Morning Musume Turns 20 and Everybody’s Celebrating

One of Japan’s biggest idol groups invites members old and new for a new mini album to commemorate its 20th anniversary

Longevity has been the main selling point for Morning Musume this past year since the idol franchise celebrated its 20th year anniversary. Two decades is quite the feat, certainly: a half-hour TV special for the big anniversary began with a chart pointing out how the past reigning idol groups lasted a decade at the best. Mo-Musu may have outlasted the lifespan of popular units before them, though it also begged a new question: does it bring any good for idol groups to remain active for that long?

The members of Morning Musume, past and present, touch upon this question to an extent in Hatachi no Morning Musume, the group’s latest mini album commemorating 20 years in the industry. Out of the eight tracks, the most direct interaction of a time past is “Endless Home,” sung by one of the founding members Natsumi Abe with current members Mizuki Fukumura and Sakura Oda. Rather than sing about typical teenage romancing, Abe reflects on her transition from youth into adulthood. “Suddenly a girl became a mother,” she sings with bewilderment.

Abe references the group name in that particular line of “Endless Home,” a gesture made more obvious on the lyric sheet. The added period, their iconic signature, after not only musume but also “mother” expands Abe’s own reflection into a retrospective of the whole franchise. Though the idol group’s faces remain eternally youthful, the reality shows many of its graduates have continued as grown entertainers outside of the agency or, like Abe, entered motherhood after putting time into the franchise. And through the “Endless Home,” Abe taps into an emotional well only afforded by a group that has withstood so many years of change.

The self-reference within “Endless Home” extends into works from Morning Musume’s own catalog. While a line using “Furusato” hits, well, home, the most affecting is a wink at their indie debut “Ai no Tane,” or “seed of love.” Abe joins her other first generation mates to re-record the single, and the revisit of the former digs a bit deeper than just cleaning up sound. The song keeps the same lyrics intact: “Let’s ride the wind / and shine brighter / I want to spread my seeds of love,” sing the chorus. Fast forward 20 years, those words land in a presented when the group’s wish bore fruit. The franchise has housed several waves of members throughout the years and with it, the newcomers already start with generations of peers behind them.

The retrospective makes room in between to tip its hat to those other various generations of Morning Musume, and the new songs give way to meta-commentary. “We Are Leaders! ~Leader-ttenomo Tsuraimono~” indulges fan nostalgia more so than the re-recordings of the early singles by gathering all nine head members from its history. Each member sounds tongue-in-cheek to review what they brought to the table, but the reunion also presents a discussion space between the alumni to open up to each other about the stresses behind leading one of the country’s biggest idol groups.

The most poignant remark from “We Are Leaders!” comes from the current top name, Mizuki Fukumura, which sums up the state of the group as it celebrates its benchmark. “The weight of 20 years / I might lose to pressure / Every time I run into a wall / I feel it / I’m reminded of warmth from my seniors,” she sings. No matter how strong the former members left the group’s legacy in tact, as a various few also reflect in “Tane wa Tsubasa (Wings of Seed),” it all depends on the next wave to pull through.

Legacy becomes a prized accomplishment through the lens of Morning Musume with so much to reflect and fall back on, though it also becomes a unique challenge. The rest of the 2018 lineup commits to carry on tradition in “Gosenfuno Tasuki,” though it only becomes more demanding as the franchise turns another year older. Tsunku, the chief producer behind Morning Musume, acknowledged the importance of the newest generation and the weighing responsibility they’ve inherited on that half-hour TV special. Hatachi no Morning Musume shows a sliver of that appreciation as well. Rather than the group purely indulging in back history, the mini album makes time to start a dialog between Morning Musume members past and present for a current state of affairs.

--

--

--

music, etc.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Love Songs for the Masses

SmackDown! — Rise Up 2006 (Drowning Pool)

Bouncing Back: The EDM Industry’s Tryst with the Pandemic — Karan Singh, COO, Percept Live speaks…

Opinion: Maybe 2022 Is the Time to Stop Paying for Eurovision

A Guitar God and a Soft Rock Favorite

‘YAAR FRAAR’ to be Out SOON!

This Side of Japan: August 2018

Josef Matthias Hauer , the first composer/creator of twelve tone music — share the spotlight…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ryo Miyauchi

Ryo Miyauchi

music, etc.

More from Medium

Consistency: My Archnemesis

3 circles above an arrow labeled “time”. The first circle is a dotted circle with no color. The second circle is a solid circle with no color. The third circle is an orange circle with solid line.

An Intro On mutual TLS (mTLS)

The Top 4 Solutions to Warzone Dev Error 6634 [2022 Update]

Local Maxima Concept