The H!P Kids Are Alright 1: Ray

Filed in American Wota 3.0Tags: , , , , ,

I’m trying out a new feature with the launch of 3.0: every month, I’ll ask several other bloggers to take part in a roundtable discussion on a topic of my choosing. Kind of like the McLaughlin Group for wota, though I also give special props to Wu-san and Zush of Kakko-ii for doing something similar with “Those Precious Moments”.

To start things off, this month I’ve chosen three bloggers who’ve emerged in the past year as three of the most distinct and thoughtful voices in our corner of the interwebs: Celestia of Bikkuri Project and KAT-TUN 2 Me, Henkka of The H!P Opinions of a Metalhead – or as I like to call it, H!P Metalhead – and Broomhead of True Life Seek.

As for the inaugural topic, a timely issue: Should the H!P Kids units, C-ute and Berryz, play a larger role in Hello! Project as their popularity increases? And what does it mean for the older, more established units – especially Morning Musume – to be supplanted by this special generation?

Personally, I think there should be an immediate changing of the guard, with the Kids replacing Morning Musume as the flagship group of Hello! Project. And by this I mean focusing the marketing attention away from Morning Musume, investing more in C-ute and Berryz, and letting these younger units emerge as the new, defining public faces of Hello! Project.
It’s a logical extension of the constant cycling of talent that Hello! Project epitomized up to now. In the same way new gens of Momusu were brought in to replace the older gens on their way out, the H!P Kids were brought in to be the next generation of Hello! Project. These girls are finally proving themselves, gaining more visibility in their own rights, even winning awards. So it only makes sense to give them the spotlight as they grow into stars in their own right.

Not only must Morning Musume take a back seat to the Kids, Momusu’s main gimmick – the shifting membership through auditions and graduations – has to end. The extreme fluidity of membership used to be a hallmark of H!P – think Country Musume, the subgroups, even shuffle units – and Melon Kinenbi used to be the freakshow by remaining stable for so damn long. But ever since W and Viyuden were formed, the tendency has been to keep a unit essentially the same, so now Morning Musume seems more the aberration in that sense.

Stability can help enforce the kind of structure that a more successful idol machine – Johnny’s – has had in place for over a decade. Look at how Johnny’s works – memberships rarely change in their major units, most all of those groups continue to have great sales, and the solo careers of many of the Johnny’s idols have flourished as well.

Another crucial part of Johnny’s success, though, comes from knowing when to let new blood take the spotlight and be, if not the flagship, then the deserved center of attention out of novelty and freshness and energy. Berryz and C-ute are like the Kanjani8 and KAT-TUN of H!P, and be marketed as such. And while it’s a shame that Morning Musume no longer has a stature commensurate to what SMAP has maintained for over a decade, what I’m suggesting here may help restore some of that. So bringing down Morning Musume – how exactly, I’ll detail later – can also become a way to save it.

Okay, who’s next?

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5 Responses to “The H!P Kids Are Alright 1: Ray”
  1. Radicalipton says:

    This is a great idea and a breathtaking new design. It just gets better and better.

  2. Vee says:

    Kudos on the new look for AW, and your insight into The Kids.

    I’ve gotta agree. MM’s gimmick is gone. They may have started out as “older” idols, but somewhere along the line, throughout the morphing lineups, the formula changed and things got sort of fuzzy. I like these stable new H!P groups. I think Berryz are going to take over the world, personally.

    Good show.

  3. Radicalipton says:

    What Ray is proposing is already occurring. Berryz had an arena concert in April, while Morning Musume was relegated to a theater venue for its fall DVD? Hmm. C-ute stomping all over Japan with tours and hits and national awards, while Morning Musume’s lede-singing capability was gutted with Miki being kicked out and Yossie choosing a better alternative, Gatas?

    But there is a giant horsefly in this creamy ointment: Graduation. Morning Musume has used the concept to preserve the very idea of Morning Musume, from which all of H!P was been spawned. However, graduations will be very difficult to work into the junior groups; they’ve been together too long, and with few hiccups (Magumi and Maiha), and are cast in a Melon Kinenbi-type mold, to work over time.

    This poses a dilemma. I’m just enjoying these groups and appreciating every precious minute, because none of them are getting any younger.

  4. craig says:

    I just had the thought: Auditions are awesome and compelling … therefore H!P should definitely keep on with the whole audition thing.

  5. Kookyprincess22 says:

    In 101 ways KAT-TUN is more like Momusu.

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