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Also, I can personally guarantee that by the time you’re done reading this entry, you’re going to be sick of something…
1! 2! 1, 2, 3, 4!
Welcome everyone to the Summer Refreshment series, where I talk turkey as I grill music.
The theme song for this post is going to be a little more obscure than usual: Wild, Wild Summer by Flipper’s Guitar.
Let’s shuffle this up a bit by talking about an old summer favorite: the Shuffle Units!
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there were a large meganest of songbirds under the supervision of the Grand Wizard and the Wizarding Council. All of the songbirds sang beautiful songs in little nests and flocks, to the delight of the Wizards who collected the alms from the people. One day, the Grand Wizard and the Wizarding Council had gotten an idea into their heads: What if they were to mix up all of the little birds into new nests, sending out their new songs, and seeing who sings the loudest? So the Wizards went to work, mixing up all of the songbirds every summer.
And that, my friends, is a fairytale retelling of how Shuffle Groups came to be.
They began in 2000 with the theme of colors: Kiiro 5, Aoiro 7, Akagumi 4.
Akagumi 4 won this year’s contest with their single, Akai Nikkichou. Lyrically and somewhat musically more mature, this sad little ditty features fan favorite Goto Maki at the bat (which may be why this single sold so well) with fellow Musume Nakazawa Yuko, Coco Girl Danielle, and Taiyo & Ciscomoon’s Shinoda Miho along for the ride.
Kiiro 5 groove things up with the lightness of a feather with their single, Kiiroi Osora de BOOM BOOM BOOM.
Aoiro 7 gives us this rockin’ cut, Aoi Sports Car no Otoko. (As you might expect, this is my favorite. This was also the one you’re more likely to find.) The lyrics would also endear this song to the feminists among us.
2001’s theme was matsuri.
We begin our foray into the 2001 “natsu matsuri” with the winning unit: 3-nin Matsuri and their cotton candy cute Chu! Natsu Party. I say that because… well, how can you not think of cotton candy? It’s so saccharine and you’d love to eat Ayaya, Aibon, and Charmy’s hair, right? On that note, while the other songs are just as good, there’s a reason this song survived in the H!P consciousness to be covered by an equally sugary group.
The matsuri grows in attendance and color with the 7-nin Matsuri and their Summer Reggae! Rainbow. Bring out the Rainbow Rastas (disclaimer: I mean to offense, Jamaican public) as the girls let the rainbow remind us that summer is here. Also, fans of a certain segment will definitely recognize a member or two.
The matsuri grows to full capacity with its largest group: 10-nin Matsuri. What’s their offering, you ask? Well, what else? A traditional matsuri song with an H!P twist in the form of Dancing! Natsu Matsuri. WASSHOI!
2002’s theme was happiness.
Featuring a lot of younger members and a video game-inspired video, we begin this trip to the Year of Happiness with Happy 7. Now, in this year, we see a lot of “recycled” styles. In this case, this is the second coming of the cutesy summeryness of 3-nin Matsuri. (Trying to having lightning strike twice perhaps? *shot*)
he party gets bigger… but more sexy with Sexy 8 and their single Shiawase Desu ka? Just as the other singles this year have sounds reminiscent of past shuffles, this single’s spiritual precessor is Akai Nikkichou. Just like Akai Nikkichou, this single took the gold. I’m not going to go into the possible theories so let’s leave it like that.
Our final stop on the Happy Train is the ondo-licious offering of Odoru 11‘s . Just like 10-nin Matsuri and their single, it is based on a traditional Japanese style of music but with an H!P twist. However, it is closer to the actual product (though I am not qualified to say that).
2003’s theme was elements.
This was the first shuffle year to where the groups’ songs were released as one single, which may have been an omen.
Our first stop on the element train is 7AIR and their track, . It’s a cool R&B track.
Now, here’s a challenge for anyone who likes this song: listen to the Mini Moni version and as much as you gush over the voices, try not to be weirded out by the fact this is Mini Moni covering this song. MINI MONI IN THE HOUSE! YOU’RE GOING TO GET YOUR SEXY SOUL!
The next track has SALT5 rappin’ it up and getting down in Get Up! Rapper! While this could be serious, the fact they’re namechecking banana chips should be a clue into the potential tongue-in-cheekiness.
Along with 11WATER, this is my favorite of the three (mainly due to Ayaya’s solo version).
We end the Year of the Elements with 11WATER and their proclamation that they wanna BE ALL RIGHT! This is a more genki, upbeat song than the other two, along with possibly more what people would think of in an H!P song. (Then again, we know H!P is at their best with songs like this.)
Now memories of seeing them perform on Hey! Hey! Hey! are coming back to me.
Years passed and we had gotten no word of a shuffle (unless you count H!P All-Stars).
In 2006, we had gotten a new set that broke the mold:
Sexy Otonajan‘s side is the new wave Onna, Kanashii, Otona. A rather mature song featuring three great singers (though I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar stir as to Aa’s was stirred).
This song actually would fit right at home with teh current discography, barring the lack of wubwubs. Actually, the jazzy bossanova would be a nice change of pace. =w= As a fan of Shibuya-kei (and an older person and thus more receptive to slower songs), I can fully appreciate the sound.
We come to Side 2 (or so) with the Elegies and Inshouha Renoir no You ni. For a while, this was the only one I was able to obtain. It’s a standard for H!P at the time. (At the time?!) Also as per the weird period in the 2000s, H!P was obsessed with sexiness. I mean, not at all like now, but there was this… weird… overt obsession with sexuality that permeated with buzzwords like “Sexy” appearing left and right. Case in point, in spite of Elegies being the “elegant” group, sexiness gets namechecked in the song. Don’t get me started on the weirdness of the title “Sexy 8 Beat.”
Going back… out of the three, this would probably be the most “typical” of songs here.
We come to the last A-side, Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki. On the bright side, the pretty Puripuri Pink features a Shuffles first: the featuring of past members, of “graduates” (though I may be wrong, as usual). Out of the three, I currently like this one the most.
And that was the last we had heard of them.
We cab somewhat see the legacy of the Shuffle Units in two forms (one of which can even be said to make it three):
- First off, it was the
ChamplooChanpuru Units. Sure, they were just as much revivals of their respective groups as they were successors to the Shuffle Unit legacy. However, the idea of taking the entire collective (barring the 2006 batch) and mixing it up is the very axis mundi of the Shuffles.
- Second, we have the Sato Movements. The units in this group are more likely to resemble Shuffle Units (or just standard idol subgroups that have no bearing to the task at hand) in that we get an interesting mixture of various idol bits in each act.
I’ll leave you guys with this question: What are some wild summer songs you can think of?
I’ll also leave you with a campfire song from the 20nin Matsuri.
Mata aou ne, Magical Meteorites and Earthlings.