My Top Ten Idols Redux

A while ago I was looking at my old posts on the old Happy Disco, and I noticed how completely out of date my old top ten idols blog post was. It has been quite a while since I wrote it, but in that time my tastes have almost completely changed, most notably with my current love for the assorted AKB groups as well as Momoiro Clover. So I thought that with this new blog I have the perfect opportunity to make another list of my top ten idols and why.

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Welcome to the ~New~ Happy Disco!

If you’re reading this, it means that you’ve made a way to my new incarnation of Happy Disco! Hooray!

Right off the bat, I should mention that the old Happy Disco is up indefinitely, though I’d appreciate it if you update your blogrolls. I know that this move might mean that I lose a couple of readers right away, but I think it’ll be a good move in the long run.

Also of note is the fact that I go back to school in about a week and a half. The only thing this means for you guys is that I will probably not post as much as I did this summer, mainly because I”ll be analyzing films in a classroom and not idol PVs. However, since I am a film/media major, I’m always on the lookout for ways to incorporate my love for idols into my schoolwork.

Finally, if you’ve noticed, I’m not the best with graphics. I’m still trying to figure out backgrounds and themes with WordPress, so hang in with me. However, I thought that since I’d like to increase readership and participation in my blog, I’d like to start a little contest. And that contest is to create a new header for Happy Disco.

Header Guidelines:

  • -MUST be 1000 × 288 pixels
  • – Must include the words “Happy Disco” in easily readable font.

 

Preferences:

  • Include one or more of my favorite idols: Ishikawa Rika, Oota Aika, Iwasa Misaki, Sasaki Ayaka, Yajima Maimi, Mitsui Aika, Watanabe Miyuki, Natori Wakana or group pics. They can be any pictures of choice, but I’d prefer non-bikini pictures, because I plan on using this blog on my resume. I’m serious. I am.
  • I prefer colorful things, in keeping with the Happy Disco type of theme.
  • I really like the Happy that I currently use, from the C-ute PV.
Prize: I will do a full blog review of any idol-related media of your choosing. The finished review will be longer than 1000 words at the very least, but will fully review the provided media. Want me to review the new Buono minialbum? An older concert? This is your chance to get a full-length review. I tend to review things in depth, so it will be done thoroughly.
Email the finished result to me at writerserenyty@gmail.com. The due date for this is September 6th, my first day back to college.

Ogawa Saki’s graduation…what?

OK, so I’m not the best font of Hello!Project information anymore, and S/Mileage has never been my big focus. However, big news has forced my hand to talk about this S/Mileage news, and that’s that original member Ogawa Saki has decided to graduate from S/Mileage.

Now I’m more of a fan of Yuukarin myself when it comes to S/Mileage. However, Ogawa Saki’s graduation announcement isn’t the only thing that is making this news. It’s the fact that Saki is graduating in only three days on August 27th.
In case there’s any casual Hello!Project/idol fans reading my blog, when an idol announces that they’re graduating a group there’s usually a good amount of time before they actually graduate. They announce things months in advance, which ends up giving ample time for fans to plan to go to that idol’s final concert and say farewell. So already, many eyebrows are being raised at the reasons given for graduation and the hasty nature of it all.
The only time that girls get quickly dropped is either that they’re Eggs and UFA thinks THEY’RE disposable or that there’s a scandal involved. This leads me to believe that something fishy is going on either with Saki or with UFA, something we might never no or something that might show up in a tabloid eventually. At this point we can only speculate, but so far NO ONE I’ve seen is taking the concept that Saki is graduating by her own free will any seriously.
According to the statement by Tsunku as translated on Hello!Online, Tsunkku said that Saki requested to graduate back in May. However, why did this graduation announcement happen now? It’s really odd, and I think everyone I’ve seen is rather suspicious.
Still, regardless of motive and what has happened, I wish Ogawa Saki the best of luck with her school life and with her life beyond being an idol!

Nogizaka46- AKB48’s official rivals?

As announced a couple of months ago, AKB48 producer Akimoto Yasushi has created AKB48’s official “rival” group, Nogizaka46. Unlike SKE48, NMB48 (my current addiction; I love them) and SDN48, these are supposed to be rivals to AKB, implying that the playing field for current idols is so relatively weak that AKB48 needs a group produced to be a rival. Which, despite the current idol boom and the ridiculous number of idol groups out there, is kind of true. AKB48 doesn’t have a group that’s direct competition.

According to sources like Tokyohive, they won’t have a theater (unlike the AKB sister groups) and already have a senbatsu of 16 of the 36 chosen members.

As shown by various websites they have a young average age, which I think is a good thing. The public in general prefers its idols young, and the fact that AKB48’s average age in most senbatsu lineups is about 18-19 (with Jurina kind of throwing everything off) is a bit of an anomaly for idol groups. Another interesting thing is that they won’t have a theater, which means that they’ll be focusing on other things than getting that together. This is what I think might turn off some of the more serious AKB fans; I know that NMB48 was cemented as one of my favorite idol groups when I saw their stage show and enjoyed it thoroughly. However, this might be good for the group members as a whole. AKB48 and the ultra popular members of other groups (Matsui Jurina, Matsui Rena, and perhaps Yamamoto Sayaka and Watanabe Miyuki) are busy busy people, doing stage shows, promo events, variety shows, etc. This might make the group a bit less of a difficulty than the main ____48 groups are.
The one thing I’m reminded of is when Tsunku created TNX and the Nice Girl Project to be “rivals” to Hello!Project. In fact, it’s almost exactly like that. However, TNX ended up being a bit of a trainwreck. Not saying anything about the members, but the sales were terrible and I don’t know how much they ended up using that “Hello!Project rivals” concept. Then again, that was introduced far after H!P’s peak, so I’m betting that Nogizaka46 will fare MUCH better than Nice Girl Project did.
Only time can tell what will happen with this group, but I’m kind of excited to see what happens!

Tokyo Idol Festival 2011 Part 7

I will get to all the groups, even if it takes after the festival. Because they’ve added so many new groups since I’ve started, to the point where I have way more to cover. But it’ll get covered, I promise.

Minicheer Bears: I assume it’s “Minicheer” because the group’s cheerleading themed; however, the real name is “みにちあ*ベアーズ” and I keep wanting to read the first word as “miniature,” especially since this is such a young group.
There are fourteen members, and it’s another Stardust group, which then makes them a sister group of Momoiro Clover and Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku. The first thing I noticed is that their website is REALLY cute. There are teddy bear images everywhere, and it looks like all the Q&A profile questions are handwritten, but in a really cute way. Another notable thing is that the girls are all REALLY young. The ages range from 9-12, so if you like your junior idols VERY junior, Minicheer Bears might be the group for you to support.
I think they’re still really indie and haven’t released any singles yet, but they did perform at the Tokyo Idol Festival last year. It looks like only a few girls are singing, so I’m thinking the set up is that only a few girls are the leads and the others are background dancers?

Still, it’s a cute group, and it’ll be interesting to see if Stardust pushes them further, given the relative success of Momoiro Clover.

Mugiwara * Musume: When I saw the name of the group, I immediately thought “OK, they have to be a Morning Musume clone.” However, from their looks, it seems like they’re more of a Country Musume type of group, since that’s the vibe they’re getting at. This is another group with very junior members, with ages ranging from just barely nine to thirteen. They were formed late last year, so the group hasn’t even been around for a year!
Interestingly enough, they released one single with two songs on it last year, Mugiwara Musume no Uta and MY DEAR BLUE.
Upon listen, it does seem like a country themed group, though the versions I’ve heard are on YouTube and are outdoor performances (which doesn’t lend itself well to acoustics). MY DEAR BLUE is a bit more electronic sounding than Mugiwara Musume no Uta, though. They seem pretty rough so far, but the videos I’ve found were a few months ago at the least, so I’m hoping they’ve practiced some more for the idol festival!

Momochi Minami:  OK, this is one of the more bizarre things I’ve looked into while getting into the Tokyo Idol Festival. Momochi Minami is an idol that wears an anime face mask, and dances/sings anime songs. I’m having trouble finding much more than that, but honestly this is hitting Uncanny Valley territory for me.

I am having trouble finding more information about Momochi Minami other than the fact that “she” does anime songs, and it looks like she’s a DJ? But I think there is a decent following among anime enthusiasts, so I’m going to be interested to see how this works at the festival.

R*M : Pronounced “ramu”, I just have to say that my sleep-deprived mind (I just got back from vacation, and I never sleep very well in beds that aren’t my own) read “Dance and vocal unit” as “Dance and polka unit” which for some reason made me really really excited.
Anyways, no, they’re just a normal idol trio unit, that seems to focus a bit more on the vocals. The name actually stands for the three idols in the group, Rui, Anzu and Emika (Focusing on the M in eMika). They were just formed this year and released their first single, Kiseki no SPARK in July. The reason I say that they seem to focus a bit more on vocals is because there are live harmonies done in the performance I’ve found of Kiseki no SPARK. And while their vocals are a bit rough so far, there’s definitely some promise from what I can tell.
Anyways, I really like Kiseki no SPARK as a song, and I’d love to find the studio version, because it’s actually one of my favorite songs I’ve discovered from this mission to find all these groups. This is the type of group I could see getting some success as more of a vocal unit than an idol unit, if they got some really good vocal training over the next few years.

YGA: This is one group I’ve heard about before but that I’ve never gone and looked for anything from before. According to their Tokyo Idol Festival bio they’re “50% variety, 50% idol, 120% meetable.” And while the nerd in me wants to go “that does NOT add up to 120, and how can that make any sense?” I do think it’s a really good sentiment for an idol group, if they’re focusing that much on variety. Actually, I think focusing that much on variety is a great idea, considering that that’s one of those big things that makes people really love an idol group.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to find information about this group, because there are a variety of things that go by the name YGA (including an English-language LGBT magazine) so finding information about that Japanese YGA is proving a bit tougher. However, they do have eight members and have released three singles with an album on the way, all in this past year which indicates that even if they started doing things earlier, this year is their first big year as an idol group. Their blog does indicate that they started up at the end of 2009, though, so I think that 2010 focused more on their variety duties.

They seem popular, from their view numbers on YouTube, and from what I can tell they’re related to Idoling!!! or have done something with Idoling in the past, considering they have a DVD together. Idoling!!! fans, tell me if I’m wrong about this!

Sekai Ichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko song/PV review

Here’s just something straight away before I get to this. I a fond spot for C-ute; Maimi and Nakky are two of my favorite H!P members period, and two of the reasons I still follow C-ute news whenever I can. I like the other members too, though. This doesn’t mean that I like everything that C-ute has ever released (can I just forget The Party now? *shudder*), it just means that I can tolerate something average more than I can tolerate with some other groups.

So alright, the reason that I’m reviewing this, my first H!P song/PV review in a while, is that I’m absolutely completely charmed by the song and PV, and to be honest, part of me doesn’t know why. I think the components are well done, but the way I’m reacting is not the way that I’ve reacted to H!P in a while; the last song I reacted this way to was Reconquista.

The song: I really think that the way that someone looks at this song will honestly depend on what they’re looking for in an idol song. To some, it may seem really generic, and I respect that. This is a pretty typical type of idol song that reminds me vaguely of S/Mileage’s Suki-chan in terms of tone and style. If you’re looking for something out there, completely unique, edgy or anything similar to that, Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko is not the song for you. Some people will probably find this song boring. However, I LOVE cute idol music, and upbeat/happy songs are why I choose to listen to idol music (hence Happy Disco). Upbeat happy idol songs are the type of thing I listen to while walking to work or school that just make me feel happier, and this song fits the bill.

The first time I listened to it, I didn’t really like the song except for the chorus; however, for me at least, it’s one of those songs that has really grown on me. I think those are the songs that tend to be earworms for me; songs that start out uneventful but that I really start to like.

The song isn’t perfect to me, though; the rushed line Maimi sings before the chorus feels kind of out of place and almost like Maimi herself can’t get those words out. Also, is it just me, or does Chisato sound really weirdly high-pitched in the first verse?

I might be biased because of the songs I tend to like and the fact that the word “Happy” is so prominently placed: this song is now the theme song of Happy Disco (if someone mixes this song with Perfume’s One Room Disco, I think I’ll have to start a Happy Disco podcast to use it). Still, it’s a fun, cute song that is exactly what I’m interested in. C-ute’s moving in a… well, cuter direction (judging by this and Momoiro Sparkling) and I can’t say I complain!

PV: The one thing that I like that kind of puzzles me is how much I really love the PV. It doesn’t have a story, it’s on one set in the standard white backdrop of H!P PVs. And yet…

I have to think of the PV as being a subversion of the other PVs H!P does. So many H!P PVs are really bland and colorless these days, set in the same set. However, the abundance of color in this PV seemingly coming from the idols in their idol rooms makes it seem like C-ute is adding color to this bland world. And cuteness!

The PV is gloriously colorful and I appreciate it for that. I also think that the little domino stunt they did with the books to make the word “happy” was really obvious but also really adorable, so I can forgive it. The idea of the girls all having their own different rooms is for some reason appealing to me; maybe it’s because I love the PV for Perfume’s One Room Disco so much (which is admittedly a far superior PV to this), but they could have easily made the PV with one backdrop, some closeups with different backgrounds based off their image color. This feels like some effort was made, which I have to appreciate.

The other part that’s great is that the girls are really at their top game here. The one really notable thing about H!P groups nowadays (especially Berryz and C-ute) is that they’ve been around together for years, so they work off each other well, especially in the dancing and the group shot here.

The PV isn’t the best that’s ever existed ever, but it’s fun and colorful, which makes it one of the better PVs H!P has released recently.

So overall, in my opinion, H!P managed to do a really great job here and I appreciate it!

S/Mileage’s new members… are not real members, but wha?

The new members of S/Mileage, the group that everyone thought would have a stable lineup until Tsunku went “PSYCH!” were just announced.

So now we have a new nine member unit of S/Mileage, with new members Katsuta Rina, Takeuchi Akari, Kosuga Fuyuka, Nakanishi Kana and Tamura Meimi. However, there’s a catch; these aren’t full members YET, they’re actually considered sub members. Meaning that they are not actually permanent members yet, and their permanence in the group actually depends on their performance in the new single that’s being released in September and the fall tour, but some of them could be kicked out.

My first thought was honestly a plain and simple “WTF are you doing Tsunku.” This is one thing that has to be AWFUL for the girls to deal with; they’re members, but not yet. If I was one of them, I know I’d be on edge every single second, to make sure I didn’t get kicked out. And while I suppose that’s the plan, it’s kind of an awful thing to do to them, especially since it wasn’t guaranteed. They went into this audition expecting to be members, not submembers. Also, does submembers imply that their participation will be less in the single and tour? If so, they should just be named “Mitsui Aika class” in that they’ll be there, be great, but will not get any attention whatsoever.

I LOVE YOU AIKA DON’T WORRY.
My second thought after seeing this was that it reminded me a bit of the AKB48 kenkyuusei system. If you don’t follow AKB, basically the kenkyuusei are trainee members. To get into AKB nowadays you HAVE to join the kenkyuusei. They have performed their own stages, and the kenkyuusei are the ones who fill in at the theater if one of the members (usually one of the popular ones) isn’t there that day, which can give them great exposure (my favorite kenkyuusei, Natori Wakana, has subbed in for Kashiwagi Yuki, the third most popular AKB member according to the election). However, these members have to reaudition every so often and can be cut. They participate to an extent, but don’t become full members until they’re promoted to a team. 

I wonder if this is what Tsunku is trying to get at; getting new members, testing the waters (their abilities to perform as well as their popularity, I imagine). This is a pretty OK idea, I’d say. However, it’s really weird, because Tsunku hasn’t really done this before. Yes, he has the Eggs, but he hasn’t done THAT much with them. These are girls who were told they’d have a chance at S/Mileage, but now they are told they might be cut. That’s nerve-wracking, IMO.

I also think that they’re really trying to test the waters to see which ones become popular and which ones don’t, regardless of vocal/dance ability. I have a bit of a theory that any Japanese girl could become an idol if she wanted to become one, and vocal/dance ability really doesn’t make or break an idol ever .I know that it’s a bit more important in H!P, but I think it’s really overestimated. These girls aren’t singers, they’re idols, so I doubt this testing period has anything to do with singing ability.

However, I’m also a bit wary as a fan. It took me a while to pick a favorite kenkyuusei because I was worried I’d get attached and then she’d leave; however, I was completely charmed by Wakana. This is pretty much the same; how can you expect a fan to become attached, if they’re afraid the girl will be kicked out? And what happens if a girl gets a fanbase (all the H!P girls have one, whether they’re frontgirls or not) and then she gets kicked out? I’d imagine that could seriously alienate some people.

I’m really honestly quite hesitant about this, but it’ll be interesting to see how it works. I’ll be hesitantly following S/Mileage from here on out, trying not to get attached to the new girls.

Tokyo Idol Festival 2011 Part 6

Just under two weeks until the festival kicks off and they keep adding groups on me!!!

Fudanjuku: This is IMO the group of gimmicks (though they aren’t bad gimmicks) because there are two things that make the group stand out. One thing is that each of the girls have some kind of fandom themselves; they’re all supposed to be a wota of SOMETHING, whether that thing is anime or pro wrestling or anything between. The other thing is that they are crossdressing idols, with the “male” portion of their act called Fudanjuku, and the female portion as “Nakano Fujoshi Sisters”.

The thing I find kind of interesting is the fact they refer to themselves as “fujoshi” as women, as I’ve only heard that in the past as a negative term. It means “rotten girl” and is usually only  used in the yaoi fandom. However, I do appreciate their nerdiness.

While I don’t think the group has hit it that big, I know that a lot of the English-speaking fandom is aware of them. And they really should be, because this is a pretty cool group. The highlight of the group was one time they were on a TV show with Momoiro Clover and a couple of other idols, and they started to flirt with the idols that didn’t crossdress.

This is a really good group, that while they aren’t big yet, I can see their gimmicks giving them serious niche appeal.

Pre-Dia: This is, as far as I’m aware, a fairly new idol group. According to their bio on the TIF site, they had their live debut only in November of 2010! They have 12 members and are a sister group of Passpo, which automatically makes them a group to follow, since Passpo’s management has been doing such a good job of promoting them so far.


^This is their debut single, Dia Love. They seem to be going for a bit of a more mature image than their sister group Passpo. Other than that, since they’re less than a year old and under an indies label, they really don’t have that much about them.

The Possible:  Ahh, a group that was originally H!P Eggs! The Possible is arguably the flagship unit of Tsunku’s idol “Nice Girl Project” under his own label TNX (I say arguably, because I know there are some Canary Club fans out there). It’s currently a five member unit.

I have to say, I stopped following the group after my favorite member (Ohse Kaede <3) left the group, but it’s nice to still see them kicking. TNX suffers from pretty poor sales, even though I do enjoy quite a bit of the music that comes from them. The Possible is a pretty tight group, and Canary Club has released some gems. Plus, they both had stuff to do with the game Rhythm Heaven, which I think is the best work Tsunku has done in years.

They released their last single last year, but they’re releasing their newest effort, a mini-album, a week or so after the festival ends. Coincidence? I think not.

Still, the fact they’ve been together for years makes them pretty solid as a group, even though their sales haven’t been so hot.

Hop Club: Clever name is clever! It stands for Horipro (a talent agency) Osaka Produce Club. So essentially, it’s a regional idol group produced by Horipro in Osaka. Man, they managed to get a cute name from all those abbreviations.
They’re a six member group with ages ranging from 21 to 15, that according to Japanese wiki was formed in 2001(following the popularity of Morning Musume?). They apparently only became really active in 2009, when they started to do radio and single,s though they did TV appearances before then.

With multiple generations and these local TV performances, they seem to be just local Osaka area idols, now trying to make it elsewhere with the current idol boom. Their live appearances look to be at many idol festivals including the Tokyo Idol Festival, so good luck to them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzBRp7EiTu4
(can’t embed their PVs, sorry).

MaixNao:Mai x Nao is an idol duo group formed in 2010 with Sakura Mai and Miyazawa Nao. Both of them are older (at least by idol standards, with Mai born in 1985 and Nao born in 1987), so they have a bit more of a mature feel. They released one single , Hoshi no Piasu, in August of last year, soon after the group was announced.

They appear to come from a company called Aint, and other than that not much is out there about this indie group.

However, among the idol festival, their mature image might be a bit refreshing from all the younger idol groups out there.

The End of an Era (sort of) 30 Day Idol Challenge Day 30

Ahh, the thirty day idol challenge. I’m going to credit this with whipping me back into shape as a blogger, because while I like idols I think I was kind of stuck when it comes to content when I kind of stopped blogging earlier.

Now it’s the last question, and the biggest doozy of them all.

Day 30: Why do you love Idols?


This is a tough question, because i have this big urge to go off and ramble about why I think idols are amazing. The real answer is basically everything. I love everything I’ve found about idols, and it’d honestly be tough to find a thing I didn’t like about them.


The reason I spend my energy following JPop idols and not, say, western music (though I do follow western music, just not pop music) is because it’s really different from popular music in the US. I love my indie/alternative rock, but popular Western music really doesn’t do all that much for me (with the exception of Katy Perry, but shuushh). I love idol MUSIC because it’s positive and upbeat. Even the serious songs like AKB48’s Beginner usually have a good message (though not always) and it’s never about the club. I want to rid the world of songs about the club. 


Idol music itself is fun and happy, something that I often find seriously lacking in western music, and so I appreciate idols for that.


However, I also love the idols themselves because of the effort to, again, have fun and work hard, two things I like. Idols aren’t lazy and most certainly aren’t doing it for the money. They’re doing it because they want to be idols, for the most part. It’s fun, and honestly quite inspiring to see the girls working so hard at what they do. In the words of Enkyori Poster: 



Sometimes I mess up
And feel a little down
But one vague glance
And I’m looking into your eyes

Are you working hard
Somewhere now, too?
I become unable
To complain

(from kiwi-musume)

That’s one of the big things I love about idols; is that watching their antics just makes me feel a lot better, no matter what. 



And so, while I ultimately have many reasons for loving idols, the biggest reason why I love idols and continue to spend so much effort loving them is that idols make me happy. I occasionally have some stress/anxiety issues, but all that can melt away when I watch my 
favorite idols performing on stage doing their best or doing something silly on a show. 






So basically, above all else, I love the fun and happiness of idols; there’s a reason this blog is happy disco.

30 Day Idol Challenge Day 29


Day 29: In your opinion, who is/was the best leader of an I
dol group?


This is honestly fairly easy for me. Granted, I could be biased as hell. Ishikawa Rika was v-u-den’s leader, and I really think she did an excellent job; Erika and Yui were brand new when added to v-u-den, and yet the group really gelled like they’d been there for a while. No one felt weird or out of place, at least to me. I also love Yajima Maimi, and she impresses me as a leader, too. She really does take care of her group. One thing I saw was an interview with both Berryz and C-ute around the time of their concert together. The whole group was talking about their H!P Kids days, but Kanna wasn’t a part of that (since she was added later). Maimi made an effort to ask Kanna what she thought. 


This also brings up the question of what makes a good leader. Leadership is really not THAT significant, because the idol who’s the leader doesn’t make any of the business decisions, doesn’t write the songs, doesn’t make any of the big decisions. Often times, I don’t really think that leaders of idol groups do all that much at all.


However, a good leader of an idol group is one that I think brings all the girls in the group together behind that one person, loves and works hard for the group that she’s in, and works hard for the others. And the person I think does that best is…

AKB48’s Takahashi Minami.

I just can’t help but admire the ways she really loves AKB and puts so much effort into making it a great idol group. I always have had the impression that even if Takamina wasn’t in the most popular idol group around, she’d still love the group dearly. She’s a member that the others can get behind, and I really appreciate that!