Who the hell is Cheeky Parade, and why am I devoting so much time to them? As of writing, I still do not possess a great understanding of the group. When I originally began looking into the Cheekiness, they were promoting their terrific “Together” mini album. An upcoming performance in New York City put the group in select the company of the few idol acts to break out of Japan. “Together” made such a grea impression on me that I included it in my “ 2014 Single of the Year” story. So, this is the genesis of this set of articles. I need to learn more about this group, and I’m taking you with me.
Before we start, I need to tell you that I’m no expert on anything here. I will get something wrong, and when I err it’s your responsibility to correct me.
Firstly, the group took shape in 2012. The popular mythology of the group, or at least my favorite mythology, is that rejects from the Super Girls auditions comprise the group we know as Cheeky Parade. This theory seems somewhat plausible given the two-year gap between SG and CP debuts. Giving the theory more legs, Suzuki Mariya can be (allegedly) seen in the 2010 Super Girls audition footage. The footage I’ve seen of Cheeky Parade witnessing Super Girls events shows a mixture of admiration and envy that supports this theory. Whether or not they are actually “rejects” is anyone’s guess. If this proves factual, then we can consider Cheeky Parade to be the “C-ute” to Super Girls’ “Berryz Kobo”.
Let us consider Cheeky Parade’s first indie release “Cheeky Dreamer” to begin things. The group released this initial foray in early 2012 when the girls aged between 12 and 17 with an average age of 14.5. That’s young! As an indie release, I do not believe Cheek Parade released a promotional video attached to the song. Cheeky Parade brings a high-energy performance to the song, which proves to be a point of distinction for the group. The song provides a great introduction to the group, and after watching one performance, you really understand what Cheeky Parade is all about.
Cheeky Parade choreographs the song in ways that we do not see very often. An urban toughness informs a lot of the dance, although I wouldn’t say urban dance characterizes all of their choreography. The girls jump and kick much more than normal for an idol group. Unique body positions and postures with a penchant for small group maneuvers fill out their dance repertoire. Sometimes silly, sometimes irrelevant: cheeky. OK, I suppose we know where their name points.
More than anyone, “Cheeky Dreamer” belongs to Yamamoto Marin. Visually, the girl is cute as a button. The pink tones of her single outfit highlight her prettiness. As the main voice in the song, Marinko sings with a pure, consistent voice. After listening to a dozen live performances of the song, I have yet to hear the girl falter in her solos. A reliable singer, I look forward to seeing her growth.
The song contains many of the qualities that I found so appealing with “Together”. The chorus cheers leave room for the audience to participate. See, they cheer for us at the same time we cheer for them- the symbiotic idol/wota relationship. The melodies build upward and give the impression of reaching to a goal. A common goal. When I watch the Cheeky Parade, I get a feeling of teamwork that surpasses most idols on my radar. And, remember that Berryz/C-ute allusion I made earlier? As the “little sister” group and as the group of “also-rans”, Cheeky Parade puts a chip on its shoulder in a way that reminds me so much of C-ute. And, we all know how that turned out, right?
I strongly recommend you watch this performance of “Cheeky Dreamer”
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