THE GROOVE MUSIC LIFE

J-Pop

TGML’S TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2013

Nothing like waiting until the last minute? More like nothing like debating what was going to make the cut until pretty much the last minute. Quite a few times I wrote out every album that stuck with me, rearrange the list seemingly every five or ten minutes, end up remembering three or four more albums that I’d forgotten about, and started all over. Some stood out more than others, and for the first time in a year-end countdown there ISN’T a Morning Musume album in the list (but only on a technicality – their current long-player The Best Updated is essentially a remix/rerecorded album of some of their past hits rather than a full new studio album, and I don’t count best-of releases in my year-end lists). After way too much revision and re-contemplation, and admitting that this year I had to do a Top Twenty rather than a Top Ten, and with less than an hour until 2014 starts as I post this (talk about cutting it way fucking close!), here’s the end result:

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One Does Not Simply Grow Out Of Their Passion For Music

“When are you going to grow out of that J-Pop stuff?”

This has a frequent question from my wife Tara, who I’ve known since 2004 and have been married to since 2010. The question doesn’t seem to come up very often anymore, for which I am thankful, but the last few times it occurred was when I bought home the latest releases from my usual favorite acts (Morning Musume, SCANDAL, Koda Kumi, etc.). I think the last time the question was posed to me was when I mentioned pre-ordering Morning Musume’s new single “Help Me!”, in which case, I replied with all honestly, “We are talking about my favorite band here – what do I have to do, tattoo their logo on my fucking arm to make it official?” That usually shuts her up.

I might not have shown it much on this blog – 2012 was a crazy year for me with everything from my first published book project to two different bands (one a general flop, the other current one off to a good start at first, only to… well, I’ll get into that in an entirely different column but as of 4.6.13 it’s not my problem anymore and I’ve moved on to other musical projects already) to some medical issues with both my mother and myself to deal with – but for the most part, my love of J-Pop in general and Morning Musume and SCANDAL in particular was alive and well and occupying good amounts of airtime on the hour a week I get for my program The Groove Music Life Radio Show (9PM Eastern Friday nights on ROK Out Radio, BTW)

There’s at least one good reason why I don’t see myself growing out of J-Pop at any point… there isn’t too much music out there outside of punk/alternative/indie rock that I easily associate with most of the high points of my adult life.

I had similar questions asked of me by many of my peers who looked down with severe disdain at the punk rock that I loved. “Black Flag? Isn’t that a bug spray?” was one of the milder insults. Why wasn’t my record collection dominated by the same dinosaur rock acts they were playing tapes of as background music while they were illicitly drinking booze and smoking cigarettes and joints? A lot of those same losers owned guitars and dreamed of being rock stars. Most of them boasted of their bands but either didn’t make it out of their basement or only had a couple of keg-party or church bazaar shows to their name before things fell apart for them. These guys didn’t even like the “Top 40″ cover bands that were getting most of the gigs at the time… mostly out of sheer jealousy.

To more casual observers like my wife, the forthcoming events involving Morning Musume in general and my favorite member of that group for the past ten years, Reina Tanaka, might be excuse to start up the “When are you going to stop listening to that crap?” nonsense again. This would definitely be the wrong time for me to stop and I don’t think there ever is going to be a wrong time with a group that I’ve been so emotionally invested in. Right now, for me at least, but I’m sure for other longtime Morning Musume and H!P fans, it’s an exciting time for me as a fan. I’m looking forward to receiving my copies of Reina’s final single with the band this week, and am already anticipating the first Lovendo? CD next month, very pleased with the fact that Reina is going to continue to make music for the forseeable future, unlike some of her previously departed members that have exited before her in recent weeks. (Ai Takahashi’s recent announcement of requiring surgery to remove nodules on her vocal cords coupled with the fact that she hasn’t made any music since leaving the band makes for a rather odd disconnect… it’s just as shame that her and fellow departed 5th-gen MoMusu Risa Niigaki have been taking non-musical career paths, despite their vocal talents.) Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to see how the band itself will be after Reina’s departure. Reina’s penultimate single and new member Sakura Oda’s first, “Help Me!”, have already started to dissipate any concerns… Sakura already has a hell of a voice as far as I’m concerned, and given that ten years ago, Reina was already showing some mad vocal skills on her first single with Morning Musume (“Shabondama”), that’s a good sign.

Anyway, I apologize for the semi-casual and somewhat rambly nature of this first “return” blog post. I intend to be on here a lot more often in the coming days, weeks, months… being in a band that went in a direction that it wasn’t supposed to go in took up a good deal of my free time, and my musical evangelization was being focused through my radio show almost exclusively over the past several months. The radio show will continue, and I’ll still continue to purse music, only in a different manner than I had in 2012 and early 2013. As of now, things are going to be the way I want them to go. Life is short, and I’ve been dormant in some aspects long enough.

And Now, It’s My Turn To Go Through The Most Cathartic Thing A Diehard Fan Of Morning Musume Can Go Through.

First, thank you for your continued support.

It has been decided that, I, Reina Tanaka, will graduate from Morning Musume, as well as from Hello! Project at the end of next spring’s tour!

I have announced my graduation today on the stage in front of the fans and I introduced as well the 3 members of the band, I will now take off to a new stage!

I have been a 6th generation member of Morning Musume for almost 10 years and this year the group is celebrating its 15th anniversary. I think this is a turning point, a challenge for me to try another music activity, with the start of this band.

There is around 6 months left for me as a Morning Musume member, with the January Hello! Project lives in January and the next tour.

So please support Reina Tanaka as member of Morning Musume, which will sing in front of you and for my following activities as well!

2012/11/18
Morning Musume?
Reina Tanaka

Goddamn it.

As a devoted fan, I had a small inkling that this event was going to happen at some point in the future. I just thought at this point we’d have another year or two with Reina Tanaka still in Morning Musume, figuring that she’d get at least one album where she was he leader of the group.

Obviously, I look forward to her new project – in fact, I had been looking forward to it since it was first announced this past summer. But this is definitely a kick in the balls for fans like myself. I have been following Morning Musume since late 2003 and thus haven’t known a time when she wasn’t in the band. It’s just not what I was originally looking forward to.

Neither Reina nor Tsunku mentioned it in their messages to the fans this morning, but it was originally planned that Reina would be doing Morning Musume and her new rock-oriented group simultaneously. Apparently, her recent illness that forced her to sit out part of a promotional tour that was taking them outside of Japan made her give some serious reconsideration to that situation.

It kinda figures, though: I had finally devoted an episode of my radio show to Reina’s birthday, and this happens. My timing is fucking impeccable, huh?

REVIEW: MORNING MUSUME “13 Colorful Character”

MORNING MUSUME
13 Colorful Character
(Zetima)
Available on CD, CD/DVD, and on iTunes US and Japan
Rating: ★★★★★

The past two-plus years have definitely been a prolific period for Morning Musume. 13 Colorful Character (Juusan Colorful Character) is the band’s fourteenth studio album overall (counting their 2008 cover album Cover You), and the fourth to be released in less than three years time. The band has been consistently delivering four-and-a-half to five star albums for most of their career, especially in the past five years, but given some of the circumstances the band went through in the past year, including adding four new members and losing two in the wake of the release of 12 Smart last year, it’s understandable if one fears the turnover of personnel could negatively affect the quality of the band’s music – especially considering that it hasn’t even been a year since 12 Smart was released. I had my own concerns given that Tsunku was basically throwing the four new tenth generation members into the mix rather quickly.

Quite personally, I don’t know why the hell I was doubting the guy. The four newest members, Haruna Iikubo, Ayumi Ishida, Masaki Sato, and Haruka Kudo, manage to gel nicely enough with veteran members Sayumi Michishige and Reina Tanaka and less recent additions Riho Sayashi, Mizuki Fukumura, Erina Ikuta and Kanon Suzuki, along with veteran members Risa Niigaki and Aika Mitsui on two previously released single cuts. [A point of reference for newcomers – in Japan, singles are usually released in advance of an album, rather than be chosen as singles to promote the album like in most other countries.]

As for the album itself, it’s almost literally a two-faced affair. The first half of the twelve-song album, sandwiched by both sides of the band’s recent gold-selling single “One – Two – Three / The Matanero Show” is heavily influenced by electronic dance music. And while I’m not one to be bitching about synthesisers and drum machines in any capacity, it’s not like Morning Musume to lean so heavily on one style of musical arrangement for any extended period of time on an album. On Colorful Character, one wonders if either Tsunku and the band were heavily influenced or inspired by the success of EDM superstars like Deadmau5 and Skrillex, or if simply band and producer alike felt that front-loading the first half of the album with songs similar in some aspect to their biggest hit in some time (that being “One – Two – Three”) was a wise move. This is not to imply that the first half of the album is a bunch of indistinguishable soundalikes. After “One – Two – Three” kicks off the album, “What’s Up? Ai Wa Dou Na No Yo~” dispels that notion almost immediately with some gospel-esque group harmonies followed by energetic chanting and then the group’s usual trademark vocals and a good amount of rapping as well.

“Be Alive” deceptively starts off with ballad-like pacing and a beautiful lead vocal from Reina Tanaka before slyly shifting gears into more uptempo territory.

“Lalala no Bibibi” is a solo feature for Sayumi Michishige, who trades in her breathy Janet Jacksonisms from the past couple of Morning Musume albums for an arrangement more suited to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (of “PONPONPON” fame), complete with some of her vocals being deliberately washed with AutoTune vocoder to fit in better with the all-electronic arrangement.

“Dokkan Cappricio” is the most frantic track of the album’s first half, with the girls being thrown into a happy-hardcore-style blender. For those not so appreciative of getting five heavily electronic dance-inspired songs in a row, “One-Two-Three”‘s B-side “The Matanero Show” proves to be the perfect bridge towards the second half of the album, giving the band a modernized Soul/R&B framework for the entire band, Reina Tanaka and Riho Sayashi especially, to shine on.

“Zero Kara Hajimari Seishun” brings the second half of the album into immediate focus, with piano, strings, and acoustic guitar presenting both band and listener with a close cousin to the band’s 2009 hit “Seishun Collection”.

“Renai Hunter”, a hit single from earlier in the band and the last single with Risa Niigaki and Aika Mitsui, definitely smacks of the MoMusu camp having been indulging in the music of Deadmau5 and Skrillex during their off-hours. Seriously, those dubstep-like bass synth drops switching off into steadier house music territory had to come from somewhere besides thin air…

The guitar-driven “Chiky? ga Naiteiru” is rather serious-sounding despite the uptempo beat and Adam & The Ants-meets-Public Enemy drumming. The song’s title translates to “The Earth Is Crying”, and the lyrics seem to hint at both the 2011 Japan Earthquake as well as the environmental concerns that have been addressed in past Morning Musume album tracks.

Reina Tanaka takes her turn at a solo feature with the mid-tempo “Namida Iiteki”. Reina has always been one of the band’s best vocalists, and with this track she puts in her best vocal work yet – presumably Reina has been listening to Adele like most everyone else over the past year and a half, and it shows here. Anyone that was to ask me why she’s my favorite member of my favorite band only has to hear tracks like this to realize why.

“Waratte! You” is a feature for the younger members of the band, all of whom hold their own very nicely on an arrangement not unlike many of Morning Musume’s classic early singles like “The Peace!” and “Manatsu no Kozen”.

“Pyoco Pyoco Ultra”, the band’s first single of 2012 and the penultimate single for Risa Niigaki and Aika Mitsui, was, I originally thought, a slightly weak way musically for the band’s year to start with it’s bubbly Devo-gone-cutesy background – something more befitting to Morning Musume’s younger sister group Berryz Koubou in their early days – compared to past season openers from the band like “Resonant Blue”, “Naichau Kamo”, and last year’s “Maji Desu Ka Ska”, but it’s definitely grown on me as time has gone by, and as an album closer, it’s perfect. Now if I could only get those silly baby-duck outfits they wore in the video out of my mind…

5 out of 5.

An audio version of this review will be aired on Groove Music Life Radio this Friday. The show starts, as always since it premiered last month, at 8:30 PM EST on Rok Out Radio. Listen in at rokoutradio.com, by searching for Rok Out Radio on the TuneIn app for iOS and Android, or through iTunes Radio (look under Alternative Rock to find Rok Out Radio).

TGML Is Going On The Air, Starting Tonight!

Inbetween daily life, trying to write, and some major band drama (that’s going to be a whole BOOK in itself – seriously), I’m happy to announce a new development for TGML: a regular radio show!

Yep, starting tonight, I am hosting a weekly one-hour radio show, imaginatively titled The Groove Music Life Radio, with internet radio station Rok Out Radio. The first broadcast (recorded, mixed, and edited over the past week) was completed and sent to the station last night and will be airing at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (from next week on, the show will air at 8) and will air the usual mix of material that this blog usually covers.

After the broadcast, I’ll be offering the show for download/podcast (and update this post with streaming and downloading links).

UPDATE: The first episode aired and had close to 300 listeners! If you missed out, there’s a link to stream and download the episode after the jump: Continue reading

A Tale of Two Heroes

Two of my heroes just had major birthdays this past weekend. And even though both birthdays will be in the past when this post gets up and read, it’s still worth discussing, especially from my own perspective.

The first birthday commemoration was this past Sunday, when Nozomi Tsuji – 4th generation Morning Musume member, founding member of MiniMoni, ½ of the much-missed duo W, and an official Morning MILF now – turned 25. The second was the 70th birthday of one Sir James Paul McCartney. (Do I really have to remind anybody that he was a Beatle?).

And as far as my love of music, the creation of this blog and its sister blogs and predecessor, and my writing and recently revived musical careers, I owe them both an uncountable amount.

The first albums – as opposed to singles – that I remember asking my parents for were Beatles albums, specifically Sgt. Pepper and Yellow Submarine. This would be around 1973. The Beatles themselves had long since disbanded, but there was a lot of Beatles-spawned solo material all over the airwaves at the time – chief amongst them being the singles from McCartney’s fifth post-Beatles album and third under the Wings banner, Band on the Run. Not that the other ex-Beatles were in the background: John Lennon was getting attention around this time both with his solo work and doing a couple of guest appearances on a few his pal Elton John’s records, and George Harrison was cranking out some pretty good stuff around the same time period as well. Ringo Starr, the Beatle most people though wouldn’t have much of a career, had an excellent solo album, Ringo, which featured the other three Beatles pretty much all over the damn disc – although not all four of them in the same room (the closest we ever came to a Beatles reunion when all four were still alive was Ringo’s opening track, “I’m the Greatest”, which had just John, George, and Ringo.). Paul made two big marks on Ringo’s album: playing “mouth sax” (OK, a kazoo) on “You’re Sixteen” and pretty much everything but the drums on one other track, “Six O’Clock”.

At the time, though, Paul was the ex-Beatle getting most of my attention. I had several of his solo and Wings albums by the time I was in junior high school (Venus and Mars, Wings at the Speed of Sound, Back to the Egg, McCartney II, and Tug of War are all particular favorites of mine besides BotR), and most of them show the usual wear and tear records of the time tended to show when played almost incessantly. Band on the Run we only ever owned on 8-track, which was already a played out format by the time the seventies were coming to an end (for awhile I also had a cousin’s vinyl copy borrowed, but was unable to make that borrowing permanent). I wouldn’t own a copy again until I bought a 24K gold audiophile CD of the album sometime in the early 90’s, and of course, after Macca left Capitol-EMI (then under the control of a bunch of bankers who had no clue how to market music at all – that’s why Citibank ended up owning them and then selling them to Universal!) with his master tapes under his arm and his middle finger behind his back, I’d upgrade again, a couple of years ago, to the 2CD/DVD archive edition released by Concord’s Hear Music imprint. And he’s still going even though he doesn’t need the fucking money (his divorce from Heather Mills be damned) – Memory Almost Full was one of his best albums in years, and he’s been quite the prolific bugger lately with both a “standards” album of sorts (Kisses on the Bottom) being dropped earlier this year and a proper rock solo album being worked on at the time of Bottom’s release.

In a way, there are similar things I can say about Nozomi Tsuji. She was still a member of Morning Musume and MiniMoni when I started to get into Hello! Project in general (never mind just J-Pop in particular); W was just an idea that already had a three-song EP and a full-length album  ready to drop when I first bought Best! Morning Musume 1 and 2 and MiniMoni Songs 2 early in 2004. But that much of an introductory dose of the world of MoMusu & H!P, I think, definitely had the deal sealed when I heard the W EP and album. There were those tight duo vocals her and Aibon had – harmonies that are the tightest one could get without being blood relations (i.e. the Everly Brothers and more recently, the Kirkwood Brothers of the mightly Meat Puppets) – plus the history lesson of Showa-era kayokyoku that Duo U&U presented. That pretty much was it for me. I was an H!P fan for life – and still am to this day.

Of course, Nono’s musical career has been in slowdown/hiatus mode lately – becoming a MILF before she could even turn 20 is one reason why, of course. But her career was on pause beforehand anyway because of the debacle W became after Ai Kago was first suspended from performing, then fired outright a year later – and thus putting W’s third album into territory once occupied solely by the Beach Boys’s original version of SMiLE. (I still think to this day that a lot of the songs intended for W3: Faithful ended up on the first and only GAM album.) I can sit here and bitch about all the music we’ve been denied from her since then, but I won’t. What music she did get to record between 2000 and 2007 was influential enough on me. It’s all part of my DNA just like Paul McCartney’s work in and out of the Beatles was.

Of course, both of them have had their influence on my writing as well – Nono and the rest of MiniMoni inspired my still-in-progress Here Is The Wonderland novel, while Morning Musume in general is part of my usual writing soundtrack (never mind just my life soundtrack), save for when I’m writing musical commentaries like this. The Beatles crop up there as well, of course – those of you that have already read Resonant Blue (if you’re not one of them, you can be) will note a few Beatles references in the course of the story.

Some will dare ask, “How could someone that is a typical pop singer that doesn’t involve herself in her own records beyond showing up at the studio and singing what was asked of her be just as important  to someone like one of the Beatles?” I don’t see it that way and I never have. Music is an even playing field where I am concerned – it doesn’t matter whether it’s Morning Musume, The Beatles, Public Image Ltd., Hank 3, Mike Watt, Beethoven, John Coltrane, or anyone else you could randomly pick out of my collection. It all touched my life, it’s all a part of my DNA. The fact that I can commemorate and celebrate the back-to-back birthdays of two wholly different musicians from two disparate generations (never mind two disparate continents!) is simply a demonstration of that level playing field.

Happy Birthday, Nono and Macca. Same time, next year?

The Unsinkable Reina Tanaka

I’m sorry I didn’t comment on this a lot sooner (the news is about a day and a half old as I finally get a chance to write about this) – hell, I’m sorry I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked to this year, what with everything from Resonant Blue and the formation of TGML Press to some medical chaos within my immediate family to getting back into playing in a band again – but if this isn’t a perfect topic for this little black duck to get right back into the swing of blogging things, I don’t know what is.

For those of you living under a rock, Morning Musume’s Reina Tanaka is, on top of becoming sub-leader of the band following the graduation of Risa Niigaki, embarking on a side project. Obviously, side projects are nothing new for the young woman I affectionately dubbed Her Royal Hotness back in the days of Stuck In A Pagoda With Motoko Aoyama – Reina was leader of the short-lived trio Aa! along with future Buono! members Miyabi Natsuyaki and Airi Suzuki back when Reina was still a new face and voice in MoMusu, and then there was High-King, which I would have loved to hear a whole album from. What’s different – at least, that’s what I am gathering from what I’ve already read – is that this is going to be a rock project!

I always figured that my favorite MoMusu, the personification of my writer’s muse, was a rocker at heart. Some of her playlist choices from her now-legendary Five Stars radio show as well as some of her cover choices when she was on Uta no Rakuen (the now-elusive clip of her singing SCANDAL’s “Shojo S” comes to mind immediately – she nailed that fucking song perfectly) did nothing to dispel that notion in my mind, and a lot of her best vocal performances in MoMusu are when she’s got a rock-inspired arrangement behind her (even though she can shine on just about anything Tsunku throws her way). So, in short, this is no surprise.

What is a surprise is that Tsunku and Reina are having open auditions for collaborators/co-conspirators for this project – a second vocalist and a guitarist. Speculation elsewhere aside, I don’t see Reina and her two side-project bandmates dealing with backing tapes when they perform live – rather, they’ll probably have a live backing band a-la Buono! (Coincidence department: All three former members of Aa! have gone from the TLC-style R&B they performed on the “First Kiss” single to rock-oriented material.)
I also don’t see this as the end of Reina’s being in Morning Musume – not by a long fucking shot. Not only has Tsunku emphasized that this is a side project for Reina and that she’ll remain with the mothership (undoubtedly, criticism over the rapid additions and departures Morning Musume suffered since the release of Fantasy Juuichi late in 2011, exacerbated by Aika Mitsui’s sudden departure last month, has weighed heavily on the songwriter/producer’s mind lately), but Her Royal Hotness herself has said in many interviews that one of her long term goals was to be the leader of the band at some point, a position she’s one heartbeat away from from now (and that doesn’t mean I want Sayumi Michishige out, either – her breathy Janet Jacksonisms have to be the yang to Reina’s Etta James-esque yin right now).

Irregardless of all that, it’s Reina’s time to shine now. With her in the #2 position in the band, finally releasing a new photobook after two fucking years, and Morning Musume about to release one of the best singles they’ve released in almost a year, a side project for her is just icing on the cake.

The last IW Cake Day

No pictures today. Instead, some words, since that’s where all good blog posts (and stories, and good books begin.

While I am sad to see IW itself cal it a day, I am excited for the next step that Brother Ray will be taking to keep the J-Pop (and K-pop) blogging community – the readers as well as the writers – in the loop and then some. Having been a part of all this since Ray was doing his blog roundups on Cult of Pop, I’m looking forward to see what he comes up with… and TGML and it’s two sister sites, Music is Like Oxygen and So Hot She Shits Fire, will be a part of that just like everyone else in the J-Blogosphere.

The only thing that sucks about the retirement of IW? No way for Ray to make good on his promise for a Sunn O)))-themed IW Version 4.0!

One Musician’s Opinion on AKB48 as an Instrument-Wielding Pop-Rock Band…

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AKB48′s self-played performance of their forthcoming single “Give Me Five” under the assumed name/side project Baby Blossom is getting a lot of attention in the J-Pop blogosphere. Despite the raw playing and the questionable sound reinforcement (the result of either no proper soundcheck the day of the performance, or the soundman not taking into consideration how different the room was going to sound with an audience full of people as compared to when the only people in the building were AKB48 and their road crew), they still made quite an impression on me. As someone that has been playing a variety of instruments his whole life, I definitely want to critique and give some serious suggestions to the girls because there’s a lot of room for improvement.

For those that don’t know, I’m a trained musician. I play several different instruments (guitar is my main one, and I presently own five that are all named after J-Pop singers) and there’s a bunch more that I’ve tried but could never get a good enough handle on (trying to teach myself alto sax at age 19 resulted in way too many references to Horatio Hornblower and goat calling from my otherwise supportive parental units) and I’ve played in several different bands for over a decade after my graduation for high school – in fact, it ended up being my main income during the waning years of Reagan America when the only other place that was offering steady employment was the Armed Forces (who had already turned me off when they were relentlessly trying to recruit myself and my other classmates during my junior and senior years of high school and then for months afterward). It’s this musical background that has been a blessing to my activities as a writer and blogger, especially since, as essential brother Ray Mescallado said once, I “aspire to quality music writing” (one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten on my work – thanks again, man.)

Anyway, having watched and listened to the live performance of the song, here’s my notes:

The four girls playing horns were basically the weakest link in the chain. With only a few months of experience on their instruments, they sounded not much different than the brass players in your average junior high or high school marching band. That having been said, brass and woodwind instruments are not the easiest instruments to learn. I attempted to learn trumpet in 6th grade, as well as my aforementioned attempt to try alto sax almost a decade later, and only realized one thing – I didn’t have the lung power to get away with playing a horn properly.

The keyboardists and percussionists involved were a bit inaudible, but I blame the soundman for that, and in all fairness, I won’t critique them.

Yuki Kashwagi did a very impressive job behind the drum kit – I don’t think she even missed a beat. If she found herself in a working rock band after graduating AKB48, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Minami Takahashi did fine playing lead guitar, but her silence for the last few bars of the second chorus before the solo was typical of the beginner. There was a couple of obvious missed notes, but the only thing that grated on me with her playing was her rather bizarre and uncomfortable/unnatural-looking left hand fretting technique. Continued woodshedding and a bit of study with some good guitar instructional videos would help tremendously – they certainly did when I picked the guitar back up after a couple of years of hardly touching it!

Yuko Oshima fluctuated a couple of times on bass but she held her own very well, while Atsuko Maeda showed a lot of confidence playing rhythm guitar.

It’s being openly hoped by AKB48 fans that the AKB48 members involved will continue with this Baby Blossom side project in live performance and maybe even in the studio, and I share those hopes. Quite frankly, it would suck if they stopped playing after pulling off what they did the other night!

Um, Isn’t This A Little Too Soon?

Oy vey. Tsunku-san is really testing my faith in my favorite band.

I can deal with incoming goofball singles like the one coming out at the end of the month, “Pyoko Pyoko Ultra” (c’mon, it’s a parallel of “Hyokkori Hy?tanjima”, for chrissakes, even if it sounds more like a Berryz track than a MoMusu one).

This slew of personnel changes, though… enough already, man!

Risa Niigaki just became the leader of the band last September… and now she’s going to graduate at the end of the Spring tour? A translation of the statements from both Risa and Tsunku haven’t been translated yet, as far as I know (Hello! Online broke the news around 7:30 this morning; it’s 11:30 am as I frantically type this out on my iPad, mere minutes after waking up on a rare Monday off from work), but I’m sure the speculation is running rampant as to why we’re getting another personnel change so soon (and thus being denied at least one full album with Gaki-san as leader).

Like I said when Tsunku dropped the tenth generation members on us the day before Takitty’s graduation: Morning Musume are still my favorite band but wait a minute…

Let’s face it, folks: The Stable Nine lineup had us all spoiled. Some of you complained because that lineup was so stable, and now some of those same people are no doubt complaining because it’s the other way around now.

So who is actually going to be leader after this spring? Sayumi Mischchige, who is cute and has improved her singing quite a bit since she first came around, or Reina Tanaka, who’s already gotten a bit of bandleader experience as part of both Aa! and High-King? Come to think of it, in both of those units, Reina was the titular head of units that had predominantly younger members… Hmmm…

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