Thoughts on, and expectations for, Momusu’s 11th gen

By now absolutely everyone in the Hello!Project fandom is well aware of the 11th generation auditions. But I’ve been in such a blogging funk lately that I am unbelievably behind in everything idol related. Well, my blog is anyway. I’ve actually still been keeping up with it 100%. My funk is mostly due to the fact that PVs keep piling up and I’m still being pretty bummed out about Aika. Yes, still. Also, I always feel the need to let my beloved readers know that I’m not dead and why I’ve been MIA.

Know let’s regurgitate the facts about the audition now, because I’m so OCD and have to always lay out all the facts of the news before I post about my opinion on the matter. Seriously I do. Read back on all of my posts, there’s always a cheesy opening paragraph or at least a line or two.

During the May 18th joint graduation of Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika, Tsunku came out on stage and made a surrpsie announcement. Tsukunu announced that once again Morning Musume would be searching for new members, and announced the 11th Generation ~Suppin Utahime~ Auditions. (Which I thought translated to makeup-less song princess. Which just shows why I seriously need to study Japanese.) The dealine for the audition is June 25th and is open to ages 10-17. You can go to the official site by clicking here.

Now, when I first heard about the 11th gen auditions I was absolutely thrilled, just completely ecstatic. Mostly because when Risa announced her graduation I realzied they needed to bring in an 11th gen shortly. But I really wasn’t expecting the auditions to be announced this quickly. And of course when any sort of unexpected change happens in H!P there are always those fans who are apprehensive to the whole situation. The S/mileage auditions are the best example to date. I mean, there were fans who were really aggressively against them and thought it was going to be one of the worst mistakes in H!P ever. They never actually said that, but some of them certainly acted like it was going to be. I think it’s really funny to look back at the S/mileage auditions because, even though us fans didn’t know it at the time, if they never took place there’s a good chance that S/mileage wouldn’t even be around right now. But as you may recall, I was 100% for them. I am 100% for any change. Shaking things about a bit is one of the most exciting experiences of being a fan of idol music. Right now if they announced 2nd generations for C-ute and Berryz Koubou I wouldn’t even bat an eye. But that’s probably just me.

The 11th gen auditions of course weren’t free from backlash. While I was on twitter talking about it I saw a bunch of people who were against it or warry of it. And I don’t really get that. Obviously we need an 11th gen ASAP. Sayumi and Reina only have 2-3 more years in them max. Maybe even less because apparently Sayumi said she wants to gradute after experiencing being the leader for a bit. So, that possibly means Sayumi will graduate in a 1-1 1/2 years. Now, personally I won’t see it as a great lose because I am nowhere near a Sayumi fan. But that would be a great loss for Morning Musume. Not only is Sayumi currently the most popular member within Morning Musume, she’s also arguably the most popular member in all of Hello!Project. As she gets the most work outside of H!P. Now, her graduation will probably be a pretty decent blow to sales. But that’s not what this post is about. Now that means in, give or take 2 years time, 9th and 10th would have make up the entire group if the 11th gen wasn’t announced now. So, anyone against the 11th gen, do you see how ridiculous that sounds? And honestly how boring that would be. I also have worries if the 9th-11th (and possibly more gens) will be able to carry the group when the 6th gens leave. There’s no doubt in my mind that vocally they will be. I think 2 more years will be plenty of time for the girls to really polish their voices, and work out their kinks. But I do wonder if these girls will be built up enough, and given enough time to shine, that after the 6th gen is gone they will be able to keep the sales at a steady number or even increase them.

I really do hope that Morning Musume keeps up with this pace and holds an audition once a year, you know like they did back in the day. Morning Musume absolutely cannot take another stagnant lineup. Look how much life the 9th and 10th gen have breathed into the group. And I seriously want Morning Musume to be on their 13th gen by the time Reina leaves. Maybe it’s a somewhat unrealistic wish, but it would be the best thing for the group in the long run.

Now, moving along with that type of thinking I want to talk a little bit about my personal hopes and expectations for the 11th gen. First off, the number of girls. I’m going to say it right now I absoultely want four girls. To be perfectly honest, I always want four girls. One or two is completely boring. Three would actually work too, but I’d prefer four because it’s the maximum number that’s ever been let in, and I like to go for the gusto. Now, I really don’t want to hear in the comments that four is too many because I’m going to shoot that down right now. 1: Tsunku did at one time say that Momusu shouldn’t be larger than 9. But that theory was shot to hell when the 10th gen joined and made Momusu 12. And if Aika didn’t have to leave they’d be at 11. And if Aika didn’t leave and they added even 1 more 11th gen they’d be at 12 again. Which means “Momusu not being larger than 9” doesn’t seem like something he really takes to heart. Besides during auditions Tsunku has said a couple of times that he picks whoever he feels deserves to get in, regardless of how many that is. And that’s even if he actually  adds any more girls at all. You never know with Tsunku. He’s constantly doing what you least expect. And 2: Morning Musume needs to compensate for their current loss and future loss. Morning Musume obviously announced these auditions to replace the members they lost. Which is why I’m expecting at least 2 new members. And honestly it seems like the amount of 11th gen girls get in depends on when the 12th gen gets added. Go with me on this one. If  he doesn’t audition for the 12th gen next year we’ll probably see more 11th gen girls to compansate for Sayumi and/or Reina’s impending graduation. But if he keeps up with the yearly audition pace he might add less girls for the 11th gen because he knows that he’s going to add more girls shortly in the 12th gen. Now, if that seems a bit outlandish or over analyzed, need I remind you that Tsunku himself has Momusu’s next few years already planned out. And if Tsunku is thinking that far in the future why can’t I?

On a Hello!Project forum I expressed that I wanted 4 girls for the 10th gen, but people came out with their matter-of-fact logic and shot me down saying: “Tsunku won’t allow such a large Momusu again,” or, “the girls themselves hated when Momusu was that large.” And I have to laugh a bit in retrospect since we all know what happened in the end. Am I confident that we’ll get 4 girls again? Honestly I’m not. This time it feels like it could go either way. But it seems pretty obvious that we’re going to get a least two 11th gen girls.

Now, for the girls themselves I want 90% of it to be based on vocals. I think Momusu right now has plenty of personality. But they’re not really overflowing with singing ability. Yes, in a few years they will be, but not today. So here are the types of girls I personaly would love to see in Momusu: (I promise I won’t whine about how I want Miyamoto Karin to get in so bad yet again.)

A girl like Fujimoto Miki: This one actually has nothing to do with the 11th gen. But it has to do with H!P so I’m sneaking it in here anyway. Remember when Miki auditioned for the 4th gen, but didn’t get in and become a soloist instead? Yeah, I want that to happen again. Except I don’t want them to rip her out of her solo career to join Momusu in a later generation. I’ve said it before it’s really boring only having one solo act in H!P. I miss when H!P had a handful of them. Besides that ManoEri, only has about 4 more years before she starts to be too old to be an idol.

A girl like Yoshizawa Hitomi: Now, I want everything that Yossie was in a new girl. Meaning I want a tomboy with a deep voice. Right now all the girls in Morning Musume have very fluffy, pretty, idol personalities. (Except my baby Zukki) Which is fine, but I think we need a bit more variety in Momusu. This is why I wanted Otsuka Aina for the 9th gen. She was tomboyish and had a good voice. Now, the voice: Morning Musume really needs that just to keep the balance. With both Risa and Aika graduating Morning Musume lost all their deep voices. Who is going to rap now? And please do not tell me one of the current members. Listen to W’s Miss Love Tantei and tell me that’s perfectly acceptable. I love(d) W and the cutest worked for them, it was their theme, but not in my Momusu.

A girl like Goto Maki: Now this has nothing to do with personality. Morning Musume just needs another member like Gocchin who was just an amazing singer immediately. Listen to her audition, she was absolutely flawless without coaching. And she was only 13. It’s really unexpected to find someone like her.

A girl who is a mix of Tanaka Reina and Michishige Sayumi: I really wanted to put a rocker chick, but with Reina’s old yankee image this works too. Now this one is really based on personality. Back in the day Reina really had this tough sort of, “don’t mess with me” image. And she did say a lot of things that annoyed me and made me think she was arrogant. But I really want a member who is totally blunt. A girl with Sayumi’s poison tongue, but without her overbearing, narcissistic, and sugary sweet idol persona that comes along with it. Reina used to have an image like this, but she’s softened over the years. I just want a girl to be like Reina or Miki to say something catty just to keep the other members on their toes. I never really liked any of these members because of their sour personalities, but even I have to admit they are entertaining at times. In small doses.

9 thoughts on “Thoughts on, and expectations for, Momusu’s 11th gen”

  1. There isn’t just one soloist. Yuu is preparing for her big release unless we aren’t counting her.

    Kuduu is the tomboy of the group; known for just climbing trees and going on hikes and being athletics… but also having a perhaps too-harsh tsukkomi personality. This also covers your looking for someone to have that personality later. She and Zukki have been rounding out the boyish Musume though for Zukki it feels a little bit more like a lot of youthful energy rather than (being a boy would be better) like Kuduu.

    Kuduu and Zukki also have deeper voices but I don’t think it matters much – range matters. Takahashi usually had the upper lines and could also sing the low part if she wanted. Niigaki could do the opposite. Eri and Reina never had much range and stuck to the high parts. Listen to the 2012 concert (also you’ll get to see another Yuu soloising). I think what you’re really looking for is people with a fuller sound to their voice not necessarily deeper in which case that can be Kuduu, Zukki or Fukumura with another year of vocal training under their belt.

    I can’t disagree with saying you want to find a Gocchin again but… I think of Sara who I wanted to like but just didn’t deliver. It’s not just being a great singer – eventually this current Musume has the chops to be really great (or passable in one case) all they need is time and training – they have to own the songs they sing. Takahashi was a great singer but I hated listening to her cover other people’s songs because they FELT like Takahashi covering songs. Nacchi, Niigaki, Maki, Charmy, Yossie, Reina – when they sang someone else’s song it felt like it was them. It’s a little bit inexplicable; a combination of showmanship, confidence, and just having larger presences… Whoever gets added needs to have the confidence and the understanding of the song and the vocals to make it their own – that level of singing maturity is something we’re lacking right now. None of the girls really look like they “get” they lyrics they’re singing even when they sing them nicely.

    What I really want, however, is a charismatic center. I know Riho’s a doll and her singing has improved incredibly and her dancing is great but she just doesn’t command to be the center of the group in the way that, say, Nacchi, Rika, Maki or even Yossi used to. Or heck, even the way Niigaki filled up a stage with her presence. Talent is necessary, but, even moreso they also have to have the savvy of understanding their lyrics and a huge stage presence.

    1. Kikka doesn’t really count since she’s part of UFA and not really H!P anymore.

      I don’t really know a whole lot about the 10th gen yet, as my grasp of Japanese is pretty limited and things take a while to be subbed. And also, I just haven’t really had the time lately to read translation of things. :/ Zukki seems to just me to have the funny girl/energetic peronality. I guess they could have her be kind of like another Ogawa Makoto, but I don’t really see that happening. I’d honestly rather see her have a personality similar to LinLin’s.

      As for the voices, after I wrote this post I completely realized that I forgot to mention that they have deeper voices. So, my bad on that. XD I also agree that range matters. I feel in a few years Zukki will really be a valuable member. Her voice in Baby Koi ni Knockout showed huge potential. She just really needs to work on her voice cracking. A fuller sounds completely sums up what I want. Most of the current girls voices just sound empty.

      I was all for Sara getting in as well. But I do agree that she did struggle a bit with conveying the emotion of the song. And there’s no doubt that the current Momusu can be really great. Most of the 9th and 10th gen are overflowing with potential, and just need some fine tuning. They seem to really be pushing Riho, she did really stand out in the auditions. But she doesn’t seem to have that much control over her voice. It still comes out a bit too screechy. In the long run when it comes to vocals I think Mizuki, Ayumi, Zukki, and maybe even Haruka are going to be the best singers. I can’t really comment on members making the songs sounds like their own. I’m nowhere near an expert on the nuts and bolts of singing. I always felt Ai-chan handled any song she was thrown beautifully. And as for not getting the lyrics they’re singing, I completely agree. Properly conveying emotion is the most diffucult aspect of singing. At least it seems to be.

      Riho as a center never really worked for me. Despite being a good dancer and being pushed right away, she always seemed like she was unsure of herself. She’s a little to shy and reserved. I think it’s going to be awhile before she really warms up. Ayumi seems to be her rival right now, maybe not wanting to lose to her will be the spark she needs?

  2. To me, four is too many for one audition, especially if you think there should be an audition every year for the following years. Now I’m not going to roleplay as Tsunku and say that absolutely will not happen, as some on H!O has apparently did. I know perfectly well that Tsunku’s made plenty of out-there ideas in the past, and you can’t trust most things he said (he made some insane comments about adding all 10 auditioners for the last generation…). That said, I just don’t think 4 more now is feasable. That would push MM to 14 total members. If I remember correctly, the last time MM hit that high a member count was when 6th gen joined and Yasuda left, making 15 members. Within two singles Tsunku felt that the group was so unwieldy that he had to split them into two (Sakura and Otome gumi). That was back when MM was just coming off the height of its popularity, and most of its members, excluding 3/4 of 6 Gen, were already pretty well-known names on their own. Right now, people barely know the 9th an 10th gen girls, so I’m not sure how well it would work out to throw four more new faces into the mix. I agree that auditions are fun and exciting, and MM’s period of stagnation did a lot of harm to its popularity, but I just can’t see how going too far in the other direction would be sustainable either.

    I do agree that the new audition must deliver good singer(s) with decent range, especially someone who don’t need much “seasoning.” They need singers like Fujimoto and Takahashi (if not Goto) just for the group to be able to cover many of their beloved songs in concerts believably. I’m not sure the current lineup can pull off Mr. Moonlight, for example. That said, girls like Goto Maki come by very rarely, and you wonder that if that girl exists, and more importantly prefers MM over all the other n number of idol groups around right now, wouldn’t we have seen this girl by now in the two auditions in the past year?

    1. I’m actually not confident 4 will make it in. As aid the number of 11th gen girls will depend on when Tsunku decides to add the 12th gen. An only Tsunku himself knows when that will be. If the 12th gen is announced next year we’ll probably only see 1 or 2 11th gen girls. But if the 12th gen is announced in 2 or 3 years from now we may see more girls added to compensate for the gap between gens. You have to remember that up until the 8th gen girls were added steadily so you could assume new girls would keep coming, but now you can’t really tell anymore.
      As for the whole gumi situation, I’d actually like if something like that happened again. I’ve wanted to see gumi or shuffles again since becoming a fan. And yes, maybe the group was a bit unwieldy, but from a business perspective H!P probably did it to make twice the money off of 1 group. And lots of other idol groups do just fine with 14 members. As for the 9th and 10th gens not being widely known, well that was really poor management and there’s really nothing they can do about that know. It will take years before the 9th and 10th gen are really well known and loved. And if they waited that long that would hurt the group even more. If they constantly make the group fresh it’s exciting for old fans and new fans might be more open to the group, since with so many new members all at once it seems more like brand new group rather than a continuation.

      That’s exactly what it is. People have said that the current line up needs to avoid a lot of their older songs, and I really agree 100% with that. I love the 9th and 10th gen but they just do not have the singing chops to handle really powerful songs. Also, there’s no doubt in my mind that a girl like that does exist. As for seeing the girl before there could be a number of reasons why we haven’t. Maybe she had to wait until she was old enough to take part in auditons. Or perhaps her parents won’t let her audition until she becomes a certain age so it doesn’t effect school that much. Haruna was 17 in the 10th gen auditions, why did she wait? She could have auditioned for both Momusu 9th gen and S/mileage 2nd gen. Why didn’t she? We actually have no way of knowing if she did or not. So, you also have to add in the fact that this magical girl may have actually not passed through. Momusu has passed up so many girls who went on to other things. Screw girls going to AKB48, their biggest loss was Koda Kumi.

  3. I wouldn’t say that Gocchin was amazing straight from the get go. Her vocals were pretty weak in Akagumi 4, lbr. But she certainly had potential and came a long way since then, but I agree, Momusu needs better/more vocal variety. I know it’s stupid to complain about weak vocals in an idol group, but w/e, I just like songs that sound good and vocals are a part of that. From what I’ve heard so far, I like “One Two Three” but the Reina/Riho/Robo-Sayu kind of weaken the impact of the song. It’s songs like this that make me miss the stronger vocalists like Ai and Miki.

    1. I would. Akagumi 4 was just weird. But it was mostly due to the fact that when Gocchin first joined Momusu was doing a lot of breathy songs listen to 3rd Love Paradise. I think she sounds great in “… Suki da yo, it even sounds like she’s doing harmony lines for that song. So it seems like they just told her to continue singing like that. In that song to me it sounds like she’s holding back her voice to fit the style of the song.

      I don’t think it’s stupid to complain about good vocals in an idol group, I’m doing the same. Lol. But, to me anyway, Morning Musume and other Hello!Project groups seems to be different from other idol groups. Most idol groups don’t really focus on if their dancing and singing is up to par. A lot of groups lip sync or sing to a playback. And I’m pretty sure in Arashi DVDs they but recorded tracks over their live voices in editing. But H!P really is more of a performance group and put a lot into being good singers and dancers.

      I absolutely love One.Two.Three. I love autotuning and dance music so it’s just completely great for me. I also really loved Ok Yeah, so I’m happy to hear another song like that. And I think they are probably just doing one last hurrah of Reina/Riho/Sayu lead before the 11th gen comes in. I think after the 11th gen comes in we’re really going to be seeing a big vocal shift. It’s probably going to be more even. Or at least we’ll see more Ayumi. Afterall she’s the ace/face of the 10th gen and we’ve yet to really see her since the last single was a graduation single and this one seems to be a transition single.

      I do really miss strong vocalists too, but I think we have to wait for couple years. Even if they add three Ai-chans or Gocchins in the 11th gen, it’s still really not enough. Since it would just be Reina and the 11th gen vocally carrying the group. The 9th and 10th gen have huge potential, they just need time to blossom.

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