Seizing the Opportunity

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

With all the events of this coming summer – Tsunku’s wedding, the double graduation, and Lord knows what else that may be in store for us – it’s high time for some radical shake-ups across the boards at Hello! Project. Run with the spirit of change embodied by this summer, take better advantage of the resources available in the collective, and let management reap the profits accordingly.

I have two huge propositions – one I’ve made before and you may well expect, one that isn’t as obvious but makes sense in the impending new Musume order. With these changes guiding Hello! Project, there are other smaller changes that would also make the most of what H!P has to offer. So first and foremost…

Instead of an eighth generation audition, induct the three Country Musumes to Morning Musume. Though I still like the idea of 8-nin Musume, this would be the next best thing – or perhaps the best thing, if it comes off right. This would bring the line-up from eight to eleven, a healthy number. These girls are polished performers, solid singers with clear idol personae – they already know the songs, so there’s a minimum learning curve. Unlike what happened to Miki, who went from solo to a group, this feels like a promotion for the three idols involved, not a punishment – moving from the J.V. to the Varsity team, so to speak. They’d invigorate Morning Musume in a way that a new bunch of raw pre-teens never could. Asami’s just incredibly fucking adorable, while Mai Satoda has sex appeal to spare. I don’t have much to say about Miuna, though I like her too.

Sure, Country Musume have got their own repertoire of songs – some of the best damn songs in H!P, to boot. But Hello! Project has been mixing and matching songs among the units for a while now, so it’s not that big of a deal. Beyond that, how hard would it be to have a nice interlude where Country Musume performed their songs – maybe with Miki – in the middle of a Momusu concert?

The more I think about it, the more it seems right. Country Musume have been busy, but they haven’t released a new single in over a year and a half. Having them join Morning Musume would give these idols higher visibility as well as help Morning Musume rebuild in the proper direction. Young new recruits – the typical twelve- and thirteen-year-olds – would make Momusu more like Berryz, or perhaps vice-versa. Older new recruits are less likely, and for a good reason: they can’t be trained as thoroughly. This solution gives Morning Musume older members who are already in the H!P mold – it’s perfect.

And speaking of perfect…

Reform the Perfect Ten Morning Musume Line-Up as Yume Musume. They did great at Kouhaku, they wowed their good friends at Utaban… so just make it official already. Yume Musume would be a greatest hits unit that will only do the most popular Morning Musume songs. And yes, include Yossi in the line-up – schedule it between Morning Musume commitments, or have it supplant Morning Musume at that time. (Imagine Hello! Morning episodes focused on Yume Musume on the road.) In between the greatest hits, the soloists, Viyuden, and W can do their new material – a painless way to make people listen to more recent H!P and hopefully like it. Instead of new singles, release updated versions of “Love Machine” or “Koi no Dance Site” (or “Happy Summer Wedding” in time for Tsunku’s wedding), or have them do their own interpretations of the best non-Musume H!P songs like “Can’t Live Without You” or “First Kiss”.

Yume Musume would generate more interest in H!P than any other act because it’s the Morning Musume that the public most fondly remembers, that the long-lost mainstream audience practically threw money at from “Love Machine” to “The Peace!”. If you get even five percent of the people who bought “Love Machine” to try out Yume Musume – out of nostalgia or curiosity, out of watching their appearances on Utaban and other music shows (and they’ll shine on those geinou showcases, as they’ve proven time and again both individually and en masse), out of the fact that this actually feels like Morning Musume to the general audience as opposed to all the new faces they don’t know in the current line-up – that Yume single would still be bigger than the sales of any recent Morning Musume single.

Will they eclipse the current Morning Musume line-up? Yes. Does that matter? Not when you’re thinking of the bottom line. (And don’t tell me UFA doesn’t care about money more than anything else.) It’s one of those win-win situations. The long-term hardcore fan base will both stick with the current Morning Musume and rejoice in Yume Musume; the mainstream casual audience will continue to ignore the current Morning Musume but at least may be intrigued by Yume Musume. The Perfect Ten will get in touch with a potential audience that had long abandoned them, which can only do their solo and new-unit careers a world of good. Where is the down side in any of this?

And besides, a Yume Musume could better assure us that Kago Ai will come back.

Along with these two big propositions, some minor ones…

Push Melon Kinenbi as the Avex-esque H!P Unit. By that I mean slinky R&B numbers with more sex appeal than the typical pseudo-virginal H!P pop. They’re being shafted in a huge way, it’s been a year since their last single. UFA believes in them enough to give them their own musical, so why not give them a real marketing push and try to take a bigger chunk of the market that Avex has carved out for themselves?

Let Berryz Koubo and C-Ute continue to blossom. Really, the H!P Kids are headed in the right direction – “Jiriri” is the best H!P single so far this year – so just let them follow through on their nascent promise of greatness. Berryz could never overshadow my hypothetical Yume Musume but they can give Morning Musume a run for their money.

Have Ayaya do her own Coco d’Or style standards album. She’s wanting to burst out and prove her chops as a serious performer. An album of cool jazz standards worked for hiro, it can also work for Ayaya. She has the ability, she yearns to work live as much as possible, and she’s done jazz interpretations of her singles already.

Give Mikitty her solo career back! Or at least put her in the next “solo group”. You knew I had to include this. While solo seems unlikely at this point – though it shouldn’t – why not place her in Gotsumattou with Gocchin, Tsuji, and Ayaya?

Start training the Eggs as backup dancers and singers. It’s about time they were used. Besides, having Country Musume fold into Morning Musume and treating Melon Kinenbi as a top H!P unit means they won’t be able to play second banana to the Musume-derived units any more.

Of course, in all this, I haven’t accounted for several members of Hello! Project – Ayaka (who I guess could go into Momusu but she doesn’t strike me as an equally good fit), Inaba Atsuko, and Maeda Yuki. They can probably do emcee duty for concerts, now that Makoto will go back to drumming with Sharan Q.

Okay, now you can all call me crazy. I’m ready for it.

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4 Responses to “Seizing the Opportunity”
  1. Alice says:

    How many times are you going to suggest bringing back Golden Age Musume?

  2. Oh come on, Alice! I’ve suggested giving Mikitty her solo career back at least TWICE as much as I’ve suggested bringing back the Golden Age line-up… I think.

    Actually, I lost count a while ago on both.

  3. Alice says:

    Well I do agree with you on Mikkity’s solo career, but there’s no saying she would have to graduate to do that.

    I guess it just struck a nerve with a lot of people saying “they should just disband morning musume already” lately, especially with Konno and Ogawa graduating, and then to hear you suggest golden age musume again. Sorry I snapped at you.

    I guess I just think we should try to find the interesting points in the current members instead of just saying “those were the days” over and over again. I did, and I ended up falling in love with Konkon and a few other members. Otherwise, why bother following them any more at all?

  4. Rikku says:

    i LIKE it!