Saturday, 28 April 2018

Here Lies A Damn Good Album - A Look At '℃maj9' by ℃-ute (Album Review)

In their 9th major studio album release - and their last original album overall - ℃-ute are ready to impress me with their vocal prowess and undeniable chemistry. They're also going to set the bar for any other albums I review very. Damn. High, and ruin other groups for me here on out.

It's time to check out ℃maj9, people. Get your earphones at the ready~

There is a little bit of background as to why this review happened, and it goes a little like this: One day on Facebook, I decided to make a post asking friends to list me their top one or two albums from Hello! Project, with the hopes to eventually review whichever album was mentioned most once my blog re-awakened. I did this both for a desire to know which albums people genuinely liked, and to perhaps find something new to listen to. Admittedly, I also wanted to review something that I might enjoy, I just didn't know what I could write about.

That, and I wanted to try out a few more albums. I have a tendency to ignore these types of releases - especially from the groups I follow - as disappointment in what I hear is a given due to the copious amounts of single songs vs. new tracks on studio releases. It more annoying than anything and leaves me with a distaste for albums. However, I would like to challenge this view, and I am starting it here.

In regards to the response to my post, it was favourable, much to my surprise. A lot of my friends posted their favourite albums and their corresponding covers, giving me some varied response on what people considered their favourites or even the 'best' of the bunch from all of the albums that H!P has to offer fans. Quite a few had repeat mentions (4th , Aya Matsuura Aya Best 1), but none compared to ℃maj9. It had around - if not exactly - 12 votes, making it the album that I would review for you all today. So here we are.

Thankfully this is an album I haven't heard, so all new tracks sans Iron Heart will be a surprise,  with the hopes that each song will be somewhat pleasant. Because it's ℃-ute though, I anticipate only the best. Still, let's pray that these girls and their composers don't let me down.

For everyone who listed their favourite albums - and for those who mentioned this one specifically - thank you! This review's for all of you, and I hope that you enjoy.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Thinking About: Wada Ayaka's Graduation Announcement

On April 5th, 2018, Wada Ayaka announced that she would be graduating both ANGERME and Hello! Project in Spring 2019, which will also mark her tenth year as the leader of her respective group. Wada's reason behind her decision to graduate include her desire to see the group grow without her, and also because the second generation members of ANGERME encouraged her to finally think for herself and not the group.

The plan to graduate has been discussed since last year, and it was decided between both Wada and staff members that she would graduate in 2019, which marks the 10th anniversary of S/mileage's debut, the group that would eventually be known as ANGERME. Of course, Wada Ayaka has assured fans she aims to stay in the entertainment industry, and asks for everyone to watch over her for the next year.

Having served as a member of Hello! Project since 2004, Wada Ayaka was one of the founding members of the 'Egg' system within Hello! Project, as well as a founding member and leader of S/mileage, which was later re-branded ANGERME in 2014. She has participated in numerous plays and units including Shugo Chara Egg!, Lilpri and Peaberry.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Thinking About: Ogata Haruna's Graduation Announcement

On March 27th, 2018, Ogata Haruna - a 12th generation member of Morning Musume '18 - announced that she would be graduating from the group on June 20th at the end of the groups Spring Tour. She will also be graduating from Hello! Project, but not necessarily the entertainment industry, in order to pursue a further education.

Ogata was introduced to the group and Hello! Project in 2014 alongside fellow 12th generation members Nonaka Miki, Makino Maria and Haga Akane. She has since performed in 7 single releases (an eighth to be released), one studio album and one mini-album, as well as a handful of digital singles. She has also participated in a 12th generation radio show, as well as hosted the show Hello! Athlete Megami, which focuses on up-coming female athletes.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Knock-Off Compilation - A Look at 'Hatachi no Morning Musume' by Morning Musume 20th (Mini-Album Review)

You would think that, after seeing how much effort H!P put into making this cover, I would be well aware of the effort they put into compiling and creating this album? Well, clearly I was blind with faith, because I honestly did not see this shit coming.

Way to throw yourself in the deep end after a 3 month absence, Chii. URGH.

After being away for this long, it's weird to come back to reviews. I really don't know where to begin, how to write, or how to word, even. I just feel lost, and because of that feeling, it took me a fair while to actually complete this piece. That, and I didn't want to sit through the songs all over again because...

Well, I don't like this mini-album. I doubt I'll ever keep that a secret, either.

I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty until the review itself, but honestly, I wanted to come back to this blog in such a positive way, only to decide 'Yeah! Let's review the mini-album I hold contempt for!' because, why not? It seems I thrive on being negative, yet in actuality, it's because I really did want to review something a little negatively after being so positive with reviews on Selective Hearing recently. So the desire to review this came to me and here we are. Reviewing this.

I put myself through so much pain -sobs-

Actually, I admit that I had high hopes for this album. I really wanted it to be good, and when it was released I was so excited, which is probably why my disappointment and disgust for it is so high now. If I hadn't set my standards to the sky, I feel like I would have been a lot more lenient with it, but... no. I just had to want it and crave it, to a point where I was practically gnawing my arm off in anticipation for the damn thing. So, when it did drop, I dropped, too.

It's a long fall from the sky, y'know.

Kay, I need to stop talking now, because I'm boring you, and I'm boring myself.  Hopefully I don't piss too many people off with this review, because I know that a lot of people adore this mini-album, with me being one of the few exceptions to that rule. So in advance: This is only my opinion, so don't take it to heart. I only wish to express it as best I can, without neglecting the good points as well. But, don't expect me to change my mind, either - I can hear the songs loud and clear, and for me, they just never worked out. At least a majority of them didn't. Some definitely shined here, but the ones I don't like, it will be pretty clear. You have been warned.

Right, it's time to kick-start this review. I'm ready to get through this and end my time with the mini-album, but the question is this: Are you ready?

Let's march on and read. Any bets for the songs I'll love? Place them now, or forever hold onto your cash. (Actually, that's the better choice. Don't bet, kids)

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Blog Awakens

I swear, this one is for real.

It’s been a while, guys. Not that long I suppose, but being away for three months is still a great deal of time when you don’t pop in to say ‘Hello’, or offer a little nudge as to when you might return. It’s already April now, and so far I have said nothing about my return to blogging, or even my departure from it. Well, not publicly, at least.

Well it's definitely a return and not a departure, at least, because I always planned to come back on April 1st. I won't lie and say that the thought of quitting never entered my mind - it did - but I also anticipated my blogs awakening on tApril 1st as well. Because of the nature of the day itself, I also wanted a light-hearted return, but because I am actually terrible at making jokes of any sort, I thought that a simple 'I'm baaaack' would suffice. Plus I'm a fool anyway, so it all worked out in the end, for the good or the bad. 

In short: I'm back to blogging, and in my haste to return, I want to explain in a little more detail as to why I went into a sudden Hibernation period, and a few more things like what this break has given me in terms of growth and rest. All that boring stuff.

A lot went on on the day I chose to go into Hibernation mode, more than I was willing to reveal in my Hiatus post. There were things I needed to process, things I wanted to plan, and of course, things I needed to do. I didn’t really want to throw so much into one post, so I left it at me being stressed. Stress was certainly a big part of what made me go into Hibernation mode, but everything else that had happened in my life - as well as things I wanted to do away from O!MT - only added to it, making smaller issues and plans come together in a big ball of problems that I had to tackle. So I halted the blog, and the breathing period I have taken until now has helped me greatly, allowing me to finally put things into perspective and see what I should do to keep this blog - and my love for Idols - alive.

Of course this break has done more good than it has bad. It’s allowed me to figure things out and see where I wanted to go with my blog, whilst also allowing me to understand that blogging is not the sole reason why my love for Idols is so strong. Actually, I think that this is the most positive discovery since taking time away from here, because before this, I felt that my connection to Idols was there solely because of writing so much. I’m happy in the knowledge that my love for Idols goes beyond the pages and posts I have accumulated here, and that this adoration for music, J-pop and Idols has grown even more despite being away from Okay! Musume Time. I’m here for the long-haul, whether I write or not, and that’s a wonderful realisation to have.

There has also been the positive boost in my work and home life. I’m sleeping a lot better now (but not always), and I’m doing so much better at work. Without focusing on my blog so much, there has been a lot less worry and stress on my mind, and I am a lot more relaxed. Taking this into account, I’ve realised I should probably not blog as heavily as I tend to, or push myself into doing so much in such a small frame of time. It might be hard to follow through, but I think it’s a mature decision if I can implement a healthy blogging regime into my lifestyle.

I’ve also been able to focus a lot more on other things in my absence. Though I am not posting as much as I would like on Selective Hearing, I have certainly spent more time planning posts and thinking about other things to do with the site. There has also been a spike in my YouTube activity, something I didn’t anticipate, but it was a delightful change of pace. I am not the most reliable in either my blogging or video activities, so to see myself working harder at my channel was refreshing and fun. It’s something I want to continue even after returning to my blog.

Of course I’ve had my down moments. This period of Hibernation was nice to have, but it did lead me to thoughts about closing Okay! Musume Time down for good. It’s not the first time I’ve thought it - it’s a frequent consideration - but I know that doing such a thing would only make me unhappy. Besides, it’s not the right time, and I’ve already made some plans for the blog. They aren’t exciting in any way shape or form, but they are things I hope to try.

There are other parts about the Hibernation which were hard, but I won’t go into them. I am happy to share things with you - you are my friends and dear Readers - but there are some things that are better kept to myself.

And that’s it. These are the things I needed to say. There is more I could write, plans and ideas, notes and thoughts that have crossed my mind about the future of this blog, but that will all come in due time, perhaps in a Blog Update. For now this will have to do. I don’t want to overwhelm you, and I don’t want rush everything in one post. I hope you understand, and I hope that this post has cleared up a few things for you.

Now it’s time to return to the blogging game. I admit that I am not 100% sure about coming back this soon, but I also know that if I don’t do it now, I will probably never come back, so I made a choice to return in April so that I wouldn’t become too comfortable in a life without this happy space. There are still things I need to figure out of course, both in blogging and in my personal life, but those decisions and ideas will come to me at a later date. For now though, I want to try and do what I can to keep this blog alive whilst leading a happy, healthy life away from it.

And finally, a word to the few who have been awaiting the blogs Awakening: Thank you. I’m sorry it’s been so quiet until now, but it’s time to write again. I hope you enjoy the things that come your way.