Morning Musume’s Profile

History

In 1997, Tsunku, a Japanese ;producer and ;lead singer of the band Sharan Q, held an audition in search of a female rock vocalist for his band. The auditions aired on a Japanese TV show called ASAYAN. Heike Michiyo was the winner, but Tsunku decided to give the five runners-up (Nakazawa Yuko, Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, ;Fukuda Asuka, and Ishiguro Aya) ;the chance to form their own group. Of course, there was a catch: in order to debut and be taken under his wing, they had to sell 50,000 copies of their demo single, Ai no Tane within a five day limit. They did it in just four, and thus Morning Musume was born!

In early 1998, ;the girls debuted with their offical debut single, “Morning Coffee”, which was a decent success ;with it hitting #6 on the Japanese pop charts. ; To their surprise, ;three new members known as the second generation were added: 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. Durning this time, Nakazawa, who was the leader of the group, started her own solo career on the side.

Their first album, First Time, ;was released in July 1998. The tracklist featured the singles “Ai no Tane”,”Morning Coffee” and “Summer Night Town”. That same year, the first subgroup of Morning Musume was created and that featured Iida, Ishiguro, and Yaguchi in it’s line up. The group sung more slower, mature songs compared to Morning Musume.

“Memory Seishun no Hikari,” was their first single of 1999, and the song contained a rap section and intense vocal harmonization on the girls parts, which was different from their previous songs. It managed to snag #2 on the Oricon charts. This was Asuka Fukuda’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. In May, their fifth single, “Manatsu no Kōsen” ;was released. This one was quite different from their previous single, as it was a summer tune, with a happy beat. It went to #3 on the charts, and the sales dropped by half from Memory Seishun no Hikari. ;Their sixth single, “Furusato,”, sung only by Natsumi with the others harmonizing in the background, ;really showed ;the fact that sales were slowly dropping, with the song sitting on ;#5, and the sales once again decreased by half. Their second album, Second Morning, was released in July 1999, and contained the singles “Daite Hold on Me!,” “Memory Seishun no Hikari,” “Manatsu no Kōsen,” and “Furusato.” “Daite Hold on Me!” and “Manatsu no Kōsen” were remixed.

Tsunku, ready to add new life to the group and boost sales, ;held auditions for the third generation of Morning Musume. Two girls were expected to be admitted, but ultimately only 13-year-old Goto Maki was added, and was 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 painted an image of Japan as the future “envy of the world” and cheered the masses during a period of economic recession. This single was not only Goto’s ;first single but it was also Ishiguro Aya’s last. Its wild success dramatically increased the popularity of the group. Soon Goto was paired with Kei Yasuda and Sayaka Ichii to form the subgroup Petitmoni (also known as Pucchi Moni). Petitmoni’s first single, “Chokotto Love,” rivaled the success of “Love Machine,” selling over 1,123,610 copies.

2000 kicked off with “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. Aya Ishiguro 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.

2000 also saw the ;very first “shuffle groups” ;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. The winning group was Akagumi 4 which, to no surprise, boasted Maki Goto as the lead vocals. Morning Musume’s ;third studio album, 3rd -Love Paradise- was released in March. 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. Tsunku also held auditions for more members, ;with Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Tsuji Nozomi, and Kago Ai, passing and creating the 4th generation. This lead the group into a different direction with their music and the feel of the group due to the duo of 12-year olds ;Tsuji and Kago. After their debut single, “Happy Summer Wedding,” (continuing the legacy of #1 hits with 990,950 copies sold,) Sayaka Ichii graduated to pursue her own music career. She became the vocalist of Japanese group Cubic Cross and later married fellow member Naoki Yoshizawa (no relation to Hitomi Yoshizawa). With Ishiguro and Ichii gone, both Tanpopo and Petitmoni ;flipped their lineups—Hitomi Yoshizawa joined Petitmoni, and Ai Kago and Rika Ishikawa were added to Tanpopo. Meanwhile, Mari Yaguchi had started performing informally with Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji in concerts as Minimoni, 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” (Yuko Nakazawa’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 Yuko Nakazawa graduated to concentrate more on her solo career ( as a factor as well—she felt it was limiting her ability to meet the physical demands of the group’s activities due to her age) making Kaori Iida and Kei Yasuda Morning Musume’s leader and sub-leader. During this time, the Rika Ishikawa was “lent” out to the rather inactive group, Country Musume. She did not officially join, but she sang with them for a their next 3 singles.

July saw the release their ;12th single ;”The Peace!”, which was ;a somewhat bizarre pop tune, beginning with an almost fight song-like call and response, and featuring Rika Ishikawa 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 ;music 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, Morning Musume took in new members who would be the 5th genartion from “Love Audition 21:” Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami, Ogawa Makoto, and Niigaki Risa, bringing the roster to 13 girls. Their ;debut single, “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~,” featured fourth generation member Hitomi Yoshizawa 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 ;this time on ;Yaguchi. 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’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.” ; Goto graduated ;and a mass re-shuffle of the sub-units happened in late 2002. 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.

In February 2003, ;Morning Musume’s 17th single, ;”Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyōtanjima” was released. ;It is the first song ever in which Tsunku did not write a single’s lyrics, since it was a cover song.

April 2003 ;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.). This single was the last for second generation member Yasuda Kei. Their fifth album, No. 5 was released, before the auditions for the sixth generation were held. This album was unique in quite a few ways. ;It was the last studio album to feature Yasuda and Abe as full members of the group, and was also the first Morning Musume album ever to feature a former members, as Maki Goto guests on “Megami ~Mousse na Yasashisa~” and “Ganbacchae.” It only featured two singles: “Do it! Now” and “Koko ni Iruzee!.” In mid-2003, ;three new girls passed the sixth generation auditions: Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina. After she pulled off a successful appearance on the New Year’s music program “Kōhaku Uta Gassen” with several Morning Musume members dancing as backup, Tsunku also added in Miki Fujimoto (originally an up-and-coming solo singer under Hello! Project) as part of the sixth generation. Their debut concert was also Yasuda’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. ;After Yasuda’s graduation, Yaguchi Mari was givien the role as sub-leader, ;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, Yaguchi, Yoshizawa, Kago, Takahashi, Niigaki, Konno and Kamei. Morning Musume Otomegumi, which had more upbeat pop songs with a slight rock flavor, featured Iida, Ishikawa, Tsuji, Ogawa, Fujimoto, Michishige, and Tanaka. 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 “Yūjō ~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, Natsumi Abe (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 sound ;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 Nozomi Tsuji and Ai Kago 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 Hōkago,” a ballad that featured Asami Konno, Sayumi Michishige, and Rika Ishikawa. 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 Hōkago.” This was Ai Kago, Nozomi Tsuji, Kaori Iida, Mari Yaguchi, and Rika Ishikawa’s last credited studio album.

On January 30, 2005 – then-leader and the last member from the first generation Kaori Iida graduated to pursue a solo singer/artist career, with Yaguchi taking on leadership role with Hitomi Yoshizawa 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 Koharu finally being chosen as the sole “miracle” member of the new generation. On April 10, 2005, photos were taken of Mari Yaguchi with Shun Oguri (scheduled to be published in a gossip magazine Friday! on the 15th). On , 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 Hitomi Yoshizawa took over as the leader of Morning Musume, and Miki Fujimoto 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 Rika Ishikawa’s last. She graduated on May 7, 2005 to assume full-time leadership of the Hello! Project trio known as v-u-den. 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 Hassō 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 Mari Yaguchi, Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Yuko Nakazawa, Ai Kago, Nozomi Tsuji, Rika Ishikawa, Maki Goto, and Kei Yasuda joined the current lineup of Morning Musume to perform the band’s signature hit “Love Machine” on the 2005/2006 edition of Kōhaku 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). Kaori Iida, Rika Ishikawa and Mari Yaguchi 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 Asami Konno and Makoto Ogawa 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. Ai Takahashi 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’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 Aika Mitsui. 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 Tanjō 10nen Kinentai, a unit consisting of Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Maki Goto, Risa Niigaki, and Koharu Kusumi, 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 (Kaori Iida and Natsumi Abe from the first generation, Maki Goto from the third, Risa Niigaki from the fifth, and Koharu Kusumi 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 Hitomi Yoshizawa 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 Aika Mitsui and the last album for Hitomi Yoshizawa and Miki Fujimoto. 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, Hitomi Yoshizawa graduated. Miki Fujimoto took her place as leader and Ai Takahashi replaced Fujimoto as sub-leader. As of June 1, 2007, Miki Fujimoto resigned from Morning Musume, due to the tabloid magazine Friday running an article depicting Fujimoto and comedian Tomoharu Shoji in a relationship. Ai Takahashi replaced Fujimoto as leader (a position the latter occupied for the briefest period in the band’s history—26 days), and Risa Niigaki 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, Ai Takahashi, Risa Niigaki, and Koharu Kusumi 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 Kōhaku Uta Gassen with a remixed version of their song “Love Machine” along with °C-ute and Berryz Koubou. Similar to the previous Kōhaku, the red team (females) lost to the white team (males) after attaining votes from the viewers and judges.

Ai Takahashi, Eri Kamei, Sayumi Michishige, and Reina Tanaka 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 Aika Mitsui 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. Ai Takahashi starred in the main role of Cinderella, with Risa Niigaki as the Prince, and Eri Kamei and Reina Tanaka 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 Hyōtanjima), 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. Berikyū! and Haromoni@ finished their run and both are replaced with Yorosen! . It started on October 6, 2008. The show stars Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, and ℃-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 . 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 also sells Morning Musume CD’s as USA versions. It started with the album “Platinum 9 Disc” and their last single “Shōganai Yume Oibito”. Morning Musume released their 39th single, “Shōganai 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 Shōganai Yume Oibito, the group released 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 was 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 was 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). Nanchatte Renai has charted at #2 on the Oricon Weekly Sales Chart with 54,973 CDs sold. This single has marked their best opening week since Iroppi Jirettai back in 2005. With good sales from Nanchatte Renai, Morning Musume released their 41st single “Kimagure Princess” on October 28, 2009. The single ;had four versions (Regular, Limited A, B, and C). The regular ;had a photocard while Limited C that will contain 10 different covers. This is not the first time Morning Musume done this. “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan” came with 10 different covers for their 30th single. Also, Kimagure Princess was the last single with Kusumi Koharu as she graduated in December to persue modeling. Their latest Greatest Hits Album (B-side collection album) was released featuring all B-side songs from their debut single to 40th single on 3 discs.

February 10th 2010 saw the release of the group’s 42nd single, Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai. It was their first single released as an 8-member group since 2006’s Aruiteru. This was also both Takahashi’s and Niigaki’s 30th single with the group.

On the 8th of August 2010 during the final performance of the H!P Summer concert, Tsunku made a surprise announcement that 6th gen member Kamei Eri and 8th gen Chinese members Junjun & Linlin would graduate from the group at the end of the Autumn concert tour. It was revealed that Eri is to leave to recover from a skin condition and Junjun and Linlin are to return to China and pursue careers in their home country. On the same day it was also announced that auditions would be held to find the 9th generation members to join the group.

In June, Seishun Collection, their 43st single, was released. In October, the group released a special single titled Appare Kaiten Zushi! as Muten Musume. An Animated PV was featured in which all the girls were Chibi. Each member’s Chibi character had a theme; Takahashi(Egg), Niigaki(Eel), Kamei(Umeboshi/Sweet plum), Michishige(Mentaiko), Tanaka(Broccoli), JunJun(Banana), LinLin(Watermelon), which is each of the girl’s favorite food.

On December 15, 2010, the graduation of Kamei Eri, Junjun and Linlin was held. It was the biggest graduation in Morning Musume’s history. With this the group went down to 5 members, the smallest line-up since 1998.

In 2010 Morning Musume became ‘Supervisors’ at J-MELO(A TV channel on NHK world) to promote j-music worldwide. The girls have videos encouraging people around the world to record themselves singing in Japanese, and send these videos to the site. Someone can be selected and enter the show.

During the Hello! Project Winter Concert on January 2, 2011, the 9th Generation members were revealed to be Ikuta Erina, Suzuki Kanon, Sayashi Riho and Fukumura Mizuki, who used to be a Hello!Pro Egg.

Just a few days later, during the Hello! Project concert on January 9, 2011, it was announced that the group’s leader Takahashi Ai is going to graduate from Morning Musume after their fall tour 2011. Sub-leader Niigaki Risa will overtake Takahashi’s leader position.

On March 12, 2011, it was announced that Morning Musume events, like the first ninth generation single Maji desu ka Ska! are post-poned or cancelled due to earthquake and tsunami. ; Most were re-scheduled to April dates. The song had an upbeat and Genki feel to it. It centred Takahashi and Reina vocally and in the dance.

On March 24, 2011, it was announced that Morning Musume’s 46th single would be titled ‘Only You.’

It was announced May 8, that Morning Musume 10th Generation Audition submissions are starting now until June 13th. According to the news there will be 2 girls added after Takahashi Ai’s Graduation. The first day of auditions was ;on June 13th.

On September 14th, Morning Musume releaed their 47th single. It was Takahashi’s last single with Morning Musume after a tenure of 10 years with the group. In order to celebrate Takahashi’s long career with Morning Musume, their 47th single was released as a double A side, which is the first time in the group’s history. The Limited B version of the single’s b-side was a Takhashi solo, which had also never been done before. The titled of the single was Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa o Honki de Negatterun da yo! / Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai as the double A side and Takahashi’s solo song was revealed to be called: Jishin Motte Yume Motte Tobitatsu Kara.

Morning Musume’s fall tour was revealed to be called, “Ai Believe.” Takahashi Ai graduated on the final day of the tour, September 30th, at the Nippon Budokan.

On Janurary 3rd 2012, Niigaku Risa announced her graduation at the Hello! Poject 2012 Winter tours. She is set to graduate at the Nippon Budokan on the last day of the group’s Spring 2012 Concert Tour ~Ultra Smart~ in May. Risa had originally planned to graduate alongside Takahashi but decided to wait a bit with the new members adding in and felt it wasn’t the right time. She wants to focus on acting after her graduation.

The group’s 48th single, Pyoko Pyoko Ultra, was released Janurary 25th 2012. The group’s 49th single, titled Renai Hunter, was set to have an April release date and was Niigaki’s last single with the group. Just like Takahashi, she was given a solo song, music video, and edition CD/DVD, of the song Egao ni Namida ~THANK YOU! MY DEAR FRIENDS~, which Niigaki chose herself.

Morning Musume released Renai Hunter on April 11th 2012. The single reached number one for the daily charts on Friday April 13th, something the group hasn’t done in a while. The song also marked a new record for the group, with the group having the Most Top 10 Consecuative Singles, with a total of 49 (meaning ALL the groups singles have been in the top 10).

On May 4th, it was announced that Mitsui Aika would graduate from Morning Musume alongside Niigaki at the Bodukon on May 18th. Niigaki passed down leadership to Michishige Sayumi, with Tanaka Reina becoming sub-leader.

On May 18th 2012 Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika graduated from the group. During the concert Tsunku announced the 11th generation audtions, titled Morning Musume 11th Generation ~Suppin Utahime~ Auditions, which start in June.

Morning Musume’s 50th single and second double a-side, titled One•Two•Three/The Matenrou Show, will be released on July 4th.

On May 26th Mornning Musume performed One•Two•Three at the Girls Award 2012 Spring/Summer collection ~All you need is LOVE~ event at Yoyogi Stadium. This marked the first event without Niigaki and Mitsui, the first for Sayumi as leader of the group and the last single before the 11th generation joins. Yaguchi Mari was also at the event and commented that the song and performance and cool. Former C-ute member Umeda Erika was also a model for the event.

Morning Musume’s 50th single sold over 100,000 copies in it’s first week, making it the first single to do so since 2003, selling more than their past 28 singles. The single sold more than Michishige Sayumi and Tanaka Reina’s debut single Shabondama did, and also marked 50 top 10 singles for the group.

Activities outside of 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 airs 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 “Shōganai 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. Their concert was on Friday July 3 with a packed audience of American fans, as well as many foreign fans who traveled to AX for the chance to see them Morning Musume attended and performed at Japan Expo 2010 in Paris, France as guest of honor. “Tomo”, the coupling track to the group’s 43rd single, “Seishun Collection”, was the event’s theme song.

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