least there’s an upbeat track on the album like the opening tune and unironically it’s once again a Sayaka solo with Bamba Hirofuni (the male vocalist here). It’s catchy and the duet actually feels like a decent duet as well…the only qualm is that it doesn’t even make 3 minutes so it’s a quick track for the album.
  • Shuushifu – I don’t know why I like this baroque, but R&B-like track, but as the only song to include both ladies with a 3rd artist (Takao Horiuchi), this was probably the biggest surprise on the album (besides the self-cover of “Furusato”).  The beat is cool and the mood is sensual and somewhat mysterious and Yuko and Sayaka are just great here!  It’s probably my favorite song off this album!
  • MERRY X’MAS FOR YOU (holly night version) – I was surprised to see that an Ayaya B-side was going to be on a Petit Best, more or less getting a new version.  I’m not too big of a fan of the original since it’s just boring and plain to me, but this “holly night” cut snips off the instrumentation and replaces it with jingle bells and some ~oooohs~.  It’s very soothing to the ears and Ayaya sounds pretty as well…this is definitely the preferred version!  Also, it’s shorter too!

OK SONGS

  • Tanpopo (2001 Version) – Unfortunately, I can’t say that the updated cut of Tanpopo (which is now sung with Aibon and Rika and no Ayappe) isn’t quite as smooth sounding.  Tanpopo as a song felt mature and suited more mature vocals so it really didn’t feel right hearing Ai or Rika as their vocals were both higher registers than the original remaining members.  I mean it’s not terrible, but the original kind of sounds more fitting to the original trio than the updated quartet.
  • Akai Nikkichou (by Nakazawa Version) – I was pretty surprised to see a solo cut of Akai Nikkichou being present on the compilation here and like the Petitmoni/Tanpopo tracks, I was just expecting just Yuko singing over the original’s arrangement, but it has a different set of sounds going on and Yuko does a Japanese take of the intro dialogue (the original of course had Danielle do it in English).  What I can say is that, it’s pretty decent of a self-cover, but I don’t think the arrangement needed any updating.
  • Chu! Natsu Pa~rty – With the shuffle units, I was pretty curious with the theme of Matsuris and with the smallest shuffle unit including Aibon, Rikachan, and new member Ayaya, it was definitely a summer song to witness.  It’s definitely cute and the higher, squeakier vocals suited the bubblegummy sound I got.
  • Koibito mo Inai no ni – Unlike the opening track to the album, Koibito mo Inai no ni is probably the first thing I thought of when the title FOLK SONGS was announced because I was thinking lowkey songs that would fit in some campfire, like “Hello! Mata Aou ne”.  I hear a lot of Ichii over Nakazawa still…though this song was as memorable to me.
  • Aki Demo nai no ni – At least 3rd song from the album and we finally get some spotlight with Yuko.  I’m liking the lighter atmosphere with focus on acoustic guitar and piano with some light percussion to fill in the spaces.  I really do like how Yuko and Sayaka mesh with their soft vocals especially with Yuko being pushed more forward.  I also liked the bridge but I couldn’t place what the instrument was?  Either way, pretty song.
  • Matsu wa – I knew this song was familiar to me (in the future, W would cover this as well).  Anyways, Yuko and Sayaka’s cut of Matsu wa is slow and relaxing to the ears and gives me faint R&B vibes but also this light pop vibes.  After a while the song does start to feel like it’s dragging its feet, but considering I already like this song (thanks to W), but vocally this is pleasant!
  • Hana to Ojiisan – We get another Sayaka solo and this one gives me a playful vibe with a bit of a circus vibe for some reason, but there’s something new here to deal with and it’s the fact that Ichii is not alone but with a male singer, Jiro Sugita.  He doesn’t really do too much other than to harmonize with Sayaka in certain lines.  It’s an interesting song, but nothing that stays in my mind.
  • Toki ni wa Haha no nai Ko no You ni – There’s something mysterious about this Yuko solo, but at least it woke me up after getting through “Nagoriyuki” with it’s crooning strings and interesting rhythm & beats.  It’s also a smidge draggy with no chorus to really speak of and the arrangement doesn’t go anywhere either, but Yuko’s vocals were dreamy and the song wasn’t too long (ends at 3 minutes).
  • Salvia no Hana – As the last solo from FOLK SONGS, Sayaka once again gets a bit more of an interesting track that has more than just the basic instruments by having some synths involved.  Though the bridge is what caught my attention by including electric guitar.
  • Tsubasa wo Kudasai – As the final track from FOLK SONGS, I wasn’t expecting the duo to cover an anime track, but it’s a different take because it’s more of a ballad than various other covers of this song.  It’s the closest to sounding somewhat like an idol track and the rolling drums in the verses are unique here.  Not bad, not bad.
  • Jingle Bell – Opening the Douyou Pops album, we start off with a Christmas song that everyone knows somehow, someway, Jingle Bells (or Jingle Bell for some reason here).  Featuring Marippe, Coconuts Ayaka, Ayappe and new H!P member, Rika Ishii the song is what you’d think it’d be.  Nice that all 4 members have equal lines and I’m impressed by Ishii for her first stint in H!P.
  • Akahana no Tonakai – Aibon, Makochan, and Coconuts Ayaka sing together for their cut of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and I have to put a warning that all the arrangements from “FOLK SONGS” and moving to this album, it’s heavily cheesy and CASIOs are just running rampant through the songs here.  This tune sounds cheap, but luckily the trio sound nice.
  • Santa ga Machi ni Yattekuru – Hearing saxophones in a song like this is always nice to hear and this is a rather nice rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town (though once again, they changed the lyrics out from the original, for some odd reason). Plus it helped that they chose some good singers to tackle this from from Kei-chan, Coconuts Ayaka, Rinne, and Ayaya, so this may be my favorite from the album!
  • White Christmas – It’s something when you get some of the better H!P vocalists for a song, but they kind of knocked out of the park with this rendition of White Christmas.  Yeah, the song has always been a slow crawl of a song but Nacchi, Ai-chan, and Mika did a pretty nice job of it.  Even better that Mika’s part is entirely in English and she sounded amazing!
  • Kiyoshi Kono Yoru – The Douyou Pops album ends with everyone getting together to sing Silent Night and it’s non-offensive in such a good way!  It is interesting to note that the remaining Country & Coconuts Musume members get to sing the English passage of the track, but otherwise it’s a nice chorale and good closer to this odd album.

MEH SONGS

  • Summer Reggae! Rainbow – 7-nin Matsuri’s song was a total surprise (well not really because of looking at the title), but H!P tackling Reggae music just seemed so out of left field.  On top of taking Gocchin, Marippe, Michiyo, both Kimuras, Ayumin, and Lehua here, it felt like an odd coupling of girls.  Despite the song being incredibly corny and the music feeling a little cheap, that chorus is rather catchy.  Though I think that bridge is terrible XD…no more Tsunku!
  • Hello! Mata Aou ne (3-nin, 7-nin, 10-nin, 20-nin Matsuri ver.) – Found as the B-side to all 3 shuffle unit singles (and the 20 on “Petit Best 2”), Hello! Mata Aou ne, is for all intents and purposes a campfire song and it shows right from the intro.  It’s somewhat cute with the whole sing-a-long vibes I get, but I can see why H!P has mostly forgotten about this track.
  • Kamome wa Kamome – One of the more forgettable tracks is this Yuko solo from FOLK SONGS as it’s kind of the bare minimal arrangement that most of the album had already contained.  Yuko does sound pretty, I’ll give it that.  It’s just that the song otherwise is one that would put me to sleep easily.
  • Nagoriyuki – I figured there would be another song to kind of put me asleep and it’s another Sayaka solo but this one suffers from minimal arrangement with just light strings & acoustic guitar.  I just couldn’t remember the melody after I had listened to it, but the song just flew over my head.
  • Aa~ Yokatta – Yup, another case of a song that just is a bit too simplified and just doesn’t stick to me like other songs had.  Piano/acoustic guitar is just a bit overdone here and the tone of the song itself just doesn’t lend itself to particularly stick out amongst the other songs from the cover album so it too also flew over my head.
  • Shiroi Iro wo Koibito no Iro – Didn’t W also cover this song too?  Either way, after the boring “Aa~ Yokatta”, this song decides to walk right in and throw banjos into the mix.  H!P and banjos don’t really mix well together and it still stands despite that Sayaka and Yuko sound good (especially since Yuko leads the harmonizations).  Still…this is still a bit cheesy.
  • Santa Claus ga Yattekuru – Here Comes Santa Claus is funny enough a lot shorter than I remembered as a child, but here we are and this (and most of the songs are SUPER short when it comes to Douyou Pops albums).  Sung by Yossie, Aibon, Asami, and Ishii, this is a smidge embarrassing, mostly coming from Yossie’s quips in the track…like…your “Mr. Moonlight” stuff doesn’t belong here lol!
  • Yuki ga Odoru – Considering this is based of a Czech song, this song feels odd on the album.  Sung by Marippe, Gaki, Charmy, and Asami….it’s such a simple, but kind of annoying song and the vocals (especially between Charmy & Asami) were rough to say the least.
  • Kaze mo Yuki mo Tomodachi da – Yeah, this is Frosty the Snowman here sung by Nacchi, Gaki, and Ishii.  Granted, lyrically it’s not Frosty, but something a bit more generic?  I don’t know, but it’s nice that Nacchi and Ishii gets some decent lines and they both sound decent and Gaki as young as she was then didn’t sound too strong, but could hold her own?  Still the tempo felt slow and kind of frumpy sounding too…meh…
  • Mama ga Santa ni Kiss Shita – What a scandalous song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is and once again shifting lyrics around, but this felt cheap like the “Frosty the Snowman” cover was lol!  I do like the 4 ladies (Kei-chan, Tsuji, Rinne, and Mika) get equal line distribution…I was so tuned out from it all.
  • Omedetou Christmas – I have to say, I love the music box sound of the opening and ending of this cut of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and all and even better when Mika and Coconuts Ayaka sing the first passage in English, but once Konkon, Kaori and Asami join in they sound really rough together…I think if they left those 3 out, this would’ve been much higher up.
  • Morobito Kozorite – I kind of was surprised to hear pipe organ open up this take on Joy to the World as it sounded dark and foreboding, but then the goofy H!P cheap horns kick in and the song kind of just throws the song on the floor.  I mean oddly enough Kaori is the only one of the 5 involved to have solo lines.  I will say it’s nice to see Mikapon & Coconuts Ayaka have an English set (though the yelling was bizarre too).  Just left Asami and Ishii to kind of sit back.  Kind of a cringey cover if you ask me.
  • Yuki – As the other song given a PV (“Akahana no Tonakai” being the other), Yuki featured Rinne, Tsuji, and Konkon for this one and learning this is a Japanese song that was to kids in education, it’s nice they included that here.  Though, the vocals were just absurdly high-pitched, even Rinne who was the eldest in the song sounded just as squeaky and annoying as Tsuji who was on full effect annoyance (hell, to say that Konkon didn’t bother me is saying something!).
  • Oshougatsu – Moving onto songs that deal with New Year’s, Oshougatsu is a REALLY short song that features Yossie, Rinne, Coconuts Ayaka, and Ishii and it’s a surprise that the latter two have more solos than the more popular members.  It’s boring and plain and just didn’t resonate with me.
  • Ichigatsu Tsuitachi – I thought “Oshougatsu” was short, but this song feels even shorter.  The thing I do like is that it has a nice Matsuri-esque sound about it and Gocchin, Makochan, Charmy, and Ai-chan have equal lines, but it’s pretty basic and how quick it goes by doesn’t leave much of an impression.
  • Tako no Uta – Like I’ve mentioned earlier, banjos and H!P do not mix well and despite Tako no Uta, like “Yuki”, is a Japanese school-taught song, just doesn’t work even if you use two of your popular members, Gocchin & Ayaya.  They sound decent, but the hokey arrangement just kind of throws any interest out for me.
  • Renai Revolution 21 (Cho Cho Cho cool remix) – Onto Petit Best songs, we get another remix for a Momusu song, this time for Renai Revolution 21.  For what it is, it’s more of a chilled out remix of the song and I thought it sounded cool and funky, but then once the verses kick in, it feels way too slow than it needed to be (the singing sounds slow too).  If it was sped up a little, it would’ve done better.

ICKY SONGS

  • Minimoni. Dancing – Considering that Minimoni was the only group that hadn’t had any changes, they were given two new tracks for their participation in the compilation album.  This 40 second track just seemed like useless fluff and really didn’t do anything for the quartet.  It’s fitting as a cute little ditty, but it just doesn’t stick to me.
  • Minimoni. no Uta – The other track (which is a minute long) was just as unnecessary and oddball, but at least this song has a little more going for it because all for members spell out the group’s name and sing it with some extra bit.  Though, the organ is cute…but still kind of ick.
  • Pokipoki Pocky – Like the Minimoni songs, Pokipoki Pocky is a short 1 minute track from Momusu to promote Pocky of all things.  The song is found as a hidden track on Petit Best 2 and really isn’t worth the listen because it’s so frantic and there’s just so much Pocky snapping sounds and the girls repeating the title…yeah…I suppose it’s somewhat nice…but why?

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • Aya Matsuura
  • Mami Suenaga
  • Ai Takahashi
  • Risa Niigaki
  • Asami Konno
  • Makoto Ogawa
  • Rika Ishii
  • Saki Arai

Losses

  • Yuko Nakazawa (from Momusu)
  • Ibuki Oki

My H!P Ranking for ’01

  • 31. Saki Arai (NEW)
  • 30. Asami Konno (NEW)
  • 29. Nozomi Tsuji (+1)
  • 28. Makoto Ogawa (NEW)
  • 27. Ibuki Oki (-3)
  • 26. Rika Ishikawa (+3)
  • 25. Megumi Murata (-9)
  • 24. Asami Kimura(+3)
  • 23. Lehua Sandbo (0)
  • 22. Ai Takahashi (NEW)
  • 21. Risa Niigaki (NEW)
  • 20. Ami Kitagami (+5)
  • 19. Rinne Toda (-11)
  • 18. Kaori Iida (+4)
  • 17. Ayumi Shibata (+11)
  • 16. Ai Kago (+1)
  • 15. Rika Ishii (NEW)
  • 14. Hitomi Saito (+1)
  • 13. Mami Suenaga (NEW)
  • 12. Ayaka Kimura (+6)
  • 11. Yuki Maeda (-9)
  • 10. Kei Yasuda (+9)
  • 9. Natsumi Abe (0)
  • 8. Aya Matsuura (NEW)
  • 7. Masae Ohtani (+3)
  • 6. Yuko Nakazawa (-2)
  • 5. Michiyo Heike (+7)
  • 4. Mika Todd (+9)
  • 3. Maki Goto (+2)
  • 2. Hitomi Yoshizawa (+19)
  • 1. Mari Yaguchi (+5)

Sorry, this one took forever, I can’t promise that 2002 will be any quicker considering how many of those Douyou Pops albums comes out and it’ll be insane, but I’ll try to get it out sooner than this one took!

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Ayaka Wada to graduate from ANGERME/H!P in Spring 2019

Wada_Ayaka_-_Manner_Mode_promo

So it seems the day has come where one of the eldest members in H!P is going to finally graduate.  According to her blogpost, Ayacho doesn’t wanna quit singing/dancing but wants to take it a step further on top of other paths that she wants to take and it’s pretty awesome to see her follow out further.

Personally, while I never found her to be the best singer in most things she’s done (especially in the original S/mileage lineup to current ANGERME), she’s always had personality in spades and she just kept getting prettier and prettier as the years gone by.

Now the question becomes who will become H!P’s next leader (and ANGERME’s next leader as well).  Still, at least we have a year with Ayacho so let’s cherish it!

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1 Audition, 2 groups? Something to be excited for!

So here we are again in Audition land and this time it seems H!P is going to make two groups out of this one, hopefully (considering the last audition only ended up with 7 Kenshuusei members, one who already left, mind you).

IchiokaReina2016_3

So FINALLY news that’s going to push Ichioka’s group forward, it seems her group will focus on being a “performance” group and that could really mean anything, but it seems vocals & dance being the primary focus…might get a C-ute-like group out of this I feel like.  Granted as she’s still the lone member & such, it could go either especially if some of the members added are from the KSS then she might be passed (though she’s gotten better vocally, so it wouldn’t hurt for more support to come in.

TakaseKurumi2016_3Kiyonomomohime2016_3

Though I think the bigger news is that we finally get confirmation of what’s going on with Takase and Kiyono and it’s another new group!  I was hoping it was a group and not so much them being thrown into Engeki Joshi-bu.  So unlike Ichioka’s group, this group is going to be more theater-esque to add with their singing/dancing so I feel like it’s going to be a bit more silly like Berryz Kobo was.  Though they could be more serious considering how good these two are vocally so who knows!

 

Seems like we’ll get the winners and first releases sometime in the Summer tour or a little later, but I’m excited…it’s nice to see something going on now (though I hope Country Girls can make a comeback fulltime too).

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