The Mid-Year Review (2016 Version)

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It has been half a year! Time has mostly definitely flown by! I am sorry that this blog wasn’t as active like last year. Work has been extremely busy since the beginning of the school year (aka April) where I would just come home, cook dinner, take a shower, and go to bed extra early.  I also worked six days a week. I felt like I was working too much and not getting the necessary sleep I needed.

But! Everything has changed as I now work 5 days a week. I also have ample time to sleep and relax on a new bed. That’s right, a new bed! I was sleeping Japanese style for the past year with a bunch of futons and mattress piled on a hard wooden floor. But now I have an actual bed, I am able to sleep more peacefully now.

Enough of talking about the love of my life, I mean, my bed and my life. Let’s talk about music! Here are the top 5 most popular blog entries from January to July 2016!


5. Reporting Live: Sakura Cinderella near Nagoya Station (August 8,2015)  (Written on January 12, 2016)

Sakura Cinderella is another “local idol” group here in Nagoya. Unlike Idol Kyoshitsu who performs in another company’s sushi restaurant,  these girls perform in their own cafe near Nagoya Station. Formed in 2014, this AKB48 copycat group performs in their cafe every day and does street lives all over the city. Named after one of the main streets “Sakura Street”, Sakura Cinderella’s catchphrase is “Tidy and pretty true idols”.

Read more here.

4. Get ready for the Olympics with Kobushi Factory (Written on July 17, 2016)

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.

Read more here.

3. My Thoughts on Eurovision (Written on May 15, 2016)

Eurovision 2016 has already come and go. There were really exceptional acts, good acts, and worst ones. As there were 26 performers for the four hours final, it will take me a while to get through all the acts. So, if I can remind myself to do it, there will be a part two next week to cover the other performances.

Read More Here.

2. Boogie Woogie Into Saturday Night with Morning Musume (Written on May 22, 2016)

One of my all-time favorite Japanese pop girl group just released their 61st single! Yes, you read it right, 61st! Although, I did talk about their 60thabout six months ago. Nevertheless. Morning Musume always impresses their fans with the ability to successfully reinvent themselves for the past 18 years.

Now, the 61st is a Triple A single, with the songs being ‘Tokyo to Iu Katsumi”, “The Vision”, and “Utakata Saturday Night”. I won’t be talking about all three songs as that could be a huge essay that could bore you and that I wasn’t really digging two of the songs from the single.

Read more here.

1. Celebrating Canada Day with Don’t Wanna Fall in Love by Jane Child (Written on July 5, 2015)

Over the past twenty or so years. many Canadian artists have been featured and became immensely popular all over the world. Barenaked Ladies, musical goddess Celine Dion, rock-pop princess Avril Lavigne, “boy wonder” Justin Bieber (which you should check out his new single with Skrillex), and others. But, none were more eccentric or skillful at playing the keyboards than today’s featured artist.

Read more here.

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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: Tokyo Performance Doll at Tower Records Kintetsu Passe (May 03, 2015)

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Here is the long-awaited part two of the last day of my Golden Week spree to see many artists. Enjoy!

So right after I saw Takui Nakajima at Tower Records Nagoya Parco, I rushed to another music store in order to see another idol group, the current lineup of Tokyo Performance Doll or TPD for short.

I know what my readers are probably saying. It might be on the lines of “Wait! Didn’t you say in a post a couple of months ago that you disliked the current revival and would stick to your 90s TPD? Why the sudden change?”

Yes, I did say that I wasn’t happy with the resurrection of Tokyo Performance Doll with brand new members. How could they just replace the legacy that Shinohara Ryoko, Ichii Yuri, and the others made when they worked so hard back in the 90s? I thought it wasn’t fair. But, after seeing the new members, I began to think otherwise.

For those who don’t know about Tokyo Performance Doll (however I think they are getting more exposure overseas nowadays through blogs and TV programs like Tokyo Girls’ Update), they are a Japanese idol pop group that had two generations; a first generation in the early 90s and a second generation that started in 2013. The first generation had nine front members while various other girls served as trainees. Some of the trainees were promoted as front members at the end of the group’s career while some just served as backup dancers during performances. Members of TPD were more prominent as solo artists than as group members in the Japanese pop culture as some like Shinohara Ryoko and Ichii Yuri had record-breaking solo careers. And, most of the members were placed in several subgroups which released more material than the main group. However, the popularity of the group and the girls disappeared before the end of the 90s after TPD disbanded in 1996.

Fast forward sixteen years later when the agency CUBE decided to revitalize the Tokyo Performance Doll name by adding ten new girls. The new lineup released their first single, entitled “BRAND NEW STORY”, on June 11, 2014. Besides singing, the girls also star in their own variety show “Tokyo Goukyuu Kyoushitsu ~ROAD TO 2020~” and their own weekly corner on the radio show “GIRLS・GIRLS・GIRLS =FULL BOOST=”

After I got Takui Nakajima’s signature, I quickly headed to Tower Records Kintetsu Passe. But, one problem. I was still not sure about the subway system or the directions to the stations at that point. So, I spent about thirty minutes heading to a wrong station and then back-tracking to go to the correct one. It was such a headache.

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The setlist for the live event was (thanks to for electroursxxx the information):

01. WE ARE TPD!!
02. BRAND NEW STORY
03. Jyuudai ni Tsumi wa Nai (十代に罪はない)
04. Kokoro no Rule (心のルール; How did I miss this one????!!!! ;_;)
05. BE BORN
06. DREAM TRIGGER
-MC- (Dance Explanation)
07. DREAMIN’
-MC-

I think I came in during “Be Born”, I exactly don’t remember. I do remember that the audience was separated into two sections; one for those who pre-ordered the single and one for the regular audience. It was really easy to be in the front row of the regular audience section as there wasn’t a lot of people. I just chilled and watched TPD dance and sing on the small stage while the fan boys yelled their chants and jumped wildly.

After the live event ended, I decided to buy the one track version of the single so I could shake the members’ hands. However, while I was waiting for the staff to set up the handshaking area, one guy fan came up to me and mysteriously gave me two additional “TPD tickets”. Wow, I thought, I could use these tickets to get a photo with one of the members.

I used the ticket I gImage and video hosting by TinyPicot from pre-ordering the single for the handshake event. For this event, TPD was divided into two groups and you could only use one ticket for one group. Clever management, clever. I decided to go for the second group that featured Iida Sakurako,Takashima Nana, and three other girls. Each girl was really nice and asked how did I know about them while congratulating me for attending my first TPD live. It was when I shook Sakurako’s hand when she told me that Nana was really good at English. I was surprised and continue my way to Nana, who was the last member of the group.

When I got to Nana, I flat-out told her in English “I heard that you speak English!”. And then, in perfect teenager girl English, she replied excitedly , ‘Yeah, I am! Where are you from?” I told her that I was from America and we said some other things and our goodbyes before I got pushed gently by one of the staff members to move along. We waved at each other until the next person came up to shake her hand.

I waited around for quite some time till the handshake event  was to be concluded. I swear there was a pair of guys who bought like 20 copies or so because they kept on going through the line for a long time. After they exhausted their tickets, the girls finished shaking hands and said a cute message about ending the event and they were going to get ready for the photo session. While the girls were changing outfits, one of the managers came out and did a rock paper scissor challenge in order to win an autographed uchiwa (Japanese fan) from the members. I tried very hard to win, because I like free and signed things, but lost by the fourth or fifth round.

When they finished up the challenge, the staff members told the fans that the girls were ready to come out. One by one, they came out in the stunning outfits that you see at the top of this post. I think these are the best outfits that I have seen on any idol group this year. They were so beautiful.

The members said a short message to commerce the photo session and went to get ready. The staff members started to line the fans up by which member they wanted to take a picture with, which I wanted Nana. I lined up for Nana and the staff member asked me for five tickets. Five tickets? I thought it was one ticket for a photo. No, he said as he explained it was five tickets to get a picture taken with a member. Defeated, I left the area with my head hung low and was about to exit when I had an idea. I went back to Tower Records’ store table and asked them about the rules. The salespeople at the table were unsure and directed me to speak to one of the staff members. So, I went to one staff member and asked him about the event rules. He said one ticket was for a handshake or access to their photo site on some Japanese app. I tried to find the app but I couldn’t download it because I forgot my Japanese iTunes account name.

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I was about to leave once more with two tickets still in my hand (which I tried to pass on to other fans who looked at me with a dumbfounded expression) when the same staff member made a deal with me. He let me see Nana and talk to her for an extended period if I gave him the two tickets. Shocked at first, I excitedly agreed as I gave him the tickets and let him lead me to the backstage area where the girls were hanging out. The staff member called for Nana and she came to me with a huge grin and shook my hand again with the other girls behind her. We talked for an extended time as I asked where she got her amazing English skills (which she said she live in Singapore for a couple of years). In turn, she asked me how did I know about the group, which I replied with the answer of because I was a fan of the old TPD, “Occhame na Juliet”, Shinohara Ryoko, and Ichii Yuri. The whole group was amazed that I knew about the old TPD. Nana also told me the girls want to learn English someday. I replied that hopefully the members can so they can come to America someday. She had to leave suddenly because she was called to do a photo shoot with a fan. We said our goodbyes once more and I told her that I would tell my friends about the new TPD. She smiled and waved as we parted.

As I was leaving the area, I thanked the staff member who helped me to get a private conversation with the girls. I was so happy that I was offered the chance. But, I also felt guilty because I was given this special chance because I clearly didn’t understand the rules. It took a couple of prep talks from friends later to make feel un-guilty and it was ok to have this kind of opportunity. Nevertheless, when I was walking away from the event, I had a tremendous feeling that I want to do something like the opportunity I was given. I want to someday interview music groups and write about them on blogs, websites, and etc.

Someday.

As for “Dreamin”, the song is pretty mediocre for my tastes, It’s not splendid but at the same time, it’s not bad. I think what makes this song special is the message behind it. During one of the MCs, Nana said that song was the result of the girl’s dreams and the amount of hard work they put in to become idols. Musically wise, I think the rearranged version of BE BORN, a song that was featured on the original TPD’s album “Cha-DANCE Party Vol.6”, is better than “Dreamin” as it has an interesting flow and great lyrics.

From now on out, I will follow these girls as they are genuinely kind, down-to-earth girls who have splendid dreams. Although I kind of wish they didn’t take on the TPD name, I now know that the girls will take care of TPD’s past and future legacy with great care. Please check out their new single if you haven’t already.

Bay Canyons – “Runaway Emotion”

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Happy Saturday everyone! Let’s kick back and relax with the Japanese idol group Bay Canyons (ベイキャニオンズ). The all-female idol group was formed in 1997 to promote the Fuji TV show “dai ba:ba”. The meaning of the group’s name, according to Wikipedia, is about the “cleavage of Odaiba”. Woah, talk about being a bit risque there. However, at that time, most of the members were gravure idols; a type of idol that you will usually see in swimsuits on those racy magazines, books, and other printed media at the adult section of your local Seven Eleven or bookstore. The group did release their own photobook in 1997, titled “Bay Canyons Shashinshuu”. I don’t know if it’s really racy or not because I haven’t been able to track down that rare treasure. But, I could say that I have successfully found their only single, “Runway Emotion”, which was released a month earlier.

Bay Canyons were sadly a one-time group as they either broke up when their sponsorship with “dai ba:ba” ended or stopped activities whenever they finished promoting their single. Don’t get too sad! We can still enjoy their now “historical” official homepage. Putting all jokes beside, a few girls went on to do other family friendly entertainment after the end of Bay Canyons. Kokubu Sachiko has acted in various films and television dramas like “Nurse no Oshigoto” (with a legendary idol, Mizuki Alisa), SAI-REN, and others. Other members joined groups like Hipp’s (which was another TV idol group sponsored by “THE Yoru Hippare’), Liberty’s Girls, and VENUS.

“Runway Emotion” is one of those typical pop songs from the 90s. It has the unison group parts, non-group members’ harmonies, crushing guitar riffs from time to time, and the overuse of the crystallized keyboard sound. Not to mention that the song was composed by Joey Carbone, who has written many hit songs over the past twenty or so years for artists like Hello!Project, Johnny’s (remember KAT-TUN’S “Signal”?), Crystal Kay, Koyanagi Yuki, and many others. The height of his career was in the 90s, at the same as Bay Canyons’ formation. Maybe, the song carried a bit of Joey’s musical charm? I’m not sure exactly. But, I’m positive that the pre-chorus and chorus are pretty catchy with its cascading melodies and pleasant resolutions. Even though “Runway Emotion” is not a grade A song, it definitely has its own charms in a unique approach.

You can watch a small performance here:

http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm12936865

Don’t worry, there is nothing racy about the performance, It’s just a bunch of girls in black dresses, dancing and singing. And maybe swaying hips.

You can also listen to the song here.

More information can be found at:

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Japanese Wikipedia


Lyrics

Everytime itsudatte anata wo miteita

Hitokomi ni magirate mo sugu ni miteiru

⊗ Murime no koi datte minna warau kedo (Who knows)

Dokoka dakyou nanka shite hito wa aisenai

♥ Dakara Runaway Runaway Emotion Runaway

Dakedo Futari deatta koto sore ga unmei dakara Runaway

Everything sono koe ga kikenai yoru ni wa

Kimochi wa sora wo koe tsukamae ni yukou

Ima betsu no dareka wo anata ga suki demo (Oh boy)

Tatoe senaka nanka chotto mukerareta tte

Repeat ♥

@ Ai wa Runaway Runaway Emotion Runaway

Tsuyoku motto anata wo furimukasetai kara Runway

Runway

Repeat ⊗

Repeat ♥

Repeat @