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

Warp back to 2003…Year Recap!

Alright 2003, I feel like this year kicked off a new era of Hello! Project with the H!P Kids coming into their own slowly!  So let’s get this year rollin’ shall we?

Morning Musume (Sakuragumi & Otomegumi)



Morning Musume had a pretty wild 2003 I would say!  It began with a new single in Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima and the group being involved in a movie, Koinu Dan no Monogatari which had an OST (both of which released in February) on top of the group releasing their 5th album titled No.5 in March.

With 6th Generation auditions going on, we got AS FOR ONE DAY in April which was notable for being 2nd Generation member, Kei Yasuda‘s final single with the group before graduating in May!

Though in that time we also found out the winners of the 6th Gen auditions (Reina Tanaka, Sayumi Michishige, and Eri Kamei).  Though in a surprise twist, Miki Fujimoto was also added thus ending her solo career for the time being after her solo album released.  These four would debut with the group with the single, Shabondama and did a stageplay, Edokko. Chuushingura with an OST (both released in July).

However, due to how large the group had become (15 members), Tsunku decided to split the group up into two sub-units to be able to perform in more places in more time with MM Sakuragumi (Abe, Yaguchi, Kago, Yoshizawa, Takahashi, Niigaki, Konno, and Kamei) and MM Otomegumi (Iida, Tsuji, Ishikawa, Ogawa, Fujimoto, Michishige, Tanaka) where the former did sappier songs while the latter did more upbeat tracks. With that said the two sub-units released their 1st singles Hare Ame Nochi Suki♥ and Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~ in September.

They then came back together towards the end of the year (November) to release Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~.  Though also with the knowledge that Natsumi Abe would be graduating early in the next year to focus on her solo career.


  • Tomodachi ga Ki ni Itteru Otoko Kara no Dengon – What a long title for a song no?  Yeah this album track actually caught me by surprise because normally these girly cute songs would kind of kill me, but it’s light pop sound that sounds innocent with just as innocent lyrics, I found this surprisingly refreshing despite the youthfulness that Momusu has been portraying since Gocchin’s graduation.  I also somehow enjoyed hearing all the members getting a solo too!
  • Megami ~Mousse na Yasashisa~ (Original long ver.) – If you didn’t read the 2002 Year in Review, Megami was a song used to promote Pocky in Japan and was found on Petit Best 3 as short versions.  Well, it seems this and “YES! POCKY GIRLS” were placed on this album with longer versions.  I enjoyed this song a lot originally, so I was elated to see that a minute was added.  On the album, it’s such a nice change of pace from the poppy and cute side to Momusu with this softly-sung pop track.  Funny though we hear Gocchin here (she was still a part of the group when this song was made though so *shrugs*.  Regardless, classy song!
  • AS FOR ONE DAY – Ahhh, we finally get to Kei-chan’s graduating single with AS FOR ONE DAY!  Honestly, this song is very unique and personally I was happy that the group was crawling away from the sugary idol stuff the “No.5” era was producing.  The tune itself sounds a bit more serious and sullen in comparison, but given this nice ethnic vibe behind it as well.  There’s just something mystical about the track and it’s a lovely track with some interesting solos given throughout (I think everyone gets one except for Kei-chan ironically).  Great A-side!
  • Shabondama – Can we talk about how epic this song is?  I mean it’s up there in my top 5 H!P songs of all time so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be up here.  After the more downplayed and sad “AS FOR ONE DAY”, they instantly get pissed for Shabondama with an angsty arrangement filled with guitars and brass.  Hell, I was surprised the tune started off with Reina (also need to mention this was the debut of the 6th Generation) with Ai-chan following then Sayumi following up with a yell before Mikitty sings the first part of the chorus!  Yeah, this song was powerful right off the gate!  Add on a desperate plea in the bridge from Rika-chan and it’s just a wild ride.  Bummed we didn’t get to hear much of Sayu & Kame singing but oh well (15 members…).  Like I said, epic song for the group and really introduced us to the 6th Gen in a crazy way!
  • Hare Ame Nochi Suki♥ – Moving onto the split up sub-groups, we kick it off with Sakuragumi (Nacchi, Marippe, Yossie, Aibon, Konkon, Ai-chan, Gaki, and Kame).  Their song is pretty much a ballad, but boy does it strike me and it’s wonderful!  I’m liking the feel and the echoey presence I feel too.  Also hearing Eri with a nice solo was special as well!  Though, I was more impressed by Aibon’s high notes in the choruses and her final one at the end really stood out!  Yeah, this was another instant favorite and maybe one of the best ballads out there IMO.
  • Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~ – Which is shocking that Otomegumi’s track is just as good here!  Unlike the softer and emotional feels of the track above, Ai no Sono is upbeat and fierce to listen to!  With Kaorin, Nono, Charmy, Makochan, Reina, Mikitty, and Sayu here it was a powerful song despite most of the members aren’t the strongest singers.  I definitely liked they chose Rika, Reina, Miki, and Makoto to lead with the other 3 being secondaries.  It’s just a fun track to sing with and it’s a good time even if the lyrics are a bit scandalous so to speak 😛


  • Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima – Wow, Morning Musume actually doing a cover song for an A-side huh?  Yeah, the group decided to cover Hyokkori Hyoutanjima and boy was this a change of pace from Morning Musume prior.  It felt like something left over from the Shuffle Units from last year (especially since it reminds me a LOT of “Shiawase Beam! Suki Suki Beam!” with the tropical pop sounds here.  Though the song itself is much older than the aforementioned track here.  I mean I do like some of the things about it like the verses and solos throughout too.  Once it gets to the chorus, I definitely cringed a couple times from one of the members going flat and then slowly getting in tune, that bothered me a bit XD.  Still, the song was fun and cute and showed a more cutesy idol-like sound that the group would be under for a short time.
  • TOP! – While it wasn’t the first full track from the album, TOP! definitely raised the spirits coming right after “Do it! Now”.  Listening to this track, I feel like it was made for live performances due to how loose and loud it is, giving me similar feelings to “Ikimasshoi!”.  The song itself is a bit of a hodge-podge of sounds and not sticking to a full style.  After the introduction of the track and thinking of it, why didn’t it open this album?
  • Tsuyoki de Yukouze! – With only Nono, Aibon, Gaki, Ai-chan, Konkon, and Makochan, they got a song together with Tsuyoki de Yukouze! and it, like “TOP!” sounds like a track perfect for lives with it’s kind of aggressive pop/rock groove here and the girls are just shouting the song which is neat to say the least.  Definitely sticks out on the album, I won’t deny that!
  • HEY! Mirai – This and “Ganbacchae!” are usually paired together because both tracks were used as themes in the Koinu Dan no Monogatari film so it was no surprise that they’d make the cut on this album (albeit they were also on the OST too).  To me the song feels like a mix of “Suggoi Nakama” & YES! POCKY GIRLS” with its positive and upbeat pop sound with loud percussion.  A plus though is that the members get solos throughout and it sounds like they’re all having fun.  Plus the PV was SUPER cute with the puppies!
  • Ganbacchae! – Yeah the other song from the movie, Ganbacchae! to me was kind of the peak point of the youthfulness Morning Musume was trying to aim for with this album.  Didn’t help that the Hello! Project Kids were involved in the song as well as Gocchin (post-graduation, mind you).  It does give me a little “Te wo Nigitte Arukitai” but with that nice Momusu vocal flavor.  The young’ns are mostly shouting lyrics so it leaves the remainder of Momusu (and Maki) with the solos.  It’s OK and leaves a nice sentimental feel (especially recently when Momochi self-covered it before she graduated).
  • Never Forget (Rock Ver.) – I guess to make up for the lack of presence Kei-chan had in “AS FOR ONE DAY”, the B-side is entirely a solo song for her.  Now if you don’t recall, Never Forget was originally the farewell song sung by 1st Generation member, Asuka Fukuda when she graduated from Morning Musume.  Kei’s version is of course a bit more pop/rock with added guitars and drums to make it pop out more.  Kei sounds pretty good, not quite as good as when Asuka did this, but passable regardless.  I kind of wish she got a different song as her graduation but it is what it is and the fact that not being a front girl at any point in her time in Momusu, she definitely deserved a solo song!
  • Namida ni wa Shitakunai – It must be hard being a B-side to one of the best Momusu A-sides, but Namida ni wa Shitakunai tries to level things out with a slightly more genki appearance versus the angst power of the leading track.  I’m kind of surprised its a song full of solos and the verses are laid out by seniority of the members so that’s pretty cool.  Hearing Sayu and Eri better, they’re OK, but not terribly strong members yet versus Miki and Reina though.  It’s a good song, but maybe disappointing if you were hoping for something more unique like “Shabondama”.
  • Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~ – I kind of thought we left the cutesy, genki stuff behind but Momusu returned at the end of the year to drop this poppy tune on our laps.  To be honest, I do enjoy the song because it’s cute and the video is just super adorable to watch.  The song itself though does lack solos (but pairs girls off into 4 groups and goes from there).  It’s a fun song and nice way for the group to close out 2003.
  • KoiING – I’ve seen this song mentioned a lot in the fandom and wondered what the hype was really all about and honestly, I don’t see it, but it’s a good song but nothing that doesn’t quite compare to the songs in the Great section.  It’s another ballad of course and it does tone things down after the genkiness of “Go Girl” so that’s nice.  Little surprised though that only Ai-chan, Mikitty, and Kame got solos in the song while everyone else kind of joins in in the chorus.  It’s got a good melody that’s for sure, but I mean it’s no “Hare Ame Nochi Suki”.


  • Housekibako – Keeping the slight theme from the “Hyokkori Hyoutanjima” single, this B-side, Housekibako tries to be a bit grounded and mature in comparison but somehow keep the islandic vibes.  The intro was cute with the girls harmonizing, but the song kind of gets this reggae-ish, R&B-like fusion and it doesn’t help that there’s no solos.  It’s OK, but not a B-side I tend to remember much of.
  • “Suggoi Nakama” – If I thought “Tomodachi ga Ki ni Itteru Otoko Kara no Dengon” was cute done right and manages to stick out from the album, I would say “Suggoi Nakama” is the opposite.  The party-like atmosphere is a nice sound, but it’s kind of ruined to me by no solos and a HEAVY amount of Tsunku in the song that sounds awkward because his lines are bulky and frequent too.  It’s just a bit plain with the genki feels here.
  • YES! POCKY GIRLS (Original long ver.) – Unlike “Megami”, YES! POCKY GIRLS isn’t quite the memorable song and hearing an extended cut of it didn’t really change too much for me.  The arrangement is OK though and hearing the members involved get solos is also a plus too…but I guess it had to be here regardless.
  • “Sugoku Suki na no ni…ne” – As the remainder 6 girls that weren’t in “Tsuyoki de Yukouze!” hadn’t appeared yet in their own little grouping, it seemed we finally got to their song.  Sadly, I don’t think this song quite worked the same way that previously mentioned song did.  It feels a bit familiar sounding to me too, maybe “Housekibako” and “Ganbacchae!”?  I mean I also thought with 6 good singers, I’d think they’d do a better job than they did…well maybe Kaori did well…but the others didn’t feel right.
  • Sotsugyou Ryokou ~Morning Musume Tabidatsu Hito ni Okuru Uta~ – As the album’s final track, it immediately came to no surprise to me that this was for Kei-chan because she’s the only member missing here ironically (though strange since “AS FOR ONE DAY” was after this album).  At first the song was ballad-like,but it then turns upbeat and celebratory with horns and a bright atmopshere to it.  A brassier “Ganbacchae!” perhaps?  I don’t know, sadly it doesn’t really do much for me.
  • Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru (Sakuragumi Ver.) & (Otomegumi Ver.) – Honestly, I don’t know why they keep at this song because it’s not really all that great of a song.  So for both of the sub-units singles, the B-side is their own version of this B-side from “The☆Pea~ce!”.  The arrangement is new I’ll give it that but that’s the only interesting part about this song as it’s a bit more like something from “No.5” with less members singing.  No solos still so yeah, really not that much to say beyond the arrangement being changed up.  I guess its sing-a-long chorus can be catchy but otherwise, not into it.


  • Intro – Opening their 5th album, strangely enough for the first time in a Momusu album, there’s a legitimate introduction and sadly it’s just a SHORT 9 second snippet of “Do it! Now’s” chorus…kind of obtuse and unnecessary since the main track happens immediately after.  Yeah, what?

Overall: After such a busy 2002, Morning Musume didn’t do quite as much in releases, but that’s probably good xD.  Loss of Kei-chan might not be as bad as everyone thought (she was kind of a back-girl), but adding 4 more members (one of them being a soloist already in H!P) was kind of surprising.  Though musically Tsunku was on it this year after their 5th album…it was like he had a brainstorming session and gave us some epic songs (which also carried to some other groups this year too!).  I was more curious to the splitting of the group into sub-units, but I think the idea of being able to cover more ground in tours made sense.  Really nice year for them!

Yuko Nakazawa



Yuko once again pretty much had an empty year music-wise only able to release one single in GET ALONG WITH YOU in May.  The only other things worth mentioning H!P-wise was that she was in the Minimoni movie, Minimoni ja Movie: Okashi na Daibouken! and she had a song found on its OST, but I won’t be covering that and her involvement in FOLK SONGS 4.


  • GET ALONG WITH YOU – As I’m starting to feel like Yuko’s music is starting to become more plain with me, GET ALONG WITH YOU at least tries to sound somewhat memorable opting for a slight pop/rock vibe (kind of reminding me of Michiyo Heike’s work) but a bit softer.  While Yuko sounds nice and the chorus is definitely the memorable part of the track too.  I do like how she belts out the title though…not bad!
  • Tokyohatsu Saishuu – I thought the opening of this song was giving me Enka vibes but then the beats and overall R&B sound kind of gave me a mix of Gocchin & Ayaya vibes, but not quite reaching the heights it could have.  I do like Yuko’s vocals though as they loud, but not quite appalling.  Decent B-side though overall and the change of style here for Yuko wasn’t too jarring, but definitely fits in with H!P overall.

Overall: It was an OK year I guess, feels like she didn’t do too much in H!P other than those 3 things so it was another short year I guess.  GET ALONG WITH YOU was a good single though so I suppose I can let it slide?

Country Musume ni Fujimoto to Konno



Wow, Country Musume were going to have some interesting plans in 2003.  In April, it was suddenly announced that member, Rika Ishikawa would be returning to focus on Momusu (and other things) but at the same time 3 new members would be joining.  The only true member joining would be a 6th Gen Momusu auditionee, Miuna Saito and the group was being lent Momusu members again, Fujimoto and Konno for the time being making them a 5nin!

These 3 would debut in July with the group with their first single together, Uwaki na Honey Pie with a follow-up single, Senpai ~LOVE AGAIN~ in December.


  • Uwaki na Honey Pie – Damn, Tsunku really knocked it out of the park it feels like when the Summer months came in because this song is another top 10 favorite H!P songs out there for myself.  Though they did stray very far off from their Country-esque music for this song which was pretty much a Eurobeat kind of track which was SO unique for Country Musume.  Even better is that all 5 members get some nice line distribution.  Of course I was mostly curious about Miuna because she was the only member that I haven’t heard since she was the newest member (ignoring Konkon & Mikitty) but the latter two were interesting additions as well.  It’s just a fun danceable track and such a legendary song within H!P.


  • Koi ga Suteki na Kisetsu (2003 Version) – Seems a bit weird to be self-covering this track, although maybe it’s because it was a rather important song to Country Musume (well technically more so to Asami Kimura who sung in the original cut).  I’m more surprised that it’s centered around mostly Kimura, Satoda, and Saito and has VERY little of Fujimoto and Konno.  It does mean we get a little more featured time with the 3 ladies (mostly Miuna) and I have to say despite the plain arrangement, the 3 of them do sound nice enough to handle this song.  Still, why?
  • Senpai ~LOVE AGAIN~ – It really seemed like Country Musume is straying further away from their roots A-sides-wise with the other single they released in the year.  Though unlike the powerhouse that is “Uwaki na Honey Pie” it was hard to get a follow-up and Senpai fell into the H!P rut with the song being all R&B (reminding me of various other songs that were released during and before this year.  Still loving the line distribution though and Miuna & Mai are really showing their vocal prowess (of course a lot of the light was spent on Miki mostly (spoken dialogue in the bridge mostly being the reason).  OK song, but the weakest of the three singles they released as a quintet.
  • Nani ga Ai ka Wakaranai Kedo… – I will say I wasn’t expecting “Senpai ~LOVE AGAIN~” to have 2 B-sides this time and this is an original track and not a self-cover/cover of something else.  Well it still lies on that samey H!P sound in the year, it kind of works to their advantage.  Miuna & Kimura have the longest solos but everyone else gets something at least here and I find that nice.  I kind of feel like this is one of those underrated songs in H!P.


  • Marui Taiyou (2003 Ver.) – Did they become the unit to cover other H!P songs?  I guess this is a little more unusual because it’s a cover of the old Taiyou to Ciscomoon track.  Though the arrangement was slightly updated to fit the times (though still somehow feels dated).  Like with their self-cover of “Koi ga Suteki na Kisetsu”, Marui Taiyou centers around the actual Country Musume members (Kimura, Satoda, and Saito) with Miuna with the most solos!  She sounds really good and so does Mai.  Though I’m more surprised again that Miki and Konkon are just in the background.  Otherwise, it still is Marui Taiyou and never really been that much of a fan of the song so ehhh…

Overall: Kind of was curious when the announcement was made that Ishikawa was returning to Momusu full-time of what was going to happen with Country Musume but this 4th iteration (and 2nd borrowing of Momusu members) has turned out pretty well and Miuna & Mai are pulling their weight too.  Surprised of the departure of the Country-sounding songs, but this is pretty nice so far!



Unfortunately, Petitmoni’s year was a pretty quiet one sticking to live performances and ONLY one new song that’s found on Petit Best 4

(Future Talk: Really though that’s the last thing we got from the 3rd iteration of the group, after WOW WOW WOW, they just disappeared until the revival unit happened)

Melon Kinenbi



Melon Kinenbi seemed to have finally make 2003 their year starting things off with their 8th single, Akai Freesia at the end of January with FINALLY their 1st album aptly titled, 1st Anniversary in March.

After that though was a new stretch of singles starting with Chance of LOVE (in May), MI DA RA Matenrou (in September), and Kawaii Kare (in December)


  • Natsu – As “Chance of LOVE’s B-side I wasn’t fully expecting to change the mood 180 degrees with a song such as Natsu.  There’s just something about this song that works and its goofy nature is catchy and I love that Hitomi and Masae are leading again here too!  Total surprise, but a welcome addition!
  • Kawaii Kare – Though the last A-side they released for the year, Kawaii Kare was just a total surprise as an A-side, something so aggressive and powerful for the quartet to tackle too.  Unlike the previous singles, this one is a bit more dance-centric and just hearing the ladies just make this dramatic performance was awesome, another all-time favorite H!P song.


  • Akai Freesia – I definitely remember hearing this song used as the auditioning song during the 6th Generation auditions (most notably around the finalists Eri, Sayumi, and Reina).  That being said, Akai Freesia was a lot like “Kousui” with it being heavy on Ayumi in the song.  Though this tune is a bit more upbeat and happier in its mood and I kind of enjoyed the feel of it.
  • Enryo wa Nashi yo! – As the B-side of “Akai Freesia” opens, I kind of thought it was going to be a slightly darker song, but the mood instantly shifts when the main melody kicks in and the tune becomes this energetic, genki song for the quartet!  The group though sounds like they’re having fun and the line distribution is a bit more evened out.  Fun song though
  • Nemuranai Yoru – Another new track from their album, Nemuranai Yoru was kind of surprise because of the minimalistic verses with the heavy bump but a lean on R&B as well.  Add on that Masae & Hitomi were leading the song was even better and made it a unique song here.  I definitely found myself enjoying this song though!
  • ENDLESS YOUTH – It seems the same case can be said about ENDLESS YOUTH that I said about “Nemuranai Yoru” with the pretty strong verses, but unlike the aforementioned song, ENDLESS YOUTH’s chorus is a bit forgettable and just gives me this positive vibe feel similar to Momosu’s “Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru”.  Kind of that feelgood encore song used for live performances basically.
  • Chance of LOVE – Ahhh! that saxophone intro is just oozing so much classyness for Melon’s next A-side after their album.  Maybe the Tsunku quip could’ve been left out, but damn Chance of LOVE is following more after “Kousui” with the smooth R&B, but a bit more grand?  Regardless, pretty bummed that 80% of the song is Ayumi solos too.  At least the tune is memorable and quite a strong A-side for them.
  • MI DA RA Matenrou – Tackling a latin style of their 3rd A-side of the year, MI DA RA Matenrou felt a bit more mature and the tune had a nice sexy flair.  They also seemed to fix the line distribution woes the last couple of singles had with the other members that aren’t Ayumi Shibata finally getting some extra lines.  It was a pretty good A-side as well!
  • Hatsuyuki – So the B-side from “Kawaii Kare” turns out to be a bit of a ballad this time around and I was surprised at its simplicity versus other B-sides they’ve released.  It’s definitely something I wasn’t expecting Melon Kinenbi to pull off especially with the lack of them during the year.  Decent song!


  • ANNIVERSARY – As one of 3 new songs that were on the album, ANNIVERSARY was one that just didn’t stand out for me considering all the other content of the album.  The songs has a happier feel like “Akai Freesia” did, but this feels like a Morning Musume song (like a Melon version take of “I WISH” or “Ganbacchae!”).  Plus the Tsunku-isms were in full force too.  Not a song that really sticks to me.
  • Melon Kinenbi no Theme (ED) – Well, we got a clearer sound of the music that opened the album, which is pretty much big band all the way.  It could’ve been a pretty good full song since it was loud and was something different genre-wise.  Though what we got was pretty short and it ends with the TV shutting off…ok.
  • Futari no Paradise – I do enjoy the opening of this B-side from “MI DA RA Matenrou”, but that’s really about it when it comes to Futari no Paradise.  It turns into a rather straightforward cute song from the group and it just doesn’t leave much of an impression (besides the times the piano plays around).  Oh wells.


  • Melon Kinenbi no Theme (OP) – So the group’s first album opens with a short intro that sounds like someone turning on a TV and staying on a channel that’s playing music.  Though the sound quality is quite muffled and it doesn’t quite lead into “Akai Freesia” well either.  Seems pretty random to me!

Overall: I would say yay to finally having Melon Kinenbi release their 1st studio album that’s for sure!  Though they’ve had a pretty good year based on their releases musically.  All 4 singles, were pretty decent and really make me excited for their sophomore album. I’d say this was a pretty good 2003 for them.

Yuki Maeda



Well, I mean really nothing much can be said about Yukidon’s 2003, well maybe.  Of course she did her annual 1 single in the year with July’s Tokyo Kirigirisu but I think the more interesting happening was her addition to SALT5 in the company’s yearly shuffle unit.


  • Tokyo Kirigirisu – As the A-side, Tokyo Kirigirisu to me falls kind of in the middle when itcomes to her A-side discography.  Like it does kind of leave the Enka style for more of a modern flare in the Kayoukyoku genre.  There’s little splashes of like electric guitar and a rather sharp sounding string instrument and there’s an actual beat to it.  Of course Yukidon sounds great and she keeps the song afloat that’s for sure.  Not bad overall!
  • Kaeri Sobireta Furusato wa – The B-side of the single slows things down as it’s a pretty straightforward piano/acoutsic guitar/strings ballad.  Really not much to say about it besides its simplicity and whatnot, but it’s rather pretty too.  Yukidon’s vocals are even more on point with this one than “Tokyo Kirigirisu” so I’d say its evened out.

Overall: I mean what’s there to say, Yukidon’s year was just another one in the book.  Slightly bummed that they really aren’t pushing her in her solo work, but I do like how she was added to the shuffle unit (which will be found lower down the post).  Maybe one day she’ll push more in the company for more stuff to release.




Minimoni’s 2003 wasn’t quite as huge and surprising like last year but we started with a new iteration of the group, but before that they released an OST for Minimoni ja Movie ~Okashi na Daibouken~

Though the group would finally release their first single as this new quartet (Yaguchi graduated from the group last year and Ai Takahashi joined the group) in April, a Chisato Moritaka cover, Rock n’ Roll Kenchoushozaichi ~Oboechaina Series!~ and followed that up with three more singles: Minimoni. Kazoe Uta ~Ofuru Ver~sion / Minimoni. Kazoe Uta ~Date Ver~sion~ in May, CRAZY ABOUT YOU in October and a Minihams single (shared as a joint single with Natsumi Abe as well) Mirakururin Grand Purin! in December.

  • NOTE: The Natsumi Abe part of the Minihams single will be found in her profile later on in the post


  • Minimoni. Jankenpyon ~2003 ver.~ – I’m pretty surprised that this new iteration would do a self-cover of their debut song.  Though it does sound like the arrangement has been updated a bit.  Not really much to say otherwise about the song since it sounds like the original mostly.  There isn’t many solos though either and Ai-chan fit nicely (if not better than Yaguchi).  Nice update overall and is the only redeeming factor about the “Kazoe Uta” single.
  • CRAZY ABOUT YOU – Though I wasn’t expecting Minimoni to go mature after two really childish songs with CRAZY ABOUT YOU being more of an R&B song.  Honestly, I was surprised, but in a good way because Ai-chan and Mika got to show off their vocals here.  I will say hearing Aibon and Nono tackle the song is kind of humorous but overall, it’s the best A-side they released this year!


  • Renai Isshuunen – Unlike the A-side, “CRAZY ABOUT YOU”, Renai Isshuunen is still R&B, but it definitely gives me some 90’s R&B feels which is pleasant enough and I’m hearing a lot of Nono and Aibon here with the other two girls supporting them.  It’s just a cute song for the quartet and minus the Tsunku-isms, it’s just a feelgood tune.
  • Mirakururin Grand Purin! – Of all the Minihams songs out there from Minimoni, I think this one was pretty good and has that crazy and wacky energy that the group was kind of missing in 2003.  With the addition to Ai-chan her swoopy high notes really popped out for me and just the crazy vocals from Aibon, Nono, and Mika.  Just a song that I needed from them!


  • Rock n’ Roll Kenchoushozaichi ~Oboechaina Series!~ – Not quite sure why but for some reason for the first two singles, Minimoni went educational, but this one was an odd case because this was a Chisato Moritaka cover so it was educational prior?  Regardless, as the first single with this second iteration of the group, was odd to say the least.  I mean it’s about learning prefecture capitals to a rather blu-swing like feel.  I don’t know, but this song didn’t do much for me, plus it’s only 2:30 so it really doesn’t stay either.  At least it’s quirky?
  • Oshaberi Suki ya Nen – B-side from “Rock n’ Roll Kenchoushozaichi”, I was hoping for something to save the single with, but Oshaberi Suki ya Nen, it feels a little weird to me?  Like I know it’s supposed to be youthful, but I feel like it’s a song that was more fitting for Country Musume (y’know when Rika & Rinne was still in the group).  It’s like an odd Country ditty and just isn’t supposed to take too seriously.
  • Minimoni. Kazoe Uta ~Ofuro & ~Date Ver~sion~ – Which makes these two songs even more disappointing as A-sides because it’s a song about counting!  Add that there’s two of them and the main differences is learning to count in Japanese (Ofuro) and English (Date).  I would consider this my least favorite A-sides from Minimoni that’s for sure.  Only redeeming fact is that the two songs are split (Ofuro has Nono/Mika and Date has Aibon/Ai-chan).  Yeah not my kind of song.

Overall: I’m not quite sure what happened this year with Minimoni honestly, it seems like after Yaguchi left and Takahashi joined the group’s first two singles with Ai-chan were pretty mediocre and just wasn’t what I was looking for from the group.  Though I also wasn’t expecting a change like they did when they released CRAZY ABOUT YOU and went the mature cool group approach.  Don’t know what they’ll pull next year!

Maki Goto


uwasanosexyguyScrambledaiteyogenshokugalMakking GOLD 1 1kenmary

As the first full year as a solo artist, Gocchin in the beginning half of the year started off with 2 albums!  Her first studio album in February with Makking GOLD and then in March released an OST of her stageplay, Ken & Mary no Merikenko On Stage!

After that though, she then released a whole bunch of singles with Uwasa no SEXY GUY (in March), Scramble (in June), Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON (in August), and Genshoku GAL Hade ni Yukube! (in November).  Otherwise, a straightforward year for Gocchin!


  • Akai Nikkichou (Goto Version) – After Yuko did her solo cut of this Akagumi 4 track back in 2001, I guess we have Maki also giving her solo version of the song in 2003!  As I’ve said about the original, the weakest link to Akai Nikkichou was Gocchin as she was still a newbie and she didn’t have such a strong voice.  Here, she really fixes those issues and despite not having an intro dialogue like Danielle (original) or Yuko (her solo), I think Gocchin did much better here.
  • Nagadenwa – This B-side from “Scramble” honestly gave me similar vibes to “Yaruki! IT’S EASY” due to the synths and the kind of 80’s glossy pop that they both share.  Of course this song doesn’t quite reach the same plateau as the aforementioned track, but the song is just as magical and cute in the right way.  One of the few B-sides I LOVE!
  • Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON – Though I have to give it up for Tsunku for putting this song out because it was pretty badass of a song for Gocchin to have!  It’s pretty poppy but with the guitars and powerful beat made it a memorable A-side especialy Maki’s cry of ~ai wo kudasaiiiii~. Though Tsunku’s bridge is kind of annoying lol.  Otherwise it’s the best A-side she released in 2003!


  • Aitte Donna ×××? – As the first of the new tracks found on the album, I wasn’t surprised that Maki would pull another R&B song that’s in the same veins like “SHALL WE LOVE?” and “Afurechau…BE IN LOVE”.  Though there’s something catchy about this one that’s for sure and the minimalistic 90’s R&B-inspired sound suits Gocchin’s vocals as it always has, though the rap between her and Tsunku is strange lol.  Definitely a nice track, but curious why it was placed after “Te wo Nigitte Arukitai”
  • Afurechau…BE IN LOVE (A Passionate Mix) – About the A-side, it was remixed for the album and it took out a lot of the beeps and boops of the original but keeps it’s dated 90’s sound for the most part.  The song is still pretty nifty and I find myself enjoying it and the mix is pretty good and didn’t change too much arounds.
  • SHALL WE LOVE? (Goto Version) – I’m not surprised that all 3 artists that were in Gomattou did their own cut of the song, it was a pretty big hit.  What I didn’t expect was that each one was going to be different from one another.  I do feel like Goto’s cut is pretty close to the original’s arrangement though (with a bit more synth prominance).  I mean it wasn’t that long ago, so I feel it’s fine and Gocchin taking the lines suits her well especially connected to the two tracks above!
  • Moriagaru Shikanai Desho! – Wasn’t expecting Gocchin to tackle a fun rock song in this track and it definitely sounds like a song she probably used to amp up the crowd during lives.  Though while it is pretty relentless and just energetic I think it doesn’t quite hit the great mark as I feel like this song is for sure made for such a thing.  Though I do like the variety it brings to the album.
  • Te wo Nigitte Arukitai (Album Version) – I was super worried that there were two versions of this song on the album and was sure that it was going to blow, but this track which closes Gocchin’s first album is quite different from the intro.  We have a nice minute-long opening with Maki singing its chorus with a jazzy backdrop before the song fully kicks in and this time it kicked the kiddy background singers for a little more of a mature backup and it’s a world of great difference!  I actually can stomach the song this way.
  • Uwasa no SEXY GUY – I mean as her follow-up after her first album, Uwasa no SEXY GUY was a trip that’s for sure!  With the opening line having this kind of James Bond-esque groove that turns into this sexy bop from Gocchin, it was a great change of pace having Maki move away from the super cute stuff.  Still, this was a pretty good song (maybe the chorus is odd to me) but still overall decent.
  • Kare, Ryokouchuunari – Not quite where I stack this B-side as but it does feel slightly lounge-like but it has this kind of elevator music genre down, maybe a little French Pop too?  I think I was expecting more from this after “Uwasa no SEXY GUY”, but the laidback and relaxing arrangement was maybe what I needed.  Not bad!
  • Ofuzake KISS – Tampering with the latin vibes for this B-side from “Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON”, Ofuzake KISS continued to give off a more serious vibe in coordination with the A-side and I thought the two worked together.  Gocchin just seems to be getting much better with emoting and this sexy glow of a song just made it work


  • Date Chuuihou – Next track up and this one is a little different than what she’s released before by being more pop/rock than anything else and it’s a bit louder, but it does still have the poppy quirks about it.  I kind of like the guitars, but otherwise the song feels a bit messy and rough to my ears.  There’s just some questionable choices in its arrangement (especially that bridge…wtf was that odd disc scratching).
  • Hareta Hi no Marine – ~HAVE A GOOD DAYYYYY~ Alright Tsunku, this is pretty bad even for you lol.  Hareta Hi no Marine to me might fit close to “Yaruki IT’S EASY” because they’re both poppy synth tracks that kind of fit the cute side of things.  Sadly, I couldn’t seem to really connect with the song and the chorus to me feels somewhat messy.  Just not all that great of a song.
  • Scramble – It might be my least favorite of the A-sides, but it still isn’t a bad song persay. It’s pretty much a sparkly pop track from Gocchin and for some reason a popular song to perform in H!P concerts. I think the chorus is what keeps me around but otherwise I don’t recall much else.
  • Genshoku GAL Hade ni Yukube! – After the great “Daite yo!” single, I didn’t think she would drop back to a bit more of a youthful vibe as such as this track. I do like she kept the guitars in the song, but the song’s more playful nature is slightly odd to me, but it isn’t a jarring change so I kind of see where it fits but it doesn’t mean it isn’t strange to me.  After a while, it does feel like it’s lacking something about it, but I’m not quite sure what though…
  • Koibito Boshuuchuu – Not quite what I was listening to with this B-side from “Genshoku GAL”.  It seems like it wants to be a rockin’ mid-tempo track but there’s points where I get R&B feels as well which isn’t quite the best mix.  The verses themselves do sound powerful but maybe a little too in your face?  It’s like it’s trying to be many things and it just isn’t working out very well.  A little bit messy.

Overall: Well it was going to happen and we finally have our first album from Maki right?  I think for the most part she did well enough with a mix of good and not-so-good songs and her working with Momusu was a nice gesture.  Overall a good year!

Aya Matsuura


neegoodbyenatsuothelastnightT.W.O 50sougennohitoostaya2003nendo

Ayaya seems to also have a pretty strong year it seems!  Starting the year off in January, she released her 2nd studio album, not surprisingly titled: TWand followed that up with an OST of her stageplay, Sougen no Hito in March.

Like with Gocchin she pretty much played the rest of the year with single releases with; Ne~e! (in March), GOOD BYE Natsuo (in June), and THE LAST NIGHT (in September).  She was also in a couple other H!P projects during the year!

Last, but not least there was a best album released in Hawaiian stores, 2003 Nendo Single Best.


  • From That Sky ~Kaedama wa Katamen de~ – I wasn’t expecting Ayaya to actuall pull off a rock song on the album, especially with this track that came right after the 2 heavily R&B-inspired track.  It kind of reminds me of Bon Jovi with those vocal filters lol.  Still, the song is pretty cool and Aya sounds really strong here…maybe my favorite of the album tracks!
  • Navi ga Kowareta Oujisama (LOVE CHANCE) – Another kind of rock-tinted song off the album, Navi ga Kowareta Oujisama does give me a little bit of an anison feel to it, but it’s also because unlike “From That Sky”, the song is more upbeat and happier sounding too!  I’m just liking the chords and Aya’s vocals give it that much more style to it!  Not my favorite, but maybe 2nd favorite XD.
  • GOOD BYE Natsuo – If it wasn’t clear, my favorite A-side from Ayaya is definitely this single GOOD BYE Natsuo!  Luckily I’m not the only one who thinks this because it’s another Matsuura song that’s still performed on a regular basis in H!P.  There’s just so much personality in this song and the aggressive performance from Aya and powerful sound really pushed the song to the front.  Very cool song!
  • THE LAST NIGHT – Wow, Aya actually released a ballad as an A-side this year!  Though I felt this was more emotionally charged than “Sougen no Hito” was the year previous.  For THE LAST NIGHT, Aya had a really pretty powerful arrangement with the strings and piano being most of the instrumentation with some harp and light percussion involved.  Its one of those rare times where I really ended up LOVING a H!P ballad!


  • Anata no Kanojo – While it’s not the opening song to her sophomore album, Anata no Kanojo is the first that comes up.  Honestly it seems this song is kind of lighter in presentation like some of the songs from her last album.  The acoustic poppy vibes of this one is nice, but I also don’t feel it strikes me very much either so it’s OK for the most part.
  • SHINE MORE – Another album song, I was hoping for something more unique, but I feel like SHINE MORE harkens to more of Gocchin’s R^B works because it has that certain 2000’s beep & boop R&B that was more prevalent in that time period.  Though the song does get better the longer it goes and its chorus is pretty catchy as things goes.  Ayaya’s vocals are a bit shouty, but I can survive this!
  • SHALL WE LOVE? (Matsuura Version) – Of the 3 solo cuts of the song, Ayaya’s feels a bit more quicker paced, but the R&B beats are pretty heavy and just a LOT more there.  Though Aya’s sounds well to me and despite it coming right after “SHINE MORE” on the album, it has a certain oomph about it that works!
  • Date Biyori – So after “From That Sky”, we enter Date Biyori’s boogie-woogie style and it’s a pretty fun and danceable track that mixes Aya’s lively vocals with an equally as vivid song.  It is a surprisingly short track (3 minutes), so the feeling doesn’t quite as long as I’d hope, but this was a nice track!
  • Motokare – Ending the album, I was kind of surprised she ended with a rather somber break-up song in Motokare.  While a good portion of the album is upbeat and positive, this was actually a turn and having it be the final track is just different.  While the song itself doesn’t quite standout amongst the rest of the album, it’s mid-tempo flow was nice.
  • Ne~e? – As the first single after her second album, Ne~e? brought back the cutesy side to Ayaya’s music and I was missing that quite a bit and while it reminds me of some of the previous cute songs.  Aya always seems to pull these songs off and while its not the most memorable of her A-sides, it’s still pretty decent.
  • DO YOU LOVE ME? – I wasn’t expecting this as the B-side from “THE LAST NIGHT”, but DO YOU LOVE ME? tones things up to more of an upbeat and silly-sounding song that sounds like it could’ve been connected to “GOOD BYE Natsuo” with the futuristic poppy beats about it.  Definitely the best B-side she released in the year!


  • Diary – This album track though feels like a slightly slower take on “Anata no Kanojo” because of its mostly acoustic pop feels I get here as well.  It may be a little better sung, but there’s just something that kind of bored me with this song in particular.
  • Onna no Yuujou Mondai – Not quite sure why I dislike Country songs that aren’t sung by Country  Musume, but this B-side from “Ne~e?” just did not stick to me and it’s mostly from the arrangement and the weird mix of rock and banjo music just doesn’t work with me.  Plus I mean a single with two cute songs is a bit much for me.  Oh well….
  • Watakushi no Yotei – B-side from “GOOD BYE Natsuo” comes up and funny enough it reminds me of both “Anata no Kanojo” and “Diary” but moreso the former because it’s rather poppy and cute but it doesn’t stand out and the weird bow-wow synth is kind of ugly.  It’s just one of those light-hearted songs but it doesn’t really click with me.

Overall: I mean she definitely had about just as much things to do as she did last year with her second album release and another 3 singles dropped.  While in the long run, it feels like these songs weren’t the HUGE memorable songs they were compared to last year, Aya had some surprisingly great songs here.

Miki Fujimoto


boogietrainMIKI 1 11

Mikitty had a rather interesting 2003 to say the least!  After a rather stronger performance at Kouhaku ’02, Miki would kick off the year in February with her 5th single, Boogie Train ’03 followed shortly in the same month, her first album, MIKI  

Though things shifted entirely in April when it was suddenly announced that Miki would join Morning Musume as part of the 6th Generation and Country Musume as a borrowed member which oddly also meant her solo career was over and the rest of the year was pretty much her in Morning Musume & Country Musume which I already talked about.


  • Boogie Train ’03 – Another rather legendary song in H!P, Miki’s 5th single is such a fun bop of a track.  Hell, the intro with Miki’s vocals were just perfect here and really makes this song come alive!  What a crazy fun tune and despite Miki having more of a lower timbre to her voice, she somehow felt like she found how perfect her voice can really handle songs like this.  Plus her control and vibrato was so impressive and kept the tune being playful and silly…yeah awesome song!
  • SHALL WE LOVE? (Fujimoto Version) – Unlike Gocchin & Ayaya’s version of the song, Mikitty’s is pretty much a chilled out and overall toned down cut of the song, but I think of the three, this one did the best because Miki’s vocals really fit here and she emoted pretty damn well for being a solo cut.  I was actually pretty much blown away by Miki’s solo version!


  • Eki Mae no Dai Happening – As the first new track to appear from Mikitty’s album, Eki Mae no Dai Happening is the 3rd cute song to follow up (after “Boogie Train ’03” and “Romantic Ukare Mode”) and this one is a bit more or less similar to them but its got a lot of interesting happenings (oic) here.  It’s peppy but has some synths that give it a similar 80’s tone too.  Might not reach the same levels as the mentioned songs, but I quite liked it.
  • Namida GiRL – I knew Miki’s vocals would be perfect for something rock sounding and Namida GiRL is a great place to hear that!  While the arrangement can be a little too busy, hearing Miki’s vocals kind of fixes it and she really sounds good here.  My only other qualm is that maybe she could’ve attacked the song better IMO, but that’s a small complaint from me.
  • Giniro no Eien – Back to the R&B groove for Giniro no Eien and it kind of gives me similar vibes to “SHALL WE LOVE?” and “Taisetsu” definitely a product of the time, but a little different enough to kind of stand out.  Though I guess I can say it’s a passable song, but not quite totally memorable, just OK.


  • Taisetsu – It seemed like all of the women involved in Gomattou got touched by the R&B bug and here we are with the B-side from “Boogie Train ’03” though this is a lot lighter than anything that Maki and Aya were putting out.  Sadly, Taisetsu just didn’t do anything for me with its laidback arrangement and sleepy tempo.  Miki sounds nice don’t get me wrong but I don’t think it saved it…and that odd ending with the busy telephone signal is odd.
  • Mangetsu – As the only song from the album that I kind of didn’t really care for, Mangetsu is an odd one from the album.  I do enjoy the funkier slightly discotheque vibes I get from the song, but it’s mostly Miki’s vocals that throw me off the most.  She’s rather shouty and while she does sometimes hits sweet sounding notes, lot of other times she sounds almost honky.  Bothered me a lot here!

Overall: Miki was just swept all over the map this year.  Many thinking she’d continue to release solo music after how big her career was getting and then watching it switch to her being in both Momusu and Country Musume was rather jarring if not questionable.  Still she owned it this year wherever she was regardless so I would say damn!

Kaori Iida


Osavurio ~Ai wa Matte Kurenai~Paradinome ~Koi ni Mi wo Yudanete~

Hey, we’re finally onto new acts introduced in 2003!  Well the first was a pretty odd one I’d say with Morning Musume leader, Kaori Iida taking on a solo career!  Though whats odd about it is that Kaorin debuted solo with 2 cover albums, but the covers were sung in French, Italian, and Greek.  Like I said she released two of these in 2003; Osavurio ~Ai wa Matte Kurenai~ in April and Paradinome ~Koi ni Mi wo Yudanete~ in October.

NOTE: I will be honest and say I wouldn’t be able to tell if Kaori is doing a good job singing in these European languages, so don’t hold that against me if I don’t talk about pronunciation.  I was already conflicted enough to even talk about these songs in the first place LOL


  • Osavurio ~Ai wa Matte Kurenai~ – As the opening track of her first album, Osavurio is a pretty interesting song that has this really haunting but pretty feel to it that’s like something I’d find in a Cirque du Soleil performance.  Really though Kaori’s vocals were light and airy and suited this track albeit a short one…a pretty good way to open things up!
  • Cherbourg no Amagasa – I like how this song opens with what I could describe as a music box intro!  Kaorin sounds really pretty in this one, but unlike “Osavurio”, this one is a bit more minimalistic.  It does gain more after the first chorus and the song really grows into more of a dramatic song.  Yeah this was pretty good too all things considered!
  • Ipanema no Musume – When I thought of Kaori’s solo works, the first thing I think of it’s Mediterranean and Ipanema no Musume kind of entitles that theme pretty damn well.  The tune is bright and smooth and the accordion & saxes are really adding flavor to the track.  I think it’s my favorite track off her first album honestly.
  • Paradinome ~Koi ni Mi wo Yudanete~ – As the opening for her sophomore album, Paradinome is bright, upbeat and has this kind of folkish groove to it that’s kind of nice to listen to (maybe it’s the unusual instrumentation).  There’s just something about it that really pulls me in…maybe it sounds like a Town Theme to some RPG XD
  • Aux Champs-Elysees – I mean the song is pretty familiar to me just by the melody (and the fact that Ciao Bella Cinquetti used the melody in 2016 made it somewhat memorable).  Kaori singing this tune in French is nice and it fits the rather upbeat tone.  Very cute and yet sweet.
  • Aa, Jinsei – Something folksy and mythical sounding pops up with Aa, Jinsei and I found myself entranced by the arrangement.  Though I think that’s mainly the reason besides the sax solo here that really caught my attention.  The verses are alright since it’s mostly Kaori and some light instrumentation.  Unique sounding and really pretty of a song!
  • Jasmine – As the final track from her 2nd album, Jasmine definitely sticks out from the album by having more of a somber tone to it, but the chord changes are pretty unique and Kaori’s vocals fits the mysterious vibe as well.  The song itself just is nice and once the violins join it adds spice to an already decent song!


  • Eha Ya ~Sayonara~ – Maybe it’s just me but this arrangement makes me think of another J-pop artist, KOKIA with the kind of this flowing and sandy sounding arrangement which always tend to win me over.  I would say Kaori did well because her voice is so light and airy and she handled the song surprisingly well!
  • DownTown – So the only song that I technically recognized, DownTown is oddly in French (because I’m so used to the English cut), anyways Kaori sounds upbeat and while her saying the title is odd, she kept the feeling going.  The tune itself does sound cheap to me, but maybe it was meant to be that way xD.
  • Amore Scusami – Another upbeat track this time sung in Italian, it has this upbeat and lively sound to it that could make people dance around with one another here and she sounds better to me than she did in “DownTown”.  I was also taken away by Kaori’s tone…it’s higher than it normally is XD.
  • Otome no Namida – I thought the toy piano and accordion doing the opening melody was the easiest way to catch my attention.  Like the other Mediterreanean songs from the first album, it shows off Kaorin’s softer and dream-like vocals and it worked in a slower song liked this too!  Nice song overall!
  • Barairo no Jinsei – Ending off her first album, Barairo no Jinsei closes things off in a very sweet and quiet way with the piano ballad.  I have to say while Kaori’s vocals are a bit loose in the song, she does a nice job here and when the strings join, the song just gets beautiful to listen to.
  • Lila no Kisetsu – I can’t help but slightly be both intrigued and slightly bored by Lila no Kisetsu because it’s simple with the harp melody but it does have its waves with the extra strings.  Kaori also sounds pretty singing in French and just always soothing, but it’s the added dramatics that make it work.
  • Sora – Maybe it’s just the kind of doowop sound I was getting with Sora, but I thought it was warm and so cute to listen to, especially since Kaori was sounds so nice but she suddenly belts it in the later half and that caught me off guard.  Not bad of a song here!
  • Suna ni Kieta Namida – Don’t know why I get island vibes from Suna ni Kieta Namida, but we’re back to something chilled and relaxing.  I think this is a fine song if it doesn’t really leave much to be desired otherwise…I think it just squeezes in the middle IMO.
  • Wasuresareta Michi – Getting another heavily Mediterreanean track, Wasuresareta Michi is a more relaxing track off the second album and most of it is pretty much acoustic guitar backing up Kaori with light percussion.  It gives me a vibe of being on a boat ride at night and I quite enjoys the light feels of the song.


  •  Muzousa Shinshi – I think one of the more forgettable songs from Kaori’s first album is Muzousa Shinshi due to its rather sleepy arrangement and just too much of the lightness that makes the song put me to sleep more than keep my interest.  I do like the bridge but I did find the choice to make it fade out was bizarre.  Not really that memorable for me.
  • Suteki no Oujisama – Like “Muzousa Shinshi”, Suteki no Oujisama kind of suffers from being a tad bit unimpressive with its arrangement which reminds me of “DownTown”.  The horns are pretty fake and Kaori doesn’t sound quite as strong as she does in other tracks.  Just doesn’t do much for me.
  • Marine Blue no Hitomi – I’m not quite sure if I dug the wobbly synths that open this song up. That seemed rather distracting, but it goes away and leaves us with a slower ballad here. Not quite sure if I dig the electric guitar solo either in the bridge…seemed rather inappropriate to include IMHO.
  • Yumemiru Omoi – I’m not sure why, but I just felt this song rather bland to me after the rest of the tracks on the album, minus “Marine Blue no Hitomi”.  It’s a pretty basic mid-tempo track featuring acoustic guitar, keyboards and some percussion.  I don’t know why, but it just feels cheap too (blame the keyboards).

Overall:  I mean no lie, Kaori really impressed by doing this solo thing for sure.  Not only was she still taking care of Morning Musume, she was learning three different languages to sing two albums worth of covers here!  I will say this might’ve caught some of her fans off guard by doing something so unique in idol music, but this was surprisingly good music if you’re into the soft easy listening styles.

Natsumi Abe



Yup! The other 1st Generation member also decided to take charge, Nacchi also went solo while she was still in Morning Musume.  Though the first single, a duet with Keiko Yasumi, Haha to Musume no Duet Song wasn’t really considered Nacchi’s debut single released in May.

She actually wouldn’t debut until August with the single, 22sai no Watashi and then ended up in a joint single with Minimoni with her half, Pi~hyara Kouta in November and that was that (well other than her announcement of graduation from Morning Musume to focus on her solo work for 2004).


  • Haha to Musume no Duet Song – While not Nacchi’s official debut, I thought it was best to throw it here as it’s only Natsumi here from H!P.  Anyways this song being a duet with Keiko Yasumi was interesting because it’s kind of light pop/rock but has a bit mmph about it. It’s happy-go-lucky and just puts a smile on my face whenever I listen to it and it’s just a cute song to listen to!
  • 22sai no Watashi – Her actual debut A-side was unsurprisingly another tune dabbling in the R&B genre which is kind of disappointing since most of the other soloists were covering that spectrum.  Nacchi’s 22sai no Watashi is pretty tame and her voice does suit the feel well.  I kind of enjoyed the melody of the tune and the guitar solo in the bridge was unique.  Not bad for a debut.
  • Pi~hyara Kouta – As part of the other half from the Minihams single, Nacchi’s contribution was a ballad and honestly it does sound quite different than what I was expecting.  It has a nice Oriental touch and space-y feel in its arrangement and Natsumi held her own here.  Different kind of song overall and I ended up enjoying this one!


  • Koi – As the B-side from the duet single, Koi to me just comes off as a standard ballad to me at first.  I will admit that I do like the choice of the acoustic guitar as the lead instrument, but then it kind of grows into this odd mid-tempo Country track with some rockin’ guitar solos XD.  Not sure why the synths were thrown after it but it’s a bit of a hot mess.  At least Nacchi & Keiko sound decent together, better than in the main track.
  • Yuuyakezora – Not quite sure what was up with the song in the beginning to the pre-chorus with the filters and very slow tempo it was going on.  Though I feel the song is at ends with itself because the verses were so jerky and the chorus just doesn’t suit the song much either.  Plus I wasn’t a fan of Nacchi’s yelling through its chorus either.

Overall: While not as impressive of a first year as a soloist as Kaori was, Nacchi had a little bit of fun here with 2 1/2 singles released.  While it might not be the best works she’s put out, I think she’s started off on a good foot.  Let’s see what next year will bring for Nacchi!



Iku ZYX! Fly High 13shiroitokyo

So remember in the Minimoni movie when Mari Yaguchi had told the remainder of the group that she was leaving and walked away with 4KIDS?  Yeah, well it seemed that in turn created ZYX (which funny enough did not include any of the girls in 4KIDS) but instead included 5 other girls from the Hello! Project Kids; Erika Umeda, Momoko Tsugunaga, Saki Shimizu, Maimi Yajima, and Megumi Murakami

With that they released two singles in the year, Iku ZYX! FLY HIGH in August & Shiroi TOKYO In December.

(Future TalkThe group actually ended next year, but these were the only two releases they had because it was most likely they disbanded due to Berryz Kobo being created (which had Shimizu and Tsugunaga))


  • Iku ZYX! FLY HIGH – What a debut to kick off with I’d say, it just blasts off right from the start and just has this cool beat and keeps things pretty stable for the remainder of the track.  I was also pretty happy that the shine shone equally on the girls and Marippe wasn’t leading everywhere, if anything Umechan & Captain were leading the lines.  There’s something 90’s about it, but it was just an awesome song to release…another in the time frame that other epic songs like “Uwaki na Honey Pie” and “Shabondama” dropped!


  • Shiroi TOKYO – As their follow A-side, Shiroi TOKYO might not hit the strides that their debut managed to capture, but it’s still a rather cute, wintry song for them and the poppier sounds still work for them.  Though I am noticing Megumi a lot more than I did in their last A-side, but everyone still has a decent set amount of solos so I’m pretty content with the song!
  • Tokonatsu Musume (ZYX Ver.) – See do a song that actually is in range for this young group and not something that’s way oer their heads!  I will say it is shocking that ZYX is covering a Coconuts Musume song (especially since this was kind of a single I had partly forgot about xD).  Like I said, ZYX handled this so much better than “Gatamekira” by a longshot!  Nice line distribution as well!  Yeah not a bad cover here for sure!


  • Gatamekira (ZYX Ver.) – You would have to have a good enough reason to cover a Taiyou to Ciscomoon song and this was the worst way to go with it.  I mean you still have 5 SUPER YOUNG ladies trying to tacle this rather mature-sounding song and it’s just kind of a trainwreck from the new, but strange arrangement to all of the girls sounding very odd trying to emulate sexiness.  I think Mari and Megumi were the closest to not fully blowing it, but everyone else was struggling here, to think it was a B-side to their debut >.<

Overall: For being a new group and the first to include H!P Kids, ZYX definitely has (had) some potential here.  Both A-sides were cool and cute and showed off the youthful energy that Hello! Project was needing at the time.  Even Marippe didn’t seem out of place (though I guess her tenure in Minimoni helped).  Still sucks the group disbanded though not even a year being active…

Other H!P Releases

hiphitsshinsakudouyou2genteiban32folksongs4pineappleparadisegetuprapperSEXY NIGHT ~Wasurerarenai Kare~FIRST KISSPetit Best 4

Seemed like 2003 was pretty packed for other releases!  First thing off, we have Hip Hits! Morning Musume Hello! Project INTERNATIONAL COLLECTION which is basically the two English tribute albums combined into one release with a new remix for one of the songs.  Of course I’m not reviewing it, but its worth noting.

So the 6th of the Douyou Pops, Shinsaku Douyou Pops 2 was released as well (The final one yay!)  Also won’t be reviewing this because it’s Children’s songs so yeah…

On top of the third Hawaiian exclusive best album, 2003 Nendo Hawaii Genteiban Hello! Project 3 was released as well!

Next up was the 4th in the FOLK SONGS series, FS4 FOLK SONGS 4 which had Nakazawa, Yasuda, Yaguchi, and Melon Kinenbi singing throughout.

Then comes Pineapple Paradise which was an odd release because it originally came from the “Natsu no Uta Shuu” Douyou Pops album last year, but due to promotions became a single in itself, sung by the two remaining Coconuts Musume members (Ayaka & Mika), Matsuura, and Satoda.

After all that, we finally get into our shuffle units (not quite sure what the actual theme was) but another great mix with

  • SALT5 (Kago, Ogawa, Abe, Matsuura, and Maeda) – With the hip-hop based GET UP! Rapper
  • 7AIR (Ishikawa, Takahashi, Niigaki, Ohtani, Satoda, Todd, Inaba) – With the R&B-centric tune, Kowarenai Ai ga Hoshii no
  • 11WATER (Iida, Yaguchi, Yoshizawa, Tsuji, Konno, Fujimoto, Murata, Saito, Shibata, Kimura (Country), Kimura (Coconuts) – With the speedy Ska song, BE ALL RIGHT!

The next two are one-single units:

First is ROMANS (Yaguchi, Saito, Ishikawa, Satoda, and Coconuts Ayaka) and were created from a TV show they had, Sexy Onna Jyuku and released their only single, SEXY NIGHT ~Wasurerarenai Kare~ before disbanding in September due to the show ending.

The other group is Aa! (Tanaka, Suzuki, Natsuyaki) and they released their only single, FIRST KISS and then just kind of went inactive in the next year (probably same reason that ZYX became inactive too).

Yup, the last thing was the annual Petit Best 4 no surprise there xD.


  • Hitoribocchi no Heya – As the opening to the FOLK SONGS album, Hitoribocchi no Heya is a Yaguchi solo and it’s kind of a refreshing sounding song despite being light pop with focus on acoustics and piano.  It does also give me slight Winter vibese but it could mostly be from the bouncy piano lines.  Marippe sounds nice and suits the cute feel of the track!
  • Ihoujin – Though I wasn’t expecting the next track, Ihoujin to boost things up further!  This time, it’s a Kei-chan solo (well mostly) there’s two lines that has Yuko as a backup singer, but other than that it’s all Kei and she was given a pretty decent song with this one.  With FOLK SONGS, I tend to really enjoy the upbeat songs so this was a nice surprise!
  • Mayonaka no Door ~ Stay With Me – If I didn’t already know this was on a FOLK SONGS album, I feel like this would’ve been an A-side of Melon Kinenbi’s because it’s surprisingly decent here.  Something about the funky arrangement and peppy feel with decent solos from the quartet just seemed to really work.  Wow, this and the above two tracks really are a good trio of songs!
  • Chuuou Freeway – Getting towards the end of the album, Chuuou Freeway does a pretty good job at waking me up with something upbeat and fun all the way on top of Mari’s performance in the song.  Plus any song that’s adding some jazz elements is going to win me over like Chuuou Freeway did.  Maybe this could’ve been an album song from the first Tanpopo album XD
  • GET UP! Rapper – SALT5 is the first of the shuffle units up and honestly it was a total surprise that we get a bit of a hip-hop, crowd pumping song.  I think the biggest surprise was seeing Yukidon being involved (especially since it’s a total 180 from what she was releasing thus far).  The tune is pretty ridiculous lyric-wise (especially with banana chippu-chippu-chippu line) and just fits the sillyness from Ayaya and Aibon while Yukidon, Makochan, and Nacchi kind of added more depth and vocal prowess here.  Just a fun and silly song and I really dug it!
  • BE ALL RIGHT! – 11WATER finishes things out and I was happy we got a Ska-sounding song for BE ALL RIGHT! because it means it’s energetic and bouncy for all the rights reasons and I personally loved this song the most of the 3.  Something about the loud energy and line distribution really caught me and having these 11 members was awesome.  I did hear a lot of Yossie, Nono, and Mikitty but everyone got some limelight which is great.  Peppy song that’s for sure!
  • Natsu LOVE Romance – Funny how “OH! BE MY FRIEND” couldn’t do it but somehow Natsu LOVE Romance did?  Plus it had members that weren’t involved in the shuffles like Yuko, Miuna, and Reina, Sayumi, and Eri (since the latter weren’t in H!P when the shuffle single released).  I really love the opening that reminds me of the Hawaiian album last year to the poppy, Summery feels I get from listening to this.  Actually I think all the members got a solo somewhere which is impressive since it is 27 members involved here.  Great song and definitely memorable from 2003.


  • Cosmos – No surprise that Yuko gets a solo track here with Cosmos.  Though it may be the first song I’m not too bothered by here.  It does feel like it wants to be a ballad but ended up being an R&B track instead.  I will say Yuko sounds nice, but I mean it doesn’t quite reach much higher than that.
  • 22sai no Wakare – Next is a duet between Marippe and Kei-chan and the song is this odd track that’s like folksy and somewhat reggae-ish?  I don’t know how to explain it but it’s a bit of a swaying kind of track.  Mari sings the first half while Kei tackles the 2nd which is pretty neat.  A little weird when the bridge hits as it changes the mood, but the last chorus where they sing one part is neat too!
  • Ame no Monogatari – Another Kei solo appears and I would say it’s perfectly in the middle for me.  Like it’s upbeat and fun to listen to on top of Kei-chan’s great vocals filling the song, but the arrangement isn’t quite up to par for me?  Just sounds like the put some effort here where they didn’t with “Tabi no Yado” and “Kokoro no Tabi”
  • Kemeko no Uta – As the last song on the FOLK SONGS album, it’s the only one to feature all 7 members for the song and Kemeko no Uta may have the brashest sound with it sounding a bit more pop/rock than others.  Though it closed the album on a good note, it doesn’t quite make it higher than other tracks!
  • Kowarenai Ai ga Hoshii no – When it came to 7AIR’s song I was pretty torn about it.  I mean you have some pretty decent members involved like Ai-chan, Mikapon, Masae, and Satoda (with a surprising return from Atsuko Inaba too!).  Sadly the song wasn’t quite what I was hoping for line-wise.  Rika, Ai-chan, Masae, and Mai have singing lines while Gaki, Mikapon, and Atsuko were just the rappers of the song and that bothered me plenty (especially it wasn’t really rapping, more like just hype girls).  The tune itself isn’t so bad with it’s kind of Gomattou-kind of groove.  I think it was the worst of the 3 shuffle songs, but the song is still catchy on occasion.
  • SEXY NIGHT ~Wasurerarenai Kare~ – Into the ROMANS single, SEXY NIGHT definitely reminds me a LOT of “Kowarenai Ai go Hoshii no” but less dancey and kind of more sensual of an R&B song which was to give the tune a little more of a mature feel.  Though just like the aforementioned song, it does suffer a lot of the same fate too.  3 of the 5 members are actually singing here (Mari, Mai, and Rika).  While Hitomi & Coconuts Ayaka are the hype girls here but they have a bit more lines and spice.  It’s OK for the most part though and felt mature in a nice way.
  • Roman – As the B-side from the “SEXY NIGHT” single, Roman is surprisingly the opposite to what the A-side was like.  It’s more upbeat and cute but still somehow keeps its maturity at a higher level which is nice.  What’s so good is that Ayaka & Hitomi are singing with the group and everyone has a nice chunky amount of solos to each other.  It’s a different kind of tune not gonna lie and wasn’t expecting that after the sexiness of the A-side.
  • FIRST KISS – Hearing of what Aa! was consisted of I was thinking we were going to et something cute and genki from FIRST KISS, but I was wrong XD.  Though I wasn’t too mad.  I mean another urban-like R&B track is here but this time we have to super young members in Airi & Miyabi and newly added Momusu member, Reina.  I will say the roughness was there and maybe too early for everyone to pull off, but I can’t deny the effort was there especially with Airi who pulled off those high notes nicely enough as well as Reina.  Interesting song and surprised that Aa! never went further than this single.
  • Masayume – As the B-side to “FIRST KISS”, Masayume tones things down to a ballad and it’s funny because this tune gives me Tanpopo vibes of “Last Kiss” with its dreamy arrangement and slow pace.  Still, the vocals are kind of what preventing this to be a great song, but I can’t blame them from the timing and what not.  Reina and Airi have tons of potential though and Miyabi has a weird little lisp going but regardless the song is pleasant and good for a B-side.


  • Tabi no Yado – Melon Kinenbi return again for another track and sadly it kind of just doesn’t do anything for me.  It feels like a more forgettable mix of both “Hitoribocchi no Heya” and “22sai no Wakare”.  That same mid-tempo acoustic-centric pop feel here.  It just wasn’t all that great and felt bland!
  • Kokoro no Tabi – Same thing is definitely applied here for Kokoro no Tabi which is mostly a Yuko solo (but I think the other 2 Momusu members were in the background of the track.  Sadly, like “Tabi no Yado” the arrangement is kind of overly plain and just phases into white noise after a while.
  • Wakamono-tachi – Yeah, simple ballads like Wakamono-tachi just kind of drive me up the walls and this acoustic guitar/bongos mix just doesn’t quite cut it for me.  I mean I do appreciate that its Yuko and the Melons here, but I feel like they don’t vocally mix well and the song is just blah enough to make it worse.  Yeah, I’m not here for it.
  • Pineapple Paradise – While this technically released last year on the “Shinsaku Douyou Pop 1” album, for some reason DOLE used this song to promote their pineapples and was released as a singular single for some odd reason.  Sung by the two Coconuts Musume members, Aya Matsuura, and Mai Satoda, this song is just a bit too kiddy and short for me to really make an impression either, though I do like the tropical sound it has..  Just a funky rarity release here.
  • OH! BE MY FRIEND – So the shuffle single of course had a B-side to it, but unlike past ones, this actually had all the members involved singing together.  OH! BE MY FRIEND really has this kind of peppy, upbeat kind of tone like songs of a similar nature like “Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru” and “LALALA Shiawase no Uta” with the super girly and positive notes.  No solos though keeping it groupings of 4 (or 3) for most of the song.  It’s kind of too sugary for me, so I always tend to forget this song existed, but I mean it’s not too bad of a song, just not memorable to me.
  • WOW WOW WOW – Like I said above when talking about Petitmoni, they only released one song and it ended up being a track on Petit Best 4.  Considering this is the first (and only) original track that this 3rd Generation of Petitmoni had I was curious to hear how Yossie, Makochan, and Coconuts Ayaka sounded together and this song wasn’t a good choice for them.  The tune isn’t like other past Petitmoni songs sadly going for this crazy rockin’ track but it’s kind of repetitive and a lot of the time the trio are yelling so it’s kind of too much here.


  • Shabodama (asia mix) – I really wish I knew why they had to take the already perfect Shabondama and just destroy it with a remix.  Like I’ll agree that it does sound more Asian versus its original angsty rockin’ sound, but just hearing it with the ferocious tones of the song just doesn’t work well…makes me just wanna delete this entirely.

Gains and Losses


  • Kaori Iida (soloist)
  • Natsumi Abe (soloist)
  • Miuna Saito
  • Asami Konno (to Country Musume)
  • Miki Fujimoto (to Country Musume & Morning Musume)
  • Reina Tanaka
  • Sayumi Michishige
  • Eri Kamei


  • Rika Ishikawa (from Country Musume)
  • Kei Yasuda (from Morning Musume)
  • Miki Fujimoto (as soloist)

My H!P Ranking for ’03

  • 45. Risako Sugaya
  • 44. Maasa Sudo 
  • 43. Chisato Okai 
  • 42. Mai Hagiwara
  • 41. Saki Nakajima
  • 40. Maiha Ishimura
  • 39. Yurina Kumai
  • 38. Chinami Tokunaga

(Pretty much these 8 didn’t do anything so they’re kind of all #38 to #45 with no order to them)

  • 37. Sayumi Michishige (NEW)
  • 36. Maimi Yajima (+2)
  • 35. Momoko Tsugunaga (+6)
  • 34. Nozomi Tsuji (-9)
  • 33. Asami Konno (-5)
  • 32. Miyabi Natsuyaki (+11)
  • 31. Risa Niigaki (-4)
  • 30. Saki Shimizu (+6)
  • 29. Rika Ishikawa (-10)
  • 28. Asami Kimura (-2)
  • 27. Erika Umeda (+6)
  • 26. Eri Kamei (NEW)
  • 25. Megumi Murata (-2)
  • 24. Reina Tanaka (NEW)
  • 23. Airi Suzuki (+9)
  • 22. Yuko Nakazawa (-1)
  • 21. Atsuko Inaba (0* she wasn’t on last years)
  • 20. Makoto Ogawa (-3)
  • 19. Miuna Saito (NEW)
  • 18. Megumi Murakami (+21)
  • 17. Hitomi Yoshizawa (+3)
  • 16. Mika Todd (-10)
  • 15. Ai Kago (-4)
  • 14. Ayumi Shibata (-5)
  • 13. Kei Yasuda (0)
  • 12. Ayaka Kimura (-2)
  • 11. Hitomi Saito (+1)
  • 10. Natsumi Abe (-2)
  • 9. Mai Satoda (+7)
  • 8. Maki Goto (-5)
  • 7. Masae Ohtani (0)
  • 6. Mari Yaguchi (-2)
  • 5. Kaori Iida (0)
  • 4. Aya Matsuura (-2)
  • 3. Ai Takahashi (+12)
  • 2. Yuki Maeda (+16)
  • 1. Miki Fujimoto (0)

I think I finally got through the busiest years in H!P, time to see what’s next in 2004!

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H!P Profiles: BEYOOOOONDS / CHICA#TETSU / Ame no Mori Kawa Umi


Back Row L to R: Kokoro Maeda, Utano Satoyoshi, Honoka Kobayashi, Minami Okamura, Saya Eguchi, Reina Ichioka
Front Row L to R: Momohime Kiyono, Miyo Hirai, Shiori Nishida, Yuhane Yamazaki, Rika Shimakura, Kurumi Takase


CHICA#TETSU L to R: Saya Eguchi, Shiori Nishida, Rika Shimakura, Reina Ichioka


Ame no Mori Kawa Umi L to R: Kokoro Maeda, Momohime Kiyono, Kurumi Takase, Yuhane Yamazaki, Minami Okamura

Back in 2017, an announcement was made originally that Reina Ichioka was going to debut with 2 other KSS members (and 2 Country Girls members were being moved to other groups) but of those 5 Ichioka chose to debut in a new group, but was also announced that Takase and Kiyono were to debut with a focus on stageplays, later on pulled back to being a full group as well

Dive into 2018 where things start to move forward and more members were added and later was explained that the two units to be called CHICA#TETSU & Ame no Mori Kawa Umi, but in the same announcement came the formation of BEYOOOOONDS which would be the combination of both groups and winners of the ONLY YOU audition that was running during the time

Towards the end of 2018, Kobayashi, Satoyoshi, and Hirai (winners of said audition) were added, but just to BEYOOOOONDS and not into the other units.

August of 2019 is when BEYOOOOONDS finally debuted in H!P (well, I guess the two smaller units too, but they were clearly not the focus).

Style of Music: Not much currently can be said about BEYOOOOONDS’ style of music because right now it’s their first year, but going by the single, it feels like a story with most of the music the music itself is pretty much EDM or Rock-centric

CHICA#TETSU’s concept is more dance-ish (and as of the end of 2019, based on trains) while Ame no Mori Kawa Umi has a more theatric vibe (though from their singular tracks), C#T is more cutesy while RFRO is more of the cooler rockin’ group.



  • Megane no Otoko no Ko / Nippon no D・N・A! / Go Waist



Ahhh their first ever song!  It’s a really cool song and Megane no Otoko no Ko shows more of the story-driven songs they have!

Overall: It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a new group in H!P not since 2016’s Tsubaki Factory.  Granted they sure took their sweet ass time getting the group going and dragging their feet to complete the group…it does make Hirai, Satoyoshi, and Kobayashi feel a bit odd as they don’t have a “sub-unit” to belong to.  Though I am very excited to see where this goes because a lot of the KSS involved are pretty strong and the 3 audition winners seem to have tons of potential too!  Let’s see where it goes!

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So the Kenshuusei is getting another new unit?!? Oh wait….it’s not permanent

Not even 2 days before the Summer concerts begin is when we get an announcement of a sort-of new unit within the Kenshuusei….not surprisingly named Hello Pro Kenshuusei Unit.  The idea behind is that they’ll watch over the members involved, but will swap girls out here and there for the time beings (slightly like BEYOOOOONDS?).  At least for now the current 5 girls are


Yup, the members you see here; Kirara Yonemura, Kanami Ishiguri, Nanami Kubota, Ruru Kanemitsu, and Madoka Saito were the ones chosen to start things off, not sure if they’ll get an original song too, but it is interesting they’d announce this 2 days before the concerts begin but I do think most of these girls seem ready to do something bigger, but goodness is the KSS getting small x.x

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ANGERME News incoming!

Well, it seems that in the weeks before H!P’s Summer tour, ANGERME has had some news regarding the group and I felt it was the right time to start talking so let’s get the first big news out of the way!

Rina Katsuta announces graduation


Couple weeks back, Rinapuu announced that she was graduating from ANGERME at the end of September to focus on studies (which is a fair conclusion)

To me, Rina was like the underdog when it comes to S/mileage/ANGERME because when she was first added to the group, she did look odd (lazy eye was pretty prominent) and she didn’t get many lines (or a song like Yattaruchan to boost her up like it did for Kanana).  Though for whatever reason when the name changed in the group, Rina was starting to have more solos and prominence and presence all in one!  She was always a great member and while her low energy performance might stick out in a rather rambunctious group, it made her feel like the mom of the group (next to Ayacho was) so it’s going to be sad when she does leave!

New Member joins the group!


Not even a day of warning and ANGERME teased something new was going to happen, well a couple hours later, it was announced that a new member has joined the group! (Katsuta replacement?) Either way it’s none other than Rin Hashisako who was a Kenshuusei member prior to the announcement!

Honestly, she has been growing a lot since joining and her voice is getting better and better as evident from the Test Recitals they’ve been doing!  Young, but she might be a great asset to the group, just surprising that she was added only 1 single (and an album) after Ise & Oota were so watching these 3 will be interestings!


I’m already pumped to see what the Summer concerts will bring (with Hashisako, 3 new Momusu members, the two new members for Juice=Juice, and BEYOOOOONDS performing more, and hopefully some new releases to fill the summer with).  It’ll be awesomes!

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