Original Lineup L to R: Hiromi Yanagihara, Rinne Toda, Azusa Kobayashi
The first original membered group, Country Musume came next after Tanpopo’s creation and boy was it a strange, tragic, and odd lifespan of one like this group who had humble beginnings. It was known that the auditioning process was also quite a bit strange because these ladies had to work on a farm prior to be chosen. Tragically though Hiromi Yanagihara wouldn’t get to see her debut single with the other two, Futari no Hokkaido being released because she died in a car accident a few days prior. Unfortunately it was all too much for Azusa Kobayashi because she quit not even a month after the single was released as well leaving Rinne as the last original member after only one single
Though Rinne did not give up, releasing two singles, “Yukigeshiki” and “Hokkaido Shalala” by herself and released as indies. Despite that, there was enough move from her director to try to audition for new members but that sadly failed until a girl (who worked on the same farm, wanted to join and well…)
L to R: Rinne Toda, Asami Kimura
It led to Asami Kimura to be officially become a member of Country Musume! Of course it seemed like Rinne was still the acoustic guitar lady and Asami was the tambourine girl lol. They only had one single as the duo with “Koi ga Suteki na Kisetsu” before their manager had to give the group to Tsunku and work his magic…and here’s what happened!
Country Musume ni Ishikawa Rika L to R: Asami Kimura, Rika Ishikawa, and Rinne Toda
Which left with the next rather memorable grouping when Rika-chan was placed in between Rinne and Asami (who the latter just came in a single before Rika). Most people either remember Country Musume as these three simply because of Rika’s sheer popularity. Also it was the longest the group stayed together (not saying too much though) with a couple singles before…
Clockwise L to R: Mai Satoda, Rinne Toda, Asami Kimura, Rika Ishikawa
They had another audition (their 6th one at this point) and the lone member that won was Mai Satoda. With that they only lasted the one single with “Iroppoi Onna ~SEXY BABY~ before Rinne Toda announced her graduation as the last of the original trio.
L to R: Asami Kimura, Rika Ishikawa, Mai Satoda
Then it was the three once again only for one single, “BYE BYE Saigo no Yoru” which would be the last release with Rika Ishikawa as she would be pulled back to Morning Musume to continue there, but without another big change and additions to the group!
Country Musume ni Konno to Fujimoto L to R: Asami Kimura, Miuna Saitou, Miki Fujimoto, Mai Satoda, and Asami Konno
The last and final iteration of Country Musume was the biggest they’ve had which is awesome. Mai was added a single beforehand but three new members took the reins and Rika-chan left. Funny enough they had the most singles under the name and had an album even though it was still partially covered by the other iterations XD. Sadly, the group kind of died out and members graduated until Mai Satoda was the last one before the Elder Club graduation and she was known as Mai Satoda (Country Musume)…she didn’t release anything until after her leaving sadly until 2014 where she announced that she would be holding auditions for a revival!
Style of Music: The initial sound that was planned for Country Musume was pretty much what you’d think by their group name, the music had more of a homely feel to it. I mean Futari no Hokkaido was pretty different from anything H!P in the 90s so it stood out, plus it’s hard not to think damn poor Hiromi and Azusa as it’s their only song they’re involved in.
When Rinne went solo for the two singles, things were the same but Rinne by herself and she played acoustic guitar as well adding to the originality given at the time. Even when Asami was added the sound remainded faithful.
Once Rika-chan was added, once again things just went to cute form. I mean they were almost the same to Tanpopo almost…if not the biggest difference was the members (god I feel bad for Rinne during this time). Then Mai was added and the single the four only did, Iroppoi Onna ~SEXY BABY~ was rather almost v-u-den-like pertaining maybe to a future thing lol. Then Rika’s final single was back to where it was when she started.
The last big group of Country Musume didn’t really have a solid style because all three A-sides were of different areas of music but showcased a LOT of Mikitty XD. It was a wild mess to be honest 😄
- Futari no Hokkaido (Hiromi and Azusa’s first and final single)
- Hokkaido Shalala
- Koi ga Suteki na Kisetsu (Asami’s first single)
- Hajimete no Happy Birthday! (Rika’s first single)
- Koibito wa Kokoro no Ouendan
- Iroppoi Onna ~SEXY BABY~ (Mai’s first and Rinne’s last)
- BYE BYE Saigo no Yoru (Rika’s last single)
- Uwaki na Honey Pie (Miuna, Miki, and Konkon’s first single)
- Senpai ~LOVE AGAIN~
- Shining Itoshiki Anata
- Country Musume Daizenshuu ①
- Country Musume Daizenshuu ② (best-of album?)
- Country Musume Mega Best (best-of album)
Of course I would put this video up first because of the fact that it is a good memory of Hiromi before her untimely passing and to see what the original voices sounded like…kind of nice right?
Hajimete no Happy Birthday! is quite a well-known song so I put the original up. It’s also the first time you see Rika in this setting and the second for Asami Kimura.
Such a surprise when I came into hearing them because Uwaki na Honey Pie is definitely one of my favorite H!P songs out there. It’s just so energetic and happy but kind of electro-y in a good way. I really loved the 5-nin Countrysume.
Top 5 Favorite Songs:
- Uwaki na Honey Pie
- Shining Itoshiki Anata
- Futari no Hokkaido
- Kakumeichikku KISS (only new song from Country Musume Daizenshuu ②)
- Morning Gyuunyuu (B-side from Futari no Hokkaido, also it’s Country Musume’s take on “Morning Coffee”)
Other Things to Mention:
I’ve said before though but Country Musume is the only group (or anything in H!P) that has a deceased member in Hiromi.
It’s rare to see H!P have gals that play instruments in their music but I think Rinne Toda was the first one to have her acoustic guitar in the music which is pretty good.
Country Musume might have 3 albums to their names but the Mega Best seemed only to be just a rehash of Country Musume Daizenshuu ② plus two songs (one was from a Petit Best that was never put on anything else and the other was a Mai Satoda song).
Overall: It just felt like Country Musume was a pretty cursed group next to a couple of others. I mean I’m sure people thought they would be over when Rinne was the only one around but she pushed forward and eventually regained some steam but it wasn’t until Rika-chan (and later Mikitty and Konkon) that the group really got off. Sadly they couldn’t even get another original album out (and they had three strong singers in Asami, Miuna, and Mai….just wished Tsunku/UFA would’ve done more (you’ll be seeing me saying this a LOT). Also I liked the original idea of Country Musume prior to Rika’s addition but I felt they were the best musically during the Miki/Konkon days…those singles were GOOD!