Thankful for Jpop 3: Country Musume and the Idol Work Ethic

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

A little while back I watched a clip of Country Musume performing in the rain in some forest area for what looked like several dozen rain slicker-covered fans. But from the way they were singing and the strength of their performance, you’d think they were at a huge stadium and not in some strange variation of the Blair Witch Hello! Project…

First, I must confess: I hadn’t been a Country Musume fan. It’s not that I disliked them or actively avoided them, I just never got into them. I heard they had a really great single last year but never got around to downloading the PV, I guess, and they were one of several H!P acts that were shafted this year with either one or zero singles. (In their case, zero.)

I’m thankful for Country Musume because this clip is such a great example of the hard work and enthusiasm idols bring to their work. They could have been less enthusiastic, what with the rain and the trees and the fans covered in plastic like furniture at an old person’s home. But they went out of the way to make the fans who attended feel special and, as a result, they came across as quite special themselves.

So after seeing this live clip, I watched some PVs I had stored away and realized: Toda Rinne is really really hot. That one clip where she played a waitress was really hot. It’s too bad she left H!P a few years ago…

Beyond that, the current girls of Country Musume (leader Asami, Satoda Mai, and Miuna) were very sexy in the forest performance – the boots, the jacket and frilly tops with a good expanse of well-toned midriffs on display… Wow. Why can’t the girls of Morning Musume dress this well? It’s a relatively subtle outfit – a little Nancy Sinatra, but not outright Vegas – and makes the girls seem accessible as well as deserving of idol worship. Their singing was excellent, beautifully performed with a great sense of theatrics, though no songs stuck with me right away – but then, I’m something of a slow learner. Their moves seemed very traditional girl group, but that works well for them.

The two things I try to always keep in mind about Japanese idols are: one, they have to work hard just to remain in the public eye; two, they’re all egomaniacs on some level who welcome whatever attention they can get. Which is true for most people in the entertainment field, of course, but these truisms seem to stand out more in Jpop because of the clear emphasis on marketing and commerce. This tempers my attitude towards idols, making me sympathetic to their lifestyle but also believing they should know the trade-offs involved with this profession.

Idols work so hard to bring happiness to their audiences, and in return they simply ask to be worshipped and adored and have their products bought. It’s a fair exchange, as far as I’m concerned.

The next time Country Musume release a single – whenever that may be – I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for it. And much as I love Mikitty and enjoy Konno, I hope it’s the three girls with no extra Momusus added on. As far as I’m concerned, the trio doesn’t need any boost – they’re just fine as they are.


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5 Responses to “Thankful for Jpop 3: Country Musume and the Idol Work Ethic”
  1. S says:

    I love that clip so much. I only wish they showed the full songs.

    MM members in CM are sort of a necessary evil, I think. As much as I’d love to see it, CM isn’t popular enough to stand on their own without an MM member, especially not with the way sales are tanking everywhere right now.
    CM got a bump in sales when they switched from Rika to Miki/Konno. Given that it’s been over a year since the last single, I think the next one will be without Miki/Konno, but with someone else.
    Koharu? She’s be amusing, at least, but definitely not popular on her own.
    Then again, Miki and Konno are the only two MM members that are from Hokkaido. While Rika wasn’t (and she was in CM), it’ll be weird to switch from two Hokkaido members to one(s) who aren’t.

    Even though they haven’t released anything in over a year, I’m thankful that CM is still around doing lives, performing in concerts, and kicking ass in Gatas.

  2. Alice says:

    Then again I thought Miuna wasn’t actually from Hokkaido either.

  3. Alice says:

    The more I think about it, Uwaki na Honey Pie was a great single in the same way that Special Generation gave a boost in sales to Berryz, and Akai Freesia gave a big boost to the Melons. I’d say that had as much to do with it selling well as the line-up change did.

  4. Tiny says:

    I find it typical that H!P acts with one or zero singles this year are still on the H!P roster. I mean CD sales are probably not the main form of revenue for them. It’s the whole package of concerts, fanclub events, futsal, merchandize, etc etc that keeps acts like Country Musume and Melon Kinenbi going.
    And I’m happy for it. 🙂

  5. Alice:

    “Honey Pie” is actually the only CM single I’d recognize… Though I’ll be correcting that deficiency soon enough.

    S and Tiny:

    Good point about the other activites H!P acts have, but it’d still be nice to see more activity in the music department. It especially breaks my heart when a particularly strong single – like MK’s most recent one – comes out, gets my hopes up, and then months upon months of nothing.