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

Mizuki Murota graduating from ANGERME/H!P on March 22nd T.T

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So in a surprise announcement today, Murotan announced that she’ll be graduating from ANGERME and H!P on March 22nd, which is the date of Hina Fest.  Apparantly she had been thinking about this since 2018 so I guess I could see this being the right time, but damn ANGERME just losing members like flies as this being the 5th in a year’s time (Wada, Katsuta, Nakanishi, and Funaki).

Murotan was a favorite even when she was in the Kenshuusei and I was happy she was chosen to bring in the name change and different approach to S/mileage.  A great belter and powerful presence was always great to see and it’s sad we only get 2 months with her (hoping a single will be released to kind of give her a graduation alongside Funakki’s).

That said, Funakki’s graduation was pushed back to the end of ANGERME’s tour so I suppose yay?

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Kobushi Factory to disband in March

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Yup, a week into 2020 and we get our first shocking announcement from Hello! Project that Kobushi Factory will indeed disband in March.  It seems that Hirose, Hamaura, and Nomura want to do something else (not exactly in the music industry, just something different).  In Sakurako’s case, it was the 5 or nothing at all and with this she’ll be retiring from the industry while Rei will remain in H!P as a soloist (which may or may not lead to her joining a different group, I’m sure.

I had thought the group had found their footing with their 2nd album, but it seems after the triple loss, they’ve been rather struggling and I guess this was the best route to take.  Granted it’ll be interesting to see how H!P will deal after losing Country Girls in 2019.

They did announce their final single set for March 4th, but now it’s just watching what H!P is going to do next.

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Hello! 2019! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

2019 was a pretty wild year it seems and ironically enough, it was everything that wasn’t the music but more of the numerous additions and graduations that had happened.  Let’s hop right in and talk about the year that was 2019!

Morning Musume ’19

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Seems like Morning Musume ’19 had a pretty small year in releases.  They began the year with their 4th best album, Best! Morning Musume 20th Anniversary which was a continuation of their last Best! Morning Musume album.  They then followed it up with a single in June with Jinsei Blues / Seishun Night.

The remainder of the year was surrounding the announcement of 3 new members in Mei Yamazaki, Homare Okamura, and Rio Kitagawa and then literally nothing, but they did announce a new single (for 2020 though).

GREAT SONGS

  • Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai (Morning Musume ’15 Ver.) – You all already know that I love this song to pieces, but this was a nice surprise from the best album to include this version of the song which included Riho & Zukki (but not Reina, Kaede, or Chisaki).  It always had bothered me why they never put this song out back then despite not being a HUGE song for them, it was stewing until those 2 members were gone.  The line distribution was better and you can easily hear both Riho and Kanon with their lines.  Like I said, a total treat here!
  • Koishite Mitakute – Kind of surprised we were given two new songs for the best album with the first being Koishite Mitakute!  With the intro, I was getting upbeat “ENDLESS SKY” vibes with it, but after that leaves, the song continues being upbeat, but kind of uplifting and cute to listen to.  I mean hell, Akane, Reina, and Miki has the first lines!  It’s a happy song and really was something I was missing from Momusu!
  • Jinsei Blues – As the leading A-side, Jinsei Blues kind of continues with this kind of wide dance sound that was explored in “Are you Happy?” with the heavy drums but more experimental feel to it.  I really seem to love the verses/pre-chorus a whole lot with the chorus being a little more straightforward.  Definitely was a nice surprise to hear and kind of made up for the other A-side somewhat.

OK SONGS

  • Akogare no Stress-free (Morning Musume ’18 Ver) – Funny how Morning Musume were the only group to get their own version of this Hello Pro All Stars track.  Really not much to say here though because there isn’t many solos here and the arrangement is entirely the same, it just feels like there’s less girls involved versus the original.  Not bad though
  • Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara (TV EDIT) – Never understood why a shortened version of Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara was included.  It’s just the opening, verse, and choruses here and while I do love the song in its entirety I just think shortened variants are just odd padding for the best album.
  • I surrender Aisaredo Ai – The 2nd of the new tracks (and the one that promoted the best album), I surrender Aisaredo Ai is pretty hectic all things considering with a bit more of a rock focus in its arrangement here.  It does kind of remind me of “Chikyuu ga Naiteiru” from a couple of albums ago and the same results kind of stick here.  It’s fine, but for me could get a little too messy and rambunctious with repeated listens.  Not exactly my style, but what can ya do?
  • Seishun Night – Seems like the group is returning to its disco-funk vibe with Seishun Night which tries to be a little more spicy and upbeat like what “Utakata Saturday Night!” did, but I don’t quite remember much of it.  I do like the rapping sections with Ayumi, Sakura, Miki, Mizuki, and Masaki.  Otherwise besides the focus on Chisaki, I really don’t remember much out of this one.

Predictions from 2018

Kind of unsure where the group is going next year, hopefully a little more active musically since there really wasn’t a lot this year IMO. I’m sure someone is going to graduate, but I’m not sure if there’ll be auditions since I feel like the group is full. Who knows with them!

Actuality: So with me not knowing fully what to expect out of MM’19, I’m surprised they released less than they did last year with just the best album and one single.  Though I am happy that no one graduated, but more surprised that 3 members joined as well.

Predictions for 2020: With 3 new members, I definitely hope the trio have a decent debut within the group, but I hope this means this time that the group will release more music too!  As for graduations, maybe Fukuchan as she’s been the eldest for a while, I also get a feeling that Eripon might graduate too for some reason.

ANGERME

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Honestly, I would say ANGERME had the craziest year this year starting from last year with Ayaka Wada announcing her graduation for this year and the addition of Haruka Oota Layla Ise which culminated into a couple releases, first was their OST for their stageplay, Time Repeat ~Towa ni Kimi wo Omou~ and their simultaneous April debut and graduation single, Koi wa Accha Accha / Yumemita 15nen.

Although Ayaka would be in one more release in the form of their 3rd album, Rinnetenshou ~ANGERME Past, Present, and Future~ in July before her graduation.

Before the Summer tour though, a new announcement was made that Kenshuusei member, Rin Hashisako would be joining.the group.

Though things kind of taken a weird turn for the group when in June, Rina Katsuta announces her graduation in September, but oddly enough didn’t participate in the next single (only really leaving her solo song for that single)

After Rinapuu graduated, Kana Nakanishi also announced her graduation set for December which means their next single, November’s Watashi wo Tsukeru no wa Watashi / Zenzen Okiagarenai SUNDAY will be her last single, but also the debut for Rin.

Though the mess isn’t over when in October, Musubu Funaki also announced her graduation set for next year…so she might get one more single in.

  • NOTE: Both solo songs from Katsuta and Nakanishi will be discussed below in the Other H!P Releases as they were released separately digitally too.

GREAT SONGS

  • Koi wa Accha Accha – Since the single they kicked off the year with was both a graduation and a debut single, I wasn’t entirely surprised they split it both ways with both A-sides here.  Koi wa Accha Accha was the debut side for Haruka and Layla and I think the group was trying to play this song off similarly to “Taikibansei” with some of its promotion.  I really like the Indian flavor to the song, almost reminiscent to C-ute’s “The Power” with how danceable it is.  As for the new members, they both have a singular line and I think I’m liking Layla’s booming voice though. On the other hand, the heavy-handed auto-tune on Momona’s big line before the final chorus was a little much, but otherwise….what a fun song to have!
  • I Musou Strong! – FINALLY, it seems its been forever since we’ve known about this song and finally it gets a studio cut as the first track on the group’s 3rd album.  The tune from the beginning just screams made for live performances so I totally get why it wasn’t initially picking up on me on first listen, but the longer I listened to it, the most I started loving it again and it’s just loud and a great to kick things off for the album!
  • Akai Earphone – It’s funny that a LOT of the album kind of went unnoticed (or not performed prior to the release), Akai Earphone was one of the few that was performed and it definitely still at the end of the year was the one track that immediately stood out from the album.  After “I Musou Strong!’s” big opening, Akai Earphone continued with this powerful sound that focused more on the synths.  I definitely was surprised at the amount of solos (though did Haruka get one?).  Still, the song was pretty awesome and one of the best songs in 2019.
  • Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart – Not sure how ANGERME always seem to ace these kind of funky discoheque kind of songs and Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart is a pretty cool and vocally fun song to listen to as the group just sounds lively and hearing members like Rinapuu, Takechan, Funakki, and the rest of them get some cool solos is great!  Another song I kind of wished gotten a PV.
  • Jinsei, Sunawachi Panta Rhei – Ayaka seems to enjoy opening songs on the album because she did again for this track which feels somewhat similarly to “Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart” with both tracks having a disco/funk flair about it (it reminds me more of “46-okunen LOVE” moreso oddly as I’m relistening to this).  It’s a bit more energetic of a song and the group really sounds just as much too!  I did like the bridge the most here as it’s brass and a guitar solo too!  It’s just a solid track for sure!
  • Zenzen Okiagarenai SUNDAY – I think this A-side was my favorite between the 4 ANGERME released within the year.  Being more of a mystical kind of downtempo track, I was happy Tsunku was involved here.  It’s kind of cool though and hearing the group sounds nice even with the track getting more trappish and bass-heavy adding more of a light dance vibe to it.  I think the robotic/dubstep bridge is weird af, but the song is really unique that’s for sure!

OK SONGS

  • Flag wo Bukkawase! – As their album had mini-groupings with a couple of their songs, I was curious with this one because it was between Akari, Mizuki, Layla, and Haruka.  My curiosity was more towards hearing the latter two members because I hadn’t had a good song to really form an opinion on their vocal talents.  Of course with Takechan & Murotan they’re pretty good with the rock’n’roll arrangement here.  As for the other two, I’m definitely enjoying Layla’s deeper vocals and there’s room for improvement for Haruka too so I’d say it was a good song overall.
  • Kaeritakunai na. – Ayacho opens up this track with a lone piano and it just seems to grow with different members as the intro continues on.  Not quite sure where I was standing with this song really because it was a bit of a slow crawl during the verses, but the chorus opens up into this upbeat dance track which is a nice change, but still has that hopeful sound to it that reminds me of “ENDLESS SKY” from Momusu especially that ploppy, synthy after-chorus.  Not a bad track overall!
  • Mou Ippou – Honestly, I love the opening to Mou Ippou that’s for sure (was that Funakki that had the adlib?).  Though once the loud drums appear, the song kind of turns from “Akai Earphone” to something like a mix of funk/synthpop/rock?  I don’t know but those drums are a bit too much for this and kind of distracts the melody, but it does give the vocals more pop.  Though the much needed break is in the bridge for some reason, but it’s shortlived as it kind of goes back to being loud.  Definitely screams album song.
  • Kagami no Kuni no Hinekure Queen – There were more mini-groupings to be found from the album!  This one featured Kana, Momona, Moe, and Ayano and it wasn’t surprising they were given more of a cute song here.  This was also somewhat interesting as the group didn’t have many of these on the album so it was a nice change of pace.  Wasn’t surprising though that I thought Kamiko and Kanana were the standouts for the song because Kassa and Kawamuu had some striking vocals and they’re somewhat weaker?  Regardless, the tune was cute enough, not the most memorable in the year, but it’s passable.
  • Kon’ya mo Suteki ni Ochitsukenai – That left us with Rina, Rikako, and Musubu to take the 3rd grouping track.  I’m not quite sure what style I’d put this under really, but it seems to be more chaotic/cute moreso than “Kagami no Kuni no Hinekure Queen” was.  I just find it really interesting that it’s these 3 members singing together.  I think I kind of feel similarly the same here, but I feel like this song’s arrangement is a little too busy, but the vocals are decent!
  • Watashi wo Tsukeru no wa Watashi – With both Ayaka and Rina gone, the group did manage to find a new member in Rin Hashisako and she debuted under this song.  I have to say though, the song itself isn’t anything totally special to me as it feels similar to stuff already done in H!P.  Rin doesn’t really get any lines (small ones) so most of it is left to the other members.  Not the best A-side they’ve done, but it’s OK.
  • Myouban, Galaxy Gekijou de – I was surprised to see ANGERME have a B-side on their single (if I remember correctly, they haven’t had one since “Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita” before the name change.  After listening to ANGERME’s songs this year, it does kind of fall into the same category like with “Itoshi Itoshi to Say My Heart” and “Jinsei, Sunawachi Panta Rhei” with a little more lean on the jazzier side of things but still has than funky tone to it.  I kind of like it, but those two aforementioned songs are a bit more memorable.

MEH SONGS

  • Yumemita 15nen – As the other half of that single was more focused on Ayacho’s graduation from the group, Yumemita 15nen is a little bit of a nod to the group’s debut song, “Yumemiru 15sai”, but nothing connected in style here.  This one is more bright and uplifting of a song and fitting as a graduation song.  That said, I wasn’t totally into the song and couldn’t really remember it as an A-side.  I do like the strings solo in the bridge and Ayaka’s solo afterwards, but yeah…just forgettable to me besides the reason it exists.
  • Watashi no Yumemita 15nen – If I thought that “Yumemita 15nen” was boring, then this song is even moreso especially since it’s Ayacho’s solo track.  Though I was bummed that the song used the same melody, but different arrangement and the same lyrics.  I just don’t know why they didn’t simply give her a legitimate original song because this is more boring to me than the above track.

Predictions from 2018

Besides the fact that Ayaka is graduating, I am curious to see the group’s dynamics going into the new year…Possibly another graduation, but this one for Kanana (she’s getting up there in years) or possibly Takechan (who has been in H!P for quite a while). Though I’m definitely curious to see how Haruka and Reira will fit.

Actuality: Wow, I mean while Ayacho doesn’t count, I definitely guessed that Kana was going to graduate from the group.  What I wasn’t expecting was Rinapuu to graduate between them and Funakki announcing hers.  As for the other half, I don’t think either Haruka or Layla have found a prominent place in the group yet (their debut and follow-up single really didn’t shed much light on them (maybe Layla?).

Predictions for 2020: I’m hoping Funakki gets a solo song when she graduates, but I don’t think it’ll happen because she hasn’t been in ANGERME too long (then again Yanamin got two graduation songs, so wtf).  I don’t know if anyone else will leave (Akari is still kind of a prediction, but who knows).  I also hope that Haruka, Layla, and now Rin will get more of a push in the group moving forward into the new year!  Though I can’t help that maybe they’ll try to add more members to bring the group back to that golden number of 12 since it seemed that was the pattern for a while.

Juice=Juice

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Juice=Juice seem to also have a pretty exciting year it seemed when it came to its members and for that didn’t have a lot of releases.

It began with February’s single, Bitansan / Potsurito / Good bye & Good luck! which was Manaka Inaba‘s first single with the group (she debuted last year on their sophomore album).  However, it was also Nanami Yanagawa‘s last single before her graduation.

Come June, Yuka Miyazaki had her last single with the group, “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? / 25sai Eien Setsu before graduating as well.

Though also in June, the group announced surprising news that new members were joining the group and were revealed to be KSS members Riai Matsunaga Yume Kudo.  Though it seems that H!P wanted to be odd about debuting them and went with having them debut with a rerelease of their previous single, but have the main A-side feature the new girls (and no Yuka), released in October.

And that was pretty much it for Juice=Juice for 2019.

GREAT SONGS

  • Potsurito – I think the song that stood out from the first single of the year, Potsurito was kind of a nice change after “Bitansan”.  Unlike the synthy upbeat dramatic track, Potsurito takes more of a ballad-like stance but uses electronics to kind of spice things up.  It shows mostly in the the chorus where it kind of goes full-on dramatic and kind of hits you hard with its explosion of sounds.  It’s definitey unique for them in the year and really stuck out the longer I listened to it.
  • “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? – As the leading track for the other single, “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” is definitely giving me some anime opening vibes and I’m totally here for it!  With the opening lines held by Karin and seemingly Ruru and Manaka beings leads while everyone else gets their own couple of solos (well Yukanyan only got one, which is sad as this is her final single with the group).  It’s a really good song though and another one of my favorites!
  • “Hitori de Ikirare Sou” tte Sore tte Nee, Homete Iru no? (New Vocal Ver.) – I still am kind of disappointed that Riai and Yume pretty much debuted on an already known track, moreso their last single, but I suppose it’s a thing.  With Yuka now having left the group, the line distribution was going to be tossed around, I didn’t think much because Yuka had one solo, but I wasn’t expecting the other group members getting different lines.  For example, Ruru opens the song up instead of Karin.  Honestly, I was here to get a sample of what the new members would sound like and honestly Riai and Yume fit in like a glove in this song, both having some good vocals and sass that matches up with the rest of Juice=Juice.  Still a great song overall!

OK SONGS

  • Bitansan – Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I’ve heard this song a couple times in Juice=Juice’s catalog like in “Kaze ni Fukarete”.  I’m surprised to hear this kind of sound return and I kind of enjoyed that I heard a lot of Karin, Manaka, Tomoko, and even Ruru here.  Though if I had to say something, I feel almost the same way as I did about ANGERME’s “Watashi wo Tsukeru no wa Watashi” in that it’s kind of a safe song for the group.  Though it’s not bad in any shape.
  • Good bye & Good luck! – So of course, the 3rd A-side from their early 2019 single was going to focus on Nanami Yanagawa who was graduating.  Not quite sure if I like Nanami’s solo for the intro, but once the song gets going the tune is pretty happy and definitely was nice to hear all the members singing in a hoppy way.  As a sendoff song, it wasn’t bad and its cutesy side was a nice change after two rather solemn tracks.
  • 25sai Eien Setsu – There was no surprise that Yuka was going to get a sendoff song in her final single and 25sai Eien Setsu (like “Good bye & Good luck!”) is kind of more of a happier sounding song (seems like these songs this year all kind of felt that way).  This one doesn’t bother me much because Yuka gets a lot of time to sing (between duets and solos towards the end).  Actually she’s the only one to get solos in the song so yay for that.  That said, while cute these kind of songs just kind of go over me.  Not bad, but not entirely memorable.

Predictions from 2018

Besides Yanamin & Yukanyan graduating, I’m actually unsure what’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll have 3 singles?

Actuality: Yeah there really was nothing I could predict out of Juice=Juice last year besides the graduations that had already been announced.  Though the group only had two singles released (that re-release doesn’t count in my eyes).  Oooph.

Predictions for 2020: I wanna say that Riai and Yume’s actual first single (that isn’t a blah re-release) will be pretty strong and will show more of what they’re capable of.  I don’t think they’ll add more members, but I do think Kanatomo may be thinking of graduation if not Miyamoto as well (with her surge of solo content she’s been performing).

Country Girls

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Country Girls’ 2019 was going well right up until the end of the year basicallys lol.  The year for the group began in March when they released their first mini-album, Seasons, which had the digital songs they released in the last two years, a new song (which was a send-off for Yanamin) and an updated classic before Nanami Yanagawa‘s graduation

The group went back into silence up until the Summer concerts and released a new digital single in August, One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~ / Natsuiro no Palette.

Then October happened when they announced that the group would be disbanding at the end of December.  It’s pretty much because both Risa Yamaki Mai Ozeki will be graduating from H!P on 12/26 to do other things (Risa is also leaving College Cosmos too).  On top of that news, Musubu Funaki would also be graduating, but it seems she’s leaving in 2020 so I won’t talk about that.  As for Chisaki, she will remain in Morning Musume.

It was followed up shortly with the announcement of their best album, Country Girls Daizenshuu ① which had 99% of their discography on it before finally disbanding.

GREAT SONGS

  • Zutto Zutto – For whatever reason, the intro of the song gives me jungle vibes, but it turns into a cool Tsunku-led track here.  Though once Chisaki enters the song, it kind of becomes a happier sounding track with a nice beat and some good vocals throughout.  It feels interesting as a song and the bits where it sounds like a Donkey Kong game is really interesting too.  For being the group’s final song, they went out with a solid track!

OK SONGS

  • Itooshikutte Gomen ne (’19 five girls version) – “Season’s” other interesting track was an updated version of the group’s debut song.  Of course since only half of the group was present in the original (Risa, Mai, and Chisaki), I was curious to hear a version that also included Musubu and Nanami. For the most part it’s OK and hearing Yanamin get Utachan’s opening line was not surprising in the least.  It’s still Itooshikutte Gomen ne, but I feel like I miss the original’s raw vocal talent from the newbies and hearing Momochi’s vocals as well. Decent as it gets though!
  • One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~ – I was surprised that this kind of came out of nowhere for the group considering they were promoting and performing “Natsuiro no Palette” for a bit prior yet this one was the one that got the PV.  I was surprised that the song’s initial feeling reminded me of a 90’s sitcom with the arrangement and that added saxophone.  I do remember hearing a LOT of Mai and Funakki in the song that’s for sure I think this was where I noticed Mai’s lisp was kind of going away?  Regardless, this was a nice song from the now quartet!
  • Natsuiro no Palette – So the track that we got to hear during the Summer concerts, Natsuiro no Palette was kind of one of those tracks that just kind of exists for the group as it’s kind of cutesy but it has synths and whatnot.  I enjoyed the lighter vibes, but it feels almost throwaway for whatever reason.
  • Hajimete no Happy Birthday! (2015 Country Girls Ver.) – I wasn’t expecting UFP to be hiding some unreleased tracks from when the group was in its beginnings.  Of course it wasn’t surprising that they’d cover popular Country Musume songs here.  I also have to remember this was recorded 4 years ago.  Hearing Uta again is kind of nice and she sounds better here than she did in her debut and with Mai and Chisaki leading alongside her, it made for a good cover.  Even the updated arrangement fits nicely along too.  Overall, good job here.
  • Uwaki na Honey Pie (2015 Country Girls Ver.) – While it didn’t share the updated arrangement like “Hajimete no Happy Birthday!” it’s stil Uwaki na Honey Pie which is great because it is a good song.  Though, I can’t explain while vocals are good, they aren’t quite as strong.  Still, I had a good time listening to this again and happy to see Uta did record more before leaving the group.

MEH SONGS

  • Yowaki Joshi Taibu Todoke – As the only new song on the “Seasons” mini-album, I had mentioned that the new song was a send-off song for Nanami (good lord, is she the only H!P member to get two send-off tracks? I’d say Sayumi Michishige would maybe not count because she got a solo track and a sendoff, but may be the closest).  Sadly, comparing this to her other one, “Good bye & Good luck!”, I don’t think this one came close.  I will say that it is cute and hearing all 5 members get solos (of course Yanamin had the most here).  Still, this feels like almost B-side tier of a track and slightly disappointed it was the only new track.

Predictions from 2018

For next year, the only thing set in stone for the group is Yanagawa’s graduation leaving Country Girls as a quartet. Beyond that, its really up to the company to what they wanna do since it feels like Morito & Funaki are comfortable in their groups while Yamaki does College Cosmos. I guess I’m expecting Ozeki to be placed in a group though. As for releases, maybe 2 songs?

Actuality: Well, I mean most of that came true in some sort of way with Morito and Funaki releasing more under their other groups, but I’m happy we got more than 2 songs from Country Girls despite the knowledge that they’d be disbanding at the end of the year.

Predictions for 2020: While we were given a sliver of a chance that the group could be revived down the road, I think for now closing this chapter is fine.  If the revival happens does happen, I hope it’s for a good reason!

Kobushi Factory

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I think of all the units in H!P, I feel like Kobushi Factory had the steadiest year with not a lot of changes happening at all unlike most of the groups (besides BEYOOOOONDS, but they debuted so that don’t count).

Kobushi only had their two releases, April’s Oh No Ounou / Haru Urara single and their October sophomore album, Kobushi Dai Ni Maku.

GREAT SONGS

  • Oh No Ounou – It feels like it’s been a while since Kobushi really had one of those silly songs for the fans (maybe “Kitto Watashi wa” could make a case, but nothing like this.  Ou No Ounou is very much Kobushi Factory with it’s pump-up rockin’ feel, but it adds its humor by these oddly recorded ~oh nos~ that make me chuckle at how they’re delivered in the song.  I feel like I now enjoy hearing the members utilizing their more fierce vocals in these kind of tracks and the chorus is bouncy and catchy!  I think I was impressed by Ayapan the most here, her voice is just so gritty here, though I’m loving Minami & Sakurako too!
  • Come with me – Going into the album songs, 5 of the tracks were focus songs (in which each member fronted a song).  Being the first of the new songs from the album, I was curious to see where the group would land as a quintet after the triple loss of members. Being an Ayaka-led song I was happy that it turned out as well as it did with it’s very quick-paced jazz arrangement (almost quickstep maybe?).  Rightfully said though, Ayaka sounds awesome and the rest of the group does too, it just feels so energized of a song and is completely 100 most of the track!
  • Dokan to BREAK! – I think the feelings I had with “Kame ni Nare!” seemed to be fixed with this heavy rock song and I’m kind of loving the vocal prowess of all 5 members here.  It just feels so open and the girls have such an open field to really let themselves go and I appreciate that about this track.  One of the standouts from the album like “Come with me”.
  • Ashita no Watashi wa Kyo Yori Kirei – Saving Hamachan’s song towards the end of the album, I was loving that it opened with just acoustic guitar and the girls singing along and it was just nice to hear Ayano singing alongside everyone and then the chorus hits and the harmonies were just pretty to listen to.  Though after that, the song grows more into a more upbeat “Haru Urara” and I’m pretty ok with that especially since it came with a nice guitar solo.  Really solid end to the album if not ruined because of the bonus track a bit.
  • Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin (Acapella Ver.) – If the hint from “Nen ni wa Nen” wasn’t enough the album had a second disc of 6 acapella versions of songs.  I had wondered what possibly Kobushi could pull off here.  After the previous effort, I had high hopes and Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin is a nice change of pace as it showed a bit more complexity in their style.  My only qualm is that Hamachan leads more of the lyrics which is a bit disappointing for not showing off the other 4 members in a better light.  Still, pretty impressive!
  • Sakura Night Fever (Acapella Ver.) – Ok, I didn’t think I wanted this, but after hearing it, I feel like this was the song that could’ve suited this acapella facelift and it’s got a lot of nice harmonies and just good sounds throughout.  I mean Ayano is still leading, but the other members have a lot to do in this one and it just feels full and together.  Definitely the best of the acapella tracks!

OK SONGS

  • Haru Urara – Being their spring song, Haru Urara was a softer change of pace after “Oh No Ounou” and maybe could’ve been a song from their last couple of singles, but I think this was a rather nice track for the group.  Hamachan actually sounded pretty nice.  It’s pretty above good here and this was what I was hoping Kobushi would do for a more serious song rather than tracks like “Naseba Naru”.
  • Nen ni wa Nen (Acapella Ver.) – Kind of a nice extra from the single (and a slight hint of what’s to come within the year from the group) we get an acapella take of their debut indies single!  I’m pretty surprised it happened but the turnout wasn’t a total bomb and the quintet managed to keep up especially with the beatboxing from I think Reirei!  Interesting take on the song that’s for sure.
  • Suki Kamo Shirenai – It’s funny what I first listened to this song (which is Rei-lead), it was pulling my brain at how similar the song was sounding to some other H!P tracks in the library to me.  Though it clearly dawned on me that it’s super familiar to Juice=Juice’s “Bitansan” and that was released earlier in the ear so sadly my interest kind of waned a bit.  Coming back to it for the end of the year, it still gives me those vibes, but I also feel like the melody is better set up for Rei and (especially those verses when Hamachan changes tones from minor to major).  Beyond that it’s almost a clone song…
  • Hirakinaocchae! – Getting into Minami’s leading track, Hirakinaocchae! of the 5 kind of stands on its own as a Kobushi track because it’s purely a pop/rock song that’s for sure.  I have to say, watching Minami grow as a singer has been a smooth but noticeable ride and she has stable vocals when you get down to it and a song like this is a great place for her.  Still not terribly a song I’d go back to too often, but enough that I wouldn’t be bothered if it came on!
  • Unlucky no Jijou – Sakurako is up next with her focus track and this one definitely comes off sounding like a good ending theme to an anime for the reasons of pop/rock with piano/strings in the background.  Sakurako does sound nice and she’s also getting better as a singer and catching up to the rest of the group.  It might not be as good as “Come with me” or even “Hirakinaocchae!”, but I’d say I’d enjoyed this one as much.
  • Kame ni Nare! – Another song that features the members equally (the songs performed a while before the album was even announced), Kame ni Nare! to me feels like the “TEKI” of the album where the group is just rockin’ out and having a great all time, especially since there’s chants in it too (which worked better than in “Yes! We are family”.  It is a little frantic which is why it’s not higher for me, but it’s okee.
  • Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa (2019 ver.) – I mean I get why this was updated for the album (due to Rio, Rena, and Natsumi up and leaving two years ago and somehow “Eejanaika Ninjanaika” was omitted as well from the album) but I feel like Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa didn’t need this because it sounded a bit better in the original cut versus this one.  It’s still a decent ska song, but just leaves a slightly bitter taste for me being included and updated to just have the 5 remaining members.
  • GO TO THE TOP!! (Acapella Ver.) – Despite GO TO THE TOP!! not being one of the more memorable songs from “Kobushi Sono Ichi”, I kind of figured it was going to happen since they were already doing acapella performances with the song prior to the album.  I really loved the opening with the harmonies and the song itself was pretty cool with the beatboxing, but once again so much Hamachan…
  • Samba! Kobushi Janeiro 2019 (Acapella Ver.) – I had to research on what the 2019 had meant because it was the only one on this disc that had the year date placed in the title, but it seems like the lyrics were changed a bit (to be a little less about the Rio Olympics I suppose?).  I do like that the other members got to do a little more but Ayano is still kind of leading this.  I think of the 6 acapella songs, this was the weakest of them.  Just didn’t wow me like the others.

MEH SONGS

  • Keseyashinai Kimochi – Once again, I feel like Kobushi Factory is kind of trying to get their own cut of another Juice=Juice song, this time from “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”.  Meaning it’s kind of an upbeat funky song, though this one is a bit slower and has a bit more of a laidback fun kind of vibe.  Not quite sure why, but the song just doesn’t quite come together for me as well as others from the album.
  • Yes! We are family ~Kobushi ver.~ & ~FC Machida Zelvia ver.~ – Not quite sure why this kind of tossed the flow of the album off, but Yes! We are family is kind of the cheer song of the album and while it I’m liking hearing a lot of Ayaka here again, the song feels lacking in energy and power.  Not really all that intriguing of a song and the FC Machida Zelvia is the same arrangement, just different lyrics so it really didn’t help much to elevate things here.  Although, I was surprised it ended with the “Nen ni wa Nen” melody.
  • LOVE Machine (Acapella Ver.) – It’s funny that Kobushi would tackle Morning Musume’s classic, LOVE Machine in an acapella form, but that definitely made me curious. After hearing it, I’m kind of torn between liking it because it’s impressive, but also kind of slightly turned off because of it too. I do feel that of the 6, this does have some instrumental help (the synth line before the verses is very modified sounding). Plus it just doesn’t have that kick to it that the original had which makes this a little one note to me. I just don’t care for it I guess.

Predictions from 2018

Just to be more active again, while I don’t know if there close to a sophomore album, or even gaining new members (considering the ONLY YOU audition), it’s a little bit of a mystery to what’s next for Kobushi Factory.

Actuality: I would say they were more active but it was only one single and their album, so a bit more you could say.  No new members oddly enough, but still going strong as the 5 for now!

Predictions for 2020: It’s still a mystery what’s really going on in Kobushi Factory, I mean they’re still doing fine as the 5 and no one seems to be truly close to graduation, so anything can really happen for them (3 singles maybe?)

Tsubaki Factory

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sankaimenodateshinwanineteenharukanaru

If I had to give the bad luck trophy out this year, it would definitely have to go to Tsubaki Factory because they only released a measly 4 songs this year (ignoring the OST).

While they were still promoting their first album in the beginning of the year, Tsubaki Factory wouldn’t come back until February with the first single, Sankaime no Date Shinwa / Fuwari, Koi Dokei.

Things seemed alright up until May when it was announced that Kiki Asakura was once again going to take a hiatus for the same problem she had last year, but this time it seems that it affected the group because they only released a digital single in August, Nineteen no Shinkirou (’19 Summer Ver.).

The only other thing the group really released was their DVD+CD release of their Summer stageplay Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 6 Gaiden ~Tasogare no Kamen~ and the announcement that Kiki would return for their next single in 2020.

GREAT SONGS

  • Fuwari, Koi Dokei – Unlike the brash “Sankaime no Date Shinwa”, Fuwari, Koi Dokei comes off as a softer song from the 9-nin and I’ve been appreciating the group doing more slower songs as of late.  There’s just something really relaxing and the end of the choruses with the ticking-clock sounds is neat and adds to the atmosphere.  It’s sad that it’s my favorite of the 4 songs they released this year, but at least this one ranks up their with some of their bests.

OK SONGS

  • Sankaime no Date Shinwa – As the leading A-side, Sankaime no Date Shinwa just immediately kicks things into gear with a rather aggressive dance/guitar riff that shockingly catches me off guard.  Though the song is pretty much a harder take of something like “Hana Moyou” or even “Junjou cm”.  I’m kind of liking the rockin’ additions, but I feel something isn’t right?  Maybe it’s the transition from choruses to verses?  I don’t know, but it’s a little messy in places but it is pretty energetic.
  • Mou Saikou! – I was wondering when we’d get the TROLLS songs (the other one is going to be on their 2020 single >.>), but Mou Saikou! was the B-side from their lone single of the year.  I really can’t put into words how I feel because it isn’t a H!P song (more of a cover with their lyrics).  It’s really hard to see Tsubaki Factory given such a girly and anison-ish song (honestly, feels like it could’ve been an old S/mileage song).  It’s sugary sweet and just genki af, but I suppose it works for Tsubaki in a strange way.

MEH SONGS

  • Nineteen no Shinkirou (’19 Summer Ver.) – I didn’t think they’d perform a new song in the Summer tours, but more surprised they’d release it without Kiki in the song (because of her hiatus).  Though it does feel like one of those encore songs meant for end performances because of the energy and the pop/rock arrangement of it all.  Not really my cup of tea and the vocals aren’t exactly impressing me here either.  Just curious if they’ll change it in 2020 (since it’s a B-side to their single and brings Kiki back in).

Predictions from 2018

I really don’t know actually. After their first album, it’s really open for anything from additions to graduations, but I’m hoping for 2 singles at least (and maybe get those Trolls songs released).

Actuality: Well even for the simple guess for at least 2 singles, it didn’t really come true since it was just only one physical and one digital single.  Though we did get one of the two TROLLS tracks so I suppose that’s fair!

Predictions for 2020: 3 singles, especially since they’re the first group to release a single in 2020, so I hope UFP doesn’t get lazy!

BEYOOOOONDS (CHICA#TETSU, Ame no Mori Kawa Umi)

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meganenotokonokofushiginokuninoalivebeyooooond1st

FINALLY!, we have a new group and bless that they finally got BEYOOOOONDS to do things besides only perform at lives.  Granted they didn’t start until May with a little preview in the form of a short OST for their stageplay, Fushigi no Kuni no Alice-tachi.

Though their debut single was up shortly awhile later in August with Megane no Otoko no Ko / Nippon no D・N・A! / Go Waist which was apparently good enough that right after in November they released their first album, BEYOOOOOND1St.

As for the sub-groups, they both got 2 songs each but they’re in BEYOOOOONDS’ releases so I’ll just throw them in here since it’s related.

GREAT SONGS

  • Megane no Otoko no Ko – As the group’s first song ever performed, it was fair to have it be their debut A-side (or at least 1/3rd of it).  When I first heard it, I was curious because it was given a story (which explains it’s lengthy intro to the track, with the dialogue starting with Momohime and leading to the rest of the group acting out the story before the song actually begins).  I already had found myself loving it’s quick-paced EDM sound and the fact that I hear most of the group get solos (Miyo, Honoka, and Utano were added after this song was first performed, so they have like no lines here sadly).  Still, I love the fire behind the track and I really liked the goofiness overall, great debut song!
  • Nippon no D・N・A! – Though since the other two A-sides were brand new to listeners, I was very intrigued to hearing them and the 2nd A-side of the single was shockingly pretty catchy in all the right ways!  With the song opening with Miyo pretty much shouting lines before the group goes into this cool sound for its verses before it gets to its incredibly catchy chorus.  The only thing that really threw me off was after the first chorus where Minami & Kokoro have their spoken sections, it felt strange tbh, but I still think the song is pretty rad and showed of BEYOOOOONDS as a cool group too.
  • Go Waist – Not sure what was going on but when I heard that Go Waist was a humorous tune that uses the melody of a song originally sung by The Village People, I was a little worried, but I feel like Go Waist is a song that may have could’ve been done years ago in H!P.  It’s definitely the poppiest of the 3 A-sides, but there’s something about it that makes it stand out.  Maybe the catchy chorus, or even the bridge where it completely changes genres and Saya takes over (even if it’s spoken dialogue).  Still, this is even goofier than “Megane no Otoko no Ko” and I appreciate this kind of song even if it’s part of their debut!
  • Atsui! – I was initially wondering why they had left this song off their single (because it was performed before their debut single for quite a while, but I guess UFP wanted to keep this to promote the album and boy did it end up being a pretty standout choice!  I definitely was not expecting the group to go all-in on the hard rock genre, but this was a POWERFUL and loud song for them (especially when you consider the blunt lyrics) too.  From the nice piano intro from Honorin to just the in your face atmosphere of the tune itself, I was floored and impressed!  I did like they kind of went meta for the bridge with Rika, Minami, and Saya talking about that being the only slowdown of the song…it’s just full of personality and it really impressed me!
  • We Need a Name! – I was so happy to see Miyo, Honoka, and Utano actually get a track to themselves (considering none of the three are in Ame no Mori Kawa Umi or CHICA#TETSU, which is what this song is kind of about).  Seeing as the trio is thinking of a name to call themselves they made it into a song and we just have a good time here.  I’m loving that Miyo is that first to sing followed by Honoka before the tune opens up into this kind of showtunes-y kind of sound.  It’s another humorous but it really shows off the members (especially Honoka’s piano skills).  Yeah, this was a nice surprise, although I’m questioning how I feel about Utano’s vocals.
  • Kinoko Takenoko Daisenki – I was raising an eyebrow when I saw the meaning of this track and had to know what this was going to entail and I was NOT disappointed in this one because it’s trying to be a mixture of a lot of styles for this rather epic track (reminding me of S/mileage’s “Shin Nippon no Susume!” with the shifting styles and just overall randomness yet epicness it had.  I really loved every part of the song and is rather unique for H!P.
  • Gannen Bungee Jump – Unlike the jazzier vibes of the track before it, “Koi no O-swing”, Gannen Bungee Jump adds a bit more funk and upbeat energy and I quite found myself enjoying hearing the members having fun here and the arrangement is just bright and energetic and kept me tapping my foot.  I mean that’s what it’s all about and it’s one of the more surprisingly good tunes here.
  • Renai Bugyo – Though I think Renai Bugyo was the nicest track to be added, being a bit more EDM-centric and more following the current trends other than some of the Japanese sounds that filter throughout.  I don’t think it’s enough to be Parapara, but it’s sound would fit DDR games.  Not sure why I get Minimoni vibes here, but this was a pretty fun song to listen to.

OK SONGS

  • GIRL ZONE – As the first Ame no Mori Kawa Umi song song we got, when H!P said this group was going to be more theatrical based, I wasn’t expecting GIRL ZONE to be what the group got.  It’s a little more harder than anything BEYOOOOONDS had up to this point with the grittier electric sound it had, but I do enjoy the aggressive natureof the verses (even if the slight falsetto is unusual).  I think where the song slightly loses me is its chorus which is odd happier-sounding than what the verses show off.  Still, the song is still pretty cool and RFRO did a pretty good job here.
  • Bunkasai Jikkou Iinchou no Koi – Just like “Megane no Otoko no Ko”, this B-side actually opens with a minute-long skit intro which I feel like may work in live performances, but in studio recordings, it’s a bit too much for me to take interest in.  Once the song kicks in it does kind of remind me of a slower and more controlled “Atsui!”.  It’s less frenetic and the arrangement kind of gives me Buono! vibes, but totally its own thing.  Still, it’s not the most memorable song either and just flies by.
  • Toei Oedo-sen no Roppongi Eki de Dakishimete – CHICA#TETSU closes out the single with their first song and immediately it was giving me some nostalgic H!P vibes like from the days of S/mileage (“Short Cut” comes to mind).  It’s also unlike any other track off the single because it pushes CHICA#TETSU as the cutesy group with this song.  Plus the 4 members sound really nice together and the tune altogether is just pleasant!
  • Takanawa Gateway Eki ga Dekiru Koro ni wa – At the point when I saw CHICA#TETSU get another song and it also had to do with a train station like the above track, I kind of toted them as the train unit lol!  I feel like when I listen to this track, it does keep up the cutesy feel that started in “Toei Oedo-sen no Roppongi Eki de Dakishimete” but it has a 70’s pop track kind of groove that lets it stand out a bit.  Not sure which of the CHICA#TETSU’s songs ended up better, but I think these two work together.
  • Koi no O-swing – Another song that I was OK with, Koi no O-swing takes more of the big band/jazz style here and I was surprised at how classy and yet was surprised with the vocals they chose (going for more of the higher sounding girls).  I think I heard a lot of Minami and Rika for some reason I think they’re the main vocalists for this track on top of Honoka and Saya.  It’s a nice song and a lot more chill than many of the other songs on the album!
  • Nobishiro ~Beyond the World~ – As the album’s closer, Nobishiro unsurprisingly takes up as the group’s first ballad and it’s pretty slow-paced but slightly soulful so it has a bit more of a sway to it versus other ballads as of recent.  It’s nice that it isn’t a total borefest and it even changes midway to a more upbeat tune.  It really wraps up the album with a pretty bow I’d say.

MEH SONGS

  • OOOOOVERTURE – Not sure what I was expecting as the introduction to the album, but it definitely wasn’t something dramatic and grandiose as this with a full orchestra.  I think it may have been a humorous choice to do this, but it definitely doesn’t work especially since “Atsui!” was the next track on the album anyways, I did love the way how the choir closes it with them chanting ~BEYOOOOONDS~ over and over before it ends, otherwise…I could’ve lived without it.
  • Sokora no Yatsu to wa Onaji ni Saretakunai – I was caught off guard with how sudden it opens up with those quickly sung lyrics for this 2nd Ame no Mori Kawa Umi track.  While it does continue to make RFRO look more like the cooler group in comparison to CHICA#TETSU, I wasn’t as impressed with this song as I was with “GIRL ZONE”. I do like the guitar solo in the track that almost rivals “Atsui!”, but then it’s back to those smushed lyrics the precedes the verses.  I don’t know, I’m just not into this one from the album.
  • Sayokyoku “Megane no Otoko no Ko” – While I do know and respect this was a Honoka solo piece as she’s only playing piano in this short interlude, I think placing before “Megane no Otoko no Ko” which already had a lengthy opening section was kind pouring salt on the wound.  I will say I did enjoy Honoka’s skills, but I think like with “OOOOOVERTURE” I could’ve lived without it.

Predictions from 2018

I wouldn’t be surprised if the first couple of releases will be under BEYOOOOONDS before they debut as their own group, I’m curious about what name Miyo, Honoka, and Utano’s group will inherit (and yay a new trio group!).

Actuality: I was sort of right with the fact that BEYOOOOONDS would take front and center for the releases while the sub-units are kind of secondary, not quite sure if those two/three groups will get separate, physical own releases in the new year or not.  Still no name for the trio though, if “We Need a Name!” is anything to go by LOL.

Prediction for 2020: With BEYOOOOONDS now passed their first album, I feel like UFP will promote them a lot in 2020 hopefully with no losses and maybe a name for the trio (it’ll be funny what they’ll do with their song should it happen).  Not sure if RFRO or CHICA#TETSU will get their own release, but I’d like to see a dual release.

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Unit

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If I had thought BEYOOOOONDS was going to be the last group introduced for a while (considering how long it took for the group come together), we get a strange and interesting announcement in July

The H!PKSS Unit formed of Kirara Yonemura, Nanami Kubota, Ruru Kanemitsu, Madoka Saito, and Kanami Ishiguri was announced but was also stated the members could be pulled out and others may join.

Most of the year had them perform in different live concerts with not a HEAVY amount of work for them to do really.

Though the biggest news was towards the end of the year in late December, Ruru Kanemitsu had left the company and unit, leaving them at 4.

Predictions for 2020: I’m sensing something will be announced that has to deal with them in 2020 whether it’d be a replacement to Ruru’s open spot, an indies single, or even an actual debut…it’s an open case right now.  Interested though to see if they get their own music in the new year.

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei / Kenshuusei Hokkaido

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Despite the Kenshuusei didn’t release any music (they did perform 3 new songs, but no actual release for them yet), they were still pretty busy this year!

It begun in January when it was announced that Sakiko Kodama had left and that Hokkaido member, Minori Kawano would go on hiatus (which is as of the end of the year, still happening).  Then in April, Mei Kusunoki would also leave the program.

June came along and Riai Matsunaga and Yume Kudo would end up joining Juice=Juice as well as Mei Yamazaki joining Morning Musume ’19 and in July, Rin Hashisako joining ANGERME.

In the same month of July, the Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Unit was formed (as mentioned above).

Though closing July, it was announced that Anna Shutto, Kotomi Ono, and Hikari Sato had finished their training.

August comes around and we get a boost of new members joining the Kenshuusei; Ruri Hiromoto, Honoka Hashida, Miku Nishizaki, Yuki Hirayama, Momo Kitahara, Kisaki Ebata, Runo Yofuu, Hasami Uemura, Ayana Murakoshi, and Ririka Hashimoto (Hashimoto joining the remaining Hokkaido girls) joined up.

December also brought two more girls to the Hokkaido branch: Karin Nishimura and Hina Shibuya and at the end of the month, Ruru Kanemitsu would leave the program.

Other H!P Releases

choiakudevilkoisurusakanahentotteokinooshareDoushite Bokura wa Yaruki ga Nai no katenshinonamida

Wow! for the first time since the first entry of the series, 2019 didn’t have a Petit Best release, but we did have a couple interesting releases that fell into this category.

Two releases happened at the end of March, first was a rather jaw-dropping surprise of a release from W, Choi Waru Devil which contained both their cancelled single and some tracks that were planned to be on their also cancelled 3rd album.

The other was from a new, but super short-lived SATOUMI unit consisting of Sayuki Takagi, Yumeno Kishimoto, ex H!P members Maimi Yajima, Saki Nakajima and UFP artist Marina Okada (which would be her final release before she left the company the next day).  They released the digital-only single, Koisuru! Sakana-hen.

The rest of the other releases were solo digital singles from Rina Katsuta in September (Totteoki no Oshare wo Shite), Karin Miyamoto in October (Doushite Bokura wa Yaruki ga Nai no ka) and Kana Nakanishi in December (Tenshi no Namida) for both ANGERME members, it was their graduation solo song and for Karin….just for the hell of it?  She performed in a solo live tour and performed a bunch of new songs and just released one of them digitally.

GREAT SONGS

  • Choi Waru Devil – It still wows me that W surprised their fans prior to their momumental return at Hina Fest with this release.  Though it seemed this tune was familiar to me for some reason considering this was supposed to be the B-side of the single (“Dou ni mo Tomaranai” was the leading track before the single’s cancellation).  Though it was later seen sung by Nono in her solo album as “Chibi Deviwl”.  Hearing the original cut with Nono & Aibon was just nostalgic and must be noted that their vocals are from before the hiatus/disbandment so I did have to get used to that and surprised they just kept the old vocals for the entire release.  I really liked the Halloween-esque vibes here and the duo sound quirky and fun as they should be.  It’s still a pretty neat song from the duo and nice to see H!P/UFP closing W’s chapter with the things that we were missing.
  • Harusaki Kobeni – So the 3rd song from the single started on cover songs that were planned for their cancelled 3rd album and I was curious to what we had missed out on.  Harusaki Kobeni is kind of W doing the cute shtick with the arrangement being a bit more girly and breezy.  I really like the sound of it and them using that whispy tone like they did in “Robokiss” was cool too!  Very nice tune!

OK SONGS

  • Dou ni mo Tomaranai – So this was the A-side we were supposed to get after “Miss Love Tantei” huh?  Granted, the song was a cover (and I’ve known this song because Morning Musume covered it on their “COVER YOU” album).  I had to pull my mind and feeling to when this should’ve released and this would’ve been the weakest A-side after the other two singles that were in that “W3: faithful” era.  It’s an OK cover song and suits the duo since they were well known for their covers.
  • Kojin Jugyo – Other than “Dou ni mo Tomaranai”, Kojin Jugyo was a song I was familiar with (misono’s cover) and so I had that to think about when I heard this song.  The tune is a bit more rockin’ than other tracks they had but it also included some idol horns to add that touch.  I’m liking both Aibon’s and Nono’s vocals here and they gave a pretty lively performance.
  • Koisuru! Sakana-hen – I was sure the SATO series was dead, but then they surprised us with this digital single (which was released simultaneously with the W single as well).  I had wondered if this had counted as an H!P released since there was more non-H!P involved versus the two that were involved.  The tune was overall OK , simple, cute , and upbeat and keeps that going throughout, it did remind me of “Mou Saikou!” though.  I did like they gave Marina solos considering it was her last song under UFP.  Not bad for a SATO song though.
  • Totteoki no Oshare wo Shite – I know, this song was on ANGERME’s last single of the year, but this was released almost 3 months earlier digitally so I decided to place it here.  With this being Rinapuu’s solo before she graduated, I was happy she got her chance to shine with this one and it’s funny because this artsy, poppy tune gives me deja vu moments to Sayumi Michshige’s graduation song, “Shabadabadoo~”.  It’s cutesy, bouncy, and just sugary all over.  I kind of liked it though, but it might be because Rinapuu was my bias in ANGERME.
  • Doushite Bokura wa Yaruki ga nai no ka – Like I said above, Karin had a solo tour and she debuted a lot of tracks during it, but I was pretty bummed that only one of them had a release, more or less digitally.  The tune is kind of a pop/rock with a lot of piano involved which is nice and Karin’s voice is still pretty nice to hear.  Still, I was kind of middle-of-the-road with it because it’s not as upbeat or as loud as it could be.

MEH SONGS

  • Uchi ni Kagitte Sonna Koto wa nai Hazu – I think of the 5 songs featured on the W single, this Chisato Moritaka cover wasn’t quite as interesting to me, but it did have an interesting kind of surfer groove to it which did make it stand out, but it just doesn’t feel interesting and I don’t think the duo had solos, well except for the small section in the bridge.  Don’t know, it just didn’t really do anything for me.
  • Tenshi no Namida – So towards the end of the year after her last single with ANGERME released with no fanfare for her upcoming graduation, Kanana slipped this song digitally a few days before she left.  Unlike Rina’s song, Kana’s is pop/rock basicness here and sadly I’m not as intrigued by it on top of Kanana’s weird vocal tone used here (I personally like her lower tones, so this kind of mid-to-high tone is just a bit cringe.  Granted I didn’t get a LOT of time with this song, but I already knew this was forgettable.

Gains / Losses

GAINS

  • Yume Kudo (to Juice=Juice)
  • Riai Matsunaga (to Juice=Juice)
  • Mei Yamazaki (to Morning Musume ’19)
  • Homare Okamura
  • Rio Kitagawa
  • Rin Hashisako (to ANGERME)
  • Ruri Hiromoto
  • Honoka Hashida
  • Miku Nishizaki
  • Yuki Hirayama
  • Momo Kitahara
  • Kisaki Ebata
  • Runo Yofuu
  • Ayana Murakoshi
  • Hasumi Uemura
  • Ririka Hashimoto
  • Karin Nishimura
  • Hina Shibuya

LOSSES

  • Sakiko Kodama
  • Nanami Yanagawa
  • Mei Kusunoki
  • Yuka Miyazaki
  • Ayaka Wada
  • Kotomi Ono
  • Anna Shutto
  • Hikari Sato
  • Rina Katsuta
  • Kana Nakanishi
  • Risa Yamaki
  • Mai Ozeki
  • Ruru Kanemitsu

My H!P Member Ranking for 2019

  • 65. Homare Okamura (NEW)
  • 64. Ayano Kawamura (-12)
  • 63. Haruka Oota (-12)
  • 62. Momona Kasahara (-13)
  • 61. Rin Hashisako (NEW)

 

  • 60. Reina Yokoyama (-9)
  • 59. Yuka Miyazaki (-19)
  • 58. Minami Okamura (-12)
  • 57. Ami Tanimoto (-5)
  • 56. Ayumi Ishida (-11)

 

  • 55. Rio Kitagawa (NEW)
  • 54. Riko Yamagishi (-1)
  • 53. Erina Ikuta (-18)
  • 52. Layla Ise (+6)
  • 51. Maria Makino (-8)

 

  • 50. Nanami Yanagawa (-27)
  • 49. Mei Yamazaki (NEW)
  • 48. Utano Satoyoshi (+11)
  • 47. Risa Yamaki (-3)
  • 46. Saori Onoda (-14)

 

  • 45. Rika Shimakura (-3)
  • 44. Kana Nakanishi (-8)
  • 43. Ayaka Wada (-9)
  • 42. Reina Ichioka (-5)
  • 41. Shiori Nishida (+11)

 

  • 40. Kisora Niinuma (-12)
  • 39. Riai Matsunaga (NEW)
  • 38. Yume Kudo (NEW)
  • 37. Kurumi Takase (-7)
  • 36. Ayano Hamaura (-11)

 

  • 35. Akane Haga (+13)
  • 34. Miki Nonaka (-3)
  • 33. Miyo Hirai (+28)
  • 32. Manaka Inaba (-5)
  • 31. Rina Katsuta (-12)

 

  • 30. Saya Eguchi (+24)
  • 29. Chisaki Morito (+4)
  • 28. Mao Akiyama (-6)
  • 27. Honoka Kobayashi (+33)
  • 26. Karin Miyamoto (-2)

 

  • 25. Minami Nomura (-4)
  • 24. Mai Ozeki (+17)
  • 23. Rikako Sasaki (-5)
  • 22. Kokoro Maeda (+17)
  • 21. Kiki Asakura (-4)

 

  • 20. Akari Uemura (0)
  • 19. Risa Ogata (-5)
  • 18. Sakurako Wada (+8)
  • 17. Yuhane Yamazaki (+21)
  • 16. Masaki Sato (0)

 

  • 15. Mizuho Ono (-6)
  • 14. Momohime Kiyono (+15)
  • 13. Moe Kamikokuryo (-5)
  • 12. Rei Inoue (+3)
  • 11. Yumeno Kishimoto (-6)

 

  • 10. Musubu Funaki (-4)
  • 9. Mizuki Murota (-5)
  • 8. Sayuki Takagi (+4)
  • 7. Ayaka Hirose (+6)
  • 6. Kaede Kaga (+5)

 

  • 5. Mizuki Fukumura (+5)
  • 4. Ruru Dambara (+3)
  • 3. Tomoko Kanazawa (-1)
  • 2. Akari Takeuchi (+1)
  • 1. Sakura Oda (0)

Kenshuusei

  • Minori Kawano
  • Karin Nishimura
  • Hina Shibuya
  • Ruri Hiromoto
  • Honoka Hashida
  • Miku Nishizaki
  • Yuki Hiriyama
  • Momo Kitahara
  • Kisaki Ebata
  • Runo Yofuu
  • Ayana Murakoshi
  • Hasami Uemura
  • Ririka Hashimoto
  • Nanami Kubota
  • Shion Tamenaga
  • Ichigo Yamada
  • Madoka Saito
  • Karin Onoda
  • Yulia Matsubara
  • Natsume Nakayama
  • Kirara Yonemura
  • Kanami Ishiguri

And there you have it, closing out the decade going through what was a rather bumpy 2019…Let’s hope 2020 fares much better!!!

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