It’s March and that means two things: spring is upon us here in Japan and another battle! March is all about seeing gorgeous cherry blossoms. I can’t wait for these beautiful blossoms to bloom around my neighborhood!
What are you planning to do this March?
A Battle Full of Color
As I said in the previous post, March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year, this day is super special for those who are fans of Hello! Project, a Japanese pop supergroup. 20 years ago on March 8, 2000, three color-themed shuffle groups put out their single in hopes to be crowned the best shuffle group of the year. What were these groups? They were Akagumi 4 (Red), Kiiro 5 (Yellow), and Aoiiro 7 (Blue).
It was part of a devious plan devised by the producer of a Hello! Project, Tsunku. The shuffle groups were very popular as they came on the heels of Morning Musume‘s huge popularity in 1999 (Morning Musume is part of Hello! Project). Also, the release was well-received by the public as the journey leading up to the groups’ releases was televised on a popular TV show called ASAYAN.
As you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of Hello! Project. I have been a fan of the group for about 16 years, first introduced to this mega-group by an internet friend. Since then, I have collected a lot of Hello! Project, been to many concerts, and met many members. There are many reasons why I love this group: the lyrics, how the music relates to my life, the members, the tunes, and yearning to be like a Hello! Project member.
But, who will win this “Battle of Colors”? Check out the songs after the brief history of Hello! Project.
(By the way, this used to be called “battle of the Songs” but I am thinking of renaming this segment as “Battle of the Bands” to go along with the other participants. Also, not to confused anyone. “Battle of the Bands” is a segment of my blog where I feature two battles per month. Each battle features two songs that I choose and readers can vote for their favorite. Check out the other participants down below!).
The History of Hello! Project
To understand the history of Hello! Project, you have to first go back to 1997. Japanese rock band Sharam Q, which Tsunku was the vocalist at the time, decided to hold auditions for the next female vocalist. The whole audition process was televised on TV, something like American Idol or Pop Idol. The winner was then 18-year-old Michiyo Heike. The end. Not quite!
Tsunku decided to give the five runner-ups — Yuko Nakazawa, Natsumi Abe, Kaori Iida, Asuka Fukuda, and Aya Ishiguro — a chance at being singers. The five girls formed Morning Musume and were given a challenge: sell 50,000 copies of their demo single (“Ai no Tane” The Seed of Love) in only five days. They actually did, with the last copy being sold right here in Nagoya. Morning Musume made their major debut in 1998 with “Morning Coffee”. They became more popular than Heike, who was the winner of the audition.
With Morning Musume and Michiyo Heike being active artists, their management decided to form the umbrella group called Hello and a fan club with the same name. Soon other acts like Yuko Nakazawa, Tanpopo, Coconuts Musume, and Taiyo to Ciscomoon were added to Hello. The umbrella group was renamed in 1999 as Hello! Project.
Over its 22-year history, Hello! Project has enjoyed huge success with members of diverse talents and backgrounds. Although the principal genre of Hello! Project is pop, the group has dabbled with such genres as country, folk, Enka, and R&B. Members also have come from diverse backgrounds and from different countries. As of 2020, Hello! Project members have come from Japan, China, Taiwan, the USA (Hawaii), and South Korea. And, the fanbase is not only in Japan but all over the world as there are countless fans in Asia, North and South America, Europe, and Austalia/Oceania.
The Original Battle
At the turn of the century, Tsunku had a brilliant idea: let’s shuffle all of the members in Hello! Project (at the time) into three groups and make a challenge out it. So, the members were split into three groups: Akagumi 4, Kiiro 5, and Aoiiro 7. Each group features members with diverse talents but also a unique tune.
But, there can only be one winner! That was the true purpose that Tsunku envisioned when he started the shuffle groups. Although the winner was announced twenty years ago (from the CD sales), it is time to revisit this first battle one more time to celebrate these shuffle groups.
Listen to all three songs and choose your favorite by commenting below. I added a translation of the comments made by the producer for each song instead of my own commentary. Enjoy!
Kiiro 5 – “Kiiroi Osora de BOOM BOOM BOOM”
The unit consists of Michiyo Heike, Abe and Yasuda from Morning Musume, RuRu from Taiyo To Ciscomoon, Ayaka from Coconut Musume. Normally, they are considered as the skilled vocalists in their own groups. By putting them together in one group, a competitive, energetic and stimulating atmosphere was created. This unit is about soul-classic dance music. In another words, I’ve combined the good quality of Morning Musume and Taiyo to Ciscomoon together. When you listen to their song, you’ll feel like having lots of fun. They have really good choreography as well.Tsunku
Aoiiro 7 – ” Aoi Sports Car no Otoko“
This group consist of Mari Yaguchi and Kaori Iida of Tanpopo, Sayaka Ichii who had a great breakthrough with Pucchimoni, Atsuko Inaba, who has sharp dance skills, from Taiyo to Ciscomoon, Miwa Komatsu who has come back from her hiatus, Mika from Coconuts Musume, and new member Lehua. These members are to be expected to grow a lot in 2000. I wanted to create a group with a sense of freshness and speed that included the color blue.
Although there was a large number of people, I wanted to create a song that popped out with a sense of energy and speed. I also had high expections for the members as I wanted them to convey the song in a digital punk style. They surely did it!Tsunku
Akagumi 4 – “Akai Nikkichou”
The youngest, Maki Goto, was matched with the wholesome American member Danielle and Miho Shinoda and Yuko Nakazawa who has had life experience. It’s an unexpected combination, but this group has various possibilites. Becasuse of this, preparation took the longest for this group. Yet, Goto learned a lot after being in this group.
For the song itself, there is a strong beat within a beautiful melody. I decided to make it a song that could answer immediately with “red” to the question “What was the song’s image?”, Yet, I think there is a unity of colors within the lyrics and arrangement. I guess I can call it “a tune that can express one’s feelings fully” for a long time, right?Tsunku
The Winner For “It’s Getting a Bit Furry With These Two Pet Centered Songs“
Thank you to all who voted in the Pets-themed battle between The Beatles and Queen.
The Winner of the Battle is…
It was a very close battle! Queen won by only one point! Wow!
Here are the results for anyone who is curious:
Who Will It Be?
Now it is your turn to vote! Who will be the victor? Tell me in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
I am also part of the “Battle of the Bands” blog collection. After you vote, please visit the other battles:
 “Kiiroi Osora De BOOM BOOM BOOM.” Hello! Project Wiki, helloproject.fandom.com/wiki/Kiiroi_Osora_de_BOOM_BOOM_BOOM.