Friday, February 26, 2010

A Covert Operation - Mission 6: Cover Yuu

It wasn't long after Morning Musume replaced Pink Lady as the best-selling girl group in Japan that the Heisei-period girls released a tribute album to the man who wrote the Showa-period ladies' best-selling hits. Released 2008.11.26, COVER YOU features 14 songs written by master songwriter Aku Yuu, including three tracks originally by Pink Lady themselves.

Mission 6: Cover Yuu

The angles of Risako

Isn't it amazing what a different camera angle and hairdo can do for a lady's figure?

I'm really curious to see this Zoku v-u-den performance. I hope it's better than the summer Champloo one. It would be hard for it to be worse after all.

New sites for S/mileage!

S/mileage's new website has debuted!

Check it out!

The site is very well laid out and it fits the group's image perfectly. I'm especially fond of the front page photo which changes! Every time you visit one of six images pops up and it will (usually) be different when you return. The front page also features news and twitter feeds.

Each of the girls has been assigned a sort of image fruit based on their favorite foods: melon for Ogawa Saki, peaches for Maeda Yuuka, cherries and berries for Wada Ayaka, and, of course, strawberries for Fukuda Kanon. Yum!

We're also treated to blog and Twitter links.

Also, not directly related to S/mileage's new site, but Up Front has a relatively new channel on YouTube, and they posted this video of S/mileage:

I believe Kanon's shirt says "i ♡ baby shoot." Such violent Engrish!

S/mileage's 4th indie single "Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!!"

S/mileage's 4th indie single Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!! (オトナになるって難しい!!!) will be released on March 14.


Wow. Ok. Whoa.

The Outfits

I wasn't a huge fan of the promo outfits for Suki-chan, but I really like these! I'm in love with the cardigan. I wish I had one just like it! Everything else is just so cute! The pink plaid fits their image really well, and of course I like the tiny hats :) I'll admit, I was a little uncomfortable with how good Kanon looks in the costume. She's really growing up fast!

The casual outfits are pretty boring though. I would even say DAWA's is ugly. It looks like she's wearing an acid-wash denim jacket. Boo, I say.

The Song

Well, it looks like someone figured out that the whisper chants in "Suki-chan" were a big hit. The "waku waku waku waku," "doki doki doki doki," etc. bits were very sweet and fun. The more I listen to the song the more I like it. The backing track is cute and youthful, just like the girls. I'm also a huge fan of the title. "Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!" translates to "becoming an adult is difficult!!!" Truer words were never spoken, my friends.

The Set

Well, the set is all green screened in, and I think it's wonderful! It's a similar style to Morning Musume's "3,2,1 BREAKIN' OUT!" but I think this PV is a better composition. Granted, it looks a bit amateur-ish in comparison, but I think that fits with the image of the group and song. On the other hand, we get two outfits. We get swings and bike riding. We get heads and torsos gliding across the screen (also seen in Minimoni's "Lucky Cha Cha Cha!"). We get adorable antics and dramatically sighing Kanon. It would be a lot more impressive without the "3,2,1 BREAKIN' OUT!" PV having preceded it, but I still give it two thumbs up.

The Dance

Well, since this isn't just a glorified dance shot, I can't make a lot of judgements about the dance. It looks pretty simple, but still energetic. There's a lot of follow-the-leader moves, which seems to be a fad in H!P right now.

The Cover

This cover is pure lol. Whoever put it together needs to fired. The composition is awful! At first glance Saki looks like a contortionist with enormous calves, but upon closer inspection those legs belong to Kanon, who is flying through the air with the aid of an electric fan. Saki also appears to be fending off the popcorn eruption that DAWA has an extremely contrived shock at. Meanwhile, Yuuka is sighing over a big a present that displays the "Produced by Tsunku." That box is probably full of old Sharam Q cassettes.

I really can't wait for S/mileage's first major release, which should be coming soon! Their debut concert is just 4 weeks away. After 4 great PVs I'm actually a little worried that the quality of their releases might actually go down with their major debut. Or that, like fellow graduated Egg Mano Erina before them, they will get a great debut song and then a trail of blah.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Morning Musume Fall 2009 Concert Tour NINE SMILE

The DVD of Morning Musume's Fall 2009 Concert Tour Morning Musume Concert Tour 2009 Aki ~NINE SMILE~ was released yesterday, February 24, 2010.

This is my first concert review!


Okay, the cow costumes are a little weird, but some of them are super cute! I especially like Aika's. Why does she look so damn cute in a hood? The song is one of my favorites, but their vocals aren't the strongest here. Probably not quite warmed up yet.

2. HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN? ~Nihon wa Donna Kanji Dekka?~

I've never been a huge fan of this song, but they really rocked it! Ai-chan, Gaki, and Linlin especially stuck out as having energy and power.

3. VTR - Member Introduction

As far as VTRs go this one was pretty good. I never really cared for the NINE SMILE promo outfits (except for Linlin's), but the way to put this animation together was very nice and graphic. Thumbs up!

4. Kimagure Princess

Oh, I love the modified KP outfits! Much more flattering than the originals. The lace chaps really show off those "charming rears" too. Aika looks especially rockin'. This song really is great live! I only wish there was a little more 8th gen. Once again, Ai-chan pronounces the word sexy better than any else in Hello! Project ever has.

5. MC1

Just noticed Koharu's obnoxiously large hair bow and pony tail. She looks about 12 feet tall.

6. Nanchatte Renai

Oh Koharu, I'm so sad to see go even though you have a silly, whiny little voice. This song is hands down the best single out of this 9nin Morning Musume. Sounds and looks great live. The rapping was a little weak, otherwise I was pleased.

7. Genki+

No one looks very genki in this song! They sound outstanding though, even Sayumi and Koharu. And a giant yay for Linlin solos! It's great to see this song brought out again. It's too good to only be performed on one tour.

8. Ame no Furanai Hoshi dewa Aisenai Darou? (Chinese Ver.) / Morning Musume featuring Linlin and Junjun

Oh this makes me excited to hear this song on the upcoming album! Probably the best performance of the song I've seen.

9. Sukiyaki / Niigaki Risa, Kusumi Koharu

Those outfits look like 12 colors of cotton candy all mixed together and then glued onto the girls on the most unflattering places possible. The song is cute of course, a good kind of tune for Koharu. The hugging is really heartwarming too. I wonder if they did that at all the concerts or just this one because of Koha's graduation.

10. MC / Niigaki Risa, Junjun, Linlin, Kamei Eri

Awwwwwwwwwww, sleepy Junjun! And were they calling her an old woman? Also, awwwwwwwwwwww, sleepy Linlin (and Linlin's cute Chinese accent).

11. Haru Beautiful Everyday / Kamei Eri, Mitsui Aika

Oh, Eririn looks really looks very pretty in that plaid dress. Aika's hat is stupid. This song is very sweet, and I like it better live than the recorded version, but Aika's vocals are pretty weak here. Also, Tsunku really needs to learn the difference between "everyday" and "every day." "Everyday" is an adjective, not an adverb like he seems to think. And why are they singing about beautiful spring days in autumn?

12. Kioku no Meiro / Takahashi Ai, Tanaka Reina

All that fur plus the giant hair bow make Reina look very feline. Ai-chan's look is a little spartan in comparison, and I'm getting kind of bored with the fedora+vest+miniskirt thing for High-King. I've never been a huge fan of this song, and it's especially lackluster without Saki and Maimi. The dance at the end is very sexy though.

13. Aruiteru / Michishige Sayumi, then Morning Musume

Oh god, worst Hello! Project singer ever + my least favorite Morning Musume single = bleeding ears. On the other hand, Risa and Koharu's circus outfits are really cute when you take away the puff! Sayumi's plaid/leopard thing is ugly as sin though. And what the hell are Junjun and Linlin wearing?

14. Aki Urara

Ouch, Ai really botched the opening line. But that second half of the verse section sounded spectacular. Great harmonies, ladies!

15. Shouganai Yume Oibito

I'm ready for a costume change. I think Ai-chan's voice is getting a little tired at this point. She sounds reeeally rough. But her finger-biting thing is pretty hot.

16. MC / Michishige Sayumi, Tanaka Reina

Pajamas? What? Reina, surely you never wear pajamas. You probably wear some kind of couture negligee to bed.

17. Sakura Mankai / Takahashi Ai, Niigaki Risa, Kamei Eri, Mitsui Aika, Linlin

Oh, all my favorite members performing one of the best Hello! Project songs ever! Beautiful. The pink spangly outfits are pretty unattractive. And I don't care for the accessories. Linlin's giant flower and Aika's cheap pink earrings are no bueno. This song makes me really miss Kago :( I enjoyed the wota's very slow "L. O. V. E. Lovely Blah Blah."

18. Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu niwa Naranee!~ / Michishige Sayumi, Tanaka Reina, Kusumi Koharu, Junjun

The purple spangly outfits are a little better. I would have preferred to hear Otomegumi's other single "Ai no Sono ~Touch My Hear~" though. And as much as Sayumi is marked as the second coming of Charmy, she really can't compete, and this song is no good without Rika (and Tsuji :( )

19. Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru

Wow, those are some happy cut outs! Eri is really stealing the show vocal-wise in this concert. She's really improved recently.

20. MC

Well, that was short.

21. Coupling Medley: Bon Kyu! Bon Kyu! BOMB GIRL / Please! Jiyuu no Tobira / Hand made CITY / Odore! Morning Curry

A pretty good selection of B-sides. "Please!" isn't my favorite, but it was fun. The silver outfits are an improvement. They look nice and cool at least. The arrangement of "Hand made" was a little too choppy for my tastes. "Odore!" was goofy and fun, as expected. A fun dance for "BOMB GIRL." No bon-kyu-bon girls in Morning Musume though really. Aww, more hugs for Koharu! "Happy happy..." part sounded fab. Good job, Risa!

22. MC

Another short one.

23. Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari

Wish I had translations for the solo bits. I think Linlin said something about her flavor. And did Koharu call all her sempai sexy or say that she was sexy in comparison? Sayumi called Eri a lying idiot! This song is always fun even if I have no idea what's going on ^___^

24. Naichau Kamo

This song sounds so blue, but the PV and lighting here are red. For some reason I can't enjoy the song with the red visuals. Does anyone else have this problem?

25. Resonant Blue

Good lord, this is a superb song. From the dance break on it's pretty much just perfection.

26. Rainbow Pink / Koha-pink, Shige-pink

Perfection. My number 1 guilty pleasure, and this is the best live performance of it ever. THIS is why I'm going to miss Koharu :'( :'( :'( Oh god, the little interaction at the end almost had me crying in the middle of the public library. I bet the graduation ceremony will have me actually crying.

27. Koharu's graduation ceremony.

I'll start by saying I don't like the outfits. I think Koharu's graduation outfits should have been pink. These remind of of the Tsuji/Kago graduation.

Watching this, all I'm think that Koharu has always had a surplus of charisma and cute, but I think she has now developed some poise and grace as well. She looks so grown-up and mature.

I kind of wish they had left Sayumi last, because we all knew that was going to be emotional. It seemed strange to have Reina come up after her. On the other hand, I think it made Reina all the more sentimental. I really love it when the girls whisper to each other after the big talk. Whatever they are saying must mean so much more being private. And I really don't understand why they don't tuck a handkerchief somewhere in their costumes during the graduation ceremonies. It's sad seeing them try to wipe away their snot.

I at least managed to not cry during the ceremony.

28. Furusato / featuring Kusumi Koharu

I was surprised how good Koharu sounded singing her graduation song. She worked must have worked really hard on it. I think this is the first time we've really heard a solo song be her live since all of her Kirari stuff was lip synch'd. But I don't think there will ever be a graduation song as touching as Kago and Tsuji's "I WISH."


This track seems kind of out of place. I want something either happy or sad after a graduation ceremony, not sexy and ferocious.

30. MC


31. LOVE Machine

Koharu's last dance with Morning Musume. Poor Sayumi looked like she was holding in tears as hard as she could. I bet she just bawled when the girls got back stage.

I'm pretty happy with this concert release. Final thoughts
  • Needs more Linlin.
  • Koharu, I will miss you
  • Sayumi can't sing
  • Eri is wonderful :)

°C-ute's 5th album "Shocking 5"

°C-ute's fifth album Shocking 5 was released yesterday, February 25, 2010.

My first thoughts: it's a bland, mushy, boring, pitiful excuse for an album. Shocking 5? More like Sucking 5.

1. EVERYDAY Zekkouchou!! (EVERYDAY 絶好調!!)

Why did the album title Shocking 5 not start with the song "SHOCK!"? Instead it gets off to a boring start with this single, which isn't my favorite one from the group by far. Even though it's Erika's final single she doesn't get even one solo line! It's just a mess of the sappy "SEISHUN!!!!"-ful diarrhea Tsunku has been excreting on us lately.

2. The Party!

Worst. Party. Ever. That exclamation point in the title: completely unwarranted. This is like the very first part of the party where a small handful of people have taken the start time literally and it's just them and hosts. Every one is getting a little antsy and thinking of maybe going somewhere else. And then some more people show up and everyone gets trashed. Except in this song, that last part never happens. The guests do go home and we're left with a lone crooning Airi.

3. Aa Koi (嗚呼 恋) / Suzuki Airi

This kind of sound's like the inside of one of Bowser's castles. It's an alright track, I suppose. Certainly one of the best one's on this album at least. I don't think it's as strong as Airi's previous album tracks though.

4. Bye Bye Bye!

Compared to the rest of this album I almost like "Bye Bye Bye!" Wait... nope, I still hate it. It probably doesn't help that it's sandwiched between the best two tracks on the album. Maimi's little climax is still the best part of the song.

5. Lonely girl's night / Yajima Maimi

Well, I wasn't expecting anything that would rival "Natsu DOKI Lipstick," but I was hoping for something a little upbeat. The track is still is pretty good, it just could be stronger. Still, Maimi could probably make anything sound like solid gold.

6. Kimi no Senpou (君の戦法) / Nakajima Saki, Okai Chisato, Hagiwara Mai

Oh, I have a great idea! Let's put all the weakest vocalists on a track together, and while we're at it we'll just give them a boring backing track with minimal chorus behind them! Seriously, this is a real trash pile of a song.


Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I like "SHOCK!" Of course I hate the line distribution, but that doesn't stop it from being a fun track.

8. Shigatsu Sengen (四月宣言)

You know, who ever they hired to do the guitar on this album was really trying his/her hardest to make the songs good. Everything else on this track: AWFUL. Even the PV they made for it is boring.

9. "Zansho Omimai Moushiagemasu." (「残暑 お見舞い 申し上げます。」) / Suzuki Airi

So Airi basically gets three solo songs. I do not approve. This song is okay, but I would have left it a B-side. I guess Tsunku wanted something of his own work from their summer single on the album since he had no hand in what made "Shochuu Omomai Moushiagemasu" awesome.

10. Yume ga Aru Kara (夢があるから)

Aw, and now we get to the heart-warming group ballad song at the end of the album. Except that's what the rest of the album has been. Of course the song is sweet and pretty, just like the countless sound-alikes that came before it. And this time we only get five girls, three of whom are weak singers, to provide that full vocal sound.

11. Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu (H22 Remix) (暑中お見舞い申し上げます (H22 Remix))

How did they manage the make the best thing °C-ute released in the last year into something just as balls-rific as the rest of this album? Do people actually like remixes, ever? The only one's I've ever cared for are "Koibito wa Kokoro no Ouendan (Hyper Dance Version)," "Ai~n! Dance no Uta (MORE TRANCE REMIX)," and "Dschinghis Khan Tartar Mix." This one sounds like °C-ute stuck in a Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix nightmare.

Final verdict: DO NOT WANT. Also, I miss Kanna and Erika :'(

Hello! Café Tea Break

Welcome back to Hello! Café! Have you come for a tea break?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Covert Operation - Mission 5: Folked Up

By the end of 2001 Nakazawa Yuko had served her tenure in Morning Musume and established a solo career. In November of that year she teamed up with former second-gen musume Ichii Sayaka to release a folk music cover album, FOLK SONGS. The album turned into a five-part series with two concerts.

Mission 5: Folked Up

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Covert Operation - Mission 4: Singled Out

For five years Tsunku wrote nearly every single released by Hello! Project, but in late 2002 Goto Maki released the double A-side Sans Toi Ma Mie / Kimi to Itsumademo. "Sans Toi Ma Mie" was a cover of a Salvatore Adamo song that Tsunku had translated into Japanese. Two months later Morning Musume released a cover of "Hyokkori Hyoutanjima," the theme song of an old children's show of the same name. It was the first true Hello! Project cover single, and seven H!P acts have gone on to release cover singles as well.

Edit: A new discovery! Heike Michiyo's second single, "Sotsugyou ~TOP OF THE WORLD~" (卒業 〜TOP OF THE WORLD〜), is a cover of The Carpenters' 1973 hit single "Top of the World." Former Sharam Q member Makoto wrote the Japanese lyrics for Michiyo's version.

Mission 4: Singled Out

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Covert Operation - Mission 3: Encovers

In 1997 at the age of 24 Nakazawa Yuko's life changed forever. Thanks to "losing" a competition she went from lowly OL (office lady) to the "leader" of a new singing group: Norning Musume. After the group had released two popular major singles Yuko became the first member to embark on a solo career.

Mission 3: Encovers

Yuko's first singles were in the enka style, and, subsequently, so was her first album. Nakazawa Yuko Dai Isshou (中澤ゆうこ第一章) featured the A- and B-sides of her first two singles, two original tracks, and six enka covers of popular songs of the past.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hello! Café Morning Coffee tasting

Welcome to Hello! Café! You've come just in time for our special Morning Coffee tasting event. We have seven delicious blends and you're welcome to as many tastes as you can handle!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Covert Operation - Mission 2: Double You

Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai graduated from Morning Musume on August 1, 2004, but during their last three months in the group they began activity as a cover unit: W!

Mission 2: Double You

W's first release was a cover of The Peanuts' "Koi no Vacance." The single included two couplings, which were also Peanuts covers. The Peanuts were identical twins, thus making them the perfect duo for the twinned Kago and Tsuji to emulate. W went on to release a cover album, another cover single, and a second album containing some cover tracks.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Shuffle Date at Hello! Café

Welcome to Hello! Café, where shuffle units go to relax after concerts.

Shin Minimoni
( 新ミニモニ。)

These tiny ladies are snacking on parfaits, the perfect treat for Minimoni! It brings to mind "Mini. Strawberry~ Pie," "Okashi Tsukutte Okasui~," the "Lucky Cha Cha Cha!" PV, Minimoni the Movie Okashi na Daibouken!, and, at least for me, W's "Aa Ii na!"

Shin Minimoni is my favorite of the revival units. I mean, first off, any group with Linlin and Fukuda Kanon is going to rock. All four girls are super cute (almost as cute as original Minimoni!) and have good voices. I know some folks think "Pen Pen Kyoudai" is irritating, but I think it's perfect. It is sort of a mix of "Minimoni. Telephone! Rin Rin Rin" and "Minimoni. no Dekkai Tabi."


These ladies take their coffee black, with maybe a little sugar. After all, it takes a lot of energy to be the best dancers in Hello! Project.

High-King is right up there with Shin Minimoni for best revival unit. Ai-chan, Captain, and Maimi are my top girls after all. All five have the moves and the voices to make the perfect concert unit.

Tanpopo# (タンポポ#)

Black tea from tiny pink pots will do well for elegant Tanpopo#. It's the perfect complement to a Friday lunch of soup and pasta for "Otome Pasta ni Kandou."

I love the new Tanpopo. They have a very pretty look, like 1st-gen, but a sweet sound, like 2nd-gen. "Umbrella" is a great update of the Tanpopo sound, but I sort of disappointed they don't use real umbrellas in the dance. They did the PV for "Otome Pasta ni Kandou" after all.

Aa! (あぁ!)

Three colas for this trio! Aa!, like their sodas, is simultaneously cold and dark and saccharine and bubbly.

The original Aa! had two songs that no 9-, 11-, or 14-year-old should really have been singing, but now the whole group has grown up a bit, though they've traded out their leader for another possibly inappropriately young member. "Yume to Genjitsu" is possibly the best new song and definitely the best new dance.

Petitmoni V (プッチモニV)

It's orange juice on the rocks for Petitmoni V: not really tart, not really sweet, and a little childish.

Well, I personally find Petitmoni V disappointing. Nakajima Saki by far my least-favorite Hello! Project member, and I'm not a huge fan of Manoeri or Maimai either. I think "Pira! Otome no Negai" is sort of boring and repetitive and not at all in the Petitmoni style.


It's giant mugs of coffee for ZYX-α, but I'm guessing it's decaf.

I love the original ZYX. Both of their singles were strong, and they had the wonderful Yaguchi! But this incarnation hasn't given us much to love. No new song and their cover song had no solos! Hopefully Tsunku drops in a shot of espresso to get this unit back in its groove.

Zoku v-u-den (続・美勇伝)

Three iced teas for beautiful, brave, and legendary Zoku v-u-den.

Why oh why did they try to resurrect v-u-den? The group used to be about elegance and sexiness, and now I guess it's about blandness. I'll admit that "ONLY YOU" is one of my favorite tracks from Champloo 1 ~Happy Marriage Song Cover Shuu~, but the girls failed to deliver in the summer concert. And honestly, Sayumi can't sing, Risako is a dead weight live, and Junjun just can't pick up the slack.

Thanks for stopping by Hello! Café. Come back next time for a Morning Coffee tasting party!