It's the first Friday of the month at the Hello! Idol Blog Project and that means "Featured Idol Friday"! This month's featured idol is Union Music Japan's very own Dance Idol Unit, "Carat".
A five-member group (six members at formation) this unique Idol unit takes the typical Idol Pop formula and mixes in a club-friendly EDM sound. What we end up with is a high-energy group that can turn out some very danceable songs, but with an accessible feel. This take on the Idol genre was a deliberate move on the part of UMJ and is seen by the fact that one of the group's members is a full-fledged DJ in her own right. Of course I speak of DJ Mona, both DJ of the group and an active participant in the singing and dancing. One can argue she is the heart of the group or at the very least an element that helps set them apart from the plethora of Idols that Japan has been turning out with regularity. To further fill in the club atmosphere, practically all Carat live shows begin with a solo DJ performance by Mona featuring some of her amazing mixes. This of course is aided by the fact that several of their shows take place in clubs almost as often as they take place in traditional live house venues. And returning one last time to Mona as a DJ, it should be noted that while she is a full-time member of Carat she is also a standalone DJ who's schedule is as filled with casual club gigs as it is with Carat performances.
Moving on to the focus of this post, the song that I'm going to showcase today is "Shekina! (Shake It Up!)", their second single and the first that featured the slightly smaller line-up. The song is catchy and has all the hallmarks of Carat's style. Good vocals with some pleasing effects, amazing dance skills and some great spinning and mixing from Mona. The video might not be a big-budget affair, but it delivers and the group looks amazing in it whether dancing outdoors or inside the as-yet-empty dance floor. I must admit that I have a special fondness for this song as this was the single the group was supporting when they made their US concert debut at Anime Expo 2013 alongside Aya Ikeda. They performed this and virtually all their then-current discography live. This was followed by appearances, signings and other events. One of the highlights of that particular convention for this author. Since then they have released a full-length album titled "1ct" and two more videos to support it, "C.A.R.A.T." and "Dramatic Love". They are very active both in Japan and recently into mainland Asia with plans to expand further. Their recent activity includes a joint appearance with other Union Music Japan artists ("Hysteric Lolita" and "Verge" to name two) at the "Japan Kawaii Night" event that will take place in both Seoul, Korea and Bangkok, Thailand. Here's hoping their activities this year bring them back to the US!
Official Website: http://www.carat-ue.jp