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A Year In Review Part 1 - Hello! Project

I'll just warn you, this post is going to be fucking massive. It's gonna review pretty much everything I've liked or disliked this year, so yea. I'll start with idols though as that's what this blog is about.

Hello!Project

Morning Musume.

So, I'll begin with Momusu. Lots of stuff has happened this year. Lots of PBs. 2 albums. 3 singles. One abomination sort of single thing.

I already reviewed 10 My Me (5.5/10) so I won't do it again. I'll do a review of Fantasy! 11 when it's out.

So, let's start with singles.




In February, something was released. Its name was Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai. Translating to "Why is it wrong for women to stand out?", it stood out in a way I hated. It was shit.



It had potential, certainly. The metal version which has now disappeared from existence showed that. However, in the actual single, the pussy synths killed it. Breathy, horrible, whiny and pointless at the same time. Imagine punching a hole in an emo's oesophagus with a rusty nail. That is what this sounds like, but without any of the satisfaction inherent in causing pain to an emo.

If anything, time has not been kind to it. In the 10 My Me review I gave it 2/10, but now I'd give it closer to -50/10. It has no value whatsoever. Also only sold 44000 and barely made 5th in the charts. Even that was too good for this piece of utter shite.

So, come June. Summertime. Tsunku decided in his lack of wisdom that Seishun Collection should be the new single.



Well, after the annoyingness of OGMNI it was certainly different. It was also boring. They took the instrument preset from Nanchatte Renai and tried to make a happy song. Certainly, it seems happy. On the other hand it sounds tired. More of an afterglow than happiness, but without any of the eroticism that afterglow insinuates. The PV was also shit. Not entirely sure why this was a single. It has, frankly, no impact. It merely exists. I think overall I'd give it a 4/10, just for not using horrible rusty-nail-meets-emo synths and the B-side, which was actually better.

Thus we come to the final single of the year. Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game. Seems Tsunku's being a bit of a feminist this year with all this "Onna" in his songtitles. Then again, last year he wrote a song about tits and asses so I guess it balances out.



I guess I could call this Balalaika II. It's very Russian. It's also very Ai- and Reina-dominated. At least the other girls do make a contribution, but considering it's the final single for 3/8 of the group, you'd think they might finally get something to do except look pretty. But no, so we're left again with Eri taking a backseat, and Jun and Lin somewhere in the back like unfavoured relatives. This is unfortunate as Lin really is now the best singer in Momusu in pretty much everything except cute/dance songs.

On the other hand, this song is both more interesting and less annoying than its two immediate predecessors, thus I'll give it a 6/10 for not being shit. It also has some nipple-rubbing dance moves which I find amusing.

Graduations

So, yes, I just touched on this and I must admit I am disappointed. I can understand the reason for Eri leaving. She's got a pretty serious case of eczema and slapping makeup on it everyday can't be good. Time off to recover would certainly be for the best, and with luck she can make a return in the future.

Now, the ones that piss me off are Jun and Lin. I've been an 8th gen fan since they joined (pretty much, as they joined just before I was getting into them). Jun and Lin despite being Chinese, have managed to do what the rest of Momusu haven't in a while, and that's to be idols.

When Momusu went on Utaban for the sole purpose of having the OG on there, Jun was the one who basically told Nakai to stop focusing on the old ladies. Lin also did something rather amusing and dispensed with all formality. The older Momusu are relatively set in their ways now. Aichan has never been a personality. She can sing, she can dance. Some people find her attractive. That's what she does. Still beyond me why she gets lead roles in musicals and dramas as she can't act, but oh well. Aichan has her role. She doesn't try to be interesting. Gaki too, whilst formerly being the joker and a complete nutter, she's become so tame as to be virtually pointless. Both are still completely overshadowed by the former members.

The 6th gen has fire. Sayu is... Sayu. I don't think anything could stop her from being a ridiculously vain bitch, but that's why she's fucking awesome. That's why she's a success on variety shows. Reina is similar in her own way. She had some minor success with Kaito Reinya. Her yankii-ness has subsided quite a bit though, so she's become less amusing. Eri is still Eri, but won't be for much longer. Again though, they have been overshadowed by the former members. I'm unsure whether it's a Japanese "eternal kouhai" thing, because when they were side by side on Utaban it was almost pitiful to watch how they sank into themselves whilst the OG had almost free reign.

The 8th gen, I thought, were the future. Aika's divisive. A bit like marmite, you love her or you hate her. Personally I love her, when Jun leaves she'll be my fave (barring some insanely awesome 9th gen). But she's still not the most outspoken person. Jun and Lin were a breath of fresh air though, and now they're leaving, all I can see is a corpse, personally. Again, barring some insanely talented/outrageous/psychotic 9th gen people, I can see my interest flagging.


Berryz Koubou

So, Berryz. A group that, before this year I'd generally avoided. What a mistake. Upon listening to their back catalogue I found it, mostly, extremely good. Tsunku, bafflingly, seemed to save his best for Berryz most of the time.

So, anyway, this year. One album, 3 singles, more PBs.

The album, already reviewed, gained a respectable 7/10. The singles, I'll now touch on.

So, firstly, the Double A-side. Otakebi Boy WAO! and Tomodachi ha Tomodachi Nanda. I'll start with Otakebi, as this is probably the song that got me hooked on Berryz.



Firstly, it's fucking epic. The low pitched growls are stunning, the music is pretty damn awesome. Risako giving birth to the world or whatever at the end is awesome. So are her various orgasm-faces. The lightning strikes are awesome. Everyone is sexy...

Dance is shit though.

Tomodachi ha Tomodachi Nanda is completely different, but still great in it's own way. The PV is, strangely for H!P, somewhat narrative, and it makes it much more special. Dance is pretty cool too.



Makes you feel sorry for Momo, but all in all it's a good song, a brilliant PV by H!P standards, and overall a great single. I'd give it 9/10.

Next is Maji Bomber! I seemed to be alone in that I really liked this single. Unsure why, musically it's not the best, vocally it's nowhere near as powerful as Otakebi, yet it did seem to bring a bit of rock spirit to Berryz that they had previously not had a great deal of. One of the three punk singles of the year out of H!P. More than usual.



Dance is terrible, but I blame the choreographer. I also have a thing for girls with instruments, even if they don't play them, such as the Possible PVs. Other than that though, they do look really sexy in punk clothes. I'd give it a 7/10 for effort.

Next and finally is Shining Power. A Yurina centre spells one thing. Dominance.



Reminds me a bit of Ryuusei Boy, just less... happy. Seems to be rather restrained. It's not bad, just... underdone. A massive lead for Yurina, but doesn't deliver. Considering it's arranged by Suzuki Shunsuke, a guy who's done some of Berryz most powerful songs (Happy Stand Up, Special Generation, Very Beauty, Yuujou Junjou oh Seishun) as well as some big ones from other groups (C-ute's Forever Love, Miki's Namida Girl (still the punkest thing ever from H!P), Momusu's Mr. Moonlight, and Otomegumi's Yuujou (second most punk song from H!P)), I'm disappointed. On the other hand, the outfits and dance are both decent. Yurina looks damn hot. Chinami's wink is developing power comparable to Airi's from Bravo Bravo. Shame the PV budget looks like it was about £5. Overall I'd give it about a 6/10 for effort.

°C-ute

°C-ute have had a hell of a busy year. An album, 4 major singles, one indies single. They're also being used as social guinea pigs by UFA, as seen by the Ustream Channels, Chisato's recent awesome 踊ってみたいs, and a more general sense of openness about them compared to the other units.

Album wise, I never did review Shocking 5. The reason was, it was shit. I waxed lyrical about the ballads on 10 My Me and 6th Otakebi, but when you have virtually a whole album of ballads, topped up with 3 poor singles, one okay single, and a b-side, it's not going to get good results. Indeed, 3 songs were virtually Airi solos. It's not gonna work. On the other hand, one of the Airi solos was the best song on the album, the frankly epic Aa Koi. Overall I'd give it about a 4/10. Quite a drop considering I gave Akogare My Star an 8.5. That's also the worst idol album I've ever reviewed. Yay.

Anyway, singles.

SHOCK! was, well, shocking. Airi got all the lines. Song wasn't too bad, but UFA being like that was.

On the other hand, the costumes were phwoar. I think C-ute win the costumes this year. Only thing close is Berryz Shining Power items of sexy. C-ute had this and Dance de Bakoon so yea.



James Bond theme tune oh yea. Anyway, 6/10.

Next up was Campus Life~Umarete Kite Yokatta~.



Featuring some pink, some faux-narrative resembling Shouganai Yumeoibito, and slightly fairer line distribution, it was still... not great. Happy as hell but flavourless, a bit like Mano. Still, pretty enough song. 6/10.

After this came Dance de Bakoon. Quite an amazingly good song. Quite a boring PV, but good dance and ass-shots more than make up for it.



It's also quite powerful which is a nice change for C-ute. Also, luscious navel action = happy Krv. How they made ponchos sexy is beyond me, but it worked. Chisa stealing the mic from Maimai in second chorus and Maimai's pout = lol. Therefore I'd give this song an 8/10 for being so sexy it hurts (in all the right ways).

Then came the Indies Single, Akuma de Cute na Seishun Graffiti, in Support of their C-ute Devils musical. There's no music vid, so just have the song.



It's not a bad song. In fact, it's quite good. However, I despise the refrain with some terrible ad libs. Also it's not dark or evil enough to be Cute/Evil. I think I'll give it 7/10 for now.

So, that brings us up to the most recent. Well, the closest in the future. Aitai Lonely Christmas.

This is actually a good song.



The lyrics aren't great, Tsunku has become quite fond of repetition, seemingly. Also that weird piano bit at the beginning in the bass register is horrid. But other than that this song is quite epic. Even if it is a Christmas song *shiver*. The synth solo is wonderful, the guitar solo is good, and the singing is good, soulful (especially in the case of Airi... colour me shocked), and the line distro is good. Rather enjoyable Christmas it would be if I had one of these as a present...

Anyway, 9/10.

So, that covers C-ute.

Manoeri

Now, I really am not a fan of Manoeri. She can play piano, yay. She should stick to it. Stop singing. She's boring. She's like Aichan but worse. because she's also pretty. In a completely boring way. About the only time I liked her was when Henkka did this absolutely hilarious webcomic.

That was, until 2010. She hasn't released an album yet. 3 singles though, and some weird ass dramas, have made her slightly more interesting.

But I'm a music person, so I'll just critique the singles.

Haru no Arashi



Well, her voice is still soulless, emotionless, and actually quite annoying. The song is passable. Sounds quite 80s, which is good and bad at the same time. PV is quite cute though, so I'll give this a 6/10.

Next is Onegai Dakara...



Very... Lady Gaga like. Not bad though. She gained emotion! I'm as shocked as anyone else. Extremely cute PV, not bad dance. Actually shows her as a person rather than a slightly robotic personality-less idol. 7/10 for that.

Finally, Genkimono de Ikou! Second in the H!P Punk 2010 series.



Not a bad song, actually. I deathlooped it when it was first radio'd, and the PV is actually pretty decent. The fact that Mano has a whip probably factors in somewhere... XD

Her voice is still weak, but she shows some signs of improving. She really needs to shout into the mic a lot more though. Her singing sounds like it's all done at talking volume, which is never gonna work. She either needs some serious breathing lessons or just to let rip on the mic. Then she might become good. Still, song is quite fun. 8/10.

So an improvement in fortunes for Mano.

Next up...

S/mileage

The new girls. One Indies and 3 Major singles. I'm quite critical of these 4. Between them, they have 1.5 good singers, 2 cute members, and one member who has no seeming redeeming qualities whatsoever beyond being a racist.

Still, I'll try to review fairly.

First up, the indies single, Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!



First feeling this gives me is "can I die yet"? Music is pretty horrid. Singing ability is pretty bad on 2 of them. Only thing I can really say in favour of this song is that it's short and that I haven't started slitting my wrists yet. It's irritating. Solo is slightly redeeming. Weird sound effects which sound like fat Japanese blokes fapping is distracting. PV is pretty horrid. 2/10.

Next up is Yumemiru 15.



This isn't too bad. Sounds quite pumping, which is a nice change from that shit before. Saki's voice dominates. PV isn't great. Dance is bizarre. Short skirts are helpful in retaining interest though. Refrain is good.

7/10

Next up is the bizarrely titled ◯◯ Ganbaranakutemo Eenende!!

It's in Kansai-ben, which immediately worries me considering the last Kansai-ben song was the utterly shite Osaka Umainen from 10 My Me. This doesn't quite fall to that level of UTTER FUCKING SUCKAGE but is still not brilliant.



The song is, actually insanely catchy. Kanon's obviously filtered voice on the "yay yay yay"s and "nai nai nai nai"s devalues it somewhat. She's good enough to not need "fixing".

The Hitler 'taches disturb me greatly though, especially as Ayaka is a skinhead in training. She'll be joining an Uyoku Dantai soon.

Anyway, gets another 7/10 for me.

Finally, we have the ridiculously massive title of Onaji Jikyuu de Hataraku Tomodachi no Bijin Mama.



This really is a good song, and part 3 of the H!P Punk 2010. It's nice and upbeat oi! punk, with a Nono added for window sexing. Unfortunately clothed. Saki and Kanon once again dominate vocally, but Yuuka seems to at least stay in tune this time. PV is really quite amusing. Allows them to be young teenagers. Ring lights on the cameras make them look alien on closeups though. One problem I have with this song is mix related. In the mid-8 it shoves all the music to the right, Yuuka's monologue to the left, then reverses and puts music on the left, with Kanon's monologue on the right. It's a bit of a bizarre thing to do in a mix, and could leave some people rather disorientated if they're not used to that kind of thing (ie. if they've never listened to any early Floyd or other psychedelic music). The end bit with the re-fade in and blastbeats is quite fun. Even so, good song, 9/10.

Not gonna do Lilpri as they don't interest me.

So, next, the enigmatic:

Buono!

Only one single and one album this year. Reviewed the album, called it second best H!P release of ever, and gave it 9.7. The only single was also reviewed on there, but I'll do it again.

Our Songs is, really, a continuation of My Boy in that it puts heaviness first. It does it in a completely different way though. Less digitised, more... rock.



Intro riff is cool buildup, the heaviness starts when the main riff comes in. The heaviness inherent in this riff is lush. The verse is quite light, but the pre-chorus and chorus are rocking. Drums are working well, the fills are pretty damn fast. Solo is lol as hell. Random key change at the end = win. Amazing. 9/10.

Hopefully the rumour of new single proves true.

That's it for H!P... TNX, AKB, other stuff will be coming later.

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