Friday, 23 December 2011

Countdown! Kpop Edition

Countdown! Favourite Single Releases of 2011. (Korean)

Korean Edition

Keeping in mind that I have only been listening to Kpop for about a year and a half, compared to my almost 8 years in Jpop, this list may not have your faves in it. Please do not fret. Simply recommend them to me in the comments, and I will give them a listen! I am still quite new to the scene and trying to listen to as many artists as possible.

This list only includes Korean releases, not any of the re-releases or new songs in Japanese.

As with Jpop, I prefer on the whole, female artists, but I do need to branch out lately. So feel free to recommend me any great male artists that you like.

Right! Onto the countdown!

10. Hyuna - Bubble Pop

This song has been a hit with Kpop fans and non-Kpop fans alike. This really got people talking all over the world about Kpop. The video may be a teeny bit all over the place trying to be sexy, as Hyuna doesn't need to try this hard, but it's still fun. The 'oohs!' and 'aahs!' are so different. Hyuna is an amazing dancer. This is just a great summery song.

9. 4minute - Heart to Heart

I love, love, love 4minute and I love this song, and it's pv. It's so cute and on first listen, you may think it's nothing like 4minute's earlier stuff, it is a little different but I still love the way it sounds. It's no 'Hot Issue (remix)' but once you listen to this a few times, it becomes a hook in your brain. I don't get why everyone is complaining on Youtube, then again, YT comments are usually hard to take seriously.

8. Secret - Shy Boy

PV wouldn't let me embed so a performance it is! This is an extremely cute song. 'OH OH OH MY BOY!' - I love the 50's theme and the cute outfits they usually wear when performing this. The 'doo-wap' sound is something you do not hear often in recent pop. Such a sweet song!

7. DAL*SHABET - Pink Rocket

This may raise some eyebrows, as this band has gotten a lot of criticism for not being 'Kpop enough' and such. Weird stuff like that. They are ridiculously cute and this song is infectious. I like the overt electronic sound in this. The PV is really awesome. I'm still not quite sure what 'Dal Shabet' means, but if it has something to do with sherbert, then that certainly fits the image of the group.


YES. 'YEAH I FEEL SO COOL, COOL! YEAH I FEEL SO COOL!' - This song is awesome. So upbeat, amazing vocals and an extremely addictive chorus. Flawless song, the PV is fun and not too busy, but enough to keep you interested. A really great song for the gym I find.

5. Orange Caramel - Shanghai Romance

The subgroup of After School have outdone themselves with this extremely catchy track. Raina, oh she's so cute! The dance in this PV is so fun and easy, and you'll find yourself doing it when you listen to the song 'Sha sha sha!'. This subgroup can do no wrong by me lately. Love them!

4. After School - Shampoo

They won't let me embed the PV again so another live performance it is! This is a nice sounding song, but the translation is a bit...weird. Look it up if you're interested, I swear you will be surprised. The PV is nice and this song is what originally got me interested in After School.

3. Brown Eyed Girls - Sixth Sense

WOW. THE AWESOME. These girls are fierce. The PV is powerful and sends an important political message of resistance. The dancing is flawless, the girls are HOT. Their voices are incredible. This is how the LADIES do it!


KARA continue to slay everyone with their awesome. The only band to really succeed at sounding Japanese during the Hallyu wave, they are professional to the MAX. Their dancing, singing and attitude are all perfect. They really are one of the best Kpop bands right now.


SORRY, NOTHING ELSE COULD GET TOP SPOT. This is THE song of the year in my opinion. AH MAN. This song makes me feel better when I'm down, puts me in a good mood any time of the day, I am always in the mood to listen to this. If this was on vinyl I would have worn it down a long time ago. I love how the PV is so 'Don't mess with me!' - love it, love it, love it.

Not including Japanese releases has excluded a chunk that I would have originally liked to have put in, but they just aren't as good as if the song itself would be if it was in Korean (probably excluding KARA, as most of their songs are good in Japanese) - I don't know many soloists yet apart from IU and G.NA (and of course BoA but most Jpop fans know BoA let alone Kpop fans). I am still learning a lot about the industry, and I hope to know many more fans and hopefully a bit of the Korean language itself by this time next year.

Girls' Generation didn't make it onto this list as 'The Boys' - while a catchy tune, has a lot of flaws and the other Korean groups have stepped up to the plate as big hitters this year.

Who are your faves? Who do you recommend?

Monday, 19 December 2011

2011 Year In Review ~ My Favourite Singles of the Year

Countdown! Best Idol Single Releases of 2011. (Japanese)

Japanese Edition

I am only including Japanese Idol bands and releases in this post, I will include Korean releases in my next post, otherwise it all gets far too confusing. There have been so many great releases this year and it's a shame I couldn't include more!

Onto the countdown!

10. Vivi Natsu / PASSPO*

- The PV is absolutely nowhere to be found on youtube aside from a 30 second tv spot. Luckily this performance is quite good, although I am sure they are lip syncing. You also have to turn it up quite loud. Sorry about that. Damn Youtube. :/

9. Ai, Chuseyo / SDN48

- Great song, great PV. Not as good as GAGAGA and no Kayo. (cries) but there's lots of Yukari though. The outfits are a bit ridiculous but it's very enjoyable. The baths... *nosebleed* Everyone sounds on top form here too. I only just recently found out that 'Chuseyo' means 'Please' in Korean. So it's essentially 'Love, Please'.

8. Zetsumetsu Kurokami Shoujo / NMB48

A very, very strong debut from the Namba side of the ...48 franchise. Their front girls Sayaka, Miyuki and Nana are a fantastic triad of power. They can sing, dance and are quite beautiful. Oh My God! was a good single too but it's not as catchy as this.

7. Joshiryoku -> Paradise / SUPER☆GiRLS

I really, really love this song. Super Girls are a fantastically produced group. AVEX seem to put a lot into their idol groups without trying too hard. These girls are fun and talented. Aspects of this PV remind me of MM's 'Roman ~ My Dear Boy'

6. Kaze wa Fuiteiru / AKB48

Great song. This PV is the dance version that everyone thought was the real version for ages until the physical single was released. It's simple but still really beautiful. I was sad not to see Sayaka Akimoto in this, she's proven herself to be popular a bunch of times and they still don't put her in senbatsu unless she is elected or wins a spot. It's unfair. The dresses in this are a bit uniform as well.

5. More Kiss/ Song for You / FAIRIES

Fairies debut single. This song is really, really good. Although I don't know why they only have one of the girls singing throughout. I really dislike the way they dress them though. Those heels look really uncomfortable on these girls, the youngest of which is 12.

4. Doki Doki Morning / BABY METAL

This video and this song is NUTS. That's why it's awesome. Three girls from Sakura Gakuin formed a subgroup that sing about silly things in a metal/pop style. I saw this posted on a few of my friends FB's going 'wtf?' - they don't get how good and individual this release is.

3. Everyday Kachuusha / AKB48

The song that got me back into AKB after a few years of only very sporadic following. This takes influence from AKB's earlier PV's such as 'Ponytail to Shushu' and 'Heavy Rotation' (and more) and turns them into one super awesome PV. This was their biggest seller so far, and their sales have only been going up and up since then.

2. Pareo wa Emerald/SKE48

Again, the full PV of this isn't available, and this is the best performance I could find, which is coupled with '1,2, 3, 4 Yoroshiku' - Both very catchy and upbeat songs. I love, love how SKE is the energy group. All of their songs are fantastic, but Pareo wa Emerald really got me into them full-time.

1. Limited Addiction/ Tokyo Girls' Style

Wow, wow, wow. A fantastic, fantastic release. A catchy hook and awesome vocals. Coupled with 'We Will Win!' and the epic, best B-side of the year 'Don't be cruel' - which was so good it could have been an A-side itself. These girls are fantastic, I can't say enough good things about them.

I don't think Flying Get was the best AKB single, it was a catchy song but the dance was a bit all over the place and the covers were a bit of a let down, it was probably my least favourite AKB single this year. Hello! Project had a weird year. So many changes to Morning Musume, but none of their songs broke my top 10 this year.

The closest would have probably been 'Kiss Me Aishiteru' by C-ute or 'Please! Mini Skirt Postwoman' by S/mileage. The formula H!P always seems to rely on has pushed me away a bit. I am a defector. I have switched teams to AKB48 and their surrounding groups, especially SKE.

Passpo, Fairies, Super*Girls and Baby Metal are all new entries for this year. Fairies are a new band that have serious talent, and as soon as they stop trying to market them as 'little adults' and get those ridiculous heels off them, I will follow them with more vigour. Passpo have infectious songs and are slowly gaining momentum and a dedicated fan base. Unfortunately one of their members has already graduated. I wonder if they will have second generation auditions?

Baby Metal are a subgroup of Sakura Gakuin and their pop/metal song 'Doki Doki Morning' had people talking this year, non-Jpop fans and Jpop fans alike. It's something really different and not what you usually see from idol bands. This is exactly what they needed to boost their publicity a little more. Also got people talking about Jpop, which is always a good thing.

Super*Girls have had a great year, they are cute and smiley, with very catchy songs and dances. I can't get sick of their releases this year, but my favourite was definitely their most recent, where they have started to gain a bit more fame and TV publicity. Lets hope they don't jump on the graduation bandwagon anytime soon. As they are under AVEX it may be a little harder to get out of their contracts so easily, and that might be a good thing.

SDN48 and NMB48 have had mixed years. I really liked both of their debut singles, SDN's only didn't make it because it was late last year and not this year when it was released. 'Zetsumetsu Kurokami Shoujo' is a very strong debut from an idol group and NMB are showing themselves to be the 'Smiling' group, as opposed to SKE's 'Energetic' group. Especially with Sayaka Yamamoto's lovely face always looking back at us.

Poor SDN48 and their upcoming disbandment. Ai, Chuseyo was one of those songs you think was quite average at first but it grew on you over time, and it was much better than their next release 'Min Min Min'. I was disappointed to see Kayo Noro overlooked as usual. She finally starts getting more airtime with their next single (which I am not sure if it is their last or not, it seems they may have one last hurrah) and then they are going away. Unfair. Unfair for fans of older idols.

SKE48 have had a killer year. 'Banzai Venus', 'Pareo wa Emerald' and 'Oki Doki!' all being awesome singles. Their single for next year 'Kataomoi Finally' looks like it may be their breakout single, hopefully setting them apart from AKB and getting invites to events and such more on their own.

Tokyo Girls' Style, my number one this year. Have improved in leaps and bounds. This was their best selling single of the year and it is easy to see why. With their fantastically polished dances and Ayano's amazing vocals, they are heading towards mega stardom. Even though it may be taking a while to get them there.

Please let me know what songs you think should be included!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Okay the winner of the competition is...*drumroll*


Congratulations! I really loved your entry on Berryz Koubou's song 'Sprinter'. Please comment on this post with your email address and I will get in contact with you.

If you didn't win, don't be discouraged, as there will be another giveaway at the end of January!

Please continue voting on the poll! We have an unprecedented amount of votes this time so it is awesome to see how many of you love Morning Musume.

There will be a new post in the next couple of days! I am thinking another countdown post...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Poll Winner + NEW Giveaway!

Congratulations SUNNY!

omg me? awesome.

What a fantastically heated poll. You guys LOVE Sunny and Taeyon, they were head to head for a long time. Just last night Sunny was only 1 vote ahead! Here are the stats.

Sunny got 18 votes (23%)
Taeyon got 15 votes (19%)
Sooyoung got 13 votes (16%)
Yoona got 10 votes (12%)
Jessica got 8 votes (10%)
Hyoyeon got 6 votes (7%)
Seohyun got 3 votes (3%)
Yuri got 3 votes (3%)
Tiffany got 2 votes (2%)

It seemed like some of you changed your mind near the end as I saw some members go up and down quite erratically! Thank you all for voting and make sure to vote in the new poll!

What is your favourite Morning Musume album?


NEW Giveaway!

Oh hay there Berryz.

So readers, it is your lucky day, here at Ichigogo!★ We are doing another giveaway! You could WIN a Limited Edition B - Berryz Koubou single from 2011 'Heroine ni Narou ka?'
It includes the obi, a DVD with a 'single dance shot' version of the PV on it, and a ticket to an event. It comes from a smoke-free home and is in very good condition.

You must be a follower of my blog to enter, and you must answer the following question in a comment on this post.

What is your favourite Berryz Koubou song and why?

Good luck everyone, and the winner will be announced 2 weeks from now!

Worldwide entries welcome!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Top 10 Current Idol Vocalists.


Who are your favourite idols? Well forget about them. This is about the best singers in idol groups. Current and active only. I may also make a former idols best vocalist's list as well, but that will be a lot harder than this one. I am not including any vocalists who are being promoted as serious singers, even former idols who are now artists are being excluded (eg: Maki Goto).

Here they are! The top 10 current idol vocalists! (In my opinion xD)

10. Risa Niigaki (Morning Musume)- Now the longest serving member of Morning Musume, she's always had a deeper voice than most, but can also hit falsetto notes with a beautiful flowing sound. Her voice is now carrying Morning Musume though, as she is by a very long shot better than their next best vocalist. Reina Tanaka.

9. Yuko Oshima (AKB48 Team K) - I remember her being a lot better than they give her credit for now, maybe because she is constantly trying to make herself sound cute, but her voice is actually very good. Listen to 'Kinjirareta Futari' - it's delicate, it's husky, and she sounds very good hitting either high or low notes. They need to give her more ballads to sing as she is very good at conveying emotion.

8. Ayano Konishi (Tokyo Girls Style)- This girl has some serious pipes on her. Sounding better than idols twice her age, she was born to sing and perform. Apparently her nickname is 'perfect voice' - I can see why. Tokyo Girls' Style as a group are ridiculously talented in both singing and dancing, and I'd eventually love to see some solo careers come out of them. Especially Ayano.

7. Miyabi Natsuyaki (Berryz Koubou and Buono!) - Always, since she was very young, being one of the best Hello! Project vocalists, she has a very unique sounding voice that you can always spot, being a tad on the nasal side in the high register, yet when in the low register, she sounds fantastic. Always a front girl since the very first Berryz single, I have a feeling she will be one of the (few) girls who will succeed after Hello! Project disbands.

6. Sayaka Akimoto (AKB48 Team K) - Extremely underrated as a vocalist, her deep and husky voice is perfect for rock songs like Blue Rose, DiVA is the most vocally powerful sub group in AKB48 and her voice is often dominating of other members because of it's power. She can also handle ballads and different styles of music. She has proven herself so many times and yet she still doesn't get the promotion she really deserves. Media Senbatsu for next year! Sayaka! I will vote for you!

5. Sayaka Yamamoto (NMB48 Team N) - WOW. Was my first thought when I heard the clearness and clarity of this beauty's voice. Her version of Bird is incredible, and it seems like this is really the vocalists AKB song, as Sayanee, Yuka, and Takamina have all gotten it as their lead songs. She will be the Takamina of NMB, whether she stays as popular as she is, or it goes up and down, she will probably always carry their songs with her great voice that can hit a varied range of notes.

4. Airi Suzuki (C-ute and Buono!) - Another H!P vocalist carrying the franchise. Although oddly, she sounded better when she was younger (anyone remember Aa!?) her voice is usually is quite high, and she is arguably one of the best, if not the best vocalist in current Hello! Project. Most of the H!P kids turned into very good talents, singers and dancers bar a few who never seemed to improve, but Airi was very good right off the bat. Her audition song was BoA's 'Kimochi wa Tsutawaru' and she was about 9 years old. Incredible.

3. Yuka Masuda (AKB48 Team B)- Originally from Team K and smashing most of the other girls vocals from AKB (especially from Team B)out of the park, Yuka continually proves her worth by doing beautifully strong versions of songs. The duet on the revised stages of 'Anata to Christmas Eve' with Sayaka Akimoto was fantastic.

2. Reiko Nishikunihara (SDN48) - While not the prettiest idol, and definitely one of the oldest in the idol industry right now. Her voice is incredible, it is a shame she doesn't get into any of the SDN A-sides, as she is the best vocalist in SDN48. Hands down. Hopefully for their last single all the girls get to shine. I'd like to see her get an enka or classical music career after SDN.

1. Minami Takahashi (AKB48 Team A) - Nobody can really dispute this. (Well, feel free too though!) She is the queen of AKB48 and supports many, many songs with her strong and deep vocals. She gives everything she sings such a depth and emotion. I hope that eventually she gets her own solo career, as even though she may not be as popular as Acchan or Yukirin, she is infinitely more talented.

How about you? Who do you think has the best voice? Or has potential to one day have a great career?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Ue Kara Mariko Previews + Covers out!

Ue Kara Mariko [上からマリコ] - AKB48's 24th Single!

In September, Mariko Shinoda was the winner of AKB48's 2nd Janken Taikai, to determine who would be the senbatsu for this, the most recent single.

Some fantastic girls got into this, including Sayaka Akimoto (Team K Captain), Sumire Sato (Team B), Ayaka Umeda (Team K), Minami Minegishi (Team K), Tomomi Kasai (Team B) and Shizuka Oya (Team A). A few we haven't seen in A-sides before.

The original title was 'Hashire! Penguin' but that has been moved to be a Team 4 song for the theatre version of the single.

Here is the preview!

I like it, but I still would have preferred that it was a bit more rock style. I wanted a 'Blue Rose' esque A-side, that would have been incredible. It is still a very catchy song though, and since we haven't heard the entirety of it yet, it may still get better.

The covers are also out!

Gorgeous! If not a bit..well..photoshop heavy. I almost wish it was just Mariko on the cover alone. They've done it with Atsuko, why not with Mariko too? I will still probably be ordering though. I like the Team A cover, but I'd prefer the Team K song! Perhaps I will order both? Ah it's quite exciting.

What do you think of the covers and preview?

Monday, 31 October 2011

2nd Poll Winners & 'The Boys'

Congratulations Girls' Generation

I was originally going to do these polls in rounds, this would have been round one. But with the huge margin that Girls' Generation won, I don't think there is any point, as they will win every time. I voted for 4minute myself, but I can see why Girls' Generation is so popular, and as a consequence, the next poll is directly influenced by this win.

'Who is your favourite Girls' Generation member?'

Mine is Sunny! Vote away and tell me yours in this post!

Since this is a Girls' Generation domination..[hehe] I may as well mention 'The Boys' - not having listened to the entire album yet (when I do, a review will go straight up on here) I am purely talking about the title track. It has critics positively divided, and if you haven't listened to it yet (are you living under a rock?! Listen to it now!) Here are some links.

^ Korean version. The best and much more fierce version in my opinion, even though the PV's are practically the same. They all look positively stunning in this video clip. This is a real party track, and I can see it going straight onto my gym ipod, the beat is fantastic, and if you pump that bass up, this is a great track.

Although one thing, it is not as brilliant as it was hyped up to be. It's not as good as say, 'Oh!' or 'Run Devil Run' - it's just a tad generic.

^ English version. Huh. This is..well not good. Jessica, Tiffany and surprisingly, Sunny, all sound quite good in English (expected from Jessica and Tiffany, of course) but the rest sound very...weird. If anyone remembers BoA's English versions from her old Korean albums, it sounds like that. (I do not mean her debut USA album, that was pretty good) - The music doesn't go with the lyrics. It's kind of cringy as well.

I wonder if they will have a Japanese version. Because that will be interesting to compare to these two versions. I can't see the English version doing very well in the charts. I hope the Korean one goes straight to the top though.

What do you all think about this song/album?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

SDN48 Mass Graduation and Disbandment

The dream is over. It has been announced that on March 2012, SDN48 will officially disband. This came as a big shock to any fan of the ...48 family, as there were no clues, no hints and a 3rd generation including former Team A member (and a very popular one indeed) Hana Tojima were added just a few months ago.

This seems really unfair, and I am trying to understand why Yasushi Akimoto would start up this band 2 years ago, only to not really let it run it's course. The stage shows were selling out and the single sales figures were much higher than some other idol groups could ever hope to achieve. I have no idea about the merchandise sales figures but surely they were doing well enough to be treated better than this.

My thoughts are that perhaps a few wanted to graduate, or maybe a lot of them did, so many that it would take a major restructure of the group, and that just wasn't worth it, if it wasn't this, then I can genuinly see no reason why this group is disbanding. We thought that in the future, people like Mariko, Haruna, Yuko and Sayaka would be the first to be moved over. Although I am relieved that they aren't going to be, to be honest. The over sexualization in AKB48 alone is something I feel funny about, so having them be as overtly sexual as SDN isn't really what I wanted to see from these girls.

Even though the girls are acting quite cool and calm about it, I can understand if former AKB48 members, and especially founding members Kayo Noro, Megumi Ohori, Kazumi Urano and Yukari Sato would be ferociously angry about this. Being moved over to a new 'sexy' [re: soft porn] group just because you were too old for the original group? It's blatant ageism, and it's a problem that is long overdue to be addressed in Japan.

This group should have been treated more as a performance group and less as an idol group, they all have extreme talent and were basically made to parade about on stage half naked (sometimes practically fully naked in photoshoots >.>) and this was somehow an idol group. Girls like female groups too Akimoto! Why wasn't this group based on say, After School or SNSD? Wasn't their aim to crack the Korean market? Of course something like this would fail!

The problem is, idol pop, as quoted by Kinenbi on stage48 forums 'starting to get weird again' - and I agree with this. There are far too many idol groups that concentrate on Lolita-esque type properties, exploiting girls as young as 11, that very old and quite pervy men drool over. It's really unacceptable. Boy bands for girls, Girl bands for boys. Ridiculous. If an idol-type group debuted in the West they would be absolutely aimed at girls. Girls would want to join and the 'no boyfriend' policy would only be in adherance if it was produced by Disney (shudder).

The founding members new nothing about this group until it was announced in the team shuffle in 2009, and they didn't look pleased about it, now they have all new reasons to be annoyed. Another suggestion that has been said is that Akimoto is spreading himself too thinly, and I tend to agree with this. Why he can't hire a few protegee's that can write songs for him I don't know. He doesn't have to do everything himself. There's AKB, SKE, NMB, HKT, JKT (so there will be Team KIII and KIV -_-) and now Taipei as well. It's too much and it is destined to start folding in on itself. Like a red giant when it swells and becomes a white dwarf.

We say goodbye to SDN48 and hope that the girls will get better and more popular posts in the future, but I have a sinking feeling that most of them will probably never be seen again, which is something we should probably get used to in the ...48 world, because with so many girls, we are bound to be inundated with graduations and favourites who will just become a passing fancy. The girls themselves should be wary of this, and make sure they all have good plans for their futures, as for us, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

I must write to Kayo Noro before she leaves. I will miss her utterly and dearly.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

❤ HiP Happenings! ❤

Hello! Project Happenings!

The past few months have been very busy, and quite positive for Hello! Project. My interest is definitely back, but for how long we shall soon see. As for the moment, as long as Kanon Suzuki is getting some sort of exposure, in any form whatsoever, I will be somewhat interested.

First up, the Dream Morning Musume concert was released on DVD, and boy is it good. I mean these girls have lost no flair, no performance stamina and they are mostly at the top of their game here. I love that they performed great lesser heard songs such as Happy Night and Mirai no Tobira. Mari and Kaori are sounding kind of strained (don't even get me started on Koharu...but she's always sounded like that) but they make up for it with their energy and even, for H!P fans that have been around for a while like me, the nostalgia quality. Highlights include: Makoto Ogawa getting loads of lines (FINALLY, we had to wait for her to be out of MM for 5 years? How annoying!), Yuko Nakazawa being spectacularly sexy and Natsumi Abe in 'Roman ~ My Dear Boy' - with loads of Yossi too. A Nacchi/Yossi duet would be a dream come true! Even more so than just this group existing.

Next, Ai Takahashi's graduation from Morning Musume, I have mixed feelings on this. While Ai was a very important part of the group for a very long time, I really do think it was her time to go. I am saddened that I never got to see her live, but if she pursues her dream of musical theatre, then maybe I still will one day. I am excited to see which direction she takes, hopefully after a well earned break! I'd love to see MM take a new direction now, with even more energetic and upbeat tunes, and with more age appropriate lyrics. As most of the group is under-16 now, I do not wish to see a lot of 2007-2010 Musume tunes in the repotoir, that said, they could easy perform some of the older songs, although the problem there is that Dream Morning Musume may be doing them instead. How confusing!

The 10th generation members were also introduced on Ai's 2nd last day as a Morning Musume member. We have Haruna Iikubo(16), Ayumi Ishida (14), Masaki Sato (12) and Haruka Kudo (11), Haruka surpasses Ai Kago as being the youngest Morning Musume member ever. She's got talent and experience though so I doubt she'll be the weakest, they all have something unique to add to the group. I'm interested in seeing the interaction between 9th and 10th generation members. Having a 12 member strong Morning Musume is hopefully going to distribute the lines more evenly. I don't want to see any more Sayumi lead A-sides please.

We also get to find out who the definite S/mileage members are in less than 5 days. I hope all of them get added. I really like them all, but my favourite is Rina Katsuta. So I definitely hope she gets added! I really liked 'Tachiagirl' - and the new members being announced got a lot of new people into S/mileage, including me, as their helium-sound may go down an octave with some new voices.

The Mobekimasu single 'Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku' PV preview has been released, and it's the usual suspects, but I hope we see the non front-girl members a bit too, or it will end up being terribly boring. The PV looks pretty and sparkly, but why does the choreography remind me of Berryz's 'Ai no Dangan'? It's quite similar, and one cover of the CD is really, really badly photoshopped. They really shouldn't be pulling this kind of crap when they have the most competitors they have ever had since their start in 1997. The game has been raised and they will have to raise with it.

This has been a really up-and-down year for Hello! Project, but it definitely looks like they are going to end on a high note, I really hope that there are no more graduations announced for a while! Good luck Hello! Project!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Poll Winners and Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations TOKYO GIRLS' STYLE!

Tokyo Girls' Style absolutely raked in the first poll. Gaining 48% of the vote. The second place getter was PASSPO* with 25%, SUPER*GIRLS got 12%, Afilia Saga East got 9% and Dorothy Little Happy got 3%. Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku didn't get any votes, but I am sure they will gain more popularity in the future!

I can see why Tokyo Girls' Style got so many votes, they have undeniable talent and their songs just keep getting better and better. They are young so they may have many years ahead of them (so long as Avex doesn't screw them over like they did with SweetS >.>) and they can only improve over the years.

Please vote on the NEW Poll!


Congratulations Amiga Pobre!

What an inspirational and lovely entry you had about AKB48's leader Minami Takahashi.

You have won the giveaway! Please contact me with your name and address so I can send your official copy of Pareo wa Emerald Limited C by SKE48!

Thank you everyone for entering and look out for another giveaway this time next month!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Galileo Galilei [Parade Review]

Galileo Galilei are a Japanese rock band from Hokkaido that were formed in 2007. Currently signed to SME records who hold some very big artists such as Mika Nakashima and Ikimono Gakari, hopefully this means we will hear more from them in the future.

This debut album 'Parade' is very, very good and excellently performed. It is also hotly anticipated, as it has been a long time in the making. I only have praise for this band as there really is nothing bad about this album. It's acoustic rock, with a really smooth and professional edge. I hope this gets the publicity it deserves as their visit to London approaches.

It seems they are very in-tune with each other, and the music just seems to flow with a great ease,

Checking their band's info page, I couldn't believe how young they were, as they have such a mature and old-world sound. Each page I have is giving me differing information on which order the tracks go in, so I am using Amazon's guide.

Track by Track breakdown

1. Kanseitou (acoustic version) - A lovely relaxing way to start the album and to introduce you to Galileo Galilei if you have never heard them. The strong yet gentle vocals complement the flawless acoustic backing perfectly. The breaks and crescendos that flow in this track give it a perfect 'winding down' kind of feel. Definitely an anytime track, although giving this album a second listen, I could say that every track is.

2. Flappy - A really unique and uplifting song, which uses traditional sounding instruments throughout. The soft guitar and It also shows off the vocal range of Yuuki, whose voice is smooth and hits all the right notes. There are some very poetic and poignant lyrics in this song too. 'The heart is a boring song' is an interesting lyric. 'My flappy is a cute flappy', I am assuming this is either a bird or a metaphor for someone you love.

3. Boku kara no Kimi e - A more rock sounding song with a fantastic drum beat, it also brings out synthesized keyboards that give it a slight 80's twist. Yuuki, being the versatile and diverse lead vocalist, can make you feel emotion even if you cannot understand Japanese. The seeping bass and heightening guitar makes it an exciting song to listen to. As a person learning Japanese, it's also fun to hear a lot of familiar phrases and words.

4. Wakannai- A song dedicated to 3/4 band members home town, Wakannai, in the very north of Hokkaido. It has an affectionate feel that comes through the music and passionate singing. Hometowns are very important in Japanese culture, and the unique blend of instruments really works. Yuuki sounds fantastic and the ending minute or so includes other instruments such as trumpets and triangles. A great song!

5. 18 - Another song that is more rock sounding. The guitar is the most prominent instrument here, and while it pretty much drowns out the other instruments, the riff absolutely suits Yuuki's voice, his range is on show here in the most extravagent way as he hits falsettos that some female singers could only dream of. It could have been a minute longer, as once you find that you're hooked, it ends.

6. Yoru no Madobeto Yotsubano Clover - A soft, accoustic sounding song that uses a female backing singer quite prominently. It's a really well put together and lovely track. Slow and relaxing, it uses what sounds like an electronic keyboard halfway through, giving it a really unique sound. A good night-time relax track!

7. Dou demo ii - A really interesting and different sounding song, that I feel is influenced by funk. Yuuki's vocals are really prominent here, being in front of the music more so than any other song on this album. This is a fast paced and danceable song, the background vocals really add a layer to the song that gives it more depth. The talented musicians in this band really show off their skills in this one, as it's a really impressive track.

8. Yotsuba Sagashi No Tabibito - A track where the drums feature, giving it a really energetic and lively sound. This has a classic rock feel. With feeling of the 70's that flows through it, but giving it a modern twist. Every instrument is perfectly in line with each other, and there's a slick, stylistic feel to this, though the rustic feel also comes through.

9. Natsuzora - Jumping straight into the vocals about the summer sky, this is a really 'sunndy-day' track. Upbeat and inspiring, with a recognizable beat, this track is reminiscent of summer and makes you hope that perhaps it will last a little longer this year!

10. Hamanasu no Hana - A really great pop/rock song that has harkings of Tomoko Kawase's rock material. The drums make it a really 'nod your head' sounding track, and I can only praise Yuuki yet again, as he really is a brilliant vocalist, the entire band come together and the song flows effortlessly.

11. S I R E N - A darker sounding track right from the first beat, built up slowly with snare and guitar, Yuuki's vocals break through the slower beginning, and then it breaks into a fast riff, which then stops, and slows down again, a really fantastic track, as it is very unpredictable. It's also the longest track on the album at 6 minutes 52 seconds. It works being so long though as there are quite a few instrumental breaks. Finishing on a simple strum of the guitar ends this album perfectly.

This album gives a very positive first impression, but an even better second impression. This is also a great album to introduce someone to Japanese music, as it's so laid back and calm, while also being memorable.


Official Website

Amazon page (with sample tracks)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

SKE48 Love [and Giveaway!]

SKE48 were formed in 2008 after Yasushi Akimoto saw how high AKB48's star was climbing, the concept was to have an idol group in a lot of different regional areas. Their home base is the Sunshine Theatre in Sakae, Nagoya.

SKE differs from AKB in a few ways. I personally see them as a breath of fresh air. Their members, as a whole, are energetic and full of life, and since they have only been around for a short amount of time, they still have a new quality to them.

Their songs are fantastic, performed with vigour and passion, and their skill is held up to the bar by the dearest front girl in the ...48 family, Jurina Matsui. An extremely hardworking and dedicated girl of just 14.

Jurina starred in AKB48's PV 'Oogoe Diamond', before SKE48 had even released their debut single, and at the age of only 11. Her serene disposition and mature looks could have you mistaking her for much older though. This is a girl who knows what she wants and goes for it. She takes everything in a cool stride. I respect her very much.

SKE48's single releases are always fun, their 6th and latest single 'Pareo wa Emerald' shows this. An upbeat, summery song with a PV to match. This is SKE48 at their best. With an addictive dance and pretty, floaty outfits, this release is a total hit.

They are standing aside from AKB with this single, and even though we see Jurina and Rena in most AKB releases, they fit in and shine much more in their own group. There also seems to be less rivalry and more friendship in SKE. Which I may be taking purely at face value but I think it is important. Quoting Ayaka Umeda from AKB48's Team K 'You shouldn't see friends as rivals, good friendship means you shouldn't have to worry about that' - from a TV program that revealed a lot about different members' personalities.

But back to SKE48, the main reason I like them is their energy, their freshness and that I really want to learn more about them. I will be a fan for years to come.

Official website


Official Youtube

Beep! Now to the Giveaway! You MUST be a follower of my blog to enter, and please spread the word! The more entrants the better!

You have to comment on this blog with a good answer to this question:

'Who is your favourite member of the ...48 family and why?'

Get creative but don't go overboard on the word count! You could WIN a Limited C version of Pareo wa Emerald by SKE48! The winner will be announced two weeks from now! [Worldwide entries welcome!]

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Passage Book Review

I do not usually write book reviews for this blog. It's true, but this particular story was so amazing that I had to include it not only on my goodreads profile, but here on my blog, among all the idol rambling!

Do not read this if you prefer to know nothing about books you wish to read. It doesn't contain spoilers per se, but it does talk about the plot and characters.

Justin Cronin's 'The Passage' was published in 2010, among the fantasy sector, which seems to have exploded in the last few years, it certainly stands out.

The first thing you notice is the cover, a mysterious looking young girl. She looks like she knows something you don't. This is a great cover and will entrance you to pick the book up like it did with me. The next thing that is obvious is the size, a chunky thing, going for over 900 pages. This would intimidate some people. Not me. The longer a book is, the more I want to challenge myself to read it.

From the first page I was hooked, you couldn't tear me away from it if you tried. The story starts with the background of Amy, the main character, and how she came to be about. Before the not-too-distant future spirals out of control.

This is a vampire story, make no mistake. But it is not your 'Vamps fall in love too' kind of tale. No, these creatures have been engineered and created from normal human beings. What could that have possibly achieved in the first place? The answer, getting people off death row, and conducting extensive scientific experiments on them.

The Twelve were rapists, murderers and perpetrators of horrific crimes, but whatever they did before, what they are now is much worse.

North America falls into disarray in the space of one year. Colonies are set up with high walls and people employed as 'watchers' - checking the outside for what they call 'virals' 24/7. If one creature gets in, the whole of the community would be doomed. 92 years after the main attack, in what was previously the Republic of California, at first colony, the lights that help protect them at night from invasion are about to go out, and engineer Michael knows it.

A crew that is formed of friends and family, and they plan to escape the colony after Amy finds them. To the right people, Amy represents hope. After all the sorrow they have endured, her arrival and meaning is seen as a blessing. However some see her as representing death, the outside world, fear. This divides the community, and starts civil unrest.

Cronin's examples of the 'mob mind' are excellent, and show how one person can stir up a whole community of people with the right words and actions.

The adventure that a small amount of the colony take, after they find a map directing them to where it all began, in Colorado, is inspired. Cronin's use of human emotions is deep and truthful.

The virals are extremely mysterious. Nothing solid is revealed about them until near the end. Even though they were created by humans, seem to be evolving and changing as the years pass.

And who is Amy? This quiet, precocious child who seems to live forever. She protects the group outside the colony, and never gets attacked herself. The virals seem to hear her thoughts. As do the humans.

The character development is fantastic, it flows effortlessly and stays true to that particular characters personality at all times. Amazingly accurate and believable circuitry and machinery descriptions really add to the story and are a big part of Michael's character.

As it moves along, the story gives little tidbits of future plot lines that are perfect for keeping you interested. There is an amazing, descriptive narrative that pulls you in and holds you there.

Even though the virals are the enemy, Cronin has a way of portraying them so they still have remnants of human quality. That even the main characters sometimes empathize for them.

As the group of people from first colony make their way across North America, they find pieces of what they call 'the time before' - cars, buses, photo's and more. The way they deal with what we know as everyday objects is just what you want to see. Wonder and curiosity.

Cronin's replacement of language, such as 'flyers!' instead of 'jesus christ!', 'littles' instead of 'children' is great. The loss of religion, because nobody remembers it, save for a few individuals, is also poignant.

'The Passage' is so engrossing that you don't want to stop reading it, but you need to take a break at times to let the massive amount of information sink in. It helps to flick back and re-read sections just to understand the whole thing better.

There are twists and turns in the plot that you just do not see coming, and things that initially seemed like they had a very clear meaning, end up meaning something completely different. Cronin's incredibly storytelling quality makes it easy to follow too. Even with the multitude of characters and stories.

I felt stunned, absorbed, in a state of perpetual dreaming. This book, this incredible story, transports you utterly, wholly and completely.

This book is about perseverance, unfaltering comradery and a dystopian future. Above all things though, it is about hope. Never-fading hope that can conquer all things.

This is my favourite book that I have read in 2011. 5/5 stars. I highly recommend this book.

What is your favourite book you have read this year?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Idols of Avex Trax [Part 1]

Over the last 2 years, Avex, seeing the rise of popularity in female idols, has launched some groups of their own. Under Avex, unlike other labels and management; these groups tend to get excellent songs, slick looking video clips and professional dance and vocal training.


Tokyo Girls Style was formed in 2009 after Avex spotted a gap in the market, idol groups rising in popularity and being in demand. The girls were aged 12-14 and all 5 were quite talented, and not just a generic cookie-cutter group that we are seeing coming out these days (Girls?!! In Bikinis?!! zomg!)
They take direct influence from their early 2000's predecessor's 'SweetS', and if anybody doubted it, it was solidified in TGS's cover of 'Love Like Candy Floss' - a big hit for SweetS in 2004.

SweetS version - As you can see, the new version has been re-arranged to suit Tokyo Girls' Style's voices more, but the original is still better in my opinion. However, all of TGS's releases have been stellar quality for a group that is so young. Their determination and love for performing really show through in all their songs and PV's. This is a group that, with time, could become an unbeatable force of nature in the Jpop industry. I only hope they last longer than SweetS did, as they have the potential and youth on their side to last a very long time.


Official Youtube

Official Website


Why are there hardly any official pics of these girls online?! They are so adorable! This is the cover of their first single, 'Ganbatte Seishun'

This is a whole new concept for Avex, taking direct influence from AKB48, but in a really, really good way. All of these girls are decent singers, they were auditioned in 2009, and 12 girls passed. I may be biased as I really like this group, but they are very cute, and put forward a energetic, happy image. They are a sunny, fun group and their first single 'Ganbatte Seishun' was released in April 2011.

This is a really great song, and while the clip is quite simple, it showcases personality and a really great bunch of girls. Their first album sold quite poorly, but that could have been because it wasn't really promoted enough. I hope they have a long stay in the Jpop market! I have a favourite already, Rika Shimura! Their 3rd single is available soon!

Official website

Official Youtube


I have put [Part 1] as my label, because I don't think this will be the last foray into idol music for Avex Trax, I hope not, as they tend to be quite good at it, if anything, they need slightly better promotion. As some of these girls are going unnoticed!

Who is your favourite idol group? And are there any idol groups that you think need more love?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Buono! Partenza! Awesome!

Buono! New Mini-Album 'Partenza' Review.

Credit to SayuNii for the picture.

It's going to sound mean but I wasn't expecting much from this, as Hello! Project's releases have been lacking lately in style, structure and flair, but this is a perfect mini-album in a lot of ways. Including the singles 'Zassou no Uta' and 'Natsu Dakara!' and one of the B-sides for Zassou - 'JUICY HE@RT' - which were all great songs, so it's a good start. The filler tracks are very high standard for current H!P and fit Momoko, Miyabi and Airi's voices very well.

The album tracks are really good and varied, and the balance of hyper songs to slower songs (although not slow enough to call them ballads) is perfect. The quality of this mini-album is the highest I have heard from a H!P release since 10 My Me, and since 2007, quality has been slowly declining in H!P as any fan who has been around for a while would recognize.

The songs that have been released by Buono! S/mileage, Berryz and to a lesser extent C-ute (whose songs this year haven't been very good, bar 'Kiss me Aishiteru' which was fantastic) have been better than Morning Musume's releases by leaps and bounds. Whether this means Tsunku is trying to push MM back or re-assign someone else as the main draw for H!P, I'm not sure, but it is probably a good thing, as many H!P fans see MM as a bit old hat and they have been declining in popularity for a while.

I'll be buying this mini-album with my next pay as I think it really deserves our support with the quality it has. Which again, absolutely surprised me in a very good way.

Track by Track Breakdown:

1. Partenza ~ Lets Go!!! - A synthpop song complete with autotune and a starting that reminds me a little of the first few bars of MM's 'Only You' - A really interesting way to start the album, it's a different and upbeat track. The whole thing is autotuned though, so it will be interesting to hear how this sounds live. Miyabi's voice is quite suited to this. B-U-O-N-O Lets Go! A mini radio rip is here: LINK

2. Zassou no Uta - A recent single by Buono! With really interesting and different lyrics, and an uplifiting message (check out the translation on Airi sounds great in this, and it's a fun PV too. With a quite rock-like sound, Buono are getting back to basics here. It sounds fantastic, and it continues the trend of Buono! pretty much only getting very good songs, I don't think I've disliked a song of theirs so far. Official PV Here: LINK

3. FrankincenseΨ - This is a great song, with an awesome repetitive guitar riff the whole way through that keeps the cool beat of the song. Again, individual and unlike any other H!P song I have heard, this is good enough to be a single. There is still a bit of autotune, but it works here and it's only done in specific spots, and not the entire track. Miyabi sounds excellent here! For this album it's almost as if they were given extra vocal training, as they sound better than even a year or two ago. LINK

4. My Alright Sky - an Airi Suzuki solo song, the English at the start is not by her, it is by the composer of the track (credit to mm-bbs for this information). Airi's voice is often forced into high pitches that makes it squeak slightly and doesn't suit. This song is in a lower range, and it is just beautiful. A slow, ethereal sounding song that's a perfect halfway mark for this standout album. Airi's voice just keeps getting better. She does attempt some English in this and it sounds very cute. Mp3 Tube here: LINK

5. Natsu Dakara! - Buono's most recent single! A great summer song. A slightly slower song than recent releases, but a very good one nonetheless. I don't like the talking in the middle though, talking in a song usually weakens it (like a lot of No Sleeves's releases, if you want to compare..stop talking!). This isn't really a song you can dance to, but it is definitely one you could nod and sing along with. It's not my favourite single release from Buono! though. Official PV Here: LINK

6. Kia ora. Gracious. Arigatou - This is a great upbeat song that picks the album up again. This is Momoko's lead song, and she sounds fantastic. A high-pitched, fast moving track that works with Momoko's voice. This isn't as good as some of the other upbeat songs on the album, and it's a little generic, but it still works, and it's another song that I think would be good live.

7. JUICY HE@RT - A B-side to Zassou no Uta, an awesome rock-like song with hard riffs (I say rock like, as it's still quite poppy, and their vices are still IS H!P..) there is still a great rustic guitar feel with this, mixed with some synthpop overlay, but not enough to take away from the great old-school rock-pop feel of the track. They are wearing Union Jack jumpers in the PV...COME TO ENGLAND BUONO! Stop teasing us! Official PV Here: LINK

8. 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou - A lower-range song, which I am always thankful for, as I think H!P is a bit of a squeakfest at times. This is a cover of a song by Siam Shade, which I will include the original here. It is an interesting cover for a girl group to do but it really shows their vocal range, I'd love to hear them do more songs in this range. It sounds fantastic. Which is not something I would expect from Momoko, Airi and Miyabi, who all have higher ranges, but their voices are so much better than we usually give them credit for, and this song shows it. The ORIGINAL by Siam Shade here: LINK - The Buono version is not available on youtube yet, but I am sure it will be soon so keep searching!

This is a great, great album, that any H!P fan would love, I have not heard any bad reviews so far. Hopefully, if H!P releases can start going back up to this kind of quality for regular singles and albums, it will bring a lot of disollusioned fans back, and new fans in. But, I don't know if it is just years of being let down, but I doubt that MM's new album or single will be anything like the quality put into this. Prove me wrong H!P! Prove me wrong!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Favourite Songs of the Month - July (Australian Pop Edition)

My Favourite Songs of the Moment!

So I have some different favourite songs at the moment from all different era's. Give these a listen and see if you have any recommendations for me. I am very, very into the Electro at the moment and it seems to come back every ten years after the introduction of it in the late 70's/early 80's. Especially with the New Wave/New Romantic's movement.
Firstly, my absolute favourite at the moment:

Rogue Traders - We're Coming Home. This makes me ache for Australia. This brilliant band was originally without a lead vocalist, and when Natalie Bassingthwaighte was announced as their singer. People were unsure. As she was from Neighbours and a lot of bad pop had come out of that show during the early 2000's. As it turned out though, Bassingthwaighte was a powerful singer and an absolutely explosive performer. Standing out from the generic pop of the day, Rogue Traders did extremely well with her as lead singer. Unfortunately the lineup only lasted 2 albums before Bassingthwaighte left for a solo career (which also happened to be very successful) - I was lucky to see them live during Kelly Clarkson's tour of Australia, in which they were the support act. They were absolutely incredible.

Psuedo Echo - Funky Town. This song is a 1986 re-imagining of the 1980 hit by Lipps Inc. There are not many cover songs that are better than the original, but this is definitely one of them. Psuedo Echo were an Australian Electro-pop band riding the electro wave of the 80's. A lot of people actually forget they had other songs, and actually debuted in 1982, this song was their biggest hit though. It combines punchy lyrics (which granted, they cannot take credit for, but they deliver with perfection) and practically perfect pop. This video is a lot of fun, they are all putting everything they can into their performance, and it goes to show that you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a good video.

INXS - Devil Inside. At INXS's peak, with amazing albums like 'Kick' they produced incredible hits such as this, Suicide Blonde, Original Sin, Never Tear Us Apart and many more. Michael Hutchence was an 80's style and sex icon and even though this edges on rock slightly more than pop, it showcases the incredible versatility of the 1980s, through each individual style.

So what are your favourite songs of the month?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

What I Like (and Dislike) about AKB48.

What I Like (and Dislike) about AKB48.


I am not going to write the entire history of AKB48 here. If you are reading this entry you are probably interested in them anyway so go check out their history on wikipedia or, or get some info from their official website, which is partially in English. (Here)

I really like the fact that they have worked their way up. Being a fan since their inception in 2006. They started as energetic theatre girls, under an indpendent record label, and under the King of Idols, Yasushi Akimoto (who also produced massive 80's girl group Onyanko Club, who are also very worth a listen) . Now, Akimoto was not stalling, he was in a sense, training them, for bigger things, that he KNEW he could get. He was also waiting and biding his time for when there was a dip in the market. As sales of Hello! Project declined, AKB48 EXPLODED onto the scene.

More idols than anyone had ever seen in one go run onto the stage, smiles, dancing, radiant, these idols were fresh faces and new heights of wota-ism were about to be seen. Akimoto markets these girls like Tsunku never could, they appear in every magazine, every commercial, every billboard, photobooks streamed onto the market. He may have started out slowly, but by 2009, AKB48 were the biggest girl group in the country, and arguably, the world.

Not just the girls make the group, the songs and dances are professional and slick, and the production is second to none. The video clips are breathtaking, and even people who do not understand one word of Japanese can get the incredible feeling put into these videos. The girls are not only very talented at singing and dancing, and have worked VERY hard to be famous, they are also fabulous actresses and convey emotion with what seems like effortless calm.

Akimoto doesn't just stop at one group, under the AKB48 blanket, is SKE48 from Sakae (of which Jurina Matsui is frequently seen in AKB48 videos, and her sister Rena Matsui is also very popular) , NMB48 from Namba and SDN48, an adult entertainment group that stands for SaturDayNight 48. In SDN48 is several former AKB48 members including Megumi Ohori, Kayo Noro and recently announced Hana Tojima, among others. I find it quite endearing that people have graduated, then decided to come back, and he seems to have no problem with that. This is something Tsunku has trouble with. Once someone has graduated, now, not like before 2009 (Elder Club Graduation) , we barely see them anymore. Which is a shame.

Hello! Project has become very formulaic and kind of boring, whereas AKB48 and the other groups are unpredictable, and new releases, groups, subgroups and solo projects are always being announced. AKB48 are on the up and up, and considering how many sales they are already making, this is a grand thing.


These girls are being used as objects of lust. Yes, it sells records to millions and millions of male fans, but the over-the-top sexuality is sometimes a bit in-your-face for female fans. While AKB48 still endear to many females, the way they are marketed is very male-centric. The boyfriend rule is something I will never agree with, but all idol groups use this, so this is not an AKB48-only thing. Idol groups and soloists have been doing it for many years, but it still a primitive and ridiculous way of treating women (and men to a lesser extent, as male idol groups have a girlfriend rule also).

Also, they lipsynch. A LOT. I think I've heard them sing live only once. Their voices all sound fine. So I don't see what the big appeal is to not actually performing live. Performing live would give them an edge that Hello! Project still has.

The monopoly on the idol music industry is something I am a bit ambivalent about. I'd like to see them have competitors. FIERCE ones, not lukewarm ones. Akimoto is currently auditioning for his own competitive group called Nogizuka46. Hello! Project will never, ever have AKB's sales. That is something Tsunku just can't seem to grasp. He has modelled himself after Akimoto, but he just couldn't quite cinch it sales-wise. Hello! Project's golden age is over, and we are currently IN AKB48's golden age. It may get better, it may get worse, but if we continue to support them through the years, there will be many more exciting things to come!

What do you like or dislike about AKB48? Or about the Idol/Jpop world in general?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Music On The Hill


Yesterday I attended a fabulous day out called Music on the Hill, which was held in West Malling, Kent. Luckily, the weather was clear blue skies and quite warm at 28 degrees. Perfect for a day full of music and activities.
I got there at about 2 O Clock, so I missed any acts that were between 1 and 2. The first act I saw were called Some Velvet Morning.


They were very good, and had a really rock-pop sound which was quite professional and slick. The lead singer had a very good voice and their sound in all was something I would definitely want to listen to again. Next up were a more hard-rock band called City Stereo.


They had a more fast-paced, energetic, rock sound then Some Velvet Morning but they were excellent. They were all absolutely going for it. Putting 100 percent into their performances. These guys really impressed me, and I am looking forward to seeing them explode onto the scene in the future. As I could see the lead singer and lead guitarist stir up teenage hormones.


Stacey Solomon and a lovely blonde girl who was hosting the day were on next and between most of the performances. I feel really bad but I cannot for the life of me remember the blonde girls name! She was a very good host though. Another host was a radio DJ named Dave Berry who was VERY entertaining and made some funny jokes, he was just a natural with an audience. Stacey Solomon also performed about 5 songs of her own. What a VOICE on that girl! I'd like to see her get a solo album sometime soon. She deserves it. Next up was an X-Factor finalist called Ben Mills.


He was very good, and performed some original songs, some covers, then came back afterwards to do some Rod Stewart covers as well. He has a real rock sound but something about him is quite gentle and it shows through his music. He was also very multi-talented, singing, playing the keyboard and the guitar all at different intervals. He had quite a large fanbase going from children right up to grandparents. He was a good choice for this event and got a lot of people cheering.
Next up were the reason I was there. ABC!


Martin Fry was FANTASTIC. I think the only other ones who were members of the original band were the drummer and the lead guitarist. Their sound was incredible, and they had a young guy doing the saxophone who really made the songs pop. Fry still sounds amazing and his voice hasn't wavered at all. It still has that smooth, sexy sound. They played a lot of their big hits from the 80's and the crowd was going crazy for them. There was this kid standing next to me who kept trying to get Martin to wave at him, which annoyed me because he didn't even know the songs. Martin Fry was looking slick in a suit, which must have been boiling as it was a very hot day.

I did not stay for Bjorn Again as I am not an ABBA fan. This was a really fun day, and at only 25 pounds, the quality of the music acts was a bargain, with all the profits going to charity. A really well put on day and I hope it continues to be successful in the future!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Chou Wonderful! 6 Review

℃-ute (キュート)

℃-ute have invoked a much more adult sound in their 6th album, which I would argue to be one of their best, if not the best, they have released so far. The Airi and Maimi show has lessened, and we get to hear the amazing voices of Chisato, Saki and Mai more often. ℃-ute are sounding like their voices have been thoroughly worked out, as they are all sounding like divas in this fantastic album. There are less cute tracks and more mature sounding tracks. Which I think now, that their youngest member Mai, is 15, they can start pulling off more often.

As a 5 member unit. Their voices sound great together, and a lot of people who have never bought a ℃-ute album or single before are starting to. As a result, their sales are going up massively. I hope that they hit a number 1 soon, as they really, really deserve it. I'd also like to see them, and other Hello! Project acts to get Kouhaku, as they seem to have been forgotten in recent years.

This album is the epitome of pure pop fun, and the new grown-up, yet still youthful sound of ℃-ute is a phenomenon that I hope sells them a lot of records. Please listen to this Chou Wonderful album if you can! I have included radio previews or youtube versions of the tracks I can find.

Track by Track Breakdown

1. 超WONDERFUL! (Chou Wonderful!) - This is an upbeat, fast song that is almost even-line distribution. It's a good introduction, with a really 'get up and dance!' kind of vibe, which sets the pace for the rest of the album.

2. Midnight Temptation - a high-energy song that also has even line-distribution, which is nice to see. The girls voices are a bit echoed and whispered, giving them a different effect, there's also a heavy hit of synth that pulses through this track, which is fantastic. There's also a minimum of high pitched tones in this song, which is a really great change. Chisato does a few very belting lines too. Radio Preview Here

3. Kiss me 愛してる (Kiss Me Aishiteru) - An EXCELLENT A-side that really catapulted C-ute to the front. Their strong vocals, coupled with the new promotion of Chisato, who is pushed almost as much as Airi and Maimi in this, makes for a really new and fresh sound. Also, the non-stop style of the instrumental makes this a very powerful and punchy track. Official Video Clip Here

4. いざ、進め! Steady go! (Iza, Susume! Steady go!) - A medium-paced song led by Saki, which is nice to hear as she isn't exactly super-promoted in C-ute. She sounds very good. A lot of 'Whoah Whoah Whoahs!' in this. An individual song that doesn't really sound like any other C-ute track. The instrumental break in the middle coupled with the 'yays!' make it a bit generic though. I think I could say this is the weakest song of the album, which is a shame, because Saki is my favourite from C-ute!

5. ルルルルル (Rururururu) - A slow sounding ballad song, that Airi leads, this is a song that really showcases their vocals. They still have a certain high-pitched sound, which I am sure is a result of the key they are having to sing in, which sounds mostly good in this, except for a few certain parts, where they could stand to sing lower. When C-ute sing low, they sing sweet. They have nice voices, but this needs to be in a lower key for it to be exceptionally pleasing.

6. 別れたくない… (Wakaretakunai…)- A synth sounding, boppy song that Chisato leads. Her voice is argueably the best of C-ute. This particularly suits Chisato's voice, as it's a bit slower and a bit lower. She sounds really good here, as do the rest of C-ute. This is better than ルルルルル and would suit an energetic break in Concerts as even a Chisato solo. Which is what this really should have been.
Vocal Cut Version Here

7. 会いたいロンリークリスマス (Aitai Lonely Christmas) - Another excellent A-Side from C-ute. This is the song that was used in the 9th generation Morning Musume auditions. Everyone sounds exceptionally good in this, again, Chisato shines, really supporting the others with her voice, as she has depth that Airi and even to an extent, Maimi, do not have. The oddness of the instrumental break, which is very much channeling the 80's, gives it a really unique feel too. A fantastic song. Official Video Clip Here

8. Circle - Another slower song, led by Mai! Underappreciated, Underloved Mai. Her voice is still very cute. This is a simpler song, with an understated instrumental, of course still a bit of synth, because C-ute bring all the synth to the yard. It's not super memorable though. It's very sweet, but forgettable.

9. Danceでバコーン! (Dance de Bakoon!) - This is what we are talking about! A fantastic, upbeat, funky song that is very much for dancing. The Airi and Maimi show is on in this track, but we still get to hear snippets of Saki/Chisa/Mai. The translation, on, shows the lyrics as being fun and youthful, just about wanting to dance! It's also a bit more traditional music wise, with thumping guitar and less synth than C-ute usually have in their music. A great A-side from C-ute! Ja ja ja! Official Video Clip Here

10. 3 Ban Home 3 Ryoume 3番ホーム 3両目 (3 Ban Home 3 Ryoume) - A funky, R'n'B infused song that is lead by Maimi. With a slower beat and a 'head bopping' kind of feel. This song has a few really nice vocal breaks too, with a twist in the instrumental and Maimi's excellent vocals shining through. Radio Preview Here

11. キャンパスライフ〜生まれて来てよかった〜 (Campus Life ~Umarete Kite Yokatta~) - A really uplifting track. Just a feel-good song. Hardly any synth in this. More focused on traditional instrumentals. Which is a nice change as well. This isn't as powerful as Kiss me Aishiteru or Dance de Bakoon, but it is still a pleasant song. Official Video Clip Here

In conclusion, if you are a new C-ute fan, I would actually start here and work backwards, it's a really good album with some kicking A-sides and some excellent album tracks. We could all stand to listen to more C-ute!

Chou Wonderful 6 Jacket Photography making of part 1.

Chou Wonderful 6 Jacket Photography making of part 2.

Kiss Me Aishiteru Dance Practice.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Ribbon no Kishi ~ The Musical ~

Ribbon no Kishi ~ The Musical 2006 ~

Starring Morning Musume & Biyuuden

Hitomi Yoshizawa
- Prime Minister of Silverland
Miki Fujimoto - The Witch Hecate
Ai Takahashi - Prince/Princess Sapphire
Makoto Ogawa - Baron Nylon
Risa Niigaki - Lady in waiting/Knight Nouveau
Eri Kamei - Lady in waiting/Knight Torteau
Sayumi Michishige - Lady in waiting/ Talent Scout Rue
Reina Tanaka - Lady in waiting/ Talent Scout Riziere
Koharu Kusumi - Prime Minister's son/King of Silverland

Rika Ishikawa - Prince Franz of Goldland
Erika Miyoshi - Gaoler/Lady in waiting
Yui Okada - Gaoler/Lady in waiting

Marcia - Queen consort of Silverland
King/God - Kaoru Ebira

Nozomi Tsuji
- Gaoler (In certain performances)
Natsumi Abe / Aya Matsuura - Prince Franz (In certain performances)

This is the story of Sapphire, played by Ai Takahashi, who is born with the soul of both a boy and a girl. She is known to the public as Prince Sapphire, however her body is of a woman. Her father, the King of Silverland, has her in mind as his heir, and, as a woman, she would have to forfeit the throne.

Disguised as a flaxen-haired princess, she decides to attend a dance that only happens once a year in Silverland, and happens upon the Prince of Goldland, Franz, played by Rika Ishikawa. Who falls helplessly in love with Sapphire at first sight. Not knowing about her dilemma.

The Prime Minister of Silverland, played by Hitomi Yoshizawa, is desperate for power for her son, played by Koharu Kusumi, who is next in line for the throne of Silverland if Sapphire does not have any heirs. The Prime Minister asks the witch Hecate, played by Miki Fujimoto, for a truth serum, which she tricks Sapphire's mother, the Queen of Silverland, played by Takaruza actress Marcia, into drinking. After which she reveals Sapphire's secret. After a fight that goes wrong that kills the King of Silverland, the Prime Ministers son seizes the throne.

Sapphire's mother is dying, and when Hecate returns to bribe Sapphire for her mothers life, in exchange for her female soul, Sapphire takes it, and returns to the castle of Silverland to fight Franz and the Prime Minister for her right to the throne.

This musical is extremely well-cast, with each Hello! Project member fitting into her role perfectly. Ai Takahashi as the star is an excellent choice, as she is dedicated to the role and has an electric stage presence. I was particularly surprised at Koharu's acting skills, and think she suits the stage more than being in a girl group. Rika's lowered voice sounds fantastic, and she sounds much better singing in a lower register. Also included in this musical is Erika Miyoshi and Yui Okada from Biyuuden, who, while they have very small roles, do very well with what they are given.

This musical marks Makoto Ogawa's graduation from Morning Musume, and the end was quite sad as particularly Ai and Risa, fellow 5th generation members, were crying a lot. I only have high praise for this musical as extremely enjoyable, particularly well produced and a lot of fun. All the girls have clearly worked very hard and it shows, as the slickness of the production doesn't falter.

Natsumi Abe, Aya Matsuura and Nozomi Tsuji all had appearances in this musical during it's run. Abe and Matsuura playing Prince Franz, and Tsuji playing a gaoler, an extra character that isn't included in the last day. From the clips I have seen of these versions, all do very well, in particular Matsuura, who I am disappointed she didn't get a smaller role in the days she didn't play Franz, as Rika did (as a lady in waiting).

I am now eager to watch Cinderella the Musical. Morning Musume, particularly Ai Takahashi, have shown their strength in theatre, and I hope that more musicals are to be announced in the future.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Hallyu Wave

Korean Pop Invasion!

Over the past 2 years, a change has been coming over the pop music industry, Korean pop has started to infiltrate the airwaves all over the world, but especially China and Japan. K-pop has a difference to Jpop as in the musicians, if they are manufactured, have been trained for a long period of time before their debut. So their singing and dancing skills are often slick and very well executed.

Korean pop music is extremely well produced. Synth is highly used, along with phat basslines and a perfect combination of good vocals and a melody that makes you bop your head. A big difference I have also noticed is, that most Kpop singers can actually sing, and have musical talent. Japanese pop seems to take looks/personality over vocal talent a lot of the time, whilst almost all the Kpop I have listened to, I have not heard a note out of place. Now, while that may come down to auto-tuning, and I am sure in a lot of cases it is, there is only so much you can improve someone's voice before it becomes unrecognizable. Try listening to Erina Mano or Koharu Kusumi. They sound very, very average even after being autotuned. So it's not an implement to be used to improve them so they sound like Mariah Carey. More to fix up the naff notes.

The training for becoming a Korean Pop Idol is extremely hard and sometimes unsurity kicks in, as a lot of highly trained people never get to debut. The people who do, get hand picked by the agenices/record companies, and even after that can sometimes be dropped. It's a very stressful life.

Considering the fact that so many K-pop groups are becoming very famous in Japan right now, including Girls' Generation, 4minute, Kara, T-ara, SHINee and many more, Jpop is going to have to up their stakes to compete with the highly professional sound and extremely polished performances that these ultra-talented young stars are bringing to the industry. Considering Japan, Korea and China have always been extremely competitive, I have no doubt that we may see some Kpop influenced songs and bands coming out over the next few years in China and especially, Japan.

Japan is going to have to put their obsession with cuteness and youth aside for a second if they are going to compete with Korea. As Kpop has a much more mature look and sound, which in turn, attracts a much more intelligent audience. In Japan, girls as old as 25, and as young as 12, are being portrayed as schoolgirls and objects of lust to try and sell more records, which attracts a very weird and often perverted audience.

While in Korea, girls and boys are recruited as young as 9-10 years old, and trained for upto 7 years before they debut. Long, long hours of dancing and singing training. As a result, they are experienced beyond their years once you see them on the television and hear them on the radio, as opposed to Jpop stars, who are auditioned and given fast-track training, and as a consequence, a lot of them are very under-par when they are first seen, and, due to the nature of the industry, the bands (or members within the band) are usually so short-lived that we never get to see them at their best.

I think Japan could take some really good tips from Korea in the way of music. The question is, how long will this wave last? Will it become a great point in repairing relations between Japan and Korea? Or will it just be a temporary fad that will fade out with time?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sun Ghost Debut Album

Love, Hurt & Paradox.


Sun Ghost bring together experienced musicians and vocalists with an obvious passion to making very likeable sounding music. This debut album is not only extremely well put-together, but also as good as anything you would expect to buy in the shops, and better than a lot of the bands that seem to be debuting on major record labels these days. Their music flows effortlessly and sounds expensively produced. As a band, their influences are not completely obvious, they sound unique, which is rare in the music industry these days.

Listening to the album a second time, I enjoyed it even more than the first, as it seems like every time you listen to it, you discover something new. Which is what we are all looking for from music, originality and a desire to listen again and again. Their lyrics are exceptionally good, brilliant in their storytelling value and very poetic (and I love the Julie Andrews reference in 'Tornado, Tornado')

All in all, this album is very worth buying, and at a very reasonable and affordable price of US$5. This album, Love, Hurt & Paradox, puts together what all musicians hope for, a fantastic debut.

Track by Track Breakdown

1. 21 Jigawatts - An eclectic mix of guitar and drums near the start, that continue in an infectious loop, with slick vocals and unique lyrics that centre around a space theme, a slight jazz undertone shows itself about 3/4 of the way through. This is a fantastic opener to this album, whetting your apetite for more.

2. Coopers Song - Starting on a brilliant riff of what sounds like an electric guitar and drum snare, this is making music sound unique again. A quick paced and long beginning that glides into smooth harmonies, crossover vocals and a slight throwback to 80's rock, this song make you want to rewind and listen again as soon as it's finished.

3. Can't Love You - Jumping straight into vocals, the lead singer shows strength and emotion usually only invoked by vocalists that have been established for a very long time. With a tender side that glows through especially in this track, the popping of the drums and guitars at exactly the right time bring a wholeness to it all. After the second listen I was singing along.

4. Jump Into the Lake - A beautiful, slow beginning, which leads into a catchy chorus, which, mixed with instrumental pauses and background vocals that mirror the guitar riffs, make for a song that you want to sing along to, but you don't know all the words yet. A chilled-out sounding track.

5. Photo Radar Blues - An almost silent introduction that breaks with one chord, broken up again by what sounds like a steel drum, the start of this song is almost hushed, a brilliant combination of instruments that just seems to work. Slightly angsty lyrics and feel to parts of this one, although that's lightened by the claps in the bridge and the thick vocals of the chorus. The vocals get stronger as the song continues.

6. My Theoretical Favourite Person - Jumping straight into slow vocals, that's broken by a drum beat and a beginning that made me nod my head. Brilliant. Sun Ghost have mastered the art of instrumental pauses and injecting different sounding riffs into one song, which shouldn't work, but totally does. The feel-good track of the album.

7. What Aren't You Telling Me - A slower song, and soulful vocals that are backed up with slowly rising guitar and drum beats. The vocals rise by the second verse, bringing out the skills and raw power of the lead vocalist. This song showcases the way the band works together as a unit, and it really shows how advanced they are in music making.

8. Tornado, Tornado - Starting with an awesome riff and building to a fully blown melody, the vocals are second to the fantastically powerful beat of the music in this track. Energetic and something you know would sound amazing live. Dropping the beat a little in the bridge, in picks up again in the chorus, which just gets you excited every time the beat drops, as you know that incredible beat will start up again soon. I found myself doing air guitar to this track. It's brilliant. The drums pack a powerful punch near the end, bringing this album to a delightful close. My favourite song of the album.

Sun Ghost Official Website

Buy the album HERE

Sun Ghost Official Twitter

Sun Ghost Official Facebook

Make sure to check Sun Ghost out. They are a band that is sure to break the big time!