Top row (from left to right): Fukumura Mizuki, Suzuki Kanon, Ikuta Erina, Sayashi Riho
Bottom row (from left to right): Niigaki Risa, Michishige Sayumi, Takahashi Ai, Tanaka Reina, Mitsui Aika
Morning Musume (モーニング娘。)
Morning Musume is an all girl Jpop group from Japan which is well-known for their graduations (in which a member of the group “Graduates” or leaves the group to become a solo artist.) Their songs are generally upbeat and they are currently the highest overall single sales is the highest in a female group on the Oricon chart.
The name Morning Musume literally means “Daughter of the Morning”, where Musume means daughter. They also are well known for holding auditions for the next generation, although in 2008 their member list did not change, they are well known for having fluctuating lineups.
They officially adopted the name Jou An Sao Nu Jou (Zao An Shao Nu Zu) (早安少女組。) in Chinese market.
Japanese producer Tsunku started the group in 1997 through an audition for a female rock vocalist for his band Sharan Q, which was held on a Japanese show called Asayan. The winner was Heike Michiyo, later to become a soloist under what would eventually become known as Hello! Project.
However, Tsunku decided to form a girl group consisting of five of the runners-up: Nakazawa Yuko, Abe Natsumi, Iida Kaori, Fukuda Asuka, and IshiguruAya. They were issued a challenge to sell 50,000 copies of their demo single, “Ai no Tane,” with just five days of promotion events. They managed the feat in four promotion days (spread out over November, 1997), and Tsunku began his mission to create the most famous all-girl group in Japan.
In early 1998, the girls were ready with their first official single, “Morning Coffee.” The success of this single (hitting #6 on the Japanese pop charts) brought them three new members known as the second generation: Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, and Ichii Sayaka, bringing the total member count to eight. The second single, Summer Night Town, was the first single of the new lineup—a mature pop tune about unsuccessfully attempting to hide one’s true feelings. Their third single, “Daite Hold on Me!,” continued in the same vein musically as Summer Night Town, and managed to hit #1 on the charts. Leader Nakazawa also started her solo career.
First Time was released in July 1998, featuring the singles “Ai no Tane” and “Morning Coffee”.
That year, Tsunku also formed Tanpopo, the first subgroup of Morning Musume, with Iida Kaori, Ishiguro Aya, and Yaguchi Mari. Tanpopo touted slower, more mature songs.
1999 kicked off with the group’s fourth single “Memory Seishun no Hikari,” failing to hit #1 but managing to snag #2 on Oricon (GLAY’s “Winter, again” was #1 for the week, with 1st week sales of 955,780 copies, while Morning Musume’s Memory Seishun no Hikari’s was 195,720). The song contained a rap section and intense vocal harmonization on the girls parts. This was Fukuda Asuka’s last single with Morning Musume, making her currently the shortest-lived member at 2 years. Asuka claimed that she was leaving in order to focus on her studies, only to drop out of school soon after.
“Manatsu no Kousen” was released in May and was a summer tune. It went to #3 on the charts, and the sales dropped by half from Memory Seishun no Hikari; Morning Musume’s chart position was visibly lagging at the time, their sixth single, “Furusato,” only sealing the fact. Abe Natsumi sang the entire song “Furusato”, with the other members harmonizing discreetly. This single was #5, and the sales once again decreased by half.
Second Morning was released in July 1999, and contained the singles “Daite Hold on Me!,” “Memory Seishun no Hikari,” “Manatsu no Kousen,” and “Furusato.” “Daite Hold on Me!” and “Manatsu no Kousen” were remixed.
Eager to add new life to the group, Tsunku held auditions for the third generation of Morning Musume. Two girls were expected to be admitted, but ultimately only Goto Maki was added. Goto was 13, the youngest member of Morning Musume at the time. The group’s seventh single, “Love Machine,” sold 1,646,630 copies, making it a major hit; it is still their highest-selling single to date. The song touted an image of Japan as the future “envy of the world” and cheered the masses during a period of economic recession. It was Goto Maki’s first single and Ishiguro Aya’s last. Its wild success dramatically increased the popularity of the group.
Soon Goto was paired with Yasuda Kei and Ichii Sayaka to form the subgroup Petitmoni (also known as Pucchi Moni). Pucchimoni’s first single, “Chokotto Love,” rivaled the success of “Love Machine,” selling over 1,123,610 copies.
2000 first saw the release of “Koi no Dance Site,” which hit #2 and sold over a million—400,000 copies away from reaching Love Machine’s success. The single had the highest 1st week sales than any other Morning Musume’s singles, an enormous amount of 600,860 copies. Even with this large number, the single did not reach #1 because Southern All Stars’s biggest hit single, TSUNAMI, which sold total of 2.93 million copies, was released at the same date as Koi no Dance Site. Ishiguro Aya left the group before the single was released in order to marry Shinya, drummer of rock band Luna Sea, leaving the group with seven members.
The second event of 2000 was the creation of “shuffle units,” in which all members of Tsunku’s then 16-member family, Hello! Project, were shuffled around to form three one-time groups: Akagumi 4, Kiiro 5, and Aoiro 7. The idea was to battle for the highest single sales. This was achieved by Akagumi 4 which, to no surprise, boasted Goto Maki as the lead vocals.
In March, their third studio album, 3rd -Love Paradise- was released. Despite having “Love Machine” and “Koi no Dance Site” on its track list, it did not manage to claim the #1 spot, but did sell more than 800,000 copies, making it Morning Musume’s highest-selling studio album to date.
This year also brought a new generation search. The fourth generation consisted of Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Tsuji Nozomi, and Kago Ai, lending a completely different feel to the group by adding the 12-year-old duo of Tsuji and Kago. After their debut single, “Happy Summer Wedding,” (continuing the legacy of #1 hits with 990,950 copies sold,) Ichii Sayaka graduated to pursue her own music career. She became the vocalist of Japanese group Cubic Cross and later married fellow member Yoshizawa Naoki (no relation to Yoshizawa Hitomi).
With Ishiguro and Ichii gone, both Tanpopo and Pucchimoni revised their lineups—Yoshizawa Hitomi joined Pucchimoni, and Kago Ai and Ishikawa Rika were added to Tanpopo. Meanwhile, Yaguchi Mari had started performing informally with Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi in concerts as Mini Moni, a group tailored towards younger audiences with all the members being less than 150 cm (about 5 ft) tall. Mika Todd of Coconuts Musume was later added into the group and Tsunku made them official. Their debut single, “Minimoni Jankenpyon!,” was a #1 hit on the Oricon.
As an idol group, they were extremely successful, drawing comparisons to the popularity of former girl idol group Speed. “I Wish” and “Renai Revolution 21” (Nakazawa Yuko’s last single) continued the trend of happy pop songs becoming staple hits for the group. Morning Musume also began their tradition of performing in musicals each year, breaking new ground as idols with their hit musical, Love Century -Yume wa Minakerya Hajimaranai-.
In April 2001, group leader Nakazawa Yuko graduated to concentrate more on her solo career (stating her age as a factor as well—she felt it was limiting her ability to meet the physical demands of the group’s activities) making Iida Kaori and Yasuda Kei Morning Musume’s co-leaders. During this time, the Ishikawa Rika was “lent” out to the rather inactive group, Country Musume. She did not officially join, but she sang with them for a short period of time.
By July 2001 the string of #1 hits had yet to be broken with the release of the single “The Peace!.” The Peace! was another somewhat bizarre pop tune, beginning with an almost fight song-like call and response, and featuring Ishikawa Rika as the lead. She had a dialog in the middle of the song, many solo lines, and took center in the dance and the cover shot. The promotional video echoed the song’s strangeness by placing the group in the middle of what appeared to be a gigantic public bathroom, displaying the girls dancing amongst the urinals and posing for photographs in the stalls; supposedly as a response to hidden camera footage of the members that had recently surfaced, filmed from a toilet in their production offices.
At the end of January 2001, the best selling Hello!Project album to date, at 2,259,510 copies, was released: “Best! Morning Musume 1.” It featured 15 tracks, the only original song being “Say Yeah! -Motto Miracle Night-.”
At the end of 2001, four new members joined the group as the fifth generation through the audition “Love Audition 21:” Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami, Ogawa Makoto, and Niigaki Risa, bringing the roster to 13 girls. Their first single “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~,” (done in the style of big band) featured fourth generation member Yoshizawa Hitomi as the central focus and main vocalist of the song.
In February, “Souda! We’re Alive,” another hit, was released. It featured many different styles combined into one song, centered on Yaguchi Maki.
In July 2002, “Do it! Now” was released. This single finally broke the line of #1 hits and came in at #3—a surprising fact to many, considering it was Goto Maki’s last single.
Morning Musume’s fourth studio album, 4th Ikimasshoi! was released in March 2002 after a two year wait. It is the first studio album from the group to reach #1 on Oricon. It featured the singles “Renai Revolution 21,” (rerecorded with the current 13-person formation,) “The Peace!,” (in a ‘full’, longer version,) “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~,” (with added dialog at the beginning,) and “Souda! We’re Alive.”
Late 2002 was marked by the graduation of Goto Maki and a mass re-shuffle of the sub-units. Tsunku removed Iida Kaori, Yaguchi Mari, and Kago Ai from Tanpopo, adding in Asami Konno, Risa Niigaki, and Shibata Ayumi of Melon Kinenbi to join Ishikawa Rika. Tanpopo only released one single with this lineup before the group was put on an indefinite hiatus status. Ogawa Makoto and Kimura Ayaka of Coconuts Musume joined Yoshizawa Hitomi in Petitmoni to replace Yasuda Kei and Goto Maki, but the group did not even release a single, only performing in concerts. Their song “Wow Wow Wow” was later released on the Hello! Project’s compilation CD Petit Best 4. In Mini Moni, Yaguchi Mari was replaced by Takahashi Ai and the new lineup went on to put out several singles and a second album until member Mika Todd graduated in May 2004, adding Mini Moni to the list of “indefinite hiatus” subgroups.
In October “Koko ni Iruzee!” was released, a fast-paced, feel-good song about making the most of life and music’s ability to unite the world. It was #1 on Oricon.
The unique child-like tune “Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima” was released in February 2003 as the group’s seventeenth single. It is significant because it was a cover song, marking the first time Tsunku did not write a single’s lyrics.
April brought the notably successful single “As for One Day”—a synthesizer-driven song about lost love—which sold 129,893 copies and hit #1 in Oricon charts, and was the last time a Morning Musume single got #1 until “Aruiteru” (released late 2006). This single was the last for Yasuda Kei.
Before the auditions for the sixth generation were held, the group released the album No.5. It was unique in a few ways. It was the last studio album to feature Yasuda Kei and Abe Natusmi as full members of the group. It was also the first Morning Musume studio album to feature a former member, as Goto Maki guests on “Megami ~Mousse na Yasashisa~” and “Ganbacchae.” It only featured two singles: “Do it! Now” and “Koko ni Iruzee!.”
In mid-2003, four new girls were added as the sixth generation: Fujimoto Miki, Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina. After she pulled off a successful appearance on the New Year’s music program “Kouhaku Uta Gassen” with several Morning Musume members dancing as backup, Tsunku also added in Fujimoto Miki (originally an up-and-coming solo singer under Hello! Project) as part of the sixth generation. Their debut concert was also Yasuda Kei’s graduation concert, and Tsunku has said that this one-time 16-member group is the largest Morning Musume will ever be.
The sixth generation’s first single was “Shabondama,” which featured “break-up” lyrics, a seemingly spontaneous dance routine, and rolled “r”s.
Yaguchi Mari became Morning Musume’s sub-leader after Yasuda’s graduation and was also put in charge of training and assisting the trainee group of Hello! Project Kids, eventually forming a group with 5 of them, known as ZYX.
Later in 2003, Morning Musume was split into two subgroups so that it could tour more cities (especially smaller cities that could not support a 15-member troupe). Morning Musume Sakuragumi, which focused on slower and more traditional love songs, included Abe Natsumi, Yaguchi Mari, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Kago Ai, Takahashi Ai, Niigaki Risa, Konno Asami and Kamei Eri. Morning Musume Otomegumi, which had more upbeat pop songs with a slight rock flavor, featured Iida Kaori, Ishikawa Rika, Tsuji Nozomi, Ogawa Makoto, Fujimoto Miki, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina. Sakuragumi released two singles: “Hare Ame Nochi Suki” and “Sakura Mankai,” and Otomegumi released two singles as well: “Ai no Sono ~Touch my Heart!~” and “Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~.”
The last single of Morning Musume in 2003 to feature the entire group was “Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~,” which had the members girlishly proclaiming the victory of their love.
In January 2004, Abe Natsumi (known as “the face of Morning Musume” to the general public) graduated to pursue a soloist career. Her last single was “Ai Araba It’s All Right,” Morning Musume’s last song to sell more than 100,000 copies. “Ai Araba It’s All Right” had uplifting lyrics (as would be expected, with the title), and a cheery dance sequence.
The group soon released another single, “Roman ~My Dear Boy~.” The song showcased an almost rock flavor and centered its lyrics around offering “a dance” to a boy. This was followed by their twenty-third single, “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari,” which is unique in that it was actually about the Morning Musume girls themselves—each member got a verse about their personality. This song would later be remade several times as “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 2” and “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 3,” included in their sixth and seventh album respectively. This single also marked the graduation of fourth generation members Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai in August, to focus on “W”, their new duo group.
In mid-2004, Morning Musume’s second best-of album, Best! Morning Musume 2 was released and featured “Yah! Aishitai” as the only new track. It had a lukewarm reception at best, compared to their first best-of compilation.
Auditions for the seventh generation (named “Lucky 7” to commemorate the seventh generation, the seventh year of Morning Musume, and seven audition sites across Japan) were held in various Japan cities in late 2004, resulting in six finalists. However, on January 9, 2005, Tsunku surprised everyone by announcing that no one in the Lucky 7 audition would be added to Morning Musume, citing that he had set his expectations extra-high this year in hopes of finding an “ace.” This was the first time an audition had ended with no new members.
In November 2004, Morning Musume released “Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago,” a ballad that featured Konno Asami, Michishige Sayumi, and Ishikawa Rika.
Following this single Morning Musume Early Single Box was released. It was a 9-CD set containing their first eight singles with a bonus track on each one, as well as a karaoke CD of some of their more popular tunes from the early years.
Finally, at the end of 2004, the group’s yearly album was released. Their sixth studio album, named Ai no Dai 6 Kan, hit stores in December. It contained three singles: “Roman ~My Dear Boy~,” “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari,” and “Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago.” This was Kago Ai, Tsuji Nozomi, Iida Kaori, Yaguchi Mari, and Ishikawa Rika’s last credited studio album.
On January 30, 2005 – then-leader and the last member from the first generation Iida Kaori graduated to pursue a solo singer/artist career, with Yaguchi Mari taking on leadership role with Yoshizawa Hitomi as subleader. Her last single was “The Manpower!!!,” which sung about the abilities of the human race and was also the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles theme song. The beginning of 2005 also saw the beginning of Musume Document 2005, which covered behind-the-scenes material, historical footage, and interviews.
In February 2005, Tsunku started another audition for Morning Musume’s seventh generation. He noted that he was still intent on finding an “ace.” This audition resulted with Kusumi Kusumi finally being chosen as the sole “miracle” member of the new generation.
On April 10, 2005, photos were taken ofYaguchi Mari with Oguri Shun (scheduled to be published in a gossip magazine Friday! on the 15th). On April 14, 2005, Yaguchi announced that she would “retire” from Morning Musume and would continue on with solo activities. In her public statement, Yaguchi said that due to the scandal and its publicity, she could no longer sustain an “idol” image befitting of Morning Musume. Because of the nature of her departure (resignation rather than graduation), Yaguchi did not receive a graduation concert. Sub-leader Yoshizawa Hitomi took over as the leader of Morning Musume, and Fujimoto Miki became sub-leader as of July 15, 2005.
Just days after Yaguchi resigned, on April 27, 2005, the group’s twenty-sixth single, “Osaka Koi no Uta” was released. The final version featured Yaguchi still, presumably because they did not have enough time to rerecord and remix it. The lyrics are in an Osaka dialect. This single was also Ishikawa Rika’s last. She graduated on May 7, 2005 to assume full-time leadership of the Hello! Project trio known as Biyuuden.
Kusumi’s first single with Morning Musume was July’s “Iroppoi Jirettai,” a flamenco styled song, which was considered to be the biggest hit of the year—selling around 20,000 more copies than anything else. A 3 city handshake event was organized for the promotion of this single.
Morning Musume’s last single of 2005 was “Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wa Ookiizo!~,” which was a remake of a previous album-only song about the importance of using your intuition and not taking good things for granted. “Koi wa Hassou Do The Hustle!” was going to be the title track for the single, but due to poor preview results, became the coupling track instead.
On December 31, 2005, graduated Morning Musume members Yaguchi Mari, Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Nakazawa Yuko, Kago Ai, Tsuji Nozomi, Ishikawa Rika, Goto Maki, and Yasuda Kei joined the current lineup of Morning Musume to perform the band’s signature hit “Love Machine” on the 2005/2006 edition of Kouhaku Uta Gassen. The performance was Yaguchi’s first since leaving Morning Musume eight and a half months earlier.
On January 16, 2006, it was announced that Morning Musume had won a Kanagawa Image Up Award in recognition of Hello! Project’s support of an anti-pollution campaign. Yoshizawa, Fujimoto, and Takahashi represented the band to accept the award.
In February, the group released their seventh studio album, Rainbow 7. It was the first album for Kusumi and the last for Konno and Ogawa. The album features “The Manpower!!!,” “Osaka Koi no Uta,” “Iroppoi Jirettai,” and “Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wa Ookiizo!~” (in a remixed form). Iida Kaori, Ishikawa Rika and Yaguchi Mari are not credited anywhere in the liner notes although their vocals appear. Three of the songs on the album are performed by smaller clusters of several group members, and are credited in the liner notes to the featured members involved, rather than to the entire group.
In March 2006, “Sexy Boy ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~” was released. It featured an easy-to-learn dance and a parapara style. It was considered to be a relative success.
On April 28, 2006, it was announced by Tsunku from his official website that fifth generation members Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto were going to graduate. Konno graduated on July 23, 2006 to attend University and Ogawa graduated on August 27, 2006 to study English abroad. Both left Morning Musume, but only Konno left Hello! Project entirely; Ogawa intended to return after completing her studies, and is still pictured as a soloist on Hello! Project’s official website. However, as of 2007, Konno returned to Hello! Project to join the new group Ongaku Gatas, making it the first time ever that a girl who left Hello! Project actually returned. She will remain an active member within the agency and Ongaku Gatas while continuing her university studies. Ogawa, on the other hand, returned in June 2008 by appearing on an episode of Morning Musume’s television show Haromoni@.
Konno and Ogawa’s last single was “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan”, which, yet again, featured a parapara type arrangement, with a rock ‘n’ roll flair. It was the group’s 30th single, and a limited-edition CD of all past 30 singles mixed into a thirteen-minute track was included on the first pressing. Unfortunately, sales did not add up to the hype or the significance, and Ambitious! clocked in as Morning Musume’s lowest-selling single yet.
In mid-2006, the group performed the musical Ribbon no Kishi. Takahashi Ai took the main role; the secondary role was played by alternating members. There was also a mini-concert at the end of each performance, which served as Ogawa’s real “graduation concert”—the Wonderful Hearts 2006 concert was initially intended for Konno Asami’s graduation only, although Ogawa wore a special outfit and read her graduation comments as well. (A last minute decision that fans were unaware of before the concert began). As for Ribbon no Kishi, an album with a selection of songs was released: Ribbon no Kishi The Musical Song Selection.
In mid-2006, Tsunku announced the audition for the eighth generation, called Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition. The audition started on August 27, 2006 and ended in Tokyo on October 22, 2006. On December 10, 2006’s Hello! Morning, it was announced that the only new member was Mitsui Aika. The show had a piece of audition footage each week leading up to December 10, 2006.
The last single release in 2006 was “Aruiteru,” which was a huge hit. It was the first single at the #1 spot after 3½ years (their last #1 hit being “As for One Day.”) The song’s lyrics were credited for its success, with lines like “walking, you’re not alone because everyone’s here with you, praying for peace.” It was a bit of a turn from the hyperactive singles the group had been releasing. Tsunku’s group, Sharan Q, also made a rock cover of this song.
Their first mini-album, 7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini!, was released in December. It featured five tracks by solo and/or smaller combinations of band members. It also featured the single “Aruiteru.”
In early 2007, Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai, a unit consisting of Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Goto Maki, Niigaki Risa, and Kusumi Koharu, was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Morning Musume. They released a commemorative single called “Bokura ga Ikiru My Asia”. The members chosen symbolize the beginning of the group; how they had five members ranging in age from 13–24. Additionally, each member was from an odd-numbered generation (Iida Kaori and Abe Natsumi from the first generation, Goto Maki from the third, Niigaki Risa from the fifth, and Kusumi Koharu from the seventh).
On January 2, 2007, an announcement was made during Hello! Project’s 2007 Winter concert that the group’s leader at the time Yoshizawa Hitomi would graduate from Morning Musume on May 6, 2007, the last day of Morning Musume’s 2007 spring tour. The concert was at the Saitama Super Arena in Yoshizawa’s hometown in Saitama.
In February, the first single with the eighth generation member Mitsui Aika was released, “Egao Yes Nude.” This was the first PV of Morning Musume to appear on the Dohhh-Up! site (a streaming website of Hello! Project media). The single went up against tougher competition than “Aruiteru” had, only landing them a #4 spot, although it sold relatively the same number of copies. The song has a funky, disco feel, and is highly-reminiscent of some of the oldest songs of Morning Musume, most notably Summer Night Town.
On the March 11, 2007 edition of the weekly TV show Hello! Morning, producer Tsunku revealed he would make an important announcement in the following episode. Several days later, on March 15, he announced that two other eighth generation members would be joining the group—Li Chun and Qian Lin, both Chinese nationals, were to join as “exchange students.” Tsunku stated the two new members would be an important key for their group’s planned expansion into Asia and gave them the stage names “Junjun” and “Linlin” respectively. The two made their stage debut on May 6, at Saitama Super Arena, during current leader Yoshizawa’s graduation. This is notable, as they are the first non-Japanese members of the group.
On March 21, 2007, the group’s eighth studio album, Sexy 8 Beat was released. It was the first album for Mitsui Aika and the last album for Yoshizawa Hitomi and Fujimoto Miki. It featured the singles “Aruiteru,” “Egao Yes Nude,” “Sexy Boy ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~,” and “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan.”
In late April, Morning Musume released their 33rd single, “Kanashimi Twilight.” The song style was a huge departure from almost anything Morning Musume had released prior to it, displaying a loud, rock arrangement and the angriest lyrics since Shabondama.
With the success of Kanashimi Twilight, on May 1, 2007, Morning Musume became the “best single selling female group in Japan” with 11,085,000 copies sold—their fifth Oricon record. The achievement surpasses the previous record set by Pink Lady of 11,037,000 copies sold.
On May 6, 2007, Yoshizawa Hitomi graduated. Fujimoto Miki took her place as leader and Takahashi Ai replaced Fujimoto as sub-leader.
As of June 1, 2007, Fujimoto Miki resigned from Morning Musume, due to the tabloid magazine Friday running an article depicting Fujimoto and comedian Shouji Tomoharu in a relationship. Takahashi Ai replaced Fujimoto as leader (a position the latter occupied for the briefest period in the band’s history—26 days), and Niigaki Risa became subleader.
Morning Musume’s 34th single Onna ni Sachi Are was released on July 25, 2007. It features the debut of new eighth generation members from China, Junjun and Linlin. This was the first time that girls from another country entered the group. The single reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, with sales of 43,364 copies.
On October 26, 2007, Takahashi Ai, Niigaki Risa, and Kusumi Koharu visited Korea to promote their singles collection album Morning Musume All Singles Complete ~10th Anniversary~, which was released on October 24, 2007. Also, Takahashi and Niigaki appeared as special guests in a Korean radio show called Maybee’s Turn Up the Volume (메이비의 볼륨을 높여요). Later that same month, on October 29, 2007, all nine members traveled to Taiwan for three days to promote the album. This was the first time Morning Musume held a non-Fan Club promotional event as a group outside of Japan. During their visit, they attended press conferences, appeared for radio and TV show recordings, and held the first-ever public handshaking event outside of Japan.
November 21, 2007 marked the release of Morning Musume’s 35th single, “Mikan”. Initial sales were poor for the song, which became the group’s lowest-selling single, (even lower than the initial indies release of “Ai no Tane”, which sold 50,000 copies), both in terms of first week sales and absolute sales figures. As a result, unlike all previous singles, Mikan failed to appear on Oricon’s Top 5 Chart, breaking the group’s previously held record.
On December 31, 2007, Morning Musume performed in the 58th NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen with a remixed version of their song “Love Machine” along with °C-ute and Berryz Kobo. Similar to the previous Kouhaku, the red team (females) lost to the white team (males) after attaining votes from the viewers and judges.
Takahashi Ai, Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina participated in the musical Ojigi 30 Degrees at the Shinjuku Theater from February 26 to March 2. Morning Musume’s 36th music single, “Resonant Blue,” had been announced for release on March 5, 2008 but was postponed until April 16, 2008 because of the busy schedule in the winter/early spring season. Multiple promotional videos were released. With the original, another version, a studio dance shot version, a night scene version, and a one-cut dance version, it makes the most PVs ever released for one single. Also notable is the smoky eye make-up used on the members, a daring new look for Morning Musume as they attempt to expand into Asia.
The group held a concert at Taipei Nankang Exhibition Hall, Taiwan, on May 24, 2008. the first time ever for Morning Musume to have a concert outside Japan.
On April 5, 2008, Morning Musume’s Mitsui Aika complained of a stomach ache after a concert at Hachiōji Citizen Hall. She was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and was ordered to rest for two weeks. Mitsui subsequently missed the concerts on April 12 and 13.
“Resonant Blue” was released on April 16, 2008, the 36th single after it had been delayed due to hectic schedule. The single debuted at #2 and finished third in the Oricon Weekly ranking. Overall, the single marked a rebound from poor sales of the previous single, “Mikan”. In its first week, it sold 48,086 copies, 20,004 copies more than “Mikan” and around 5,000 more copies than Onna ni Sachi Are.
From August 6 to August 25, 2008, Morning Musume performed with several members of the all-female Takarazuka theatre troupe in a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Takahashi Ai starred in the main role of Cinderella, with Niigaki Risa as the Prince, and Kamei Eri and Tanaka Reina as the stepsisters. The other members participated as fairies and guards.
Morning Musume’s 37th single, “Pepper Keibu”, was released on September 24, 2008. Unlike past singles (with the exception of Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima), this song is actually a cover of Pink Lady’s debut single, released in 1976. In the first week of the release, it sold approximately 10,000 copies less than Resonant Blue and 10,000 copies more than Mikan.
Berikyuu! and Haromoni@ finished their run and both are replaced with Yorosen! (よろセン!). It started on October 6, 2008. The show stars Morning Musume, Berryz Kobo, and ºC-ute.
2008 was the first year in which there were no changes in Morning Musume’s lineup.
Morning Musume released their 38th single on February 18, 2009. This was their first single of 2009, titled “Naichau Kamo”. The title is translated to “I Might Cry” and was released in two limited versions A and B, each including a DVD. On March 18, 2009 they released their ninth studio album called Platinum 9 Disc (プラチナ 9 DISC).
In March 2009, all Morning Musume singles and albums (past and present) became available through JapanFiles.com via digital MP3 format in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It started with “Naichau Kamo” and the simultaneous Japan and USA release of their 9th album Platinum 9 Disc on March 18. Japanfiles hopes to also sell Morning Musume CD’s and Merchandise later this year as well.
Morning Musume released their 39th single, “Shouganai Yume Oibito”, on May 13, 2009, attaining a rank of #1 on the Oricon weekly chart, the first time since their “Aruiteru” single in late 2006. It also became the group’s first #1 single to feature eighth generation members Aika Mitsui, Junjun, and Linlin.
Following the success of Shouganai Yume Oibito, the group has been scheduled to release their 40th single ‘Nanchatte Renai’ on August 12th, which is their third single in 2009. At the same time, with ‘Nanchatte Renai’ being the group’s 40th commemorative single, a commemorative edition will be released along with the usual regular edition plus two limited edition with two different DVDs. What is interesting about the commemorative edition is that there will be a different c/w track in it to the one for the regular and limited editons. This is something the group has never done before (having 2 c/w tracks in different editions of the singles) since their 4th single ‘Memory Seishun no Hikari’ in 1999. (note: ‘Memory Seishun no Hikari’ has two c/w track in one edition).
They released their 41st single, the last featuring Koharu Kusumi as a member, titled Kimagure Princess on October 28, 2009.
On February 10, 2010 they released their 42nd single titled Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai, the first single without 7th generation member Kusumi Koharu.
On June 9, 2010 they released their 43rd single titled Seishun Collection.
During the Hello! Project Winter Concert on January 2, 2011, the 9th Generation members were revealed to be former H!P Egg Fukumura Mizuki, Ikuta Erina, Sayashi Riho and Suzuki Kanon.
The 9th generation made their concert debut on the same day they were announced as new members at the 2011 WINTER ~Kangei Shinsen Matsuri~ participating in two songs, Aozora ga Itsumademo Tsuzuku You na Mirai de Are! and Tomo.
Activities outside Japan
In addition to already having official fan clubs in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Hawaii, Hello! Project and Morning Musume began actively extending its fanbase outside of Japan and primarily into the rest of Asia starting from the middle of 2007 and into 2008.
In March 2007, Morning Musume inducted its first two non-Japanese members from China, Li Chun (Junjun) of Hunan and Qian Lin (Linlin) of Hangzhou.
In addition to the unveiling of Hello! Project’s Taiwanese website in 2007, Hello! Project has also launched the Taiwan H.P. New Star Audition as well; an audition aimed at recruiting new members to join Hello! Project as Hello Pro Egg members. At this audition, Morning Musume also performed as well.
The TV show Morning Musume New Star is now aired on Taiwan’s TTV network every Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 pm with re-runs Monday to Thursday at 10:15 pm. It ended in mid-August 2008 for re-runs.
Morning Musume also held their 10th Anniversary Live Tour in Korea in June 2008.
In France, Morning Musume music videos are aired on a television channel called Nolife, a channel that features video games and Japanese music.
On February 12, 2009, it was announced that Morning Musume would be attending and performing in the United States at Anime Expo, the nation’s largest anime convention, during its 2009 convention, as one of the first official guests of honor. It was also announced that “3, 2, 1 Breakin’ Out!”, the coupling track of their upcoming single “Shouganai Yume Oibito”, would be the official theme song for Anime Expo 2009. The convention was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California on July 2 to July 5.
On May 5, 2010 it was announced that Morning Musume would attend the Japan Expo in Paris, France from July 1st to the 4th as special guests. The c/w to their 43rd single titled Tomo will be the theme for the expo.
- Takahashi Ai (5th Generation) Leader
- Niigaki Risa (5th Generation) Subleader
- Michishige Sayumi (6th Generation)
- Tanaka Reina (6th Generation)
- Mitsui Aika (8th Generation)
- Fukumura Mizuki (9th Generation)
- Ikuta Erina (9th Generation)
- Sayashi Riho (9th Generation)
- Suzuki Kanon (9th Generation)
- Kamei Eri (6th Generation)
- Jun Jun (8th Generation)
- Lin Lin (8th Generation)
- Kusumi Koharu (7th Generation)
- Fujimoto Miki (6th Generation)
- Yoshizawa Hitomi (4th Generation)
- Ogawa Makoto (5th Generation)
- Konno Asami (5th Generation)
- Yaguchi Mari (2nd Generation)
- Ishikawa Rika (4th Generation)
- Iida Kaori (1st Generation)
- Kago Ai (4th Generation)
- Tsuji Nozomi (4th Generation)
- Abe Natsumi (1st Generation)
- Yasuda Kei (2nd Generation)
- Goto Maki (3rd Generation)
- Nakazawa Yuko (1st Generation)
- Ichii Sayaka (2nd Generation)
- Ishiguro Aya (1st Generation)
- Fukuda Asuka (1st Generation)