Saturday, January 16, 2021

2020’s Overlooked Idol Songs

As it turns out, I have overlooked a handful of songs that were released in 2020 which should have been included in my last article.  I’m going to make up for this by sharing some videos and links for the artists. 

First off, I made a mistake regarding the group Fluffy Star.  The video I linked last time was not an original song.  According to a German friend who watches anime, it is an anime song in which the character names are replaced with the names of the girls in Fluffy Star.  But Fluffy Star did indeed have an original song released in 2020 titled “STEP UP”, which, believe it or not, they wrote the lyrics to!  The first video uploaded with this song was from an October 3 performance.  There’s some talking at the beginning and end of the video, but the song is sung in the middle. 


Twitter

SHOWROOM Live

YouTube


Do you remember when I mentioned Magical Girl Momorin?  Well, she’s had an image change or two.  She is now simply momo (I think spelled with all lower case letters) and she released a single titled “I’ll try ~Todoku made~”.  You can buy this cheap from your favorite mp3 seller.  Here is the video for the song.  




Instagram

Now, if you believe the hype, momo has a twin sister named Lei.  But it looks to me like it is actually momo with dyed hair or a wig.  You decide. 


Twitter

YouTube

Former member of Little Blossom and now soloist Aimi had an original song debut on August 27, 2020 titled “Himawari no Egao”.  


Twitter

YouTube


After I posted my article “2020 Japanese Idol Year In Review” the group CRUiSE! uploaded the studio version of their song “Heart Chaser”.  It figures one of 2020’s best songs would be released on December 28, practically the very end of the year!  


Website


Well, there you have it.  Five songs that should have been mentioned in my last article.  But I guess better late than never.  Thank you reading my blog!  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 Japanese Idol Year In Review

Boy, did the year 2020 stink!  I’m not just talking about Japanese idol activities such as break-ups and graduations either, although these things did happen too.  I usually don’t talk about my feelings on world events in this blog, as it doesn’t relate to Japanese idols, but no one can deny that we are in the midst of a global pandemic in which a virus has spread, and, unfortunately, claimed the lives of way too many good people in this world.  We are forced to wear face masks when we go out in public and keep our distance from each other.  Because of this, public gatherings have been discouraged.  This limits what many music groups can do as public appearances and concerts are not a good idea.  Thankfully, there are scientists working on various vaccines to hopefully kill or control the virus.  One hopes that 2021 will be a much better year than 2020.    

2020 didn’t provide many new songs from my favorite groups.  There were new groups that debuted in this year although one I liked broke up before the end of the year.  I can’t say that I blame anyone for wanting to stay home instead of getting together with their groups and going into the studio to record new songs, or to perform live in a public place with an audience.  But I’m grateful for the handful of new songs that I got to hear this year. 

2020 started off on a particularly crappy note as on January 1 monogatari’s staff announced that the group was disbanding.  Their final live was held on February 16.  My favorite member, Aozora Asuka, started a new Twitter account in April which has now been deleted.  I am not sure why. 

Hiwillow released their debut single, “To The Top”, on March 25, 2020.  My favorite song on the single is “cherry”.  I linked a fan video of Hiwillow last year, when the group was still a trio, but this year the group’s official YouTube channel has a live video from last December with four members (although the audio is the studio song).  Also, here are some official links. 

Website

YouTube

Twitter

Instagram 

SHOWROOM Live

A Little Bit was a group that created their Twitter in early January and their activities started soon afterward.  A Little Bit featured former amorecarina Osaka member Yano Yuka, who was the youngest member of the group.  I watched some of their official YouTube videos, but I only downloaded one, a live song named “challenger”.  The video was uploaded on March 27.  This is where I would normally place the link for that video, but unfortunately the group disbanded on September 22.  All their YouTube videos are now private or deleted.  I did save a group photo, which I’ll share below. 

One of my favorite members of Candy Zoo, Katayama Yuara, graduated on January 13, 2020.  Four days later a new lineup of Candy Zoo debuted with returning member Sugaya Natsuko.  Obviously, this new lineup was formed, and new songs were written for and practiced, at some much earlier point before Yuara’s graduation.  All of the older Candy Zoo songs, including the Candy Zoo Nightmare songs, have been discarded in favor of the newer songs.  If anyone reading this likes the new lineup and songs, that’s fine, but none of the newer members or songs are favorites of mine.   


Last year I linked a video for “vanilla” by Jumping Kiss, thinking it was their first single.  Actually, it wasn’t.  Oops.  “Houkago Lip”, released April 23, 2019, was the group’s first single, and there isn’t a music video for it.  Jumping Kiss’s second single, “Koi wa Ameagari ni Makasete”, does have a music video.  There are only five members in the current lineup, though.  About a month after this video was uploaded to YouTube my favorite member, Suzuki Hiyori, cut her super long hair short.  And then by December nearly every member of Jumping Kiss got a haircut.  This always seems to happen to my favorite idols.   

The seven members of White Rabbits all graduated from the group sometime in June.  Then they reemerged as the group Fluffy Star (which is my preferred name since I’m not sure how to spell their Japanese name) in July, signed to a new company.  The new White Rabbits are a bunch of preschool girls…which I’m not interested in.  Fluffy Star basically perform cover songs, but the video below may be an original song.   

Sakura Gakuin started the year by uploading a new video to their YouTube channel titled “Aoharu Hakusho”.  And there’s a whopping total of 73 seconds of music in it!  It sounds like it’s a great song, but unfortunately this is probably all I’ll ever hear since it’s hard to purchase Sakura Gakuin CDs.  There was an announcement on September 1 that they will have one final year and then disband on August 31, 2021!  That’s sad news for fans of the group.  The final lineup has only eight members, much like the original lineup.  (Longtime fans will recall that Mizuno Yui and Kikuchi Moa were transfer students.) 

RABBIT HUTCH released three new singles and added two new members in 2020.  The new members are Kiyota Anri (green) and Miura Miu (red).  My favorite single is titled, appropriately enough, “Daisuki!”  The good news is someone at Sister Management finally decided to have the girls do something besides dance in an empty room or in front of a white screen.  This time they are dancing in…an empty cafĂ©.  But they are also taking each other’s photos and sitting in a booth. 

Devil ANTHEM. surprisingly stayed active during 2020.  My favorite song of theirs from this year is “VS”, a rock / EDM hybrid song.  I’m glad to see Hashimoto Yume is growing her hair back.  By the way, earlier this year I purchased two cheki through the company Chaotic Harmony for their Cheki in the Time of Coronavirus program.  Below the video link is a photo of the cheki, Takekoshi Kurumi (left) and Yume (right). 



MOMOHA of Marble Angel entered the Idol Solo Queen Contest (yeah, Idol Queen Solo Contest makes more sense, but don’t tell them) and made it all the way to the finals!  At ten years old she is the youngest girl to get this far!  Here is a video of MOMOHA performing “Maji De Koi Suru Gobyoumae” at the contest.  Below that is a recent Marble Angel performance. 



Among the idols that graduated this year were Mizuno Zion of Jumping Kiss (who later changed her family name to Kameno when she joined NMB48 in September), Yuuna, Konami and Marino of Menkoi Girls, Reika of W. (Double V), Miduki of RISING/ZERO and Pastel Candy, Misora of Marble Angel and Shimizu Rion of HoshiGumi.  

So, yeah, 2020 was that kind of year.   

Monday, December 7, 2020

What’s Up With Candy Zoo?

When one of your favorite music groups change their lineup, should you keep on supporting them?  This is a question that often goes through my mind.  Candy Zoo have gone through a handful of lineups since their formation in May 2013, and the current lineup seems like a talented bunch of girls.  But still, all the girls that I liked the most have now left the group.  And while I have no proof or facts to back up a theory I have about the current lineup, if anything I suspect is true then I’m pretty upset.

I was a big supporter of the original lineup up of Candy Zoo as well as the first person to write about them in English.  They seemed like a fun and cute group of girls with some exciting songs.  I liked all the girls, but had my favorites, as many idol fans do.  The first girl to graduate from the group was Ootsuka Minami, the lion of Candy Zoo and my favorite.  I continued to be a fan despite that she left, though.  New members continued to join just as some of the original members left.  I remained a fan through all of these changes.  By May 27, 2018 all the original members of Candy Zoo had graduated. 

Later in 2018 remaining members Katayama Yuara (who joined Candy Zoo in April 2015) and Sugaya Natsuko - or Kako, as she likes to be called - (who joined in February 2016) were joined by two new members, Nakahara Fuumi and Hashimoto Ryoka.  Although Yuara is younger than Natsuko, her longer tenure in the group presumably made her the leader of Candy Zoo. Interestingly enough, it was Fuumi who created her own SHOWROOM Live live stream “room”, which no other Candy Zoo member had.  Being the oldest member, an unfamiliar new fan might have mistaken Fuumi as being the leader.  In March 2019 Candy Zoo credited their nighttime performances as Candy Zoo Nightmare, complete with electric hula hoop dresses.  Their electronic reworkings of older songs and several new songs made me think that Candy Zoo were heading in a new, interesting direction.  Then Natsuko graduated from Candy Zoo on September 8, 2019, making Candy Zoo a trio.       

Everything I just typed in the above paragraphs are fact.  From this point forward almost everything is my personal theory that I can’t back up with proof.  Candy Zoo’s company, RIZE Idol Productions, probably wanted to create a new lineup without the older members in 2018 so all the remaining original members, Yamamoto Himiko, Nishisato Rina and Sakamaki Yuuna, were asked to leave.  Sometime after Fuumi and Ryoka joined RIZE probably were thing about creating a bigger lineup, and with Fuumi as leader.  The only way they could do this would be to get Yuara and Kako to graduate.  So they asked Kako to leave the group with the promise of bringing her back later.  Then RIZE asked Yuara to graduate in January (which she did) while they were auditioning new members.  With Yuara, the leader and member with the longest tenure in the group, gone, they were free to declare oldest member Fuumi as the new leader.  RIZE added four new members and brought back Kako, who could not be the leader since she had left the group temporarily.  Fuumi’s fans are probably overjoyed with this, while this Candy Zoo fan is not.  And while the newest songs are decent “cutesy” pop, similar to older Candy Zoo songs, I doubt if the Candy Zoo Nightmare songs, designed for a quartet of singers, will be sung again.  So much for the new, interesting direction!                               

Friday, December 27, 2019

2019 Japanese Idol Year In Review

Yes, another year comes to a close and end of the year lists appear all over the media!  2019 wasn't all that great of a year, even taking into account all of the graduations, break ups and various changes that any idol group goes through.  It was one of those years when I had to decide before writing this article whether or not to include some of the more mediocre idol songs that I've heard this year just because I felt my favorites list was a bit short.  My opinions and interests are obviously going to different from everyone else who listens to idol music, since I rarely pay attention to the mainstream, so here is what I felt about idol music of 2019.

2019 began differently for me.  For the first time ever I started paying attention to Korean pop music.  This is mostly due to a friend who told me about a Korean kids idol group named Vitamin, created by Clevr Entertainment & Music.  (Yes, Clevr is spelled this way.)  Through Vitamin I then discovered their sister group PIERCE.  Both groups featured a talented girl named Kim Naye.  Naye became my favorite Korean idol rather quick due to her beautiful, multi-octave voice.  So there was life beyond Japanese idols!  It has made me wonder if I should start a blog about Korean idols or if I should write about them here.  But I've resisted the urge to mention my interest in Korean idols (at least those from Clevr E&M) until now.  I may not write more about them here, but those who are interested may join my fan group for Vitamin & PIERCE.

On July 15, 2019, one of my favorite idol groups, amorecarina Osaka, broke up.  I wrote about them extensively in my last article for this blog.  Since then I was lucky to acquire a 4 disc DVD-R set containing their last performances!  I don't think this was done when amorecarina Tokyo broke up, and I don't think amorecarina Nagoya has DVDs available either.  I feel very lucky to have obtained them. 

I think I'll just get on with my favorite songs of 2019 now.

My favorite song of 2019 comes from a group named Hiwillow.  They are a local idol group now consisting of four girls, although they had three when they debuted.  One of the original members, a girl named Maaya, has left the group.  The group now consists of Shiki, the leader, Risa, Runa and Mei.  There are a few videos for Hiwillow on YouTube, but many of them are poor quality or have the songs cut short.  I am going to link a full live for Hiwillow, although the first song and my favorite, "Cherry", starts at 4:11 into the video. 

    
One of my favorite new groups of 2019 isn't technically a new group.  SAKURA MODE is the reformation of the group Otan 43, a part of SAKURA MODE PROJECT.  I also wrote about them in my blog earlier in 2019.  SAKURA MODE consists of three girls, Harashima Miu, Yuduki Ramu and Harashima Ruka.  Two other girls from SAKURA MODE PROJECT are performing as soloists, but SAKURA MODE are the only ones with new, original songs.  Unfortunately SAKURA MODE disbanded on December 21, 2019 when sisters Miu and Ruka both graduated.  This really disappoints me as the manager of the group, Shun Eguro, actually thanked me on Facebook for promoting SAKURA MODE on my page Young Idol Singers!  He even told me they intended to go global.


Here is the song "MY MODE".

 
COLORLESS are a group that's been active for a year, but I guess I never paid attention to them until recently.  I started watching a girl named Shimooka Rihika on SHOWROOM Live during the summer.  Around October I saw a COLORLESS live video on YouTube and then promptly forgot about the group.  Then after hearing an audio-only video for the song "PUZZLE" (which doesn't seem to be on YouTube anymore), which was linked to Rihika's SHOWROOM Live room, I suddenly became interested in the group!  Doing a bit more research as I write this I now see that "PUZZLE" is not a new song from 2019, but rather 2018.  This video seems to be the original version of the song, from November 2018.  However, I'm going to include a link for the new live version simply because I like the group and this escaped my attention last year.  Actually, there were songs I would have included on last year's best of list had I remembered or waited until after Christmas to write my article.  Anyway, here is the live debut of Rihika, which includes "PUZZLE" shortly after the intro.    


I've been a fan of the group Devil ANTHEM. ever since their debut, but I think I've only mentioned them once in my blog.  Well, it's time I mentioned them again as they have one of the most rockin' songs of 2019!  "Fake Factor" mixes some heavy guitar chords in with Devil ANTHEM.'s usual EDM (Electronic Dance Music, for those who don't know) and it sounds pretty good to my ears!  I also love the special effects in the video. 


A group that debuted last year performing classic Japanese pop cover songs is Marble Angel.  The group had two original songs released this year, including this song, "Smile".  Unfortunately for fans of Yamaguchi Raira, the girl in the pink costume in this video, she has now left the group.  On the same day (November 10) that Raira graduated, three new members were introduced but didn't actually perform with Marble Angel until December 15.  Here is Marble Angel's live debut of their first song from July 7. 

            
monogatari came back strong in August 2019 with the short new single "for Me", which features some nice vocals and, in my opinion, good percussion work!  The heavy eye makeup is a bit much, though.


Si☆4 released a new CD for their single "Niji Iro ☆ Mirai", but it was track two, "Kimi ☆ Adventure" that caught my attention.  I still wish a studio video with the girls wearing jungle outfits, as the promo photo features, would be nice.  (Note: In January 2020 I realized these are American Indian costumes, not jungle girl costumes.)


             
Jumping Kiss has taken much of my attention as of late, but I only really started paying attention since August or so.  It suddenly became my mission to record down the names of all the members and I have found the names (but not the birthdays or other info) of the current lineup.  Their video for "vanilla" is something I've played several times because it is catchy and fun, like all of the idol songs I'm interested in.  Members Suzuki Hiyori and Mizuno Zion are my favorites.  


W. (Double V) has released a number of good songs since their 2018 debut.  Their first new song of 2019, "fake", is my favorite from this year.  It starts off with a cool EDM beat and just gets better.  Sadly, Kurumi has now left the group.


I haven't stopped watching White Rabbits all year!  This group has kept my interest with their cute songs, including new song "Hakutoshin ~Ikusen'nen no Omai~".  Member Ao will be graduating at the end of this month.


Sakurai Yune released a single early this year that was a tie-in to a game titled "Sweet × Sweet My Candy".  The game is called 'Sokubaku Kanojo' and Yune voices a character in the game.  The song is just as cute as she is!


Oh! My Kitty was one of my favorite new idol groups last year.  They formed with six members, added a seventh but starting in early 2019 have gradually lost members.  Their first original song "Helo!Helo" was performed live in March of this year, but I'm not even sure if this song is available on CD or not.  Unfortunately the group now has just four members.  But fans of Juna will definitely want to check out a commercial that she has done.  

   
Well, that's it for this year's favorites.  I'm sorry that I didn't do more research on COLORLESS before I started typing and released that it wasn't a new song.  Last year Hoshi☆Gumi released a new song on Christmas day, and I posted my article on December 22.  New songs for favorite groups turn up on YouTube when I'm not paying attention or have Internet-related troubles and I can't watch.  As always I want to thank you for reading and I hope the new year brings you much joy!   

Thursday, July 18, 2019

amorecarina Osaka


I wrote a few words about amorecarina Osaka disbanding on July 15, 2019 on my Facebook page Young Idol Singers.  I wanted to expand upon that a bit here and add some video links.  The group wasn't very well known or as liked as some local idol groups, and I can only make guesses as to why.  I always liked all three amorecarina groups from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.  I really got into the Osaka group, though, and this I can tell you.  

The girls in amorecarina Osaka really impressed me as being hard workers.  They danced very well and put a lot of energy into their performances.  But I'd have to say it was their 2016 song, "Shooting star☆", that really grabbed my attention.  The song just stood out among all the songs performed by any of the amorecarina groups.  Even if I didn't really understand the majority of the lyrics I still understood that it was a very passionate song.  The way the girls sung it touched something inside me.  I will also freely admit that Tsukamoto Ririka was the girl I really noticed (eventually, as it took me time to learn all of their faces and names), and she became my favorite.  I have to give credit to the writer(s) and producer, although I can't say for sure who those people might be.  The amorecarina Osaka website has lyrics in Japanese, but no credits.  There was a CD released titled "The Best of amorecarina Osaka" which included a studio version of the song, but I never found a way to purchase it.  If anyone knows how I can purchase CDs (if there are any left) for amorecarina Osaka or Bear in Mind, please contact me.


I want to share this short but cute video of amorecarina Osaka backstage before a performance from February 6, 2016.  I believe that is Otsu Yui with glasses being lifted by Tanaka Ayaka. 


Here is a full performance from July 17, 2016, which is the first time I heard "Shooting star☆".  I play "Shooting star☆" from a different video of this performance (which has been deleted from YouTube) every day!


Tsukamoto Ririka graduated on March 26, 2017, yet I continued to support the group.  

The only amorecarina Osaka CD single was "Kimi no Guzen", released on June 17, 2018.  It was one of my favorite songs from 2018.  Again, I don't have this on CD but really wish I did.  Here is the short preview version of the song. 


Bear in Mind, a spin-off group of amorecarina Osaka, was announced on March 25, 2018, the day Yano Yuka graduated.  The group debuted on April 1, 2018, with Yuka, Kai Akari and Nagayoshi Yuna as the three members.  They have a five track venue-only CD which was released on July 8, 2018.  Akari graduated from both groups on August 11, 2018.  Here is one of Akari's final live performances, from August 11, 2018. 
 

  

Here are some photos from the final live of amorecarina Osaka, Bear in Mind and Pumpkin Pookie.  


This one includes Tsukamoto Ririka, who came to the live. 



Thanks for reading all of this, and watching the videos!  While I am very sad that these groups broke up I will still watch the old videos for amorecarina Osaka and Bear in Mind.  I still have not found a Pumpkin Pookie video on YouTube.  I hope to see one since I'm a huge fan of Tanaka Ayaka, the leader of the group, and my second favorite amorecarina Osaka member.  I can't stop being a fan even if my favorite Osaka idol groups have all disbanded.  Could you?  

Monday, July 15, 2019

New Music I'm Listening To - July 2019

Here's a few videos that I like this month.  First up is the group Hiwillow.  I really like the first song, "Cherry". 


Next is Magical Girl Momorin.


"365 Days Heroine" is the latest from Theme park Girl.


"Smile" is the first original song from Marble Angel.


Although the song isn't new, here's a recently uploaded dance practice video for "WATER Mermaid" by CRUiSE!


That's all for now!  I hope everyone enjoyed these idol videos!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My Favorite Japanese Idol Songs

Just for fun, I thought I'd share a list of songs I really like.  My criteria is one song per group, although there are singers who were in more than one group on this list.  Maybe you can figure out who sang on more than one song!

01. “Brand New Day” - SCOOPERS (2011)
02. “Niji Iro” - Caramel ☆ Ribbon (2010)
03. “Candy Machine ni Notte” - NA-NA (2013)
04. “Summer Paradise” - Aither (2013)
05. “RainBow × RainBow” - Prism ☆ Box (2013)
06. “Love Romancer” - Candy Kiss (2014)
07. “ORI ☆ STAR Love Jet!!” - Michinoku Sendai ORI ☆ HIMETAI (2012)
08. “KISS ME KISS ME” - CoCo DeCoRu (YouTube: 2013 / CD: 2014)
09. “Shuriken Shu Shu” - Himekko 5 (2013) 
10. “Koisuru Sniper” - Jewel ♥ Kiss (2011)
11. “Oh My Ghost? ~Watashi ga Akuryo ni Nattemo~” - Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku (2011)
12. “life is game?” - PEACEFUL (2011)
13. “Song for You” - Fairies (2011)
14. “Running Fighter” - Onigokko (2013)
15. “Ne~e! Sakuranbo” - Sakuran Bom Bom (2014)
16. “Delta” - Kagaku Kyuumei Kikou LOGICA? (2013)
17. “Hatsukoi Rocket” - Party Rockets (2012)
18. “St. BONAPRO SCHOOL” - St. BONAPARO SCHOOL (2013)
19. “FLY AWAY” - Sakura Gakuin (2011)
20. “lucky star” - mImi (2014)
21. “OVER FLOW” - SunRisa (Live: 2014 / CD: 2015)
22. “Let’s go out” - amorecarina (2015)
23. “Popple ☆ Heart” - Prizmmy☆ (2012)
24. “NO: ID” - B♭ (Live: 2010 / CD Remix: 2012)
25. “Minichia Ouenka” - Minichia Bears (Live: 2010 / CD Remix: 2014)
26. “JS Datte!! Ima Shika Nai!!” - Pocchimo (2014)
27. “Star Road” - Haru ☆ Kana (2013)
28. “Kyoshitsu Sabaibaru” - Millennium Girls (2014)
29. “Honki! Matsuri! Love Sick!?” - Smile Kiss Gumi (2013)
30. “JUMP” - PARLISH (2014)
31. “Kinen-bi Noto” - Maboroshi ☆ Love (2014)
32. “Go Go ☆ Dinosaur” - Candy Zoo (2014)
33. “Hypericum Chaka de GO!” - Hypericum (2015)
34. “Hono’o no JUMPING KICK” - RABBIT KICK (2014)
35. “Cherie Amour” - CheriCherie (2015)
36. “Susume! Hope!” - loop (2012)
37. “Shooting star☆” - amorecarina Osaka (2016)
38. “Mirai e no Tobira” - Si☆Stella (2015)
39. “Shukurimu Monsuta ♪” - Cute☆Pit (2014)
40. “FUJIYAMA △ no yo ni” - FUJI △ PASSION (2014)
41. “MODOKASHI BABY” - BABYFACE (2015)
42. “Warning” - Riluce (2014)
43. “MY FOTUNE” - powder.jp (2014)
44. “QQQ” - Maliee (2015)
45. “Chocolate Paradise” - MOMONA from Prism☆Mates (2014)
46. “Dancing Hero” - Showa☆Tokimeki Gumi (2017)
47. “Himawari” - Little Blossom (Live: 2017 / CD: 2018)
48. “Smile Gakuen” - Smile Gakuen (2011)
49. “Suisei” - Global Unit Comet (Live: 2017 / CD: 2018)
50. “Mirai e no Shunkan” - Bear in Mind (2018)
51. “Niji Iro Drops” - W. (2018)
52. “RABBIT HUTCH Matsuri Waashoishoi” - RABBIT HUTCH (2018)
53. “Koisuru Bani” - White Rabbits (Live: 2017 / CD: 2019)
54. “ Devil ANTHEM. ~Kimi no Heart wo Seifuku Chu~” - Devil ANTHEM. (2015)