Odds & Ends: The Chokkan 2 Curse, Morning Musume’s CD-DVD Single, C-Ute are Cute, SweetS’ Countdown, Rain in Time

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

The Chokkan 2 Curse? Conspiracy theorist that I am, I found myself wondering with this new set of graduations if there was a new curse at work on Morning Musume. (Though considering the ever-decreasing sales, maybe it would be a boon more than a curse to leave Momusu at this time.) I may have found it with the Chokkan 2 cover… After all, it makes sense that a sequel to the original Chokkan album track would also become the sequel to the Love Machine curse… right?

Right?

For those unfamiliar with the Love Machine Curse, it’s a pattern on the “Love Machine” single cover that predicted the order in which girls would leave Morning Musume. This picture is from the Early Single Box version, but it does the trick: start from the top right, go down, then left to the next column, go down,and so on…

What you end up with is Ayappe, Sayaka, Yuko, Gocchin, Kei, Nacchi, Iida, and Yagu. This was the order in which they left – Kago and Tsuji graduated between Nacchi and Iida, but they weren’t in Morning Musume at the time the curse started, so they don’t count for this.

Therefore! If I’ve chosen the right single cover – and I checked, this is the only one that works – then don’t be surprised if Sayumi is the next to leave, then Mikitty and then Takitty. You heard it here first!

That said, my alternate interpretation of the Love Machine Curse hasn’t borne fruit (literally)… So maybe I’m just a bit tetched in the head or something.

Momusu’s First CD-DVD Single. At freaking last! The next Morning Musume CD single will include a DVD in its first press. I’ve written about the potential value a CD-DVD single combo would have for Morning Musume here and here, so it’s nice to see they’re finally doing it. That said, they’re putting concert performances and not the PV for the single on the DVD – Ayaya didn’t have her PV included when she did the CD-DVD thing, too – but that’s better than nothing. I know I’ll be picking it up, at least.

The picture above, by the way, is misleading – Konno and Ogawa will be on the next single, it’ll be their farewells. However, I have to say that I really like the look of 8-nin Musume and am already enamored with such a small line-up. It isn’t who leaves and who stays, but the fact that Momusu has been allowed to shrink.

Not wishing to offend fans of Kon-Kon and Mako-chan, but the group hasn’t been this small since “Koi no Dance Site” and it’s exhilerating to think of Momusu as a leaner idol machine. No minna-lag at this size, more lines spread out among the non-leads (hopefully), more attention for each individual idol…

Like I said, it’d be nice to see Country Musume become new members – but 8-nin looks great, I admit. I hope they last a while at that strength. Though if the Chokkan 2 Curse has anything to say about it, maybe not…

C-Ute are Cute! Wow! I wasn’t paying attention, but that new girl Kanna (in yellow, to the right) is pretty adorable! And when did Airi (blue, in the center) become such a looker? I still pictured her as the childish cutie from the Aa! PV, with the pinched up kiddie face.

Now, though, she’s becoming attractive in a whole different way. Well, in a slightly different, pre-teen way. Thank you, God! Thank you, Airi’s pituitary gland!

Anyway, it’ll be fun to see C-Ute in their future PVs and other performances, especially with four U15 hotties in their midst (can’t forget Maimi and of course Megumi)… If they follow the success of Berryz – and there’s a good chance of it happening, I think – then H!P may become U15 heaven for a little while and we’ll all start asking, “Morning Who?”

Okay, not really. But damn! Airi’s cute!

About a month of SweetS left. I guess it’s a good thing C-ute is finally making headway, as it’s about a month until SweetS release their last products. I’m still holding out for an announcement from Haruna as being part of a new mid-teen Avex act.

Rain Among Time’s 100 Most Influential People. Korean pop star Bi / Rain is listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. Ironically, it only made me think of what crs wrote about the American response to his first U.S. concerts. However, there’s a larger lesson in including Bi, as the article in Time points out:

Before he visited the U.S., Rain already had a fan base, thanks to Internet music sites, satellite TV and DVDs of his soap operas. Those are the same media that make it easier than ever for growing numbers of Americans to get their fix of Japanese anime, Bollywood films and Korean music – and vice-versa. Pop culture no longer moves simply in a single direction, from the West to the rest of the world. Instead, it’s a global swirl, no more constrained by borders than the weather.

Which is old fucking news to anybody who’d care enough to read this blog or go to the various Jpop torrent sites or BBS’s. But I find it interesting that Time Magazine – i.e., the mainstream media – is beginning to pick up on this growing trend. Like the growing interest in comics by creators in other media, I think this signals a generational change in how American culture understands and defines itself.

And it’s about time.

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6 Responses to “Odds & Ends: The Chokkan 2 Curse, Morning Musume’s CD-DVD Single, C-Ute are Cute, SweetS’ Countdown, Rain in Time”
  1. Steve Harrison says:

    it only made me think of what crs wrote (Quote)
    Just read crs’s comments about j-kpop. Being inbred etc.
    That is why i don’t like 80% of most jpop, BUT>>>it IS why I like SweetS and H!P While Tsunku does rip “some” aspects of other music in his songs and arrangements, as in total, who else sounds like fucking Morning Musume (except copies of THEM) ???
    SweetS is much the same, of course there are elements (pun not intended) bits and pieces in EVERYONE’S music, but again..who else sounds like SweetS but Sweets????
    Is crs implying that Western music doesn’t follow the same trend? That is why I don’t listen to much Western crap (except blues, which I perform) BECAUSE it sounds all the same, or tries SO hard to be different, that it reeks of pomposity, or just plain STINKS!

    The experimental eras of the 50’s and 60’s is over. As far as new, influential music goes…as song says…Bye, Bye, American Pie…the music died….In Jpop, this has been known a long time, which is why they play basically, as the Lovin spoonful put it, “good time music”.
    Unfortunately, Western music doesn’t grasp the concept.
    Along time a go, while in collage, a friend who was a fantastic guitarist, AND a physics major, did a complicated study on the mathematical reciprocity in music, and came up with the theory that every combination of musical notes, and forms will have been used (hence, no “new” music would be possible) by 1978 (this was back in 69, 70) So, while Western music strives for the impossible, the Japanese, ni the shadow of Shinto fatalism, has known this for a long time.

    [Comment slightly edited by Ray.]

  2. Steve:

    I don’t think crs was implying that American music is better than Korean music or doesn’t have its share of inbred borrowings. She’s a canny and highly articulate writer and if she believed such a point, she’d state it point blank, not try to slide it in by implication.

    The main point I had in mind when linking to her piece was her observation that Korean pop’s heavy borrowing of trends from American culture damage the chances of crossover by the likes of Rain and BoA.

    As for the “Western crap” half of your argument… hoo boy, there’s a lot there that’s worth exploring. First is the underlying issue of what better serves art, innovation or craft. This is something which ties directly to the appeal of Jpop – which is, by nature (at least by my own chains of logic), anti-innovation. So I think there’s a good deal that can be discussed there, especially about the way innovation is privileged in modern creative culture.

    As for whether or not there IS worthy, innovative music in the Western world, I’d certainly say it’s still possible. The Noise Manifesto and its quest for a paradigmatic redefinition of music fits into that. It helps to expand the definition of what music is, as the manifesto argues.

    I’m also not sure how Shinto fatalism fits into the development of Jpop – at least, not in the sense I’m getting from your comment. That may be a whole new angle to look at Jpop’s development, and I’d love to hear more of what you mean on that in particular. Are the decisions made by Jpop producers and marketers truly fatalistic because they don’t pursue novelty, or is it simply cashing in and following good business sense? (Or are the two just different sides to the same coin.)

    One last thing: are you saying that Western musicians don’t create “good time music” or that it isn’t as valued as it is in Jpop? That sounds a bit off to me, considering what I hear on American radio…

  3. Steve Harrison says:

    Ray,
    To do justice to a discussion of this nature, would take quite a bit of space which I don’t think would be appropriate for a “comments” section, but the short answer is:

    American pop/rock etc. may or may not achieve on occasion, the semblance of innovative creativity, but surely not to world changing effect that pop/rock music did in the 50’s and 60’s.

    Jpop make s no such claim to being innovative as a selling point, nor does it try to legitimize it’s existence by claiming to be profound.
    American pop music on the other hand, in most cases TRIES to come off as “serious” music. Music that in some way might change the world, or in an artistically bent, reflect the angst of the times. IMO it fails in most cases.

    Now, I do not mean that sometimes, western music isn’t good…or that Jpop itself, doesn’t try to emulate the already watered-down crap that passes for innovation. Only that Jpop at it’s best…Morning Musume, SweetS etc. etc. have achieved a unique sound unto itself that is it’s own voice, an unlike any other music that I have ever heard.
    Sure, the Jpop I am referring to is not world changing or truly innovative. That it borrows from the “best of the West” goes without saying…
    However, Jpop also makes no pretense of being innovative, or serious music. For better or for worse, driven by $$$ or whatever, it DOES reflect the fact that unlike western rock where there really isn’t any really good music anymore, just a rehash, a pale attempt to be another Beatles, another Hendrix, another Dylan, Jpop is content to just make catchy songs that make people happy. My reference to Shinto fatalism derives from the attitude among Japanese pop performers who don’t even try to be anything more than what is on the surface.
    In this they succeed far beyond their western counterparts.
    A case in point would be why we are all here on this, and other similar sites. Why are we, as westerners, driven to listen to music that is in another language, and dismissed by most of our peers for a variety of reasons?
    I am not saying that ALL Japanese pop/rock is as good, or better than western music of the same genre. In fact, the more one listens to Japanese rock (esp boy bands) that DO try to copy the music trends of the west, the more they fail (as I believe was the case of Rain)
    BUT….the Japanese pop groups that stay away from those obvious trends, beat us at our own game! You could rattle off numerous American/British rock bands that are popular, but if you really look at the past 30 years of western rock, not that much unique has happened that transcends with it’s own unique voice.
    On that note….excluding the homage Tsunku might make as a producer to western music, as a final concept, you can find no counterpart to Morning Musume, SweetS and a few other groups inn Europe or America. (please do not make a superficial comparison to the Spice Girls etc)
    By not trying to be unique, they have become so, and when Jpop looses that innocent, un-strived for uniqueness, they too fail.
    I could go on and on about this. and I am not even introducing into this discussion, the differences of cultures, the concept of idols, the fact, as you once said yourself in an article about Jpop, that in the west, youth means non-sexy, Nickelodeon stuff, while it viewed much differently in Asia.
    I have just touched the tip of the iceberg here, but I hope the essence of my comments have lent themselves to some insight of my views.

  4. crs says:

    Whoa, I guess this is what I get for taking a week off for finals. But to respond to some of what you’re saying, Steve, your argument talks about Western rock and pop as if that’s *all* Western music is, and from that you’re drawing the conclusion that no new music is possible, and Western artists are just deluded, and therefore no one should criticize MM and SweetS because of the music, ever (paraphrase). And maybe if the only types of music in the world were rock and pop, I would be inclined to agree.

    But in order to make your other point about Shinto fatalism (one that seems really interesting and on-point to me) work at a universal ‘this applies to everyone’ level, your formulation of Western music has to disregard completely rap and hip-hop, which to me is a critical problem, seeing as the most exciting and most interesting changes in Western music over the past two decades have come from those genres. You might not like them–and I suspect that’s what you were referring to when you gave evidence of your friend’s musical pedigree by saying he’s a great guitarist, as well as when you talked about pompous artists being different just to be different, which smacks of old timey rockism to me–but those genres have grown beyond your ability to disregard them by saying that they suck. Whether or not you acknowledge them on a personal tastes level, they exist and do not require your blessing to be legitimate parts of a conversation about popular music. If you draw conclusions about the possibility of newness in music from an understanding of music that excludes genres that you either aren’t familiar with, don’t like, don’t recognize or think is baloney, *when that music is one of the sole sources of innovation over the past twenty years,* your argument would seem to me to have a fatal flaw.

    It’s also worth pointing out that rap as a form has gone global in a way that no longer has anything to do with Westernization (or cultural imperialism, if you’re feeling nasty), which, I mean, just seems *new* to me. I mean, there are Palestinian rappers making music videos and rap documentaries. Where were any of these platforms–rap, hip-hop, the internet, the music video–in 1978?

    Even if we concede the point for a second that there are no ‘new’ combinations of notes, to say that there’s no such possible thing as a new form sounds like knee-jerk defensiveness. Authenticity, originality, innovation are all complicated subjects that we can and do talk about ad nauseum, but in the process of defending something that’s clearly near and dear to your heart, you’re blowing all fruitful discussion of the water.

  5. crs says:

    Oh, and just to make myself super clear:
    American pop/rock etc. may or may not achieve on occasion, the semblance of innovative creativity, but surely not to world changing effect that pop/rock music did in the 50’s and 60’s.

    That’s right, it doesn’t have the world-changing effect anymore. That’s because it’s RAP and HIP-HOP taking over that task now.

  6. Steve Harrison says:

    God, I hate to partially agree with you considering my loathing of rap, and hip hop (notice I DID NOT inc the qualifier, “music”) I think I neglected to inc. rap/hip hop, is because I have never even thought of bad, gutter mouthed poetry set loosely to some jungle beat, “music” (now don’t get me wrong here, my favorite all time music is blues and some jazz, so don’t bring in the “race” card) I am sure BB King hates rap also! Also, there were many experimental groups, mostly jazz, in the 60’s that used the music over poetry idea. The Lost Poets (inc Jimi Hendrix) and Sun Ra, to cite just a few…but rap prides itself on being offensive, or even worse, DOESN’T realize that it is…
    In fact IMO, rap & hip is NOT music in a true sense of definition, but if you call “music” anything that has some sort of rhythm or beat, then I guess it could be loosely considered as such.
    Yes, it is my own opinion that rap and hip hop (while agreeing with you about it’s world popularity) it does not automatically give it validity, or more importantly, a rightful place in a discussion of popular MUSIC (culture..maybe) But again…in my comments, I was just comparing western music..in general to Jpop, not an all inclusive argument.
    The point I was trying to make (generalizing) was that western music is mediocre, more so, because it TRIES to reach for innovation, but doesn’t (and here I will give you the opportunity to name current artist(s) that TRULY could be considered as innovative as many artists of 30-40 years ago, in a way that I couldn’t say,”been there, done that!!) ..and the fact that Japanese pop artist already understand the futility of trying, an just concentrate on producing happy, superficial music, though certain groups, like Momusu, and SweetS etc. HAVE transcended beyond the ordinary and disposable product they represent…