I have an interesting story to tell. I have told this story to plenty of people, and if you know me, you’ve probably heard this story as well. But this story explains why I have been all about Miyawaki Sakura and the St. Louis Cardinals. I really love telling this story, so if you’d like to read on…
Back in February of this year, I was still somewhat trying to find myself as a fan of Major League Baseball. I gave a trial run with the Oakland Athletics, but if anybody is familiar with the Oakland Athletics in the 2014 season, you would know that the season was the closest thing to a Greek tragedy. Simply put, I was kind of wondering whether or not I picked the right team to support. Keep in mind that I was someone who owned several MLB team’s hats just to try to find the right team (i.e. Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, Twins, Royals, Cubs, Mets, Pirates, etc.), and picked the A’s because they seemed like the safest option. Meaning that no one really hated them. I was in Las Vegas at the time, and I found a nice looking cap for like, $12. It was a St. Louis Cardinals cap with the 2013 World Series patch on it (which interestingly was a World Series they lost). I actually enjoyed wearing this cap while walking around the Las Vegas Strip.
At the same time, I was catching up with Majisuka Gakuen 4, which had Miyawaki Sakura as the lead character that season. That was the most Sakura I had seen at the time. Keep in mind that I used to be real indifferent about Sakura, and honestly not care that much about her. But little did I know that both Miyawaki Sakura and the St. Louis Cardinals would define my entire 2015.
From February until May, I was working as a dietary aide in a nursing home. Some of the responsibilities I had included preparing food on a tray line, washing dishes in pretty unsanitary conditions, and delivering carts of coffee and food for patients. Never in my life had I felt so alone and disrespected…the outfits we had to wear looked rather silly, no one followed the “English only” policy as 90% of the staff spoke Spanish, and I felt disrespected by everyone: nurses, patients, fellow dietary aides, etc. I worked long, painful hours, I got paid minimum wage despite owning a Bachelors degree, and I was motivated to get the hell out of there and work somewhere else. I felt not only physically drained, but also emotionally and mentally exhausted. What does this have to do with Sakura? Just listen.
Because I was alone during my lunch break, I would pretend that there was a girl who always stopped by to visit her grandmother at the nursing home. This girl would usually visit at the time I had lunch. She noticed that I had an AKB48 member as my phone wallpaper when she was walking past (at the time it was a photo of Watanabe Mayu), and then told me how she was a fan of Mayuyu for a while now. We became good friends at the time. I told her all about the crap I had to go through working as a dietary aide on a regular basis, I told her about some of the friends I have who also like AKB48, and I told her about how I am trying to find a Major League Baseball team to really root for next season. What was this pretend girl’s name?
Her name was Miyawaki Sakura. And she said she was a diehard Cardinals fan from Maplewood, MO.
By June, not only did I pay attention to two the games and current rosters of two teams (Oakland/St. Louis), but I also paid a whole lot more attention to Miyawaki Sakura. I followed a Sakura fan page on Facebook, I had one of her mobame photos as a phone wallpaper, and every time I saw her perform in a concert or on AKBingo!, I would get hyped up. I did this because I pretended Sakura was my closest friend when I needed one the most.
I paid a lot more attention to the St. Louis Cardinals at the time, more so than the Oakland Athletics. The A’s season was crumbling fast while the Cardinals were doing well. I still would pay attention to the A’s, but when I saw them live at Angel Stadium (Anaheim) and O.Co Coliseum (Oakland), they lost both games in blowout fashion. With the Cardinals, I only saw them live once this year, at Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles). However, I was kind of timid to wear that Cardinals cap I bought in Las Vegas given that there was a lot of bad blood between the Cardinals and the Dodgers (the Cardinals eliminated the Dodgers in the playoffs two years in a row). Given the incidents of violence that occurred in Dodger Stadium, I did not want to put myself in what could have been a painful situation. Thus, I wore a Dodgers cap to the game even though I wanted to root for the Cardinals. That was a loss on my end, as 35-40% of that stadium was filled with Cardinals fans. The Cardinals won that game, and I was frustrated for not representing the team not only I truly wanted to root for, but the team Sakura was rooting for. I was mad for being scared.
Because of this, I took the time and effort to really dig into the St. Louis Cardinals history. I researched the Cardinals teams of old, including the Gashouse Gang of the 30s and Whitey Ball of the 80s. I learned to embrace the hate rather than grow timid to the masses. I watched highlights on YouTube and I purchased Cardinals jerseys. I did all of this because I kept thinking about Sakura. Yes, I was pretending that an idol from Kagoshima was my closest friend, but I was happy doing this. I’m still doing this to this day, and I’m still happy! Every time I see the St. Louis Cardinals, I always think of Miyawaki Sakura, and vice-versa.
The funny thing is, in August I went to visit Las Vegas once again. While walking around the Strip, I was rocking my good old St. Louis Cardinals cap I bought there in February, and some guy walks up to me trying to sell tickets for a show. This is how the conversation went:
Guy: Hey, what’s up man? Cardinal Nation up in here!
Me: That’s right bro!
Guy: You from St. Louis?
Me: Nah, but my girlfriend is.
Guy: That’s what’s up. You have a photo?
Me: Sure! This is what she looks like:
Since then, I have gone with this story every time someone asks about how I rock a Cardinals cap. Even though I’ve done plenty of research on the team and all of the famous St. Louis Cardinals I would need to know to call myself a Cardinals fan (i.e. Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Dizzy Dean, etc.), I always seem to say “because my girl is from St. Louis” and then bring up a photo of Sakura. I want to have fun with this, since the Cardinals are not exactly well received where I am from.
Thus, I think I may follow the St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of my life. I am already trying to plan a trip in June to St. Louis just to see them hit home runs and strike batters out in Busch Stadium. Don’t get me wrong: I still will root for the A’s as well, whether or not they win or lose 100 games. But I am much more hyped with the Cardinals, and don’t mind rooting for a team several other fan bases hate. I am willing to embrace the role of being hated, because who cares what those people think anyway?
Look at me now. I quit my dietary aide job for an overall better one as a behavior interventionist. I am looking forward every day to St. Louis Cardinals baseball and whatever the hell the real life Miyawaki Sakura is up to.
Hello friends! Today, I will be doing a review of the awesome indie idol group LinkSTAR’s’ fourth single, LinkSTAR, and all the great songs that come with it! All together there are six songs within this single release (across the two editions), they are all pretty great in their own respective ways and I will see if I can do them justice in talking about them. The order in which I’ll be talking about the songs is as follows: LinkSTAR, Sapphire Tears, STRIDE (these two are both from Type-A), Darling, Himitsu Kichi, (these two are from Type-B) then finally Kaku Thunder ~Sekai ni Hirogare!~ Without any further ado, let us jump right into the music!
First up, we have “LinkSTAR” which starts with a solid instrumental intro seemingly performed by a legitimate band. Right off the bat this song has a fast paced, up beat feel to it. Lyrically, LinkSTAR is simple yet affective! With various uses of the members echoing each other while singing (one of my personal favorites), as well as various build ups to high notes. This song feels like it will be super popular in karaoke places everywhere, I’m already singing along throughout the whole thing!
Next on our list is “Sapphire Tears”, a song that starts with a bit of a slower paced guitar intro. However, even though the intro is on the slower side, once the girls start singing the pace actually picks up and almost doubles from then on out. The tempo switches back and forth a couple times throughout the course of the song, making it fun to follow and sing along with! Another great point about this song is the way the group harmonizes with each other, making it an awesome song to sing together with a bunch of friends!
Third we have “STRIDE”, another moderate tempo song with, arguably one of my favorite guitar solos of recent and maybe even the year! STRIDE would definitely have to be one of the songs that I hope to see performed live one day as it feels like the perfect mix of the idol and rock styles of music, making for an awesome live song. While the song is a great balance of idol and rock feel, it is still very easy to listen to and even somewhat of a softer song as well. This one may very well end up being my favorite song of the bunch! I would definitely recommend checking this one out if you get the chance!
Similar to STRIDE, “Darling” also contains a handful of epic instrumental solos that complement the girls’ singing abilities splendidly! Darling is also another soft and easy to listen to and would also be a great choice to sing with friends at karaoke. Darling in specific seems to feel like the most idol-esque song out of the bunch, very cutesy, bubbly and happy with adorable lyrics and the sorts. Overall a pretty great happy fun song with just the right amount of cute.
Next up we have “Himitsu Kichi” which, unlike the previous songs, instead of having a rock feel to the song with guitars dominating the track, mainly has a piano playing in the background with only the occasional guitar thrown in. This song would most likely strike well with those who are fond of the ballad type, even though it is slightly fast paced for a ballad. It would even appeal to those who enjoy singing along with their music as this song is fairly easy to follow along with.
Finally, we come to “Kaku Thunder ~Sekai ni Hirogare!~” the last song of the groups fourth single bundle. This one definitely makes you want to jump up out of your seat and dance along! Just like STRIDE, this is a face paced, exciting rock idol song that seems like it would be a blast to experience live. The way the girls are able to sing along with the faster more intense style of music is without a doubt more than enough to make me dance all around my house every time I hear this song and I’m sure it would have the same effect on many others as well! I have a strong feeling that this song will end up being one of LinkSTAR’s’ best and most reliable hype songs at their concerts in the future!
Overall, this single release is jam-packed with a whole lot of great, idol-y awesomeness that will make you want to get up, dance, and sing along as you listen repeatedly to the entire selection! Since there are six different songs, you basically get a song for every occasion, whether it be music with an upbeat rock feel, a singalong feel or even a slower somewhat quieter feel, you will be greatly satisfied with the songs available with this single release! I definitely highly recommend checking out this single as soon as you can, if you haven’t already, you’re sure to love every bit of it!
Yuisa (Graduated, but present on this release)
(Photos: Twitter & Official Site)
For More Info:
LinkSTAR’s Official Site: http://www.linkstar-s.com/
Official Blog: http://lineblog.me/linkstars/
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/LINKS_OnAir
LinkSTAR's - LinkSTAR PV
The 3 person idol group known as AyumiKurikaMaki, was involved in a car accident the other night on December 27th. While the girls are OK and are currently recovering from the crash, their injuries are severe enough so that the girls are unable to perform any activities for the time being. According to reports, as the vehicle was driving the rear tire was punctured, causing the vehicle to roll. Thankfully though the girls are all safe and sound, but the injuries did range from bruising to cervical sprain (whiplash). Due to their injuries and in order to recover quickly and correctly, the group has since cancelled all of their upcoming events and year-end program appearances. The members and the staff expressed their sadness and frustrations about not being able to perform, as they were all so looking forward to the events, and even apologized to their fans for having to cancel. AyumiKurikaMaki plans on starting up their activities again on January 23rd, when their next tour is scheduled to take place. Hopefully this gives the members and anyone else involved more than enough time to recover and become healthy again.
Official Site: http://ayumikurikamaki.com/
Official Site Post: http://ayumikurikamaki.com/7454
JpopAsia Post: http://www.jpopasia.com/news/ayumikurikamaki-members-injured-after-vehicle-flips-over::18833.html
We here at A-To-J Connections had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the brand new group callme. When we were presented with the opportunity to review their debut album, “Who is callme?”, we knew absolutely nothing about them. Needless to say, we were swept away by how amazing their album was. Being given the opportunity to interview them shortly after that was an immense honor. We hope that you enjoy the interview as much as we did. They are a very fun and unique group who we suspect you can expect great things out of.
callme debuted January of this year and consists of three members who were previously in Dorothy Little Happy: Ruuna Akimoto, Mimori Tominaga and Koumi Hayasaka. They first appeared as callme at JAM the Field vol. 7 at Tsutaya O-East in February this year and performed for the first time in April at the same location. Since then they have performed multiple times and held multiple events. Their first album (which released in October) is a testament to their talent, and shows us that they have a very bright future.
A-To-J: What are some of your favorite music artists?
KOUMI: I like Fall Out Boy!
MIMORI: I really like Miley Cyrus ever since I was in elementary school when I was watching her TV show and was listening to her songs.
RUUNA: I like Maroon 5 a lot, when we saw them live in Japan, my love for them grew even more and they’re an artist that I respect a lot.
A-To-J: Are there any groups or artists you’d particularly like to collaborate with?
KOUMI: I want to collaborate with Becky G. since we’re the same age. I’ve very interested to see what would happen if an idol group and artist of the same age collaborated.
A-To-J: Are there any other idol groups you look up to and respect?
RUUNA: Within Japan, we think greatly of Perfume. They’re also 3 person group so we learn a lot from especially their staging.
A-To-J: Are there any other music groups that you look up to and respect in a similar fashion?
MIMORI: I play piano currently and there’s someone I imitate while playing… There are quite a few but I specifically imitate John Lennon a lot of the times.
A-To-J: Are there any other genres you might want to try in the future?
MIMORI: Right now we’re trying out many genres but we haven’t tried country or country pop yet. I listen to country so I want to do it with callme as well.
A-To-J: Which countries do you feel would appreciate your sound the most?
KOUMI: We would like to go to places that do Japanese festivals/events such as the US and specifically Los Angeles, as well as the UK. We would like to spread our music to not just places like America but to other parts of Asia as well.
A-To-J: If you had to choose one foreign country to go to first, which one would it be?
MIMORI: This is an easy answer right?
RUUNA and KOUMI: Yes, of course!
A-To-J: Is there any venue where you would like to perform?
MIMORI: We research a lot of festivals because we want to perform at them… but one of them that seemed fun was South by Southwest.
RUUNA: We heard it’s done in the middle of the city and music is flowing in the streets so we want to participate in such American festivals. We also want to perform at Japan Expo where they celebrate Japanese culture.
A-To-J: What can your US fans do to help you?
MIMORI: The number one thing is to listen to music. We put a lot of hard work into the album and I think it can be enjoyed all over the world. I want them to listen to our songs and have fun with us at lives.
RUUNA: We just recently released our album and we wanted overseas fans to also enjoy the songs so we titled them all in English. We have Japanese lyrics of course but we also mixed in English lyrics. Even though the Japanese may be difficult, we made it so overseas fans can enjoy the album as well.
A-To-J: Is there anything you’d like to do with overseas fans outside of performing?
MIMORI: Yes, I have something! From when I was little, I loved comedy dramas. I watched dramas such as the one Miley Cyrus starred in and laughed at them a lot so I want to make comedy dramas with our fans and laugh together.
KOUMI: Hannah Montana right?
MIMORI: Yes, “Secret Life of Hannah Montana”! Also I like “Austin & Ally”!
RUUNA: I want to introduce our fans to Japanese culture at our fan meetings by wearing kimono and doing Japanese tea.
MIMORI: Or eating “nagashi somen”! (Or Flowing Somen. More information can be found here.)
A-To-J: Besides performing is there anything else you’d want to do while in the US?
KOUMI: I want to go to Hollywood where that one thing is… (Gestures a wide rectangular object)
A-To-J: The Hollywood sign?
MIMORI: Yeah, we want to go there and… “Photo!”
KOUMI: I also want to go to Universal Studio Hollywood!
MIMORI: If anything, I really want to go to the festivals we’ve been talking about. I want us to enjoy music there as well.
KOUMI and RUUNA: Yes, definitely!
RUUNA: I want to conquer all of the food in America.
MIMORI: Ah, steak!
A-To-J: Is there any other American food you like?
RUUNA: Yes, hamburger!
MIMORI: The three of us has gone to eat hamburgers before and it was delicious so we want to know the taste from the home of hamburgers.
RUUNA: “Big burger!”
A-To-J: Out of Japanese foods is there anything you would recommend foreigners try?
KOUMI: Unagi!! “Do you know Unagi?”
RUUNA: Maybe “yuba”? (tofu skin)
KOUMI and MIMORI: Yuba?? (Laughs)
MIMORI: There is something called “harakomeshi” from the Miyagi prefecture we come from. A well-known dish there is “harakomeshi” and its rice cooked with some salmon and roe. It’s very well-known and delicious.
RUUNA: It’s a type of “takikomi gohan” (rice cooked with seasonings and different ingredients)
A-To-J: Can you tell us any funny stories from when you were performing?
MIMORI: There is something funny that happened! During our release event, my shoe fell off and broke. For 3 songs after that I danced with one shoe missing!
A-To-J: Did you change your shoe after that?
MIMORI: We couldn’t fix that shoe so we bought new shoes afterwards! (Laughs)
A-To-J: Have you had any challenging experiences while performing?
MIMORI: Out of our dances, we tried out doing Latin Pop style. It was a “groove” that we didn’t experience before so the dance was hard and it was hard to be synchronized.
A-To-J: You mentioned liking video games and anime, what is your favorite video game?
MIMORI: I like a lot of different games right now but… the game I thought of when composing “just trust” was Final Fantasy! Recently I’ve been playing a lot of Sengoku Basara. I also like playing Mario Kart and Smash Brothers so I want to play with people overseas!
A-To-J: We like games so we play those games often as well!
MIMORI: We might be going against each other in one of those games! Please be gentle if that happens (Laughs)
KOUMI: I like Metal Gear Solid!
RUUNA: I like Taiko no Tatsujin, I play those kinds of games often.
A-To-J: It’s not a game that is in the US so we have to import it to play it.
MIMORI: So we need to bring it from Japan if we want to play it with overseas fans! We have a lot of these games so we’ll bring them over!
A-To-J: What are some of your favorite anime?
MIMORI: I have a lot of favorite anime... I’ve been watching CLAMP’s “xxxHolic” as well as “Inu x Boku SS”, it’s kind of a minor anime… but an anime I loved from when I was little is “Ojamajo Doremi” and it’s been the center of me. Do you know those anime?
A-To-J (Teepu and Manuel): Not those specific ones…
A-To-J (Tiffany): I know of them and I have many friends that love anime as well.
MIMORI: Maybe everyone knows Gundam or Evangelion more? Because I love those anime too as well as “Sousei no Aquarion”! I also like the iDOLM@STER.
RUUNA: We have all watched “Precure” as well as kids.
A-To-J: What are some of your favorite fashion brands?
KOUMI: I like “OPENING CEREMONY” and “Marc Jacobs”!
A-To-J: What is your ultimate goal in Japan? You ultimate accomplishment?
MIMORI: Like a dome tour?
RUUNA: In Japan, the “dome tour” has to be the biggest ultimate goal and we would like a lot of people in Japan to listen to our music.
A-To-J: Moving forward, what are your goals for next year?
RUUNA: Next year’s goal for callme has to be performing overseas. Like we said, we want to go to places like Japan Expo or South by Southwest to deliver our music to people overseas.
A-To-J: Please give us a message for your overseas fans.
RUUNA: callme hasn’t done any overseas lives yet but we want to make opportunities where overseas fans such as ones in Los Angeles, can listen and watch us perform live. We also just released our new album, “who is callme”, and we would like to convey our thoughts to as many people so please give it a listen!
A-To-J: Lastly is there anything that A-To-J can do to help promote callme?
RUUNA: We would like you to recommend it to others!
MIMORI: We want you to share your opinions and review the album so you can share it with other people, whether it is good or bad. [Editor’s Note: Our review of their album can be found here]
RUUNA: Lastly, please love this album a lot!
The first half of our interview with callme can be found here! Keep an eye out for other news about callme! The video for the newest single and relevant links can be found below!
The above interview was conducted by Teepu Khan with direction by Manuel Figueroa. On-site and post translation by Tiffany Fujii.
Official photos courtesy of avex.
- Akimoto Ruuna (秋元瑠海)
- Tominaga Mimori (富永美杜)
- Hayasaka Koumi (早坂香美)
For More Information:
callme’s Official Site: http://avex.jp/callme/
callme’s Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/callme_official
callme’s Official Instagram: https://instagram.com/callme_official/
callme on mumo Shop: http://shop.mu-mo.net/avx/sv/list1?jsiteid=MSW&artist_id=CALLM
callme on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/callme/id968272102
callme on cdjapan: http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/person/700706365
callme - step by step
Recently a friend asked me if there were any original Japanese Christmas songs I could recommend since they had never heard of any. I was shocked since I could easily think of several dozen off the top of my head and assumed they could too seeing as they were also a fan of Japanese music. See, Christmas music is something I really enjoy and Japanese Christmas music holds a special place too. So with that in mind I set out to make a list of my favorite Japanese Christmas songs both for my friend and for everyone else!
Well, when I started that list I realized that it was LONG and that it was all over the place genre-wise. Also, it's worth noting that there are a lot of "winter" songs in Japan that have that Christmas feel, but really aren't Christmas songs in the traditional sense. So compiling a list like this turned out to be harder than I first thought. After some deliberation I decided to narrow the focus to Japanese idol Christmas songs. So here is my list! A few notes though. First, while this list has the "Top 10" feel it isn't so much a ranking as much as just a collection of my ten favorite idol Christmas songs. You can get a slight feel for my favorites depending on where the song is placed in the list, but for the most part I did not try to rank them and as you can see I didn't number them. Also, this list is by no means comprehensive. There are many more songs I didn't include for various reasons; mainly space. Also, I only included original songs so you won't find any covers of English Christmas songs here. (There are a LOT of those by the way) Make sure to check them out and build your own idol Christmas playlist!
e-girls - Merry x Merry XMas
e-girls have a new Christmas song this year! The production values are high, the outfits and sets are beautiful and the girls all look amazing. Why don't I place this higher on the list you ask? Well, I have to admit that it's a great song, but I personally prefer Mr.Snowman to this one. That is a matter of personal preference though and I'm sure many out there will disagree with me on this one. That said, this song isn't a bad one I just feel that the whole package was presented just a little better last year. Don't let my opinion keep this one from your Christmas playlist though! It's already on mine!
Shige-pink & Kohappink - Wa~ MERRY Pin X'Mas!
Kusumi Koharu was always my Morning Musume oshi so I had to add this one here. I am not a huge fan of the cuteness overload that you hear in this song, but it's cute and catchy so we'll just leave it here nonetheless! Besides Kusumi you also get Sayumi in her earlier years, so there's that as an added bonus though I personally feel that Shige-pink and Kohappink borderlined on cringe-worthiness at times. Once again, personal preference here. Mild criticism aside, this is a standard for every holiday season in my opinion. Whether this is your preferred style or not, it's one that you should check out!
Petit Moni - Pittari Shitai X'Mas!
More Hello! Project songs! This time it's Petit Moni, which was a group that had my first Hello! Project/Morning Musume oshi, Goto Maki. This was a single for Petit Moni and while I always found it weird when seasonal songs are released as singles (Since they can only be played at one time of the year) I think this one stands out. It has the old-school Tsunku-vibe to it and has been covered countless times by other Hello! Project artists over the years in concert. Seeing as this comes from the height of the Morning Musume boom, the production values are high and this song stands the test of time without sounding too dated. A great addition!
SCANDAL - Koibito ga Santa Claus
"Koibito ga Santa Claus" is one of the Japanese Christmas songs that you can't get away from. Originally recorded by Yumi Matsutoya it has been covered more times than I can possibly think of. It's a Christmas standard in Japan and the version here is from all-girl rock band Scandal. Not quite an idol cover, but it's the best I could find on short notice! That said, it's a classic for a reason. This is an amazing song that can lend itself to many different musical styles not just its original pop or even the rock you see here. If you're making a Japanese holiday playlist just throw in a half dozen of versions of this and you're halfway there!
Vanilla Mood - X'Mas Melody
Vanilla Mood is an odd one. They were a four piece band (currently three) that played their own instruments (piano, flute, violin, and cello) but they were marketed as idols circa their debut. We at A-To-J have worked with other artists that are marketed as idols even though we feel they belong in more mature categories so we're no stranger to this, but it was still an odd choice of marketing for the group at the time. That being said this song is an amazingly beautiful song that you should check out! Vanilla Mood was never too popular either so there is a very good chance that this is the first time you're hearing of them. Also it's worth noting that this version of the song is actually a re-recording as vocalist/pianist, Keiko, recorded this song solo prior to this group version. Keiko's solo version was originally released on a Christmas compilation of other original Japanese Christmas songs, but that's for another article. This one is just a little fuller with the other girls performing as well.
Buono! - -Winter story-
Want an idol Christmas song with just a hint of rock? Then look no further than Buono!'s "Winter Story"! I am a huge fan of all things Buono so this was kind of a given. It was actually this song that really inspired me to track down other idol Christmas songs. Buono might have dissolved with the graduation of Berryz Koubou, but thanks to recent announcements I think it's safe to assume that those watching the Hello! Countdown live this year will most likely have the joy of seeing this song performed live! The English is the chorus just a little off (something that can make or break a song in my opinion) but it never feels too jarring and taken in its entirety it is a very upbeat song that is hard to dislike no matter what your preference is. The rock stylings, complete with the occasional live instruments, help set this one apart from the rest. Definitely one to check out!
ZYX - Shiroi Tokyo
Okay in case you haven't noticed there is a lot of Hello! Project love on this list. While there is a certain bias towards them there is also the fact that they have put out an amazing number of Christmas songs over the years! Many of them were singles too which is even less common. This was the second (and ultimately last) single for the group ZYX and they went out with a bang! One of the catchiest Christmas songs, this song would become one of the most covered songs in concerts during the holiday season. Also owing to when it was released, it has that fun early 2000s idol vibe that you just don't see in music today. A great addition to your holiday music collection!
e-girls - Mr.Snowman
Up now is another one from avex idol supergroup e-girls with "Mr.Snowman"! This song has it all, a catchy melody, uplifting lyrics and beat and an amazingly colorful video to go along with it! If you want a fun song to share with loved ones this year then look no further! Being as e-girls is made up of several smaller idol groups, the video has a refreshing feel as each group/girl take center stage. Being that they're avex they also have some of the greatest songwriters at their disposal to write what is sure to become a Japanese Christmas standard. At the rate e-girls are going they might just overtake Hello! Project in the number of Christmas songs in their catalog. While I love Hello! Project Christmas songs, this is something I'd be really happy to see!
C-ute - Aitai Lonely Christmas
Most of the other songs on this list are upbeat ones, well now we have C-ute's "Aitai Lonely Christmas". Other songs on this list actually have lyrics that lean more towards sad, but this song is different in that you can actually feel it in the music and video whether or not you know the lyrics themselves. This has to be my favorite idol Christmas song period. The song is well-written and arranged, the track is powerful and different than your typical Christmas song and the girls look great in a video that had decent production values for contemporary Hello! Project. It is also worth noting that we at A-To-J have a certain bias to C-ute these days and love to mention them whenever we can! That said, you should really check this song out. Great vocal performances and the song's message of longing can add a different feel to any holiday playlist.
SOLIDEMO - Christmas Eve
Okay, this is the other song-every-Japanese-artist-covers-on-Christmas song! There are countless covers of this song, both official and unofficial. Why is this you ask? Well, this song is just so perfect! Tatsuro Yamashita recorded this song in the early 90s in both Japanese and English. The Japanese version has been featured in countless movies and dramas and was recently re-recorded last year. There have been all sorts of covers too over the years. Instrumental, jazz, rock, versions in other languages, it is safe to say that this is Japan's most popular Christmas song. The version here is one by avex group, SOLIDEMO. This video was literally just uploaded Christmas Eve 2015 (yesterday at the time of writing) and is one of the best performances of this song I've ever heard. We at A-To-J were lucky enough to interview SOLIDEMO earlier this year too and they are the friendliest group you could ever hope to meet! Also, since this is an idol Christmas music playlist, I figured it'd be best to find one of the many idol covers of this song. So, if you're putting together that holiday playlist, be sure to throw in a few versions of Christmas Eve!
Also....just for fun and because we at A-To-J also cover visual kei, here is my favorite visual kei Christmas song! Yes those exist!
Mix Speaker's Inc. - My wish [Horror] X'Mas
Want some visual kei on Christmas? Well, there are actually lots of Christmas songs by visual kei artists, both original and otherwise. Perhaps this is a list I will compile for next year, we shall see. In the meantime here is my personal favorite, Mix Speaker's Inc.'s "My wish [Horror] X'Mas". While Mix Speaker's Inc. have recently gone through a significant change in vocalists after the departure of Yuki, I think they were a special band in the early days and had a chemistry you don't see too often in visual kei. While this song is something of a departure for the group at the time (also worth noting that this was a single release) it has all the hallmarks of a Christmas classic. It rocks at just the right levels without being too heavy and has the timeless feel that ensure that this is a future classic in the making. If you haven't heard it yet then check it out!
There you have it, my picks for an idol Christmas playlist. I repeat that this list is in no way comprehensive. There are countless other idol Christmas songs out there that I know of and there are probably far more that I am unaware of, but this should be enough to get you into the holiday feeling! 'Til next year! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
As we all know, Tamura Meimi of Hello! Project’s ANGERME will be graduating from the group, as well as Hello! Project as a whole in spring of 2016. She is doing this in order to start anew and refocus her training on becoming a musical actress. While Tamura is arguably the best vocalist in ANGERME, it can also be said that she is among the top vocalists in all of H!P as well. On top of her being a very talented singer, she is also one of the most capable actresses in the company as well. Put these two factors together and you get the phenomenon that is Tamura Meimi.
Taking a brief look at Tamura’s family background, and her own personal experiences, one would not be surprised that she has both an interest in, as well as a skill in singing and performing in musicals. Her mother was a troupe organizer who also acted in Gunma Prefecture in Japan. Her elder sister is also an actress who had graduated from a music academy in early 2015 and joined Toho Ent. Tamura’s first public performance
Tamura’s first noted public performance, was when she was just a mere 5 years old and a member of the Dodonpa Kids on March 27th 2004. This performance was during the concert tour of Japanese Enka singer Hikawa Kiyoshi, on the stage of the Okinawa Convention Center. Just 5 years later in 2009, Tamura was cast as Yuiki Yaya in the Shugo Chara musical. This would later prove to be what sparked Tamura’s interest in S/mileage (now ANGERME) and would lead to her audition in the future. Tamura would later become a member of S/mileage in 2011. Since her becoming a member, she has been part of a handful of stage plays and musicals through Hello! Project. One of the most notable musicals being LILIUM, as well as a solo musical put on by S/mileage called SMILE FANTASY. Tamura was given the opportunity to perform a solo number in each of these two musicals and was able to tackle the challenge tremendously!
Although it is sad to see her go, there is no doubt in my mind that Tamura will be incredibly successful in her path to becoming a musical vocalist and actress. What kind of musicals would you like to see her perform in? Action? Romance? Comedy? She has the ability for them all so take your pick!
Official Announcement: http://www.helloproject.com/news/4010/
Translation of Announcement via Up-Front Link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-front-link/en-announcement-concerning-meimi-tamura/991425097583074
Tamura Karen Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/tamurakaren
Notable Performances By Tamura Meimi
◆ Rin Rigoni