AKB48


When most people think of AKB48, I’m sure it’s the front girls that come to mind. If you’re unfamiliar with the group and have only hear one or two of their songs, seen a few promotional things of them out there (a PV, a commercial, whatever it may be), there are probably a few girls that you might be able to picture. The first one that comes to mind is probably Maeda Atsuko, AKB48’s prized daughter. You’d probably also know Takahashi Minami, another front girl in the group. All the rest is up for grabs. A particular girl might’ve caught your eye in a PV and you may have looked up her name– say, Kojima Haruna, Oshima Yuko, Oshima Mai, or Shinoda Mariko. All get pretty consistent screen time in the PVs. All depends on your preferences, anyway. Maybe you’ve checked out Aitakatta! An AKB48 Blog to learn more about some of the girls. You could’ve gone a few paths from there– became an AKB48 of varying degrees, or, you know, were just content with the knowledge you’d gained about the group as it was and became a casual listener, or even forgot about AKB48 for the most part.

I could spend about a week straight just blogging about all the girls and I’d still probably have more to say, so I’m going to really focus in on one aspect of AKB48 that most people overlook right now. Even among fans– lots of people know Teams A and K, but Team B remains a bit of a mystery. You see their pictures, you hear the occasional fan talk about their favorite Team B members, you may have spotted a Team B member in a PV! But for the most part, Team B remains very misunderstood. A good portion of AKB48 fans know and have come to love Team B, but it’s just not enough in my eyes. So I’m going to try my hand at correcting that. Why? Because they deserve it, simply enough! Too many assumptions are made about this Team because people are too focused on the other two teams. Now, I’m not saying that you all should just give up your favorites and love Team B forever and ever, but just give them a chance! I definitely have favorites on Teams A and K myself and think they’re both wonderful parts of AKB48– the group, quite literally, wouldn’t be the same without them. Each team has their merits, each team has their own style. Even Team B. It’s called AKB48, not AKandthoseotherpeople48.

Disclaimer: I just want to note that this entry is lengthy. This was on purpose. Don’t feel bad about skimming the entry or just reading one or two profiles. If you want to read the whole thing, you’ve definitely got my admiration! But my whole purpose here was just getting out as much information as possible about these underloved girls in hopes of them getting a bit more attention in the fan world. But seriously, even if you just learn about one or two members, I’d be thrilled! 

(more…)

Advertisements

Well, hello again. Feels like I haven’t blogged in a while now, but it really wasn’t that long ago. I’ve been pretty ill these past few weeks– that and otherwise buried in homework. Those factors sort of combine together with the fact that nothing recent in the idol world has inspired me quite enough to make a big blog post about it (sometimes I think I have an attention span worse than Tsunku’s), but the recent Hello! Project ranking poll started by Hello! Blog that’s been going around and reading about everyone’s rankings has made me want to join in, too. So I’ll post up my rankings and explanations and combine a whole bunch of random thoughts I’ve had about recent events in the idol world later on in the entry. So, without further ado…

(more…)

It’s a proven fact: idols are cute. In some way or another, they’re all cute. It’d be hard to find one that wasn’t! But I want to focus on two particular idols I’ve seen that have a really distinctive kind of look to them. They’re often overlooked in their respective groups, but I think they are really, really the epitome of what “cute” is, in its most stable form. I find it really hard to overlook these two, myself– I can’t figure out if it’s because of their talents, personalities, or looks, or a combination of all three, but for some reason, these two girls have grabbed my attention and struck me as real distinct cuties– enough so to make me do a little write-up on the two.

(more…)

This post will officially qualify for my post with the LEAST substance yet, but I’m sorry, this just HAS to be shared. My brain just about exploded from the epicness that is this photograph.

 Click it, click it, click it, click it!

ERIKA and YUKIRIN in the SAME PICTURE! And and and! Nakajima Saki~ and Sayaka and Sae! Chinami! Satou Amina! Ohori Megumi! Itano Tomomi! Risako! Yurina! Kanna! Acchan! Rina! Andandand everyone else! In the saaaaame place! The only thing that would make this picture better is, well, Maimi. And Morning Musume. Then I’d officially be in a coma from all the awesomeness.

Kouhaku… is going to be SO awesome this year.  

The first time I heard about AKB48, it was in a negative light. They were supposedly ripping off H!P’s idol groups, and some fans were not happy—so the information I came across told me.

“What’s this?! Some other idol group copying Morning Musume?! The injustice!” was my initial response. But really, I had to see this for myself. A quick Youtube search for AKB48 brought me to the PV for AKB48’s single, ‘Skirt, Hirari.’ I had no idea what I was in for. When I clicked on the link, I watched as these girls danced around in schoolgirl uniforms. They were all adorable. Some of them were good singers, and some of them were, well, not so good. I was kind of surprised to see some girls (particularly Maeda Atsuko) featured with a big solo in the song with a voice like that. But anyone who’s seen this PV can probably attest to the fact that this PV wasn’t about showcasing the vocal talent of this group. No, no. It was about, literally, skirts, fluttering. Pure and utter fanservice in one of its most obvious incarnations. At that point, my mind was made up about the whole debate—this group was not copying Morning Musume.

Not even close.

(more…)

One of my favorite things to do when I’m bored and browsing Youtube is search out for any kind of fan work with my favorite J-pop songs– whether it’s watching people sing along to their favorite songs, make entire PVs based off of the originals, dance out the choreographies, or even make their own artistic interpretation of the song on [insert-instrument-of-choice-here]. Some are more common than others, of course– but I’d have to say my favorite is the last– coming across someone playing out a song on whatever instrument, and I’ve been finding more and more piano versions of songs lately, and just been blown away by them.

I’ve always loved piano music; I started taking piano lessons when I was a tiny kindergartener– about 5 or 6 years old at the time– up until I was about 11 or 12, when I switched to trumpet. But solo trumpet music has never been as appealing to me as solo piano music has been– and even today, I appreciate a good piano piece. Just yesterday, I was attending a club meeting in my school’s student center; we met on the top floor, where there’s a lot of open space and seats scattered around for studying, a few meeting rooms, massive windows to the outside, and one roughly tuned piano. All the meeting rooms were being used at the time, so we met out in the more open area. Right as we were about to begin, one guy had come upstairs and was sort of looking around timidly like he was lost– we weren’t sure if he was looking for our group, but soon enough, he plopped down rather casually at the piano. We all chuckled a bit, wondering if he was just going to hang out there if he couldn’t find us, but soon enough, we found out he really wasn’t lost– he actually came up to play the piano! There was rarely a time when I’ve been in the student center and heard someone playing, so when he actually did start playing, everything over at our table got incredibly quiet. Nobody even wanted to start the meeting because we were too enthralled, listening to this guy bust out his piano skills out of NOWHERE. Despite the rough tuning of the piano, the song was beautiful.  We all just wanted to sit there and listen– I mean, we did get started eventually, but I was just so amused that we sat there for a few minutes, just listening, not saying a word. When the meeting was over, he was still there and playing, and I climbed down back to the first floor where I was going to buy myself a soda. As I was heading down, the reverb of the piano was stunning. You could hear it throughout all three floors, since the structure on the inside of the building is completely open. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave as long as that guy was still playing! Unfortunately, I had a ton of other things on my schedule, so I did– but I hope that guy comes back– you know, weekly! I really think people– even my peers that blast screamo music and unintelligible hip-hop during all hours of the day– no matter who they are, can really enjoy a good piano piece.

So, anyway! Instead of leaving my favorite J-pop-related pieces on Youtube for others to come across, I decided to take a moment and share my favorites and hopefully give them some new viewers, because there are some really amazing pieces out there!

The first user I’m going to focus on here is like a MACHINE on Youtube– ChuNatsuPata. If you’ve ever seen a piano rendition of a H!P song on Youtube, you’ve probably come across one of his (I’m assuming they’re male, but correct me if I’m wrong!) He’s got so many fantastic ones on there, so I’ll just pick a few of my favorites.

This first is ‘Haru Beautiful Everyday,’ a song from Morning Musume’s latest album– the duet by Aika and Eri. I love how this song sounds just like the original, but at the same time, it creates a LOT more imagery– for me, anyway. Not to nag on Aika or Eri’s voices or anything– just this piece sans vocals is absolutely beautiful, and creates a lot of gorgeous images in my head– particularly springtime scenes, fitting with the song title. And, for some reason, to me, it sounds like it would be a piece featured in the middle of a movie– in one of those slowed-motion scenes where the picture gets softened, and your thoughts immediately go into sentimental mode. The dynamics in this piece are subtle and fantastic– the crescendos don’t come up inappropriately and surprise you and flow compeletely with the piece, and at the end, there’s this wonderful decrescendo to the finish– and that aforementioned movie scene fades off somewhere into the recesses of my mind.

Now, to completely contrast ‘Haru Beautiful Everyday,’ we have ‘Onna ni Sachi Are!’ This piece is much, much more interpretive– they’ve taken some artistic license with the song and gotten a little creative in the beginning, which just makes the song THAT much more epic. The song is most DEFINITELY ‘Onna ni Sachi Are,’ there’s no mistaking it, especially when the piece moves into the first chorus. At that point, singing along is NOT an option– it is a MUST– er, for me, at least. I just can’t help it! But what makes this so fantastic is it shows off the variety of this guy’s style. Where ‘Haru Beautiful Everyday’ had really subtle dynamics– this piece is VERY much more, for a lack of a better word, in-your-face. The crescendos are sudden, the piano-playing is intense!

Now for the last feature in this ChuNatsuPata series– his latest creation, his rendition of C-ute’s ‘Meguru Koi no Kisetsu!’ While ‘Onna ni Sachi Are,’ was interpretive in parts, this COMPLETELY transformed the original. He took this upbeat, poppy piece, and made into a jazzy swing piece! (Which is fantastic for me, because I’ve always been a closet jazz and swing fan.) But, honestly, you’ve got to hear this one to believe it. This one gives me the images of all the C-ute girls dressed up like flappers and dancing in a swanky club where the air’s thick with cigar smoke and excitement. (And I apologize if I’m getting my generations messed up here, it’s just how my brain interprets it!) (PS, Erika would look AMAZING in flapper-gear. Just imagine it!)

This one’s much too short, but worth a listen, anyway! A softer interpretation of C-ute’s ‘Wakkyannai (Z),’ made into something akin to a lullaby. Actually, it reminds me of Christmas, for some reason. Like something you’d hear played on an adorable Hallmark commercial for the season. Not to insult the song by comparing it to a Hallmark card, of course! I think it’s amazing how such a song can go from its super-genki original style to something as soft and melodic as this. It’s a cute little jingle, and I only wish they did the whole song!

This one I never expected to find! AKB48 piano renditions! This one features a bit of a medly; it starts off with ‘Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru,’ then switches to ‘Skirt, Hirari,’ and finishes off with ‘Virgin love.’ Each of them are very much like the original– so, once again, it’s very easily to find myself singing right along. But these can all be appreciated as renditions of their own, as well. Seifuku’s got a particular sound to it that makes it a little… hmm, I don’t know how to describe this. But it’s a little more standout than the other two– either way, it sounds fantastic. If you like that one, he’s also got a second video of AKB48-meets-piano, where there’s more songs, including some of the lesser-known ones like ‘MARIA,’ ‘Namida no Shounan,’ and ‘Kimi wa Pegasus,’ so if you’re a fan, definitely check out his other video!

This last one is my favorite out of the bunch. It’s Suzuki Airi’s solo song, ‘Tsuugaku Vector,’ piano-ified. Unlike the rest, it’s got a few sound effects in the beginning and the end, and the sound’s played over footage from the making of Airi’s PB. So you don’t get to actually see the song being played, but it’s magnificent nonetheless. The piece is absolutely brilliant– and it actually makes me like the song more than the original ever did. There are amazing parts during, well, what’s the ‘instrumental break’ in the original song, that lead up to a beautiful last chorus. The entire thing is fantastic– really pleasant to listen too– and I do think I’ll be loading up vixy.net so I can take that audio and put it on my iPod.

Just last night, I was talking with a friend of mine about how hairstyles tend to be a rather… tricky issue in the idol world, especially, it seems, in the groups I follow– namely Hello! Project and AKB48. Sometimes their stylists are spot on with their choices, and sometimes, you just have to ask, ” … what were they thinking?!” And with the release of the full PV for THE Possible’s new single, “Kaze no Uwasa,” I figured there’d be no better time to jump in and share my take on some truly heinous hairstyles– and some really fabulous makeovers, at the same time. (Well, alright, the fact that I’ve finally got no homework and I’m finally getting better from being sick all week contributed to that, too, but let’s just pretend I planned this from the start.) So, just a warning, before I get started. This post IS going to be pretty shallow since I’m really only discussing a particular aspect of the following idols’ appearances, so you’ll have to forgive my lack of depth in this, but remember, this is by no means an attack on the girls themselves– hey, it’s probably some behind-the-scenes stylist’s fault, anyway!

(more…)

Next Page »