Saturday, December 22, 2018

2018 Japanese Idol Year In Review

Everyone has an end of the year list, or a year in review, so I'm going to do one for This Is Your Wake Call!  As always, I have mixed feelings about what went on during the year as far as Japanese idol music is concerned.  There were several girls who graduated from some my favorite idol groups, such as amorecarina Osaka and Nagoya, Menkoi girls and Devil ANTHEM., among other groups I follow.  A few groups I really love even broke up.  But there was also a lot of great music released during 2018.  Some new groups that show promise debuted this year.  So here's what I thought of what the year 2018 brought Japanese idol fans.

My Favorite New Japanese Idol Groups

Bear in Mind
Omatsuri Shoujyo
Oh! My Kitty
Pumpkin Pookie

I still haven't seen a video for Pumpkin Pookie, which is a subunit of amoreacrina Osaka.  But since I absolutely love amorecarina Osaka, and Tanaka Ayaka - one of my favorite idols - is the leader of this group, I just know I'm going to love them when I do see a video! 

My Favorite New Idols

Kuroe Koharu - Harajuku DREAMMATE
Iimura Yuna - Harajuku DREAMMATE
Reika - W.
Manaka - Oh! My Kitty
Juna - Oh! My Kitty

Juna gets extra points for having the same birthday as me.  Ha ha!

Idol Groups That Broke Up In 2018

PARLISH broke up on March 18, 2018.
amorecarina Tokyo broke up on April 26, 2018.
SunRisa broke up on October 9, 2018 (although they last performed on September 7, 2018).
NA-NA broke up, for the second and final time, on November 25, 2018.

All four of these groups were personal favorites of mine.  SunRisa was my favorite idol group that was active in the past few years.  amorecarina Tokyo was the start of the amorecarina franchise, so I feel bad that the "parent" group disbanded.  These break ups were my least favorite part of 2018. 

My Favorite Idol Songs of 2018 

It's really hard to rank these songs since they are all favorites.  But I'll include a YouTube link for every song that I liked.  My only criteria is that I limited my choices to one song per group. 

"Mirai e no Shunkan" by Bear in Mind is probably the idol video that I played the most times in 2018.  This group is a spin-off group from amorecarina Osaka.  Yano Yuka graduated from amorecarina Osaka on March 25, 2018 but announced at her final performance that she and fellow members Kai Akari and Nagayoshi Yuna were going to debut as Bear in Mind on April 1.  Akari eventually graduated from both groups on August 11, 2018. 

I've already written about monogatari in my last blog article, so I don't know what else to say here.  "Re:born" is simply an incredible song that holds up to repeat listens. 

"First Step" by Harajuku DREAMMATE is a great debut song by an exciting new group.  These girls have been working as models and have known each other for around two years.  Their chemistry shows in their performances.  Here is the short version of "First Step".     

Have I mentioned yet how much I love amorecarina Osaka?  They released a single, which unfortunately is a venue-only release, titled "Kimi no Guzen"on June 17, 2018.  A short preview of the studio version is on YouTube, but you can also listen to the full version performed live in a fan video.  You can watch the full performance (highly recommended) or skip to 11:36 for the start of "Kimi no Guzen". 

When it comes to cute kids groups from Nagoya there are a few groups that spring to mind.  I loved all of RABBIT HUTCH's videos released in 2018 but I couldn't resist overplaying the catchy "RABBIT HUTCH Matsuri Waashoishoi".  This is definitely high on my list of 2018's best songs. 

A friend of mine tipped me off to the group Theme park Girl earlier this year.  The song that got my attention was "Girl's Skip", a jazz pop number.  Theme park Girl won this Year's Idol Matsuri Love Dance contest and will release their major debut from Warner Music Japan in 2019. 

A new group I discovered, mostly due to my particular interest in Osaka idols, was W.  Their official website has four songs that you can listen to for free!  My personal favorite is titled "Niji Iro Drops".  Here is the official live video for that song. 

Michinoku Sendai ORI☆HIMETAI did something this year I (or other fans) didn't think they'd do: a cover of John Lennon's classic "Imagine".  The lyrics were changed a bit so the girls could sing the song in Japanese, but the original message remains intact. 

Another new group I got interested in this year was Oh! My Kitty.  Yes, the name is a bit silly, but their singing is what really matters.  Here is a cover of Chuning Candy's "darling darling". 

MERUCHU are another ultra-cute Nagoya group that I want fans to know about.  Their lineup has changed frequently, which probably will confuse new fans.  This year's video / single (another venue-only release), "Hajimete no Katamoi", is something I love to play often.  Sadly, my favorite member, Kitade Cocoa, is graduating on December 23, 2018.   

Among the amorecarina Nagoya members I like that have graduated this year Kuraoka Mei was my favorite.  Ogiso Miku and Iizuka Yuni were the others.  Here is a live performance of a song that debuted on Mei's graduation, "Tenshi no Namida Furu hi ni".  By the way, you can spot who Mei is because she's wearing a purple and white dress that doesn't match the other girls' dresses! 

I caught up with Si☆Stella this year and quickly learned about the new members.  They have some new subunits including Si☆4, which features the older members.  Si☆4 released a digital single on November 15, 2018 titled "Futari☆Destiny".  It took a couple weeks to be available to customers outside Japan but you should be able to buy it from your favorite mp3 seller.  Here's a live performance of the song. 

CRUiSE! is a Fukuoka group that debuted in 2016 right after Hypericum broke up.  Several members from Hypericum were the initial lineup CRUiSE!  The group has had a couple new girls come and go, but the current six member lineup keeps active.  By the way, if you have never seen an idol group that includes butt-bumping as part of their dance routine, here is your chance to see it.  This is "Dotten Kaimei".     

If you miss some of the more electronic dance songs that Prizmmy☆ used to release, you might like this next song.  Devil ANTHEM. released what is described as a "hard EDM" song titled "Like a Tropical Night" and it's one of their better singles.  I hope you agree. 

The final cute kids group from Nagoya that you must know is none other than Twinkle.  This year they did some remakes of their older songs for studio music videos on YouTube.  My favorite is "Kodomoudo". 

Last but not least is the group Tokyo CuteCute with their video "SUGAR".  I have an interesting story.  I found out not long ago that if your Google and Twitter accounts are linked then whenever you like a YouTube video this is tweeted on your Twitter.  Well, I'm following some of the members of Tokyo CuteCute on Twitter and I recently liked this video.  Kasuga Kanako noticed this and liked my tweet!  Kanako and Akaogi Momoha are both former members of amorecarina Tokyo and they are why I took an interest in Tokyo CuteCute in the first place.  Unfortunately Momoha graduated from Tokyo CuteCute in November.   

Well, that's it!  Sixteen favorite songs from sixteen groups.  Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you all had a great year and I'll see you in 2019!         

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