Monday, May 31, 2010

Why must there be so many idol groups?


Just when I thought I was out of the woods when I started to tip the iceberg of AKB48 knowledge, it seems there's a plethora of more epic female idol groups to sink my teeth into. Which is really startling news. Of course there's other female idol groups out their besides Hello!Project acts, AKB48 acts, and Perfume.(by the way Perfume is totally an idol group even if they don't really call themselves that.) But when you're like me who's completely obsessed with Hello!Project, it's hard to find time to fangirl any other group. I mean it took me 2 years of listening to H!P to discover Johnny's Entertainment, and 3 years to finally admit I actually loved AKB48. I really have been wearing Hello!Project covered glasses for the past 4 years. Well all of that is about to change! And why is that, you're wondering? It's pretty obvious, because there are so many amazing idol groups out there I didn't even know existed! And I definitely have to broaden my idol horizons.

Reason 1: Ogawa Mana

I first encountered Mana about 6 months back on an idol blog. And it was literally love at first sight. Mana is incredibly adorable. I'm going to make a bold statement and say, she is one of the cutest idols out of all the female idol groups. That's right Ogawa Mana is up there with the top cutest female idols (in my opinion of course) Tsugunaga Momoko, Maeda Yuuka, Fukuda, Suzuki Airi, Watanabe Mayu, Kuramochi Asuka. Even though I first saw her roughly 6 months ago I literally just started to listen to her solo songs. And I gotta say I like what I hear. Not only is Mana absolutely adorable she has a great voice. It's like the perfect blend of cute and strong.
In retrospect I feel like such an idiot for not following NGP from the beginning. I mean, I was so amped for Canary Club when they first came out, because Tsunku made H!P and that was amazing so of course this had to be amazing too, right? Well not so much, at least not to me anyway. I wasn't really impressed with Sweet and Toughness at all when I first heard it, so I completely stopped following them and NGP. Their songs still aren't really my favorite Jpop songs, but I do really love Seishun Banzai. And I'll obviously start following them more since Mana is part of them. Though I do like MM Gakuen Gasshoubu about 100 times more. Their songs are instantly catchy.

Reason 2: Momoiro Clover

Of course Momoiro clover was going to be apart of this list. Idol fans and bloggers have been buzzing about them for a couple months. So naturally I gave them a listen, just to see what all the hype was about. And this is one of the few times when you can in fact believe the hype. I totally love Momoiro Clover's traditional Japanese clothing look. I think it sets them apart from the other female idol groups. Though their outs are half school girl half traditional Japanese, to keep the average wota happy/interested, I still think it's pretty fun and unique. I think they're songs are pretty cute and catchy. Their standard cutesy idol group music, but still good. Though Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo is easily their best song. And it should be considering it's their major debut song. Momoiro Clover is probably going to become popular soon. Mostly because of their young ages and overall wota appeal. I mean the Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo is pretty much geared solely to wota. They display pretty much ever wota fantasy: the school girl, the maid, glasses chick, nurse, tied up chick, and police officer/holding handcuffs in anyway. But stuff like this doesn't really bother me anymore, most idol groups are geared to wota. Though I do notice the blatant wota appeal in PVs and outfits I usually just ignore it. Oh and score that Momoiro Clover only has 3 singles. It's good that I can get into them pretty early in their career. Lolz that sounds semi dirty. XD Also chick with the dimples has an adorable voice.

Reason 3: Idoling!!!

I've known about Idoling!!! for a while now but never got into them for the stupidest reason. And what reason was that? I though just because they had ABKIdoling!!! that they were a subgroup of AKB48. And because at the time I didn't like AKB48, I decided to never listen to them. I'm so stupid sometimes. ._. I really do like the feel of most Idoling!!! songs. Especially S.OW. and Chu Shitouze. And Puyo Puyo Idoling!!! is just pure win. And most of the girls being really adorable doesn't hurt either. And one of the girl's looks a lot like Ice Creamusume's Rei Rei!

Reason 4: YuiKaori

This group is causing a lot of controversy because of the racy photoshoots they've been doing. Which by the way I think is completely pointless. It's not like this is a new concept for Japan. Someone alert the presses older Japanese mean love to see underage girls in sexy, racy photoshoots. Oh no! I've even been hearing that they might also have an overly obsessive fetish with school girls. It's no big deal really. Honestly, you either love the pictures, or you do what I do, look at them and shrug. Because there's not much more you can do about it besides that.
Anyway, I think YuiKaori is instant win. They might become my favorite duo since W. (No one will ever surpass W for me. NO ONE) They're are both incredibly adorable, though Kaori, in my opinion, is a lot cuter. And Yui's voice is probably the squeakiest cutest voice ever. Even if it is borderline annoying, I love it. Overly cute idol voices are always my favorite. And I really love the song. It's got great music and is uber catchy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The illusive Junior


Every week I watch School Kakumei's live stage, and every week there's a particular Junior in the background that I always notice. But the problem is I don't follow Johnny's Juniors, so I have no idea who he is. And there's my dilemma. So dear readers, or anyone reading my blog, I need help finding out his name.

Here are some terrible quality pictures of him. If you want a clearer image of him watch the SK live stage at the bottom of this post.

This is the only live stage where they show him for more then half a second. And I really want to know who this Junior is because he looks exactly like someone I used to have a crush on a few years back. If this Junior didn't have obvious Asian features I would think the guy I knew secret went to Japan and joined JE.
And JE doesn't like list this guy anywhere. I looked at the recent Juniors calendar and I don't see him in it.
It's terrible! XD

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hey! Say! JUMP to release first album!


Hey! Say! JUMP fans finally have a reason to rejoice. It was announced yesterday, at a press conference during Hey! Say! JUMP's Concert in Yokohama Arena, that they will release their first album. The album doesn't have a release date as of yet, but it's going to be released sometime this summer.

Yes, this is exciting news indeed for HSJ fans. They've been together since 2007 and are finally releasing their first full length album. It wasn't really a long wait for me, because I've only been a HSJ fan for a little over a year now. But I am still extremely excited. I actually made a very high pitched squealing type noise when I first read about it.

But of course the most important question is what songs are going to be included on the album? Since JUMP has been around for so long without and album they have A LOT of unreleased songs floating around. Not just group songs but practically every JUMP member has a solo song. I think Ryutaro and Inoo are the only ones with out one.
I think JE has to have 2 versions of the CD. A BEST versions with BEST group songs, and BEST group solo songs, and a 7 version with 7 group songs and 7 solo songs. Just like that rumored HSJ album track list that was floating around the internet a while back. I can actually see something like that happening. I mean it makes sense. On one hand they'd made double the money, because any true HSJ fan would buy both, and on the other hand they are overflowing with unreleased songs. Especially since they'll have to add all the previous singles onto the album.
Personally, I want to see SU-RI-RU, Nounai Dance, Endless Dream, and maybe Score be on the tracklist. Then I'd be happy. But I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Road to becoming an AKB48 fangirl part 2: Putting a face to the name


I have finally finished what I thought I could never do. Yes, I have finally memorized all the members of SKK48, SKE48, and SDN48. And it surprisingly only took me 2 days. If you broke into hours it took me, probably, only 4-5 hours. Which is a lot quicker then I thought it would take. I thought I'd be there for days.

My method for remembering everyone's name was pretty simple. First I broke it down to groups, AKB48, then SKE48, and then SDN48. And because AKB48 is so large I broke it down to teams. I then listed each girl with a picture and then her name. I then went down the list and repeated every girls names. I then went over and over the list until I could remember each girl's name from memory. It's a pretty long and drawn out process, but it works. I used the same technique back in the day to remember Morning Musume's names.

I actually feel really accomplished to finally learn all their names. Well all of them minus Research Students. I don't really feel the need to learn trainees names. I don't really care about a member until they debut. Much like I don't pay attention to Hello!Project Eggs or Johnny's Juniors.

Also when I went through the list I marked down the girls I was interested in. Basically the girls I thought were cute or pretty. Here are my favorite girls so far, if anyone cares. Nakagawa Haruka, Iwasa Misaki, Kuramochi Asuka, Nonaka Misato, Umeda Ayaka, Miyazawa Sae, Masuda Yuka, Ishida Haruka, Watanabe Mayu(of course!), Miyazaki Miho, Kashiwagi Yuki, Hirajima Natsumi, Sato Natsuyaki, Mukaida Munatsu, Kito Momona, Imade Mai, Hanada Ayane, Uchiyama Mikoto, Sato Yukari, Umeda Haruka, Kohara Haruka, and Okochi Misa.

Yeah I know that's a lot of girls. XD But the one girl that was my absolute favorite and struck out the most for me was Kuramochi Asuka. She was incredibly adorable and gorgeous. She might actually rival Mayu for the top spot. But who knows. I'm still know to the fandom. I might find someone with an amazing personality that trumps everyone else.
And also, I was really surprised by how many ugly girls are in AKB48. And I'm sorry to all the AKB48 fans out there, but its true. A majority of them aren't exactly easy on the eyes. But that's expected with a agency so large. H!P and JE hardly has an ugly members because they don't have that many debut artists. Again Eggs and Juniors don't count. Or for that matter I don't even pay attention to older JE artists like SMAP and V6. XD

So this officially makes me 1/4 of the way into the AKB48 fandom. Now all I have to do is learn the music, learn the history of AKB48, and watch AKBINGO/learn about the girls. I'm extremely excited, especially since the hardest part, learning their names, is out of the way. Though because I'm a loser I'll probably repeat the girls names over for about a week or so to make sure I don't forget them.

By the way, to any AKB48 fans reading this, are the new team line ups the official team line ups from now on? I mean are they going to be this permanently or are they going back to the original team line up a few months down the road? And feel free to laugh away at my noobish question.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Can Morning Musume's diminishing popularity be helped?


Morning Musume desperately needs to do something spectacular soon, or it might actually be the end for them. Now I know a lot of people don't think Morning Musume could ever actually end since they've been the flagship of H!P for years. And that much is true. And also their recent songs have been gaining some popularity. Singles Naichau Kamo-Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai have been in the top 5. Which is good on the surface. But if you look at the actual sales of the singles, it's not good. Each singles has averaged about 50k. And a vast majority of their sales are in the first week. After that the singles only sell about 1,000-a couple hundred copies a week. Artists like Hey! Say! JUMP and AKB48 are tripling their sales in the first week alone. And those groups are only about 4-5 years old. Arashi, who's been together just as long as Morning Musume, is blowing them out of the water. Their singles sell 10 times better. Even Perfume outsells Morning Musume. It's only by 20k, but they still outsell them.

That pretty much shows that they only people buying Morning Musume are people who are already fans. Mixed in with a few new buyers because of the minimal popularity of the song. One could also argue that Johnny's has been around since the 60s and therefore has more money to pimp its artists. Which is true in a sense, but not completely true. Nanchatte Renai was Morning Musume's 40th single, and to commemorate the event they stepped up promos about 10 times as much as usual. Morning Musume was everywhere selling this single. On the radio, and double the shows they are normally on. And what did all this trouble get them? A mere 20k increase in sales. And also a number 2 weekly ranking spot, but the next week they were 12. And then 46. Akb48's first single sold roughly the same amount of copies as Morning Musume's 42nd single. You'd think an established artist that's been together over a decade would sell better than a new artist. That their popularity would be 4 times the size of a new idol group. But that's because Morning Musume doesn't have popularity anymore.

Say this sudden spark in interest in Morning Musume disappears again. And they stop making semi popular singles. Say their next 3-4 singles are equivalent to Mikan. Or let's say they even sell a little worse. Do you think that would be good for their already diminishing popularity? No, of course not. If that happens, they they will dwindle even farther into obscurity. Is there really anyway for Morning Musume to gain more popularity, and even get a fraction of their glory days back? I think there might be a way.

Let's look at the last time Morning Musume was popular. The last Morning Musume singles to reach 90-100k were Shabondama, Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~, Ai Araba It's Alright, and Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari. And the highest selling of those were Shabondama with 151,00 copies, Go Girl ~Koi no Victory with 145,000 copies, and Ai Araba It's Alright selling 108,000 copies.
Which leads me to the first way Morning Musume can gain a little more popularity. Their last highest selling singles were super happy and upbeat. Proving that Morning Musume fans, and non fans alike, prefer their idols to sing super positive songs rather then the current no one loves me singles. Shabondama was so popular because it was empowering, upbeat, raw, and honest. It wasn't saying the wimpy why don't you love me anymore, it was saying if you don't want me that's fine, I'll find someone better who's not like you. And therefore more empowering and more popular. It seems a lot of non fans can relate more to it's ok to cry and push through it. Rather than I'm going to cry about it now because you don't understand how hard it is for me.

Another way to gain popularity is to add more members. I know I seem kinda whiny to keep saying how much I want new members, but I think it's finally time to add more. We've grieved Koharu enough. I mean Aika was added to Momusu on Yossie's last single. Which is cool you lose one, you gain one. And also Morning Musume should have way more members by now.
In the first 6 years of Morning Musume's career they had gen 1-6. But in the next 7 years they only added 2 more gens, and only 4 new members. Which I don't really think is the best move for them. Morning Musume should be on gen 12 by now. They would have been on gen 9 if Tsunku just took a girl or two from the first 7th gen auditions. It seems everyone is as tired with the current line up as I am. Which is another reason the last 100k singles were so popular. They all happened during Morning Musume's peak amount of members. It makes sense the more members you have the more people will listen to you. You could not like 9 members, but when there's 14-15 you're bound to like at least one girl. This also correlates with Morning Musume's sales dropping as members left. It's about time to add new members now. If not, pretty soon we're going to be grieving Morning Musume as a whole. Koharu left and Morning Musume went on about there day. "Like ok Morning Musume is Berryz Koubou and C-ute now. We just never change our line up. Three years with the same line up isn't boring or anything." Morning Musume REALLY needs new members to spice up their songs and popularity. If die hard Morning Musume fans, like myself, are getting sick of the Morning Musume's bland songs, imagine how non Momusu fans are feeling.

Their style of songs seems to be a big problem too. Anymore they're all essentially the same. It seems their best songs are being wasted on albums and B-sides. Bon Kyu! Bon Kyu! Bomb Girl, and Sono Bamen de Bibiccha Ikenai jan are about 100 times better then their A-sides. And would probably outsell their A-sides, because of the sheer fun and energetic factor. And then I hear incredible album songs like SONGS, Guru Guru JUMP, Ame no Furanai Hoshi dewa Aisenai Darou, Moonligh Night ~Tsuki yo no ban da yo~, Genki Pika Pika, and Namidacchi. All of which could easily be powerful A-sides. They are either really fun or really meaningful. I think a lot of people would respond well to them. But they were basically wasted. Because let's be honest if you don't like Morning Musume's singles you're not even going to listen to their album, let alone buy it.

Another reason for them not being as popular is because Morning Musume is basically geared towards wota and that's it. If you're a girl you're not exactly encouraged to listen to them. You even feel a little weird for liking them at times. I know there are times I do. But I like Morning Musume for their lyrics, both happy and empowering for girls. Johnny's is so popular because they are specifically geared toward teenage girls. So it becomes ok for all gendered teenagers to like it, and even people of all ages. Johnny's highest supporters are teenage girls, and 40 year old women. And we all know too well of Japan as a whole being absolutely in love with Arashi despite them being idols. Even AKB48 with it being completely and blatantly geared to wota surprisingly has quite a bit of teenage supporters. If Morning Musume could step away from wota a bit, they'd be more popular. But right now basically the only people supporting them is wota. And there inlays a big problem.

And Morning Musume's last problem for being less popular then earlier days is the way they showcase the girls themselves. For a while now it's been all about Ai, Risa, Eri, Reina, and sometimes Sayumi. So those are the only members who get to sing and the only ones who get air times. Seventh-eighth gen hardly ever got to sing at all. Koharu would get thrown a few lines here and there because she was already really popular from Kirarin Revolution, but as for 8th gen they got and continue to get nothing. Aika, LinLin, and JunJun haven't risen above the bottom 3 popular members since their debut. Mostly because they aren't given the opportunity to shine. Tsunku is just shoving their vocal powerhouses in your face hoping to sell more singles. But what he doesn't realize is yes, that's a quick fix for now, but in the long run it's actually hurting Morning Musume. The more dependent they are on Ai, Risa, Eri, and Reina, and they more they shove them to be the only popular members the more co-dependant they become. And the more it hurts Morning Musume when they leave. If you think it was bad when Nacchi, Yossie, or Aibon and Nono left, imagine, with Morning Musume the way it is now, how bad it's going to be when Ai-chan leaves. It's a significant blow that right now Morning Musume can't take. And if they keep doing the same things as always, might never be able to take.