C-ute comes back to us with a triple A side single on April 20. “Naze Hito wa Arasoundarou? / Summer Wind / Jinsei wa STEP!” Puts Yajima Maimi, Nakajima Saki, Suzuki Airi, Okai Chisato, and Hagiwara Mai in a decidedly more adult direction than previous efforts. This isn’t the intense rocking sound or the aggressive dance beats of their past discography. “Naze Hito wa Arasoundarou?” is a soulful harmonized number that draws influences from the great soul groups of the past. In the spirit of those great 1960’s soul, the song is a song of love and peace which comes across immediately with the English translated title “Why Do People Fight?”.
You know how I feel about Suzuki Airi
I talk a lot about how Country Girls are the perfection of saccharine filled idol love. Every bit of the group’s charm oozes “kawaii” , and “Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~” takes that charm and amplifies it with another time-traveling piece. As the variety entry in the last Country Girls single “Boogie Woogie LOVE / Koi wa Magnet / Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~” took a bit of a risk by choosing a song lacking in the kind of bluster one normally expects. Then again, the energy of the lead track on the release, “Boogie Woogie LOVE”, takes up the slack in energy, which frees this piece to charm us all without forcing itself. And, charm is the word for this promotional video!
Sometimes, a promotional video needs to do very little to capture my attention. Let’s take Team Syachihoko’s “Cherie” PV for example. The PV consists almost solely of shots of the five girls of Team Syachihoko in and around Harajuku performing their choreography in a range of outfits. There are no trick shots, there is no narrative, and little more variety than Akimoto Honoka, Ito Chiyuri, Sakamoto Haruna, Sakura Nao, and Oguro Yuzuki split screened together.
… and then there’s the QR codes.
After more than two years of waiting, Babymetal return to the new music scene with the pounding “Karate”. Ghostly visuals and carefully choreographed kata lend a flair to a promotional video that presents itself as a tournament style battle between Babymetal and their foes. This is Babymetal’s return. Their previous single release “Gimme Chocolate!” catapulted the group to worldwide success; will “Karate” build on their empire?
Before we start, you should know that this is actually Juice=Juice performing as their alter egos “NEXT YOU” from the drama “Budokan”. As such, surely some connection between the visuals of “Next is You” and the drama exists in the digital signature waiting to be unearthed. I would be bad person if I didn’t give an excavation my best efforts.
Tsunku masterminds the entire NEXT YOU project, and the music isn’t an exception. The electric piano lead-in builds initial intrigue visualized with floral arrangements composited over images of the NEXT YOU members. A quickly paced arrangement pops in and sings with synthy brass melodies that lead into on-beat accents. Instrumentally tight, handclaps and jangling guitars provide texture to a the short repeating melodic lines. The sound gives an air of determination and concentration.
In the “better late than never” category, we’re going look at Kobushi Factory’s latest release “Sakura Night Fever / Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin / Osu! Kobushi Tamashii”. The sophomore single from the young group performed well selling 33,903 copies and hitting number one on the Oricon weekly charts. To date, the only other groups in the Hello! Project to place at the top spot are Morning Musume and Juice=Juice. Their achievement keeps the group in contention for best third fiddle in Hello! Project. Perhaps more diplomatically, I should say Kobushi Factory‘s second single raises the consistency and general level of Hello! Project. Looking at the H!P stable now we have Morning Musume clearly the flagship with sales over 100,000; C-ute consistently selling 60,000+ copies; Angerme at the 40,000 unit level; Juice=Juice surging to 40,000 units with a weekly number one; Country Girls hitting the 40,000 unit level; and Kobushi Factory at the 30,000+ level with a weekly number one. For H!P, if their lowest selling unit is still placing at the top of the charts, then things look pretty good.
———-Sakura Night Fever———-
Back to the single, Sakura Night Fever expands the sound of the Factory with an uplifting and energetic disco-inspired dance track. The chorus hooks listeners with the cheer “Fever! Fever!” As the group cheers, Kobushi Factory’s unified presence impresses me greatly. One gets the sense that the girls in the Factory enjoy each other’s company and work together well.
I admit it (again). I’ve left my series on Cheeky Parade promotional videos hang without any progress for too long now. Well, I’m sure you know I’m not exactly getting paid for my thoughts here- so plans change, things stay fluid, and ideas may occasionally get abandoned. Well, I’m not abandoning this series!
Cheeky Parade have recently been rocked by the announcement of two hiatus members. Both Yamamoto Marin and Suzuki Mariya will take a two-year absence from the group to study abroad and hone their craft. I’m skeptical about their plans to return, but I can only take their word at face value at this point.
Back in 2013, things were looking up for Cheeky Parade Continue reading
If you’ve been reading TheNumber244 for a while, you probably noticed the high praise I heaped upon Shinozaki Ai’s “A-G-A-I-N” earlier this year. In case you hadn’t, I can paraphrase by saying that Aichan’s voice is one of the most enchanting things to come out of Japan in 2015. In support of her new album, the “interestingly” titled “EAT ‘EM AND SMILE”, the gravure idol extraordinaire turned singer released a PV for her track “Hikari”. Honestly, it’s been burning up my playlist. The melancholy mood evoked by the song, the plucked string bass accompaniment, and Ai’s expressive vocal delivery … all of it pulls the heartstrings. The chorus hits, and I literally say, “Damn, this is a gorgeous song!”
I think I should start out with a reminder: you can see Cheeky Parade live in the LA Area this weekend October 16-18. Details here, tickets here. Real talk: we’re not going to get many idol events outside of Japan, let alone the Los Angeles area. $15 for an idol event is worth a look if you know nothing about Cheeky Parade or are even lukewarm on Cheeky Parade. I hope I see you there.
Let’s take a good look at the second release from Cheeky Parade, “C.P.U!?”. Oldsters like me recognize CPU as “Central Processing Unit”, but in the case of the Cheeky, they mean “Cheeky Parade Understand!?”. The hyperactive song fills itself with guitars, big beats, and retro-gaming sounds. The girls chip in with vocals that flit from member to member in a way reminiscent of Momoiro Clover. In fact, the wackiness of the whole thing once gave the (incorrect) impression of Cheeky Parade as a bit of a MomoClo knock-off brand.
If you listen to the HaroWota at all, you probably heard the screams over Kobushi Factory. Starting with their indie single, “Nen ni wa Nen / Survivor”, there’s been a collective gasp at the tightness and performance level of the group. For the many who follow the Kenshuusei (Hello! Project Trainees), Kobushi Factory makes good on the promise of quality girls coming up through the system. The debut single, “Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan / Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta / Nen niwa Nen (Neniri Ver.)” charted an Oricon Weekly no. 3 with 34,639 units sold. Using an antiquated metric of sales, the single performed better than five Morning Musume singles (in the Platinum Era).
Fujii Rio bangs the drum