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tsunku trolls us all again

imagesLast year, the name of Morning Musume’s Spring concert tour “Michishige SOUL11″ sparked speculation that Sayumi Michishige would be the next Morning Musume graduate. Shortly after, it was announced that the other 6th Generation member Reina Tanaka would be graduating instead.

Hello! Project producer tsunku loves trolling us all – but his latest announcement has shocked everyone. After annoucing the search for the “Mirai Shoujo” of Morning Musume, to which 5,600 girls applied, tsunku has now announced that no one has passed, as well as giving us a few other interesting morsels:

  • Morning Musume currently has it’s strongest lineup;
  • If the 12th gen applicants had applied at the time of the 9th gen auditions, they would have won and
  • No one of the 12th gen applicants is strong enough to join Momusu.

tsunku’s confidence is Momusu is amazing, but many old school Momusu fans don’t agree.  Vocally, Momusu are at one of their weajest points and have relied heavily on autotuned, electro-pop singles to mask this.

tsunku’s point about the 9th gen seems a little… insulting.  Although he mentions the 9th gen’s improvement, it begs to question whether they will be first to go once the graduations kick in.

I’m a big Platinum era fan, but a grievous error was made during this time.  tsunku took too long to insert new girls into the group, leaving Morning Musume vocally weak and now heavily dependent on Ayumi and Riho’s dancing abilities.  The current line up need to develop their singing ability.

I agree that Morning Musume didn’t need new members, but why was everyone’s time wasted in the first place with the auditions?

Oh tsunku!

(Source http://www.takamaruyo.net/blog/archives/5698 )

Morning Musume Announces 10th Audition

Wow, this came out of the blue. Tsunku has announced that Morning Musume will now be accepting applicants for the 10th generation audition starting from today and ending on June 13th.

The theme of the new generation is “Genkijirushi” which my dictionary tells me means “Promising“. Looking back however, names are meaningless to a generation. Wasn’t Koharu supposed to be the Miracle? Miracle for her own solo career in Kirarin Revolution maybe, but not so much for Morning Musume. The age range is also very slim: 12 – 15 years it’s probably one of the most specific yet.

This announcement could be the prelude to something a little more ominous, however. Could another of the older members be graduating before the end of the year? Either that or the amount Ai‘s being paid is going to support two new members and excessive promoting alone (which I actually wouldn’t doubt). I would not at all be surprised if we saw Aika being the leader of Momusu within two years, as the new wash of talent being recruited and new style will definitely lead to Gaki, Reina and even possibly the “forever young” Sayu looking out of place with a bunch of under 16s.

But, the news isn’t all bad. New members wouldn’t have been put into the group unless the 9th generation were proving popular – right? Either something is going terribly wrong at Hello! Project HQ or tsunku thinks enough has already been done for the girls to attract new fans. Also, many fans have noticed the depletion in the stock of Eggs lately. Personally, I’ve never had much time for the Eggs, except for the MilkyWay girls. When they hatch, they can produce some excellent talent (S/mileage, ManoEri, V-U-DEN, Lin Lin), however, watching an Egg be incubated is sometimes a slow and monotonous process. Maybe it’s a secret ploy to get another Egg into H!P to stop a particular girl from leaving? Who knows?

I do wonder how the 9th generation will feel about this however. They were probably looking forward to being the juniors for a little bit longer, and instead, it looks like they could possibly be mentors with less than a year of experience. I would imagine that it will push them to really up their game and stand out. For me, Zukki (Kanon Suzuki) with her hilarious behaviour and Riho (Riho Sayashi) have done this alone. Riho is being branded the next Ai-chan, which we can see from her extraordinary dance skills. The problem is, none of the 9th generation have those exceptional vocal abilities that Ai-chan has. Out of the remaining members, Gaki and Reina are the only girls who have very, very good singing voices, but neither compare to Ai-chan.

All the same, I’m keeping my eyes open, as I suspect at the Summer Hello! Project concert we may hear another “shock” announcement from Gaki, Sayu or Reina.

Any chance they’ll let Mogi in this time?

You’re still my #1 Mogi! Speaking of age range, Mogi wouldn’t have been accepted by last years standards? I wonder how young the mysterious 6th girl who dropped out was? Maybe they felt that the ender 12s were too young?

Anywho, I’ll look forward to the current unfolding events from Hello! Project. They know how to keep me interested.

OriUp’d Vol. 1

Last weeks top 5:

  1. maximum the hormone – Greatest The Hits 2011 – 2011 (28,981)
  2. Not yet – Shuumatsu Not Yet (17,528)
  3. the BAWDIES – Love you, need you feat. AI (9,139)
  4. SKE48 – Banzai Venus (7,428)
  5. AKB48 – Sakura no ki ni narou (5,987)

Last week, Maximum the Hormone held on to the #1 spot for the second week in a row, a hard feat for any artist, especially considering the slump in sales since the Tohoku Earthquake. Congratulations to them.  Other than the Bawdies, the rest of the top 5 was made up of previously released AKB48 and sub-unit singles, and also, all sales are still low.  Luckily for us, this week sees the first wave of singles pushed back due to the Earthquake released.

What’s making me interested this week is who will be #1, which looks set to be KARA with Jet Coaster Love.  I have to admit, I’m becoming more inamoured every day with the Hallyu wave, and KARA have gone from the butt thrusting of Mister to something we’re probably a bit more used to seeing in the Japanese market.

Not only that, but they’ve managed to joust SDN48 from the top spot… or rather, this member of the xxx48 team has fallen from their pedistall.  Considering AKB48s popularity, it seems odd that a subunit would tumble so far down after first day sales, rather than maintaining a constant position.  Their ranking so far has been 1, 6, 8, 7 – which I’ve never seen before from someone who’s made #1 on the first day.  Maybe fans were a bit more embarrised about buying the raunchy single in store, or maybe it is just something to do with the earthquakes…  I have to admit, Ai, Juseyo is one of the most raunchy singles I’ve ever seen in Japan, making the Heavy Rotation bath shots look completely innocent, and the girls dancing around in their knickers covering their top half – they make Kumi Koda look like a nun!

Surprisingly, Tsuyoshi Domoto, UVERworld and, yes, Morning Musume have been able to keep up pretty constant positions, and should, respectively, all manage to to get in the top 5.  Ah, that’s what I like to see, good old predictability!

Other than that, Hiroshi Kamiya and YUKI also have new releases this week with Nijiiro Chou Chou and himitsu respectively.  They’ve been holding slightly more erratic positions so far, but maybe we’ll be seeing them in the top 10.

So what’s my favourite single this week… well you don’t even have to ask… but I’ll leave Jet Coaster Love and Ai, Juseyo below as it’s interesting to see how KARA have got it so right and SDN48 may be a little off the mark:

Hopefully I’ll have time to give my rubbish Oricon analysis for next week, and we’ll see if anything I’ve posted here holds any credibility.

And remember kids, the Oricon doesn’t mean everything!

Morning Musume – Maji Desu ka Ska!

Considerably Morning Musume’s most important release since the start Onna Ni Sache Are, Maji desu ka SKA is Morning Musume’s first single to include the th generation.  From it’s name, I was expecting something up-beat and along the lines of Koko ni Iruzee, and it hasn’t been off the mark.

There’s nothing of the previous moody 9-8 nin feel about it… well except for maybe the fact Ai is centre and her and Reina and still devouring most the lines and that the costumes remind me of “Nai Chau Kamo” – however a medicine easily swallowed, as everyone get’s lots of camera time in the new PV and has solo lines ~ you can’t have it all, and it’s also difficult for fans to outright accept a new generation.  We only have about 6 more months of Ai left in Momusu as well – so I think it’s more than acceptable that one of Momusu’s most memoriable and performance-wise, strongest leader get’s a few more solo lines.

But onto the single – well, I wouldn’t particulary call it a master-piece classic which will score a #1 hit, but it is, for me, a step towards the “Golden Era” Momusu which a lot of fans constantly complain about missing.  Although it doesn’t have the production values of the previous songs, the video is quirky and energetic.

One thing I do get sick of is people complaining about the production of PVs – a realization that has probably hit me more recently when I was going through a lot of files on my computer with my boyfriend, who commented that SNSD’s “Visual Dreams” looked “really cheap” – I think we sometimes bash Momusu and H!P in general a bit too much for their blue-screen PVs, when in fact, bands like Arashi and SNSD get away with it all the time – if you stick an interesting enough dance, or a popular enough group in front of it, blue-screen PVs are a great alternative to having to pay the story boarder, director and anyone else involved with making big budget numbers.  I’m not disagreeing that some H!P videos in the recent years lack imagination and are lazy and cheap – but tarring all PVs with the same brush is unacceptable – but that’s for another time.

So after that small rant, the point I’m trying to get across with the PV is that it’s simple and effective – it’s playful.  As my Japanese teach says, “Recognition is most important!” – here she’s talking about Kanji, but it can also be applied to the remembers of homogenous idol groups, and making sure Erina, Riho, Zukki and Fuku get as much airtime as possible is also important.  Not only that but these girls really make the song – it’s fast energetic pace and playful nature is something which has been missing from a Momusu A-side since… well, Mikan.

And as soon as I say Mikan, here’s where the trouble begins.  You see Mikan is probably one of the most popular live songs in recent years, but the sales absolutely tanked.  After that, we’ve been subjected to three years of moody singles – so is this a risk too far?

Hopefully not – it’s time for Momusu to push forward into a new era, and this single definetly has the push to do it!

Dream Momusu ~ Yes Please!

It’s funny how some things never change.  Almost two years ago we were sitting here, thinking we may not ever hear Yuuko, Nacchi and Kaori belt out Morning Coffee again, and more recently, it also looked like Koharu was leaving the Hello! Project bandwagon to become a model… but once again, everyone (well, everyone who still works for UFA and has nothing better to do) has come back to Momusu.

And regardless of the current line-up’s struggle against their AKB rivals, the classic Morning Musume line up (less some, plus some) seems to always fall back on it’s feet.

What’s most impressive about the latest announcement of Dream Morning Musume (comprismising of Yuuko Nakagawa, Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Kei Yasuda, Mari Yaguchi, Rika Ishikawa, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Makoto Ogawa, Miki Fujimoto and Koharu Kusumi) isn’t so much their debut tour, nor their album, but more that in a matter of days of officially announcing their formation, they also annouced a 40 date tour this autumn.  It also seems like tsunku is setting this unit up for the long-run as their debut album is called Dream (1), taking on the numerical sequence of Hello! Project albums.

Rumours about the group were circulating before the triple graduation – however, I think everyone expected it to be similar to the Elder Club style, rather than an album producing unit.  I imagine this has been an idea in the making for a while, given HANGRY & ANGRY‘s inactivity, and the annoucment that Tsuji would not be participating due to the birth of her son (which makes me wonder if it was planned before she was pregnant).

I’m looking forward to how the new album will sound.  Hopefully new vocal arrangments of all the songs will be made – as much as Nacchi is the voice of Morning Musume, I’d love to hear a fresh take on many of the singles.  In particular, Mikan will be interesting to listen to ~ I remember that when it was announced that Kaori’s son had died, Yuuko used lyrics from this song to help describe her feelings towards her friend and life in general.

I’m also interested to see how the group has gelled.  We all know the rumors that Mikitty and Charmy didn’t get on, Nacchi has diva tendencies and Koharu was only really a Musume along side Makoto and Mikitty.  They’ll also be an age gap of 19 years between Koharu and Yuuko.

Now hopefuly, they’ll still be together when I finally get my backside to Japan