A New Review Series? Serenyty Wants Your Help!

Hey all,

One of the things that I really want to do is to expand my idol-interest horizons. While working on my Tokyo Idol Festival posts, I realized that there really is a lot of great groups out there that I just don’t follow. Even more, there are groups I’ve only really scratched the surface with, and that I don’t know if I’ve given a fair amount of time to.

So, I’ve decided to start a new series of reviews, in which I give my opinions on an idol album for a group that I don’t normally follow very much. Groups, major debut and indie, that for whatever reason I haven’t spent a lot of time following. This review might not make me change my mind about them, but hopefully I can give a relatively unbiased opinion on said group and possibly gain a new appreciation.

That being said, I’d like the help of the readers in suggesting albums I should do. If you think I should do a different album by one of the groups, tell me, and I can change it. If you have a group I completely forgot about, please tell me, and I can do it.

The groups that I’m excluding from this are:

Anything 48 groups (including subunits) (includes Nogizaka46)
Anything from Stardust Promotions (MomoClo Z, Ebichu, etc.)
Anything from Hello!Project/UFA/TNX/etc.
Sakura Gakuin (and related groups, i.e. Babymetal), MMJ, or Station
Classic idols (i.e. Matsuda Seiko, Pink Lady, Onyanko Club)
Korean pop groups (focusing on Japanese idols right now, even though KPop groups have gotten Japanese debuts)

There are other indie idol groups I follow, but they’ve either not released an album that I can get a hold of or I still don’t follow them enough to disqualify them.

Some of the albums I’m planning on reviewing:

Super*Girls: Everybody JUMP
Tokyo Girls’ Style: Limited Addiction (I can’t decide between this or Kodou no Himitsu; thoughts?)
Passpo: CHECK-IN (or their newest album)
Idoling!!!: SISTERS
9Nine: 9Nine
LinQ: Love in Qushu ~LinQ dai ichi gakushou~
Fudanjuku: Friends or OTOKO
Tomato n’Pine: PS4U
Vanilla Beans: Vanilla Beans II or III
JK21: JK21 Yanen

So if you have suggestions, please tell me, and I’m going to try to have a first review up in a couple of weeks!

Could AKB48 get an Oscar nomination?

As a film/media geek, I love the Oscars. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that goes on, and I think there’s a lot of politics that goes into what gets picked as the best of the year (though, I don’t care what any of you might say, The Artist was brilliant and deserved to win over The Descendants, though that did have fantastic performances). But I think predictions of this type of thing are fairly interesting.

So, when I saw that AKB48 is doing a song for the global release of Disney’s latest “Wreck-It Ralph”¬†one of the first things I wondered is if AKB48 could get nominated for an Oscar.

Of course, the nomination would be for whoever composed the song, and not the performer. So the award wouldn’t be AKB’s. However, it got me wondering if there’s a chance that AKB48’s song “Sugar Rush” could be up for nomination, which would mean that there’s a chance AKB48 could perform at the Oscars.

First off, children’s/animated movies tend to do really REALLY well at this award. The last song awarded this was “Man or Muppet” from The Muppet Movie and the award before that was for “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3. Even in years that kid’s movies lost the award to something else they are usually very present in the category; in 2007 the movie Enchanted was nominated three times, though eventually losing to “Falling Slowly” from Once.

Secondly, there’s no major musical that could take as many nominations as Enchanted is doing this year. The forerunner for winning the whole category right now is a new song from the film adaptation of Les Miserables, but that’s only one song; the rest aren’t¬†eligible. The biggest musicals of the year are arguably Rock of Ages and Pitch Perfect, both movies that rely on established songs.

So what else is going to be tough to beat other than Les Mis? Adele is doing the theme for the new James Bond movie Skyfall. Pixar’s movie Brave had a couple of original songs, and I bet one will get nominated. I’ve also seen that songs from the movie Lawless could have a shot as well. There are also some original English-language songs from Wreck-it Ralph that could trump AKB48’s offering. However, language isn’t necessarily a barrier; 2008 was the year of Slumdog Millionaire, and everyone loved Jai Ho, which was sung in three Indian languages. However, this may be the exception rather than the rule, as not many non-English songs get nominated.

So, ultimately I do think it is a long shot to see AKB48 performing at the Oscars. However, this year is probably the best year for it to happen, and you never know!

Trying to Get Caught Up

Sometimes life gets really busy, and things fall to the wayside. That’s kind of what I’m trying to fight happening with idols and me. I’m currently in the middle of the second to last semester at my university. I’m trying to graduate with honors in Film/Media studies, while working, while applying for the JET program (to teach abroad in Japan). I have a lot in my plate, so for the past month or so the most I ever really think about idols is listening to the music I already have on my iPod. So I’m trying to get caught up in what’s happened so far in the past couple of months and move forward.

AKB48 Gingham Check + UZA
I think the biggest thing I didn’t blog about on Happy Disco in the past couple of months is how much I utterly adore Gingham Check’s song, PV and overall single. It’s in contention for being one of my favorite releases of the year, with the main competition right now being Momoiro Clover Z and Nogizaka46’s Hashire Bicycle. But above Gingham Check as a song and the other songs on the single (I have a major weakness for Show Fight’s song and PV), the PV is basically a dream for me. I’m planning on doing a full review later to talk more about how utterly amazing that PV is, but it’s incredibly well done, as expected from a veteran of the film and music video industry.

I’m not quite as fond of the latest from AKB48, UZA, but that’s mostly because I prefer when idols focus on being cute and I don’t think the PV’s as clever as Gingham Check’s was. However, despite this, I think UZA is definitely a step up for AKB for their “cool” songs. It feels almost more like American pop than what I’d consider idol music; it’s the type of thing I’d show my friend who likes top 40 American pop music to see if I can get her to become an AKB48 fan.

S/mileage – Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki

This is one of those things where I get what S/Mileage was trying to do, but I’m just not gelling with it. I like the song, and I like the PV in theory, but it doesn’t really feel like S/Mileage to me. I much prefer things like Dot Bikini and Please Miniskirt Postwoman. I’d rather this song go to C-ute or something; it just doesn’t feel like the current S/Mileage (also, seeing Meimi and Kanana sad bums me out)

“Momokuro” Nippon Egao Hyakkei, and my feelings on Momoiro Clover Z
While, as I mentioned, I wasn’t completely thrilled with Momoiro Clover Z’s latest single “Otome Sensou,” I’ve hit a bit of a MomoClo lull. They’re still my favorite group, but I think with them the fact that they’ve impressed me SO MUCH in the past makes it a bit harder for me to be impressed much anymore. I also feel like they’ve lost a bit of what impressed me with Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo in particular, and I wish they’d do more songs that feel kind of heartfelt like “Hashire.” Momoiro Clover Z experiments a lot, and I’m grateful for that, but I think that I haven’t been as thrilled with their recent experiments, which is a bit of a shame. I’m pretty excited for their next single, though, and I hope they can regain my love for them, because they really are a great group.

However, Momoiro Clover Z released a single under a pseudonym “Momokuro” (not trying very hard, eh guys?) “Nippon Egao Hyakkei.” It’s pretty great. It is a LOT of fun, with some really fast talking and kimonos. In a weird way it feels like Momoiro Clover Z combining its current, wacky self with its roots of being a group with traditional costumes and themes (remember, Momoiro Punch, Mirai e Susume and Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo ALL featured kimonos!). This also was written by my favorite Japanese music composer, Hyadain (Maeyamada Kenichi) so that could be a big part of why I adore it.

This is one of my favorite performances of the year so far, Nippon Egao Hyakkei with traditional Japanese musicians!

Morning Musume’s Wakuteka Take a Chance

While I’m planning on another full article on this just because I think this release says a lot about where Morning Musume is right now, let me just say that while I really do enjoy the song a lot, I do think that Morning Musume needs to fight becoming complacent and doing the same thing over and over, because that’s what I’m seeing them doing. I think that they saw the big success of One Two Three and are trying to, for better or worse, replicate what got them such big sales, to the point where a lot of the issues I had with One Two Three’s PV are the same issues I’m having with Wakuteka’s PV (as one of my friends commented, it’s like UFA spent half their yearly PV budget on After Effects and they’re trying to get their money’s worth).

That being said, I do think it’s a good song and thatMorning Musume has made strides since some of their lows they’ve hit in the past years. Wakuteka’s good, and I think I do like the song better than I like One Two Three. I think ultimately they need to stop relying so heavily on Reina and Riho. Reina is probably going to leave MM in the next year or two, and you never know how long Riho is going to be in MM. It’ll be interesting to see how the newest member, Oda Sakura, does within the group and if UFA tries to push her to ace status right away. There are some really strong girls in Morning Musume right now (Ayumi’s still my favorite girl in the current group), and I think if they cautiously start trying to break from the style they’ve got going and from the Reina-Riho lead, they could do a lot of good for the group.