Sunday, 21 August 2016

Some Hello! Project musings

I have to make this post although I don't think anyone except for me will find it interesting. But it's my blog and I need to get this off my chest.

In 2006 I fell into the world of J-pop. What mostly caught my eye was Morning Musume and from there I became a fan of all of Hello! Project (the agency to which MoMusu belong). The concept of having members graduate from a group and then audition for new members to join was very new to me, as was the whole idol concept - and I loved both. I was sick of the overly sexy Western pop music (still am). If I wanted pop music I wanted fun and upbeat pop music (still do) for every other mood I go with rock, but nothing lights up an early morning like J-pop. But with the graduation thing also came the thing that the member roster was constantly evolving. Next year nobody will be left in H!P from the time I started in 2006. Not even the original manager is still there. I feel like I'm watching an era come to an end. And I feel old.

Back in 2006, the agency was a lot more bustling, with several groups and soloists being active at the same time. Since then, not only the line-up but the music itself has changed. Let's take a trip back in time.

Line-up 2006:
• Morning Musume (Sexy Boy ~Soyokaze ni Yorisoutte~) [First song I ever heard by them]
• Berryz Koubou (Jiriri Kiteru)
• C-ute (Wakkyanai Z)
• v-u-den (Issai Gassai Anata ni A-Ge-Ru) [Famous for fan service]
• Melon Kinenbi (Onegai Miwaku no Target) [First song I ever heard by them]
• Country Musume (Kakumeichikku KISS)
• Abe Natsumi (The Stress)
• Maeda Yuki (Omae no Namida wo Ore ni Kure)
• Matsuura Aya (Suna wo Kamu You ni... Namida) [Love her voice]
• DEF.DIVA (Let's Go Rakuten Eagles)
• Tsukishima Kirari (Koi Kana)
• GAM (Melodies) [Famous for lesbian undertones]
• Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai (Minna no Ki)
• Nakazawa Yuko (Urara) [Love her voice]
• THE Possible (Young Days!!)
• Hello! Pro Egg (Sora ga Aru)

Line-up 2016:
• Morning Musume '16 (Utakata Saturday Night)
• C-ute (Jinsei wa STEP!)
• ANGERME (Itoshima Distance)
• Country Girls (Ran Ra Run ~Anata ni Muchuu~)
• Kobushi Factory (Osu! Kobushi Tamashii)
• Tsubaki Factory (Hitorijime)
• Hello Pro Kenshuusei (Oheso no Kuni kara Konnichiwa)

When I spend time on tumblr a part of me thinks it's cute when fans think they've been in the fandom long when they started in 2010 or 2013. Another part of me thinks it's good - we're gaining more fans overseas (from Japan) and they need that! But here I am, feeling like a grandma telling tales from ancient times. I remember Morning Musume's 8th gen audition vividly (currently there's an audition for 13th gen), and the confusion that arose with the addition of two Chinese members back in 2008. I remember when one member was literally kicked out of the agency for underaged smoking and relations with a much older man (Kago Ai). I remember when a member of Morning Musume resigned without a graduation concert for having a boyfriend after just one month as the group's leader (Fujimoto Miki). I remember the amount of clamor and confusion when another member announced at a press conference that she was getting married and was already pregnant (Tsuji Nozomi). I remember the horror as I learned that one member's newborn son had passed away (Iida Kaori). I remember the pain of the 2009 graduation, when all the members over 20 years old graduated the agency together. I still watch that concert from time to time and cry my eyes out as all my favourites leave.

The old line-ups are still stubbornly stuck in my heart, but I can't say I follow the ongoings of the current line-up as closely. It can go months before I listen to a new single, while before I listened to it the day after it was released. I hardly know any of the members anymore, and I feel like there aren't any good places to find out. The best places to get to know the members "in the old days" were Utaban and Hello! Morning. And none of those TV shows are around anymore.

So here I am in my own little bubble feeling like the oldest person in the fandom on tumblr. But that won't stop me from continuing to love Hello! Project and keep on supporting and following both old and current members.

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