Thoughts on the Current Morning Musume Part 1: It Was the English Subtitles

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I’ve woken up from my slumber and I’m still a little grumpy it seems. I don’t know what the hell is wrong me but I’m just an extremely hateful person. While everyone cheers on Morning Musume I remain pessimistic and deep in thought.

I’m warning you beforehand that what I say will basically bash the hell out of Morning Musume so get ready. All I can say is that my honesty is not meant to drag down Morning Musume and I still love them but I’m realistic to a fault.

This post(posts now because I wouldn’t shut up lol) is a culmination of some things I’ve been thinking recently sparked by the 12th generation results, things said around due to Morning Musume’s success now and strangely enough this post. The comments in that post kill me and I know a lot of them just say whatever but when anons come to an agreement it makes sense in some sort of messed up way, right? It was an interesting thought if you don’t take it too seriously.

There has been bitterness with fans because ye olde platinum era(PE because I’m lazy) sucked and had terrible sales and no popularity. Often they will say “Well Tsunku didn’t promote them and that’s why they failed. I don’t really know if that’s correct and besides I think Aki-P was interfering with H!P’s success(or at least show appearances) while he was making AKB dominate the world(I’m still waiting for my CAN48, where is it?). Where the Sayumi post comes in that Sayumi has a virginal feel and that’s why she is popular. Is that surprising to me? Nope. I think we’ve pretty much established already that wota/Japan likes innocent and child-like girls.

I’m wondering if the product just wasn’t right. As well you have to consider the events before PE. The PE slump didn’t just happen out of nowhere. It was a series of events that led to that dip in popularity and low sales. If you pay attention to the sales and the fans because you are a loser like me then you’d know that Morning Musume was losing popularity for a long time before that. You could see by the time that the 6th generation(and I doubt that the public remembers the 5th generation very much too)came around, maybe even earlier than that the audience was starting to switch around or at least this is in my opinion. Sales had been going further down and the public didn’t care.

Then to top it all off right before PE most of the popular members that were still around left. Nacchi had left for a solo career a while back. Kago and Tsuji graduated together for W. Then Kaori graduated for a solo career which was so weird to me because she was the leader for an extremely long time and I didn’t accept the change very well. Rika left for v-u-den. Mari left because she dating some guy. Mikitty left because she dating some guy. Lastly Konkon left for university and Makoto graduated with her because she was useless. So yeah none of these members leaving helped the situation at all because obviously when a girl leaves so will a lot of her fanbase. But it’s not really surprising to me because of course popularity will wane if a group loses a member people like.

I don’t mean to say that sales weren’t going down beforehand but I think that all of those losses in such a short period of time didn’t help and further lead the group into wota territory and to PE hell. The group really didn’t have time to stabilize and promote new members to help build up the fanbase again. We never really had that period. Plus when they added a new member it was Koharu. Did anyone like Koharu when she first joined up? I’ll be honest she was so annoying to me.

First of all I hate when only one person joins a generation. Not Goto of course because she was special and talented but the others were not deserving. I think it’s a cocky thing to do and it just bugs me. Like there’s thousands of girls in Japan and you seriously can’t find another suitable member? Bullshit. I do think that Koharu was a good choice because she had saleability(wasn’t ugly like Aika or basic like Sakura) but at the time I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. That they only chose this talentless girl and were calling her the ace. She was grating to me at first. I didn’t find that she had a good personality. I only started liking her when she did the Kirarin Revolution thing. But even though she did well with that it’s very unlikely that one girl could save Morning Musume and restore the sales especially after they reached their popularity peak and it was steadily declining.

When I look at PE it’s a weird dynamic for a group. Especially if you look at what Morning Musume was. It was always a group that was changing and evolving based on who was in the group at the time. Now that probably doesn’t feel weird to people who got into Morning Musume at the time but for me it was off. What seemed to happen to me was rather than moving forward we were moving back. Aika, Linlin, and Junjun were supposed to inspire and move the group forward but instead they brought the group down. I wanted to forget that Aika existed most of the time because she was awful. I thought Junjun and Linlin were intriguing but they never got any promotion. They were also older and Chinese which didn’t help their case. I’m convinced if Japan wasn’t a racist mess that they would have got more promotion in the group but again they were still old and not the young teenagers we were used to seeing.

It was a different time, that’s for sure. Instead of the younger generation adding to the mix like I said they detracted and all of the attention was placed on the older generations. They needed a concept to suit them as group. They tried experimenting at first and then when Mikan bombed they went with a more mature and sexy image which is not the direction that successful idols go in because it lacks a pure feeling. This was hell on earth to be honest. It wasn’t even the bland music that I hated.

In fact I think the music of that era gets too much hate. Please don’t misunderstand me. It was not good. Not good at all. But that’s not the only idol group like that at all. For example, AKB. Passpo. Or if you hate yourself go to the official Berryz Koubou channel and hit from newest to oldest. Now watch their PVs. I’ve created a fun game where I try to spot exactly where the light in their eyes died because they were sick of their shitty songs and just went on idol autopilot. But this isn’t a post on how much Berry Koubou has sucked for years, this is about Morning Musume.

I remember years ago sitting down to my computer waiting for months and months for a release from PE Morning Musume. I’d take in every little detail on H!O about that single. I’d daydream that this time it would be good. When the PVs came out I would almost cry because of all of that anticipation but when I watched them I was always disappointed. It was tough for me to take in because Morning Musume had always been something I loved dearly but I was losing my interest quickly. At that point I even wondered if I was finally growing out of my weeaboo phase and most importantly the thing I cared most about in life. This sounds so dramatic but honestly it’s true. I was having an existential crisis over this lol. The only thing that made me happy and that I could truthfully say I loved, I didn’t like or rather I was indifferent to which is even worse. Where exactly did that leave me? What did I have to be happy about then?  Oh god I sound so terrible lmao I can’t.

I don’t even know where to start when I try to think of what was wrong because the whole damn thing was a mess. I mean I can probably just write out Haromoni and as you read that you’ll let out a groan and facepalm. The PVs were all in the dreaded studio. When they weren’t in the studio something else fucked it up and made that release terrible. Promotion? What is that? The dances were so boring, Basically you’d have your main vocal in the center touching her face and the girls on either side of her would dance the exact same dance but reversed. The outfits usually looked like they came out of a bargain bin. Period dresses. Hairy chested neon jumpsuits. And the songs. Oh the songs. They were slow paced yawn fests about some girl whining that she was alone. Riho Ai-chan and Reina had all of the lines so the song wouldn’t even have a chance of sounding interesting even if it could have been. I don’t know who was more tired of everything, myself or Morning Musume.

That’s not to say that I hated all that the PE had to offer. Truthfully I think Morning Musume was most talented during that period and the best that Morning Musume will ever have to offer in terms of vocal talent. Reina, Ai-chan, Gaki, Eri(she doesn’t get credited enough imo) and Linlin were all excellent singers for idols. It wasn’t only that, it was that their voices went together so well because you had a great balance of girls with lower and higher sounding voice(Morning Musume sounds like men singing now lmao i’m sure if a chipmunk joined them it wouldn’t save them). I think their concerts were really enjoyable and COVER YOU was great. But talent is useless. Platinum Era didn’t hit the spot at all. Idols should cheer people up and keep them excited and PE didn’t.

I often wonder and compare the current Morning Musume to the former. If roles were reversed what would have happened. Is the current Morning Musume that different from PE Morning Musume?

In a lot of ways I don’t think it is. I’ll probably be the only person to say this but honestly I don’t think that the songs from colourful era(CE) Morning Musume are that catchy or good. Seriously it’s just like a half step up from PE. I don’t know exactly what it is but I can’t say that these new songs will ever compare to the old ones. And yes comparing them is probably the wrong thing to do but whatever.

Let me start out by saying that I don’t expect the Morning Musume sound not to change. I know it will. You have to adapt to stay relevant in the music industry since tastes change so quickly. When Morning Musume first started out as a group they were completely different from the golden era. But you know what, it didn’t matter to me because I can embrace different styles of music and these songs were all good IMO. Sure some were better than others or appealed to me more but I could honestly say I liked them all and never had to take a second listen to decide that. They all stood out to me and were memorable.

The CE music not so much. I must be an idiot or something because even thought I’ve listened to their singles 100+ times each I can’t for the life of me remember how they go most of the time. Or if I remember some of it, it’s only a small part. I feel like either I have developed short term memory loss or that the music is unremarkable. I’m going with the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the music when I listen to it and I listen to it a lot because as a wota that is my duty. However I don’t think that the music is good. Most of these songs have catchy parts but the whole of the songs aren’t that good and I’m wondering just how much the choreography and PVs play in me liking the music. As well I wonder if I’ll even bother playing these songs in the future. I used to listen to PE singles just as much but now I rarely ever play them, just older singles.

I don’t know exactly how to describe what makes a song sound good as I guess it’s a personal thing for everyone. I don’t have any special knowledge to say what makes a song good to me. All I can say is that when I listen to a song I expect it to flow well. The best way I can describe it like this: CE songs remind me of IGAB and it’s like comparing that to Gee for me. IGAB is series of hooks that don’t necessarily go together well but are catchy and fun. I can listen to IGAB but I can’t say it’s on par with former SNSD singles. It doesn’t interest me like their previous singles.

When I listen to an old H!P song everything seems purposefully placed into that song and brings it together. The one thing I noticed about older H!P songs is there are lots of little moments throughout. I don’t know how to explain this lmao I’m stupid. Okay so I could listen to verse 1 and verse 2 and basically they have the same structure but they differ due to the sounds effects placed in each part. In catchy songs there should be lots of layers(hooks?) that suck you in and make you want to keep listening to the song until you think to yourself Have I really listened to The Peace over a thousand times this month and why can’t I stop playing it? Did I have a life before this? I don’t know and I don’t care because my life is The Peace! now. If there’s not those moments you are going to get boring songs like the PE.

I bet most people could write and compose PE songs tbh. It’s simple. Writing the lyrics come first. The song will be about a lonely girl who wants to be loved. You just shit out a tune that sounds somewhat original, it doesn’t have to be that catchy, don’t worry. Then to make it seem like you are trying add some twinkling sounds and a violin solo to the mix. The song might sound a little bare still so Ai-chan should do the supporting vocals because even when Ai-chan’s not singing, she should be singing. The line distribution should be as follows: Ai-chan and Reina are the main vocalists. There should never be any deviation from this no matter what. Risa and Eri get some lines. Koharu as well since she’s the closest thing to a loli you have left, Sayumi gets an Ah. The Chinese girls get no solos but they can sing along in the chorus. Aika maybe gets a line every couple of song so the Chinese girls like they are not wanted. That’s it. That’s how to make a PE song. I’m an idiot and if I can tell how boring and predictable those songs are then that’s a problem.

As I’ve said before I think the CE music is at least a little better than PE. There’s enjoyable moments throughout even if I don’t think that the songs are amazing and something keeps drawing me back to them. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s electronic dance music and I really like that. But still I feel like the songs are still extremely lacking and disjointed. I love Souda! We’re Alive and that to me should feel disjointed but it flows really well and I think that’s due to the composing. I know that the tempo changes? key changes? (i have no clue lmaooo) are deliberate in CE music but it just doesn’t work for me and feels off, like they didn’t care and just made a single that would be sufficient with the exception of the One・Two・Three single. This makes me question whether or not these songs will stand the test of time after the feeling of newness wears off.

Have the PVs improved? No. In fact I think the production value maybe even have went downhill. Look at this piece of shit:

It is a stupid slideshow with a giant moon placed in the background. Then they are greenscreened in so the appear to be going to different places. I know. I know. You are probably in shock right now since it looked so damn realistic. The glowing lights totally had me fooled. I thought that the girls were actually there! Aside from this PV most of the others seem to be shot in studio. I don’t know why companies keep pumping out studio pvs. I guess it’s because it’s cheaper? If that the case then it’s a poor reason. And no it’s not that I hate studio pvs completely it’s just that the people who produce Morning Musume PVs think it’s perfectly okay to throw a blanket in the back and call it a day for decorating the studio. Look at any kpop MV and they are a million times better because they create visual interest. Nobody can tell me that Japanese companies aren’t making enough money to do the same.

One thing I actually do that improved is the choreography. I don’t know what happened. Did they fire their old choreographer? Well anyway I always complained about how bad their choreography was in PE. Wasn’t Ambitious JapaneseJapanese the last time Natsu-sensei worked Morning Musume? She went to AKB after that right? Or am I getting it wrong? Well anyway it felt like it because the dances after that were a mess. PE dances were terrible omg. But I think that CE dances are really great. I will say that I do have one problem with them and that is that they basically consist of the same moves over and over again and to be honest sometimes the dances look more like a gym routine. However I think in a way this is a good thing and I can’t really fault the choreographers. Most of the Morning Musume members are new to the group unlike before where you have older members teaching the newer girls(POOR NONO) and obviously the old members would be used to the routines. There were also a lot less dances to learn back then. So I think having it this way is a smart move. As long as there are impactful parts during the dance it’s fine. They’ve been doing a really good job of it so far and I think that their dances are getting even better as time goes by. I’m obsessed with them and they really make Morning Musume fun again.

What has changed drastically is of course the members. All that remains of the PE is Sayumi. I don’t want to get into it in detail right now as I will save that for part 2 when I discuss my thoughts about the members but I will say that Sayumi matches extremely well with the newer girls and compliments them so it’s not a problem(in fact if you asked me i’d probably think that Sakura was the leader because she looks 100 years old and Sayu does not). That’s right, we have all new girls. I bet you know where I’m going with this.

These new young girls appear unlike the old( literally) Morning Musume, pure. Yup you knew this was coming didn’t you? I’m sorry but I can’t escape it. This is what’s missing when it comes to PE.  A sweetness, an innocent feeling. Looks alone basically all of the PE members appeared to be mature, older girls. They were allowed to wear more dramatic makeup and dye their hair, something which a normal girl their age would do. They were sexy and they were confident. They didn’t exactly radiate the virgin image regardless of if they were or not. That doesn’t matter to me personally and I have to say I enjoyed that older girls were in the group and didn’t have to pretend that they were lolis like Momoko for the rest of their idol career.

I think if iirc(idk maybe i made it up lol) Reina said something before like the secret to being a successful idol or at least one with a semi long career was to not change. I think that’s because once you lose that image of purity and naivety you are done for. It’s a product that people don’t want to buy and you can push it but it won’t work in my opinion. The idol world has taught me ever since I followed it that virginity is something you must have and appear to have. That’s just what makes a popular idol. I don’t like to think of my girls mostly as sex objects for people but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t true.

In my opinion Sayumi fits this description perfectly. Even though she can act sexy, she always looks cute because of her doll-like features. It’s not surprising to me that she is the only remaining member from PE left because of that. Anyway when I look at the newer members they also fit that perfectly. They are black haired with little makeup. Plus with the exception of Sakura all of them are very young. That is something that PE could never be and that’s why they never sold well in my opinion. Look at the ace of any idol group and they may look different from each other but I guarantee that they’ll have similar qualities to each other. Idols are not artists in any way so you simply cannot sell well as an idol group if your group members aren’t idol material and don’t fit in with the narrow definition of what an idol is no matter how much the group is pushed

For me I just love the newness of it all. Gone is the PE Morning Musume where everything they did was lackluster. It’s refreshing now. These girls are all so lively and they make me enjoy watching them because they haven’t got to the point yet where they realize that they are ruining their lives by singing shitty songs for guys. There’s a certain attraction to that for me because even though I adored the PE girls they didn’t capture me the way that the new girls do.

This will most likely sound really cheesy and I’ll regret writing it later but I’ll say it anyway. Something about these girls really makes me happy. It’s like seeing young girls makes me happy? lmao That’s not a pedo comment it’s just that something about that youth makes me hopeful for the future? I guess that’s why Japan loves youth so much. I FINALLY UNDERSTAND IT. At my age of 50 I don’t really have anything to look forward to. Most days I’d rather not exist. I don’t want to die but I think that life is pointless in a way and I’ve reached a stage where I just don’t care anymore. I just think that I’d rather not exist if this is how it will be for my remaining 25+ years.

No matter how nonchalant or bad about life I feel they make me happy. Because their happiness, their energy is pure or at least they give off that feeling. Someone who is youthful has hope for the future and what they’ll be. Because it’s fluid, not something that is definite. When you’re a kid you have hope and dreams but when you’re an adult you have to let go of those dreams and be realistic. You have all of these expectations put on you and you are shoved into this little box of what people want you to be when in your younger life you were freer and happier. But I think idols make you feel enthusiastic about life because you feel what they are portraying and they get to transform into limitless characters and have fun and you in way can live through them. This for me is what PE never gave me. I don’t know if it had to do with their age specifically but it was more so their attitude and sad, boring concepts. I’m sure that I’ll delete this part later when I regret it enough so get your laughs in at my pathetic self while you can right now. I don’t know why I’m saying this. Maybe I hope that someone can relate to that feeling? I bet somebody can, right?

As much as I complain about how terrible CE are at performing and how they lack talent I can’t deny that in one way that’s very exciting to me. With some I do see potential and with others not so much but I can’t say for certain what will happen and that uncertainty is what keeps me so interested. I don’t even care if the production values are garbage either because right now I just really, really love the new members. I bet that they could even do PE singles and I’d feel blessed to witness it because I like the current members so much. And I bet that I’m not alone because it seems that people are blindly in love with Morning Musume these days and disregard the actual reality of things still being bad in terms of production. But who cares because when you feel that bond with someone you don’t care what they do as long as you can see them. They make everything better by just existing. Yes I’m a loser. Yes I’m a creep.

But there’s still a major question of what happened. I’ve established that the big difference between then and now is the member lineup but if that’s the case why didn’t sales go up right away? That’s right, with the inclusion of the new girls sales weren’t going up substantially like now. Personally I think people needlessly freak out about sales too much because there’s groups that sell less than 4000 copies and still turn a profit. It’s because of all of the merchandise/concerts and the fact that people are paying $20+ for a piece of plastic and a cd. But with Morning Musume, it’s more a matter of pride since their sales have always gotten them in the top 10 of Oricon for 1st week sales and C-ute’s sales were going up as well. Morning Musume is the flagship group and should always have the best sales

So back to what I was saying. Morning Musume’s sales weren’t that impressive even with the new members. They were doomed. So Tsunku took a religious trip to Israel to clear his head and One・Two・Three happened. Oh wait that was JYP AND THE TRIP STILL DID HIM NO GOOD. Seriously though when I look at the sales for One・Two・Three it’s mind boggling even though it’s a great release. That was the 50th single for Morning Musume right? So I could see people saving up to bring sales up but where the fuck did that huge jump come from? And it’s constant, not a one time thing.

I know that Morning Musume is gaining fans now because I can see it. I see girls starting to come back and I can hear them screaming at their beautiful overlord Sayu when Morning Musume performs. This is a good sign because girls aren’t obsessive freaks like guys!!! And I see them on a lot more tv shows and people talking about them more. Maybe it’s still about Love Machine or RR21 but the attention is coming back to them now. I have no doubt about that. But I wonder if right now their sales are an exaggeration and that they still are flops to a certain extent even though they are slowly building their fanbase up to overtake AKB.

You see what happened between Renai Hunter and One・Two・Three is a very simple thing. Yes of course the concept improved and the songs were amazing but that’s not what I’m referring to. The number of bsides increased. Not only that, you had to buy each copy to get the songs if you don’t steal your music online.

I’m wondering if Morning Musume is really as popular as sales suggest or if it’s a illusion. Essentially they’ve gained 100k+ fans. But that’s only if you believe that each person bought a cd. Have you looked at the perks of the cds lately? You could always win a ticket to enter a lottery to see a launch event but now there are perks like “A special box set including all editions of the single and a ticket to a group picture event was also released.” “A special box set was also released, including all versions of the single and the chance to attend a photo event where you would have your picture taken with one member, from one of two divided groups.”. COUNT ME IN. If I lived in Japan and could actually use that I’d buy so many copies of the single. This is an accurate amount:

cds

Sadly I don’t live in Japan and it’s pointless for me to buy that many cds. However if people do live in Japan it’s great for them and I can definitely see them buying a lot of cds to get that bonus ticket. Who wouldn’t?

So yeah I’m not exactly rejoicing yet at the increase of sales because I believe there’s more to it than just a lot of people liking them now. But when I think about it I really don’t care how they gain sales just as long as it keeps happening.

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Current Morning Musume Part 1: It Was the English Subtitles

  1. Pingback: Recommended Jpop♀ Reading: September 2013, Part Two | Idolminded

  2. You know, for some bizarre reason, I thought you were a 20-odd year old asian girl like me. WTF LOL

    I pretty much agree completely with all your points–also, I think the current girls are also much more enthusiastic/not dead inside about their idol career because the group is successful. Also, people like idols because they are somewhat normal-like people working their asses off to accomplish their goals, and people like to go along with that fantasy/feel like they’re accomplishing things by association by supporting these girls (capitalism is seriously scary).

    And yeah, Sayumi wins at the idol genetic lottery. Sakura doesn’t look loli-like enough, but the rest of the line-up has it sold. Maachan wins at life/promotions forever because she’s basically got the personality of a six year old child. Haruna might be the oldest but looks-wise she looks young. Ayumi looks a little older but is tiny – holy crap, it’s like Tsunku & Co. are trying to make an idol group again, but this time really actively pandering to mainstream tastes while…kind of trying to keep up their own UFA brand of idol. Also, Maki was a loli, 4th gen were full of lolis, and that was why Golden Age was popular. It’s no coincidence that Nacchi was face for so long because she was the youngest/loliest looking of 1st gen.

    And you’re right – the production values are shit right now, but nobody cares.

    What the songs lack is actually attention to detail/polish – it’s like they’re essentially all rough drafts of music, but whatever finishing final touch/final concept that should have been applied hasn’t been. This is understandable once you take into account how much music Tsunku is turning out right now. But they do show more care than PE, so–some new concepts, some new touches, some new things and some amount of musical effort has been expended.

    Really awesome post. Please keep all the bits you wrote in, maybe edit out the part where you diss yourself, because I found it pretty insightful. Welcome back to posting man!

  3. Pingback: Thoughts on the Current Morning Musume Part 2A: What Morning Musume Needs | idol love

  4. Pingback: Thoughts on the Current Morning Musume Part 2b: What Morning Musume Needs | idol love

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