Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Candy Kiss's Sweet "Parfait"!

This is the most original and innovative Japanese idol album of the past few years!  Do I have your attention now?

Here is something unique: a Japanese idol album that actually offers originality in at least two ways.  The first way is that none of the songs on the album have been previously released, either on a CD or as a digital download.  Although a few of the songs have been performed live sometime during the 20 months prior to the album’s release, none of these songs have been available in a studio version until now.  Furthermore, there aren’t any plans to release these songs on a single.  The second way this album is original is the format in which the album is set up.   The whole album is made to sound like a Japanese radio broadcast.  It starts off with intro music and then a voice that speaks “FM Candy Kiss…Parfait”.  This is followed by the three members of Candy Kiss, Fukushima Kotoko, Yoshizawa Ruri and Oguchi Ryoka, introducing themselves while the sounds of soft guitar playing and waves hitting the beach are heard in the background.   There is a real summery feel to these “interludes”, as they are labeled on the CD packaging.  The girls talk a bit about the next three songs you are about to hear, mentioning the titles as well.  The next three tracks, of course, are the songs.  Then another “interlude” follows, with the girls continuing their talk, promoting their new album “Parfait”!  Introductions for the next three songs are included, followed by those songs.  This format is repeated a third time.  Finally, the thirteenth track is a wrap up, with the girls thanking the listener.  Outro music is heard with “FM Candy Kiss…Parfait” included, this time being sung rather than spoken.  The music fades and the album is over.

As for the songs themselves, they are all excellent!  The newer Candy Kiss material is more mature than past songs, and the group also has a more mature image now as well.  Highlights for me include track 4, “Hot Summer”, which is primarily sung in English.  Track 7, “Open Arms”, was originally performed live on November 23, 2013, and I had to wait for 20 months for this song to finally make its CD debut!  Interestingly enough, this studio version is 68 seconds longer and somewhat differently mixed.  I think I actually cried when I heard the studio version for the first time.  Track 8, “First Love”, is a sweet love song that was originally performed live by Shimoda Kaede and Yoshizawa Ruri on March 2, 2014.  The studio version is sung by Ruri with Fukushima Kotoko.  Track 10, “Bara no Maho”, is a beautiful flamenco song, something that Candy Kiss has never attempted before.  Tracks 11 and 12, “Kanashimi no Burning Love” and “ to Ai Shita Hito”, both have haunting instrumental openings that actually gave me goose bumps when I first heard them!  I could tell right away that these would be good songs, and they are.      

I’m not sure how unique it is to release a Japanese idol album that contains all new music.  I’m also not sure how rare it is to release an album with no singles or music videos in sight.  (At least on YouTube.  The DVD included with the album does have a music video, for the song “to Ai Shita Hito”, at the end.)  But I’d say it’s very rare, as most groups would not consider doing something like this.  Setting up an album like a radio broadcast also seems pretty unusual for an idol group.  Therefore Candy Kiss gets points for trying something rare, or perhaps completely new.  Not many groups would throw caution to the wind and dare to be this different.  Candy Kiss have also made a progression since their first single, the ultra cutesy “Koisuru Candy Kiss”, released over three years ago.  “Parfait” features songs that are much more mature sounding than any other Candy Kiss song of the past.  This is not to say I dislike the older Candy Kiss songs.   Actually, I love them!  However, it is nice to see a group progress rather than stay the same for their entire career.  In another unusual move, the credits on the CD packaging, and also the end credits of the DVD, have a special thank you to former members Sakurai Maya and Shimoda Kaede.  It’s pretty rare for an idol company to thank the graduated members of the group in the CD credits.  These are among the reasons why I have lots of respect for Candy Kiss.

Most pop and rock music groups release mere albums.  “Parfait” by Candy Kiss is an unforgettable life-changing experience!  “Parfait” is an genuine album, one that requires your rapt attention from start to finish.  This is not an album that you can listen to as background music, because not focusing on the songs will cause you to miss something good.  The music is excellent, with nine well-written and produced pop songs, and four interludes that tie the album’s concept together nicely.  “Parfait” is not a “concept album” under the generally accepted sense, but the “radio show” format is definitely unique.  While the album is somewhat short (38:45 in length, due to the shortness of some songs), it is something that keeps the listener entertained throughout and holds up to repeat listens.  This is not only the best Japanese idol pop music album of 2015, it is one of the best albums of any genre of music in the world!    

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Airu's Fundraiser Is Live!

Tomimoto Airu's Idol Matsuri fundraiser is now at Indiegogo rather than Kickstarter, and it is now live!  For the next 31 days you have the opportunity to help bring this talented young girl to Idol Matsuri for her first performance in the U.S.  All the details are here.  There's some great perks such as digital photos, an autographed cheki (a small instant photo, for the unintiated), an mp3 and even a personalized video message thanking you for bringing her to the U.S.!  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Idol Matsuri Is Bringing Soloist Tomimoto Airu To The U.S.!

There’s exciting news for U.S. fans of Japanese idols as Idol Matsuri, the first Japanese idol convention in the United States, has just announced that their second Japanese guest for 2015 is Tomimoto Airu!

Tomimoto Airu (富本愛琉) is a young soloist who performs many Japanese idol cover songs.  She sometimes works with other indie idols for certain appearances, but primarily works alone.  Airu was born on February 11, 2005 in Hokkaido, Japan.  Her hobbies include singing, dancing, playing the Japanese drums and violin, and ballet.  Airu is signed with Actors Studio Hokkaido, STARGATE School.  She is a children’s fashion model and appeared in the magazine SHO-BOH #29, as well as on the accompanying “making of” DVD.   Airu’s favorite idols include Suzuki Airi of C-ute and the group Prizmmy☆ .

Here is Airu's intro video for Idol Matsuri.  Please turn on the closed captions for English subtitles.

In order for Airu to come to the U.S. she will need your help!  A Kickstarter fundraiser is coming
soon and has some exciting rewards for those who donate.   

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Worst Type Of Idol Fans

I need to talk about something that has been in my mind for several months now.  It's been bugging me a lot lately, and I need to get this off my chest.  I've come across certain people who claim to fans of Japanese idols that seem to be very close-minded.  These people are what I refer to as "elitist mainstream idol fans".  

Elitist mainstream idol fans are those who only listen to mainstream groups and nothing but these groups.  They are the ones you'll find that say "I only listen to Hello! Project groups" or "I only listen to the *48 family groups."  Some of these fans may also listen to other mainstream groups such as Momoiro Clover Z or BABYMETAL, but they are ignoring many indie and underground idol groups.  Now it might be because they haven't heard of some of these indie and underground groups, or it might be because they have an extremely bad attitude and just plain won't acknowledge them.  These fans are some of the most close-minded people who are listening to music.  But it gets even worse sometimes.  I have read comments along the lines of "I wish this girl would leave her current group and join Hello! Project."  Now that is the most horrible type of comment an idol fan can make!  Don't understand why?  Let me explain.

If you say you like a certain idol singer in a indie or underground group, and you really want them to leave this group, then you are wishing this group would not be successful and possibly break up.  If you actually got your wish and your favorite singer in an indie group left to join Hello! Project or the *48 family, then the group she was originally in will have a steep decline in popularity and this will anger many of the fans of the group.  They will resent the girl who left and caused this decline in popularity.  If the group breaks up because the most popular girl left, this will cause even more anger in some fans.  Even if some fans follow her to the H!P or *48 group she ends up in, they still might wish she would return to her original group so things will go back to the way they were before she left.

If you really love an indie or underground singer or group, please show it by supporting this singer or group.  Purchase their compact discs or other merchandise, if possible, and tell people how much you love the singer or group and why.  Be a proud fan and tell your friends about this non-mainstream idol you love and share their YouTube videos (or videos on other websites).  Spread the good word about these idols instead of wishing that the most popular member would leave the group to join a mainstream company.  Being an elitist, close-minded and mean-spirited mainstream fan just isn't very smart.            

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Candy Zoo Welcomes A New Member!

Indie idols Candy Zoo officially welcomed new member Katayama Yuara to the group on May 17, 2015, which was one day before their second anniversary.  Yuara actually made an appearance on stage on April 25 for the joint birthday celebration for Candy Zoo members Yamamoto Himiko (who turned 13 on April 19) and Nishisato Rina (who also became 13, but on April 28).  However, she did not perform with the group that day.  Yuara wrote in the Candy Zoo blog for the first time on May 18.  A photo posted on Twitter shows the current lineup of the group.  Yuara is the Green Meerkat of Candy Zoo.    

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sakura Gakuin 2015 President And New Members Announcement!

The announcement of the new Student Council President of Sakura Gakuin and the new members of the group appeared on the Oricon Style website earlier today.  Sakura Gakuin are back to twelve members again!  What makes me even more excited is Isono Rinon is the new President of Sakura Gakuin!  I have been a big fan and supporter of Rinon since she joined Sakura Gakuin, and with the addition of six new members bringing Sakura Gakuin back to form, this could be a very exciting year for the group.

Below are the names of the new members.  Click on a name to go to her official Amuse profile.

Kurosawa Mirena - Born on May 22, 2001 in Tokyo.
Okazaki Momoko - Born on March 3, 2003 in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Aso Maaya - Born on November 4, 2003 in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Hidaka Marin - Born on December 1, 2003 in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Yoshida Soyaka - Born on June 14, 2004 in Osaka.
Fujihara Kano - Born on August 28, 2004 in Chiba Prefecture.

Sakura Gakuin graduated member (and my all-time favorite) Miyoshi Ayaka paid a visit to her former alma mater and shared this awesome photo taken with the new girls on her Instagram.

Although I'm late in reporting this, in other Sakura Gakuin member news, Sugimoto Mariri started a new blog on April 1, 2015.    

Congratulations to Rinon for being selected the fifth Student Coucil President Of Sakura Gakuin, and best wishes to all the new members!  

Friday, April 17, 2015

SunRisa - Overflowing With Talent!

SunRisa is a four member Kansai-based idol group created by SPROUT Entertainment and Dream Girls fashion magazine.  The group debuted on April 13, 2014 with five members.  The name of the group is a play on the Spanish word "sonrisa" which means "smile". While I am not sure about this, I believe the two oldest former members, Kozai Sakura and Kumada Rena were brought in to help the younger members to learn how to dance.  They seem to be working primarily as teen fashion models now.  Imamori Manaka was originally a candidate and then promoted a full member on August 22, 2014.    

When SunRisa performed at an event known as Fanfare on April 4, 2015, the group released two singles.  Live performances of these singles with both former and current members (some of them fan videos) have been on YouTube for a while now.  Today SunRisa released their first studio video for the song "OVER FLOW".  This is the song that caught my attention a few months ago and it sounds pretty good with the current lineup.  I do miss Sakura and Rena, but I am very supportive of all the members!


"Fashionable" (live) 

All links go to their official SPROUT Entertainment profiles. 

Current Members: 
Matsuo Fuka - Born on June 24, 2001; 144 cm  
Shimada Mayuka - Born on September 30, 2002; 146 cm 
Imamori Manaka - Born on July 1, 2003; 140 cm  
Okamura Minami - Born on October 20, 2004; 135 cm 

Morigami Aiko - Born on August 9, 2003; 135 cm  
Hiura Nao - Born on October 15, 2003; 134 cm 
Maia - Born on January 30, 2005  

Former Members: 
Kozai Sakura - Born on April 24, 1999; 155 cm  
Kumada Rena - Born on May 24, 2000; 150 cm  
Kawasaki Sakura 

Fuka's Twitter (Protected)