After Thought: The Beginning of a New Adventure (aka My Thoughts on ℃-ute Disbanding)

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It comes as no shock as the Japanese pop girl group ℃-ute announced that they are disbanding on June 2017. The reason? The girls realized that they have completed their idol dreams and have developed new ones. Many are sad that some of the girls are going into “disappointing” careers. Some are just sad as they are kicking the can. But, nothing ever really last forever. Even SMAP, who has been in the Jpop idol business long before these girls made their début in 2006, is announcing that they are disbanding by the end of this year (Thank god!).

I should be sad. I should feel sorrow for these lovely girls who are about to leave their singing careers. I should be saying something along the lines of “Like come on, Airi, you should be a solo singer”.

But, I am not.

I am really not.

It has been predicted for a long time that these girls would eventually graduate Hello! Project someday. Let’s face it. We knew that the other H!P Kid members were going to be grouped into another kids unit after Berryz Koubou was sticking with a permanent line-up by mid-2004. We also knew that ℃-ute would eventually break-up when Berryz Koubou disbanded last year. It’s just a simple cause and effect.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t a big ℃-ute fan for a long time. Sure, I love a couple songs here and had a favorite member or two (Hey, Erika Umeda!) there. Yet, I was more into Berryz Koubou starting from my high school days to recently as they had talented members, catchier songs, and a stable lineup.

I actually lost interest in ℃-ute around 2009 or 2010 when Umeda graduated. She was my favorite even though she barely got any lines and was more of a background performer. Nevertheless, she was an interesting girl and was a good performer. At least she was able to carry a tune and dance pretty well unlike some girls…

The group’s musical quality has been diminishing over the recent years. It is true that the girls have grown-up and thus their musical and style tastes have changed. However, it didn’t get better, it got worse. I blame someone who calls them ℃-ute’s vocal couch as I feel like he or she didn’t coach them well. Airi can’t sing high notes really well anymore, Mai’s vocals got worse over time, and Chisato had to get surgery because of nodes. You hear this limiting and painful vocal style of not properly singing through your nose in other groups sadly. I experienced it first hand with a trial lesson at a well-known vocal studio.

One more thing, ℃-ute’s songs are always a hit or a miss. Other groups within Hello! Project (like Berryz Koubou) had more memorable songs than ℃-ute ever really did. I mean some songs like “Dance de Bakoon!”, “Bye Bye Bye”, “Massara Blue Jeans”, “THE FUTURE”, and others are impressive.  Hell, “Dance de Bakoon!” is a superb signature song for  ℃-ute as it’s funky and makes you want to dance. Still, there is a handful of the group’s songs are lackluster or have not a lot of meat on the bone. I still think one their latest songs named “Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou?” is too mundane. Maybe that is because a) UFA is giving this group the short end of the stick or b) UFA is just having a bad year in producing decent good music (which isn’t really the case because Morning Musume. had a great single this year…)

Nonetheless, I am happy that the girls are going into something they love to do. Furthermore, they seemed to be pleased with their eleven-year career.

Maybe we should start making predictions for their last concert? I am secretly wishing that Erika Umeda would come back…

By the way, enjoy my favorite ℃-ute song, the 80’s flavored “Bye Bye Bye” (I think it would be something that Duran Duran would do):

P.S: I was watching a lot of C-ute’s music videos today. Oh my word, the music video for “Kanzen na Otona” is awful. The shot is 0:13 is so horrible that I want to call it something like “Dinosaurs Ready for Dinner” because it looks like it:

Get ready for the Olympics with Kobushi Factory

FESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTA!!

Deixa a festa começar!

It is less than three weeks to the 2016 Summer Olympics that will be held in Rio de Janeiro. But, everyone is preparing for the major event of the year by releasing merchandise, airing the pre-game qualifiers on TV, talking about it on every morning show, and incorporating themes of the games and Rio de Janeiro in film and music.  This is no exception to Hello! Project, who has started a trend of providing Olympic-themed songs in the last five years.

When you first listen to “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro”, you probably think it’s the long-lost relative to ANGERME’s 2012 song “Dot Bikini”. I swear the tempos of each song are about the same and both use the same instruments like a whistle, surdo, and others. The other similarity is when I hear the “cha cha cha” part at the end of “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro”‘s chorus. It reminds me of the “Chuumoku Chuumoku Chumoku” during “Dot Bikini” with a surdo being heard prominently in the background.

Hmm...

However, I give Kobushi Factory some credit as the group did a great job at capturing the spirit of Rio de Janeiro’s samba through music and film. “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” uses instruments that are prominent in these Brazilian tunes like a surdo, trumpet, and saxophone. Also, the “ya ya ya” parts during the breaks are something you typically find in a  samba song. Whoever hasiejaneiro is, he did a great job trying to capture the spirit of a fun Rio de Janeiro samba festival with his arrangement. (My friend mentioned to me that hasiejaneiro might be Shin Hashimoto, who also arranged old Hello! Project songs like reggae-flavored “Summer Reggae Rainbow”)

The costumes also help bring tradition, originality, and flare. The girls wear a traditional Brazilian carnival costume with various colors scattered all over each piece. I don’t really like how the stylist executed the use green and yellow as the prominent themes. It just makes the costume seem tacky, cheap, and disorganized. I do really like the background dancers’ costumes as they are focused on one color per dancer and the style and blends seem more coherent. I do understand that the stylist wanted to incorporate the Brazilian flag’s colors into the group’s costumes. But at the same time, it should have been executed better. Maybe in a way like the dancers’.

What the music video lacks a lot of is a carnival. To my understanding, carnivals are usually in streets and with lots of people. Not in a secluded mansion with a pool. Like someone said on the H!P forum MM-BBS, this music video should of have been shot on a street with the members interacting with the dancers (which the girls don’t do much of in the original MV) and onlookers. I know it is really expensive to close a busy street in Tokyo and hire a few handfuls of people to be extras. But, it would make the music video look even more fun and encapture the spirits of samba and a carnival. (Maybe should of also the confetti?)

Enough about the costumes and music video, let’s get back to the important subject; the music. Vocally, the group never disappoints me as each member have strong vocal skills and they blend really well together. But musically, I feel the song is a bit weak and boring. Maybe because it’s a bit generic as a samba and H!P song. I also feel like “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” is bland. I feel that the singers nor the instruments capture  the true excitement. Instead, the listener is treated to almost four minutes of subdued, non-climatic happiness.

Maybe I am also still reeling over the awesomeness of Kobushi Factory’s last single, “Sakura Night Fever”. I am in looooooooooooove this feel-good song as it features two legendary musicians on the track (DANCEMAN and KAN), a subdued key change, bringing out the bass and the guitar, the excitement, Rei Inoue’s awesome line, and more. The list can go on but maybe I being a little too bias?

What do you think of “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro”? Do you enjoy it’s festive style or do you think it’s subdued and bland?

My real question is: What will be the theme song for Japanese broadcast of the Summer Olympics?

Reporting Live: ayumi shibata promoting “Babyrock” at Kanayama Asunal (August 6, 2015)

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It seems that this weekend is Up-Front Group Weekend! I talked about Morning Musume’s first English song on Friday. Then I saw Ciao Bella Cinquetti yesterday, performing a mini-live at a mall in central Nagoya.  And now I am going to talk about a former Hello! Project member, ayumi shibata.

This sweet-sounding singer got her start in 1999 after passing the 2nd Morning Musume and Michiyo Heike Little Sister Audition with three other girls: Hitomi Saito, Megumi Murata, and Masae Ohtani. These four then-teenagers formed the group Melon Kinenbi and released their debut single and one of my favorite songs, “Amai Anata no Aji”, in the winter of 2000. While releasing material with the group and going on various concert tours, ayumi also participated in various project in Hello! Project like 11WATER, Tanpopo, Elegies, and others.

However, she left Up-Front Group for another agency, Trick Function, a month after Melon Kinenbi broke up in 2010. She changed agencies in order to start a solo career with a clean slate. She performed her first self-penned song, “YOU&I”, during a small event held in Tokyo a few months later. ayumi wouldn’t release a physical debut single until a year later when “believe” was released.

“Babyrock” is the newest digital single released by this artist under the label SMC Entertainment. It is described as a pop-rock tune with a lot of girly rock flavor packed inside. You could say that this song is more upbeat than a Kana Nishino song while slower than one from Ai Otsuka. But what makes “Babyrock” different from other girly pop-rock songs is that this piece is very upbeat, has a summer-like flavor, and always presents a positive feeling. The nature of the song makes you want to stand up and bounce to the beat during the chorus as it’s so refreshing and makes you feel totally happiness.

As the blog Selective Hearing mentioned in their review, “Babyrock” is actually similar to the pop-rock music that Melon Kinenbi was doing at the end of the group’s career. So if you were fan of that side of Melon Kinenbi, you would most definitely love “Babyrock”. Plus, it really suits ayumi’s vocal skills. Although her vocals are not the best and can be too nasal sometimes, they mesh pretty well with the instrumental. ayumi wasn’t my favorite Melon Kinenbi member (That honors goes to Masae Ohtani, who had amusing song names) but she is pretty decent and got some decent material for a solo career.

During late July and August, ayumi went around to various malls, radio stations, and venues to promote her new single. One of the places she visited was Kanayama Asunal, which was holding a tenth anniversary special live for a weekly @FM radio program on August 6th. She was one of three guests who appeared at the live event along with the mall’s own idol group Juliet and an acoustic version of T.M. Revolution, Bokota.

I was able to find a seat in the bench section that was located in front of the stage thirty minutes before the live’s start time. It was very hot during that time and I really didn’t want to stand up for the entire time. During the long wait, Juliet came on to do a mic check and to practice their songs.

Then the live event started promptly at 6:30 pm. The event was formatted like a radio program where the artists would perform a couple songs while getting interviewed by the show’s hosts in between. The first group up was Juliet, whom I didn’t bother to pay any attention to because they were not my cup of tea. Their vocal skills were weak and I felt like they had bad makeup and/or fashion. They looked like unflattering Barbies. This group didn’t really appeal to me when I watched them perform.

Thirty minutes after the show started, Juliet exited the stage while the show’s hosts then introduced the one person I came to see. This singer started off her mini-live by singing a fast-paced song. ayumi sang about four songs in total during her time on stage. I don’t know exactly what were the songs but I suspect that the majority of what she sang came from her single “Hito Kakera no Kiseki”. I just remember that she sang a beautiful ballad that almost brought me to tears as it was so touching. She closed the program by singing “Babyrock” which she rallied up the audience to clap along.

After she finished, I decided that I wasn’t going to stick around for Bokota as I was too hungry to stay. I went to Chieco Kawabe’s Hawaiian-themed pancake shop “88 Huit Huit”. While Chieco is my favorite Sailor Mercury ever (besides Ayako Morino), the restaurant has tasty food and great drinks.

If you are into the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Kana Nishino, Ai Otsuka, or other pop-rock female artists, then you should absolutely out “Babyrock” below with no hesitant. It’s an upbeat song that leave you with a good feeling inside and outside.

Reporting Live: ANGERME promoting “Nanakorobi Yaoki” at Toyoyama’s Airport Walk (June 14, 2015)

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One of my dreams came true this summer when I was given a chance to meet a Hello! Project (or H!P for short) group. I been a Hello! Project fan for about eleven years now and I haven’t stop loving them as old members leave and new ones come in. I was also able to meet one of my favorite H!P members, Kanon Fukuda. Yes, I was able to meet ANGERME!!! 😀

ANGERME originally started off in 2009 under the name S/mileage with four members who were picked from the Hello! Project trainee program. Hello! Project is an umbrella group that represents very popular Japanese groups and acts like Morning Musume, Berryz Kobo, Aya Matsuura, Maki Goto, and others. Having a chance to debut in a group that is associated with Hello! Project is a tremendous honor as the groups under Hello! Project are considered top idols across Japan. In the past, new members for these groups have been picked through random auditions. However, producers and managers have been forming groups lately with members in the trainee program as these girls have been taught the ways of Hello! Project.

With a group name that blends together the words “smile” and “age”, S/mileage made their indies debut with the single “aMa no Jaku”. They released three more indie singles, including one of my favorites “Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!!”, before the infamous Hello! Project producer Tsunku announced that the girls would make a major debut if they completed a mission, collecting 10,000 photos of people smiling. The girls were able to complete their mission and released their debut single “Yume Miru Fifteen” on May 26. “Yume Miru Fifteen” was an instant success and fan favorite as it reached #5 on the daily Oricon charts. I even loved it as it’s strong, cute, and some different from the other groups.

Over the years, S/mileage added more members as two graduated from the group. In 2015, the group changed their named to ANGERME, a combination of two French words that meant “angel” and “tears”. Sorry guys, it doesn’t mean the group is angry at all. The group also changed their image; going from a girly cute sound with everyday teenage thoughts to a much mature one with hard truth lyrics.

I was very grateful to go this event thanks to my friend Petit Melon who told me about this event. And, I was also grateful for a couple of people in the Hello! Project fandom who bought singles through me so I could use their tickets for the handshake event. Meeting any member of Hello! Project is a dream come true because I loooooooooooooove Hello! Project. Yes, I’m a die-hard fan.

After I left early from the HR mini-live event, I caught a bus from Nagoya Station to a mall that is next to a regional airport outside the city. It took about thirty minutes to get there. But as soon as the bus reached the mall’s bus stop, I got off the bus and raced to the event space which was on the third floor. While on the way up, I bumped into the crew of the Solar Impulse 2 plane, who were grounded for a while in Nagoya due to weather problems.

I reached the event space and quickly bought the tickets and obtained the handshake tickets. I then went to the side as the staff were lining up people based on their ticket numbers. It took a while, but I got a spot in the middle section and next to a good-looking male fan who I was trying miserably to make small talk with him. I was shy as well as I didn’t know what to really talk about besides “Who is your favorite member?”. I missed my chance in having a boyfriend. 😦

The set list was:

1. Gashin Shoutan (臥薪嘗胆)
Introductions MC
2. Mahoutsukai Sally (魔法使いサリー )
3. Please Miniskirt Postwoman! (プリーズ ミニスカ ポストウーマン!)
4. Taiki Bansei (大器晩成)
Announcement MC
5. Nanakorobi Yaoki (七転び八起き)

Overall, it was a pretty good mini-live. I was really excited when they sang “Please Miniskirt Postwoman!”, “Taiki Bansei”, and ‘Nanakorobi Yaoki” as they are pretty awesome. So awesome that I joined the fans as I sang, danced, jumped up and down, and did other crazy (but appropriate) things. I had a blast!

As soon as the mini-live finished, the girls thanked everyone for coming and exited the stage as the staff prepared for the handshake event. There wasn’t much preparation; just put a couple of tables on the stage and make a line at the beginning of the event space. It didn’t take a long time until the girls came out and the line was moving.

I went through the handshake line four times, each time lasting barely a minute. I barely had a second with each girl as the staff hurried me along. General handshake events for Hello! Project are usually fast-paced as there is a lot of people to get through the line. The first time I went through the line. it was a mad rush to say a message to each girl like “Congratulations” to Kanon or “I Love You” to Meimi. My nerves and pacing got better gradually as I became relaxed by the fourth time. The members were starting to be more open as a lot of the members, especially the third generation, tried to speak English.

This event was one of the highlights of this year because I loooooooooooove ANGERME. I love Kanon (the Kago Ai look-a-like), Rikako, and Meimi. And, I love their music; both Smileage’s and ANGERME’s. It is so great, just listen to “Nanakorobi Yaoki” below. A haunting but uplifting song that talks about never giving up even if you fail many times.

And if you like that, check out ANGERME’s discography!

Music Rewind: The Mid-Year Review

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I have reached my 50th post with the last post, “Music Reactions: Celebrating the 4th of July by Listening to Oldies“.. By July 5th, 2015, ☆ai love music☆ has had 1,277 views and 721 visitors. I want to say a special and big thank you to each and every one of you guys who have visited this blog. Without you, I would have stopped writing by the second post.

Thanks again! A special thank you for those who commented on an entry! Those comments helped me a lot. Please, if you have a chance to do so, please comment on any entries as I want to know what you guys like and to see if I am any good at writing.

I usually don’t do Music Rewind on WordPress because I usually revisit older blog entries mainly on other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). However, since this a special post, I want to write one here too.

Today’s Music Rewind is a look back at the five most popular posts on ☆ai love music☆. This idea was inspired by the Japanese music chart Oricon. These charts do a mid-year review of the top 100 singles and albums in Japan.

Without further ado, here they are!

5. A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 2] {June 28)

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The 90s were all about this woman! You literally could not watch an anime series that did not have Hayashibara Megumi as some sort of character. Being immensely popular in the voice acting world, Hayashibara also enjoyed a successful music career, singing various theme songs to memorable anime series…

Ahhh, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho”. Actually, any Sailor Moon song is always on the top of anison/anime song lists because I loooooooooooooove Sailor Moon. I also loooooooooooooove the song featured today. The ending to the fourth season of the super popular girls’ series “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon”, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho” is a fun, poppy song that fits the character of Sailor Chibi Moon perfectly… [Read More]

4. 11 Years of Thanks (March 6)

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A couple of days ago, one of the longest running idol groups in Japan held their farewell concert at the Nippon Budoukan with thousands of fans attending. Personally, I been a fan since they released their debut single in 2004; watching these once elementary school girls grow into beautiful ladies. During the years, their music even spread across the globe in various places like the USA, France, Thailand, and beyond. [Read More]

3. Remembering a Hidden Talent (January 25)

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There has been a great deal of news, either good or bad, in our lives and around the world in the last week. None more shocking than the death of Russian singer Origa on January 17. A talent that has been heard by less than ten percent of the world’s population but snuffed away too soon. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and remember Origa’s beloved career. [Read More]

2. Live Music Report: LinQ Promotional Event at Aeon Mall Nagoya Dome Mae (May 1, 2015) (May 10)

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LinQ is a Japanese girl “idol” group that has about thirty or more members that are from the Kyushu (or southern Japan) region. They been around for about four years, releasing their first single “Hajimemashite” in the fall of 2011. The group been under three different labels; their own label (2011), Tower Records’ own indies idol label T-Palette (2011-2013), and on the major label Warner Records (2013-now). Even though they been through the whole changing label dance, the group still has kept their original sound; the sugary, popish idol music you usually find in AKB48 and other modern day pop idol groups in Japan. [Read More]

1. Milk & Honey – “Prove Your Love” (January 7)

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We are going to cross the ocean from Mexico to Europe to listen to the distinct sounds of Milk & Honey. Formed in 2006, Milk & Honey is a two-member group from Germany. However, they are quite diverse as they have released material in French, German, Arabic, and English. The members, Anne Ross and Manel Filali, had some entertainment-related experiences before creating Milk & Honey. Anne Ross was a former member of the German girl band Preluders, which was created from contestants on the German edition of Popstars. [Read More]

Reporting Live: Takui Nakajima’s “Renga no Ie” Promotional Event at Nagoya Parco’s Tower Records [May 03, 2015]

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I want to say a big thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you for 1,000 views and 600 visitors! I first saw the news on my phone during break time at work and broke out into a happy dance!

Thank you for your continuous support!

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Now to our weekly installment of Reporting Live (old name was Live Report). By the time I saw the next artist, it was the last day of my spree to see free lives around the city during the glorious Golden Week. This artist has become prominent this year as he gained more responsibility over the creation and production of several famous girl groups’ songs. Today’s Reporting Live is how I saw the amazing Takui Nakajima and why he brought me to tears.

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For those who are not familiar with Takui Nakajima or the Hello! Project fandom, don’t worry, let me give you a recap! Takui began his career in 1994 when he joined the indies visual kei band MAGGIE MAE, a name inspired from a Beatles’ song, right after he moved to Tokyo. The band stayed together until 1998 when they decided to break up. A year later, Takui debuted on the label Sony Music Records with his first name only in caps serving as his artist name. He released his first single, “Triangle”, under the label.

After the start of the millennium, Takui decided to jump labels as he went from Sony Columbia to an indies label before settling at Up Front Works. Maybe the switch to an indies label and a lesser-known one (Let’s face it, artists in Up-Front Agency at that time, who were not part of Hello! Project, were less well known) helped him more as he continued to create more of his own music and receive the freedom to experiment different musical genres. You could say a lot about his music. But for me, his music is filled of influences from the Beatles (which he is a big fan of and so am I), soft rock, hard-core rock, visual kei, blues, and beyond.

I can’t really talk much about the live event because honestly, I was late for it. My friend and I decided to eat Domino’s Japan, a rarity in my daily life because it’s sooooooo expensive here, after spending the hot Sunday morning at a zoo nearby. After finishing eating a late lunch, we realized that it was 2:40 pm. The live started at three o’clock, oh no! After casually walking to the station and riding the train, I barely made it to Sakae Station at three, a location where my friend and I decided that we would go on our own treks for the late afternoon.

It was my first time visiting Nagoya Parco’s Tower Records, so I didn’t know exactly where I had to go. See, the problem was that there were three Parco buildings. And because I decided not to pay attention to the store’s online event information, I decided to go and search for the store in the wrong building. As I reached the top, I realized my mistake and had to run down the stairs and go to the correct building. By the time I made it to the store, it was 3:18 pm! Takui already had already performed half his setlist!

When I entered, Takui was performing an amazing cover of “Back in the U.S.S.R.”. It was full of energy and so lively that most of audience were dancing and/or clapping their hands in a subtle way. Actually, the audience at this live event was the opposite of any fans at a Hello! Project event. At those events, most fans are men who are dressed in a color-coordinate style of their favorite member, armored with glowsticks, and performing their extreme fan chants throughout the songs. At Takui’s lives, the fans are mostly middle-aged women, some with babies, who are swaying to the beats, eyes beaming at him like he is some musical Jesus or something. It was complete silence, something I thought to be nice but eerie at the same time.

He sang a couple more songs. Here is the setlist, courtesy of James Yamada:

1. Tsugi no Mado wo Magare (次の角を曲がれ)
2. Donna Koto ga Atte mo (どんなことがあっても)
3. Hitori ni Narou to Shinaide (一人になろうとしないで)
4. Taiki Bansei (大器晩成)
5. Guernica (ゲルニカ) ~ BACK IN THE U.S.S.R
6. Sangousen (3号線)
7. Renga no Ie (煉瓦の家)
8. Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)

(You listen to full versions of the songs that are linked via Youtube)

I feel guilty of missing out on the first half because he performed some awesome songs like “Taiki Bansei” and “Tsugi no Mado wo Magare”. Nevertheless, the last song he performed was one of the best songs I have heard live for a long time. He started the song out with a mellow ambiance, just strumming mindlessly with only his guitar and singing the song. Half way through, he changed keys and started to sing a powerful rendition of “Stand By Me”. The way he performed with such power and emotions bought me to tears. His music moved me emotionally.

After he went IMG_1754back and finished “Tokyo Tower”, I wiped my tears while Takui thanked everyone for coming out. It was time to move: I had to go to a certain information desk and preorder the album in order to get an event ticket. The best thing was that it didn’t take a long time to signup for the preorder and get through the event line.

I actually went to this event for a friend because she is a huge of Takui. So, after I finished preordering, I went to the line, waiting for no less than five minutes. He was a really nice and kind person as he talked to everyone for an extended time and even saying hello to the babies and patted their arms that came up with their mothers. As I approached him, I shook his hand and told him that my friend from America said hi and that she loves him. He laughed and said “Thank you very much”. He signed a picture of himself, gave it to me, and we said our “goodbyes” and “see you next time” when I started to leave.

If you haven’t of this guy or his music, YOU SHOULD! I am not trying to yell at you or make you do it by typing everything in caps, but I strongly suggest listening to his new album. Takui is an amaaaaaaaaaazing performer who has a lot of talent that needs to be heard more through the musical world.

My friend recommend me the fast-paced, staccato-filled rock “Tsuzukerou”. It reminds me of a visual kei-type of song or something related to Tsunku.

Here is a promo for the new album:

11 Years of Thanks

A couple of days ago, one of the longest running idol groups in Japan held their farewell concert at the Nippon Budoukan with thousands of fans attending. Personally, I been a fan since they released their debut single in 2004; watching these once elementary school girls grow into beautiful ladies. During the years, their music even spread across the globe in various places like the USA, France, Thailand, and beyond.

Although their farewell concert was full of tears and such heartbreak, this blog post will have none of that. Instead, let’s take the time to remember what Berryz Koubou accomplished as each member heads down on their paths to the future.

What is Berryz Koubou?

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Berryz Koubou is a Japanese idol group that was formed in late 2003 with eight members from Morning Musume’s “little sister”-like training program called Hello! Project Kids. The program was formed in 2002 after a group of about fifteen elementary-aged girls successful auditioned for Hello! Project. Initially, Berryz Koubou was planned to have a ever-changing lineup as girls from Hello! Project Kids would be shuffled in and out of the group constantly. However, that plan was abandoned for unknown reasons as the rest of the Hello! Project Kids members went onto to form their own group called °C-ute.

Berryz Koubou released their first single, entitled “Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai”, on Hinamatsuri (a festival day for girls that is held on March 3) 2004. “Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai” isn’t describe as a typical idol song as it contains a funky beat, R&B meets pop melodies, Indian instruments, and the girls wearing shiny hip hop street clothing. But, they weren’t just an R&B-sounding group, their sound was always changing with every release. Over their long-standing careers, Berryz  sang anything from sugary pop to doo-wop and beyond. Sadly, we didn’t get Metal Berryz! That is left up to the fans to produce their own remixes! Evil Morning, anymore?

(A little side note: The group had eight members when they made their debut. However, one of the girls, Maiha Ishimura, graduated in 2005 to focus more on schooling. Since then, Berryz has had a stable lineup. You might get confused with the number of girls in the above picture with the one at the end of this post.)

Why them?

Why Berryz Koubou? Why do you like them? What is so special about these guys? Those are probably some of the questions you are asking. Let me explain!

Well, maybe it wouldn’t be an easy explanation.  Let me start from the beginning. I been a fan of Berryz Koubou since their third single, “Piriri to Yukou”, releaserd in the summer of 2004. At that time, I was a “freshman turning into a sophomore” high school student in love with their sister groups and friends like Goto Maki, Morning Musume, W, and other girls. Beside the sugary cute songs and innocence lyrics, what attract me to Berryz or any girls groups is the wanting to be THAT girl featured in Berryz. I wanted to be really pretty, have really good clothes, and have the ability to sing and dance despite being a nerd with no musical talent back then. I remember when I covered my first Berryz Koubou song exactly ten years ago in a cover group called Ongaku! Project. Oh, the horrors! I really sound bad back then!

As the girls got older, I still admired them for their amazing skills. However, recently I have felt like they been apart of life as we all grown up together. Even though I am only three or four years older than the oldest member in Berryz, I feel like we experienced many things together; heartbreak, happiness, pain, triumph, and such. It does sound a little weird but let me put it in another perspective. My father’s idol has always been Michael Jackson, from the time he made his debut in the Jackson 5 till his death. My dad always admired Jackson because they are about the same age and that my dad would always turn on the TV and see his idol growing up like Jackson was part of my dad’s family. That is how I feel like with Berryz; these girls made me feel like their were my friends and/or family members.

What is your favorite member and song?

I can admit when I first became a Berryz fan, my favorite member was Risako. I don know why, maybe for her singing voice or her uniqueness. As time went by, I gradually became a fan of each girl as each member possesses their own unique qualities: Miyabi and her rock-girl image (see Buono!), Momoko with her cute annoyance, Chinami with her charming cuteness, Risako with her exotic beauty, Saki and her amazing makeover (and hair colors!), Maasa with her funny personality, and Yurina with her elegance.

As for songs, I reallllllllllllllly love a lot of their stuff! But, if I had to choose one song, I would definitely say “Yuke Yuke Monkry Dance” as my favorite. Why? Because it’s such an awesome song with it’s monkey dance routines, oddball lyrics about Japan, monkeys, and dancing, and a really cool melody! Besides, who doen’t want to dress up in these monkey costumes?!

Whatever the future holds from me and these girls, Berryz Koubou will always have a special place in my heart.

Thank you girls!

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