Archive for January, 2008

Jan 29 2008

Time for a Tune Up

Published by under Momusu

I love Morning Musume dearly, but I’m forced to admit that some things ought to change if they want to gain back any popularity. I know that digital music sales are bringing down CD sales for ALL JPop artists, but I’m talking relative popularity here. While other artists have lower sales than they did a few years ago, quite a few of them are still selling significantly more than Morning Musume. MM used to be on top of the heap, and they’re just not anymore. So, acknowledging that things are not as dire as they seem if one only looks at CD sales now vs sales 7 years ago, it’s still undeniable that Morning Musume is much less popular than they used to be. It’s not that they’re doomed or failing, but there is certainly room for improvement. The problem is not lack of looks or talent, but rather their overall marketing strategy. I know I’m not alone in thinking this. Here is my plan to help Morning Musume. I’m thinking that all the blog entries along these lines should be submitted to Momusu’s management, debated, and then they can implement the best plan(this one!)

1. Get more of the Members into Dramas– The mainstream Japanese public does not watch Morning Musume concerts or Hello Morning. The mainstream Japanese public does watch dramas. Relatively unknown girls could get their cute little faces out there and gain some recognition with small rolls, and more established members could play leads. Other idols do it all the time, but MM members rarely seem to be in dramas. I’m not talking about “made for h!p” dramas either. Ai-chan probably has the most experience with them, so getting her involved in that more would be a good place to start. Considering that there’s only so much time in the day, some sacrifices probably would need to be made in order for this to happen. Namely, they probably wouldn’t be able to do as many concerts. However, Morning Musume participates in 4 full concerts a year, and that is a good 2-3 concerts a year more than your average Jpop artist. I suspect that a lot of their revenue comes from ticket sales from these concerts, so it would be a calculated risk to cut out one of their yearly concerts in order to allow members to participate in dramas that season, but I think it would be worth it to them in the long run. The people going to the concerts are the established fans, and right now Morning Musume needs to attract some new fans. The other thing is that drama themes tend to sell quite well. Even just one girl being in a popular drama and Morning Musume singing the theme to it would bring them a lot of positive attention.

2. Continue to pursue the more sexy/mature image- I don’t mean go all VUDenishly boobtastic on us. Stuff along the lines of Kanashimi Twilight and ONSA are the direction I’m thinking. Morning Musume needs to show that they’re evolving and, more importantly, they need to differentiate themselves from Berryz and Cute. The kids groups are still a bit on the young side to pull off a full on sexy image, and with Maki/VUDen gone, there is definitely room for the group to move in that direction. Perhaps the poor sales of Mikan prove that super happy/positive songs just won’t work for Morning Musume anymore. Accordingly, new members added should be around age 15-16, not 12-13. Preferably, these new members should be Eggs so while they are coming in a bit older, they already have some experience. A more ‘cool and mature’ look would also allow them to keep the older members like Ai-chan around for longer, which brings me to my next point.

3. No graduations for at least a year- This isn’t just because I’d hate to see the last of the Gokkies leave. Ai-chan is one of the most well known/ recognizable members left in the group, and I think that her star power is needed to help the other group members gain recognition. Every time a member leaves, she takes fans with her, and I don’t think that MM can afford to lose Ai-chan’s fans right now. If the other points to improve their popularity worked and more new fans were gained for the newer members, then maybe it’d be time for a graduation. Right now though, I think it would be disaster.

4. Someone needs to step up and start talking back to the music show hosts- The girls are just too damn polite in their TV appearances. That’s fine for most of them, but they’d be a lot more interesting to watch if someone would talk back, be loud, and get into some verbal sparring with the hosts. I’m thinking that Reina would be most suited for this, or maybe JunJun, if her Japanese is good enough now. Actually, JunJun needs to be promoted more period, because she seems to have one of the most entertaining personalities out of the bunch right now.

5. Get more creative songs- MM songs used to be really unique. Souda We’re Alive, The Peace, and Koi no Dansu Site, for example, are extremely weird songs, and they remain popular today. Songs now’ a ‘days are too safe and formulaic. Yawn. Morning Musume needs songs that set them apart. In the early days (morning coffee, daite hold me, memory seishun no hikari) there were a lot of interesting harmonies which added depth and interest to the songs. I know that several MM members are good at harmonizing, so I do not understand why their skills are not being utilized. It may take a bit of extra effort to write and rehearse a harmony, but I feel that it’s worth it. Or, if they don’t want to go that way, the ‘golden era’ songs and a bit beyond were distinguished by being stuffed full of catchy hooks: little moments that make the audience cheer and get stuck in your head for weeks after you’ve first heard them. Mikan was essentially hookless, and their last few songs weren’t much better about it. This is NOT okay. Songs that don’t have moments that stick out feel boring and ‘samey’. What’s your motivation to keep listening or to listen again? I hate to say it, but if Tsunku isn’t capable of composing that sort of thing anymore, then they’d better hire someone who can.

and was the title a pun on the word ‘tune’? I’ll leave you to decide that.

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Jan 29 2008

Top 20 List for ALL h!p songs!

Published by under Ayaya,berryz,c-ute,Momusu,top lists

Usually I try to space out posts in the same ‘series’ but I’m too excited about having finished this to wait. I realize that anyone reading this is probably significantly less excited about the completion of my top 20 list of h!p songs than I am, but I get some kind of weird satisfaction from composing well thought-out lists, so I’m pretty proud of myself. It’s the science major thing again. Yay for organizing data!!

First, links to the past posts in this series. If you are looking for explanation as to why I’ve chosen a particular song, check the appropriate link.


Morning Musume-


Matsuura Aya-




And the entry before this one is Maki, VUDen, and the Gumis


20. Iroppoi Jirettai, Morning Musume

19. Jump, C-ute

18. Say Yeah! Motto Miracle Night, Morning Musume

17. Ai no Sono Touch my Heart, Otomegumi

16. Crazy About You, Minimoni

15. Zutto Suki de ii desuka, Matsuura Aya

14. Goodbye Natsuo, Matsuura Aya

13. Masaara Blue Jeans, C-ute

12. Aruiteru, Morning Musume

11. The Peace, Morning Musume

10. Koshi Teru Toki wa Itsumo, Berryz Kobou

9. Shabondama, Morning Musume

8. First Kiss, Aa!

7. Souda We’re Alive, Morning Musume

6. How do you like Japan, Morning Musume

5. Munasawagi Scarlet, Berryz Kobou

4. Tokkaiko Junjou, C-ute

3. Ai Araba It’s All Right, Morning musume

2. Koko ni Iruzee, Morning Musume

1. I Wish, Morning Musume

Whew. Yeah, there’s a lot of Morning Musume in there, but there’s a reason they’re my favorite. If I was any good at image-making I would make myself some kind of image of congratulations, but I might just be the most tec
hnologically incompetent blogger out there, hence the live journal rather than self-created blog. Instead, a totally unedited but still nice image of a couple of my favorite girls to cap off the entry.

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Jan 27 2008

Top 2 Lists: Maki, VUDen, and Gumi’s

Published by under Maki,Momusu,top lists,VUDen

Man, I’m in a good mood today. I just got back from renting a cabin at the mountain for the weekend with my boyfriend and another couple, and it was just the sort of break from school that I needed. There was lots of snow! When I got back, I watched Buono’s new PV, and it really made me smile. I was impressed by how good all three girls looked. Finally, I realized that I am almost done with making my top lists of h!p songs by groups, so soon I will be able to compose the list of my favorites out of all of h!p, which is something I’ve been working up to for a while. Today I’m going to finish off my ‘by groups’ lists with the Morning Musume ‘gumi’ groups, Maki Goto, and VUDen.

Maki Goto- You might be surprised that she only is on a top 1-2 list instead of a top 5 or even 10 given all the solo material she has produced. The reason really comes down to my personal preference for groups over soloists. I like seeing the group interactions and how their personalities and voices come together. Also, more effort and planning seems to go into h!p’s groups than their soloists. H!P solo work (with the notable exception of early Matsuura Aya) doesn’t tend to interest me much.

2. Suppin no Namida It’s a theme song for a drama, and it certainly sounds like it. With ballads either they really get to me or, more often, I get bored before I’m halfway through the song . There’s really no in between. This happens to be one of the ones that gets to me. You can tell that there’s a story behind it, and it shows in the emotion that she puts into her voice.

1. Sukisugite Baka Mitai (Goto version)- Oh that’s where this song ended up! Yeah, it’s a great song, but I picked the Maki version over the original for one important reason… Rika Ishikawa. It’s not that I don’t like Rika, she has her place, but that place is not alongside three of the strongest singers in h!p. Her voice sticks out like a sore thumb, and quite frankly, ruins the song for me. Of the individual versions, I like Maki’s the best because she can portray the attitude of the song a bit better than Aya or Nacchi. See what I mean about solo songs? My favorite song of Maki’s is technically a group song anyway.

Otome/Sakura Gumi- I actually really like all of the Gumi songs, but I’m only allowing myself to pick my top 2.

2. Sakura Mankai- This song might just have my favorite PV out of all of Hello Project. It’s just so pretty! The song is also very pretty, and it’s one of the few h!p songs that incorporates the traditional Japanese feel without sounding forced and annoying me. I love it when they whip out their fans.

1. Ai no Sono~ Touch my Heart!~ Originally I was a bit turned off by the strange English (hey every time I’m so proud of you?) but I quickly got over that and now happily perform the hand motions every time that part plays. Now this is the right use for a Rika Ishikawa. Her “bye bye” lines are quite nice. This song is really a lot of fun.

VUDen- So they broke up huh? I swear, every time I leave something happens. I go to Florida for Spring Break and they add Chinese members to Morning Musume. I visit my brother in college and Maki quits. I go up to the mountain and VUDen disbands. For my two cents on the matter… meh… another wrong use of a Rika. She was never meant to front a group. I’m surprised they lasted as long as they did.

2. Koi no Nukegara- Uh… this song only makes the list because I really like the music at the beginning. Their voices are whiny and annoying… I just really like that intro, okay?!?

1. Koi suru Angel Heart- This one is a really cute song. The girls aren’t trying to be overly sexy, and it’s got a nice catchy melody. I think another group probably could have sung it better though since Rika’s voice goes pretty thin on the high notes, but at least they put a lot of spirit into it I guess.

Woo! I’m done! I’m going to try to compose my master list now. I can’t wait to find out which songs I like best. I’ve always wondered about that. Lol. Not sure how this post ended up so Rika focused though. Even Maki’s section was full of Rika, huh?

the other reason I’m in a good mood is that the new KT pv is out, and it’s so freaking hot… Jin’s little smirk at the end..*dies*

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Jan 25 2008

KAT-TUN with a twist of Musume

Published by under Momusu

You know, what the heck, having received encouragement from Ray at IW I’m going to go ahead and do a mega- KAT-TUN post. Sorry if you hate them, but rest assured that this will be a one-time thing. In fact, if you hate KAT-TUN please don’t even read this, because I don’t want you to come to hate my blog too.Since this is a h!p blog though, I’m going to throw in a bit of Morning Musume too, but I’ll get to that later. I’m approaching this piece assuming the reader knows nothing to very little about KAT-TUN, so if that’s you, I hope you find this to be informative, and if not then I hope you at least find it entertaining.

First off, a bit of KT history and a bit of my history with them. The group was originally formed in 2001 out of some Johnny’s Juniors (think h!p eggs) to be background dancers for a Kinki Kids member. The name comes from their last initials. KT managed to become quite popular in their own right, though mysteriously they didn’t debut with a real single or album until early 2006. I became a fan around the time of their official début because I loved the song (Real Face), so I decided to do some research on the group. Before anyone (Ray maybe?) gets their hopes up that I’m going to start covering Johnny’s stuff, let me just say that the only other Johnny’s band that I know anything about is Arashi, and I don’t even know that much about them. Oh, and I know that Ryo and Yamapi are guys in NEWS, but I only know that because they’re Jin’s friends.

Why do I like KAT-TUN? I’m not going to lie. Akanishi Jin is a BIG part of the reason, but I’m going to try to restrain my fangirling until his part so as not to disgust my readers too much. JinJin isn’t the only reason I like KAT-TUN though. I really do enjoy a lot of their music. I think they have their own unique style which combines the traditional wholesome boy-band stuff with a healthy dose of rock and rap, resulting in all of the ‘cute’ of a normal boy-band with fifty times the ‘cool’. See, in real life the guys are often funny or dorky, but see them on stage and they’re total rock-stars. In any given KAT-TUN song you can expect to find that same blend of sheer coolness and heartmelting boyband cute , though the proportions can vary greatly from song to song. The point is, they are just as credible singing bubble-gum pop as they are singing borderline hard rock, and I think that’s hard to find. There is a lot of talent in the group as well. Every single one of them is great at dancing, at least decent at singing, and most (maybe all? I’m not sure about Ueda) of them also can do acrobatics like backflips and handsprings. Seriously, even if none of them could sing worth shit they could probably all make a career out of dancing. Also, their concerts are AMAZING. The most recent one is practically Cirque du Soule only with hot guys. I’d highly recommend checking out some footage of the last couple concerts, because they really do put on a great show. It makes me wonder how cool Morning Musume concerts could be if they were held at the Tokyo Dome and had the colossal budget that KAT-TUN concerts appear to have.

In case I’ve made you curious, here are my favorite KAT-TUN songs with a very short explanation. This isn’t h!p, so if you only like to watch cute girls frolicking around on stage these might not be for you. If your tastes are just a bit broader, though, check out the links that I’ve lovingly collected for you.

5. GOLD (album version)- The chorus is repetitive, but I like the distorted singing in the verses and I LOVE the bridge.
There’s some introduction stuff at the end of the song in this clip. The actual song ends at like 3:00.

4. Keep the Faith– This song is pretty aggressive, and I don’t care much for how they look in the PV, but it’s darn catchy and energizing. I like this clip because Jin with his hair pushed back like that is especially smexy.

3. Precious One– This one is a really lovely and emotional ballad. In fact, when they sang it at the “Real Face” concert several of them were so into it that they were crying. Awwww. I hate the stupid bandana thing Jin is wearing here, but I’m going to make a sacrifice and include that clip because it’s REALLY cute.

2. Harukana Yakusoku– Here’s a good example of a song that’s more on the boyband side of things, but still has a fair amount of rock. It works well, switching seamlessly from one to the other throughout the song. It’s really catchy, and Jin’s harmonizations at the bridge and final chorus are to die for. Just to warn you, my favorite performance of this is from an episode of KAT-TUN cartoon, so there’s like 20 seconds of the show before the song starts in the clip I have. You get to witness Jin making a silly joke/face though, so it’s all good. Also, this performance has Junno doing flips and Ueda in his sexy/dorky glasses, yay!

1.Real Face– The official debut song is still the best. If you only look up one PV make it this one. There’s a reason that it was the number 1 selling song in Japan for 2006. Also, oh my gawd Jin’s wink/tsk thing is sooo hot and he has such great lips…Damn it. I’m fangirling, so I’m going to include the version of the PV that focuses on Jin. Trust me, it’s the best version.

Last off, profiles of the members. For the promised Morning Musume connection, I hear that matchmaking between Johnnys and H!P girls is a fun hobby, and I’m going to take this chance to try my hand at it. I just used the six oldest MM members because KT is 21-24, and I don’t want the age difference to be too big. The boys are in the order of my personal preference, but I really do like them all a lot. I had a really hard time finding a group picture that was fairly recent where none of them looked stupid and no one has a hairstyle that I hate (which happens far too often)This is the best I can come up with. Junno looks kind of weird in it, but it’s his own fault I had to pick this one because he ruined all of the most recent photos with his stupid yellow hair (which has been fixed as of this week, btw).

From left to right- Nakamaru Yuichi, Ueda Tatsuya, Kamenashi Katsuya, Akanishi Jin, Tanaka Koki, Taguchi Junnosuke

6. Nakamaru Yuichi– Maru is at the bottom of the list because he’s kind of the weakest member of the group as far as singing ability, looks, and charisma goes. That’s not to say he’s bad at those things though. He’s known for his beat boxing skills which helps make up for his relative shortcomings in other areas. Still, from reading the translations of his blog entries, I think he’s an intelligent and genuine guy, and so he’s pretty likable. It must be hard for him to be surrounded by the other more talented membe
rs of his group all the time, but I do wish he’d get a bit more self confidence, because that can go a long way. I’ll match him with Risa because they’re both among the least popular members of their group, so they can sympathize with each other. Also, I can just see them getting along well since they’re both such sweethearts.

5. Taguchi Junnosuke– He’s not bad looking, and he’s also pretty good singer. His stand-out talent is acrobatics. Unfortunately, he is by far the dorkiest guy in Kat-tun. His cheerful and sunny personality really would be better suited to a different group, I think. Even though it’s all in play, it makes me sad how much the other members pick on Junno. As for matching, it’ll have to be Eri because they both like to make stupid jokes and gags, so they’d be the only two who probably wouldn’t end up pissing each other off.

4. Ueda Tatsuya– He’s a good all around performer. He’s also the one most likely to be mistaken for a skinny little girl, but quite a few people find that appealing. He’s awkward looking when he grins though, so I think he really needs to stick with the angsty expression as much as possible. As for personality, he’s kind of the quieter, more withdrawn and artistic one (he plays piano and guitar). Personally, I quite enjoy his voice. It’s not as strong as the lead singers (kame/jin) but it’s got a nice quality to it. I’d match him with JunJun (despite him being considerably smaller than her, lol) because I think she’s non-intimidating, and while she’s come out of her shell more recently, she’s still a bit on the gentle/quiet side which would suit Ueda well.

3. Tanaka Koki- Lol Koki. He’s the rapper of the group, often speaking in that tough way that involves ending your statements with ‘rrra!’ and rolling the R. Hope you know what I’m talking about there. He tends to appear quite intimidating in their live performances. It’s funny, because in real life he’s the one who seems to get along the best with everyone in the group, and he’s totally the comedian of the bunch. His main skills are rapping and break dancing, but his singing isn’t terrible either. Of course, he has to be paired with Reina for their similar fashion sense, and because both of them also have a good sense of humor. In fact, they’d probably make the best couple out of these 6 that I’ve set up.

2. Kamenashi Katsuya– I have a lot of respect for Kame. He’s the unofficial leader of the group, one of the most popular members/lead singers, and he does the most work outside of KT in dramas and musicals and whatnot. He’s widely acknowledged to be the hardest working and most dedicated member, and he seems to put his all into everything he does. An interesting thing about Kame is that I don’t find him to be particularly attractive when he’s not performing, but hand him a microphone and he magically becomes dead sexy. I attribute this to how he is just dripping with confidence when he’s on-stage. He’s always charming the camera and looking like he’s having the time of his life out there. He’s also really good at whistling, which I’m only including because I can’t whistle at all, and so I’m jealous. I’ll couple him with Ai-chan because they both are the super-hard working/dedicated type and know what it’s like to lead a group, and they both have the same way of really coming alive on stage. Also, I get the impression that Kame really is a pretty nice guy, and Ai-chan really is a pretty nice girl, so they’d go well together that way.

1. Akanishi Jin– Jin…Jin… oh, sorry, I was daydreaming. Let’s see… He sings like an angel and has incredible range, he’s is an excellent dancer, and his face is beautiful without being girly. Most importantly, I don’t know how he does it, but every single thing he does is incredibly sexy. If he just walked on stage and stood there doing nothing he’d have girls swooning, and God help us when he’s doing something like dancing or winking at the camera or licking his lips and trying to be sexy. The screams of the fangirls probably can be heard from outer space. He has kind of a “i’ll do what I want to do” personality, and as a result often gets in fights with the other members of the group, but who doesn’t love a bad boy? On the flip side, he’s makes a lot of funny comments and does some stupid/playful things which serves both to add to his charm and to earn him his “Bakanishi” nickname. Sometimes he goofs off on stage (like kicking Ryo in the butt during this year’s new year’s countdown or splashing his water at Maru in a concert encore performance), which seems to piss off Kame. Lol. He also has the dorkiest and most adorable laugh ever. Mostly though… mostly he’s just very very very pretty. Usually idols have their strengths and weaknesses (pretty but can’t sing), (great dancer but boring personality), etc, but Jin is good or great at all of it. Criticism? He has his hair in his face/wears hats too much. Stop hiding your lovely face Jin! The few times that he actually has his hair pushed back off his forehead he’s even hotter than usual. I’d pair him with Sayumi because he likes friendly/outgoing girls, they both put on a somewhat arrogant persona and like to make funny little digs at the other members (or at least Dark Sayu does), and because she’s the only one who’s pretty enough for him.

Bonus clip: too sexy for words Jin solo

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Jan 23 2008

Confession Time

Published by under Personal

There are a lot of embarrassing things about me, so I’ve decided to just put them all out there at once. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that a college senior who is obsessed with Morning Musume has any dorky/lame tendencies, but sadly, it’s true. Be warned, this entry doesn’t have much to do with Hello Project, but I think I am allowed one personal entry per month or so.

Non-h!p related
-I may have mentioned this before, but I’m in a sorority at my college. Accordingly, I know several dozen cheers, own about 10 sorority sweatshirts (which I wear almost every day when it’s cold), and squeal with excitement whenever I spot my sorority’s symbol or anything in our colors. Man, I feel nauseous just reading that. Any other sorority girls out there who can sympathize with me?

-My second favorite type of music (after J-pop) is broadway musicals. When I’m asked what my favorite song is by people who I don’t know well I have to frantically think to come up with something I can say without them thinking I’m weird

-I’m practically nocturnal, and if given the opportunity I will go to bed around 7 in the morning and wake up around dinner time. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I update this blog at all hours of the night.

-I didn’t get my drivers license until I was 17, almost 18. This is because I failed the test the first time by running over the curb of the DMV parking lot when I was coming back from my driving test (automatic disqualification). I waited so long to get it because I was too scared and embarrassed to go back.

-I may have mislead you as to my other JPop interests in an earlier post… I left off kind of a big one, because I wasn’t sure how well it would be received, but as long as I’m doing this post… I have a major fangirly ridiculous crush on Jin from KAT-TUN. I even have all their concert DVDs (and watch them regularly). Ug!! I know it’s so cliche, and as a rule I tend to like the less popular members of a group, but I just can’t help it! Please don’t think less of me, and don’t worry, I have no intention of turning this into a KAT-TUN blog, because I know that it’d just end up being full of stupid gushy praise, and a blog like that isn’t good to anyone but the person who writes it. I’m a bit more objective about my obsession with h!p because I definitely don’t have a crush on any of them.

-I realllly should be doing homework right now, but it’s my last semester of college and i’ve got a bad case of senioritis

And a couple of h!p related confessions

-I don’t like Natsumi Abe, and I have absolutely no good reason for it. I just don’t like her, so I generally don’t write about her at all.

-I recently mentioned to my host family in Japan that I really like Morning Musume in hopes that they will send me Hello Project related gifts. I should feel bad about that, but I really don’t.

Whew. That was cathartic. Please feel free to laugh at my shame.

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Jan 21 2008

I am a living example of why science majors should not keep blogs

Published by under Uncategorized

Isn’t it ironic that by creating this blog, I have put myself in a position to think deeply about the subject of idoldom? I feel like idols are not meant to be thought deeply about. If anything, they’re meant to be a distraction from the things that you have to think deeply about, and yet here I am, writing this. Would they (the idols) be amused if they knew that people are writing things like this, I wonder? Well, for the fascet of idoldom that I’ve been thinking about recently….

In my opinion, the three most important qualities for an idol are musical talent, looks, and personality. I’ve recently found myself wondering which of these abilities is the most important when it comes to making an idol popular. Yeah, I know the girl who management decides to promote more is going to get a popularity boost, but management will choose the girl who is the easiest to sell to the audience, so it really comes around to the same thing anyway. It’s like taking the public’s initial preference and intentionally amplyfying it.

Being a science major, I decided to collect some data and make a graph! (yeah, I’m a dork. Shut up!)

What I did is rank the Morning Musume members on all three traits and then classify them as either being relatively high or low in popularity. I’m sure that you will vehemently disagree with me on some of my calls, so rather than showing you how I ranked each girl and spending the rest of the week defending myself in the comments section, I’m just going to give the overall results. I tried to be as objective as possible, but I do realized that this is all heavily influenced by my personal opinions. Anyway, there were calculations and spreadsheets and whatnot, but it came out that the trait most positive correlation with popularity was looks. Next was personality, and singing was last. That’s not so say that there weren’t any exceptions to these rules, but those were the general trends I found.

To clarify, as far as idols are concerned, the most important trait for popularity is looks, next is personality, and the least important is vocal ability.

So, assuming that I’m right, and looks really are the most important thing for an idol, what does that mean about a singing idol’s purpose from a business standpoint? Are, for example, Morning Musume, a group of singers who use their looks to promote their music/concerts, or are they a group of pretty girls who use their music to get their face out there so people will buy their pictures/merchandise? If you asked the group members, they would probably tell you that they are singers, but maybe the evidence points in the other direction.

That’s not to say that the music is a moot point, because a singing idol’s popularity is tied in with their musical quality, but I’m forced to admit that it’s far from being the determining factor. I can, however, confidently say that if I did not like a good portion of Morning Musume’s music I would not be buying their CDs or attending their concerts, no matter how cute they are. The “rainbow pink” duo is a good example of that phenomenon…

Now that I mention it, Shige-pink is what really prompted me to write this post. You see, when I first became interested in Morning Musume, I hated Michishige Sayumi. “She can’t sing!!!” I would scream at my computer in rage, “Why the f#@% is she even in the
group?!?!” But then… ever so gradually… something begun to change. I started to tolerate Sayumi, and before I knew it, I found myself liking her. I’ve come to realize that I like her quite a lot now, if you hadn’t figured that out from the numerous pictures of her that seem to make their way into my blog. She’s still a terrible singer, but somehow, that doesn’t matter much anymore, and it’s mostly because of how beautiful she is. *takes a moment to imagine how popular Sayumi would be if she sang and danced like Goto Maki*

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m a fan of a singer just because she’s pretty. I’m no male wota who is romantically infatuated with Sayu. Why have my priorities shifted so much? I wonder if it’s a natural thing, for that to happen. Maybe, it’s exactly what they want. The music is like a hook to draw you in, but once you become charmed by the girls you don’t even really care about vocal ability anymore. I fear that the next stage beyond not caring if a girl can’t sing is truly believing that a girl is a wonderful singer when, in reality, she’s terrible. It’s happened to many a Koharu fan*, and I shudder to think that it may happen to me someday. It’d be interesting to see if a high proportion of relatively ‘new’ MM fans favor the better singers in the group while the ‘old’ fans lean more towards the prettier girls. I want to collect some data now. I bet it’d be a pretty graph…

Lastly, on a related, but not h!p note, I know that Matsumoto Jun is the worst singer in Arashi, and I used to dislike him for it, but when he whipped off those glasses at the Johnny’s New Year countdown, God help me, but I wanted to squeal like the giddiest of fangirls. Apparently my priorities tend to shift over time for the other half of the idol spectrum too.

*a note to Koharu fans, seriously guys, say she’s as beautiful as a Goddess, say she’s the most entertaining person who ever lived, say you love her and want to marry her and grow old together, but don’t tell me that she’s a great singer, because that is the point where I start to think you’re crazy.

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Jan 18 2008

The One With Too Many Pictures

Published by under eye candy,Momusu

Oha! I don’t know what it is about me and Hello Project costume choices, but I’m kind of fascinated by them. So much so that the first thing that crosses my mind when a new concert is announced isn’t “I wonder what they’ll sing!” but “I wonder what they’ll wear!” I pray equally for really awesome costumes and truly horrible costumes.

My favorite sorts of costumes are sets where every member has a similar, but somewhat different design. I like to see what they come up with for each member, how it fits her personality/bodytype/coloring/whatever, and, most importantly, decide who got the best costume and who got gypped. For example, it is my personal opinion that the h!p wardrobe department has some kind of grudge against Chisato, because she gets whichever costume is the least cute every time. But that is another story and will be told another time (brownie points for you if you got the reference there).

What I do want to write about today are the costume sets from Morning Musume’s most recent fall concert tour. I have a vested interest in this particular concert because it marks the first MM concert DVD that I have decided to purchase for myself. Was that a pun? “vested?” costumes? No? Okay then, moving on…

The ‘too many pictures’ part comes in because I’ve posted the “winner” and “loser” of each costume category as well as an example of the costumes that are the same for everybody.

You know what? I’m not even going to comment on this dress, because I think it may just find its way into the costume hall of shame. Suffice it to say, the more I look at it the more I hate it, but LinLin is doing a great job of trying to look happy about wearing this monstrosity.

How cute is this picture!?! <3 As for the outfits, It's a ‘safe' costume choice I guess. Nothing to love, but nothing to really hate either (except maybe that they've been wearing too much gold lately).

Oh my! I’m loving the final layer of this costume set (modeled by Sayumi, because in a perfect world, everything would be modeled by Sayumi.)

And now, the first costume face-off!! The theme is Hawaiian looking outfits, and the winner is….

Reina! Why? Because if you’re going to have a giant flowery heart on your chest, you’d damn well better go all out and make it pink!

The loser is Ai-chan, not because her outfit is particularly horrible (none of these are) but because I don’t really care for the color combination. Red+Green=Christmas. Also, declaring her the loser gives me an excuse to post this picture.

Next is the mesh trench coat things, which are technically somewhat different for each member, but not different enough to pick a winner, and I’m just not very excited about them. Scary Nails Niigaki agrees.

The blue and white set is my favorite group of the concert. I may have to show more than my two allotted pictures, but for now, let’s go right to the winner!

JunJun! The top is almost a corset, and she’s looking hot! I love the lace-up look, and I also really like her hair for this one. The runners up are Reina with her Greek warrior princess costume, and Sayumi for her sash that can’t help but remind you of beauty pageants. The loser is Koharu, because I find this costume to be kind of plain and boring. Koharu is in a shorts rut, I think. Every time there’s a set of costumes, you can bet that Koharu will be the one in the short-shorts, and they’re probably going to be sparkly.

The last costumes I have for you are the encore set previously featured in the costume hall of shame. I thought it would be near impossible to distinguish between all of the terrible costumes and determine which one was the least terrible, but fortunately, little Aika made it an easy decision.

Tada! Dare I say that she almost looks cute? I think it’s because her hair fluff kind of resembles a halo. Choosing the worst costume was much harder, but in the end, I decided to go with the girl wearing the highest concentration of yellow fluff in one place.

Oh Sayumi. You’re damn cute, but even you cannot pull of an entire skirt made of that stuff. I imagine that someone tried to warn her about how bad she looked, but she couldn’t hear them because of those earmuffs. Tragic really.

Since I’m already committed to posting too many pictures, I may as well post a couple more. Here’s a super cute Sayumi picture to counterbalance the one above.

Aika :3

And one particularly lovely flock of fairies.

All pictures credited to the Hello Online pic board.

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Jan 14 2008


Published by under Uncategorized

While I’m eagerly awaiting more H!P material to discuss, I’m going to take a moment to consider the mystery that is AKB48. Specifically, the question of what they are trying to be.

It used to be much easier to figure out. AKB48 were purely and unabashedly pedobait. They pranced around in school uniforms and sang songs like “Shirts Hirari” about flipping up their little skirts for some pantsu action. Okay. While being so blatant about it kind of puts a bad taste in my mouth, at least I can understand that.

Then they decided that they were going to become edgy. They still wore the school uniform, but they sang about more serious issues like underage prostitution and suicide due to bullying. I appreciated that direction, because the two aforementioned songs were really good, and they ventured into territory where h!p dare not tread. Perhaps the AKB48 girls had found their niche?

Most recently they have taken a step (in the wrong direction if you ask me) into more mainstream bubblegum pop. The school uniforms are being replaced by cute dresses, and they’re singing happy, non-offensive songs like “Boku no Taiyou” and “Bingo”. I took this as a sign that they were trying to tone down the pedobait image and break into the mainstream. They performed on Kohaku, after all. The reason that I don’t really like this direction is because more than ever they are looking like “the lesser Morning Musume” which is a whole lot less interesting than what they were doing before. You really can’t out-momusu Morning Musume, especially not with a troupe of 50 girls that only the most hardcore fans can tell apart.

And then… the limited cover of their most recent album knocked me flat on my ass.

I’m sorry. I thought that this was a CD of music by a big group of girls, not some AV idol’s DVD. My mistake. I mean, seriously, WTF is up with this cover? It’s one girl, taking off her dress. You can see her bra. It doesn’t get much less mainstream bubblegum pop than that. It just makes me wonder, why? I feel that seeing a cover like this in the CD store would drive away the casual fan faster than Koharu’s voice drives me away from her singles. It would probably attract their core creepy old man fanbase… but do they really need to attract them more? Have they given up on reaching out to a broader audience?

After careful consideration, I think the explanation is that AKB48’s management thinks that they can have it both ways. Notice that the cover pictured above is the limited edition. The casual fan would probably be more likely to purchase the regular edition (pictured below).

It’s a fine line they’re walking. They want to appear to be cute, wholesome girls to the average listener while maintaining their image as wide-eyed innocent-looking but secretly slutty school girls for their main fanbase. I know that Hello Project walks a similar line, but they lean much more to the cute/wholesome side of things than AKB48 do, and they’re a hell of a lot more subtle about it. I don’t really object to girls using their sexuality to sell music, but when it’s presented the way it is on that album cover, it just comes off as trashy to me. I know there is much worse stuff out there, but it’s not being put out by people trying to market themselves to a general audience.

Honestly, I don’t think that this approach will work for AKB48. I think that the public has already caught wind of what they’re really about, and it doesn’t smell like roses. Rumors have been circulating about AKB48 girls engaging in pay-per-minute phone conversations with their “special customers”, and if there was any doubt about the validity of their recent image cleanup, I think that that album cover should seal the deal. Go ahead and look like cute innocent girls on your TV appearances, but we’re just not buying it anymore.

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Jan 12 2008

Athena and the Lunch of Love

Published by under c-ute,Momusu,reviews

Does the title sound like the start of a good story? Because it’s really not. I just feel like I haven’t updated in a while. This is because not much has been happening in the H!P world lately. I know there is going to be a massive wave of releases soon, but for now, I’ll just have to tide myself over with the recently released Athena & co PV. Here’s a link!

It’s nothing too spectacular, but I wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular, and it was much more interesting than their first PV since they had props and multiple scenes this time. They did some cute things with the props like Saki feeding something to her hot-dog octopus, Chisato attempting to flip the (burgers? pancakes?), and the last shot of Gaki-san playing with the little anime character things was precious. The Minimoni feel is stronger than ever in the PV. Four girls? check. Plaid uniforms? check One girl wears a costume that really stands out? check Cute cartoonish house set with cooking/playing with food (see minimoni movie) check Cute childish song? check check checkaroo.

As for the individual girls, Risa really sparkled in this one. I can’t think of a better word for it. She was just plain sparkly. Her smile could melt formica. Aika was adorable as always, and the two C-ute girls seemed to work the camera a bit more than they did in the last PV. I was especially impressed with Saki for looking very very pretty (not just cute, pretty), and appearing quite lively and interesting. I still love Chisa’s voice, but she still looks a bit more awkward in front of the camera than the others.

For the personal update part, I got presents from Japan! I regularly correspond with the host family I stayed with four years ago, and today I received a big box of gifts from them for New Years! Yay!

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Jan 07 2008

Top 5 List: Shuffle Groups

Published by under top lists

Today’s post is my top 5 shuffle group songs. I’m including both the official summer shuffles and oneshot groups that contain/contained members who are not normally in the same group. By the way, I have a good reason for not including “Susisugite Bakamitai” on this list. Don’t worry. All will be revealed to you in time.

5. “Shiawase desu ka?” Sexy8

First of all, does anyone know if there is some natural connection between the word “sexy” and the number “8” in Japan? Morning Musume’s latest album is “Sexy8Beat”, this group is called Sexy8… do I detect a pattern? Anyway, at first listen, this song didn’t excite me much. It’s kind of low key, Mari looked silly with those hair extensions, and Yossie looked weird and uncomfortable in her dress. As I listened to it more though, I begun to realize that the song really is as sexy as the group name implies. Rika is adorable on her hopeful “Shiawase?” Mari “sexy beam” Yaguchi’s eyes are entrancing, and Ayaka is really smexing it up on the dance moves. The PV is nice, with the girls fading in and out, the rain, and Maki looking oh so tragic in the window. Also, it turns out that this is a solid, well-sung single that doesn’t become annoying with time (unlike many of the other summer shuffle songs).

4. “Shall we Love” Gomattou

Put when you put Hello Project’s three strongest singers all in one group, how can you not win? Making the cover look like the group should really be called “Maki and her ho’s” is just a bonus. Needless to say, all three girl’s vocal talents really shine on this track. Performed by lesser singers, it might have bored me, but as is, I can’t help but be impressed. I particularly like how they overlap a bit as one girl ends her verse with the high “da yo da yo woooh” line while the next girl picks up the melody.

3. “Kowarenai Ai ga Hoshii no” 7Air

Kon kon kon! Yo yo yo! I’ve got to say, I object to the idea of half of the group being labled “sexy” and the other half being labled “not”, but having half of the group sing and the other half accompany on the konkons (lol) does make it a fairly unique song for h!p. I enjoy having the girls themselves doing some of the backing vocals because it cuts down on the amount of creepy Tsunku lines. The rap is one of the better ones to come from h!p (though nothing can beat Do it Now’s rap), and melody lines are catchy as well. Also, Risa was in this group <3.

2. “All for One and One for All” HP All Stars

I’m so glad that they made this song. We’ve seen all of Hello Project in concert, but I believe that this is the first and only time that they have released a collective single. The beginning, with members getting lines in the order that they joined, is genius. It’s like the entire history of Hello Project all laid out in one song. As for the song itself, it’s good and genki, but I really like the single more for its set-up than its melody.

1. “First Kiss” Aa

Why oh why do I love angsty-sounding shuffle songs? Really, number 2 is the only one that isn’t full of plaintive angst-filled singing. Ah well. Let’s end this one saying that I LOVE this song. Little Reina leads the way, and her voice is perfect for the song, but it’s tiny doll-like, 9 year old Airi Suzuki who completely steals the show. For everything that Airi has accomplished so far with C-ute, I will probably always consider “First Kiss” to be the highlight of her career. Her voice drifts into that super-high range seemingly effortlessly, and she looks so adorably serious that I just want to run out there and give her a lollypop or something to snap her out of it. This is the song that made me, and countless others, fall head over heels in love with Airi Suzuki, and it’s probably the reason that she remains the face of C-ute today. Oh, and there was some other girl in the group, but did anyone even really notice her?*

As my final note, some of the things I’m looking forward to in early 2008.

Buono’s new single. I really like it.

The arrival of my copy of Morning Musume’s latest concert tour DVD

Watching Jun, Lin, Eri, and Maasa jumping around like crazy and Ai~ning it up in the most recent Wonderful Hearts concert

The Cute vs Berryz concert. A joint concert with these two groups pretty much had to happen, but making it a “battle” concert was a delightful surprise. I think that pushing the rivalry between these groups would do them both some good.

*I joke. I know that Miyabi was the other member of Aa! You’ll have to admit, for a group with only 3 members, she really didn’t do much, though I doubt that was any fault of her own.

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