Venturing outside the cozy borders of the Don Quijote Theater

Hello, everyone! I was writing a piece about the Shibuya AX concert, but it turned out oo damn long (even by my own standards) so I’ll work on it for a while more.

Yesterday, as I was checking International Wota, I noticed a post about Idoling!!!’s concert. And I thought “well, I’ll check it out, it never hurts to stick with another fandom”

Notice how I didn’t know anything about Idoling!!! before this. I watched a small segment they had on Hey!Hey!Hey! where they incidentally appeared making fun of AKB48, and I thought that their honest and straight forward comedic style was quite adorable. I’ll be honest: I never planned to watch their show, I hardly watch AKB48’s show, because huge files with no subtitles aren’t a good thing for my connection, and I never thought that I’d get into them, judging by their “Moteki no Uta” performance, that didn’t really appeal to me all that much.

So why did I decide to watch the concert after all? I don’t think that they’re AKB48’s competition at all, and not because I look down on them or anything like that, but because AKB is a different idol group, with a different concept and a different style. I guess I simply wanted to see what they were about.

The first thing that appears in the video is short clip featuring each of the girls doing something and then how they arrive at the concert, or at least that’s what I think that happened in there, because I actually got bored after the first 3 or so and skipped them altogether.

I’m not going to do a track by track review because I don’t even know the member’s names, or the song names, so something so detailed would be pretty time consuming.

The general impression I got from the first few songs, is that they weren’t too memorable. The Idoling (I’ll skip the exclamation marks from now on, because they kind of annoy me anyway) style of simple choreographies is also present, which must be a great hook for the wotas, but it’s not very engaging visually. These girls have all of the attitude and spunk in the world, though. I was pretty happy to see this, as I love to watch idols enjoy themselves while they do their work, and this was like an added bonus that made up for the somewhat boring choreographies. I liked the different Moteki no Uta version, with maracas, and there’s a chubby girl in the group that’s really lively, and the crowd totally adores her! Brownie points for her because of that!

After the pretty standard sounding first few songs, there’s a small MC (the girls don’t introduce themselves, which I hate, because I can’t freaking tell who they are) and then it’s on to the small unit songs.

Memorable Stuff:

  • There’s this part where a girl appears tap dancing alongside another one who plays the koto. The contrast is pretty shocking, and interesting, even though it doesn’t always quite click. The girl in the koto is absolutely beautiful and I love her already for being so good at it (but I don’t even know her name so whatever). The tap dancing girl… well, her skills aren’t as good as Miyazawa Sae’s amazing tap power, so brownie points for Sae, Team K and AKB48! (yes, I’m biased, so what?)
  • My favorite song on the entire concert is one sung by Rumi, Mai and Maria (I think) with some girl whose name I don’t know in the piano. Rumi’s voice is simply breathtaking, crystal clear and perfect pitch. The harmonies are beautiful, and I rather enjoyed this ballad, which is weird, I usually hate those. Mai looks weird when she sings sometimes, like she’s nervous or something…
  • There are a bunch of other random songs, all performed lively, but not all of them manage to catch my interest, though
  • There’s another “break” thing where 2 girls play the taiko. Very impressive.
  • There’s a song they do with a random guy (I’m guessing a comedian) very old fashioned, it kind of reminds me of Mr. Moonlight. It’s all about the physical comedy, actually, and they sing live, so their voices falter and sometimes they giggle a lot or even scream! It’s pretty interesting to watch, and it reminds all of us how these girls are mainly about comedy themselves. I appreciate how they sing live through the whole concert BTW, and I think that they are actually pretty decent performers, they have some great singers in their roster, and I don’t believe what I’ve read so manytimes “that they suck”. Singing live is really a feat, even though their choreographies are pretty simple. So they earn another point.
  • Nagisa no Sindbad is performed here. Which makes me reminisce about W 🙁 I also really liked this performance, chubby girl is back, owning the crowd as always, and they harmonize pretty good, although this time I’m not really sure if the harmonies are sung live.
  • Happy Summer Wedding: Seeing this song performed really made me go “Wow! MM really are a legend” I’ve been a fan for many years, but for some reason, I had never seen it in that light! Anyway, the guy is back again, in a wedding dress (ew) and 2 girls perform with him. The vocal quality of this song is pretty bad, to be honest, but this number is all about the comedy as well, so I won’t really dwell on that. Not my cup of tea, really.
  • There was a song in english performed, but I didn’t really understand a word from it XD there was also a Bennie K song, and a song they performed in long gold outfits (Oh look! Rumi’s there!!! *hearts*) which sounds really lovely. I’m sure I’m forgeting more songs but whatever.

After this, the girls thank the crowd and go to change, they put on some really plain white dresses with colored hems, which reminds me, the costumes these girls wear are nothing too frilly or shiny or whatever, but they still fit the songs well, I guess.

Another set of songs, apparently singles or something. They are all back in happy mode, and I actually like these batch of songs more than the first one (maybe they’re growing on me already?). After they are done singing, they move on to thank the audience again and leave the stage.

ENCORE: The girls are wearing really plain jean shorts and red T shirts. They still look good, pretty casual, like a girl next door kind of look, I guess. Oh look! They’re introducing themselves!!! Awesome!!

Wow! the crowd really loves Fonchi (she didn’t really stand out all that much to me… except for the giggling part in that first comedy song)

Kato Sayaka looks TOTALLY different in video than in pictures. It’s like… scary. She also reminds me of AKB48’s graduated member Hoshino Michiru, and I think she was one of the girls playing the taiko… I might be wrong though.

Michelle Miki is a total gaijin, and she gets like no lines whatsoever. See, that’s what the future holds in store for the lucky few foreign who manage to join the Idol world in Japan…

Oh, so chubby girl is Kikuchi Ami! Well, she’s a lucky girl, because the crowd REALLY loves her. Being 2nd gen and all, that must be quite the honor, or something. I’m just guessing, I don’t really know how the dynamics of the group work. She looks a bit like Konkon. And she was playing the piano in that first ballad I loved so much (Omoi no Uta? I believe?) Go figure. Girl’s pretty talented.

Michelle cheering on Rumi = lolol No, that’s not going to get you extra lines, Michelle, but you should still worship Rumi because she can outsing lots of idols I’ve heard in my life *whistle*

Wait, no, chubby girl is maybe Yazawa Erika… I can’t tell. I have to watch this thing again, now that I have a vague idea of who the hell they are.

Tap dancer girl is cool. Not as cool as Sae, but cool enough for me to like her. A bit.

Serina is really bawling there. And she looks like she’s 10.

And then they perform a song named Lemon Drop, typical upbeat idol pop, and a little more typical than typical because that’s Idoling’s style, pretty enjoyable, though.

So all in all, I enjoyed watching this. I’m probably not going to be a hardcore fan just yet, but they’re a pretty interesting group. I like how they play up the individual talents of the girls, and the fact that their choreographies are limited is actually a great chance to see how they interact with each other on stage and how their personality is reflected by that.

You should give this group a chance, don’t think about it as competition for Momusu, because that’s not what these girls are about. Idols who do comedy is a pretty interesting gimmick to at least check it out, and even though they can definitely make you laugh, they also have some good songs and great singers, they are rightful idols, in other words.

I’ll agree that the group isn’t for everyone, but you should at least try it out and see whether you like it or not, I for one, am already a fan of Koizumi Rumi and her beautiful voice <3 <3 <3

H!P vs. AKB48 Round 2 ~Olé!~

Hi! Welcome to the second round of this fight! This time, I chose two songs which are similar in style, since they are both based in Flamenco, but different in “spirit” if that makes any sense… I will elaborate more on that part later, I promise.

Morning Musume – Iroppoi Jirettai vs. AKB48 – Cinderella wa Damasarenai: This time around, in the Blue Corner, we have the debut single of “The Ace”, which sold more copies than… well, everything else they’ve released since, actually. With a sexy dance and “come hither” lyrics, didn’t we all want to go to that Sexy Island this girls were so passionate about? and in the Red Corner, a song from Team K’s second stage, with a very strong feel to it. “Cinderella won’t be deceived” is a playful and mischievous number with a “Strong Girl” feeling to it and a simple but powerful choreography.

Morning Musume – Iroppoi Jirettai: “Sexy cupid, I’m impatient for more of your kisses” Ah, I have lots of memories of this song… This was the first single that Momusu released that made me care about them, after I had abandoned my fandom for many years (yes, I didn’t care about them through most of the Golden Era). What caught my eye was the sexiness of this song, and the choreography, with its complicated formations and that weird crouching thing they did during the “Sexy Island” part. Iroppoi Jirettai is a very good song, at least in my opinion, and it was backed up by a simple but effective PV. The live performances were good too (except for Koharu’s solo line…), but this song looked really weird when performed without the red and black dress, no? Maybe it’s just me… The main higlights were the whispered parts at the beggining and the strong chorus, and through the whole song there was a very distinct sexy vibe, I actually think this is the sexiest MM has been in the last few years, and it suited the girls perfectly. If you ask me, however, when Aichan graduates, nobody will be able to handle this song. 

vlcsnap-975269.png      vlcsnap-976373.png         vlcsnap-977219.png  “The hot beat of this Sexy Island”

 AKB48 – Cinderella wa Damasarenai “When the morning comes, everything changes. Fall in love only with me, Olé!” I’m absolutely in love with this song, for many reasons, so I’ll go one by one and try to cover them all. First of all, the music itself is very faithful to real Flamenco songs, unlike IroJire, which has some salsa and other latin ryhtms to influence it, Cinderella is very flamenco, the use of castanets, clapping, guitars, the Olés, and the trumpets are all classics of this type of music, and I was glad to listen to all of them in this song (not that I’m spanish or anything, but in my hometown there’s plenty of this music anyway, so I should know). The second reason were the lyrics. They are absolutely brilliant (well, for an idol song, anyway), and they revolve around the concept of Cinderella lasting longer than eneryone expects, and that it’s HER choice to take off the glass slipper and have many guys looking for her. This is a sexy song too, but it’s a different type of sexy from IroJire. The girl in this song wants to enjoy the night as much as she possibly can, she wants to “learn the lesson” as the song says (wow, this is sounding way naughtier than I intended…) anyway, check out the translation here if you want to know what I really mean The third reason was the dance, IroJire obviously has a more intrincate choreography, and its visually more appealing, but this simple clapping, swaying of the dress and jumping fits the music very well. These are my reasons, but of course, I encourage you to try the song out yourselves, or watch the performance.

vlcsnap-989330.png      vlcsnap-990038.png     vlcsnap-990936.png   “Please lend me your guidance, show me a night that I don’t know”

And the results? Well, I’m having a very hard time with this one, and like I said before, I’m in LOVE with Cinderella wa Damasarenai, but I think that in all fairness, Iroppoi Jirettai is the winner here. The song is very well composed, it has interesting influences of other types of music, the choreography is amazing, and I can’t refuse a sexy Morning Musume song, specially not one that was so well performed everytime and really made you want to stand up and dance with them. AKB was close though, and Cinderella is still a great song in its own right, so check it out 😀

A disclaimer: All translations come from or They belong to the cool people who made them.

New Single! Sakura no hanabiratachi 2008

Yay! I’ve been waiting for this single forever. Sakura no hanabiratachi is a beautiful song, and it totally deserved a re-release so all of us who weren’t die hard fans in their indie stages can buy it! I’ll review the single in detail later, but right now, I’ll say just a few comments about it:

1. Story PVs FTW. Another Romance Irane would’ve seriously affected my mental stability. Yuko pwns this PV

2. Acchan x Yuko yuri FTW

3. Kasai and her infatuation with that blonde teacher were kind of creepy…

4. Minegishi looks awesome, and is positively inspiring during her parts

5. Yuka appears! Even for just one split second, that just made this PV worth my day!

6. Serious Maimai deprivation again 🙁

7. Idols kissing statues = win. Although based on the way that Yuko and Acchan kiss the statue, I could go as far as saying that Acchan has probably kissed *real* people before, because you don’t usually do it from the front, but you tilt your head just like she does 😀 Yuko’s kiss was pretty cute, though, although not as… realistic (not that kissing a statue is realistic at all…)

8. This actually made me remember my high school graduation, and I felt really nostalgic about it, somehow.

9. The C/W song, Saigo no Seifuku, it’s a lovely lovely song in its own right. The performance in AKB1ji59fun was very pretty

10. The music doesn’t really sound different. There are some nice harmonies that weren’t on the original, but Team B is hardly seen (or heard)

I’ll do a proper review later, and post Youtube links or something. For now, in case your interested, <– Hello!Online tracker for the PV and Making of download. It’s totally worth your time, trust me.

The Music of AKB48

I’m stopping all my crazy review frenzy for a while because I thought that if you guys don’t know about AKB48’s music, you won’t care about them, regardless of how cute, adorable, pretty, hot or whatever the girls may be. So I thought I would give you guys a list of my favorite songs by them with a small description on each, so you can download and listen to them, and hopefully, grow to love them.

AKBs style is kind of difficult to define, but if you’ve ever been into Jpop at all, (and particularly Idol Pop) you will know that there are lots of different styles of music that Idols get to sing, so it’s hard to put all songs in the same package.

If you’ve heard Onyanko Club’s music and other classic Idol numbers, you’re probably pretty close to what AKB has to offer. To be honest, it lacks some of the musical diversity that Tsunku achieved for his idols (in the sense that MK get punk-rock, MM get hyper pop (most of the time), Gocchin used to get music with a hint of R&B and the such…) but that’s also because AKB works mainly as a collective, and it doesn’t have  soloists, duos, or whatever with a particular style.

While most of you probably know this group for all the hype of the “song about prostitutes” or “the song about bullying/suicide” most of AKBs music admittedly doesn’t go in this direction, and they have a lot of diversity to offer. Something else that is very important (at least to me) is that the girls are very good singers, almost all of them (at least there’s no Koharu to make me cringe with lousy singing) either have great voices, or get songs that work perfectly with theirs, so it sounds good either way.

And to wrap this up and give you the music, from my particular point of view, you probably can’t enjoy this group completely without watching the performance that goes with the songs. Performing every day makes this girls true professionals, the choreographies work very well with the songs, and while they aren’t as complicated as Hello Project’s they fit each song perfectly and are visually appealing.

So here’s my Top 10 AKB48 songs you MUST listen to (I only included 1 single in here, because I’m sure you’ve all heard Aitakatta, and you can go and find the link for Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou and Bingo! which are the other ones I find worth listening to in order to understand a bit of AKBs style)

1. Seifuku ga Jama o Suru (My school Uniform gets in the way) Sure, the infamous ho-song had to get a position in this list. I love this song, it’s my most listened in iTunes. What I find funny is that the lyrics aren’t about prostitution, but about a girl who wants to sleep with her boyfriend. The vocals are great, and the song is really catchy, the “Ah” parts create a mood that fits the lyrics perfectly. And while the instrumental isn’t something amazing speaking in strict musical terms, the bass is very good and it drives the song.

2. Bird This is a stage song (like most of the songs I will include in this list) and I included it because it’s very dramatic, and the heart felt vocals are perfect too. This is a break up song, kind of angsty but exceptionally well composed, I specially like the guitars, they are very powerful.

3. Namida Uri no Shoujo (The Girl who Sells Tears) Now, this is the song that should’ve gotten the ho PV. Seifuku is probably a better song, but the lyrics of Namida uri are the ones that talk about enjo kosai, as you can see here (go to translations and then find the song, I think I can’t direct link to the page). I like the rap part, which is unusual for me, I usually hate to have rap in my Jpop, but in this song it just works really well.

4. Korogaru Ishi ni Nare (Become a rolling stone) There is so much energy in this song! It pumps the audience instantly in concerts, but the song itself is great! The guitar line that drives the song is kind of 80s, but it works very well, and it’s just refreshing to hear a good rock song for idols, right?

5. Kinjirareta Futari (The forbidden pair) : The lesbian song! yay! 😀 I love the keyboard intro, and while Kasai’s vocals are a bit… uhh… helium pitched, it helps to state the difference between her character and Oshima Yuko’s. I like the spoken bits too, it works very well with the mood of this song.

6. Dear my Teacher This is a classic AKB48 song, which is why I think you should all listen to it. The lyrics are kind of naughty and the melody might take a while to grow on you, but it’s a very fun song, with a kind of retro feel that was characteristic of the early stages of AKB.

7. GLASS no I Love You If you like cute songs, this one is for you! The catchy chorus is adorable, and it just gets stuck in your head very easily. It’s a pretty infectious song, I guess, but the sweet vocals and nice melody make it really nice to listen to.

8. MARIA Idols in Gothic lolita gear singing about the Virgin Mary? How can you possibly beat that? You can’t. This song is beyond awesome, it’s very dramatic, and the vocals of Masuda Yuka are (as always) absolutely perfect.

9. Don’t Disturb! This is not a very popular song, but still, I really like it, and I think that it’s one of the best AKB songs, musically wise. Maybe it’s because I’m South American so I’m bound to like percussion just like the one in this song. The acoustic guitar is really nice, and the overall background is very relaxing, and kind of creates a lovey-dovey atmosphere. Also, Erena’s english lines are to die for!!! “Can I ask you? Don’t you love me?” OMG!! Of course I love you so much Erepyon!!!! 😀

10. Kataomoi no Sotsugyou Shiki (Graduation Season of Unrequited love) I know that everyone hates ballads, but this one is just… beautiful. Not all of the vocals are great, but every girl gets a line, which is great because it brings something different from each of them to the song. This is a very delicate ballad, but I still think that it’s a nice change of pace from the other songs.

 So there you have it, 5 songs from team A (1,2,3,6,7) and 5 from Team K (4,5,8,9,10). This was very difficult, but I tried to pick one from each style, I mean, there are ballads, love songs, cute songs, dramatic stuff… I hope you like what you heard and I appreciate any feedback. If you are an AKB fan and disagree with my picks and think that something else should’ve on the list, please do tell me too.

As always, thanks for visiting Aitakatta! I hope you enjoyed your stay 🙂

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