Iroppoi Twilight Game

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

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

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

Morning Musume ’16

tvnxg4o

プリントutakatasatsexycatzoku11nin

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

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

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

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

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

THE SONGS

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

Predictions from last year!

Not sure really since they’ll be starting 2016 without their lead voice Riho, so I assume that Masaki will be taking a stronger role in vocals and possibly Miki & Akane alongside Eripon, Zukki, and Duu.  Musically, I also am not sure especially with Tsunku stepping down…maybe moving away from EDM finally?  Maybe another audition is announced?

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

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

°C-ute

c-ute_-_singing_ano_koro_no_you_ni_promo

nazehitowaaisenaidaroumugenclimax

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

ICKY SONGS

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

Predictions from 2015

From the way it’s heading and how slow their releases have gotten, I have a gut feeling that 2016 is when they’ll announce their “indefinite hiatus” though if Maimi goes, who’s going to lead H!P?  Ayacho?

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

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

Buono!

 buono16

sorashido

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

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

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

ANGERME

angermeumakuienaipromo

tsugitsugiumakuienaimode

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

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

Predictions from 2015

I actually don’t know what to expect in 2016 other than watching Moe become active within the group.  Hopefully keeping up with the epic singles that we had this year would be great.  Not sure when Ayaka will announce her graduation, but I know it’s not going to be too long.

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

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

Juice=Juice

juicejuice_-_dream_road_promo

nextisyouotonanojijoudreamroad

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

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

Predictions from 2015

With them, I’m unsure what will happen with Juice=Juice in the next year.  Like I said, they weren’t at H!P’s minds for most of the year and the group themselves were shadowed just by all the other groups due to new members and new debuts, so it’s an awkward phase for them.  Maybe they’ll pick up a new member or two to catch up?

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

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

Country Girls

countrdou

boogiewoogielovedoudatteiino1cTGCS9244_FH1A_H1-4_prep.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

Predictions from 2015

With Funaki and Yanagawa joining the ranks, I hope that means we get to see more of them, have Itooshikutte Gomen ne return to setlists and perhaps having Momoko letting this group fly on their own.

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

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

Kobushi Factory

kobushi_factory_-_kobushi_sono_ichi_promo

sakuranightfeversambakobushijaneirokobushisonoichi

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

Predictions from 2015

I really am not sure what could be in store for Kobushi Factory, but I hope they don’t lose a member (because 8 member units that aren’t Momusu have been known to lose members ala Berryz and C-ute).

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

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

Tsubaki Factory

 nlg70xz

kedakaku3hitorijimetsu1bTGCS8954_FH1A_H1-4_prep.pdfsoundvision

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

ICKY SONGS

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

Predictions from 2015

Maybe to stick to being an indies group for at least 3/4 of the year before going major (while it was smooth for both Country Girls and Kobushi Factory becoming major so fast, I don’t have the same feelings for Tsubaki currently).  Maybe a new member to strengthen the vocals up…but otherwise I’m curious as they’re the newbies.

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

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

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei / Kenshuusei Hokkaido

kss9gatsuhokkaido-jpg

negapojipoji

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GREAT SONGS

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

OK SONGS

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

MEH SONGS

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

Other H!P Releases

 2aEPCE7273_FH1A_H1-4_prep.pdf

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

OK SONGS

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

Gains & Losses

Gains

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

Losses

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

My H!P Member Ranking for 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenshuusei

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

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

2 Comments »

Hello! 2015! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

Well, we’re back to what has been the most active years in Hello! Project with 3 new groups a rebranded group and probably the most new members H!P has had in years on top of Tsunku graduating from the company due to his fight with Cancer and eventual vocal loss.  There’s a lot to talk about though with the year that was 2015, so shall we get started?

Morning Musume ’15

morningmusume

seishunkozouganaiteiru2aEPCE7135_TP1A_O_prep.pdftsumetaikazetokataomoitriangle

Of course kicking things off we have Morning Musume ’15 (yes, I have to mention that they had a slight name change to fit the year).  The year begun with the leaving fuzz of Sayumi Michishige’s graduation and the addition of the 12th Generation: Maria MakinoAkane HagaHaruna OgataMiki Nonaka.  This finally culminated to the group’s first single with the new girls, “Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru / Yuugure wa Ameagari / Ima Koko Kara”.  However, things weren’t quite as exciting as the new girls barely had facetime in the songs alongside the controversy over Zukki and her injury with Karin from Juice=Juice taking over for two of the 4 PVs released for the single.

After that, they did go into their stageplay for the year with “Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “TRIANGLE”” and subsequently released a mini-album for it (later on as a fuller DVD+CD release)

Shortly after, they would release their 2nd single of the year, “Oh my wish! / Sukatto My Heart / Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” to a much happier group of people as it changed quite a number of things around and turned out to be a much enjoyable single before things changed.

In October, it was announced that our ace and main face, Riho Sayashi, would be graduating in the final days of 2015, but not without a last single in “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only” and then the group will once again shift names to Morning Musume ’16.

THE SONGS

Yup, I’m sure this was expected of me for sure and I’m here to oblige. *NOTE*, Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to talk about “Watashi no Nanni no Wakacchanai” as it hasn’t had a proper studio release (though I do love it!).

GREAT SONGS

  • Yuugure wa Ameagari – Even though it does seem like it takes up the slow song ala “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe”, Yuugure wa Ameagari also seem to have this rather Platinum Era sound that I’ve always enjoyed even if they run it somewhat dry.  Also even though the PV was heavy on the Karin-loving, she’s not anywhere in the song which is a plus, but the song was already a Fukuchan/Sakura/Maachan/Riho lead as it is.  I really did like the song though and there’s a lot of good parts throughout, like I said above though…was disappointed in the lack of focus of 12th Gen, but it’s whatever.
  • Urayameshi Gari ya no Dice & Urayameshi Gari ya no Dice (Kiri no Uwasa ver.) – Moving to the “TRIANGLE” songs, this song (sung by Maachan and Haachin and honestly it’s one of the more quirky songs, but I actually dug it.  I think it’s the fukny beats or the way both ladies sing this one.  The rerelease of the song was just a quick change of lyrics, but ultimately the same thing which is good!
  • Suwasuwa Shuushuu – As the song sung by all the Suwasuwas in the play (12th Gen, 2 Kenshuusei and 2 Engeki Joshi-bu members (do they count as H!P?) Suwasuwa Shuushuu was another song that really stuck out in the stageplay.  Unlike the other EDM songs that filled out H!P, this one specifically faced a more trance-like state that sounded a little bit like Perfume’s music which was impressive (why don’t H!P goes in this direction???).
  • Furereba Kokoro ga Afuredasu (β ver.) – Sung solo by Riho at first, this updated track definitely outranks the one from the mini-album by adding Ayumi and Haruka lines after it.  Another short song, but I kind of liked it and felt more together than just Riho’s part alone.
  • Oh my wish! – Moving to the 2nd single they released, we have the leading track, Oh my wish! and OH MY GOODNESS was this unexpected.  Instead of the usual suspects leading, the torches were given to Haruka and Zukki for this one and they handled it with flying colors.  Also is probably why Fukuchan and Riho were relegated to being part of the dance team (those two, Ayumi, and Eripon didn’t sing, just danced.  While the song is the usual high-speed EDM that we’ve gotten accustomed to, it’s still a pretty epic song for the two back girls (even new members Akane and Haruna got spoken dialogue during the bridge).
  • Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki – I wasn’t sure at first what to think of the 3rd A-side from their 2nd single, but it was finally slightly something different…almost akin to “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa”.  Being a song mostly led by Masaki, I was kind of surprised by this choice, but was impressed as she’s gotten better with singing.  Though Miki and Maria was given a chance to shine here which is nice on top of some good parts for Harunan and Eripon.
  • ENDLESS SKY – Hearing ENDLESS SKY definitely reminded me of “Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” with it’s airy synth sound (but a little more danceable in comparison).  There’s something quite bright about it and I’ve found myself humming along to its melody and hearing Riho a lot made me quite happy.
  • One and Only – So just like with “What is LOVE?”, this song is also used for J-MELO as a theme for the song, but this time around there’s a twist.  This song is entirely sung in English!  Even though there’s some odd accents going on and no solos unfortunately, One and Only actually stuck out better than the aforementioned song.  It is weird that it was chosen to be a part of Riho’s final single though…

OK SONGS

  • Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru – As the song many were hoping to showcase the new girls, this one was just a haphazard mess both song-wise and promotion-wise.  The tune is more of that wild EDM craze that Tsunku was perfecting.  Though the verses can be a turnoff due to its stop-and-go situation, I think the chorus was pretty badass and the Iroha poem being strung in as the pre-chorus was clever!  Even the PVs were a bit controversial due to Karin being all over the main PV (thank god that Another ver. of the PV exists).
  • Triangle Alpha & Triangle Beta – As the opening theme to their stageplay, Triangle Alpha might not have been the electronic song I was hoping for, but it’s still a decent song otherwise.  I do like the light dance beats and the vocals from Riho, Haruka, and Ayumi are nice too.  Triangle Beta is the same song with some different lyrics and different solos from the main characters.  Overall it’s a nice song overall!
  • Furereba Kokoro ga Afuredasu – Basically what I said about the Beta version in the GREAT section, just without the extra lines from Ayumi and Haruka.  Otherwise it’s the same song, so it’s not too much of a loss.
  • Te wo Hanasanai & Te wo Hanasanai (Sairoku ver.) – The Sakura/Haruka duet, I liked how simple the song was and the two vocalists sound really nice (though Haruka did it better).  The Sairoku version changes one singlular line so it’s another song that really doesn’t matter which version you listen to.
  • Ten no Otsuge – I’m not sure what it is with my liking this song but its march styled arrangement and punchful lines from Fukuchan (who is singing the song itself) and some spoken dialogue from Akane and ex-Berryz member, Maasa.  Still a bit on the short side, it was nice and made me think of “LILIUM”.
  • Suwasuwa Tsukamaero – Another short song that somehow left an impression on me, It’s got a little more edge to it than all of the other songs from the OST.  I was also surprised to see that Maria gets a little limelight here even though her lines are a bit shrill to the ears.  The big focus is on Maachan’s big solo line…damn she’s just getting so much stronger!!
  • Sukatto My Heart – While this song has grown on me more after a while, I initially wasn’t too into it because of its whole “Uptown Funk” melody but for some reason, it’s funky vibes and fun energy did catch on.  Sadly of the songs from the 2nd single this year, Sukatto My Heart felt very typical (although the sudden push for Masaki was in all three songs…).
  • Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi – Originally made to be a Riho solo and changed to a full group song, I wasn’t expecting a mid-tempo track.  There’s parts where I hear “Memory Seishun no Hikari” and some other songs, but for the most part it’s a nice song overall with the kind of light guitar licks and the “Ai no Gundan” synth quips.  Interesting song.  Although the PV was pretty entrancing regardless!

MEH SONGS

  • Ima Koko Kara – Being the first song to come out to the open as it was being released as the theme for the Precure movie, Haru no Carnival, I was expecting something vibrant and exciting like when Berryz’ “Gag 100 Kaibun Aishite Kudasai” was used for the same series.  The song itself is kind of there and worst part is that it just ends at a really random point (no bridge or final chorus).  It’s just kind of forgettable as an A-side and probably my least favorite A-side of the year.
  • Sakura no Koi – As one of two tracks only found on the mini-album OST, Sakura no Koi is a duet between Ayumi and Haruka and I thought it was alright, but the arrangement is a bit simplistic for my tastes with just acoustic guitar and some percussion.  Also Ayumi is straining a little bit here more than normal.  Just a bit meh.
  • Rosewood no Kokuhaku – The other track on the mini-album, is also another duet, this time with Sakura and Ayumi.  I could say the same things as I did with “Sakura no Koi”, but Ayumi’s vocals are a bit more relaxed though and Sakura is trying to sound more dramatic, but I think her verses are way better than her chorus vocals.
  • Iota no Koi – While I do enjoy the Charlie Brown, lowkey shuffling going on in this mostly Fukuchan/Maasa duet…it wasn’t a lengthy song and the point where I was actually starting to enjoy it fully, it fizzles out with Maasa’s closing line.
  • Sakura, Tsukunoma no Shiawase – It’s essentially the same feelings I’ve had with “Sakura no Koi”.  Yeah, nice vocals, but the arrangement is pretty damn sleepy…at least the song is short (like most of the TRIANGLE OST).

ICKY SONGS

  • Nee, Milk – 23 seconds of Ayumi singing all by herself and honestly, had no place to even be on the OST due to how short this except is…what the hell…

Predictions from last year!

A year without an overabundance of EDM.  Other than that, I couldn’t even think of anything becuase the group isn’t too old still and I’m sure all the current members will stick around for a few more years (if anyone, Haruna could leave, but I HIGHLY doubt that).  MM ’16 for sure too xD

Actuality: Well we did get a lot of EDM still, but I feel like since there was no album this year, it didn’t feel like it went overboard.  Though someone is leaving the group and it isn’t Harunan :0…Instead it’s Riho…

Predictions for 2016: Not sure really since they’ll be starting 2016 without their lead voice Riho, so I assume that Masaki will be taking a stronger role in vocals and possibly Miki & Akane alongside Eripon, Zukki, and Duu.  Musically, I also am not sure especially with Tsunku stepping down…maybe moving away from EDM finally?  Maybe another audition is announced?

Berryz Koubou

berryz

kanjuku

Of course Berryz was involved in Hello! Project (though for two months before they went on their indefinite hiatus).  However, before their grand finale, they released their final album (which is a best album), Kanjuku Berryz Koubou The Final Selection Box and then bid their farewell.

As for the members, Momoko went on to become leader of Country Girls, Captain and Chinami are H!P advisors, Maasa does Engeki Joshi-bu Musicals, and Miyabi hosts GREEN ROOM (a new UFP/H!P YouTube show that goes behind the scenes and is also holding auditions for a new group currently), Yurina has been doing TV appearances while Risako remains the silent member as she hasn’t done anything after the split.

GREAT SONGS

  • Love together! – As the final song that Berryz released a PV for, I thought this was the closure the fans wanted over the rather obtuse “Romance wo Katatte” (even though it’s grown on me immensely).  Love together! was nice and a little surprising that it wasn’t a goodbye ballad, but something upbeat yet lyrically suited the group perfectly.  The synthwork though was great and the members sounded so good.  I thought the live version they did as their finale to their last performance was soooo perfect and really captured a strong memory especially for fans who followed them since the beginning.
  • Heroine ni Narou ka! (Early Ver.) – So the 6th Disc of the album included some rarities and some other goodies.  One of the oddballs was an early recording of Heroine ni Narou ka! which made me wonder why this was a thing.  There was only a couple things different like Yurina not being the overly filtered voice (it was Miyabi instead), the 2nd verse has a musical drop, and Miyabi doesn’t do her belting in the final chorus. Otherwise, it’s the same arrangement and lyrics…interesting choice…but why…and I still do love this song regardless!
  • GET UP! Rapper (Unreleased Cover Ver.) – The 6th disc also included 3 cover songs and by the way all three sound, it’s definitely not made from this year…more like around 2006’s “3 Natsu Natsu Berryz Mini Berryz” because none of the members sound like their current voices.  Anyway, this SALT5 cover is a mini-grouping of Momoko, Maasa, and Chinami and while the vocals don’t carry the same weight as the original singers do, it’s still pretty cool that this happened, but once again why’d ya hold it back for so long?
  • Thank You Very Berry (New Recording Ver.) – Yup, it also came with 3 newly recorded songs from stageplays Berryz did and this one is the only one with solo lines for members.  Seeing as Tsubaki Factory just did the same stageplay after this album was released is a bit strange and honestly I still prefer this take over the rookies.  Most of the song is sung between Momoko, Risako, and Maasa and I was happy to say that this is a GOOD ballad.  I LOVE the melodies and chords these three in particular pull off and after the spoken dialogue between Risako and Captain’s character the remaining members join in (with a nice lengthy Captain solo).  Definitely a rare thing for me to love a ballad, but damn this was good!
  • Warera Jeanne (New Recording Ver.) – As the upbeat stageplay song included, Warera Jeanne while doesn’t have solo lines for anyone, I did like the dramatics and the energy in the chorus was really neat to hear!  Something you don’t hear too very often in H!P and was liking the arrangement the most here.

OK SONGS

  • Pittari Shitai X’mas (Unreleased Cover Ver.) – As the lone cover that includes all 7 members, this Petitmoni cover actually does a good job fitting with younger voices (in comparison to the original members involved) and the upbeat and fun arrangement has a lot of interest from me.  I also immediately though this was recorded way earlier because this song makes it REALLY easy to tell how young the vocals were in this cover, decent song overall!

MEH SONGS

  • Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai (04-13-15 Kanjuku Complete Ver.) – I’m not sure why there’s so much emphasis with this song.  I mean we have the updated one from “Berryz Mansion 9kai” and then this one from the best album and a live version from “Petit Best 16″…I will never get this version completely because the arrangement is kind of farfetched and making it graceful by fusing orchestral sounds in between the R&B beats is awkward.  What’s strange is that they also go between the original vocals and the one from the update off their “Berryz Mansion 9kai” album.  It’s a neat idea, but I don’t think it quite meshed very well.
  • Marui Taiyou (Unreleased Cover Ver.) – Sung by Risako, Yurina, Captain, and Miyabi, this Taiyou to Ciscomoon track never really caught my attention back then and still doesn’t exactly do much for me.  Doesn’t help that none of the members get solos and Tsunku also sings (though he does that in “GET UP! Rapper” too)…yeah kind of forgettable, though it does make me think that maybe there was to be a winter themed mini-album which might explain this and “Pittari Shitai X’mas” happening.
  • Yatto Aeta ne (New Recording Ver.) – Finally we have the 3rd stageplay song included and Yatto Aeta ne was the forgetful one of the three.  While it’s a ballad like “Thank You Very Berry”, this was a bit more boring with everyone singing in unison and the arrangement kind of taking up a sound like ballads they’ve done as B-sides or album tracks.  All I can say is that vocally it’s nice…but nothing spectacular.

Predictions from last year!

Is there much to predict?  I mean the group will disband in March.  Though I would hope that at least 2 of the members besides Momoko will keep performing so we’ll see.

Actuality: Well, it seems like no one besides Momoko is doing music fully, though I can’t complain because everyone is doing something to kind of stay in the fans’ minds.  Captain and Chinami are advisors (and the former has really shown leadership skills (something I would’ve loved to see as Maimi has only been really a voice while Captain has been training Kenshuusei and getting involved with the formations of Kobushi/Tsubaki Factories and Maasa has been doing great with the stageplays. I’m curious to see what turns up for Miyabi’s auditions and the remaining two members: Yurina and Risako…not sure…

°C-ute

cute

themiddlemanagementarigatoucutieseleccioncmaj9

Like last year, I felt like °C-ute once again felt like they got the short end of the stick with releases this year with two singles and an album (two if you count the one released in Mexico).  The other big news that’s connected to the group is the leadership from Maimi as she became the H!P de facto leader.

This year the group did release two singles in The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / GamushaLIFE / Tsugi no Kado wo Magare and Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ / Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!.  With their performance out in Mexico, they released a region-only album, Cutie Selección Por los Fans Mexicanos which in a way is similar to their French best album they released in 2013.  Though surprisingly they would finish up the year by releasing their 9th album, °Cmaj9.

GREAT SONGS

  • The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ – I’m rather not surprised that this was easily enjoyed at first listen when I turned the first A-side the quintet released.  There’s something about that really fit the group’s more mature style nowadays and the dance/PV was quite unique.  The beat was strong I wasn’t bothered by Nakky and Maimai leading the verses (well they had duet lines with Maimi and Airi as well, but still).  This was pretty cool!
  • Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! – I didn’t expect the group have a rock song like Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!, but I really like the striking arrangement and the members gave great performances even if it was mostly Airi, Maimi, and Chisato.  The only thing I didn’t really care for was the PV with the spliced in Wrestling shots…it was distracting (and like with “Arigatou’s” PV, cheesy as hell).  Still the song stuck out in a great way!
  • Jounetsu Ecstasy – Marty Friedman always makes songs sound so good so it’s no surprise that I ended up loving Nakky’s focus song, Jounetsu Ecstasy.  I also tend to remember this going up against “GamushaLIFE” earlier in the year to be the 10th Anniversary song.  The track is just edgy and gives us the cool that I needed from them this year!
  • Digitalic→0 (LOVE) – Another song I figured I was going to enjoy was Maimai’s focus song which is more and less just as electronic as her last one.  The track has a heavier loadout of dubstep, but continues to gives us that cool H!P electro sound (which was on lower amounts this year compared to last year).
  • Urayanjau – Airi’s song was an oddball song amongst the new songs because we haven’t heard something like this from the group prior.  It’s got this R&B meets K-pop vibe to it, but it continues to sound playful and just exciting without having to focus on the arrangement.

OK SONGS

  • Tsugi no Kado wo Magare – Ignoring the fact that this is a cover of a Takui Nakajima song, Tsugi no Kado wo Magare might not have hit as strong as “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!”, this had a little more drama in its lyrics and the mix of strings and guitars was pretty cool and the arrangement was pretty sweet, just not one of the songs I stay on for too long.
  • GamushaLIFE (Acoustic Ver.) – Being a track exclusive on the vinyl release of “Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ / Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!”, I was kind of surprised that it was done that way.  Anyways, GamushaLIFE does sound slightly better than the intro with less arrangement.  Though I’m a bit disappointed with the fact they didn’t resing it.  The piano and light strings though sort of even out the negatives though.
  • °Cmaj9 – As the opening for the group’s album, this short introduction definitely reminded me of doowop for some reason and I liked that they played into the title of the album by singing in the chord of C Major #9.  Though the fact the track’s lone lyrics consist of the title (and at first I thought they were saying ~she major nines~) it’s an OK intro.
  • Iron Heart – Like with ANGERME’s “Tomo yo”, this song is great for live performances!  It’s got the pop/rock sound mixed with a whole bunch of energy!  While it’s not as badass like “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! was, this song is pretty much a fun ride the entire way through!
  • Otoko to Onna to Forever – Getting into the member-specific songs from the album, I kind of thought Chisato’s track was pretty different with it’s spy-esque nature and sultry feel.  It’s just a really smooth song for the group to pull off and just suited being the first song of the 5.
  • Yokaze no Message – Being the lone new ballad from the album, Maimi’s song definitely had anime ending on its mind in arrangement.  Especially in its opening where it begins with the chorus.  It’s one of the more better ballads to come from H!P in recent times, so I definitely enjoyed it!
  • °Cmaj9 (reprise) – The closer of the album is a lot like the intro except it’s a bit slower and the first seconds had the group descending into the chord (unlike the ascending happening in the intro).  Nothing too special, but it made the album come full circle.
  • Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ (tofubeats remix) – As the bonus track from the album, this remix of Arigatou is rather interesting (stands out better than past remixes that’s for sure.).  tofubeats changed the original’s dramatic slow pace and easily replaced it with a laidback R&B sound which is rather pleasant! I still do think it’s odd that there’s no Arashi remix, but it’s whatever lol…

MEH SONGS

  • GamushaLIFE – As the song that’s tied to the fact the group has been going for 10 years (sounds like some early hinting like Berryz), GamushaLIFE never really caught on this year for me.  Something about doesn’t seem very memorable and certain parts it does remind me of “Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita” with it’s poppy sound.  I guess the thing that sticks out is the rapping bridge, but otherwise…meh.
  • Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ – It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a ballad as an A-side (“Kono Machi”).  Like it’s rockin’ A-side, “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!” it’s known as the wrestling team hymn and sadly it’s just as forgettable as “GamushaLIFE”…the melody is rather plain and despite the good vocals, it’s just in one ear and out the other a bit too quickly.

Predictions from last year!

I hope that with Berryz going on hiatus, the group will be back on top and have an amazing year.

Actuality: Well, the year didn’t exactly push the group into something huge, even though the fact they went to Mexico was probably the biggest thing they’ve done in 2015.  Release-wise at least they did release an album (excluding the best album) so there was a little more push this year than the 3 singles they released last year.

Predictions for 2016: From the way it’s heading and how slow their releases have gotten, I have a gut feeling that 2016 is when they’ll announce their “indefinite hiatus” though if Maimi goes, who’s going to lead H!P?  Ayacho?

ANGERME

angerme

taikibanseinanakorobiyaokiaglm_SgA-CDDVDh14obiselectiontaikibansei

After having such a big 2nd half of 2014, 2015 was something on people’s mind when we got our first listen to ANGERME and their 3 new members; Mizuki MurotaRikako Sasaki, and Maho Aikawa.  Even better they begun the year showing off their first single, Taikibansei / Otome no Gyakushuu.  Lest be said that it went over VERY well and everyone was loving the hell out of it.  However, it was shortlived as two months later Kanon Fukuda announced that she would be graduating at the end of the year and a month later announced there would be another audition for a 4th Gen.

July gave us their next single with Nana Korobi Ya Oki / Gashinshoutan / Mahou Tsukai Sally and then the group kind of went silent for a bit before we got into the last stretch of the year.

With the end of the year getting closer we finally got the graduation single for Kanon in Desugita Kui wa Utarenai / Dondengaeshi / Watashi but I feel that the single was shadowed by the announcement of the winner of the auditions, Moe Kamikokuryo who I’m sure will be replacing Kanon once she graduates out at the end of November.  Though before that we get ONE more release with a member-selected best album, S/mileage / ANGERME SELECTION ALBUM “Taikibansei”.  Not sure if there’ll be more surprises before 2015 close but I doubt it hahah.

I must’ve jinxed myself because the final thing announced from ANGERME is that Meimi Tamura is going to graduate from the group and H!P in the Spring…oi!

GREAT SONGS

  • Taikibansei – Like with “Tsugi no Kado wo Magare” this is also technically a Takui Nakajima cover as well.  What a way to kick off the year with this energized song!  I love the horns and the group sounds so lively with this one.  Even better is that we get to really hear Murotan in this song as she gets a beefy solo alongside Ayacho!  It might have overstayed its welcome for the year, but I can’t deny its catchy hooks and exciting arrangement.
  • Otome no Gyakushuu – Then its sister A-side comes in and I’m loving the neo-gothic vibes out of this one and there’s something that reminds me of “Mystery Night!” for some reason.  Just like “Taikibansei” though, it seems only Murotan is the only one of the new girls to get a solo which is a slight bummer, but I still fell in love with the dark edge and hearing Kanana and Rinapuu getting solos made up for it as well.
  • Nana Korobi Ya Oki – Though they really nailed it down with the first A-side from the second single of the year.  It’s like they took “Otome no Gyakushuu” and amped it up with energy and power!  I love the fact that Maho also has a solo line through the song and she sounded good, but does need some more training xD.  Still, this song was ANGERME hitting hard and I was just floored!
  • Gashinshoutan – I wasn’t sure what to expect as like “Taikibansei”, this is also an 4-kanji idiom thing (that people were starting to think was going to be a normal thing for ANGERME but that last single says otherwise).  It’s a pretty funky song as well, but I was more surprised for every member getting a solo line in some fashion (also I noticed a lot of Rinapuu here which made me happy!  It’s still an exciting song and it was a ridiculously fun song!
  • Dondengaeshi – I have to say that this song sounded so anison, but I wasn’t complaining because it was wild and has a lot of punch especially in the chorus where it gets chaotic and just throws a lot of punch in your face!  It’s definitely one of the best songs out of H!P this year and it just really put ANGERME to a new height of performance…GOOD JOB!
  • Marionette 37°C – I think the song that stood out the best from the best album is actually the Halloween-like song.  Something about the arrangement is really neat and the group sounds quite decent (I heard a lot from Rikako and Rinapuu throughout).  But the added elements and drive for this song was much needed and stood out from the other 5 new songs for sure!

OK SONGS

  • Mahou Tsukai Sally – Like what Morning Musume ’15 did earlier in the year, ANGERME decided to cover a song from an old anime series and while I did like this one more than “Ima Koko Kara”, this is still in a position that’s less exciting than the songs above.  I enjoy that it focuses on Murotan, Rikako, and Aiai and they pulled off the song well enough, it’s just not at the same calibur as other songs.
  • Desugita Kui wa Utarenai – I’ve fully fell in love with “Dondengaeshi”, but this song was a bit too much of a mess for me to follow along, but I did enjoy the fact they went with such a quick-paced rock song.  It’s just a little too much for my ears to handle unfortunately.  Though big shout outs with Yuki from Lovendor for being involved in the arranging!
  • Watashi – As the oddest sounding song of the bunch of A-sides ANGERME released, this one was a different situation as this is the graduation song for Nyon.  The tune is quite poppy and quite danceable (though the dubstep parts could leave).  Nyon’s voice does remind me of her days in Shugo Chara Egg! / early S/mileage which is strange but neat overall!  It’s still a bit odd considering the other songs that came this year.
  • Kousaten – So the next two tracks are from the Regular only version of the best album released at the end of the year (and ironically the two songs that were promoted slightly (on tour before Kanon’s graduation).  Kousaten is the ballad and it seems like it’s a song from the remaining members of ANGERME to Kanon.  The arrangement is nice enough even if it doesn’t stretch the limits or anything, but hearing all 8 members have lines is pleasant!
  • Tomo yo – The other slightly promoted song, Tomo yo is definitely a song that hits you in the face right from the start!  It reminds me of Momusu’s “Namidacchi” with the energy and closing feel it’s giving me.  While there’s little to no solos here, I do kind of like the force of it all and it turned out to be a fun song for the group.
  • Namida wa Chou ni Kawaru – Seems like ANGERME seemed to tackle the same genre that Juice=Juice did with “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS” with the synthy latin sound.  I kind of enjoyed the loud and brash feel of this song and it just swung nicely the entire time.  Also, most of the members sound different than normal…how strange right?
  • Asekaite Carnival – Limited B’s 2nd exclusive actually reminded me of the above track by holding similar latin sounds, but definitely was festive and much more brighter of a song than the sexier “Namida wa Chou ni Kawaru”, I will say it’s a smidge better, but the thing that kept it from hitting great were these weird passages of dubstep in the pre-chorus…wtf was that all about??

MEH SONGS

  • Kakugoshite – I’m not sure why but Kakugoshite is an odd song for me despite DANCE MAN took part in this one.  I can hear the slight disco-ish feel, but it’s countered with some guitars.  Something about this one though feels a bit one-note.  I think the hook is a bit annoying while the chorus is catchy…just an odd song from the best album.

Predictions from last year!

ANGERME will stand out and the new members will manage to fit into the group with little problems.  Not sure how else to say it but I hope it doesn’t mean that Ayacho and Nyon are planning to leave this year…keep that for next year plz!!!

Actuality: Well it took two singles to get there, but I think Mizuki, Rikako, and Maho have done a nice job standing out amongst the other 6 members (maybe Maho needs a little more training, but she’s not bad).  Unfortunately the other half of the prediction is that Nyon is leaving this year

Predictions for 2016: I actually don’t know what to expect in 2016 other than watching Moe become active within the group.  Hopefully keeping up with the epic singles that we had this year would be great.  Not sure when Ayaka will announce her graduation, but I know it’s not going to be too long.

Juice=Juice

juicejuice

wonderfulworldkoisuruhellokittyfirstsqueeze

Like C-ute, I felt like Juice=Juice also once again had a quiet year, with only one single and technically two albums this year, it’s been quite the slow year otherwise (but that’s only because the group went on a very BUSY tour schedule for the year.

The year began with the group rereleasing their stageplay, Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Koisuru Hello Kitty” with the DVD of the play and a longer CD tracklist then released their single Wonderful World / Ça va? Ça va? before releasing their first album FINALLY, First Squeeze!.

The remaining second half of the year was of them focusing on their tour, but they are the first to announce their first release of 2016, so I can’t wait!

GREAT SONGS

  • Nakayoki Koto wa Utsukushii Kana – The only song that really stuck out from the stageplay they did on the rerelease.  Tomoko rather surprised me here by singing a much more upbeat and fun song as well!  Plus the bouncy arrangement and just overall bright energy was actually something this play needed more of.
  • Ça va? Ça va? – So the 2nd A-side from the lone single the group released this year, actually was pretty damn good for the group.  I do like they’re continuing with the experimental genres this time taking in some French Pop (or just trying to add effects to make it seem like it).  It’s a fun song and the group sounds a lot more lively than usual which I loooove!  I also like hearing a bit more Yuka and Akari as well…funky, but cool track!
  • CHOICE&CHANCE – I was sooo elated to see that Juice=Juice were going to promote their album as much as they did and choosing this song as a promotional material and get a PV at that, this song was the cool song I was waiting for for quite a while and it stood out immensely!  It has a lot of punch to it and adding some vocal effects to the girls while sounds a little odd, suited the track.  This song was just one of the best songs this year.
  • Erabareshi Watashitachi – I do remember mentioning this song last year because it was performed for quite a while without any release (this track was performed before Senobi / Date ja nai wa Uchi no Jinsei wa released).  Finally with a studio cut, the song definitely cemented my love for it (plus it was the only new Tsunku-made song on the 2nd disc).  It’s got a lot of punch like “CHOICE&CHANCE” with a bit more guitars rockin’ out as well.  I definitely added this banger onto my iPod!
  • GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS – When I reviewed the album, I definitely said that the song reminded me of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”, but the kind of dirty rock sound suited the group surprisingly well and this is a good chanting-friendly song to perform on tours.  I also love the characters that everyone sings especially Sayubee and Kanatomo.  Very rockin’ song!
  • Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.) – Moving to their cover disc, I thought this cover of the classic Taiyou to Ciscomoon A-side was really good.  They’ve been covering this song in my performances (as early as before Aina left the group).  I do like the arrangement changes and the group sounds upbeat and cute (which is a bit different than the more mature voices of T&C).  Though I think many people will credit this to Sayuki as she gets a LOT of the bigger notes and ad-libs.
  • Narihajimeta Koi no BELL – There were also some covers where the arrangement wasn’t touched, just Juice=Juice singing them.  This Ongaku Gatas cover is pretty faithful despite the difference of members.  It still shares the same awkwnardness of the original (primarily the whole ~ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh~ lines before the chorus…still doesn’t work.
  • Last Kiss – The last two covers on the disc were split groupings between the five and this ended up being a duet between Karin and Sayubee.  Being a cover of a pretty mature song from Tanpopo, I wasn’t sure if the vocals were going to match the cold and soothing sound.  Karin’s voice is a bit too youthful (honestly Tomoko would’ve kicked this song’s ass!).  Sayubee though handled it though and I quite enjoyed it.

OK SONGS

  • Itsumo no Asa – I feel like a lot of Koisuru Hello Kitty was plagued by too much spoken dialogue, but there were a couple songs that handled it a bit better than others.  Itsumo no Asa is mostly a solo for Kanatomo and I enjoyed the kind of Western sound mixed with the playfulness of the piano.  Also the ~tick-tock~ lines from the other members added a nice catchy hook…overall, decent song!
  • Mittsu no Lulu (Ningen ver.) – Disregarding the opening, this version of Mittsu no Lulu is a bit dramatic and a totally difference to a lot of other songs.  The piano does keep things lively and upbeat, but I feel like it was slightly more serious than other tracks.  I still think it is plagued a bit much from the dialogue, but it’s nice.
  • Tsubasa Ochiteku – Then there’s Tsubasa Ochiteku which was the depressing and lonely sounding song (might have fit “Week End Survivor” actually).  Sayubee though gives a good emotionl performance and when the song opens up to its peak, she definitely sings with a lot of fire and passion and I can’t deny that it was pretty cool.
  • Todoke Todoke Todoke! (Reprise) – Despite that I already reviewed the main tracks of the next two in this category, we did get reprises of them.  This one of Todoke Todoke Todoke! is quiet and simple in arrangement, yet once again, Kanatomo gets to sing a lot here and it’s just soooo good!  While Karin’s vocals are so cutesy, I think it fit well too.
  • HELLO! (Reprise) – The final song from the OST, this reprise of HELLO! might not sound different to the main track, it’s still fun and upbeat and it does feel like it would give closure to the play.  I just wish there was more upbeat songs on the second half of the album because it was just straight out ballads.
  • Ai・Ai・Gasa – Moving to their album songs, I was definitely enjoying the disco-esque song that called back some 2011 H!P.  I do love the fact this album pushed Yukanyan and Aarii a little more than their typical one-liners and background vocals.  I’m actually surprised it took them this long to bring back an arrangement like this and it works for the group!
  • Umaretate no Baby Love – Though we got two on this album with this being the second track.  There might not be a whole lot difference between this and “Ai・Ai・Gasa” because of the similar arrangements.  I also got some weird “Magic of Love” similarities, but this is a fun song, but I do prefer the above song a bit more overall.
  • Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase! – I’m not sure why, but I thought of Melon Kinenbi for some reason.  Mirai e is something a little different from the other songs on the album by being just a fun pop song that sounds like something I would’ve heard from other idol groups (ironic right?).  I like the dance-pop summer beats going through the track and the group sounds decent!
  • Tsuzuiteiku STORY – As the poignant ballad of the album (and the other promotional song), Tsuzuiteiku STORY isn’t a bad song as much as other ballads I’ve heard before.  I do enjoy hearing everyone’s vocals blend in the arrangement and the chorus is nice too.  It does remind me of “Furusato” for some reason, I also thought the synths and sitar were interesting together too.  Yeah, not bad!
  • Kousui (J=J 2015 Ver.) – Their Melon Kinenbi cover wasn’t bad actually.  The arrangement update was probably a bit more impressive than the vocals here, but they weren’t bad either, I just liked this arrangement a lot.  Also, there’s no heavy dependence on just one singer like the original.
  • Scramble – While I’m not too familiar with the Gocchin original, the fact that the arrangement didn’t change should say a lot because I do like it a lot (and after hearing Tsuzuiteiku STORY, I hear familiar sitar stuff going on too).  I like the upbeat arrangement and it sounds like a song they would release!
  • BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! – So the other mini-group contained Kanatomo, Aarii, and Yukanyan for this memorable Petitmoni cover.  While I don’t think vocally it was going to surpass the original, I did like hearing Akari and Yuka all over the place!  Love & hate a bit much huh?  Still, it could’ve been worse so I thought it was OK.

MEH SONGS

  • Ningen no Sekai e! – Getting into the songs that I just couldn’ get into, we start off with basically the remainder of the “Koisuru Hello Kitty” OST.  I mean I do like the intro with it’s lighthearted and silly feel.  Though the song is plagued by way too much exposition, plus it’s like a bunch of songs strung together.  Kind of messy in places and they don’t connect very well.
  • Diary – I do like the harp that plays within the first part alongside Karin’s light vocals but after a while it just seems to fly by my head with little impressions.  It’s just rather unfortunate and a bit one-note.
  • Mittsu no Lulu (Omocha no Kuni ver.) – While I do love that Karin and Tomoko get to sing together the arrangement sounds a lot like other tracks that I already mentioned above.  I’m not saying it’s mad lazy, but once again forgetful.
  • Ningen no Sekai – I thought it was going to be another take of “Ningen no Sekai e!”, but the difference is pretty stark as it starts off with Karin and piano/strings before the bouncy, brassy side enters and Sayubee starts to sing as well as Tomoko.  Same issues though haunt this track too.
  • & YOU – Despite that I love hearing more Akari and Yuka for once, & YOU is a pretty basic ballad overall and the simplicity just kind of put me to sleep.  It’s also just a bit too long for my tastes too at over 4 minutes.
  • Only choice –  While I do think this song is a bit better than “& YOU” and it’s merely a Karin solo with the same piano/strings arrangement, I feel like there was a little more emotion and effort given here.
  • Good bye Kitty – I feel like we were given another “Diary” with harp accompanying Karin once again, although the song adds some flutes and acoustic guitar.  Still, it’s just as lifeless and kind of boring overall, add some dialogue and a short length and it just flies by.
  • Ano Ko no Okage – With this string of ballads, it was hard to get pulled back into the OST as I was still in a snoozing zone.  There was a long bit of dialogue before Akari, Tomoko, and Yuka start to sing.  Luckily it does build up so it somewhat caught my attention but then it just straight up fizzles out and leaves me bored again…
  • Wonderful World – Finally getting back into the group’s main releases, their lone single of the year was both a hit and a miss.  The miss was mostly due to this track in particular.  Maybe it was just from coming from “Koisuru Hello Kitty” but it does have an overly joyous sound and kind of escapes the group’s motif of being cool.  It’s just a bit out-of-character, but the song didn’t catch on…plus the whole ~la la la~ section is SOOO annoying!
  • Ai no Diving – I thought I was going to enjoy this song because it’s totally different from the usual, but this song had a hard time sticking to me.  I think the weird rhythms in the song throws me off everytime and things just don’t add together.  Not a favorite or even close!
  • Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun – With this song, it started off nicely and in a cute way, but damn the arrangement is weak and very lacking to me (where’s the bass beats?).  I think if it was given a much broader sound than the muffled tones we got, I think this song would’ve been great, but this is just lacking!

Predictions from last year!

An album for sure! (hopefully not a best album).  Also they’ll be up at the front of releases (or at least put out great songs).

Actuality: Well, they did manage to release their first album and everything, but they definitely weren’t at the forefront of H!P’s minds this year and they kind of released good songs here and there.

Predictions for 2016: With them, I’m unsure what will happen with Juice=Juice in the next year.  Like I said, they weren’t at H!P’s minds for most of the year and the group themselves were shadowed just by all the other groups due to new members and new debuts, so it’s an awkward phase for them.  Maybe they’ll pick up a new member or two to catch up?

Country Girls

country

itooshikuttegomennewakatteirunonigomenne

So I did make a profile for them last year, but that’s because they were announced as a group then, this year though we finally had Country Girls debut!  Initially, Itooshikutte Gomen ne / Koi Dorobo was going to be an indies single and a release for the 5-nin (Momoko was still with Berryz) before the company changed their minds and pushed the date back til after Berryz Koubou said their goodbyes and made it a major label debut.

The single did quite well and most of it due to Uta Shimamura‘s leading presence in the music videos!

Though things got quiet for the group and moreso for Uta until in June where she suddenly announced her graduation from the group immediately (almost in a similar fashion to Juice=Juice’s Aina Otsuka).

This didn’t help much because this was shortly before the group announced their 2nd single Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne / Tamerai Summertime and the hole that Uta left was rather obvious and it led to Chisaki to lead most of the single (hmmm).

Things got REALLY quiet once again until the group’s one year anniversary came and they announced two new members (both Kenshuusei) would join the group: Musubu Funaki Nanami Yanagawa.  Hopefully things will settle down a little bit for the next year and they’ll release the songs they performed before the end of this year as a single with the new members!

GREAT SONGS

  • Itooshikutte Gomen ne – I was so curious to hear what CG would be like at debut and with Itooshikutte Gomen ne, this song was the cute song that just worked!  From the breezy pop vibes to hearing Uta, Chisaki, and Mai just throwing such a lovely presence throughout.  I still would’ve loved to hear that 5-nin cut (sans Momoko) but I doubt it because of how H!P is avoiding this song like the plague since Uta left the group.
  • Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne – So the other primary A-side, it’s weird to see this song because this was a song kind of edited at last minute because of Uta.  Chisaki’s HUGE appearance is really statling, but since she’s playing the girl to Mai’s more boyish character is just adorable!  While it holds no candle to the above song, it’s got a lot of charm and the PVs themselves really gave the 6 new light (especially Momoko who’s become the kind of butt of the joke, but it’s in a fun and lighthearted way.  Both did a lot of good this year!

OK SONGS

  • Koi Dorobo – I feel like the secondary A-side of both singles kind of waned a bit, but still are enjoyable.  I feel like Koi Dorobo put the light more on Risa and Manaka here and they have such interesting voices to go with them.  I do like the kind of surfer pop arrangement in this track and the energy is bright and fun and just was catchy.
  • Tamerai Summertime – I feel like this mid-tempo swaying track was a nice change of pace from the cutesy stuff of the other 3 songs.  It’s just a nice song to sit and listen too and once again a little more focus was put on Yamakki, Manakan, and Momochi.  I do think that I kind of forgot about this song in the long run, whenever it is playing I do find myself humming along.

Predictions from last year!

With their first single being indies and w/o Momoko, I hope Country Girls get off on a great foot.  Not sure what else I could say with predictions, but let’s hope for the best with them!

Actuality: Well that first part didn’t happen because it was changed after that post to be major and 6-nin.  While it was sad that Uta left (and seem the sales were affected a little bit), they did better than I thought they would.

Predictions for 2016: With Funaki and Yanagawa joining the ranks, I hope that means we get to see more of them, have Itooshikutte Gomen ne return to setlists and perhaps having Momoko letting this group fly on their own.

Kobushi Factory

kobushi

nensurvivordosukoiWES_CD+DVD_sleeve_ol

So not even 2 days after the new year began, we get an announcement of a new group that included only Kenshuusei.  It included Ayano Hamaura, Minami Nomura, Rena Ogawa, Natsumi Taguchi, Rio Fujii, Sakurako Wada, Rei Inoue, and Ayaka Hirose.  The first state of business was waiting for the name of the group which ended up being a decision made by ex-Berryz member, Saki Shimizu.

Shortly after, they announced their first indies single, Nen ni wa Nen / Survivor, which the latter was used for their stageplay, Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Week End Survivor” which also came out with its own OST.

There was a short slow period for them before the surprising announcement that only after one single, they would debut on a major label with their first single, Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan / Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta / Nen ni wa Nen (Nen’iri ver.).

After the single released, the group kind of remained quiet performing on tours and such, I can’t wait to see what comes next for them.

GREAT SONGS

  • Nen ni wa Nen Nen ni wa Nen (Nen’iri ver.) – As the group’s main debut song, I wasn’t expecting the group to kick things off on a strong foot with a rockin’ track.  Nen ni wa Nen does a good job showcasing every member and I’m loving the edge the girls brought.  Though it was made even better when the song was edited for their debut major single.  Not too much was changed besides the ~NEN!~ in the intro and redone vocals!  I have to say it challenges other great debuts like “Massara Blue Jeans” and “Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenkya ne” for favorite debut!
  • Survivor – Found as the secondary A-side on their indies single and the main theme for Week End Survivor it took a more darker route in comparison to “Nen ni wa Nen” that’s for sure.  I love the creepy aspects of the song and hearing Hamachan opening the song gave me this lonely and cold atmosphere that was replaced by an edgier rock arrangement.  I actually ended up loving this song a lot more than “Nen ni wa Nen” too which is pretty strange considering this is unfortunately a stageplay song (they haven’t performed this since the stageplay…).
  • Koko Kara Dashite – Talking about the OST, I guess it’s time to go through some.  I love the slow intro to give the group a nice section to sing melodically.  Though after the passage, teh tune turns into this angsty beat-driven tune.  Yeah, the singing might not be at the same production level as their main songs, but it’s still a cool song.
  • Tsuzuku Omou – I also think the beat reminds me a little of the above track for some reason.  I’m enjoying this heavily emotional track and hearing some members like Hamachan, Minamina, and Ayapan singing, but it seems Reirei took a lot of the lines here and she handled it better than most members.  Definitely a cool song too xD.
  • Memory – A duet between Ayano and Ayaka, Memory stuck out to me with it’s sad sound and piano-led arrangement was a interesting break from the more aggressive songs on the OST.  Simple, but the melody stuck to me, plus the two sounded quite nice, especially together!
  • Sagashidase – Though I think the song that really caught my attention, Sagashidase is a funky and aggressive solo for Reirei and her deeper vocals are impressive and she handled the song with power and a sense of confidence.  Sakurako and Minami does have a couple lines and join Rei in the final chorus…this is epic, though so short >.<
  • Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan – Back to the major debut, Dosukoi took the notes from “Nen ni wa Nen” and gave us another awesome pop/rock song with forced growls and punches in the arrangement which I love like crazy.  I also ended up falling in love with the PV.  It’s a whole lot of fun and the group was just as energetic if not more with this recording!

OK SONGS

  • Sayuri – I will say, the kind of spooky accordion rhythm with the prickly piano melody is really cool though after a while it does start to lull in my head and I lose focus.  Probably the best part is when the song empties out and 6 of the members get a solo line.  Still, it’s a solid song and puts a creepy feel to the OST.
  • Sayonara – At first, I didn’t care for the lone piano arrangement and Hamachan singing the tune solo (even though she was the last alive in the stageplay).  After a decently filled passage, the remaining members join and bass fill the speakers too.  It still doesn’t exactly call out to me like “Sayuri” does, but it’s a good conclusion to the play.
  • Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta – When it comes to this Sharam Q cover, I feel like the group might not have been ready for something like this (I mean the song is rather full of shenanigans as it is).  I do love the arrangement though and the dance is quirky enough to stand out from the PV.  There is one glaring issue and I’m not sure why but having Hamachan and Renako sing together is ear-piercing…still it’s a good A-side for them.

MEH SONGS

  • Nemuri no Rondo – Introduce, Doubt, Fluctuations, Lost, and Belief – Other than the fact that the group aren’t singing (these are merely interludes).  I mean arrangement-wise they’re decent, but there’s 5 of them and that’s a bit much for me when it’s the same melody throughout, just arranged slightly different each time.  Although Lost is probably the best of them.
  • Sayuri ~Prelude~ – Though this is played before the main song (and a “Nemuri no Rondo”), this prelude has a short excerpt from Rio…beyond that it baffles me to why it’s there (kind of like “TRIANGLE’s”, “Nee, Milk”.  Just seems absurdly unnecessary.
  • Koukai – The only non-interlude to be meh, Koukai is the vanilla ballad of the OST and it’s sung by Hamachan who I didn’t think suit ballads with her high-ranged vocals.  In the end, the song was a bit too empty and the vocals weren’t helping the situation much…

Predictions for 2016: I really am not sure what could be in store for Kobushi Factory, but I hope they don’t lose a member (because 8 member units that aren’t Momusu have been known to lose members ala Berryz and C-ute).

Tsubaki Factory

tsubaki

1cTGCS8923_TP1A_O_prep.pdfkedakaku31bTGCS8954_FH1A_H1-4_prep.pdf

Thought we fans would have enough to deal with after all the new members?  NOPE!  In April, we get a surprise annoucement on Hello! Station that Saki Shimizu struck again and formed a new group, Tsubaki Factory which includes the Kenshuusei: Riko Yamagishi, Kiki Asakura, Yumeno Kishimoto, Kisora Niinuma, Ami Tanimoto, and Risa Ogata.  Also, if you haven’t noticed, the group’s name is supposed to rival Kobushi Factory!

At debut the only song in their repertoire was a cover of a Chisato Moritaka classic, 17sai.  Sadly, it hasn’t been released as a single, but eventually in September, we had their first indies single, Seishun Manmannaka!.  Then a month later, release a stageplay single for their Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Thank You Very Berry”.  After that the group just went silent beyond tour performances until November where they premiered a new song in Kedakaku Sakihokore! although it makes the final release from H!P in the year that was 2015.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kedakaku Sakihokore! – Taking from their first indies, Kedakaku Sakihokore! is continuing on their route of their electro sound and it’s a major upgrade after their cover of “17sai” and even “Seishun Manmannaka!”.  There’s a lot more of a pulsing beat like the former and the equal line distribution from both and it really gives off a powerful punch.  There’s even a rapping section between Kishimon and Risamaru which we haven’t heard in H!P in quite a while, so this is quite an interesting song to end the year.

OK SONGS

  • Seishun Manmannaka! (First Take) – I have to say, a lot of people thought they were going to get a flowery cute song at debut, but surprise, surprise, the group got an EDM song to debut with.  While it’s a simple track for the group, they still sound like they’re having issues blending together (and Ami, but that’s for obvious reasons).  I also stuck this into OK because it seems there’ll be an updated version down the line.
  • Ano Ko ga Utau no wo Mitanda – I was kind of surprised Maasa sung the first line of this track.  Though the song is kind of an interesting mid-tempo song.  I think of the three songs from the stageplay, I was rather impressed with this one as this had crazy solos all over the place.  It’s got this cute wintry vibe to it too.  Decent overall!
  • Kaijuu no Ballad – As the only upbeat song from the group’s stageplay single, Kaijuu no Ballad was a bit short, but I kind of dug it!  It’s fun to listen to and the piano is exciting to hear.  Despite the group’s cuter vocals, it suited the track and the chorus was really cool too!  I just wished it was longer…
  • Thank You Very Berry – So I already had mentioned that Berryz Koubou did resing the tune for their final bow of an album, so hearing Tsubaki tackle this song was a bit curious.  While I didn’t thnk it was on point like Berryz was, it was a nice try and they also took out the dialogue in the bridge for some reason too! It’s a OK retread, but not better than Berryz’ original.

Predictions for 2016: Maybe to stick to being an indies group for at least 3/ of the year before going major (while it was smooth for both Country Girls and Kobushi Factory becoming major so fast, I don’t have the same feelings for Tsubaki currently).  Maybe a new member to strengthen the vocals up…but otherwise I’m curious as they’re the newbies.

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei

KSSno2015

1letssayhello

I don’t think the Kenshuusei did as much as they did in 2014 because of the fluctuation of members this year, although it did surprise they didn’t continue to release new songs AT LEAST.

To start things off, the year kicked off with Ayano Hamaura, Natsumi Taguchi, Rena Ogawa, Minami Nomura, Rio Fujii, Sakurako Wada, Ayaka Hirose, and Rei Inoue announced to be chosen for a new group (which later became Kobushi Factory) and the group officially graduated from the KSS program in November.

A month later we would see their first album, ① Let’s Say “Hello!” finally make its appearance on online stores and made available to everyone and not just at Nana Tamagos.

At the end of February though, Kana Mikame would be the first KSS to “complete her training” and  a new member, Kurumi Takase would take up her place.

Then two months later a series of events started happening!  First off, we got 8 new members that joined before the test recitals: Mao Akiyama, Nanami Yanagawa, Honoka Okamoto, Kokoro Maeda, Mizuho Ono, Rion Nakano, Mizuki Kanatsu, and Momona Kasahara.

On the other hand we also got news a couple days later that Riko Yamagishi, Yumeno Kishimoto, Kisora Niinuma, Risa Ogata, Kiki Asakura, and Ami Tanimoto were chosen to represent a new group as Tsubaki Factory (though they’re still considered KSS by the end of the year).  Also in the update was that Kana Saito had finished her training.

Things became quiet after that little rush section up until November when Musubu Funaki and Nanami Yanagawa were chosen to join Country Girls.  A day later, Honoka Okamoto had finished her training (though she’s been MIA basically since after the recital tests >.>

GREAT SONGS

  • Say! Hello! – Yeah, I’m coming back to these songs because I had little time with them when I did last years mega-post.  Since I’ve had longer time to spend on them (and the fact the album was released to the public this year), I want to see if anything changed.  Honestly, this song still impresses me after all this time despite soundng like 2011 H!P songs to a T.  I still think Manakan’s epic line in the end of the first chorus was perfect and the tune itself is fun and catchy too!
  • Onna no Sono – This was another song that struck me in a good way because it was fitting of the time where EDM was all over H!P as a whole.  While there wasn’t as much this year, Onna no Sono is still a cool song to listen and hearing Minami and Murotan getting the solo lines was pretty cool.  It was also the song Kobushi Factory started with when they were first announced and that made me enjoy this song a lot more!
  • “Idol wa Robot” tte Showa no Hanashi ne – Even though the color-coding of this song is damn near impossible, it’s still a ridiculously catchy song even with having a year with it in headphones.  I like the beats and the chorus is just easy to hum with more or less sing with.  I also to love the bridge of the track too!

OK SONGS

  • Crying – I’m not sure why but I definitely get Buono! vibes from this song by taking a poppy/rock song and making it their own.  I don’t think it stuck on me as much as it did back then, but it’s still makes for a good listen occasionally.
  • Seishun Beat wa 16 – Last year, I didn’t exctly give a damn about this song, but for some reason it seriously started to grown on me.  I felt myself liking the kind of shoujo-esque sound mixed with some 80s synth-pop.  Plus it sounds hopeful and yet fun at the same time.  It’s an odd song for me to like, but it just became a really good song to listen to.
  • “Koishitai Shinto” – This song also found itself growing on me too just as much as the above song.  I still find it humorous with the English MCs introducing the song, but they add this punch that the song otherwise couldn’t have.  Plus the arrangement has some pretty epic parts…though I can’t say most of the song is working (maybe a different set of girls should’ve tackled this).

MEH SONGS

  • Table Seki Aitetemo Counter Seki – Seems like this song actually grew less on me (actually it’s my least played song from the album).  When compared to most songs on the album, this one felt flat and the same beat led really nowhere.  Plus it’s the only song (not counting “Ten Made Nobore!”) where there’s no solos to be had…just not my kind of song anymore.

Other H!P Releases

h1_h4petitbest16b

I suppose the first isn’t totally considered a H!P release, but I do think it should be worth mentioning that “Ima Koko Kara” was a major part of the Precure movie! in the single titled, “Precure All Stars Haru no Carnival♪” Shuudaika Single.

I was surprised that we didn’t really get releases outside of the main groups this year, like the Atsumechaimashita albums or even anything from SATOYAMA/SATOUMI (surprised by the latter because it would’ve been a perfect time due to the influx of new members in H!P.  We did get our annual Petit Best 16.  Though beyond that, nothing else really!

OK SONGS

  • Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai (Berryz Koubou Last Concert 2015 Berryz Koubou Ikube~! Ver.) – The only exclusive song on the compilation album, this is just a live performance of their song in their final tour.  Really there’s not a lot to say here, but I would’ve much preferred the “Love together!” performance…it was a LOT more emotional for everyone.

 Other Releases from Ex-H!P this year!

  • Ex-Momusu member, Natsumi Abe released her 3rd studio album, “Dreams”
  • Ex-Country Musume member Azusa Kobayashi released a special single only sold at venus, “My daughter”
  • Ex-Juice=Juice member, Aina Otsuka released her debut indies single “Dreamer”
  • Yuu Kikkawa releases a single, “Hana” before her third album, “YOU the 3rd. ~WILDFLOWER~
  • Ex-H!P Egg member Irori Maeda releases her 2nd single, “Twinkle Star Light / Himitsu”
  • Arisa Noto’s group, StylipS released three singles this year, “Mayomayo Compass wa Iranai”, “Give Me Secret”, and “Dramatic*Cycle”
  • THE Possible announced a label switch to Up-Front Create, changed their name to Ciao Bella Cinquetti and released a single, “Omotesandou / Futako-Tamagawa / Never Never Give Up” before Yurika Akiyama announced her graduation in August.
  • Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) only released their third album, “Third Album (Kakko Kari)”
  • Lovendor released their first major label single “Iin ja nai! / Fuutsu no Watashi Ganbare!”

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • Ayano Hamaura (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Natsumi Taguchi (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Rena Ogawa (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Minami Nomura (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Rio Fujii (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Sakurako Wada (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Ayaka Hirose (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Rei Inoue (to Kobushi Factory)
  • Kurumi Takase
  • Mizuho Ono
  • Rion Nakano
  • Nanami Yanagawa (and to Country Girls)
  • Mao Akiyama
  • Honoka Okamoto
  • Kokoro Maeda
  • Momona Kasahara
  • Mizuki Kanatsu
  • Riko Yamagishi (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Yumeno Kishimoto (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Kisora Niinuma (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Risa Ogata (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Kiki Asakura (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Ami Tanimoto (to Tsubaki Factory)
  • Musubu Funaki (to Country Girls)
  • Moe Kamikokuryo

Losses

  • Kana Mikame
  • Miyabi Natsuyaki
  • Saki Shimizu
  • Risako Sugaya
  • Maasa Sudo
  • Chinami Tokunaga
  • Yurina Kumai
  • Kana Saito
  • Uta Shimamura
  • Honoka Okamoto
  • Kanon Fukuda
  • Riho Sayashi (though still H!P)

My H!P Member Ranking for 2015

  • 62. Risako Sugaya (-46)
  • 61. Yurina Kumai (-58)
  • 60. Chinami Tokunaga (-35)
  • 59. Miyabi Natsuyaki (-53)
  • 58. Aika Mitsui (-17)
  • 57. Ami Tanimoto (NEW)
  • 56. Moe Kamikokuryo (NEW)

Really, it might not be fair to be putting 4 Berryz members at dead last, but literally they haven’t done much since the indefinite hiatus really.  Rii & Yurina have ultimately dropped off the radar, but the latter has been showing up on shows.  Chii Miya on the other had have started GREEN ROOM (sort of like Hello! Station), however Chinami is going on hiatus to study English abroad in which Mittsi just returned from and is now promoting goods and concert reprts in English!!!  While she has performed (at the last concert of 2015), beyond that she’s stuck to the background and backstages!  At least starting at the back-end of current members, I feel like Ami came in just a little too green when Tsubaki was announced.  She kind of is weak in almost every thing except looking adorable…and vocally she was literally sounding like she didn’t put in effort…she has since started her idol growth in a good rate currently and hopefully will end up going up this ranking at the end of 2016.  As for Kamiko, she’s the newest member of H!P (joining ANGERME in November).  From what we saw from auditions, she’s basically already on point and will fit in VERY smoothly after Nyon’s graduation.  Hopefully by the end of next year, she’ll rise up heavily as she hasn’t properly debuted yet.

  • 55. Haruna Ogata (-12)
  • 54. Maria Makino (-22)
  • 53. Natsumi Taguchi (NEW)
  • 52. Haruna Iikubo (-15)
  • 51. Mai Hagiwara (-13)

Getting into the current H!P members now, I feel with the surge of new members, a lot of the members pre-2015 got pushed down in the rankings.  Haachel wasn’t too high on my list last year, but since she properly debuted this year, I definitely think she’s the weakest of the 12th Generation.  Her singing isn’t quite there as well as her dancing, but I do enjoy that she’s an oddball like Zukki and her duet with Maachan in the “TRIANGLE” OST was actually pretty nice.  Maria kind of falls in the same place as she hasn’t got a whole lot of attention, but at the same time she has?  I mean she’s got solo lines over Haachel and Akanechin, but she’s got some vocal training to continue on.  It’s strange to say, but Taguchan has never really been high on my ranks (when she was in the KSS), but she’s definitely got the least amount of show time on Kobushi releases I feel like.  I hope she’ll start to come out of her shell in 2016.  Despite being sub-leader, Harunan is still the weak link in the 10th Generation, but she’s becoming a great speaker for the group alongside Fukuchan!  Maimai is just kind of where she’s usually at, I do like that she leads occasionally and her voice is slightly getting better, but she’s still kind of catty most of the time.

  • 50. Saki Shimizu (-36)
  • 49. Nanami Yanagawa (NEW)
  • 48. Ayaka Wada (-24)
  • 47. Chisaki Morito (-1)
  • 46. Maho Aikawa (-6)

Despite that Captain is now out of H!P, I feel like of the 6 Berryz members that left H!P, Captain kept things afloat by becoming an advisor for the company (alongside Chinami) but she’s done quite more as she was the one to make the idea of Kobushi and Tsubaki rivals that share the legacy of Berryz Kobo.  Plus she choreographs with some of the groups so it’s a nice plus!  Not even been in the program for a year, Yanamin has seriosuly come out of nowhere to become a part of Country Girls.  She just joined KSS and just steam-rolled her way into the group, can’t wait to see what she’ll be capable of.  Ayacho continues to rollercoaster her way around my enjoyment and this year wasn’t exactly the best year as her voice took a more nasally route (especially in “Taikibansei”).  She’s definitely one of the prettiest members in H!P, I can admit to that.  After Utachan’s sudden departure they had to find someone to take her ace spot and for some reason they chose Chisaki to take over, sadly she currently doesn’t have a lot of personality going for her and she came off as green in all the Country Girls songs this year, maybe it’s me that has to take focus, but she’s in a group of very strong personalities that isn’t helped with Nanami and Musubu joining.  Currently, Aiai is the weakest member of ANGERME, but she’s coming along nicely and the training is helping since she’s a bit like Yanamin as she joined the group quickly after joining the KSS.

  • 45. Uta Shimamura (0)
  • 44. Risa Yamaki (-18)
  • 43. Ayumi Ishida (-16)
  • 42. Maasa Sudo (-31)
  • 41. Riko Yamagishi (NEW)

Surprise, surprise that Utachan would be the lone member to not budge in numbers (yet still be somewhat higher than other members.  Even if she was just in only two songs (on one single), Uta really had made a mark in such a fast time for Country Girls.  She was easily brought up to become an ace, but as fast as that came to be, she would end up leaving as fast as she came in.  With Country Girls, I feel like currently Morito is the weak members, but I feel like Yamakki is also under the same feel because she hasn’t exactly risen to the top in the group like some of the others have.  I mean her drawings in “Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne” were pretty nice, but beyond that I don’t feel like she’s shown off her personality.  I just hope she’ll begin to step her game up (and with the two new girls) it might prove somewhat difficult!  I suppose with Riho out of the way at the beginning of 2016, I feel like Ayumi may be able to take the place as the dancer of the group, but she dropped for me as she didn’t really appear as much as she did in 2013/2014.  Though visually she was pretty appealing and she has not lost that spark!  Of the ex-H!P Berryz members, I feel like Maasa did the most of the 6 members with becoming the leader of the Engeki Joshi-bu group of members and having a lot of interesting parts in “TRIANGLE”, “Week End Survivor”, and “Thank You Very Berry”.  It’ll be interesting to watch her in 2016 (despite this being her last time in a post like this).  As we get into another member from Tsubaki Factory, Rikoriko is some what a love/hate relationship.  At times she can be fun to watch and her face is so naive and curious, but when she sings, you can tell it’s her and she can be meh sometimes or on point.  I think a little more training will do more good I’m sure of it!

  • 40. Miki Nonaka (+2)
  • 39. Ayano Hamaura (NEW)
  • 38. Saki Nakajima (-8)
  • 37. Rena Ogawa (NEW)
  • 36. Yuka Miyazaki (-3)

Chelsea (yes, that is Miki’s nickname), is starting to really come to her own and after Morning Musume’s recent single, it seems like she’s being vocally pushed the most out of the 12th Gen.  I think a lot of people were not expecting her to be the stand out, but with the English and the push in singles, she’s one to look out for in the future.  While I’m surprised that Hamachan wasn’t chosen to join ANGERME (although the vocals for that group went in a different direction than in 2011/2012, her being added in Kobushi Factory was surprising, but considering that she and Natsumi were the eldest of the Kenshuusei…I was happy that she got to debut and while I’m not too certain about what she is in the group, I do like her there!  I don’t think Nakky (or C-ute for that matter) stood out this year, but she’s still the strongest dancer and “The Middle Management” really stuck out to me when it comes to Nakky.  A member I wasn’t expecting to debut, Renako was another member I wasn’t too hot, even though she’s a pretty one (and looks a little like Sakura).  She might be Kobushi’s weakest member vocally, but she brings in elegance to the group which is a nice contrast to the more wilder or edgier members.  Still kind of my least favorite member from Juice=Juice, Yukanyan has started to push her self in the group and the opportunities from the album has pushed her to start singing more~.  I kind of hope it gets better in the next year.

  • 35. Kisora Niinuma (NEW)
  • 34. Kiki Asakura (NEW)
  • 33. Sakurako Wada (NEW)
  • 32. Momoko Tsugunaga (+3)
  • 31. Rikako Sasaki (-15)

I am still kind of shaking off the surprise that Tsubaki was announced so the members haven’t fully set themselves in stone quite yet so with both Niinuma Kiki, they both are kind of just in the middle of the road.  I will say Kisora has gotten much better vocally this year and Kiki right out of the door sounds pretty strong (and reminds me of Aichan for some reason).  Wadasaku is one of my Kenshuusei oshis, so hearing that she was going to debut with Kobushi made me so happy.  After this year, she feels like she’s been pushed to the back a little and its mostly because most of the members are just promoted more (I think she and Taguchi need to step it up!).  Momochi is quite the strange one, in the first quarter, I wouldn’t have put her too high because of the small time Berryz had before their hiatus…then she switched gears and became the “playing manager” for Country Girls and they played up her age and place within the group with their singles.  She actually grew on me during the year and mostly is the reason she went up spots!  I kind of thought that once Rikako joined ANGERME, she would’ve been the lead of her generation, but she runs in the middle between the three.  With Maho being the one that needed more training, Rikako is visually the front as she’s got the powerful dancing down, but her voice isn’t at the same capacity as her gen-mate, Murotan.

  • 30. Kanon Fukuda (-10)
  • 29. Risa Ogata (NEW)
  • 28. Musubu Funaki (NEW)
  • 27. Akari Uemura (+4)
  • 26. Rina Katsuta (-2)

It seemed not so long ago I was introduced to Nyon, and hearing this year that she would graduate towards the end of the year, was surprising, yet not.  Kanon was looking a bit out of place and felt like she wasn’t totally giving her all.  Even though she didn’t fully do a whole lot different than in previous years, we do learn she wanted to write lyrics (and she had with “Watashi” and Ciao Bella Cinquetti’s “Doushiyou, Watashi”).  Now, she’s graduated and leaves us with Ayacho as out last 1st Gen member.  I think Risamaru is one of the better members to come from Tsubaki Factory.  While she was one of the newer KSS (longer NGP KSS), Risa has had time to get her vocals in place and she’s doing really well!  Even the rapping in their 2nd indies single was just impressive!  Funakki has always been a surprise to me with the small frame, yet a big voice…she was always near my top when it comes to KSS members, so I was happily relieved to see her join Country Girls near the end of the year (although I kind of wished she joined MM). Aarii actually slightly stepped it up this year by having more solo lines than ever (especially in their “First Squeeze!” abum).  She’s still the same way I felt before by being visually great and now singing decently.  I could say the same for Rinapuu with standing out more than she has been in her years within the group.  Hell, she had a surprising big amount of focus this year in comparison with having a lot of solo lines!  I’m happy she’s stepping up as much as she is and I hope to see more next year!

  • 25. Yumeno Kishimoto (NEW)
  • 24. Mizuki Fukumura (-12)
  • 23. Mai Ozeki (+21)
  • 22. Rio Fujii (NEW)
  • 21. Mizuki Murota (-6)

It’s strange that I consider Kishimon the best of her group currently because I never fully noticed her in the Kenshuusei.  Though I’m happy she’s standing out quite frankly beyond her tan skin and interesting looks.  It’ll be interesting to see where she’ll be at the end of next year as she’s got a lot of time to grow!  As her first year as leader of Morning Musume ’15, Fukuchan is doing OK, nothing totally stood out, but nothing that had me worrying about the group (besides Riho).  In the group, she’s stood back a little to let other members grow and I appreciate the gesture…though with Sakura becoming more and more the vocal lead, she’ll have a lot of competition.  I don’t know what it is about Ozeki but her ikemen character to her unique raspy vocals kind of make me smile and her turnout in Country Girls this year just plastered a smile on my face…it really makes me want to make her an oshi!!!  Talking about oshis, Riorio has been a favorite of mine since the 2nd Gen S/mileage auditions and now she’s finally debuting AND managed to become sub-leader for Kobushi Factory too!   She’s been a solid member so far and she’s also taking the more boyish role and I’m more than fine with that!  Murotan definitely did not disappoint when it came to 2015 with her debut into ANGERME! Right off the bat she had the ONLY solos on her debut single alongside Rikako & Maho and she’s been a beam of happiness in the group and a lot of fans felt relieved and joyful seeing her put love and passion into her performances!

  • 20. Akari Takeuchi (-3)
  • 19. Minami Nomura (NEW)
  • 18. Masaki Sato (+16)
  • 17. Karin Miyamoto (+1)
  • 16. Erina Ikuta (+20)

With the hype surrounding ANGERME and the rebranding, it was hard to focus on a lot of the 2nd Gen (minus the big Meimi announcement).  Takechan struggled a little for me this year and yet she was still floating around with solo lines and such.  She’s still a fun gal and great to watch live so she only slipped by a margin.  With Minamina, I felt like I didn’t know much about her at the beginning of the year, but when she and the other Kobushi members sang “Onna no Sono” her voice stood out (as she had the only solo when they performed).  Since then, she’s ridden the middle lines nicely with good dance abilities and a nice tone to her voice.  I just wonder if she’ll lead in a song over bigger voices like Hirose, Inoue, and Hamaura.  Seems like a lot of Momusu stood out to me this year, while I’m not a fan of Maachan‘s character still, her vocals have started to become REALLY pleasant and the big push she’s had this year was interesting to say the least.  I can only wonder if she’ll start to take over more spots now Riho is out of the picture.  I’m sure I’e said it already this year, but Juice=Juice barely stood out this year although for better or for worse, Karin did a little more than the others it feels.  I mean the 4 J=J PVs were pretty nice to feature her, but a lot of the big talks were in the fact she was in “Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru” and “Yuugure wa Ameagari” to fill in for Zukki due to her injury.  That in itself was ballsy and I like that she went with it, despite the conflict and internet rage.  Still, she’s just the cutie and her voice is still quite bright!  Like Maachan, Eripon turned it up this year and really has become more of a visual surprise than a vocal one (although her lines in both “Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki” and “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” is making wonder if she’s tapping into some potential vocal leading.  Still she’s more visual now and every pose she makes is just striking and forces you to remember her (similar to what she did in “One Two Three”).  I just hope she continues this route and starting getting more lines!

  • 15. Akane Haga (+24)
  • 14. Rei Inoue (NEW)
  • 13. Sayuki Takagi (0)
  • 12. Manaka Inaba (+17)
  • 11. Kana Nakanishi (-1)

I’m not sure what draws me to Akanechin, but her presence is so child-like and she’s really enjoying her time in the group.  She’s still the one I’m most curious about when it comes to the 12th Generation of members, but she’s got something special going on…also those serious looks in the PVs are really good for some reason.  I just hope there’ll be more presence from her in the upcoming year.  At the beginning, Reirei was also quite an unknown factor when she joined the KSS for the short time before Kobushi was created.  After that and hearing her tackle the first line in “Nen ni wa Nen”, she was BIG surprise and for someone so small she’s got a lot of potential in her voice.  Add her stint on Oha Star, she’s becoming a strong character within Hello! Project!  Sayubee, The other Juice=Juice member that really kind of fell to the wayside, to me at least.  I felt like despite the amount of lead vocals she’s taken, I just didn’t notice her much beyond that and “Wonderful World” was a wreck of a song so that didn’t help her move up in the standings.  While I kind of wish Manakan would use more of her powerful vocals instead of the squeaky cute ones, she’s an amazing dancer and the fact she joined the Dance Club has really let her hair down and just give it her all!  Maybe with Funakki joining (who also has cool deep vocals), maybe they’ll get lucky and release a badass song!  After “LILIUM” last year, Kanana did slide back a smidge, but it seems like with every release ANGERME puts out, her lower rance is being used more and she sounds more epic and different!  I wonder if she’ll take Meimi’s place as a powerful vocalist after she graduates…

  • 10. Riho Sayashi (+11)
  • 9. Ayaka Hirose (NEW)
  • 8. Maimi Yajima (+11)
  • 7. Meimi Tamura (+2)
  • 6. Sakura Oda (+1)

Even without the fact she graduated from Morning Musume ’15, Sayashi left a strong impression throughout the year with 12 months of strong performances and a better voice especially in her final single.  Really though, she’s come a long way this past year and it’ll quite evident that she’ll be missed in future MM songs.  A new member of the KSS and now leader of Kobushi Factory, Ayapan impressed many with her vocals throughout all of the releases the group had and showed a whole lot of confidence despite being somewhat new to H!P (she was a NGP can’t wait to see what she’ll bring as the years go by!  As the now leader of H!P, Yaji started the year off strong by taking to the now-made Kobushi Factory members, but then kind of slowly drifted off while Captain did a lot of announcing.  In C-ute, I think I noticed everyone but her in the music scene, but I suppose that might be good.  Still a beauty though!  With the recent announcement of Meimi graduating in the Spring of 2016, we might have little time, but she stood out a lot this year.  Her voice just keeps getting more powerful and epic and her ear to expressing those emotions is just downright awesome!  With such short time, I just hope she graduates with a bang!  I’m pretty sure that Odasaku has become the voice from Momusu as she’s gotten a lot of lead time this year (like Maachan).  She’s still pretty damn awesome and her range is getting better.  Really interesting member and she’s only just getting better and better!

  • 5. Haruka Kudo (+3)
  • 4. Airi Suzuki (+1)
  • 3. Kanon Suzuki (-2)
  • 2. Tomoko Kanazawa (+2)
  • 1. Chisato Okai (+1)

Duu definitely found herself sticking out in MM’15 most of the year, yeah the first half wasn’t very exciting, but when she co-lead with Zukki in “Oh my wish!” and then having a LOT of screentime for “ENDLESS SKY”, she was definitely pushing for lead this time and I quite enjoyed that and she’s quite a strong vocalist nowadays so I hope she’ll be pushed more in the new year.  It feels like that C-ute had a pretty safe year and the members themselves have essentially kept to the same ranks (though with the giant influx members, it was stretched further).  Airi for the most part kept around the same place (moved up one spot due to Berryz disbanding).  She’s still an amazing idol and just continues to impress year after year.  Like Duu, Zukki was quite the member for the year.  I mean she did begin things with an injury that had her sit in the sidelines for their first single (and cause some controversy), but she came back strong for “Oh my wish!” and led in the song.  Though she’s still my favorite member in Morning Musume ’15.  Kanatomo always mystifies me with her awesome vocals!  Though she might not have had as much spotlight this year (and with J=J’s low release count she was kind of forgotten, but she still remains as one of my current favorites in H!P.  With Berryz gone, Chisa definitely was the one to finally take top slot for the year and for good reason!  She’s done a lot of promoting, her presence in H!P and C-ute is so strong and she’s just a ball of awesome energy!  Yay Chisato!!!

Kenshuusei

  • Yumei Yokogawa
  • Mizuki Kanatsu
  • Miu Takemura
  • Rion Nakano
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Kokoro Maeda
  • Reina Ichioka
  • Mizuho Ono
  • Momona Kasahara
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Mao Akiyama
  • Saori Onoda
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Ruru Danbara
  • Kurumi Takase
  • Kaede Kaga

YAY, finally done with the year!  Enjoyed the read?  It was pretty fun to do, H!P might not have had as much, but the variety was there so I definitely enjoyed it, I can only wonder what 2016 will bring!

Leave a comment »

Hello! 2014! What have you brought us this year? RECAP!!!!~~

Welp! It’s that time of year again where we bust through the year that was and it’s the end of 2014 and quite a number of things happened this year within Hello! Project and it’s definitely worth being a fan this year as I feel an era is slowly ending and beginning anew!  In this post, it’ll be like last years with not much changing in the format I’ve done!  So let us begin!!!~

Morning Musume ’14

momusu12say

egaokimiwotaiyousatokiwokoesorawokoetikibuncouplingcollection2onetwothreetozero14shou

Starting of course with the flagship group, Morning Musume started off with a bang by having the first day of the year, the first under their new name Morning Musume ’14.  With the first single of the year “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa / Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai / What is LOVE?“.  I think the response has had some time to sink in on people so the name change wasn’t a BIG deal after all.  Then came a surprising album from them with “Morning Musume ’14 Coupling Collection 2” which compiled their B-sides from where they left off from the first Coupling Collection to the last single they released in 2013.  Which was followed by their next single “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe / Password is 0“.  Shortly after, there was an announcement of a 2nd try for a 12th Generation and the sad announcement that long-standing 6th Gen member, Sayumi Michishige was graduating at the end of the year.

Cut to October and a series of things happened.  At the beginning of the month, we finally had our new generation consisting of Maria Makino, Akane Haga, Miki Nonaka, and Haruna Ogata.  While the majority has not really formed a solid opinion on the new members, they will officially begin activities in 2015.  A couple of days later, Momusu went to New York to perform and released an album to commemorate, “One Two Three to Zero” (an album to celebrate Sayumi’s time as leader…it has all the A-sides she’s been leader of and some group B-sides as well).  Then a couple days after, released Sayumi’s graduation single, “TIKI BUN / Shabadabadoo~ / Mikaeri Bijin” and then finally released their long-awaited 14th studio album, “14 Shou ~The message~” and then Sayumi said farewell at the end of November.

Of course 2014 is ending and the group will change their name to Morning Musume ’15 on New Years.

THE SONGS

Yup, this section is back and I will do it the same way I did, 4 states of enjoyment.  I will also put down to note for Momusu, on the Coupling Collection 2 album, “Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!” was slightly edited where the transition from “Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki Negatterun da yo!” doesn’t exist.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai – Starting this off, I was definitely rockin’ to this song for most of the year!  There was something so powerful and cool about the track from the opening with the repeated title, to the verses and then the sass from Riho and Sakura as well.  The tune just represented the Sochi Olympics to a T.  Definitely an epic song and great representation of the EDM style that Tsunku stepped up with.
  • Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe – The primary A-side from the 2nd single released in the year, Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe was a softer side to the EDM craze so it was more of a mid-tempo dance track like “AS FOR ONE DAY” with a lot more synths.  I also loved that there was more melodies and shared lines moreso than solo blips.  A very soothing song from the group, though I am so tired of hearing that scattered piano line in Hello! Station…getting REAL tired of that.
  • Mikaeri Bijin – Talking about Sayu’s graduating single, I was surprised we ended up with two almost.  This one is the remaining 9 members saying goodbye to Sayumi and interestingly enough wasn’t done by Tsunku.  Being only one of two ballads released by Momusu this year, I actually like this more than the other coming up.  The entire song is in unison and I liked it a lot especially the pre-chorus where they sing in a lower key than normal and the chorus is just so heartbreaking but so sweet.  Definitely a song I wasn’t expecting to love, but ended up totally…great A-side!
  • Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi – Then we get into the songs from the album and honestly, I wasn’t expecting a Riho/Sakura duet to by so high-up considering the first song they did together, “Daisuki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusenai” was a pretty meh song.  From the beats and synths to the similar arranged area to Martin Garrix’s “Animals”, Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi was a total banger and the duo sounded SO MUCH BETTER together the way they were here.  Seriously, the sly and slick verses are seriously badass!
  • Watashi wa Watashi Nanda – The other album track was actually a full group tune, I just love this song for some reason, but I think it’s the fact it had some acoustic guitar and some natural sounds (like piano) thrown into the arrangement.  Also, I felt like the group had more line distribution than other tracks, so that was an obvious win!  Overall, good song and was worth hearing Haruka and Zukki more!

OK SONGS

  • Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa – Ah, the early Christmas present we were given last year, Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa is admittedly a bright and happy-go-lucky song that’s for sure.  I’ve mentioned before on the review blog I have, that I really did like the song when it came out, but after having near a year with it, I’ve had problems with enjoying it as much as I did.  Mostly, from the construct of the lyrics.  I dislike shoving lyrics into measures to try to fit as much as possible.  I would’ve been OK with maybe one or two parts like that, but Tsunku just went overboard here and that’s mostly the reason it settles into the OK category for me.  I will say the mid-8 section and the bridges are awesome!
  • What is LOVE? – Personally, I think I grew tired of this song after hearing it so much, but this song was pretty big for them internationally, so I can’t blame the overexposure I’ve had to this one.  It’s very heavy and fast and has such a cool arrangement though…I will definitely remember this song as the ~Is it necessary?~ song just because of Maachan and Sayu.
  • Password is 0 – When we had a first snippet of the tune (same time that it was known that the song would be also a collaboration with Morisanchuu (though wouldn’t it be Morinichuu since one of the members was on pregnancy leave?).  Luckily, I’ll talk about that version later.  The Momusu-only version is OK.  I have a tendeny to love any EDM song to come from Tsunku, but this year has been taxing on me.  Password is 0 was the first one that I just simply got tired of.  Overplayed and the repetitive taglines just kind of pushed me away, though there’s part’s I do love like Riho and Sakura’s epic parts…but otherwise…it was just ok.
  • TIKI BUN & TIKI BUN (Album Version) – I put these two together simply becuase the album version didn’t really do anything TOTALLY different from the single version beyond a new intro and different mid-8 section.  TIKI BUN suffers a lot of my qualms from “Password is 0” from the repetition and the tiredness from the EDM.  Though the intro of the single version is so badass and the verses without the ~tiki bun~ is neat too, plus the pre-chorus was cool diving into some deep bass.  Still, kind of lacking something big about it.
  • Asu wo Tsukuru no wa Kimi – The other ballad of the year, Asu wo Tsukuru no wa Kimi didn’t pull on the heartstrings as much as “Mikaeri Bijin” did, but I liked the simple arrangement and the fact that members had solo lines all over the place.  There was just something so magical and Disney-like with the song and it kind of surprised me.  Of course it was the only ballad from their album so it stuck out so much to me which probably helped it out a LOT.
  • Otona ni Nareba Otona ni Nareru!? – Rounding out the OK songs, Otona ni Nareba Otona ni Nareru!? on first listen never stuck out to me for some reason even though it did have Zukki, Eripon, Duu, Ayumin, and Maachan singing together for this hi-octane EDM track.  Plus the backgirls get some awesome voice-time here.  It did have to grow on me though which does put it on the lower end of the spectrum with OK songs.

MEH SONGS

  • Password is 0 (Morimusume ver.) – So I can’t believe they let this happened to be honest.  Morisanchuu was a familiar name to me because they had collaborated with Mika Nakashima so I was more than worried when they joined up with Momusu.  The song itself musically is the same, but Riho and Sakura were essentially replaced by the Morisanchuu ladies and I know it’s for humor, but it wore off almost immediately for me as I would’ve rather heard Riho and Sakura belt it and not the other two passing kidney stones >.>.  Suffice to say, this version is just for completionists (honestly are there people that like this version more than the original version?).
  • Shabadabadoo~ – I know people are still grieving over Sayu’s graduation and many have been gushing about her solo song since it has that sentimental thing going for it.  Though I have to say I really don’t care about this song.  I will say that my favorite thing is the jazzy/lounge vibe from the song, but it should’ve stayed that way.  Once the synths blips happen, I was turned off and as much as Sayu grew as a vocalist, her non-auto-tuned voice is a bit brazen (and she admits it in the song!).  I think if Tsunku had laid off of the synthwork here it would’ve been higher.  That’s why we have “Lalala no Pipipi”, man…
  • Waraenai Hanashi – Maybe it’s just me, but the male rappers throw me off so much in this song.  I think without them, this song would’ve been much higher too because it’s another high quality EDM track (yeah…ok maybe not too high because I was so zoned out from the sheer amount of dance tracks on the album itself).  It was a song that just flew over my head, but I do love hearing Ayumi all over the song!

ICK SONGS

  • Koibito ni wa Zettai ni Shiraretakunai Shinjitsu – The only song that really made me groan was the song between Fukuchan, Harunan, and Sayu.  I get it’s a song for the leaders/sub-leaders, but the song is like the “Otome no Timing” / “Osaka Umainen” / “Guruguru JUMP” where the song is way sugary than normal.  To be honest, I would’ve LOVED to have had this be a rock song like the intro said…such false advertising XD.  Add on that no one in general was singing well enough and you got this steamy mess.

Predictions from last year!

Well, I definitely think there’ll be a new member at some point next year, but I also think Sayu will stick around for 2014 if not, at least to the end of the year.

Actuality: 4 new members! and Sayu managed to stick around for most of 2014!

Predictions for 2015: A year without an overabundance of EDM.  Other than that, I couldn’t even think of anything becuase the group isn’t too old still and I’m sure all the current members will stick around for a few more years (if anyone, Haruna could leave, but I HIGHLY doubt that).  MM ’16 for sure too xD

Berryz Koubou

Berryz_Kobo_-_Romance_wo_Katatte_Towa_no_Uta_Promo

otonananoyoBryz_SgTA-愛はいつも_CDh14初回C_H1-4berryzkobospecialbest2

In 2014, Berryz finally managed to hop out of meh-land and have Tsunku actually pay attention to them.  They begun the year with their interesting single, “Otona na no yo! / 1-oku 3-senman Sou Diet Oukoku” and then a week later released their next best album, “Berryz Kobo Special Best Vol. 2“.  Couple of months later, they would celebrate their 10 years together with a single, “Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni / Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!?“.

Sadly the excitement was suddenly shot when the group announced they’ll be going on an indefinite hiatus starting in early 2015 and released what it would be their final single, “Romance wo Kattate / Towa no Uta“.  Then it was announced that Momoko Tsugunaga would join the Country Musume revival group as teacher after her time in Berryz finishes.  They also announced a final best album in 2015 to kind of close the chapter with Berryz.

 THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • 1-oku 3-senman Sou Diet Oukoku – I would easily declare this song as the oddest tune released this year.  It did run with Tsunku’s EDM phase, but it sounded so futuristic and cool that I definitely got behind it.  While I did think the topic was a bit odd (and how Maasa was getting bigger -.o) the tune is definitely a strange one.  Still, the over-repeating actually gave the song a strong impression (and didn’t annoy me, even if the repeating was at MAX in this on).  Still, it’s one of Berryz’ best songs.
  • Koiseyo! – One of the two new tracks from the best album they released, Koiseyo! was definitely the better of the two.  Something about the song just came off powerful and cool, even when the chorus is a bit more lighthearted.
  • Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni – When the group released their 10th Anniversary single, Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni was a surprising twist to their sound because while the group is known for their amount of odd songs, this one had a very aggressive March rhythm to it and that kind of punch was such an awesome feel.  Add the strings to give it such a striking sound and this was a winning song for me.
  • Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!? – On the other hand, the secondary A-side from the single was also such a catchy song and one whose lyrics celebrated the group’s 10 years of existence.  While the fact that the horse whinnies were a bit random at first (2014 was the year of the Horse), it kind of added that random hokey and random sound Berryz seem to accels in.  Even before the announcement of their indefinite hiatus, this song did seem like a premonition of things to come, but I still loved it!

OK SONGS

  • Otona na no yo! – With the primary A-side from the first single they released this year, Otona na no yo! to me was a pretty good song, but Berryz really blew out the year with a lot of other songs.  I also thought the song felt like a more upbeat take on “Aa, Yo ga Akeru”.  I don’t know but it’s just a groovy tune and despite not being on the great songs, it’s definitely the better of some others.
  • Romance wo Kattate – If I didn’t know Berryz was essentially disbanding I would’ve just simply called this a typical H!P Winter song (like “Samui ne.” & “Aitai Lonely Christmas”) but this is their final A-side released and I found that this taking more precedence than “Towa no Uta” surprising as it seriously didn’t say final A-side.  Beyond that, this is a pretty nice wintry song and despite the “Here Comes the Sun” intro, the rest sounded great and the kaleidoscope effect in the PV was pretty sweet!
  • Towa no Uta – This one did remind of something that Buono! would’ve released because of the guitar-laced arrangement.  I also felt like this was surprising that this was the secondary A-side because I felt between this and “Romance wo Katatte” this one was more appropriate of the occasion.  Though they would make “Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!?”, this song” and “Love together!” as a trilogy of good-bye PVs.

MEH SONGS

  • Onna no Ko Shika Wakannai Choudo Aru no – I’m not sure why, but the other new track off their best album never stood out to me as well as “Koiseyo!” did.  Though some of the synthwork sounds a lot like “Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yattarannai Desho!” (which was released after this song :0 ).  This one just kind of flew over my head with not a lot of an impression even after I listened to it again.

Predictions from last year!

I expect Tsunku will switch to paying attention to Berryz and they’ll have some pretty good singles, though I still wonder when that graduation announcement will happen.

Actuality: I would say Tsunku paid good enough attention to Berryz this year, even though it was 3 singles and a best album.

Predictions for 2015: Is there much to predict?  I mean the group will disband in March.  Though I would hope that at least 2 of the members besides Momoko will keep performing so we’ll see.

°C-ute

cute

kokoronosakebithepowerimissyou

To be honest, °C-ute, I had figured that compared to last year’s HUGE push, I was expecting them to continue the push, but then Berryz was aiming towards their hiatus announcement and sadly the group got the least amount of exposure this year…and I mean the least amount even compared to all the other H!P groups active this year.  They began the year with “Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitamita / Love take it all” and followed that up with two more singles for the year, “The Power / Kanashiki Heaven (Single Version)” and “I miss you / THE FUTURE”.  Yeah, that was all they released this year (well, there’s one more but that’ll be talked about later on in this post).

GREAT SONGS

  • I miss you – Yeah, you can tell how much I was into °C-ute this year that the great songs was from the final single of the year.  I miss you was such an interesting song because it was a surprisingly short song, but all the fact they used 3 different vocal melodies in the tune.  Also, it’s been a while since Maimi actually led a song so that was nice to give to her.  What a cool song they got though!
  • THE FUTURE – The other A-side from the single was something the group really needed this year with THE FUTURE.  At first, I was intrigued because the previous single had a song titled “The Power” so I figured it was connected, but I don’t think so.  The tune is really powerful and has some great guitar riffs and punching synths.  I just love the song!

OK SONGS

  • Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita – Part of the first single released from them in 2014, Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita on first listen was really weird because it reminded me WAY TOO MUCH of “Tokai no Hitorigurashi”.  After some time, the song grew on me and now I kind of prefer over said song, but I loved Chisato in this tune…it’s a bright and bouncy song and °C-ute managed to work this out.
  • The Power – Somehow I wasn’t expecting the group to release a kind of Bhangra-ish song in the form of The Power.  It’s got a nice beat and the vocals are great, I can’t remember why I don’t love it as much as I thought it would.  I do enjoy it when it comes on my iTunes and it’s still one of the better upbeat songs from them, but I just don’t know.

MEH SONGS

  • Love take it all – There’s just something that struck me in the oddest way with Love take it all.  Now the other A-side sounded like “Tokai no Hitorigurashi” and all, but this one felt like “Aitte Motto Zanshin” which was from the same single.  So this single felt like dejavu to me.  Love take it all though didn’t feel like it was much to me…just kind of forgettable in the long run.
  • Kanashiki Heaven (Single Version) – I know Tsunku was taking it a lot more slowly due to his cancer and all, but this was something I was loathing because it was already 2 years since the original Airi/Chisato duet came out.  I had already dealt with the song on two occasions (the original & the separated versions), so why oh why did we needed this version because besides the new arrangement, the remaining three °C-ute members did not need to have joined (and they didn’t add much of anything in this version).  I would’ve put it in the ick section, but I still like Kanashiki Heaven and the new arrangement is nice, but not enough to raise it higher than it should.

Predictions from last year!

“Bigger sales and stronger appearance!  Hopefully another year of no worries ^^.”

Actuality: I think the opposite happened here lol.  The sales, I think remained at a nice high point for the group, but they suffered with the lack of importance or news from them this year.  (Overshadowed mostly from the Berryz hiatus, new members joining Momusu, S/mileage, and announcement of Country Girls).

Predictions for 2015: I hope that with Berryz going on hiatus, the group will be back on top and have an amazing year.

S/mileage / ANGERME

ANGERME

mysterynightaasusukinosmilefantasy

If it wasn’t for the big news at the end of the year, S/mileage would’ve been the group that had little to do this year, but then again they were involved all over the place.  I mean they released two main singles “Mystery Night! / Eighteen Emotion” and “Aa Susukino / Chikyuu wa Kyou mo Ai wo Hagukumu“.  Though they also released a stageplay single titled “S/mileage’s JUKEBOX-MUSICAL “Smile Fantasy!” Theme Kyoku” that came with two different versions, the single had only three tracks and the DVD released had a fuller tracklist with solos from the girls!. Then it happened.

In a Hello! Station episode, Ayacho and Nyon announced that there would be a 3rd Generation for the group, although they would be Kenshuusei-only, but the bigger surprise is that the group will change their name to kind of make S/mileage for the 6-nin and the 3 others that had been a part of the group.  The winners were Rikako Sasaki, Mizuki Murota, and Maho Aikawa!  In December, the group finally announced the name change as ANGERME. Weird, but Kanana explained that it was French for “Angel Tears”.  Though the group will begin activities in 2015.

GREAT SONGS

  • Mystery Night! – I know many are really split with this song because of it’s lyrical content and the PV it got, but good lord this song is just awesome!  I love the darker tone of the song and the strings added such a nice mix and adding the strong vocals from Meimi and Takechan and it’s just an awesome track from them!
  • Chikyuu wa Kyou mo Ai wo Hagukumu – Like other EDM songs this year, this one also followed “Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai” where repeating the long title so much adds a really cool vibe.  I was surprised that Ayacho and Takechan actually led the song, but it’s still an amazing song with cool moves and a nice PV (even if it was diet “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe”.
  • Yumemiru 15sai – Now you may be wondering what I’m on about including this, but the “Smile Fantasy!” had solos on it from each of the members performing one of the already established S/mileage songs.  Awesomely enough all the tracks have been touched with some new arrangements.  Yumemiru 15sai’s arrangement has been sped up and is sung only by Meimi!  I was impressed by the new sound and Meimi sounds amazing!
  • Yattaruchan – Wow, what a difference the lack of girls can make a song.  I was surprised how deep Kanana’s voice has really gotten to the point the song had to be lower pitched for her to be able to tackle this fun song!  Like I said before, Kana has really stepped her vocal game up and she sounds REALLY deep nowadays.

OK SONGS

  • Eighteen Emotion – Ahh, something that isn’t EDM from S/mileage!  The tune was peppy and reminded me of upbeat songs from 4-nin S/mileage.  The group is singing all over the place and they sound like they were excited to be this one and I’m enjoying the tune even after its release.
  • Aa Susukino – Onwards, we have Aa Susukino which reminded me a lot of last year’s “Ii Yatsu” with the sort of Emo-musume sound and quirky stuff throughout it.  I did enjoy hearing a lot of Meimi and Kanon here with some spoken dialogue from Ayaka and Rina.  I thought the aforementioned song was a bit better, but this is a rather cool song for the group.
  • SMILE OVERTURE – Being the introduction and a short one at that, the music is so cute and upbeat and I love the way how they introduce one another.  That’s basically it, but there was just something so adorable about this opening track.
  • Asu wa Date na no ni, Ima Sugu Koe ga Kikitai – Rinapuu’s solo found itself here because it did receive the least amount of changes here.  Her voice though sounds just right for the tune as it was one of the more cutesy 4-nin S/mileage songs out there and she did it justice.
  • Jitensha Chiririn – Takechan chose a pretty interesting solo, taking a slower track to tackle.  I do love that her voice made it sound more full without the squeaky vocals that came with the original.  Overall a solid performance.
  • ONE DAY & ONE DAY (Shinroku ver.) – The shorter of the two ballads they released, ONE DAY was the easier to swallow and to be honest, I could slightly like it on a good day because all the ladies are without filters and everything and they sound so pretty in the song.  Plus the arrangement is pleasant enough for me to get into as well.  Definitely a surprising song to come from S/mileage (though that effect is taken away since it is from their stageplay single and the Shinroku version does add a different arrangement, but still ultimately a nice song.
  • aMa no Jaku – The last solo on the stageplay release was from Ayacho and it was a 180 from the original.  It’s actually made as a ballad.  Initially, I am not much of a fan of Ayaka’s voice, but she did a nice job and for some reason it does bring me back to when she debuted with the group.  Though of the solos, she still has the worst performance because she goes off-pitch throughout which surprises me a lot!
  • Cur~tain Ko~runrun – Also from their stageplay single, the third track from that single was alright and brought back the more youthful and sugary sound.  Despite the atmosphere and the somewhat squeakier vocals, I was happy to hear a lot of Takechan and Meimi here.  I was even more surprised it made it onto Petit Best 15 :0  Still, it’s a bouncy song and has character and I liked it.  Plus they named each other off, neat!

MEH SONGS

  • Watashi no Kokoro – Nyon’s voice is OK, but giving her this ballad was maybe overkill for me.  It just didn’t quite capture my interest like the other solos did.

ICKY SONGS

  • Joujou Kumikyoku “Smile Fantasy!”  & Joujou Kumikyoku “Smile Fantasy” (Shinroku ver.) – The worst song the group released is also from their stageplay single.  To most people who can tolerate a 10 minute track, kudos to you, but this one was so difficult to sit through because it’s a LONG ballad and I just lost interest after a couple minutes in.  Add on that “ONE DAY” is the better choice here.  The arrangement is nice as it changes into some interesting stuff and I hear a lot more Rinapuu, but I just couldn’t get past the length and the updated version changes little which doesn’t do much for me.

Predictions from last year!

Maybe a Budokan performance that’s all about them?  Maybe make 2014, the year for Rinapuu to shine since Kanana did this year?  Maybe, JUST MAYBE a 3rd gen?  We’ll see!

Actuality: To think that I actually got most of this right!  They did get a Budokan performance!  Rinapuu might not have got a lot of spotlight like Kanana did in 2013, but I’ve noticed her a lot for some reason this year with stuff like Sato no Akari, Smile Fantasy! and even “Aa Susukino”.

Then 3rd Gen happened, even though I didn’t expect the group to change their name because of it.

Predictions for 2015: ANGERME will stand out and the new members will manage to fit into the group with little problems.  Not sure how else to say it but I hope it doesn’t mean that Ayacho and Nyon are planning to leave this year…keep that for next year plz!!!

Juice=Juice

juicejuice

hadakanokissblackbutterflysenobikoisuruhellokitty

Now for me, I don’t think Juice=Juice had as great of a year like they did in 2013 (when they debuted and all), but it doesn’t mean they didn’t release good music along the way.  Most of the year was just single releases with “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS / Arekore Shitai!“, “Black Butterfly / Kaze ni Fukarete” and “Senobi / Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa“.  Before releasing their stageplay mini-album, “Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Koisuru Hello Kitty” Original Mini-Album“.

Though they did perform one song “Erabareshi Watashitachi” but hasn’t really been released yet, so I hope this means they have an album on the horizon.  (BTW, I won’t be reviewing that since it hasn’t had a studio release).

GREAT SONGS

  • Kaze ni Fukarete – Something about Ju=Ju going for their sort of Emo-musume sounding track, Kaze ni Fukarete is an interesting song that mixed their EDM-ish sound with a sort-of Celtic vibe.  Plus, I thought Karin sounded amazing here in comparison to everyone else involved lol.
  • Senobi – Then they just became EDM with Senobi’s release.  This song is very electronic and has a lot of punch (like a lot of their releases had been this year!  I guess Tsunku started to pull back on their experimentation a bit and released this.  I liked how they paired Yuka, Aarii, and Karin together and Sayubee and Kanatomo as they went back and forth in the chorus.  Plus Sayuki’s lines in the after-chorus is so cool mmmmph.
  • Shooting Star – Something about this stageplay release was odd all-around.  Shooting Star though was a pretty pleasant track, despite being mostly a Karin solo which was also probably why the mini-album was somewhat weak.  I love the acoustic guitar arrangement here and I think I heard Sayubee and Kanatomo (the other two might be here too oops).  Still, it’s a nice song to listen too!
  • Anata ga Wakaranai – Probably the other song that’s worth a listen, Anata ga Wakaranai lets Karin, Sayuki, and Tomoko to really put their dramatic vocals to use and it sounds so good.  Though if it wasn’t obvious Tomoko sounds the best since she has a lower voice.  I think I heard Yuka and Akari too, but it wasn’t as strong of an appearance.  Still, a good dramatic track for sure.

OK SONGS

  • Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS – In the first half of the year, it seems like Tsunku was trying to experiment with Juice=Juice with latino flavors.  The first was this one that had a similar groove like Momusu’s “Iroppoi Jirettai”.  For the most part, the song is pretty classy and cool, though the repeating ~hadaka no~ somehow butchered the chorus for me…still it’s a driving force and the smooth vocals suited the tune.
  • Black Butterfly – The other latino track, Black Butterfly was more of a tango.  I really love the verses of the song as they sounded mysterious and sensual and Karin just aced the whole feeling of that area.  The chorus is where it sort of slips with the ~bulack buttaahfulye~ and everything, that didn’t fit too much even though it is the hook of the tune.  Still, it’s a unique song from the group and the dramatics is nice.
  • Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa – When the single was announced I honestly had forgotten about it until the week it was released.  I had to listen to both songs and “Senobi” really knocked it out of the park and I had totally forgot how Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa went.  Listening to it again, the song is pretty upbeat and energetic and would make a good parallel to S/mileage’s “Eighteen Emotion”.
  • Todoke Todoke Todoke! – I think I’m split on this track because while I do love that Karin and Tomoko take leads here, it’s muddled by breaks during the song for exposition to the storyline from the stageplay.  Musically, it’s a simple piano/strings ensemble with small parts with drums.  I do love that it slowly gains momentum til it becomes a stronger tune.

MEH SONGS

  • Arekore Shitai! – Now this song is definitely right up S/mileage’s alley.  As the other A-side from the first single they released in 2014, I quickly had forgotten what this song sounded like because it just came off as a generic happy idol song with not many hooks to send out.  Even now, the tune is struggling to leave an impression.
  • HELLO! – The first track from their mini-album, HELLO! was such an odd song to come out because it really doesn’t stick too much to one arrangement before flying around other places.  The intro is cute and bouncy as one would expect from their stageplay containing Hello Kitty.  Add in some random conversations as well as transitions to ballad-form and then back to speed…it’s just a little messy.
  • Honto no Kimochi – This song was just boring.  Coming after “Anata ga Wakaranai” on the tracklist, it was not surprising that this would be disappointing because it’s less dramatic and just has 0 energy.  Definitely Ju=Ju’s most forgettable song since their debut.

Predictions from last year!

Since they didn’t exist in 2012, time to start the tradition for the new group.  Honestly, I feel like they’re going to fill that space Aina left…though I don’t know who.  Also, debut album definitely has to happen.  Other than that, who knows…

Actuality: Neither of my predictions happened which is surprising in some ways.  Though due to H!P’s new blood, they were put on the backburner this year.

Predictions for 2015: An album for sure! (hopefully not a best album).  Also they’ll be up at the front of releases (or at least put out great songs).

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei

kenshuusei

ohesonokunikarakonnichiwakarennagasshoudanobi------

Time to give the Trainees their own section huh?  Well the year began with the announcement that their 3rd single, “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa / Ten Made Nobore!” would be released to the general public and not just be an event-only single.  Then 8 of the Kenshuusei members: Tanabe, Hamaura, Yamagishi, Sasaki, Kaga, Yamaki, and Oura would perform in a stageplay and release a single together, “Karen na Gasshoudan”.  After April though, we started losing a lot of members!  Fuyuka Kosuga (in May), Karen Tanaka, Hirona Oura (in September), Nanami Tanabe, and Kurumi Yoshihashi  (in November) had completed their training (or in layman terms, left the program) and gained three new members in between then in Maho Aikawa, Miu Takemura, and Kana Saito.

Then October happened and we lose more Kenshuusei, but they’ve been promoted to official H!P members with Maria Makino and Akane Haga joining Morning Musume ’14/’15, Mizuki Murota, Rikako Sasaki, and newcomer Maho Aikawa to S/mileage/ANGERME, and last, but not least Manaka Inaba and Risa Yamaki were chosen to be in the Country Musume revival.

In the mix of all that though, they would release their first ever studio album, “① Let’s say “Hello!“.  Plus it didn’t help that they also announced 9 new Kenshuusei members with Saori Onoda, Kiki Asakura, Nagisa Hashimoto, Kizuki Horie, Rei Inoue, Momoko Shimano, Ami Tanimoto, Risa Ogata, and Ayaka Hirose (6 of those 9 though were Nice Girl Project Kenshuusei, interestingly enough).

2015 is already showing signs of amazing because Fujii, Nomura, Hamaura, Taguchi, Ogawa, Wada, Hirose, and Inoue R. were chosen to become a group as well…so the KSS have had a REALLY busy year I’d say and will continue to be busy for the first half of the year.

GREAT SONGS

  • Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa – It just seems so long ago when this came out (technically December of last year, but the single was released this year).  I just love the EDM arrangement here and the amount of solo lines is amazing (even though listening to it now and most of the girls who got solos are either gone or in H!P directly now (Kurumin, Tanapyon, Kaneko, Fuuchan are gone, while Murota, Hamaura, and Ogawa are now full-on H!P members and Kaga is the lone KSS left lol).  Still, this was a pretty epic song and still is today!
  • Karen na Gasshoudan – So the stageplay single had only one original song on it (the other two were cover songs).  Something about Karen na Gasshoudan sort of suited H!P’s sound, but had a fun youthful side to it that brought some interesting vocals.  Especially with Tanapyon and Hamachan singing leads.  Happy that it made it on Petit Best 15 though!
  • Say! Hello! – Even though it follows the same sound as songs like “Shining Power”, “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku”, and even “The Matenrou Show” with the synth-brass sound that kind of overwhelmed H!P back then.  Having it return in a Kenshuusei song is actually not that bad and breaks the monotony from EDM-land so it stood out in a nice way.  At least the chorus is what really made the song pop for me.  Definitely an awesome to open the album with.
  • Onna no Sono – I was so happy that the Kenshuusei was able to put out another upbeat EDM track because it’s a solid song and has more energy to it than “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa” did.  Very heavy song indeed and sticks out from the rest of the songs Kenshuusei performed this year.  I love this song a lot, though makes me wonder if this could be a PV for the new group announced for the new 2015 group (that isn’t Country Girls)
  • “Idol wa Robot” tte Showa no Hanashi ne – The last song from the album that we got to hear, “Idol wa Robot” tte Showa no Hanashi ne is a bizarre song, even moreso than “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa”.  It’s actually a fun song to listen to and it doesn’t really seem like Tsunku had a hand in it for some reason.  It’s just goofy and cute all in one package.  I don’t know why but there’s something old H!P about this one, but something original at the same time…it’s good!

OK SONGS

  • Kikyuu ni Notte Dokomademo – Sung only by Hamaura, Kaga, Sasaki, and Yamagishi, Kikyuu ni Notte Dokomademo might be a cover of a chorale song and has been sung mostly by elders (as I’ve seen on YouTube, but the girls sung this was such a lighthearted tone that I could somehow enjoy and bounce with the tune.  Plus, the whole ~la la la la la laaaa~ part was so adorable.  As short as it is, it definitely won me over during the year.
  • Crying – So the first of many songs released prior to the album’s release, Crying didn’t connect with me at first until the studio version was finally released.  I mean besides coming off as a little bit like a Buono!, Crying did let us noticed Nomura quite a lot more as she has a good solo line within it.  Maybe it’s just the arrangement, but I got into it quite nicely and the piano/guitar solo in the mid8 was cool as hell!
  • Table Seki Aitetemo Counter Seki – I have to say the bounce of this song caught my attention since it was trying to be an EDM track, but instead had a younger snap to it like it was a S/mileage song in the making.  When it’s just the synths & guitars though, it’s a pretty heavy track and I quite liked it.  Two ideas smushed together, yup, S/mileage all over this one.

MEH SONGS

  • Annie Laurie – The other song from the “Karen na Gasshoudan” single, Annie Laurie (sung by Tanabe, Murota, Yamaki, and Oura) was my least favorite track off the single because it was such a plain-jane song and it was sung mostly together so there wasn’t much room to really showcase anyone within the four.
  • Seishun Beat wa 16 – I don’t know what it was about this track, but it sounded a lot more energetic live than the studio version we got from the album.  Considering most of this track is in unison, I didn’t get much of a feel for this one, except for the kind of cutesy, anime-ish feel I got from it which is nice I suppose.
  • “Koishitai Shinto” – There’s something pretty cool about the arrangement for this one.  Though I think where the song slipped is the male vocals (even though they do sound cool in some parts of the track).  Also the chorus is at a different tempo that just doesn’t work with the tune.

Predictions for 2015: With the announcement that 8 more are leaving the collective, I would suspect more will be added to bring the KSS back up to a larger level.  As for musically, I’m not sure if they’ll continue to release music, but I hope we get one release (besides the album). Another group maybe?!? Couple of the KSS gets added to groups?…but I doubt it.

Country Girls

countrygirls2015

Then in November, we introduce our new group announced in 2015!  Though the creation stretches back to earlier in the year (March).  Mai Satoda made an announcement citing that she wanted to bring back Country Musume to activeness.

Initially, the auditions went on up until August, but the official H!P site announced there was no winners.

Surprise, surprise, in November there was actually winners with Risa Yamaki & Manaka Inaba from the Kenshuusei and new members Chisaki Morito, Mai Ozeki, and Uta Shimomura to form Country Girls!  As an added interest to make the group pop, Satoda enlisted Momoko Tsugunaga to be their “play manager”, but she won’t join the group until Berryz goes into indefinite hiatus on March 3rd.

Predictions for 2015: With their first single being indies and w/o Momoko, I hope Country Girls get off on a great foot.  Not sure what else I could say with predictions, but let’s hope for the best with them!

Other H!P Releases

atsume1atsume2satoyamaatsume3atsume4liliumsuppecialatsume5atsume6petitbest15

It seems like this year was the year of the compilation albums because that’s what most of the other H!P releases were.  Starting with the first day of the year (though they were released on New Year’s Eve to commemorate the performance through the new year), TOWER RECORDS started a series of compilations called the “Hello! Project no Zenkyoku Kara Atsumechaimashita!” series which invited performers and producers to choose from the H!P library.  Stretched 6 albums so far, we don’t know if there’s anymore in the horizon but it was a surprising, yet nice trip down memory lane! (even featured some interesting choices!).

SATOYAMA returned this year despite the TV series had ended and the interest was quickly dwindled because of it.  Though in some interesting choice, 3 more new SATOYAMA groups were announced for the year.

  • Sato no Akari – (Masaki Sato, Rina Katsuta, Akari Uemura) – Mostly known because this is the third time we see Maachan involved and the first for the other two members (Juice=Juice wasn’t a thing when SATOYAMA started).  Looking at the group, it’s definitely a cute group but interesting nonetheless.
  • Triplet – (Chisato Okai, Haruka Kudo, Sayuki Takagi) – I was so excited to see this grouping because it paired a lot of grittier vocals together and I love Duu and Chisa so hearing them together is amazing and Sayubee is just extra frosting.
  • ODATOMO – (Sakura Oda, Tomoko Kanazawa) – WOW, this was a treat, two of the strongest newcomers in 2014 put together and I was more than excited to hear it.

Anyways, the three groups released a simultaneous single together in April “Aa, Subarashiki Hibi yo / Dream Last Train / Kodachi wo Nukeru Kaze no You ni“.  Then the SATOness died down for the remainder of the year. Like I said, it seems to be the resurgence of the stageplay releases because it seems like one of the best releases this year came from MM’14 and S/mileage.  Like “Koisuru Hello Kitty” it fits with the other Engeki Joshi-bu titles as this was called “Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “LILIUM -Lilium Shoujo Junketsu Kageki-” Original Soundtrack“.  Very dark, but VERY cool nonetheless and was released 3 times (one included an edited track and two extra songs). When Berryz Koubou and °C-ute went to Paris this year, they released a joint best album to celebrate this happening titled “SUPPECIAL CUTIE BEST ALBUM ~Japan Expo 15th Year Anniversary Fans Selection Songs~“. Yeah, chosen by the fans!  It includes a lot of the grou’s signature songs and one song from Buono! and the Momoko solo track. Rounding out the year of course is our annual “Petit Best 15“.  Just the major songs this year, although it was great to see that it included three of the stageplay songs from the year.  AWESOME!

GREAT SONGS

  • Dream Last Train – Yeah, even I knew this was going to be on here because I love Haruka and Chisato together!  It’s also the only true upbeat song off the SATOYAMA single which is a bit of a bummer, but this song is quite worth it.  Very rockin’ yet upbeat, add the gritty vocals from the 3 gals and it’s just awesome!
  • Forget-me-not ~Watashi wo Wasurenai de~ – The opening song from the LILIUM OST, Forget-me-not is a pretty cool way to open the album up.  Being mostly a solo from Sakura, she performed the song quite amazingly and builds so nicely to close with piano is just pleasant.  Awesome intro!
  • Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? and Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? (Kanzenban) – It seems this was the favorite within the company as it was updated and featured on “Petit Best 15”.  It’s a much heavier hitting song and all of the girls who participated are here in this track so it’s a pretty full sounding song.  Now, there are small differences between the two versions, but the Kanzenban version is a little longer, but still pretty awesome!  Badass song overall!
  • TRUE OF VAMP – Sung by Riho, Meimi, and Ayacho, TRUE OF VAMP is another strong ballad from the stageplay and it was amazing to hear Meimi punch the doors out of this song and I loved her voice here.  Ayaka and Riho doesn’t do half-bad either…what a great ballad!
  • Kyoudou Gensou Utopia – Oh boy, a solo track for Haruka!  It actually sounds pretty powerful and she gives such a grand performance.  A lot of the arrangement reminds me of Final Fantasy (well most of these songs do).  Though it is pretty short, so I wish there was more from Haruka here, but I enjoyed it a lot!
  • Anata wo Aishita Kioku – A duet between Sakura and Kanana…this was amazingly surprising because I did not have the slightest clue that Kana’s vocals were capable of something so amazing.  To be honest, she sung better than Sakura :0  Yeah, add the cool beat and strong performance overall and it’s one of my favorites from the album!
  • Shoujo Junketsu – As the final track from the stageplay, Shoujo Junketsu is quite a dark song to end things with and I do love the building-up for sure and when it hits its loud point it’s just so good!  Definitely a surprising, yet cool way to end things off.
  • Sousou Shuukyoku “Stigma” – Mmph, that chorus is epic!  Stigma starts off dark but it quickly becomes an upbeat power song that I thought would’ve been an amazing opening to LILIUM.  Then again when you have Riho, Sakura, Meimi, and Nyon together…it’s awesoooome!

OK SONGS

  • Kimagure Zetsubou Arigatou – Since I finally had a year with the song and I still quite like it for a Riho solo.  I still do get caught off-guard by the ending with the gunshots, but beyond that, it’s a solid ballad and for the first time made me appreciate Riho’s vocals.
  • Kodachi wo Nukeru Kaze no You ni – The unit with Sakura and Tomoko, I was already in love with both of their vocals and was happy they were brought together, I just wished their ballad was a little more stronger, but it did showcase their vocals superbly which is why I can tolerate this tune poppin’ up on my iPod.
  • Sylvatica Nante Iranai! – As a mostly solo song for Riho, Sylvatica Nante Iranai! gives me this feeling of a quirky Disney song in the woods with its bounce and peppiness with the vocals.  Though it goes into a more serious and slow section before hopping back to its original placement.
  • Gensou Genwaku Innocence – Of the dramatic and droopy songs from the album, I wasn’t expecting Ayacho to get a solo in this direction.  She actually sounded good (except when she went louder, there’s some eh parts).  Still, the strings were beautiful and gave a really cool vibe throughout, even if it is 2:10 in length.
  • Aru Niwashi no Monogatari – A duet with Riho and Sakura appears on the album and with how good “Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi” was, I was wondering if this was where they finally got it right.  I love the arrangement with the acoustic guitar being the focal point and the flute ending was nice.
  • Hitoribocchi no Snow – At first I wasn’t intrigued because it reminded me of “Mayuki no Teaching” with that kind of floppy beat.  Luckily it picked up in the later half after Ayumi’s long solo part.  It was interesting to say the least and it’s nice to hear Ayumi sing by herself.
  • Mou Nakanai to Kimeta – A full-on Meimi solo here and she gives a rather nice performance, but I think it’s one of the forgettable songs because it’s just Meimi and a orchestra, but she sung it quite well!
  • Eien no Mayuki no Owari – I actually like the mechanical approach for this track because it gave me a sense of mystery and uncomfortable feels.  At first it was Riho only, but it adds the rest for most of the remaining time of the track.  Also, I love the ~ooooo-ing~ at the ending…creepy!
  • Himitsu no Hana ga Hokorobu – Sung by Zukki, Takechan, Rinapuu, and Ayumi…this song was on the re-release of the LILIUM soundtrack, it reminded me of “Hitoribocchi no Snow” with the bouncy rhythm, but it grew to a more mystical track and I quite liked the setting here…very smooth!

MEH SONGS

  • Aa, Subarashiki Hibi yo – While I do love the fact that Aarii and Rinapuu are featured here, I can’t not admit that they have somewhat weaker vocals amongst the other ladies in H!P, it didn’t help that the song was hard to listen to and it just kind of felt bland overall.  Plus, so tired of Masaki this year XD
  • Mayuki no Teaching – A song sung between Fukuchan and Nyon, Mayuki no Teaching is kind of frumpy sounding to me in the first half with the march style it had.  The two don’t really sound all that great though and I kind of just ignore it.
  • tofubeats no 10bun de Tanoshimeru “Hello! Project no Zenkyoku Kara Atsumechaimashita! Vol. 5” – I brought the megamix here since it was technically created for the album.  Including most of the songs from the 5th album, it featured a lot of songs that I never would’ve put together, means it’s a lot of odd transitions and mehness…10 minutes though too…oi ve.

ICKY SONGS

  • Princess Marguerite – If I thought “Mayuki no Teaching” was a struggle, this one was just too much for me to handle.  I hate Masaki’s overdone cute vocals and she upped that to a maximum level here.  Also included are Nanami Tanabe, Kaede Kaga, and Rikako Sasaki and they themselves sounded better than Maachan.  Luckily it is the shortest song from LILIUM, but it’s still a bad song
  • Neru Ko wa Cute – I might be cheating by including this, but I don’t recall this being released on CD until 2014.  As a stageplay song from 2007, °C-ute was still 7 members strong though were also vocally  all over the place and it shows with this tune.  I will say the biggest offender is the arrangement which sounds like it was made on a CASIO.  Put it all together and you get a really cheap-sounding song that shows how far stageplays have really come for H!P lol.

Other Releases from Ex-H!P this year!

  • Ex-Momusu member, Natsumi Abe released two albums this year “Smile・・・♥” (self-cover album) and “TOWARD THE LIGHT -Classical & Crossover-” (cover album).
  • Ex-Melon Kinenbi member, Ayumi Shibata released a cover album, “kick start”.
  • Ex-Country Musume member, Azusa Kobayashi released her 2nd mini-album, “Alexandrite”.
  • Ex-°C-ute member, Erika Umeda released her first mini-album “erika”.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Irori Maeda released her first solo single, “Yakusoku / Kimi Tokidoki Heart”.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Yuu Kikkawa released two singles this year “URAHARA Temptation / Ii jan” & “Amai Melody / “Suki” no Kazoekata”.
  • Ex-Hello! Project Egg member, Sayaka Kitahara released a single (under her avex group, COLORS), “Arashi, Tatsumaki, Hurricane / Koi no Saiten ni Youkosou”.
  • THE Possible released a single, “Yuuki Super Ball!” before they released their 3rd album, “1116”.
  • In a shock, Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) went through a year without releasing 8 singles!  They only released 3 singles and their sophomore album.
  • LoVendoЯ released two mini-albums, “Bukiyou” and “Ikujinashi” and then announced at the New Year’s Countdown that they’ll be debuting major in 2015!
  • StylipS released two singles “NOVA Revolution” and “Junsui na Fujunbutsu / Spica” before their first studio album, “THE SUPERNOVA STRIKES” dropped.

Gains and Losses

Gains

  • Maho Aikawa (and to ANGERME)
  • Miu Takemura
  • Kana Saito
  • Akane Haga (to Morning Musume ’15)
  • Maria Makino (to Morning Musume ’15)
  • Haruna Ogata
  • Miki Nonaka
  • Rikako Sasaki (to ANGERME)
  • Mizuki Murota (to ANGERME)
  • Manaka Inaba (to Country Girls)
  • Risa Yamaki (to Country Girls)
  • Uta Shimomura
  • Chisaki Morito
  • Mai Ozeki
  • Kiki Asakura
  • Saori Onoda
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Rei Inoue
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Ayaka Hirose
  • Ami Tanimoto
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Risa Ogata

Losses

  • Fuyuka Kosuga
  • Hirona Oura
  • Karen Tanaka
  • Nanami Tanabe
  • Kurumi Yoshihashi
  • Sayumi Michishige

My H!P Member Ranking for 2014

Yup, time to rank all the members, by what they did this year in H!P!  There’s a lot of new members to account for so let’s get started!

  • 46. Chisaki Morito (NEW)
  • 45. Uta Shimomura (NEW)
  • 44. Mai Ozeki (NEW)
  • 43. Haruna Ogata (NEW)
  • 42. Miki Nonaka (NEW)
  • 41. Aika Mitsui (-19)

So the list begins with the first 5, Chisaki, Uta, Mai, Haruna, and Miki.  They’re quite fresh in the world of H!P, but it’s nice they’re making rolls all ready.  I feel like Chisato though has the most mystery, despite being from an indies idol group prior.  Uta has a REALLY mysterious personality, but it’s charming at the same time and Mai is just adorable, now that she has the short hair going.  As for the new Momusu ladies, I like Miki a little more because of her English skills, but Ogata has a goofy personality and I’m liking it.  They’re still rather brand new, so I can’t rank them fully until the end of 2015.  As for Aika, she did jack-shit this year, literally nothing came from her besides some small updates but nothing H!P-related.  So I couldn’t rank her higher than this sadly (because I do like her, she just didn’t contribute this year).

  • 40. Maho Aikawa (NEW)
  • 39. Akane Haga (NEW)
  • 38. Mai Hagiwara (-1)
  • 37. Haruna Iikubo (-1)
  • 36. Erina Ikuta (-2)

Like the other new H!P members, I feel like I don’t know much about Aikawa (who was only a Kenshuusei for less than a year).or Haga.  Though I do know Haga performed “Nanchatte Renai” earlier in the year as part of her Recital Test.  Sadly, I don’t remember much of that performance as her generation-mates stood out a lot more otherwise.  Now we can get into people I know better.  How many times do I have to say it, Maimai will simply never see eye to eye lol.  I will say though time has done better for her and she doesn’t sound quite a horrid as she used to be, but there’s just something that pushes me away like “THE FUTURE”.  Harunan’s now Momusu’s sub-leader and I find that great and her speaking skills are quite awesome, but I still think she has the poorest vocals of the group (though her dancing has gotten better-ish).  With the new generation coming in, maybe that spot will be taken, but I hope she’ll be a great leader someday.  As for Eripon, she’s more or less stood out from last year.  All that I remember is that now, she’s become a nice golf player.  She’s getting a little better overall, but it’s somewhat miniscule compared to others.

  • 35. Momoko Tsugunaga (-2)
  • 34. Masaki Sato (-3)
  • 33. Yuka Miyazaki (-4)
  • 32. Maria Makino (NEW)
  • 31. Akari Uemura (-4)

As the year of Berryz announcing their hiatus, I was kind of happy to see some girls go and was hoping that Momoko would be one of them because she’s my least favorite member.  Sad to say, but I’m going to have to deal with her more as she’s going to help with Country Girls.  Otherwise, I really didn’t notice her too much this year.  I feel like Maachan is still regressing as she’s still utilizing such a pinchy cute tone (except for lives when she rarely uses it).  Plus, she’s so derpy and it’s slightly growing old, though with fresh blood…wonder if it’ll change her.  There’s no sense to really say anything about Yukanyan. She did nothing for me this year, but in that sense she didn’t do anything wrong either…she just blended too much to the background of Juice=Juice.  Honestly, as a leader, she should really step it up in 2015!  She might be new and all, but Maria stuck out because of her enjoyment of classic Morning Musume songs AND loves Sayu!  I’m anxiously waiting to see how she’ll integrate into Momusu.  Like Yuka, Aarii was kind of pushed to the back this year and didn’t really have a “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu” moment this year, though she has been dancing a lot in the front which is neat!  I hope she’ll stand out in 2015.

  • 30. Saki Nakajima (0)
  • 29. Manaka Inaba (NEW)
  • 28. Rina Katsuta (-2)
  • 27. Ayumi Ishida (-2)
  • 26. Risa Yamaki (NEW)

Nakky, didn’t move spots this year, which means she’s stayed pretty decent this year which is true.  Still a pretty amazing dancer and adding the pole-dancing this year in “Kanashiki Heaven” (along with Maimai) this year, she was pretty good elsewhere.  Another new H!P member from the Kenshuusei, Manakan was a great choice to add in Country Girls because she has that idol voice that’s higher pitched and she dances quite well!  I can’t wait to see how she’ll end up at the end of 2015.  Rinapuu actually stood out a little more than last year with “Aa Susukino” and “Aa, Subarashiki Hibi yo” and her snarkyness, but she’s still kind of a background girl in comparison to the rest of S/mileage.  Maybe with the new members joining and the rebranding of the group.  I’m not sure why Daiishi went down because I do love her this year with the epic dancing throughout the year and she’s been getting some more lines here and there too.  Still not used as much as others, but it’s going up.  Also a new member for Country Girls, Yamakki looks a lot like Nami Tamaki (another J-pop singer) and that already in my mind makes her standout in a good way.  Add her performance of “Onna no Otoko no Lullaby Game” and you got a solid performer this year!

  • 25. Chinami Tokunaga (-1)
  • 24. Ayaka Wada (+11)
  • 23. Sayumi Michishige (0)
  • 22. Rikako Sasaki (NEW)
  • 21. Riho Sayashi (-1)

Chinami’s another member that while I do like, I’m glad her time is right about up.  As much as I loved her through her tenure with Berryz, Chinami does have the weakest vocals, but they’re also so high-pitched.  She’s won me over with her personality and I’m just happy she stuck around for the whole ride!  I’m so surprised that Ayacho ended up this high up this year, but I felt like she did quite well in S/mileage.  Unlike her generation-mate, I feel like Ayaka has gotten more elegant and her voice isn’t as squeaky as before either.  I wonder what’ll be in store with ANGERME.  Our fearless leader, Sayu finally left the coop, but without giving one of the strongest years ever!  Though the way she left was sad and made moreso with her injury she gained (that crying was so hard to listen to).  Still, she’s such a trooper and left her mark in Momusu’s history in big bold letters!  As a new member for ANGERME, Rikako was such a fan favorite when she joined the Kenshuusei back in 2013.  When she joined ANGERME, the fans were elated and it shows because her “Kiseki no Kaori Dance.” was so energetic!  I can’t wait to see how she does!  Riho has inexplicably gotten better at singing this year and is a lot more stable and less screechy than last year’s mess and her dancing is still pretty amazing especially paired with Ayumi!  With Sayumi gone, one can wonder how she’ll end up (new generation, Fukuchan as leader and everything in between).

  • 20. Kanon Fukuda (-9)
  • 19. Maimi Yajima (-3)
  • 18. Karin Miyamoto (-3)
  • 17. Akari Takeuchi (-3)
  • 16. Risako Sugaya (+5)

For some reason, Nyon has really lost me this year, it’s like she didn’t really exist beyond hitting such sour notes in the S/mileage songs this year.  I just don’t know why she went so far down the list, hopefully it’s just a small bump and hopefully the new ANGERME members will help her come back to her usual goodness.  With Sayu out of the picture now and Berryz saying goodbye, I was surprised that Yaji was chosen to lead H!P.  I think it’s what she needs since she had fallen behind with C-ute (Airi and Chisato leading songs).  She’s already making good choices in 2015 (with going to the new KSS unit up-front and announcing they will be a group (OIC)…Karin for me has also kind of fallen back with Sayuki taking more of a lead in songs this year.  She’s still pretty awesome though and her voice is still pretty stable too, but I feel some of that initial popularity has slightly waned.  Takechan while went down, has managed to still wow me with her smokier vocals in S/mileage.  I hope she’ll push forward and stand out for 2015 amongst the new members.  Rii though has managed to move up because she didn’t sound as bad as she did the last couple of years.  With Berryz ending, I think she’ll leave on a good foot, can’t wait to see what she does next.

  • 15. Mizuki Murota (NEW)
  • 14. Saki Shimizu (+3)
  • 13. Sayuki Takagi (-1)
  • 12. Mizuki Fukumura (+1)
  • 11. Maasa Sudo (-1)

I was so happy to see Murotan finally join a group this year because she’s been my KSS oshi for quite a while now and BAM, she’s now in ANGERME.  Beyond that, she’s impressed me with “Karen na Gasshoudan” and just her overall existence in KSS this year, can’t wait to see what 2015 will be like!  Sad to see Captain miss out on leading H!P, but at least she has a legavy, I’ll definitely miss her being around and being such a top-notch dancer.  AHHH IM GONNA MISS HER!  I feel like that Sayubee has took the leading voice crown out from Karin and now seems to be the prominent voice in Juice=Juice in 2014.  While she did have some meh moments, she’s gotten better I’d say.  As the new leader of Morning Musume ’15, Fukuchan will definitely have her work cut out for her.  I can’t say that I noticed her a lot, but her voice is still pretty clear and nice to listen to.  You can tell that Maasa is essentially done with the group with what her kind of done attitude she had.  Though overall she did ok, but not quite as amazing as it could’ve been.

  • 10. Kana Nakanishi (+9)
  • 9. Meimi Tamura (0)
  • 8. Haruka Kudo (0)
  • 7. Sakura Oda (-1)
  • 6. Miyabi Natsuyaki (+1)

Where did this Kanana come from? I mean her voice really smoothed out and sounded great in “Aa Susukino” but she really pulled magic out in “LILIUM” she sounded so amazing and really made me appreciate her more in the group.  Meimi this year has stayed on the same level as she did last year, and I am still loving her power vocals too!  Can’t wait to see how she’ll punch ANGERME for the next year!  If it wasn’t for “TIKI BUN” I might’ve ranked Duu slightly lower, but on top of that she was in Triplet too and that was amazing for her.  I wonder if she’ll get some big lines for the next year, I hope so!  Odasaku didn’t have quite a great year like last year’s, but she still managed to be that powerful and strong voice in Momusu and that’s good.  Add on ODATOMO and “Kirari to Hikaru Hoshi”, she’s had a pretty good year!  Another voice I’ll miss, Miya to me will always be the voice of Berryz…so nice and sweet and that being said…Buono! will be missed!

  • 5. Airi Suzuki (0)
  • 4. Tomoko Kanazawa (0)
  • 3. Yurina Kumai (0)
  • 2. Chisato Okai (0)
  • 1. Kanon Suzuki (0)

Yep, my top 5 did not move this year they’ve just done wonderful this year.  Airi and Chisato basically just managed to stay put because they kept bringing it.  Kanatomo still impresses me with her epic voice and is becoming the main voice in Juice=Juice.  Yurina because she’s simply my Berryz oshi so there’s no way she’d leave the top 5 lol. However, I think this spot was definitely going to go to Zukki. I don’t think even she was ready for the amount of love she got in New York and I think this boosted her attitude by a great margin!  I hope she gets a lot more lines this year, but I’m only guessing hahah!

Kenshuusei

  • Ami Tanimoto
  • Ayaka Hirose
  • Rei Inoue
  • Momoko Shimano
  • Risa Ogata
  • Nagisa Hashimoto
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Saori Onoda
  • Kiki Asakura
  • Kana Saito
  • Miu Takemura
  • Yumei Yokogawa
  • Natsumi Taguchi
  • Kana Mikame
  • Kisora Niinuma
  • Ayano Hamaura
  • Reina Ichioka
  • Yumeno Kishimoto
  • Rio Fujii
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Riko Yamagishi
  • Rena Ogawa
  • Minami Nomura
  • Sakurako Wada
  • Musubu Funaki
  • Kaede Kaga
  • Ruru Danbara

I essentially had to put the new members (Tanimoto to Takemura) at the back because most are decently new and the others I just don’t know what they sound like yet. THAT’S 2014! PHEW, I can’t wait to do 2015’s!!!

Leave a comment »

Hello 2013! What have you brought us this year? RECAP!!!!~~

Phew there was a whole lot that happened in the year that was 2013! This time around unlike last year I will also talk about the songs from the group that was as well giving a more broader post (also I will rank the members into two groups, the main H!P members and the Kenshuusei (as I’ve been able to follow them this year a lot better than years before).  So let’s get going!

Morning Musume

MMAUG2013

helpmebrainstormingwagamamakinomamaainojokethebestupdated

Starting with our beloved main group Morning Musume.  They didn’t have as much changes as they did in the last couple of years.  The year begun with Help me!! which was the debut single of their 11th Gen member, Sakura Oda who pretty much kicked down the doors immediately with her voice.  Shortly after, another audition was announced for the 12th generation but it was truly dealt with after 6th gen member, Reina Tanaka had graduated after her final single, the ever edgy Brainstorming / Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai.  With Reina graduated, many were left wondering how the group would sound without her (plus Mizuki and Haruna becoming sub-leaders) hence the curiosity with Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke / Ai no Gundan came through and many fans were happy with this and it showed since all three singles mentioned were #1’s on ORICON!  After that the auditions came to the front and well, Tsunku chose no one as winners and turns out the 7 finalists all became Kenshuusei.  The final release of the year was a surprise but cool with The Best! ~Updated Morning Musume~ in which they did self-covers of various songs and included one new track.  Then it became quiet unil December when Tsunku announced that the group’s name will be changed into Morning Musume ’14 at the beginning of 2014.

THE SONGS

So how this is going to work out is this is going to be separated into 4 sections, basically great songs, ok songs, meh songs, and icky songs and only songs this year so you won’t be seeing stuff like “WANT!” or “Aitai Aitai Aitai na” and the like and remixes will be counted for this year too.

GREAT SONGS

  • Aishuu Romantic – Ahhh the great return of Sayupon!  I loved “Suki da na Kimi ga” and was overly excited to see the two going at it again.  Initially, I didn’t like it too much, but honestly over time, Aishuu Romantic grew and it has so many levels to it that I just can’t help but love it to death!
  • Brainstorming – While in the same vein as “Wakuteka Take a chance”, Brainstorming excelled at working the problems out and giving us this pretty edgy song.  Plus Sakura sounded epic in the song.  It was a pretty cool song and the dance wasn’t half bad either!
  • A B C D E-cha Echa Shitai – There was something so good about Tsunku’s electro skills this year (which is why most of the great songs this year were pretty much in the genre).  The B-side from the aforementioned song’s single, A B C D E-cha E-cha Shitai might be lyrically bare and vapid, but the song was kind of techno-y goodness that caught my attention more than the other B-sides did!  Definitely a solid track this year as well!
  • Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke – I was one of the people that was wondering where Morning Musume would go without Reina being their voice and luckily this song calmed my ass down XD.  They even broke out from the jagged direction of songs like “Wakuteka” and “Brainstorming” and gave us a really solid EDM song.  Plus it’s great to see Mizuki, Masaki, and Sakura come forward way more in the group.  Awesome song!
  • Ai no Gundan – It even showed with the other A-side.  Ai no Gundan might be have been kind of more of Tsunku’s safety zone, but it had saxes, melody building, and cool choreography xD.  Definitely an impressive song from them
  • Bouya – Then we get into a split track between Haruka, Haruna, Sayumi, Masaki, and Mizuki and like “Aishuu Romantic” it’s kind of a glossy EDM song but it’s so incredibly catchy and Haruka REALLY sounded great here.
  • THE Manpower!!! (updated) – Of all the songs from their self-cover album, I thought this was the best handled of the bunch.  In some ways, I actually enjoy it much more than the original, though on the flipside of the coin…the original had some amazing vocals in it.  Still, can’t help but commend their reworking for this tune in particular ^_^

OK SONGS

  • Help me!! – Ahhh Sakura’s debut song!  At the time, I actually fell in love with this song because it was cool (a word I’ll be using a LOT more), and the video was nice (if not a bit too green-screened).  Though after a while, I learned something.  This song should never be performed live anymore…it’s nearly impossible for me to sit and listen to all that wailing and screams in the chorus.  Just not as cool as the studio version is.
  • Happy Daisakusen – I feel like recently this song popped up more on my radar.  I fully remember it being used as the final song in Reina’s graduation which is a good start.  I also love the line distribution, giving members a word or two in chronological order.  It’s definitely a great ending for concerts…at least for me better than “Namidacchi” though that’s a fan favorite…I’ve never got into that.
  • Nani wa Tomo Are! – I have no idea why I like this song the way I do, but it could be because there’s so much Zukki in this song!  Then again, it sounds like an opening to a shoujo anime which I guess works in its favor as well.  It’s cutesy but done well imo.
  • Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai – Maybe it’s the PV it got, but I wasn’t as big of a fan of this song as I was with “Brainstorming” even though this had got some pretty good solo lines from a lot of members.  There’s still something that reminds me of the Emo-Musume days which is great, but was it enough to be A-side material?…probably not IMO.
  • Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de – When the single above came out, I kind of threw this song out because it didn’t fit with the other songs which were electro tunes and this wasn’t which stuck out like a sore thumb.  Sung by Riho, Sakura, Masaki, Kanon, and Haruka…it sounded like a good mix on all accords.  I do love the hooks of the song and the chorus is cute too.
  • Tokimeku Tokimeke – The other B-side from the “Brainstorming” single was sung by the other half of the group: Erina, Sayumi, Haruna, Mizuki, and Ayumi and is once again a glossy synth pop tune but kind of cool at the same time, but not at the same level as “Aishuu Romantic”.  It is a bit frantic sometimes, but it’s still a good track nonetheless.
  • Makeru Kishinai Kon’ya no Shoubu – With the Wagamama B-side, Makeru Kishinai Kon’ya no Shoubu is like the other Momusu electro tracks out there, but this one kind of stuck out with it’s ~whoa-oh-ohs~ that are dominant throughout the song.  Still for a B-side it’s good.
  • Wolf Boy – As the only new song from “The Best! ~Updated Morning Musume~”, it had a lot to pick up after how that album turned out for me.  I love the spookiness of the song a lot but the chorus kind of squeaks by but this song was overall a solid dance track and would’ve LOVED to have seen a PV out of this one.
  • LOVE Machine (updated) – I didn’t think too much was going to change for LOVE Machine (as well all know it’s their big hit and all that).  It’s just a lot more electro than the original and has more auto-tune splattered throughout, but somehow this edit sounds a bit refreshing.
  • Renai Revolution 21 (updated) – I can say the same thing for the updated take on Renai Revolution 21 because it was changed from a disco track to more of an electropop song.  Though I could’ve used less auto-tune here, the song still sounds good and sticks to the original melody closely which is a pretty damn good thing.
  • Renai Hunter (updated) – Love the new intro and new splotches of ideas and suited Renai Hunter.  However, I was slightly skeptical because this updated version is lacking Reina, Gaki, and Aika and has Sakura included.  Might not be as great as the original but I think they held it well.

MEH SONGS

  • Daisuki Dakara Zettai ni Yurusanai – This Sakura and Riho duet from “Help me!!” originally a good song for me and worked for people who didn’t really know what Sakura sounded like besides the A-side.  Though after time, the song kind of grew less on me because while the melody in between the two are interesting, they weren’t sounding good.  It’s pretty hard to say, but it just kind of drove a wedge into this B-side.
  • Rock no Teigi – Yup, Reina’s graduation song.  When I heard the title, I thought it was going to segue into where Reina was going.  Sadly, the song is kind of a another synth track and didn’t come off as very rock oriented to me.  I rather hear a new version from LoVendoЯ.
  • I WISH (updated) – Hearing all the members (sans Sayu) perform this and I was curious to how it’d end up.  Unfortunately, it took a lot of the spark away from the original and came up with this chilled back almost diluted version and I wasn’t exactly enjoying it a lot.  I can enjoy it sometimes, but I prefer the original.
  • The☆Pea~ce! (updated) – I can almost same the same thing here, but it’s a bit too electro for me to take in, especially with the heavy amounts of dubstep in this song’s intro.  To me it’s just a little too much overdone and didn’t have that same feeling the original had.
  • Aruiteru (updated) – I know Sayu was chosen because she was the only remaining member that partook in the original version.  Figures the same would be a little more techno-glossed for the self-cover though.  Sometimes it even reminds me of “Lalala no Pipipi” and that’s not exactly a good thing.  Plus too much auto-tuned Sayu kind of ruined it for me…meh!
  • One Two Three, Wakuteka Take a chance, Help me!!, Brainstorming, Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai (updated) – I paired all of these songs together because it really all came down to the same thing.  Were these necessary?  I mean I love the originals for these songs, but was it really needed to just take out Reina and put the girls into her spots?  I just couldn’t get myself accustomed to these new takes even though the arrangements were left alone.

ICK SONGS

  • Watashi no Dekkai Hana – Ah, the trio of Ayumi, Haruna, and Reina…They might has well just made this a Reina solo because Ayumi’s rapping skills aren’t all that great here and Haruna just sounded awful in this song lol.  The feeling of the song also kind of didn’t impress me as well…kind of empty almost.
  • Funwari Koibito Ichinensei – This song from the Wagamama single sung by Erina, Riho, Kanon, Ayumi, and Sakura missed the mark for me as well.  I mean the singing is left to Riho, Sakura, and Kanon while the other two raps and while Ayumi did get better at her skills, we had to deal with Eripon who wasn’t all that good.  Add that this is a pseudo-hip hop song and I just wasn’t liking it at all!
  • Souda! We’re ALIVE (updated) – The only song from the self-covered album that I loathed, Souda! We’re ALIVE just did not work at all!  It lost all the power of the original and it didn’t sound good with its new instrumental IMO.  Definitely is the worst song from Momusu this year, and to say it’s just a self-cover prolly shouldn’t count but oh well xD

Predictions from last year to predictions for next year!

Last year, I had made predictions and wonders so let’s see if they came true or not!

I can’t wait to see how the group will be like with newcomer Sakura, but it
seems like 2013 will be an interesting year, maybe a 12 Gen addition…hopefully
no one graduates and granted that Sayu is the only old member left after Reina
graduates, I hope she stays a little longer than a year.

Actuality: Well, no 12th generation yet and Sayu didn’t graduate as well!

Predictions for 2014: Well, I definitely think there’ll be a new member at some point next year, but I also think Sayu will stick around for 2014 if not, at least to the end of the year.

Berryz Koubou

449px-Berryz_Kobo_-_Motto_Zutto_Promo

asiancelebrationgoldenchinatownmottozuttoberryzmansion9kai

In comparison to the other groups this year, it felt like Tsunku but the backburner mostly on Berryz Koubou this year.  They begun the year with their 9th album, Berryz Mansion 9kai to which it didn’t really gain a lot of fans surprisingly.  Granted, that didn’t stop them and they released Asian Celebration, Golden Chinatown / Sayonara Usotsuki na Watashi, and Motto Zutto Issho ni Itakatta / ROCK Erotic to close things out this year.  They also did make Budokan, but so did two other groups.  Otherwise, nothing major happened this year.

THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • Golden Chinatown – I think I’m one of the few that actually really like this song.  I mean it has a nice Chinese element to it and the bassline is banging in this song.  It was a bit gimmicky to rhyme it up with China so damn much…but it’s still a pretty funky and cool song that I can’t help but love it!
  • Sayonara Usotsuki na Watashi – I’ve said on my single review (on my other blog) that I actually didn’t enjoy it but that’s because I review at first listen.  After some time with the song, it has grown considerably on me and while it is a bit messy like “Aitai Aitai Aitai na” and “Kanashiki Amefuri”, this kind of works in a pretty nifty way.
  • ROCK Erotic – Yeah seems like the group only excelled through their A-sides.  ROCK Erotic kind of changed it up from the electronic for a mix of that and rock and it sounded quite awesome.  Plus Risako and Miyabi rocked the hell out of this song even though they might not have showed all that interest.  Still one of the cooler songs this year!

OK SONGS

  • Succha ka Meccha ka~ – I kind of like when Berryz has that hyper and cute song and this year it was the promotional song from their album.  It’s peppy fast and lord did Captain get fast lines here.  Just all that rolled into one song is pretty good, but I tend to forget about it (though I tend to do that with songs from Berryz Mansion).
  • Otoko Mae – Yup, that duet between Momoko and Yurina made it this far haha.  I will say that I loved that introduction piece and how it grows into a dance track won me over.  I did say originally that I couldn’t believe they paired the deepest voice with the highest voice but luckily Momoko didn’t sing in her high pitched style so it made the song work a lot better than I originally thought.
  • Koi Itoshiki Kisetsu – Another of the songs that were a shuffle unit, the mix of Miyabi, Risako, and Saki was one of the odder songs from the album, but something about it caught my eye.  Plus the part with them singing the title (chorus?) was so mysterious and a departure from the verses.  Mysterious, but quite nice of a song overall.
  • Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai (2013 ver.) – Of course I had to put this here, as much as I enjoyed the debut song from Berryz, the remake actually vocally sounded way better (even without Maiha).  Add that they kept the original arrangement and it’s a solid song still!
  • Sekai de Ichiban Taisetsu na Hito – I also find myself loving the intro of the song a lot, even though it becomes more of a cuter song to listen to.  Though it’s nice to see the members sounding a bit more alive.  It might be at the bottom of this OK list IMO.
  • I like a picnic – It seemed like the group wasn’t done covering Bird Thongchai and covered ANOTHER song of his for this “Asian Celebration” single.  It might not stand up to the likes of “cha cha SING” and “Loving you Too much” but this song surprisingly catchy and has such a fun vibe even though goofy that the song goes in its verses to scream the title before the chorus…kind of hilarious to me haha.
  • Koisuru Technique – This song sounds like it would come from Momusu IMHO which kind of caught me off guard that Berryz would get a song like this.  It’s surprisingly good and surprised it wasn’t chosen for A-side material because I would’ve been happier with than “Motto Zutto Issho ni Itakatta”.

MEH SONGS

  • Massugu na Watashi – It’s commonplace for me to not really enjoy ballads (unless they’re really going out of the way for them when dealing with H!P).  Sadly, Berryz missed the mark with Massugu na Watashi.  I will say the vocals are surprisingly nice (cept for Momoko IMO).  I think that’s what saved it from being icky is the good vocals here.
  • Asian Celebration – At first I kind of enjoyed Asian Celebration, but then it quickly went downhill for many reasons.  The PV is got was such a “Dakishimete Dakishimete” ripoff that it wasn’t even funny anymore.  Also with some of the singing, the whole vocally trying to replicate a disc scratching is godawful with my oshi Yurina messing that up the worst…girl don’t do that!  Yeah this song just didn’t work for me.
  • Motto Zutto Issho ni Itakatta – Wow, two A-sides that I didn’t really enjoy.  There’s just something awkward for me listening to this song and it might be that mix of aggressive synths mixed with a slower tempo song and it was just not connecting to me.  Plus, that dance was awkward as hell too.  Meh lol
  • I’m so cool! – I tend to forget this song was on Berryz’ single.  One of the B-sides from their last single of the year, it just tried to mix those aggressive sounding synths and conbine with a more peppier side like “Sekai de Ichiban Taisetsu na Hito” and it didn’t work here…it sounded like a total mess in my ears.  Actually it sounds more like something S/mileage would’ve loved.

ICKY SONGS

  • Nandakanda de Ii Kanji! – The other shuffle song from their album, (sung by Chinami and Maasa) was kind of a failure all-around.  I mean it’s like “Otoko Mae” in where the two voices couldn’t be any more opposite to each other and the song is a country idol tune that sounded really wrong to listen to.
  • Momochi! Yurushite Nyan♡Taisou (Yurusanyai Remix) – I already hated the original version so a remix was only going to do more harm than good.  I mean Berryz are in it too but they sound like 5 year olds and add the new technopop sound layered upon this song just was wrong in so many ways.  Ooph definitely the worst H!P song of the year!

Predictions from last year to predictions for next year!

I hate to be the sad panda, but I feel like someone is probably going to
graduate next year considering their time is starting to tick (whether if
they’ll go one by one or altogether is a different story).

Actuality: Well clearly they’re still together, but they definitely suffered a lot this year for the fans since all the other groups (maybe not S/mileage) had a much lucrative year.

Prediction for 2014: I expect Tsunku will switch to paying attention to Berryz and they’ll have some pretty good singles, though I still wonder when that graduation announcement will happen.

°C-ute

C-ute_-_Tokai_no_Hitorigurashi_Promo

konomachicrazykanzennaotonakanashikiamefuritokainohitorigurashicutieselection8queenofjpopcountdownjpn

This year for °C-ute was just amazing for them.  They get their best highest sales as a group yet, and was the first of the year to get to perform at Budokan!  They begun the year with a single celebrating Chisato Moritaka, Kono Machi.  Soon after, they released Crazy Kanzen na Otona in which shortly after they got the news of performing at Budokan.  With that and going Paris they had their next releases set.  For fans in France, they released a sort-of best album, Cutie Selection ~A nos Amis de France~ which included a lot of songs they performed at this performance and a preview of their next single, Kanashiki Amefuri / Adam to Eve no Dilemma.  All that culminated into their 8th album aptly titled, 8 Queen of J-POP.  Finally, closing the year out for them, they released one more single, Tokai no Hitorigurashi / Aitte Motto Zanshin and on the final day of the year, released a digital mini-album, “COUNTDOWN JAPAN 13/14” Shuutsuen Kinen! °C-ute 12/30 Setlist Album but that didn’t really have anything special to it anyways.

THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • Hae Otoko – Is it just me or whenever I hear the opening for this song, I get this Halloween kind of feeling?  I mean the darker chords and the scream…it makes it sound a lot darker than it should haha.  Even though it stuck out as the only good Moritaka cover to come from the single, Hae Otoko was pretty banging and I pretty much thought maybe it was the only reason that single was good.
  • Kono Machi (Dance Groove ver.) – Wow, there’s a remix that pwned the hell out of the original.  I really like the hyper synths out of this one and really made the song 100% better than it’s generic ballad take.  Though my only gripe is they could’ve took out the spoken dialogue…it just didn’t work with the arrangement (especially since it’s so synthy).
  • Crazy Kanzen na Otona – Ahhhh, this song!  It was once again another one of those songs that sounded great because there were a lot of synths.  I also loved the outfits that were used for the song as well which might have made this song even better to me xD.  Definitely a jam and a half!
  • Kanashiki Heaven (Suzuki Part Ver.) – It seems strange to really include the seperated performances of Kanashiki Heaven (a B-side from “Aitai Aitai Aitai na” but whatever.  Airi’s version takes the lower melody and she sounds AMAZING.  Like she was giving her all in this one and it doesn’t seem awkward without Chisato.
  • Adam to Eve no Dilemma – It’s like the group had a second bout of awesome cool song-itis because Adam to Eve no Dilemma was just as strong of a song if not better than “Crazy Kanzen na Otona”.  There was also a sense of mystery about it but totally different from the previous track mentioned.  Another awesome jam!
  • Attakai Ude de Tsutsunde – Breaking the dance tracks off, I thought Attakai Ude de Tsutsunde was a genius song to put out for the group.  I mean it sounds sexy and yet perfect to chill down with its cafe-like atmosphere.  Probably the biggest surprise this year was this song because I was expecting more electro from that single and instead we got this super smooth song…so good!
  • Namida mo Denai Kanashiku mo Nai Nanni mo Shitakunai – Going into the songs from “8 Queen of J-POP”, Namida mo Denai… fits in amongst the crazy amount of dance tracks the group had this year!  The album’s new songs focused on one members (minus one track) and this one focused on Maimai and she actually got a pretty cool song (because I just can’t listen to Mai doing sugary songs anymore lol).  Definitely was what made me focus on Mai this year (well and “Adam to Eve no Dilemma”.
  • Abiru Hodo Ai wo Kudasai – Another great track was focused on Chisato and I firmly believe she should lead more songs if the track is a bit more rock-oriented because her vocals seem to really bring that punch to songs, especially Abiru Hodo Ai wo Kudasai!  It’s edgy and a total switch from all the electro we’ve got this year, shame it’s an album song xD.
  • Aitte Motto Zanshin – Finally, the secondary A-side from the last single they released for the year, Aitte Motto Zanshin kind of mixes rock and the electro bits to create this kind of grittier dance track.  The song just screams energy and even though the chorus really doesn’t suit the atmosphere of the song, it’s still pretty much catchy all-around.

OK SONGS

  • Kanashiki Heaven (Okai Part Ver.) – I will say that even though Airi did her part better, Chisato did a pretty bangin’ job here and she’s also putting a lot of energy in her solo version of Kanashiki Heaven.
  • Kanashiki Amefuri – I’ve already mentioned this but this song fits along “Aitai Aitai Aitai na” & “Sayonara Usotsuki na Watashi” in the fact that the arrangement is a bit wild and chaotic, but also leaves room to really grow on you.  I’ve said when I reviewed this song that it kind of reminds me of fashion (strange right)…must be the PV.  Definitely grew on me, but not enough to be like OMG YES!
  • Nichiyoubi wa Daisuki yo – Something about this song remind me of stuff from last year which is odd right?  As the Maimi-led tune from the album, I was enjoying that it kind of sounded electro but sounds cute like “Momoiro Sparkling”.  I don’t know why, but it’s a fun song to listen to for sure.
  • Tokai no Hitorigurashi – Same could be said about Tokai no Hitorigurashi though I think it could’ve lived without sounding like many other songs from the last couple of years with the synth horns and similar chord styles.  Though it did grow on me and the chorus is actually really good!  Still those horns >.>
  • Please, love me more! – I might not have had a long time to digest the B-sides, but I have to say that °C-ute has just been solid with their dance tracks and while this one might not be strong as others, it’s still quite strong.  I’m not sure how to explain, but the arrangement was a twist for me and I kind of enjoyed it’s almost anison-ish sound.
  • Yuuwaku no Kyuujitsu – I suppose I could say the same for this song which was on the same single lol.  Though it does suffer the same like “Aitte Motto Zanshin” in the fact that the chorus does not suit the verses.  Though I do like the aforementioned song more.  The verses is what sold me the most.

MEH SONGS

  • The☆Treasure Box – The song would’ve been easily an OK song if the track didn’t include ~oi oi oi~ chants.  Those are so fuckin annoying and ruin my enjoyment for the song because it really isn’t a bad track and the energy is really awesome to hear, plus Airi just owns with this song!
  • Bagel ni Ham & Cheese – As the promotional song from their studio album, Bagel ni Ham & Cheese might be a good Airi-led song, but it was kind of generic-sounding to me, but it could just be me haha.  I don’t know the song really didn’t leave much of an effect on me.
  • Tadoritsuita Onna Senshi – It’s another one of those cases where ballad songs just flies over my head.  Added that °C-ute’s track record with ballads this year has been pretty bad for the most part IMO, I wasn’t feeling this song though it seemed like it was created for lives so the studio version loses that aspect here.
  • Watashi ga Honki wo Dasu Yoru – At first I actually liked the song with its intro…then the banjo came in and so did Nakky and I was kind of mindblown with this song and not in a good way.  It sounds like something could’ve been good if Country Musume was still active!  I just don’t think mixing that cute electro with banjos are a smart decision and honestly I was kind of torn between putting this in the icky or not.

ICK SONGS

  • Kono Machi – Yeah, I was definitely not a fan of this song.  I mean I like Moritaka’s original but Tsunku decide to make it a ballad (and lord it didn’t sell very well).  It just seems to drag the entire time and I was finding myself listening to “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku” again lol.
  • Ame – The exact same thing can be said here as well.  Maimi’s solo song, Ame just was a total bore and could’ve been done without…though nice Maimi did even get a solo on a single release lol.
  • Chikyuu Kara no Sanjuusou – On the “Crazy Kanzen na Otona” single, we got split groups and this one was sung by Maimi, Airi, and Chisato.  I can’t exactly say why I wasn’t a fan of this one…but I think the vocal chords has a certain Country vibe to it..but still no reason, it’s just not my cup of tea lol.
  • Watashi wa Tensai – In a way it does slightly remind me of “Nichiyoubi wa Daisuki yo” with the cuter electro vibe…but Maimai and Nakky seem to take the cute vibe just a little too much and I just kind of couldn’t get past those vocals.
  • Dare ni mo Naishou no Koishite Iru no – To me this song sounds a LOT better live than in the studio version just because the group can really have fun with this.  However, the studio version sounds odd to my ears…like it lacks the energy and the group is singing in an odd pitch (though it seems right for Maimai…>.>.  Still, not a song I’d come back to.

Predictions from last year to predictions for next year!

Like Berryz, but less so XD  Though with their raising sales, I’m hoping they get better ^_^

Actuality: Well, they didn’t graduate and their sales have risen further and had the best year of their careers!

Prediction for 2014: Bigger sales and stronger appearance!  Hopefully another year of no worries ^^.

S/mileage

eeka

tabidachinoharugakitayattaruchaneeka2smilesensation

At least this year, S/mileage cooled down ever further than in 2011.  Like Berryz, S/mileage wasn’t given a whole lot of importance this year and it showed.  They begun the year by releasing Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita before FINALLY releasing their sophomore album, ② Smile Sensation.  Then to round out the year they released two more singles Atarashii Watashi ni Nare! / Yattaruchan & Ee Ka?! / “Ii Yatsu”. Yeah I think maybe they did have the least amount of attention this year, since Berryz got Budokan and they didn’t. 😛

THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • Shin Nippon no Susume! – Man the first song from their sophomore album just blew my mind!  It started with a pretty cool royal intro and Nyon and Fangs singing in a tone you normally don’t hear either of them singing in.  Then we suddenly seque into this quick-paced pwness of awesome!  This song really cemented my surprising enjoyment to Meimi!  Yeah, this song was a pretty amazing song from them!
  • Otona no Tochuu – Another one of Tsunku’s great electro songs, but another rare case of awesome album song, Otona no Tochuu was high-energy the entire way and I love the whole syllable by each girl with saying the title!  Not as crazy as the song above, but it’s still a really awesome song!
  • Atarashii Watashi ni Nare! – I was curious to what the group would do after their 2nd album and well they went a lil more scandalous with this song (though mostly it’s the PV).  The song continues a more mature style and with Tsunku’s electro love.  Great song!
  • Yattaruchan – I guess to even the sound of the group, Yattaruchan was the wacky fun song from the group and actually I sometimes tend to like it more “Atarashii Watashi ni Nare!”.  It’s such a fun song to listen to and once again Meimi stood out, but Kanana as well!
  • “Ii Yatsu” – It seems they dove into the emo-musume era with “Ii Yatsu” and actually I quite like it!  There’s something really awesome about this style (and sound) so I really took to this one quickly.  Plus gotta love Takechan’s high note…oooh she’s going to be great once she’s older!

OK SONGS

  • Doushiyou – Ahhh the only B-side released this year for S/mileage (isn’t that surprising?).  Doushiyou had a pretty cool groove about and I’m loving the layering they did in the verses.  There’s a lot of pretty awesome moments and was surprised they couldn’t have just added it to the album (then again there were other B-sides missing but those are songs from last year).  Still a cool song!
  • Nee Senpai – I actually felt it was a lot like “Otona no Tochuu” in the same energy levels.  Though, I still like the aforementioned track a lot more and this one slightly grew less on me, but it’s still a pretty good song.
  • Sayonara Sayonara Sayonara – I still am unsure how to take the song because I do like the pseudo hip-hopish feel of the song and that little bridge before verses is quirky in a way.  It’s a different kind of song for the group and once again Kana has been getting better at singing all of a sudden!  I approve!
  • Ee Ka?! – The primary A-side of the last single of the year, like many songs I’ve mentioned back with °C-ute, the song is really good up until the chorus which REALLY doesn’t fit the song’s image IMHO.  I wish Tsunku would stop with this kind of segmented arrangement.  Still everything else is pretty cool to listen to and the group really pulled off more of a rapping vibe here.

MEH SONGS

  • Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita – The first thing that comes to mind with this song is that it sounds surprisingly generic as a H!P song, but there’s nothing to really compare it to.  I mean the intro is pretty cool and all, but the song seems like something I’ve heard before.  Just something I wasn’t really into.
  • Watashi no Kokoro – I should just be like ~ballad, ’nuff said~ because it’s another one of those dragging ballads.  Though it’s not as tragic as °C-ute’s ballads lmao.  The vocals aren’t still exactly ready to be tackling ballads but I spose it was a risky tradeoff.
  • Yuugure Koi no Jikan – This song also felt a little too vanilla for my interests as well though I do enjoy that the focus is mostly on Kanana and Rinapuu (who are usually the back girls, but recently standing out).  I don’t know but this is kind of bleh even with those facts.

ICKY SONGS

  • Tenshinranman – Honestly, if anything sounded like a generic mess, it’s definitely Tenshinranman because it sounds like it took everything from “Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita” and just made it less interesting.  Though congrats to Kanana for getting a lot of lines here.

Predictions from last year to predictions for next year!

I think very little will happen with S/mileage next year besides their 2nd
album…if anything maybe a new generation will join in?  I don’t know but I
highly doubt that’ll happen either.

Actuality: I kind of was spot on this year.  I mean nothing major did happen and their 2nd album was released.  The 2nd half though was unsure and it didn’t happen so that’s pretty good.

Prediction for 2014: Maybe a Budokan performance that’s all about them?  Maybe make 2014, the year for Rinapuu to shine since Kanana did this year?  Maybe, JUST MAYBE a 3rd gen?  We’ll see!

Juice=Juice

JuiceJuiceijiwaru

watashigaiusamidaretenmadenoborejuromancenotochuuijiwarushinaidedakishimeteyo

Yay H!P finally debuted a new solid group!  They were announced pretty early in 2013 and debuted shortly after that!  They started with three indies singles: Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne, Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru, and Ten Made Nobore! (with the Kenshuusei).  Then it was announced they would finally have a major debut.  Sadly before it happened, Aina Otsuka suddenly departed from the group because of her parents and her contract.  Still the group continued on and released the whopper of a single, Romance no Tochuu / Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (MEMORIAL EDIT) / Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru (MEMORIAL EDIT) and closed off the year with one more single in Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo / Hajimete wo Keikenchuu.  Busy year for our new group huh?

THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne – This is probably WAY up there as my favorite debut song (next to “Massara Blue Jeans”.  I love the saxophone love in this song and it’s so fantastic in its own right that it just caught my eye.  Plus it definitely lent itself for me to seriously enjoy all the girls voices (especially Tomoko…Tsunku really got lucky with her).  Like I said a very AWESOME way to kick their careers off.
  • Romance no Tochuu – I will always wonder what this song would sound like with Aina in it, but what we got this song it’s a lot more mature than anything the released prior, but also continued with their concept of *cool*.  I think this song made me pay attention to Sayuki a lot more than I initially was aware of.  It’s a lot of fun singing it too, I can’t forget that!
  • Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo – Discounting Ayumi being in the PV, Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo sounds like another pretty cool song and in the same vein as “Romance no Tochuu” but the song has a little more deeper sound that stood out a LOT!  Plus, Tomoko just owned this song.

OK SONGS

  • Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru – For the 2nd indies single, they released Samidare to which in replace of the saxes, it was more horn and guitar-laced.  Honestly, I actually kind of liked it slightly less than their debut but I thought the girls sung better here (especially Aina, Sayuki, and Tomoko).  There’s just something edgy the group was trying to get here.  I still did end up enjoying it overall!
  • Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru (MEMORIAL EDIT) – Which in turn led into this edited version.  I mean it’s extended and has no Aina in it.  The changes in the arrangement were minor and the extra additions were interesting to keep the song going AND they resung the song which is a plus since Akari and Yuka are getting better and singing.
  • Hajimete wo Keikenchuu – I don’t know why but it was so weird to see Akari and Yuka slide in as the main singers for their 2nd major single (secondary A-side).  It was also a change because it was more of a cutesy song which I guess stood out in the group’s growing discography.  My only qualm about this song is the male voice in the background…what in the world were you thinking Tsunku?!?

MEH SONGS

  • Ten Made Nobore! – I’ve really started to just get more annoyed by how much this song is performed by the Kenshuusei nowadays so in a way I do blame that on me not liking Ju=Ju’s version.  Granted this version only had solos from Aina, Karin, Sayuki, and Tomoko…the song really doesn’t suit them IMHO…I like the KSS’ take just a tad bit more.
  • Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (MEMORIAL EDIT) – I liked the edited version of Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru a lot, but when it came to the edited tak of their debut, that was a bit too much for me to take in.  Though hearing Yuka and Akari sound way better in this version I suppose is a win, but screwing up the mid-8 section was just horrid.  Plus, I missed Aina’s voice so I already was coming in with a meh face lol.

Predictions for 2014

Since they didn’t exist in 2012, time to start the tradition for the new group.  Honestly, I feel like they’re going to fill that space Aina left…though I don’t know who.  Also, debut album definitely has to happen.  Other than that, who knows…

Other H!P Releases

bestfriendscabbagehakushoharutokainakanokaretenmadenoboreladymermaidHotaruMatsurinoHipetitbest14ohesonokunikarakonnichiwahelloprojectzenkyokuhelloprojectzenkyoku2

First off, sad no Buono!.  Anyways, the year began with ManoEri releasing her final album which is a best of album…hmmm

Well, with her graduating and having three album eras + the two singles she
released after, I assume there’ll be a best-of album to chronicle ManoEri’s
singles.

That was my prediction last year and I WAS RIGHT!  She released BEST FRIENDS (of course she would choose that title) and graduated from H!P to focus on acting.  Suffice to say…It was a good way to send her off and include 3 new songs! (though left off her indie singles >.> “Lucky Aura” man…).

The next two singles were released by the whole SATOYAMA Movement.  Peaberry and GREEN FIELDS got the pass (sad that DIY was just left behind (and in a lesser amount, Harvest)).  Peaberry’s was just an touched up version of their first song called Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~ to promote Spring while GREEN FIELDS got two original songs on a single, Tokainaka no Kare.

The next was the Kenshuusei who are quickly becoming more and more noticeable each day and they released their 2nd single, Ten Made Nobore! (which was a joint single with Juice=Juice).

Earlier in the year, Tsunku announced another Movement called the SATOUMI movement which focused on the oceans and such.  First was Dia Lady which consists of Risako and Airi (argubly the faces of the group), Mellowquad, which consisted of Miyabi, Chinami, Chisato, and Maimi and Plumeria (later switched to HI-FIN) which consisted of Ayumi, Kanon F., Mai, Saki N., and Erina I.  It took a long time before they finally had their single release all in one singluar disc: Lady Mermaid / Eiya-sa! Brother / Kaigan Seisou Danshi.

Then a random new SATOYAMA unit was created during the hubbub in Jurin which was a duet unit of Masaki and Karin and released a DVD single called Hotaru Matsuri no Hi

As we got near the end of the year, we get out annual Petit Best, Petit Best 14 and honestly did not include ANYTHING new musically that hasn’t been CD available which is very disappointing. Shocking they included a 2012 song on it though (“NEXT MY SELF”)…>.>

Even closer to the end of the year, the Kenshuusei also announced a single to close 2013 for them, a DVD single for Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa / Ten Made Nobore!.  However, the single was only available from events…it isn’t until 2014 until the single was released publicly in stores.

Though it doesn’t beat THE FINAL release of the year, which is a surprisingly odd release from TOWER RECORDs.  It’s a two album release called Hello! Project no Zenkyoku Kara Atsumechaimashita! Vol.1 & 2.  The first disc contains tracks chosen by NakaG and and TOWER’s president, Munehiko Ikou.  This disc seems to be a little more towards spreading from H!P’s history of great funk songs from Taiyou to Ciscomoon all the way to Juice=Juice.  The 2nd disc, chosen by celeb interviewer Yoshida Gou contains more of the lesser known and more rare songs that H!P released (I mean Momusu’s Fankora album, FOLK SONGS, and even a new track sung by Riho from the Stacy’s musical.  I mean this might cater to more people who haven’t heard this side of them.

THE SONGS

GREAT SONGS

  • Tokainaka no Kare – I wasn’t expeting GREEN FIELDS to return with their first single to themselves.  Plus its always great to hear Aika sing SOMETHING in 2013.  It’s such a feelgood song and I really like the sort of goofy vibe I get from the moments I hear the kazoo and towards the end.  Though Captain and Yuka lead a lot, Aika has good moments too.  Definitely that fun song to listen to pick you up.
  • Lady Mermaid – When I saw the SATOUMI units announced, I was kind of shrugging with Dia Lady because I knew it was a good match, but to see if they get a cool song left me wondering.  Boy, Lady Mermaid is a jam and I love hearing the melodies they pull off in this kind of rockabilly tune.  Plus I find myself singing ~One, for the one~ so much XD
  • Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa – Took them long enough to finally announce this was going to be released in 2013.  The Kenshuusei’s 3rd offering, Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa fits within the realm of the electro songs smoothly, but the song is so catchy and yet weird (the title comes out to be something like Hello from the Land of Bellybuttons.  I also love that 8 of them got solo lines (especially Kaede and Rena….though where’s Natsumi??).

OK SONGS

  • Minna, Arigatou. – It seems that there was really only one good ManoEri song that came this year.  Even though it’s a mid-tempo track, Erina’s voice sounded sweet and the arrangement sounded like it was a good sendoff for her graduation, but it did kind of lost itself amongst the A-sides from the album.
  • Haru wa Kuru – Something folksy comes this way and its from GREEN FIELDS?!?  Yep, the B-side from the single Haru wa Kuru is slower than any of their other songs but it gave us a chance to let us hear the trio in a slower setting and they sound surprisingly well together.  Simple track, but still quite nice.
  • Ten Made Nobore! – The song is slowly losing its luster on me because I hear it way too much than I should (not as bad as “Kanojo ni Naritai!!!” but can grow into that REAL quickly).  The Kenshuusei version sounds a bit more appropriate and there’s no worry on line distribution (add that it has two different PVs) and it’s kind of a song that you can’t escape (and won’t be for a while).  Also, first it’s paired with Juice=Juice and now a secondary A-side when “Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa” releases?  Lawd.
  • Eiya-sa! Brother – Mellowquad’s song might be the lowest in this section but it’s got catchy stuff going on.  I mean the hooks are easily found and can get stuck in your head after a while.  A little sad that Chinami got shafted here but it’s whatever.  It’s just a cool reggae-ish tune but a little strange lyrically and in the PV as well…weird all-around!
  • Kaigan Seisou Danshi – A little surfer vibe for HI-FIN’s song!  I was worried because honestly Nyon was the only good voice (at least in my mind) but it seems they seem to tried focus on harmonizing and they hit some pretty good chords in the song.  The spoken dialogue is a bit hokey for me so it did take me out and only Nyon, Nakky, and Maimai got solos…no surprise.  It’s a good song for what it is I suppose lol.
  • Kimagure Zetsubou Arigatou – As the exclusive track from the Atsumechaimashita albums, Riho’s solo from the musical is actually surprisingly nice to listen to.  Even with the rest of the 9th Gen and all of 10th Gen backing her up, it’s still a pretty haunting ballad from a musical (though it is about zombies) soooo…and the ending with the gun shots are a bit random to include.

MEH SONGS

  • Zenbu Daisuki – I don’t know why this song reminds me of “NEXT MY SELF” but it does.  Another ManoEri song, Zenbu Daisuki sounds like a lot of her songs (particularly around her first two albums).  I mean I hear traces of guitars in the song but they are kind of not the important instrument.  It just seem to lack in places for me.
  • Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~ – I really didn’t like they chose Peaberry to get a single just to themselves and was even more disappointed that the leading track would just be an edited version of their first song.  What’s new, not much new arrangement-wise but the biggest change is this RANDOM addition of “Furusato” (and not the Nacchi-hax) the old 1913 Children’s song and it’s sung by Kayoko Hosokawa in Peaberry’s version.  Honestly, this was random and the segueing between the two was uber jarring.  Though I can say Riho sounded sweet in this and Ayacho is just herself XD.
  • Niji no Sesaragi – Which brought me to the B-side from Peaberry’s single.  Most of this song sounds like the two in front of a choral line which sounds nice and honestly if I didn’t know this was Wada and Sayashi…I would’ve thought it was some other group.  It was one of the more interesting ballads H!P did, but still not all that great.
  • Hotaru Matsuri no Hi – Then we get into Jurin’s song and I kind of wished it wasn’t a ballad because this is Karin and Maachan…you’d think they’d be given something exciting.  Hotaru Matsuri no Hi has slide guitars and I already tuned out from those Country music vibes.  I don’t think either voice really suits the style either..meh.

ICKY SONGS

  • Nerima Calling! – I thought the song was going to be a nice pop/light rock track from ManoEri but good lord Mano’s vocals sound rough and shaky and she seemed to be really all over the place in tone which is a surprise because she sounded nice in the other two new tracks from “BEST FRIENDS” and then the middle of the song where she just kind of goes on this off vocal tangent lol…yeah might be the worst H!P song of 2013.

Other Releases from ex-H!P this year!

  • Current H!P member Karin Miyamoto released a mini-album compiling her Kopink works, “Kopink’s Melodies ~star chart~”.
  • Ex-Morning Musume member, Linlin released a Chinese EP this year titled “Zhan Dou”.
  • Ex-Melon Kinenbi member, Ayumi Shibata released a single this year, “Hito Kakera no Kakera.
  • Ex-Country Musume member, Azusa Kobayashi released her debut mini-album, “Distance”.
  • Ex-soloist, Rika Ishii surprisingly released TWO albums this year in “Slow Love” and “la mer”.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Mirei Hashida released her debut single, “My Love” under her penname, mirei.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Arisa Noto released her first full length album, “Hello, little monsters” and her 5th mini-album, “Rainbow Drops” as well as two albums and a single with her group, StylipS.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Yuu Kikkawa released a triple A-side, “Sekaijuu ni Kimi wa Hitori Dake / Valentine’s RADIO / Chocolate Damashii” before releasing her sophomore album “Two YOU” and a best album, “Best of YOU!”.
  • Ex-Hello! Pro Egg member, Sayaka Kitahara released her first album, “Haru no Gradation”.
  • THE Possible released two singles, “Zenryoku Banzai! My Glory!” and “Otome! Be Ambitious” with a best-of album, “Aratamemashite, THE Possible Desu! ~Nyuumon-hen Best~” in between releases.
  • Da Xiao Jie released their 3rd album, “Follow Me”.
  • Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) released a staggering 8 singles AND before all that, released their debut album, “First Album (Kakko Kari)”.
  • After Reina graduated, UFP formed LoVendoЯ and the quartet released a cover album as their debut titled “LoVendoЯ Cover the Rock”.

Gains and Losses

Gained

  • Technically Juice=Juice but 5/6 were already Eggs so they don’t fully count.
  • Yuka Miyazaki
  • Rikako Sasaki
  • Karen Tanaka
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Rio Fujii
  • Kana Mikame
  • Manaka Inaba
  • Ruru Danbara
  • Musubu Funaki
  • Kisora Niinuma
  • Akane Haga
  • Yumei Yokogawa
  • Risa Yamaki
  • Hirona Oura

Losses

  • Erina Mano
  • Reina Tanaka
  • Aina Otsuka
  • Jang Da Yeon (officially)
  • Rise Okamura
  • Kana Mashiro
  • Rie Kaneko

My H!P Member Ranking for 2013

You know the drill, I’ll be talking about them by 5’s…also included are ManoEri, Reina, and Aina since they’ve performed and released stuff with their groups, or by themselves! The numbers are how many places they gained and lost from last year!

  • 37. Mai Hagiwara (-6)
  • 36. Haruna Iikubo (-7)

Honestly, I think Maimai will just NEVER appeal to me.  Her voice just is too nasally for songs and even though she did catch me off guard with the album song that was focused on her, she still did sound uber nasally everywhere else.  Harunan is trying to become better, but it’s really showing in the dancing and not so much the singing (although props for her getting a solo in “Brainstorming”).  It just seems like both of these ladies should focus on their voices (though it’s going to take a LOT for Mai to get her voice well).

  • 35. Ayaka Wada (-3)
  • 34. Erina Ikuta (-8)
  • 33. Momoko Tsugunaga (-3)
  • 32. Erina Mano (-16)
  • 31. Masaki Sato (-6)

With these 5 there was a lot of loss.  Ayacho, like Maimai will probably never change her voice though I can at least handle it better than the latter.  Minus the Peaberry single, she’s sounded more catty than usual which is a total surprise to me.  Eripon‘s voice has also kind of grown on me less this year, but at least she did slightly tone down the Gaki fest.  I don’t know she didn’t seem to really stand out this year for me like she did last year.  I’m so happy that Momochi lessened her annoying character this year and she sung quite well with the songs she was given, though those pigtails NEED TO GO.  It’s time to drop her for good!  ManoEri initially was going to be in the middle of the pack, but with the lack of music coming from her and the godawfulness of “Nerima! Calling” kind of pegged her down levels.  It seems like Tsunku decided what to do with Maachan and I’m not happy he’s choosing to use her overly cute vocals vs. her actually good deeper tone.  Time to refocus there bro!

  • 30. Saki Nakajima (-2)
  • 29. Yuka Miyazaki (NEW)
  • 28. Reina Tanaka (-10)
  • 27. Akari Uemura (NEW)
  • 26. Rina Katsuta (-24)

Nakky actually didn’t sound half bad (when she wasn’t pulling off cute) and she was pretty memorable in most of the PVs she was in this year which is definitely a plus, but she’s still not as good as the 3 greats lol.  I could’ve included Yuka last year, but she wasn’t an official H!P member until she joined Juice=Juice.  Her voice is OK and she sounded pleasant in both the mentioned group and in GREEN FIELDS so she’s done well.  I’m not sure if it’s me or not, but Reina looked so over being an idol by the time she graduated after the “Brainstorming / Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai” single.  Plus, her band hasn’t really done anything great yet…so it feels like she was just going through the waves.  Another new member in Juice=Juice, Aarii was such a great addition to the group, even though she’s really only shown her nice vocals in “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu”.  Yeah, I know Rinapuu was my #2 last year, but she was an underdog and now I think she’s the weakest member in S/mileage now it’s sad because its showing that she’s more quiet and laidback and her dancing doesn’t have that snap like everyone else does…I hope 2014 fixes this!

  • 25. Ayumi Ishida (-8)
  • 24. Chinami Tokunaga (-18)
  • 23. Sayumi Michishige (+2)
  • 22. Aika Mitsui (-9)
  • 21. Risako Sugaya (+2)

Ayumin, I feel like she kind of digressed in some way but showed off as well, it’s a bit weird.  She once again showed a lot of awesomeness in her dancing prowess, but her singing has a little more to go, but once again solos this year did help her out.  Another that has fallen a big amount, Chinami kind of went by me this year with not a lot to go by, though she’s gotten a lot of view time in PVs.  Hopefully 2014 will boost her again.  Our leader Sayu has slightly risen this year.  I think it’s just that while her voice is probably at this point going to stay the way it is, its her perserverance with Morning Musume that impressed me a lot, plus she’s such a beauty now!  Even though she hasn’t done much this year, Mittsi still has it going on.  Plus, her version of “Datte Ikitekanakucha” with Momoko and Mizuki was stellar!  I hope she does more next year.  Rii might have went up, but she still has her problems like this year she’s resorted to shouting lyrics and they sound quite horrid.

  • 20. Riho Sayashi (+1)
  • 19. Kana Nakanishi (+8)
  • 18. Aina Otsuka (NEW)
  • 17. Saki Shimizu (-8)
  • 16. Maimi Yajima (-1)

Riho slightly managed to go up a slot this year, but she’s still got her issues within her singing that still split up a fandom.  I mean she can sound pretty good when she wants to, but sometimes she can really sound off as well.  I don’t know what else to say, but she would sound better doing lower songs if you know what I mean.  2013 was definitely a good year for Kanana as she’s gotten considerably better in most accounts plus she had a lot of fun promoting “Yattaruchan” as well.  Even though Tsukapon only contributed in 3 singles, she surprised me by being at the same line count as Karin almost rivaling her before her untimely departure.  Sad that she left and I’ll be honest, she sounded way better live than in studio versions of songs.  Captain, like Chinami also lost some points because there just wasn’t a lot of things that were standing out this year.  Granted, more lines in songs is awesome, but not a lot of rapping to be found unlike last year.  At least she still dances powerfully.  With Maimi, I think she’s pretty much stuck where she is.  She’s not bad, but she’s not a member that will stick out fully..unless she does something really eye-catching lol.

  • 15. Karin Miyamoto (NEW)
  • 14. Akari Takeuchi (-3)
  • 13. Mizuki Fukumura (+7)
  • 12. Sayuki Takagi (NEW)
  • 11. Kanon Fukuda (+1)

Finally after all these years, Karin finally gets to join H!P full-time in Juice=Juice and she already screams ace in the group.  Even though a couple others do sound better than her, she’s definitely got that star quality down pat.  Takechan might have dropped a couple but she hasn’t gotten worse.  She’s still one of the stronger vocals in S/mileage and she actually did step her game up a little bit for 2013.  Something about Fukuchan must’ve of done something, but as she’s a sub-leader she’s suddenly got all this confidence and power and she really surprised me with her appearances this year…hope she continues this awesome streak!  Sayubee might be new in a H!P group but she’s also got a lot of spunk in her performances.  Her voice always seems to stand out well, but then again most of the Ju=Ju members do too…she’s got some ood style though.  I tend to think Nyon is also kind of at her spot (like Maimi).  She’s still pretty solid performer, yet this year I feel like she took a seat back against other members in S/mileage.

  • 10. Maasa Sudo (-3)
  • 9. Meimi Tamura (+17)
  • 8. Haruka Kudo (-6)
  • 7. Miyabi Natsuyaki (+7)
  • 6. Sakura Oda (+4)

Beginning with my top 10 members, Maasa, like the other Berryz might not have stood out much to me this year.  Though her new short hair is pretty nifty and really fit “ROCK Erotic’s” PV, that’s for sure.  Still very underrated though in H!P they should have her sing a lot more!  Probably the biggest jump this year is Meimi who just really found her voice this year and REALLY loving her more deeper tone than her squeakyness of last year.  Let’s hope she keeps this going!  Kuduu might not have done a lot, but she’s a favorite of mine and she’s had some pretty good one-liners this year that’s for sure.  Hope Tsunku gives her a chance next year!  I’m surprised that Miyabi jumped a bit this year, but she’s still the same gal but she still has a pretty great voice and still has it in her.  Odasaku definitely made herself worthy to be the so-called ace.  Her voice is definitely one of the strongest in Morning Musume!  I wonder what amazing things will come out from her next year!

  • 5. Airi Suzuki (+3)
  • 4. Tomoko Kanazawa (NEW)
  • 3. Yurina Kumai (-2)
  • 2. Chisato Okai (+17)
  • 1. Kanon Suzuki (+4)

It just seems with every year Airi gets even better than the year before! Her voice is just continually getting stronger and even more powerful with each release and she’s really become a fierce force in H!P.  Kanatomo was such a surprise because she wasn’t a Kenshuusei for very long before being placed in Juice=Juice but good lord Tsunku did something great choosing her.  Her voice is definitely the best in the group and she’s got a lot of talent in her.  My oshi, Yurina has fallen a bit this year…and it’s really because of how Tsunku has been treating them.  I really didn’t like her in “Asian Celebration” and the other songs, she wasn’t a BIG face in comparison to the others.  Chisa REALLY brought it this year, it seemed like she was proving herself everytime in every PV and performane, plus her voice has really gotten badass so it’s definitely no way to not notice her in °C-ute.  My #1 this year though goes to Zukki because she’s back to being our happy member and she’s getting a lot better…hopefully to the point where Tsunku actually gives her solo lines!!!!

Kenshuusei

  • Hirona Oura
  • Kisora Niinuma
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Ruru Danbara
  • Karen Tanaka
  • Ayano Hamaura
  • Maria Makino
  • Yumeno Kishimoto
  • Kana Mikame
  • Reina Ichioka
  • Natsumi Taguchi
  • Fuyuka Kosuga
  • Akane Haga
  • Rio Fujii
  • Musubu Funaki
  • Minami Nomura
  • Manaka Inaba
  • Sakurako Wada
  • Rikako Sasaki
  • Riko Yamagishi
  • Rena Ogawa
  • Yumei Yokogawa
  • Nanami Tanabe
  • Kaede Kaga
  • Mizuki Murota
  • Kurumi Yoshihashi

Most of the girls on this list are members I can’t really say too much because most of them are still pretty new to this.  The top 10 though really stood out in some way (though Yumei has just caught my eye pretty heavily).  Some like Hamachan and Fuuchan just don’t impress me much.

THAT’S IT FOR 2013, CAN WE GET 2014 GOING ALREADY?

1 Comment »

H!P 2012, What has happened this year…RECAP!!!

Wow, 2012…it’s been a pretty busy year…not as wild and crazy like last year with the amount of changes.  I actually was kind of happy that this year, it was so scary of year and the releases this year have been the BEST in years and even the releases have gotten so much stronger as well (though the auto-tune love has gotten a lot fonder).  So let’s check out all the acts this year!!!!

Morning Musume

blog-0883500001347661127

pyokopyokoultrarenaihunterone_two_three_matenrou_LEawakutekatakeachance13colorfulcharacter

Let’s start off with our flagship group.  They begun the year finishing off their promotion for Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku and finally kicked off the year with the first single Pyocopyoco Ultra, which was the debut for the 10th Generation!  Of course that’s not to say there was some backlash because while I don’t think it’s because of the Suugaku Joshi Gakuen tie-in, but more of the fact that they were dressed up like chocobos!  Boy I felt like the 4 elder members were just not liking that and it also showed as it’s the lowest selling single (even lower than the previous holder of that record, Mikan).

During that time, then leader Risa Niigaki announced her graduation and the auditions for the 11th Generation has begun as well.  It all led up to Gaki’s final single Ren’ai Hunter.  It even came with a special addition that included a solo track from Gaki (which was a cover of a popular Aya Matsuura track).  Needless to say though that before her graduation concert, Aika Mitsui shockingly announced her sudden graduation because she didn’t want to risk being injured like she was (back after the Only you single, where she injured her leg).  Unlike Gaki though, Aika remained as an H!P artist.

After the loss of two of their senpai, Morning Musume would go and return to form with their 50th single One Two Three / The Matenrou Show which was A BIIIIIIIIG deal as there were many specials about this occasion!  It would go on to be their best selling single in first week sales since Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT!.  It was a turning point in the group and since then has been called the Rebirth era of Morning Musume!

Shortly after they would go ahead and release 13 Colorful Character and included the previous three singles on it.  However, I felt like it was overshadowed with the sudden end to the 11th auditions with the lone addition of Sakura Oda.  Who has definitely caught the eye of many!

Despite that she was added, she was absent for the group’s next single, Wakuteka Take a chance which was a nice single, but didn’t carry the candle as strongly as their last couple of singles.  Though Sakura had gotten her own little dance-shot of the PV…

With nothing else releasing for 2012, the last BIG thing that happened was that 6th Generation member, Reina Tanaka had announced that she was graduating from the group to start up her own band.

Prediction:  I can’t wait to see how the group will be like with newcomer Sakura, but it seems like 2013 will be an interesting year, maybe a 12 Gen addition…hopefully no one graduates and granted that Sayu is the only old member left after Reina graduates, I hope she stays a little longer than a year.

GREAT SONGS

  • Kanashiki Koi no Melody – As the debut B-side for the 10th Generation of girls, Kanashiki Koi no Melody REALLY stood out a whole lot from it’s paired A-side!  It’s very electronic and each member of the group has a solo line and even Ayumi got favored as she has an extended solo alongside Gaki and Riho.  It’s just a nice surprise after the horrors of “Pyocopyoco Ultra”.
  • Ren’ai Hunter – Continuing that train of thought, Ren’ai Hunter is the A-side that dove into more of the electronic style that was slowly taking over H!P towards the end of the year.  A lot of people were questioning the kind of dubstep-ish sound mixed with the choreography it got with that freaky crab dance lol.  Though knowing that it was Gaki’s final single and how much she stood out in the song made me happy (can’t say the same for Aika as it was also her last single too), but this song is really cool and sticks this cool side to the group so much!
  • One Two Three – Curious to what Momusu would sound like without Gaki and Aika we got our answer with the eventful 50th A-side (well the first half).  The tune is pretty edgy and very EDM-like for sure.  Though fans do frown at the over-focus with Reina and Riho and pushing everyone else to essentially have syllables as their solo lines.  I didn’t mind it though and still rocked out to it and it’s no surprise it did so well on ORICON.
  • Aisaretai no ni… – So what began as the first single to include multiple B-sides, we have the song that only featured the 9th Gen members, Riho, Zukki, Fukuchan, and Eripon.  Honestly, I love the fact that Zukki stood out the most in this once again electro song.  Everyone though got a good amount of solos so I was overall happy with this!
  • Seishun Domannaka – Then there was the song that was sung by the new 10th Generation and their song was more on the cute side of things.  I do think Haruka’s voice didn’t really fit and Harunan wasn’t that great in the song, but it’s still adorable and quite fun to listen to when it’s about a crush they have.  A nice opposite to the 9th Gen song!
  • What’s Up? Ai wa Dou na no yo~ – The first song we had a first listen to from their “13 Colorful Character” album, though we had an early version of the song (that honestly should’ve stayed that way and not messed with more).  Other than that, it sounds like a solid dance track and it had chant and some strong lines from the members (mostly Reina) lol.
  • Zero Kara Hajimaru Seishun – I was surprised that a song that’s 5 minutes long would be able to give significant lines to everyone in the group, but it managed that in a mid-tempo song more or less!  It might be the lowest on the great songs of the year, but it’s still a great song nonetheless and it’s simple and sweet that’s for sure!
  • Waratte! YOU – Then comes the track sung only by the 9th and 10th from the album and this was a blast from the past with this one.  It has a very discotheque kind of sound (almost like “The Matenrou Show”).  Still there was a lot of AWESOME moments in this one especially the big note coming from Zukki of all members.
  • Futsuu no Shoujo A – Sung by Reina, Maachan, and Haruka, found on the “Wakuteka Take a chance”, Fuutsu no Shoujo A really came out of nowhere and it came with a unique arrangement and awesome vocals!  Quite baroque and fancy and the swooping of the notes between the three shown off quite the skills (especially Haruka who at times sounded like Miki Fujimoto) and I bias her a lot!  Cool song overall!

OK SONGS

  • Egao ni Namida ~THANK YOU! DEAR MY FRIENDS~ – While not sung by the group, it was the graduation song from Gaki and she did the song justice as her voice was more radiant than Ayaya’s original and the tune overall was just much better (yeah, I know she released this a year back with the whole “Hello Cover” series, but it was redone on the “Ren’ai Hunter” single.
  • Watashi no Jidai! – Next up is the B-side from “One Two Three / The Matenrou Show” that was only sung between Reina and Sayu and while it didn’t impress me as much as the other generational songs, it still sounded hyper and kind of lies in between “Aisaretai no ni…” and “Seishun Domannaka” with it’s peppy electronic arrangement.  It sounds like it could’ve been used in a video game!
  • Lalala no Pipipi – Even better that Sayu got a solo track on the album and it was pinpoint right on with Sayumi’s interesting abundance on lacing her vocals with auto-tune.  Like “Watashi no Jidai!” the arrangement could easily be a video game tune (like Miku Hatsune).  It was a nice change of pace on the album!
  • Dokka~n Cappricio – Wow was this song quite the energetic tune!  It was very hyper and has a lot of things going on it that would include chanting and really sounds like a perfect live song.  Plus the whole ~sexy~ thing might be a little too soon for the new members, but hey…if it pumps the crowd up, why not?
  • Namida Hitoshizuku – Reina also ended up with a solo on the album and once again like “Ai no Honoo”, it’s another ballad too.  I haven’t heard Reina sound so clean and putting that much effort in a solo like this before, so this was a treat, but it did still have some parts where it could’ve been filled better.
  • Wakuteka Take a chance – Why did it feel like we just got this kind of song in “One Two Three”?  I do think the intro is quite badass and a lot of the song is in the same kind robo-musume kind of state which is nice, but once again with the syllables acting as solo lines?  Now that’s a bitter slap to the fans.  I still think the song is cool though, so it didn’t lose too much by my standards.
  • Love Innovation – I’m not sure what it is with Love Innovation (I initially thought it would’ve connected somehow with “LOVE Machine”) but this song is not harmful and can be quite cute to listen to (I also liked a lot of Reina’s lines too lol).  Those synths though sound rather cheap for some reason hahah.

MEH SONGS

  • Pyocopyoco Ultra – As the debut song for the new Generation, I was expecting something cool like what 9th Gen got with “Maji Desu ka Ska!”, but I was proven wrong when we got the damn chicken song.  The synths are grating at times and the overabundance of cute just overkills me (and that PV was just embarassing (as I’m sure it was for the elder members).  I honestly didn’t notice Ayumi, Masaki, Haruka, or even Haruna for most of the song until I looked at the color-codes.  Yeah…this song was bad and it’s no wonder it’s their lowest-selling single (sorry Suugaku Joshi Gakuen!).
  • Watashi ga Ite Kimi ga Iru – As the B-side for Ren’ai Hunter, this song sounds like a watered down Buono! song for some strange reason, but has elements of cute thrown in.  Not as much as the song above, but this song has some odd moments that I didn’t care for.  Plus, the chorus didn’t fit the song either…I’m not sure why they went in that direction but it’s whatever.  Song wasn’t that memorable to be honest.
  • The Matenrou Show – Meh at this A-side as well!  I mean the disco vibes is awesome and all, but to promote this as the A-side when it seriously IS ONLY Reina AND Riho is pretty shitty to the fans.  To say the least that there’s a version that’s SO much better than this is good though.
  • Be Alive – The thing that comes off whenever I listen to this song is chintsy and almost a bit too corny for my tastes.  It starts off pleasant enough with piano but then it kind of grows into this sort-of emo-musume sound that isn’t supposed to be emo and I just end up thinking it’s supposed to be a goodbye song (which on the recent performances, was the final tune performed).  Not my kind of song to be honest.
  • Chikyuu ga Naiteiru – One of the songs that really disappointed me in listening to it is Chikyuu ga Naiteiru.  I LOVE the verses in the song especially since it’s Reina-fronted and she puts energy into her lines, but the chorus is drop-dead boring and one-note.  Oh well…
  • Daisuki 100 Manten – The Fukumura/Ishida duet from “Wakuteka Take a chance” ended up here and sadly it’s rather bland and forgetful for a song that had some high hopes.  It’s just a bit too bland.  I suppose it’s good because it has a lot of Ayumi in it at least 😀

ICKY SONGS

  • Shinnen Dake wa Tsuranikitoose! – The only song that really made me dislike things was the song sung by Sayu, Eripon, Riho, Zukki, and Harunan and it’s a really distracting song, especially with Riho’s vocals and Harunan’s as well…actually everyone but Zukki sounded terrible in the track.  I can’t stand listening to it for very long so…yeah…

Berryz Koubou

Want_berryzkoubougrupochu

begenkichachasingwantainoalbum8

Berryz Kobo once again has had a pretty quiet year when compared to the others, so they just kept to their normal schedule.  They begun the year with their 8th album, Ai no Album 8.  Then released Be Genki <Naseba Naru!>, cha cha SING, and WANT!.  Yeah they really didn’t go off and do something random so to speak.  The good thing is is that they were pretty good especially releasing some of their most interesting tracks like Shy boy, Be Genki, cha cha SING, Loving you Too much etc….etc… Though in the process had THE worst song of the year in Momoko’s solo from cha cha SING.  They did announce though that they’re releasing Berryz Mansion 9kai (their 9th album).

Predictions: I hate to be the sad panda, but I feel like someone is probably going to graduate next year considering their time is starting to tick (whether if they’ll go one by one or altogether is a different story).

GREAT SONGS

  • Yononaka Barairo – I don’t know why, but whenever this song pops up it brings excitement and a smile to my face.  It’s energetic and the guitars are used well here.  I would say it just has the right amount of Berryz fun that I’ve come to know from the group.
  • Atarashii Hibi – Sung by Captain, Miyabi, and Momoko…Atarashii Hibi sounds REALLY good for some reason on this album.  I mean with Miya and Captain’s deeper vocals and Momoko who moves between low and high vocals to a cool retro-esque arrangement, it’s a cool song to hear!  Loved it a lot on this album.
  • cha cha SING – Pretty risky covering again since I was one of the few that didn’t care for “Dschinghis Khan” at all.  Though, this was an amazing song from the group as it was catchy as all hell and just was a fun, party song that had a fun dance to it!  Probably one of my favorites of the year!
  • Loving you Too much – Though the first B-side from the single was just as awesome if not better than “cha cha SING” was.  Another cover song (from the same artist, mind you), Loving you Too much had a bit more depth to it, but still gave me happy feelings all over!  Plus each member was highlighted so nicely…ahhh great tune!
  • WANT! – They just had to end the year with a bang huh?  Yeah WANT! was the group diving into H!P’s EDM syrup and unleashed this beast which ended up being a quick favorite!  The auto-tune was pretty cool and the bounce and energy was heavy too…club music…definitely…LOVED IT!

OK SONGS

  • Mythology ~Ai no Album~ – As another disco song of the year, Mythology might not be the one I’d recommend first, but it’s not a bad track.  I like the vocals here and Risako did a nice job standing out as well.
  • Shy boy – Another song from the album, Shy boy would’ve been an amazing had it not been for the overuse of auto-tune here.  Otherwise, it’s a slick and sly kind of track that tries to be sexy but with the autotune, it’s misses that mark.  I still do enjoy it from time to time at least, so it’s not a big enough gripe!
  • Ren’ai Moyou – The tune sung by Chinami, Maasa, Risako, and Yurina…Ren’ai Moyou is one of the slower songs of the year and it’s kind of a mix of a ballad and an R&B track.  The voices were really pleasant and not overbearing, but I seem to forget about it a lot whenever I listen to the album.
  • Be Genki <Naseba Naru!> – I thought the superhero song was so odd xD.  The introduction reminded me of Bomberman songs and the whole flow was so superhero and just kind of that 80’s Saturday cartoons.  When I first heard it, I was like welp…this is a lot like how ridiculous “Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance” was, but I grew into enjoying this a lot too.  Fun and silly song and it was an A-side 😀

MEH SONGS

  • Because happiness – I know I’m going to get flak for putting it so low since I love “Chou HAPPY SONG”, but by itself, Because happiness is an awkward song to listen to.  There are WAY TOO MANY gaps of silence in the song and it makes me wonder why we didn’t find the connection to this and “Shiawase no Tochuu” earlier to be honest.  I do like how it’s synthy and upbeat, but this is not worth being it’s own track.
  • Seishun Gekijou (Berryz Koubou Ver.) – Being as a stageplay song, Seishun Gekijou never really interested me much, but seeing as this and their sister group got their own versions made me groan.  I do like the more natural arrangement here with the piano/strings, but the song is still kind of blah.  Add in that male vocal and it’s just eh…I do slightly prefer over C-ute’s though.
  • Mou, Kodomo ja Nai Watashi na no ni… – I was surprised to see a Chinami-centric song happen more or less as an A-side, sadly the song came off as awkward for me for some reason.  I still do like how much Chinami is singing here…it’s just not my kind of song.
  • Yuuki wo Kudasai! – Even though I didn’t get to spend much time with this B-side before the end of the year, Yuuki wo Kudasai! is one of their more upbeat songs.  It’s a bit anison, but still retains the group’s vocals…but like Chinami’s song…not my cup of coffee.

ICKY SONGS

  • Momochi! Yurushite Nyan♡Taisou – Why did this have to exist?  If you don’t know this song is based around Momoko’s catchphrase of “Yurushite Nyaaaaan!~”…so I suppose it warranted a song (though calisthenics?).  I don’t know but this song REALLY caked on the cute meter and it drove me insane, even dragging the other BK members to sound like they were back in H!P Kids >.>  If you can’t tell I hate the song xD

°C-ute

c-ute

kimiwajitenshawatashiwadenshadekitakuaitaiaitaiaitainadainanashou2cuteshin

°C-ute this year has been somewhat busier than Berryz funny enough, but they definitely didn’t have much of a year for me at the same time. They (like Berryz) began the year with their 7th album, Dainana Shou “Utsukushikutte Gomen ne” which is probably my least favorite album for the year from H!P.  Then they released two singles which are their top selling singles yet, Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku and Aitai Aitai Aitai na.  Then followed up at the end of the year with a pseudo-best-of album 2 °C-ute Shin Seinaru Best Album which is mostly self-covers of their older songs and a couple of their recent hits.  Not bad…

Predictions: Like Berryz, but less so XD  Though with their raising sales, I’m hoping their get better ^_^

GREAT SONGS

  • Hitorijime Shitakatta na no ni – For some reason, I think of early 2000’s with this song from their 7th single.  I really like how quickly Chisato has come from the bottom to the top of the group and fits nicely against Maimi and Airi.  The tune is pretty standard sounding, but the group just has the right vocals to give the right emotions.
  • Zuntaka March ~Hitorashiku Ikiyou~ – The next song is just so bizarro sounding for the group, but the thing that really stands out is Airi’s and Chisato’s growls and ascending notes in the verses, then the track makes a sharp turn as it goes into an actual march~…It might not be a favorite of many, but I love the originality behnd this.
  • Tokai no Neon ga Odoroku Kurai no Utsukashisa ga Hoshii – One of the solo songs from the album, the best was definitely from Chisato.  It definitely reminded me of something around the time of Maki Goto’s early solo career / Gomattou.  Chisa’s voice is surprisingly suited to this style and the whole song was a solid listen, the best of the three solos on the album to be honest.
  • Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku – What is it with C-ute and LONG TITLED SONGS…anyways, I wasn’t expecting the group to release a ballad as an A-side but damn did they do it well enough this year.  I mean they even pushed it where there were so many PVs just for this one song!  It’s a lot more engaging than their other ballads this year so I’m pretty sure this was a win!
  • Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku (Suzuki Airi Ver.), (Yajima Maimi Ver.), and (Okai Chisato Ver.) – Solo versions of the song essesntially…the arrangement hasn’t changed but it’s just one member singing it…these three I’d say did the best (maybe Maimi a little less).
  • Aitai Aitai Aitai na – Even though they released only two singles within the year, I LOVED Aitai Aitai Aitai na, well after I got used to it’s hardcore sound.  It’s pretty much like the “Kiss me Aishiteru” of the year, though it had just as much punch to it that I remembered!  Plus it had a lot of Maimi here which was a pleasant change for me (though I love Airi too!).  Awesome song from them!
  • Kanashiki Heaven – I was surprised that of the two B-sides, Kanashiki Heaven was going to be the duet for Airi and Chisato.  I loved the acoustic feel of the song and the vocal melodies between the two members.  This was just an epic song and it even got a PV to go along with it, how cool is that?!?
  • Saikou Music – The other B-side from that single was pretty good as well.  I will say when I first heard it, it reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog music with it’s pseudo 8bit sound with the regular synths added as well.  It’s one of the cuter songs in their collection, but I quite enjoyed it hahah.
  • Massara Blue Jeans (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – Going into the redone songs from their album towards the end of the year we begin with their debut single!  I do like how the song was transposed to have the girls be able to sing it better first of all, but the arrangement was given a makeover and while I miss the slap bass, and the 3 extra members…this version is still pretty awesome!
  • Sakura Chirari (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – I actually don’t think too much had changed between the updated and the original besides the vocals.  I already love Sakura Chirari so this just made me much happier especially since the lack of Kanna and Erika isn’t noticeable (or missed >.>).
  • JUMP (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – I was surprised they would choose the B-side from “Sakura Chirari” to be resung but it’s a great song in concerts and I was expecting to really mirror the energy it gets at lives.  It does it in flying colors to be honest heh.
  • Tokkaiko Junjou (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – Like “Sakura Chirari” the arrangement doesn’t change too much, but instead of Maimi having the spoken dialogue, it actually goes to Maimai as she’s the youngest of the group.  Still the song is another one of my favorites and if it didn’t change too much in the arrangement it’s still a great song!
  • Namida no Iro (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – I know they took out the strong latin elements and threw in synths into the song, but these new touches plus the updated vocals really sound amazing here.  I also love the castanets to kind of make up for the acoustic guitar sitting back a little more.  I would go and say this is better than the original (and “Juliet Juliet”).
  • Edo no Temari Uta II (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – Jeeze, the original was great because all the members had solo lines, although it was short.  The updated version just gave Airi the lines here and I was surprised at how good she performed this song.  It is a bit faster and the arrangement is definitely a LOT more synthed, but it was a pretty nifty update!
  • Seishun Song (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – Original a Maimi solo from their “4 Akogare My Star” album, I would say this was my favorite of the updated tracks!  I mean hell, it opens up with a piano and Airi singing the chorus before the tracks opens up with its rockin’ arrangement and the remainder of the members take up the lines (funny that Maimi has the least amount of lines despite this being HER solo originally).  Still, it’s a perfect live song and better than the original!

OK SONGS

  • Shiawase no Tochuu – While I frowned upon “Because happiness”, I feel like Shiawase no Tochuu wasn’t as awkward sounding.  I mean the arrangement does get covered entirely by the aforementioned song when put together, but by itself, it’s not bad and the 5 sound soothing against the simple and slow ballad arrangement (oh yeah, it’s a ballad wtf).
  • “Ai wa Itsumo Itsumo” – At least we get something electronic as a B-side from the single. It’s just so synthy and roboness that I couldn’t help but be attracted by this…plus it helped that it was surrounded by nothing but “Kimi wa Jitensha wa Densha de Kitaku”.  It might not be the strongest, but it definitely attracted me after listening to a ballad 6 times.
  • “Daisuki” no Imi wo Oshiete! – The lone new song from their self-cover album, a lot of people seemed to kind of gloss over this song, but when I listened, the song seriously gave me some Gomattou vibes for some reason.  It could be the boppy R&B intro though.  Once the chorus kicks in, it’s mysterious and fast as well hahah.  It’s a bizarre song though lol.
  • Soku Dakishimete (2o12 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – Like a couple songs on the album, the arrangements nearly stays the same, but the vocals are updated.  Soku Dakishimete is a song I like, but the original is just so much better, just for that rawness (plus that Megumi).
  • Wakkyanai (Z) (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – I mean I’m not the biggest fan of the original (considering it didn’t even get a PV), so this song is kind of in the back of my mind.  The updated version is synthy and cute, but nothing that just makes it awesome.

MEH SONGS

  • Yuke! Genki-kun – As the only solo to get a PV from the album, Maimai’s solo song is just a hard listen because she doesn’t have a pleasant tone to it and her ~OH YEEEA~ is the most laziest sounding ones I’ve heard xD.  Her cute shpeel just didn’t do well for me.
  • Kagayake! Houkago – The cute shpeel for Nakky didn’t work either and her solo was so forgettable that the remaining members had to help this mess out.  The CASIO synths are also kind of making this song sound cheap too…though it didn’t make the ICKY section…
  • Seishun Gekijou (°C-ute Ver.) – I have to say, you have to try hard to make me dislike a song even more than before and °C-ute managed to do that with their version of Seishun Gekijou.  Unlike Berryz (and the original), they decided to make it sound more Country and boy was that bad.  The metal guitar and acoustic guitar mixed with the melody just doesn’t go together and the voices were more split from the male singer too…yeah no thanks.
  • Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku (Hagiwara Mai Ver.) & (Nakajima Saki Ver.) – Yeah, do we even need to talk about this…Maimai and Nakky solo songs already a low on my list to be honest and giving them Kimi wa Jitensha…was a poor choice (even if we got 3 good ones).
  • LALALA Shiawase no Uta (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – I already don’t like the song originally (and the Wonderful Hearts version didn’t help either) so an updated take wasn’t high on my list.  Being a Maimi and Chisato duet, it isn’t as grating as the other two, but the song itself and the random slips of that creepy male voice still pushes me away.

ICKY SONGS

  • Ooki na Ai de Motenashite (2012 Shin Seinaru Ver.) – The only song that I refuse to listen to is the remake of this classic °C-ute song!  As a duet for Maimai and Nakky (I already dread that pair) the duo are given the CUTEST song in their collection and I love the original with Airi as lead.  Throw in some cute synths and overbearing auto-tune on the duo and I’m just puking…it was too much.

Erina Mano

463px-Dokidoki_Baby_Tasogare_Kousaten_Promo

dokidokibabysongforthedatenextmyselfmorefriendsover

I think one of the more shocking things is ManoEri this year.  Well, she begun normally by releasing her single Doki Doki Baby / Tasogare Kousaten before leading up to her 3rd album, More Friends Over. However, after her release of the super awesome Song for the DATE, she announced that she was graduating in 2013 (a little before Reina does) and that her final single would be the December release, NEXT MY SELF.  Pretty saddening thing to hear and with her leaving, we have no soloists left (unless between now and when she leaves Tsunku announces something, that’s how it’ll go).

Predictions: Well, with her graduating and having three album eras + the two singles she released after, I assume there’ll be a best-of album to chronicle ManoEri’s singles.

GREAT SONGS

  • Tasogare Kousaten – Erina’s first single was pretty nice overall, but I really took more to the 2nd A-side, Tasogare Kousaten more.  ManoEri’s voice wasn’t too stressed out from the tune.  Plus it sounded like there was some emotion behind it (there was in “Dokidoki Baby” but this was more serious) at least that’s what I took away from listening to it.  Still a pretty solid song for the year!
  • Glory days – The closest ManoEri got to entering H!P’s electro style was an album song from her third album.  I was surprised when I heard the instrumental of the tune because it sounds like a cool 70s anime, with Erina’s voice light and yet striking too.  I do think her pronunciation of the title is poor, but the song is still pretty cool.
  • Eien ~Tasogare Kousaten time goes by~ – Same as the original in arrangement but different lyrics overall.  Really, there’s not much to really compliment that I haven’t already, but the song is still the same overall, so I really enjoyed this even if I had to relearn the lyrics lmao.
  • Anata ga Iru Kara – As one of the few ballads this year, I actually thought throwing electric guitar in one would be weird, but the odd mix worked for some reason because I remember this song with ManoEri’s light vocals.  It definitely changed what could’ve been a boring ballad to a rather unique ballad (for her).
  • Song for the DATE – Let’s be honest though, I think for her fans, this was her magnus opus because it was edgy and synthy and Erina gave a very awesome performance here.  Yeah, the EDM did touch Erina (if it wasn’t apparant from “Glory days” already), but this stuck out to everyone and for the fact its PV was just as cool!
  • Aozora ga Waratteru – The B-side from that single though was pretty cool too!  Taking a more pop/punk sound, it was solid (though could’ve been done better with Buono!)  While I do think it’s the lowest of the great songs here, I find myself humming to it once in a while.
  • Seishun Rainbow – As her final B-side, Seishun Rainbow continues to have that kind of guitarwork in her songs, but more akin to something from her third album too.  It was a fun song and was sad to find out it was her last B-side ever >.<

OK SONGS

  • Dokidoki Baby – This A-side was pretty catchy overall and even when “Tasogare Kousaten” became the favorite out of the two, this one was a fun listen and the chorus is an earworm for me hahah.
  • Junjou Keisatsu K・I・S・S – The opening track from her third album, Junjou Keisatsu K・I・S・S starts with cop sirens which made me laugh a lot xD.  Though once the song kicks in, it really does sound like some cop theme (in the 70s) so there’s some interesting things like guitar strums and background vocals.  Funky song, but the synths do sound a bit dated to me…the rest of the tune is catchy though.
  • Nekketsu Sensei – There’s something really playful with this song and I enjoyed that aspect about Nekketsu Sensei and the chorus is pretty good especially for ManoEri’s vocals, but it could’ve used something more in the arrangement, but the synth horns >.>
  • Tenkiyohou ga Attatara – Yeah, the guitars once again made an otherwise blah upbeat track a lot more exciting!  It does have a certain anison feel to it, but I enjoyed this song a lot!

MEH SONGS

  • I have a dream – Call this a VERY weak try at being “Shining Itoshiki Anata” because while I love how doo-whop this is, but ManoEri’s vocals are so shaky and pinchy here that I just can’t help but feel a little like this shouldn’t have happened.  She just doesn’t have Mikitty’s punch…it just felt diet…
  • Banzai! ~Jinsei wa Meccha Wonderful!~ – The synth horns of this one was so bad and to make it a march and then try to make it cute just didn’t work.  Plus with ManoEri repeating ~banzai!~ over and over in the chorus just gave me a headache after a while.
  • Kaze no Bara ~Aruite Chizu wo Tsukutta Otoko no Uta~ – What’s with the cheap CASIO synths for ManoEri?  It’s really making her songs feel so poorly made.  Though it did add glockenspiel which is a nice change of sound, but the song is still kind of a miss and almost childish and that ending is sooooo badly done…wtf.
  • NEXT MY SELF – Her final A-side and it was a TOTAL downgrade from what was “Song for the DATE”.  Beyond the Engrish title, the tune just felt like something that came from her second album and that’s not a good choice here.

ICKY SONGS

  • ~”Shinkou wa Michiko” wa Jikan ①, ②, ③ & ~”Shinkou wa…”~ – Honestly, these had to go somewhere and probably even being a Japanese fan of hers, you got to admit…this was stupid for interludes.  I mean, yeah it was like a radio talk show, but it was pretty lame and props for ~”Shinkou wa…”~ for giving us an EVEN dumber ending to the album…what was the point of that anyways?

S/mileage

Smileage_-_Samui_ne_Promo

chotomatekudasaidotbikinisukiyojunjouhankoukisamuine

Smileage_Best_Of_Cover_Regular

After the year they had last year, S/mileage needed to find their place and they somewhat found it, but still haven’t exactly gotten the same love that they did when it was just Ayaka, Kanon, Saki, and Yuuka.  They begun the year with the quirky Choto Mate Kudasai! and then their summer ditty, Dot Bikini before releasing their first best-of album (which was a bit odd to release) S/mileage Best Album Kanzenban 1.  Then they rounded out the year with two more singles: Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki., and Samui ne.  They also announced their sophomore album for 2013, so I’m getting excited for that.

Predictions: I think very little will happen with S/mileage next year besides their 2nd album…if anything maybe a new generation will join in?  I don’t know but I highly doubt that’ll happen either.

GREAT SONGS

  • Smile Blues – As the B-side from “Dot Bikini”, Smile Blues is actually a duet between Nyon and Meimi!  since we haven’t heard too much from the new 2nd Generation since their debut, I was happy to hear how Meimi was and she surprised me with her lower tones in this song, besting even Nyon (but is that too much of a surprise?).  The duo sang that enka track real smoothly and it was one of the standouts this year.
  • Koibito wa Kokoro no Ouendan – Their cover of the classic Country Musume ni Ishikawa song honestly was much better than I was expecting.  As one of the B-sides from “Dot Bikini”, this song was what I wanted to hear since it captured the nature of the group and it was a cute and fun song to listen to.
  • Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki. – After their best album, they came back quickly with Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki. and it felt like a lightbulb was switched on with the group because it was a more mature vibe with this and “Samui ne.”.  This track really pushed the 2nd Gen members a lot and I loved it!  This was electro done right and the group gave a catchy song!
  • Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku – I thought it was too soon to be covering this song especially being a couple months apart, but S/mileage is known to cover songs regularly.  I loved that all the members got solos in this track though and they sound so young and green.  Made the song come off so much differently even though the arrangement stayed the same.
  • Samui ne. – The group did end the year off with Samui ne. and this was their Winter single, but it was also under the guise of the EDM phase.  I do love the song despite it is one of Ayacho’s worst performance IMO…but this song is just so warming even though it’s the total opposite LOL.

OK SONGS

  • Choto Mate Kudasai! – After the crazy 2011 they had, it was time to put some feet down and actually be a group again.  Their first single after Yuuka’s graduation, Choto Mate Kudasai! was a cute song if not because of Kanana’s slow timing (on purpose).  My only issue with the song is the absurd high note at the end of every chorus (which is sung between Takechan, Meimi, and Nyon).  Hurts my ears everytime!
  • Namida GIRL – Their Mikitty cover comes next and it was an OK cover, but covering Miki is just hard to do because she’s got pipes so having a group like S/mileage covering it is questionable.  This song is OK, though and the group’s energy is there so I’m not too worried.
  • Dot Bikini – Weird that I found the B-sides from this single to be better than it’s corresponding A-side?  I won’t say it’s a poor song though because I do play this song a lot, just it was an odd time for the group and this tune just kind of came out with its strange PV and all haha.  It’s a goofy track though and I do get the feelings of summer through it (plus Takechan was just the one that stood out in the song).
  • Kiiroi Jitensha to Sandwich – Like with the other best this year, S/mileage’s came with one new song and Kiiroi Jitensha to Sandwich, like “Dot Bikini” isn’t totally special, but I love how cute this song comes off.  Plus the members have some fun here.  The chorus though is soooo adorable though…refreshing~
  • Watashi, Choito Kawaii Urabanchou – The B-side from “Samui ne.” ended up here and it was a surprise!  It’s a rockin’ track from the group and it was just cool and the members got to show off their vocals in a heavier way.

MEH SONGS

  • Chance Tourai! – The only true song to be meh, Chance Tourai! was off “Choto Mate Kudasai!” and I felt it was a little too young for them to pull off anymore.  The weird Nick for Kids feel I got from this one just felt strange (what was that sound…accordion?…blow-in keyboard?).  Whatever it was…it just sucked.  The chorus is better, but didn’t save it.
  • S/mileage Singles Gekiatsu Remix – I was so happy to find out that this was the final one they would do (they already did two previously).  Including 3 of their longest titled songs, this one did nothing for me…just kind of a meh medley that didn’t work well together.

Buono!

Buono!_-_Sherbet_Promo

hatsukoicidersherbet

buonoparis

It feels like Buono! did even less than what they did last year!  They released one single Hatsukoi Cider / DEEP MIND in which the first track was the ending theme for Suugoku Joshi Gakuen!  Shortly after they went to Paris! and released Buono! Paris Collection which was solely released there and featured ALL of their A-sides.  Then came back to Japan to release their 2nd mini-album SHERBET.

Predictions: I feel like somehow we’re almost at the end of Buono!’s life as they seem not to be as interested in this as they used to be, plus I think the trio would rather focus on their main groups before either starts losing members…we might get more from Buono! but it’ll probably be just a single or a mini (not both).

GREAT SONGS

  • Hatsukoi Cider Hatsukoi Cider (Album version) – As the only single released of the year, the first A-side Hatsukoi Cider to me is most memorable because it was the ending theme for Suugaku Joshi Gakuen (made much more sense than “Pyocopyoco Ultra” did at least).  The song isn’t too hard rock, but it makes for a good closing theme and the inclusion with acoustic guitar is pretty neat too.  The version from “SHERBET” makes the instrumentation sound like they’re performing live which adds a nice twist to the song, but ultimately either version works for me!
  • DEEP MIND – I will never understand why DEEP MIND was left off the mini-album, but DEEP MIND for me represents their stronger hitting rock songs and I’m loving that I get to hear Momoko and Miyabi hitting some good low notes alongside Airi.  Definitely was the preferred A-side that’s for sure!
  • Mirai Drive – I’m loving the lighter feel from Mirai Drive that really split the energy from the mini-album as it did!  Plus it means the trio gets to sing in a much softer tone which was also a nice change of pace.  There’s also this kind of space-like feel to it (from the synths) that really caught my attention.

OK SONGS

  • FEVER – Being the first track from “SHERBET”, FEVER definitely reminded me of a lot of stuff from their 2nd and 3rd albums and that’s actually a good thing after their odd route that they took for “partenza”.  The kind of idol punk rock is just nice and FEVER hit the right spots even if it’s a lot like older songs they’ve performed.
  • GO! GO! Gouda – I can definitely see the group making this song work in live performances as it’s really catchy and the group sound.  Though I can’t say I was too ecstatic for the vocals in this as they’re more high-pitched (though the hook is cool).  What really caught me off guard though was the less than 2 minute mark this song has…TOO SHORT!!!
  • Natsu no Hoshizora – As the eponymous ballad for the mini, Natsu no Hoshizora isn’t a totally special song for the group as they’ve had nicer ballads.  At least the arrangement is simple and pretty and the group is really pleasant to listen to.  Safe song for them though.
  • Never gonna stop! – Being the main promotional track for the mini-album, I found it surprising how much I wasn’t into this one.  Like “FEVER”, Never gonna stop! harkens back to their 2nd/3rd album for inspiration, but there’s something that didn’t work quite as well as it did for those albums and I can’t quite place my finger on it…

MEH SONGS

  • BELIEVE★★★ – I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t a big fan of this song, but I think it’s a grower for some reason.  I think behind the weird guitar riffs, there could be a good song behind it but it comes off as more of a distraction…I think it could’ve been a great song without it…although it might’ve been a little too cute for the group at this point.

Other H!P Releases

hellocoverChouHappyLimAkanojoninaritaicatseyecabbagehakushoforesttimeforeforeboysbeambitious

petitbest13

Starting with the other H!P releases, a VERY quietly released cover album was released by Gaki to kind of send her off.  It is based off of the covers she released in 2011 but this had a different tracklist.  One song was taken off (Egao ni Namida because it was on Ren’ai Hunter) and was replaced by three new covers: Chu! Natsu Par~ty (3-nin Matsuri), My Days for You (Erina Mano), and 25 ~Vingt-Cinq~ (Natsumi Abe).  Might not be the best choice to get but hey Hello Cover was a good send-off for Gaki!

The next was a release that took a lot of people by surprise.  When Berryz and °C-ute released their albums earlier this year it went unnoticed that a song from each of the albums Berryz’ Because happiness and °C-ute’s Shiawase no Tochuu when played together would form a complete song.  It was initially supposed to be a surprise during the Summer concerts but someone had found the trick and it was known…though the name was still kind of unknown as well XD.  Tsunku finally announced that Chou HAPPY SONG would be the official title song and was released as the second single for this Berikyuu mash!  Definitely one of the tricks Tsunku has done in recent times!

The next is actually something that probably should’ve happened WAY before now, but the trainees FINALLY get their first single with Kanojo ni Naritai!!! but on the CD version, only five of the trainees appear in the song: Karin Miyamoto, Nanami Tanabe, Natsumi Taguchi, Ayano Hamaura, and Aina Otsuka!  It’s kind of grown to be the entity of the group as it’s performed at every concert the Kenshuusei has done since the release.  Hope to see more of this going on next year since we’re getting a LOT of new girls.

In October, a stageplay unit was formed with many of the Berikyuu members, Risako, Maasa, Captain, Maimi, Yurina, Nakky, and Maimai to form Cat’s♥Eye 7 and released their only single (which is a cover of the classic ANRI tune), CAT’S♥EYE.  If you wanted to hear a song drowning in auto-tune then here is your song…but otherwise this was a worthy cover.

November came around and there was a boost of sub-units.  Earlier in the summer when ManoEri announced her graduation, two units were shown off and then near the singles release date two more units were created.  This was all for the SATOYAMA promotion to be more Earthy and nature-happy (hippie music? XD).  At the end of the day, Peaberry and Harvest released their single together and DIY♡ and GREEN FIELDS released theirs together.

  • Peaberry is the unit of Riho and DAWA and they released a ballad with Cabbage Hakusho which wasn’t terrible but it’s Riho and DAWA…that’s already a red flag XD
  • DIY♡ is the dance unit made up of Chinami, Miyabi, Maimi, Haruna, and Nakky.  Their song Forefore ~Forest for Rest~ was probably my favorite of the four!
  • Harvest is the youngest unit of the four consisting of Momusu’s Erina, Masaki, and Ayumi with S/mileage’s Akari…their tune, Forest Time was the peppy cute song of the bunch and it was cute in a way.
  • Finally, GREEN FIELDS is probably the most random coupling because we had Captain (who was no surprise), Aika (which was her first singing moment since graduating from Morning Musume, and Yuka Miyazaki who at that time was pretty unknown to me (still kind of is…>.>).  BUT SHE’S NOT AN H!P MEMBER!?  Yeah, a little strange.  Their track, Boys be ambitious! is a ballad but kind of cute in a way.

Last but not least, we get out yearly release of Petit Best 13 which I will review when the time gets there!  This year’s selection was quite nice though it could’ve have more incentive than the new version of The Matenrou Show that was used in the Pachinko game.

GREAT SONGS

  • 25 ~Vingt-Cinq~ – I love Nacchi’s original version, but hearing that Gaki was covering this on her cover album (which I still think it’s funny she got a physical release of this).  Gaki’s voice is just majestic and suits the orchestral and sort of jazzy arrangement.  I’ve always enjoyed Gaki’s voice when she would do ballads and this is a clear reason why!
  • My Days for You – Strange to see Gaki cover a more recent song (a cover of ManoEri’s song) and once again she impresses here.  I’m loving her voice here and she makes the song a LOT more memorable than when I first heard Erina’s version for sure…this is the preferred version!
  • Chou HAPPY SONG Chou HAPPY SONG (Single Ver.) – So after hinting at it above, let’s talk about it!  This is the combined forces of Berryz Koubou’s “Because happiness” and C-ute’s “Shiawase no Tochuu” and we get the initial mix-up first as a digital single!  I really enjoyed this kind of trickery Tsunku pulled and together the groups sound so much together!  As for the single version…it added more musical glue to make it sound more together and right…really we didn’t need it, but the song still sounds so good and the additions just add glitter to an already enjoyable song!
  • Forefore ~Forest for Rest~ – I was expecting every group to have just released a breezy pop song to show awareness and such and when it came to DIY♡’s track, I wasn’t expecting a totally different experience.  Yeah, it’s a dance track and features Miyabi, Chinami, Maimi, Nakky, and Harunan which is pretty surprising on the latter but it worked.  The tune is pretty cool and the group sounds steady (and I love the ending passage with Miyabi singing behind the group).  Definitely my favorite of the SATOYAMA songs this year!
  • The Matenrou Show (TYPE 0) – I wasn’t expecting Petit Best 13 to be hiding a bonus track, but it’s a revisioned take on The Matenrou Show (that includes Gaki and Aika!).  Damn though if this track is leagues better than the version we got from “One Two Three / The Matenrou Show” since this relieves the listeners from an overload of Riho and Reina…Damn Gaki…this is DEFINITELY a song that screams your name and it so works!  Yeah much better!

OK SONGS

  • Chu! Natsu Pa~rty – Of Gaki’s new covers, I didn’t think covering this 3nin Matsuri was really making the tune work for Gaki.  I do enjoy hearing her voice though, but it doesn’t seem to suit her too much.  Cute, but not as sugary as the original (which might be good or bad, depending).
  • Shiawase no Tochuu – Might be surprised to see this twice right?  Well this is actually Berryz’ version of the song (as the “Chou HAPPY SONG” single flip-flopped the two groups on the split songs).  For the most part I seem to feel the same way as I do for C-ute’s version albeit with more girls involved…otherwise, nice ballad and hearing all 7 members singing is really pleasant.
  • Kanojo ni Naritai!!! – I was pretty surprised to see that the Kenshuusei would finally start releasing singles…though I’m a bit perplexed at why only 5 of them got to sing their first single (Natsumi Taguchi, Ayano Hamaura, Karin Miyamoto, Aina Otsuka, and Nanami Tanabe).  The song itself is pretty happy hardcore (although it’s really taking a lot from S/mileage’s “Uchouten LOVE”).  The vocals aren’t exactly all that great, but the energy of the song caught my attention the most.
  • Forest Time – The song that was sung by Harvest (Ayumi, Maachan, Eripon, and Takechan), of all 4 SATOYAMA songs, I felt this one took the safest route, but it sounds really cute and the quartet sounds good together if not a bit squeaky here and there.
  • Boys be ambitious! – Being the trio of Aika, Captain, and UFA member, Yuka Miyazaki, I wasn’t expecting this grouping to be together because this was also after Aika graduated from Morning Musume.  It was a nice treat to listen, the song itself is like “Cabbage Hakusho” with a light acoustic guitar to help pace things along.  I do like all 3 voices for sure and makes me wonder more about this Yuka girl…very random inclusion.

MEH SONGS

  • Because happiness – Unfortunately, the same is felt the same way with Because happiness from C-ute.  The song still sounds very awkward with the wide open spaces and while I do feel that C-ute suited this song better than Berryz…it still sounds herky-jerky.  Reminds me…why isn’t there a version of “Chou HAPPY SONG” with the reversed vocals?  I’m surprised it never happened >.<  Also…Maimai leading…that’s not exactly good…
  • Cabbage Hakusho – I know that beginning melody!  Anyways, the duet between Riho and Ayacho did turn out better than I thought it would because of my dislike of Ayaka’s voice and Riho’s sort strange/strained voice.  Though being a ballad, the song still managed to fly over my head.

ICK SONGS

  • CAT’S♥EYE – I figured that the stageplays might’ve become a little more important because a unit was created here.  I was expecting the group to really have done some justice to this song because I was really impressed with MAX’s cover a year before.  Oh, how I was wrong because this was bad.  I mean the electronic arrangement was cool, but laying auto-tune on everyone (except Captain) was a bit too much for me.  It just didn’t feel comfortable to listen to…meh…Though props to Captain with her rap lines, that was BADASS!

Other Releases from Ex-H!P

  • The biggest I think this year is definitely from Up Up Girls (Kari) who released a grand-slam of 8 singles just this year!  I won’t name them all, but their recent single Chopper☆Chopper / Survival Girls is their first single on T-Palette (though they are still indies).
  • H!P Kenshuusei member Karin Miyamoto released three digital singles: Carina Notte, Saikou Shikando and Usagi tocome.
  • Dream Morning Musume released their only single, Shining Butterfly this year before returning to hiatus-land
  • Rika Ishikawa and Hitomi Yoshizawa created another unit, ABCHO and released Me wo Tojite Gyuushiyou (though let’s be honest it was really HANGRY & ANGRY).
  • THE Possible released their second album, 2 Shiawase no Akashi, left TNX to join Victor and released their first single under the label, Nanja Korya?!
  • Ex Sheki-dol member, Mami Suenaga released her second single (as Rin), Jounetsu-ism
  • Ex Melon Kinenbi member, Ayumi Shibata also released her second single, Setsuna.
  • Ex T&C Bomber member, Miwa Kominato was featured on a Linked Horizon album (I think it’s connected to Sound Horizon, but not sure).
  • There’s prolly more I missed….x.x

Loss and Gain?

H!P Losses

  • Risa Niigaki
  • Aika Mitsui (though technically she’s still a H!P member)
  • Kanae Yamaga
  • Minami Mogi

H!P Gains

  • Sakura Oda (Morning Musume member)
  • Fuyuka Kosuga (though she returned is the better term for her)
  • Akari Uemura
  • Mizuki Murota
  • Rise Okamura
  • Riko Yamagishi
  • Minami Nomura
  • Tomoko Kanazawa
  • Kaga Kaede
  • Reina Ichioka
  • Yumeno Kishimoto
  • Maria Makino
  • Sakurako Wada

My Member Rating for 2012!

So like last year on my KM blog, I decided to once again rate the members.  I also included Gaki since she performed in H!P this year despite her graduating this year. Though it’s going to be by 5’s

  • 32. Ayaka Wada (-3)
  • 31. Mai Hagiwara (+3)

So starting off with the two worst of the year IMO…It’s official, I really don’t like DAWA’s vocals.  I know they were sweet and such and she did somewhat sound nice in “Cabbage Hakusho”, but she’s been grating my life everywhere else and I just couldn’t stand any of it!  Same for Maimai.  She’s also kind of been icky-ing up things this year for me but she made it worse by standing out.  I want to like Mai, but her vocals are so meh that I just can’t get behind it…these two are kind of hopeless for me at this point of how long I’ve been listening to H!P.

  • 30. Momoko Tsugunaga (+3)
  • 29. Haruna Iikubo (-21)
  • 28. Saki Nakajima (+3)
  • 27. Kana Nakanishi (-9)
  • 26. Erina Ikuta  (-5)

I’m surprised that Momoko wasn’t the worst of the year, but she’s been slightly good this year with her vocals and her stint in Buono! also helped her situation. HOWEVER, when she released that Momochi! Yurushite Nyan♡Taisou, she just bombed whatever she had going good this year for me.  She just ruined my appreciation this year of her…you’d think you got it good and then this happened!  Though I think the biggest drop for me was Harunan.  I mean yeah, she changed from that Chocolate to a more easier to handle Honey, but that’s really the only big thing (minus that she’s really good at talking).  Her singing is the worst in Morning Musume currently and she’s quite sloppy in dancing too, but I still have hope that she’ll get a lot stronger!  Like Mai, I’m still not sold on Nakky’s voice, but she’s slightly grown on me this year.  Otherwise she hasn’t really done much to stand out this year for me.  Kanana is kind of like the situation with Harunan, she’s a poor singer and her dancing is slightly off (but she’s been getting better at both) though I think she stood out better because of her role in “Choto Mate Kudasai!” she was actually the stand out in a good way.  Then there’s Eripon who dropped quite a bit, I think her Gaki-love is kind of getting a bit strange for me (even changing from the lovely Purple to the Yellow/Green was a bit strange, but y’know she loves her Gaki-san).  She’s gotten better at poses and her look in “One Two Three” was FLAAAAWLESS.

  • 25. Sayumi Michishige (0)
  • 24. Masaki Sato (-1)
  • 23. Risako Sugaya (-13)
  • 22. Meimi Tamura (+13)
  • 21. Riho Sayashi (-12)

Our fearless Momusu leader plops up here simply because she’s still not a great singer so essentially the thing I criticize Sayumi most is her lack of vocal talent (plus this year she was all over the place with the auto-tune).  Still she’s a great leader right now and I hope this lasts a bit longer.  Maachan appears next and I’ve started to fall for her cute antics in the group.  Plus she’s kind of taken up as the naive yet KY girl of the group (especially how she just does her own thing in PVs).  Risako is someone that I try to enjoy and sometimes she’s great (“Aa, Yo ga Akeru” anyone?) and then she just kind of fails otherwise…this year her hair bothered me…all those colors didn’t work and she looked BIZARRE in the “Loving you Too much” PV.  Though she was on the good spectrum this year.  Last year, I loathed Meimi as I felt she was pushing herself too much and was coming off very brash and uncontrollable, this year she surprisingly showed off skills that I didn’t know she had like “Smile Blues” with Kanyon?  She was GOOOD, but what was better was that when she sung “Osaka Koi no Uta”…GOOD LORD SHE HAS SKILLZ!!!…I want to hear more of this Meimi in the future.  Riho has somewhat kind of grown less on me this year, I feel like she needs to be pushed back so she won’t ruin her vocals even more than she is now.  When I heard “Shinnen Dake wa Tsuranukitoose!” my rating for Riho dropped immensely, that was the worst I heard her all year!

  • 20. Mizuki Fukumura (-6)
  • 19. Chisato Okai (-16)
  • 18. Reina Tanaka (+2)
  • 17. Ayumi Ishida (+5)
  • 16. Erina Mano (+16)

I still can’t get a good read on Mizuki besides now knowing she’s a big H!P wota girl.  This year she has really done nothing to really stand out to me, though she does have the most steady vocals of the 9-ki’s, but otherwise…she still needs some sort of personality besides the pretty girl (even Rika-chan has done better).  Chisato dropped a lot this year for me because like Fukuchan, she really hasn’t done anything HUGE like she did last year to impress me…probably the biggest is her awesome demeanor in “Kanashiki Heaven” with Airi.  Besides that she and the other girls of °C-ute really haven’t done too much to impress me this year.  With Reina’s upcoming graduation, she’s kind of shown boredom of the group but as the main vocalist she’s gotten better as a vocalist too which is a definite good sign to have when she starts up her band.  Ayumi for some reason has grown on me, but I think it’s because she’s still such an amazing dancer and she knows how to work the camera with those sharp moves.  There’s just something about her that I love though >.<.  Also another great singer that’s departing the H!P family, ManoEri jumped up a LOT this year for me just by with her releases which were mostly good releases!  I’m sad she’s leaving the company as the lone soloist, she’s stuck it out for a long time and I respect that.  Definitely worth the jump this year!

  • 15. Maimi Yajima (+1)
  • 14. Miyabi Natsuyaki (+5)
  • 13. Aika Mitsui (-8)
  • 12. Kanon Fukuda (+5)
  • 11. Akari Takeuchi (-8)

Like I said last year about Maimi, she’s kind of where she is, she’ll prolly won’t go any higher (unless there’s a serious mass graduation of the top 14, but I think she’s going to be at the place where I like her, but she’s not making me having major feels.  Miya is kind of the same way like Maimi in that she’s a great singer, but I think she’s kind of at her point with me.  Though she was surprisingly good this year especially with Forefore and Buono! (stood out a lot actually).  The only reason Aika is lower than she was last year is because she didn’t do much this year.  I mean PPU and Ren’ai Hunter yeah and it was great to see her there but she graduated and did SATOYAMA until doing GREEN FIELDS…I want her in a more upbeat setting but not dancing…strange right?  As for both Kanon and Akari, they did a great job this year (Kanon more because she sounded great with most songs she was involved in).  Akari fell because a lot more members stood this year, but she was great too (“Dot Bikini” was the best thing for her, that PV was definitely her shining moment of the year).

  • 10. Sakura Oda (NEW)
  • 9. Saki Shimizu (+3)
  • 8. Airi Suzuki (+16)
  • 7. Maasa Sudo (-5)
  • 6. Chinami Tokunaga (+1)

Even though she’s the new girl in town, Sakura has already blessed me with her vocals that she can easily mimic Mikitty and Konkon, and almost sound like Ai-chan too, she’s definitely going to someone to look out for more in 2013.  Captain this year actually showed off a spiffy new skill that I would LOVE to see utilized more next year and that’s her rapping skills, using it in both Loving you Too much and CAT’S EYE, she might have found a secret skill to make up for her not so stellar singing vocals…hmmm IDEAS.  I have no idea why but Airi has grown on me immensely this year, but I have zero clues as to why she’s up 16 spots from last year.  It could be the new girls were mostly above and I found out how meh some are lol.  Maasa might’ve dropped a little but she’s still amazing in my book.  So pretty and she rocked the hip movements from “cha cha SING”.  Plus leading Cat’s Eye 7?  YEAH, slammin’!  However, Chinami stole the show from Maasa this year, her personality and style just stood out so much this year and good lord is she adorable.  Her derp face in “cha cha SING” to seeing her FINALLY being in a sub-unit that made her pop out more…PLUS she lead a Berryz song with “Mou, Kodomo ja nai Watashi na no ni…”…super year for Chii!

  • 5. Kanon Suzuki (+1)
  • 4. Risa Niigaki (+9)
  • 3. Haruka Kudo (+24)
  • 2. Rina Katsuta (+26)
  • 1. Yurina Kumai (0)

Zukki might not have looked excited, but I think she’s still got that personality in her to pop out with people because she’s getting better all-around.  I find that she’ll be a lead vocal one day because she sounded great in “Aisaretai no ni…”.  Gaki might have left H!P, but she did do two singles and a cover album before she left and once again she’s grown from being an awkward mess at debut to this powerful singer (who did get slightly underpushed in her days).  Ren’ai Hunter though…badass!.  Haruka is definitely my favorite of the 10th Generation!  Her scruffy voice has pushed its way through and in “Fuutsu no Shoujo A” even tried to sound like Miki!  Now, I wanna hear what she can do with the group (if they let her…).  Rinapuu has also immensely grown on me this year.  She’s not the most attractive nor her personality is about as random as Meimi’s but she has THE best vocals of S/mileage and it’s a shame that Tsunku doesn’t take advantage of that.  Plus, I think Rina is growing into her face and she doesn’t look as tragic as she did when she was introduced as an Egg/Kenshuusei.  WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN TO IT THOUGH…Yurina remains as my favorite of the year.  She actually managed to stand out MORE this year than last year with the PVs…she’s just a blowout gal and she’s just prettyful!!!  Ahhh my bias is showing now huh? XD

Soooo, this was my amazingly long-written post…I;ll see you next year!

4 Comments »