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Kusumi Koharu’s newest solo single, which is the closing theme for an anime in which she voices one of the characters, is probably about the best thing Koharu has performed to date. It’s still basically the syncopated chirpings of a helium-inhaling parakeet, but somehow it is rather fun and charming.

Koharu is, at least among Western fans, probably one of the least popular Morning Musume members ever. Cited among the objections to her are her admittedly awful singing voice and her over-the-top cutesy act. Considering the campy-cute nature of J-Pop, it’s got to be pretty severe for anyone to remark that her forcibly cute shtick is a bit much.

I have a hard time giving much credence to objections based on her singing voice when you look back over the history of Morning Musume and realize that there have been quite a number of weaker singers, dating back to Iida Kaori in the first generation. In fact, I think just about every generation (except third, which was Maki Goto only) has had one or two girls who weren’t that great of singers, but brought something else to the group, be it looks, personality, style, or dancing skills. 4th Gen had Ishikawa Rika, who was most generally given spoken-word pieces in songs or relegated to harmony, but whose good looks and peppy persona assured her popularity. In the 5th Generation, Konno Asami was admittedly the weakest contender, but was admitted to the group because she was a good sport and seemed to have a lot of potential. Michishige Sayumi is the adorable queen of Lousy Singing from the 6th generation. Like Rika, Sayumi coasted in on her good looks and a kind of show-off persona. That brings us up to Kusumi Koharu, who, like Goto Maki, was the sole member of her “generation.” Hotly promoted as the “miracle girl,” her hype perhaps eclipsed her.

I think that Koharu was meant to fill in the gap left behind by Tsuji & Kago (arguably the two most popular members of MM) after their graduations. They played a sort of “bratty little sister” role in Morning Musume and MiniMoni, horsing around in videos, clowning around in interviews, and making pests of themselves on Hello Morning and other H!P shows. Koharu’s rambunctious cutesy act, her constant mugging and bad puns, and her noisy, klutzy persona were, I think, highlighted to try to bring some of the silliness of the old Two Top days back to Morning Musume, but something about the timing, the persona, or the girl just didn’t quite gel.

Now that Koharu is a little more grown up (she’s 15 now, was 12 when she joined MM) she’s not shoved into that “naughty little kid” role so much, and she has developed a peppy, energetic, cheerful persona that is much less forced and over-the-top. I think that, along with some improvements in her singing, have improved her as a performer and Morning Musume member.

When I watched the official Promotional Video for Koharu’s new single “Happy Happy Sunday,” I was reminded of the video for W’s “Aa ii na.” I think both of the songs have a similar sound and feel and the videos are stylistically similar:

And just because W were so much fun, here’s “Ai no imi wo oshiete!”

7 Responses to “It's awful, but I like it!”

  1. Rad says:

    “Happy Happy Sunday” is your typical anime theme and Kusumi has made a killing on this style of song. As for your points about her filling the gap left when “W” was derailed, there’s some truth to that; even Sayu has teamed with her on some songs along those lines. Frankly, it’s worth putting up with anything Kusumi does so she can still be with Morning Musume where she clearly helps the cause.

  2. SewDucky says:

    LOL I just wonder why their kid stars look like 15 year olds and act like them on the videos and ours look like hookers.

    That alone makes me like them.

  3. meetzorp says:

    Well, that kind of childishness is popular over there just as that sort of precocious maturity is popular over here. Yes, their child-stars act like children, but many of their of-age stars work a “little girl” angle that can be mightily off-putting. I don’t think any culture is exempt from creepy objectifying of girls and young women (or older women for that matter).

  4. meetzorp says:

    I think, also, that girls like Konno, Koharu & Michischige help keep up interest in auditions, because they’re not that talented. It helps keep up that notion that any girl could have a chance at being a MoMusu, and that they’re representative of a typical “girl next door,” which I think is one of their main appeals.

  5. SewDucky says:

    Oh I know it’s the whole kawaii culture over there, but it’s nice to see it for a change since I’ve got the age group that the Disney and Nick shows are directed at.

  6. meetzorp says:

    It would be nice if there was more age-appropriate kids’ music available. Little girls LOVE girl-pop…my sister and I adored Cyndi Lauper & Madonna, and while we were too innocent to get any of the sexual or social messages in the music, I know that some parents would cringe at letting their kids listen to it. And every group of kids since has had a few girl-pop idols like Britney, Christina, and now Miley, and they’re all a bit too grown. Something more like Buono! wouldn’t go amiss.

  7. SewDucky says:

    Yeah I was the Madonna and Lauper gen when I was like 8-9 too. Madonna pushed it, but Lauper was where it was at, and while her life may not have been that great, she did keep her image clean enough for parents to be ok.

    My 9 year old wants a Hannah Montana CD and I cringe every time he asks.

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