Greetings and happy New Year, Citizens of the Universe!
How has things been for you lot so far? It hasn’t been a full week (though it may be by the time you read this) and we’re already off to a chaotic start.
Well, this post is somewhat special. You see, during the 2017 autumn break, M3 reached a new milestone: 10,000 views! (give or take)
Similarly to the 4,000 visitors post, I looked to a release with a similar milestone and unlike last time, the topic was clear: after losing to the Melons (3-1 overall; 1-0 on Twitter, 2-1 on Google+) for being the topic of the last milestone post, our work-in-progress idols of Up-Front get the center stage!
(For those curious, had Apuga won, their topic would’ve been their 16th indie single, Nijiiro Mosaic / ENJOY!! ENJO(Y)!!, chosen because it was their first single to sell OVER 4,000 copies.)
But Kath, who are these girls anyway?
Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) is one of many acts under Up-Front Create (home to numerous H!P alumni who remained under the Up-Front Group umbrella; H!P itself is under Up-Front Promotion).
Made of former Hello! Pro Eggs Sengoku Minami (red), Furukawa Konatsu (pink), Mori Saki (green), Sato Ayano (purple), Sekine Azusa (orange), and Arai Manami (blue), the group was formed in early 2011 as Up-Front Girls (Kakko Kari) (with Saho Akari (yellow) later joining in May) before changing to their current name that very summer.
All but Sato Ayano were “1st Generation” Hello! Pro Eggs, having joined in 2004. Sato became an Egg in 2009. Sengoku completed her training in December 2010, Furukawa and Mori in January 2011, Sato, Sekine, and Arai in March, and Saho in April.
All of the members are also part of a K-pop dance cover group formed prior to Apuga called UFZS. Initially only having five of the girls (Furukawa, Mori, Sato, Sekine, and Arai), Sengoku and Saho joined months later.
Just because they’re not as well-known as their former Hello! Project compatriots doesn’t mean they’re inactive. The members perform regular lives at a Akihabara theatre, having done 119 regular shows at their current location. (Their old venue was forced to shut down.) The group also does regular weekly online shows and broadcasts, along with a livestream on Showroom. That is in addition to having had a TV show. Yeah, they’ve done a lot.
I didn’t even get into their Budokan performance, along with the formation of the Up Up Girls (2) and Up Up Girls (Puroresu) sister groups.
I hope that’s everything needed for a primer…
With that out of the way, I can get to the meat of the post: a review of Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari)’s 19th indie single, Beautiful Dreamer / Zenryoku! Pump Up!! -ULTRA MIX- / Itadaki wo Mezase!, their first single to sell OVER 10,000 copies and was their highest-selling single until April 2016.
I suppose that given the then-recent graduation of Sengoku Minami and Sato Akari, now’s a good a time as any to give these gals a look.
So let’s dig into Apuga #19 and commemorate getting OVER 10,000 views (and beating a dead meme in the process).
The song is a mid-tempo J-pop song with a slight electro-pop feel. The vocals are sweet but passionate, befitting the theme of the song: dreams and the desire to live for them.
It’s an idol-tastic song that speaks to someone who wants to dream and others to dream. One can say it applies to Apuga themselves as they march forward towards their dreams (some in more ways than others, as last year have shown).
The MV primarily set in a room, but illuminated to emphasize the light of dreams. In some shots, we see our girls framed like a mirror, as if the say that dreams are the fairest things of all. We sometimes see the gals in a dark room with only lights, but it accentuates the mood.
It’s admittedly simple, but it’s also very straightforward.
Zenryoku! Pump Up!! -ULTRA MIX- (Full Power! Pump Up!! -ULTRA Mix-)
It’s a dance party anthem that’s perfect for the club.
This is especially so when you consider the original (released on their previous single), a cool and catchy EDM-influenced pop song with a sliiiight traditional flavor, the lyrics calling for us to sing and dance:
The MV features footage from their lives and other events. It also contains elements of the original version’s MV. In many ways, it builds and improves on it, like any good remix.
It may be a sparkly, bright mess, but… you have to admit that with all of these effects came a buttload of effort.
Itadaki wo Mezase! (Aim for the top!)
The song is a warm EDM-influenced tune that is about aiming high, persevering, and being open about the present and future. Musically, it follows a similar vein to the aforementionedly pumping Zenrokyu! Pump Up!! (and the Ultra Mix), maintaining a cool sound that places it along the EDM DJs and K-pop artists that dominate the consciousness (and the group takes inspiration from). Lyrically, it’s a motivating song that tells you to “aim for the top” because one has come so far on their journey and there’s so much more explore. One commenter on the MV even mentioned that it’s perfect for Apuga because they’ve accomplished so much (especially now in retrospect with the aforementioned Budokan concert and other ventures).
The song ends with a monologue from Sato Ayano and Sekine Azusa (forgive me if I get this wrong) with the rest of the group continuing in the background: “Go on!”
All before one final statement: “Minna de itadaki e!” ([Everyone,] Aim for the top!)
The MV is uber-simple… if only because it’s a Dance Shot and I wasn’t able to find a version that wasn’t some sort of live (if there was any other version of this video to begin with). On the bright side, it highlights their strengths as a group and as performers.
(As this single was released in 2014, it is not subject to the changes in sales reporting as implemented by Oricon in Fall 2016.
All figures reported in this section are from the Hello! Project Wikia with the percentage and average mathematics done by moi.
Of course, if a piece of idol music really touches you, does it matter that much how well it sells? It does to some people, which is one reason I do this…)
As previously mentioned, this single was Apuga’s highest-selling until their proper 20th in April 2016. (They released two event singles between them on Valentine’s Day of that year.) The single was also their highest weekly ranking single (with #1 for the week of November 17, 2014) and their first to chart into Oricon’s weekly Top 10 ranks with #7.
The single debuted at #2 on the Daily Ranking with 9,087 units sold, making 62.23% of the Total Reported Sales figure of 14,603.
I said it once and I’ll say again: I wouldn’t have reached this point if not for you guys. I know 10,000 views isn’t much compared to some of the other blogs out there (especially ones I tend to link to), especially considering the 10th anniversary of M3 1.0 wasn’t that long ago, but again… I wouldn’t be at this place if not for you and if I didn’t celebrate the small victories, the big ones wouldn’t matter that much. As Up Up Girls have shown, it’s the little things that can lead to even bigger ones.
What’s next on the horizon for M3? Well, for a good primer, you can look to the 2017 Year-End post to get a bit of an idea of what’s coming down the pipeline.
For now, happy New Year and here’s to the next milestone!
Until the Next One!
- Hello! Project Wikia: Up Up Girls (Kari), Beautiful Dreamer / Zenryoku! Pump Up!! -ULTRA Mix- / Itadaki wo Mezase!