Archive for November, 2009

Morning Musume – Nine Smile 2009

A friend of mine is living in Japan for the year right now in order to study, something I should actually be doing right now but as it turns out, I’m not. They got to go to their first ever Morning Musume concert a couple of days ago and this was a pretty big deal for them. We went watching AKB48 together in France and we both agreed that it was epic beyond belief and it sent them above Momusu in terms of favourites. Although I haven’t asked my friend since I get the impression that she’s very much back on the Momusu bandwagon again now, which gives me some hope that there are still some crazy fans out there.

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I was actually surprised when speaking to a Japanese native earlier this week when he said that AKB48 isn’t considered a band strictly for wota anymore. I mean I know they’ve had some success recently but an idol band breaking into the mainstream is still pretty impressive. What surprised me more was the fact that even the Japanese seem to think the decline of Momusu is out of control and that their days could be numbered; something that only western fans seemed to be doing until now.

Back on topic though; my friend lives in Fukuoka at the moment and the concert she went to was in Reina’s hometown which meant she got quite a reception. Both she and Koharu came back at the end of the encore and spoke to fans which I thought was pretty awesome, maybe a bit too awesome. Reina has been my favourite Musume for a number of years now and as happy as I was to hear that my friend had a great time I couldn’t help but be slightly devastated about not being there. Without going in to details I have no one to blame but myself about being stuck at home in the UK but I would give an arm and a leg and whatever else it takes to see Momusu in Japan.

Apparently the loot included:
Niigaki Risa T-shirt, uchiwa, wrist band, towel, 3 sets of Gaki-only photos,
Kamei Eri T-shirt, uchiwa, wrist band, one set of Kamei only photos,
9 Smile concert tour t-shirt, wristband and set of photos of girls in tour tees,
DVD Magazine volumes 26 and 27,
photobook,
tour bag,
Photo sets A, B, C and D
Metallic photo sets A and B
Morning Musume Gummies + Jun Jun picture that came with it.

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I always knew she’d been a Gaki fan, but I didn’t know it was quite to this extent. Well just as long as she brings me a Reina goodie back next time then I’ll be happy. Hey it was me who persuaded her to part with a month’s rent in order to go again so she wouldn’t be there without me, that’s what friends are for, right?

Setlist:
3,2,1 BREAKIN’OUT
How Do You Like Japan? ~Nippon wa Donna Kanji Dekka?~
Kimagure Princess
Nanchatte Renai
Genki+
Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Aisenai Darou?
Sukiyaki
Haru Beautiful Everyday
Kioku no Miero
Aruiteru
Aki Urara
Shouganai Yume Oibito
Sakura Mankai
Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni Naranee!~
Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru
Bonkyu Bonkyu BOMB Girl
Please! Jiyuu no Tobira
Handmade CITY
Odore! Morning Curry
Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari
Naichau Kamo
Roman ~MY DEAR BOY~
Resonant Blue
(Encore)
SONGS
Love Machine

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November 17, 2009 at 11:22 pm 1 comment

KARA – Walking the fine line

I’m pretty surprised to find myself writing about this band right now. I mean I’ve known about them for months, heard their songs and seen their videos quite some time ago, so why isn’t it that only now I seem to find them like a drug and keep coming back for more?

After writing about f(x) recently it seems my urge for Korean music has returned to me and I find myself fascinated by this band more and more.

I could just say that they’re an awesome band and all that crap, but I’d actually like to know why I’m suddenly hooked on them. My first experience of KARA goes back to this youtube video:

At the time I was in the middle of my Lee Hyori craze (I’ll explain my love/hate relationship for all things Korean at a later date) and especially at a time when U-Go-Girl never seemed to stop playing, whether it be at on my stereo, computer or iPod. I hunted down various live performances on youtube and the one that stuck out for me the most was this one. A lot of people seemed to be saying that nobody but Hyori could do the song justice; now as much as I love Hyori, I’m not a complete idiot (parts are missing, oh lol).

The only girl groups I’d heard before from Korea had a very heavy R&B sound to them and in truth that usually isn’t my kind of thing. Although I like to say that I’m a fan of SNSD (So Nyeo Shi Dae, or whatever other spelling variant you want to refer to them by) and Wonder Girls, in truth they each have about five songs that I really like, the rest of them I could take or leave. KARA instantly stood out from the crowd for me due to the fact that there voices were much higher pitched than the girls in these other bands and seemed a lot more “fun”. It wasn’t instantly that they love affair happened though.

Maybe fate was trying to tell me something, but for no reason in particular I found myself looking up information about KARA in little spells, as if I was testing the water to see if I came across anything I didn’t like I could pull back at any time. Why I ever looked up about the members, their names, what they’re like etc I’ll never know, it just happened. Why I decided to randomly get hold of their music is beyond me, but I did and that’s what counts.

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Koo Hara instantly caught my attention when I first saw the band, probably because she looked like she’d fit right in with the loli members of some of the typical idol bands out there. I mean look at those socks and the ridiculous pink hat, she wouldn’t look out of place in a Momusu concert taht’s for sure. Her attitude seemed so different though, and it was good to see though highly unexpected. What was more unexpected was finding out just how old she was; when I saw that she was 18 I couldn’t believe it, I’d figured her to be about 14 or 15. As others have pointed out she looks like a younger version of Namie Amurie, unlike Namie though I don’t want to punch Hara in the face every time I see her.

It wasn’t Hara that really helped launched me into my current fandom though, that accolade would be awarded to the goddess herself.

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I remember seeing this picture of Park Gyuri a while ago and being amazed at just how perfect she looked; I actually wonder how this wasn’t the main catalyst for me checking up on this band again, then again maybe it was there burrowing away at my sub consciousness.

Basically this girl seems to have a lot of good qualities that I like in women, well good qualities from my point of view anyway. The most obvious being that she’s pretty damn hot; I don’t know what it is with me and Korean girls but some seem to have an effect on me that I just can’t shake off not matter how hard I try. Although I may just be picking up pace in my pursuit to find out more about KARA I already love Gyuri’s personality, which amused me to find out that it is quite a controversial thing to love.

One of the reasons I’ve stayed away from the KPop fandom is that form the outside looking in it looks very unwelcoming; videos and forums are riddled with abuse from fans of rival groups and if you don’t know everything about a band then you’re ignored on message boards or the like. Maybe I’ve had bad experiences, I don’t know, but it’s these kinds of idiots that have put me off getting more into the Korean music scene. If people want to hate on rival bands members then there’s no doubt that Gyuri provides the perfect opportunity to do so. I mean calling herself a “goddess”? That’s some serious ego issues right there. Whether it’s done in guest or not I don’t quite know yet since my knowledge is limited but this is the second main point of Gyuri that appeals to me; the fact she appears to be so far up her own ass.

It’s not exactly an endearing quality for many people and I have to admit that most people I know who are egomaniacs are idiots. I do like it when women who have something to be proud of show it though and I’m a sucker for real bitches, maybe it’s because it’s not something you often see or maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a bastard myself. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m stuck up but it would be cool to be told to shut up by someone who is…strange reason I know.

So that’s the girls that have perked my attention so far, but what about the songs? Well they’re the whole reason I looked into them in the first place and I was surprised to see that there was more than a couple that I liked.

“Honey” and “Pretty Girl” were four star songs on my iTunes and as anyone that knows me will tell you, that’s no easy feat to manage, the rest of their stuff went pretty much un-played though for quite a period of time as it failed to grab my attention. Thinking about it, this sounds very similar to the way my AKB48 craze started, will it ever get that out of control I wonder?

It was less than a week ago I found myself addicted to KARA and yet I cannot explain why, I honestly have no idea what forced me into action and put me into overdrive. In that time though “Wanna” has become my top played song of the moment and I’m not showing any signs of getting sick of it. Of course like I’ve said, Koreans will be Koreans and so they insist in putting some R&B in there for good measure and some of those songs really don’t appeal to me so much, in general though I’m pretty impressed with everything KARA has released so far. They’ve gone from having two 4 star rated songs to eight, and even a 5 star song in the aforementioned “Wanna”!

If I had to come up with a reason as to why I’ve fell in love with them so much I’d say it’s because they’ve merged the two things that both Korea and Japan do best in the music world: Japan constantly churns out mass-produced cheesy idol pop that most people wouldn’t give the time of day, and I probably shouldn’t either but I find it so damn addictive. While Korea never fails to come up with a song or two every few months that has me addicted and notches itself play count past a hundred within a two or three days (the current record is still held by the Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me” with 123 plays in two days…sad I know). KARA balance the fine line between the two and as of right now I simply want to hear more things by them and get out there and find more TV show appearances with them on. How big this craze is going to get for me I don’t really know at the moment but things are looking good for the goddess and friends.

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As a side not: could Gyuri actually be the one to knock Takamina off her perch at the top of the music world? I don’t want to get carried away so I’ll say no, if things carry on the way they’re going though then shorty had better start watching her back…

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November 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm 2 comments

f(x) – Chu~♡ – Delving into the Unknown

I’ve dabbled with KPop before, in fact there’s a couple of artists that I can say I really like, but saying that I’m a seasoned pro in the whole scene would just be a damn lie.

Lee Hyori’s third album is one of the best contemporary R&B albums I’ve ever heard and I (eventually) did get sucked in to SNSD’s first album even if I didn’t like their stuff afterwards quite so much. It all started with Lee Jung Hyun though and I’d say that she is still my number one favourite Korean artist.

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This post isn’t about any of these artists though, they’ve got a mention simply to outline how little I know about this scene other than the other odd artists I know an ickle bit about.

I first heard about f(x) a couple of months ago and it was at a time when I had the likes of “Tell Me” stuck on repeat and I was hoping for they could release some similar kind of catchy songs. In truth though my fads never seem to last that long and now that f(x) actually seem to be doing something I’ve moved on a bit from trying to get my way into the whole KPop thing.

Their new single seemed to be causing quite a fuss, enough of a fuss for a guy who isn’t even into the stuff to notice anyway, so I thought I’d check it out. Most of the time I’d usually go and grab the song and then maybe get an album if I liked that, but since this blog is here I’ve decided to do things a bit differently.

I have no idea what I’m talking about here and if any KPop fans should stumble across this they’ll probably be pissing their pants laughing at how clueless I am with the members and any back story the band may have. I sat down and watched the PV (wow, MV in Korea eh?) and decided to analyse the song a bit more than I usually would, and in truth I actually found it to be pretty rewarding.

First impressions left me thinking that the band was jumping on the whole electronic bandwagon that’s been around this year but I could hardly blame them for that. Other than that little stood out for me in the song grabbed my attention until I really went in to things; so here’s my little break down of my impressions:

When things got going I couldn’t help but be reminded of AKB’s “Namda Surprise!” with the toe tapping intro, but that didn’t last very long.

As the song starts going we’re greeted by each member in turn, none of which I know the name of or have the foggiest clue about. I should also probably point out at this point that if I offend anyone by getting any of the members mixed up that I’m very sorry; but you also need to get a life and find something worth moaning about.

The first girl we see is pretty cute but then I really am quite the sucker for Korean girls, I just wish I know how much of them was real these days.

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The next girl seems more hot than cute and I haven’t really got any complaints with that, I’m already starting to wonder which of the girls are going to be the lead of the group. Hell, I don’t even know how many members there are so I could be waiting a hell of a long time.

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Next on the list…first impressions say that she doesn’t really do anything for me, and the hairstyle reminds me a lot of Jessica’s old hairdo from SNSD.

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Korean girls really do love this pose don’t they? Still, I think we’re back on form with this girl and I look forward to seeing who else (if anyone) we have in store.

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Whoa, what? f(x) is an all girl band right? This girl (?) only seemed to be on camera for a second and then they were gone so I guess I’m gonna have to wait and see on this one.

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For some reason we get one more face shot of the hottie before we go to the dance shot. It hardly compares with the ridiculous nature of some H!P dances out there but it certainly holds its own on the silly scale coming in at a solid 6.5. From this I’d gather we’re going to be getting some sugary sweet pop that usually accompanies this kind of dancing from the KPop I’ve experienced but so far the music isn’t giving much away.

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WTF?! Seriously that some freaky shit and I didn’t even notice it the first time around. I hope we’re going to get some kick ass dance moves now after seeing that.

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Damn how I hate screenshots sometimes, I can’t seem to capture how cool I thought this girl looked at this point. My first impressions told me this was the cute girl, but a quick flick back a couple of seconds shows her dancing to her right so it can’t have been. I can’t make out two of the other girls so well so I would put this down to it being the hot one instead, but I’m not so certain as man does she look different.

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KPop girls groups seem to love watching TV too, they do it in all their vids. Well okay I can think of one which starts off like that but in terms of the amount of vids I’ve seen that’s a pretty high percentage.

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Now wait a minute, I know that whatever I say here is gonna be months after everyone else has talked about it but give me a break okay? This is a girl right? Well they get more screen time here and they look manlier here than they did on their last appearance. The jaw line is one thing but the slicked back hair isn’t helping, I think the stylist is also somewhat to blame here for the ambiguity.

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Ah I think I get it now! The butch one is there to help make the cuteness in the others stand out, am I right? Well boy does it work because there’s a damn cute moment here though I managed to get it to look like someone just farted in her face instead. I do think I figured out who mystery girl with the blue braids in is though.

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So they disapprove of watching to black and white cartoon characters kiss on TV? I’ve heard of censorship girls but come on; even my prim and proper idol groups can probably stand to look at a cartoon character kiss. Actually there are some pretty fucked up cartoons in Japan so scratch that.

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So after that little charade we have a bit more silly dancing and everyone wanders off; with blue haired girl thinking “lol what dicks”.

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Once again my screencapping skills fail me as I can’t quite capture how cool the girl in the centre looks; the dreads make me think it’s the same one as blue hair and that would be good as it seems we have a very early contender for my favourite member.

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Hm, I don’t think I like this one, it’s Jessica V 2.0 again isn’t it? Well whether it is or not she seems pretty bland.

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Thankfully a cool close up of trusty blue hair comes along and makes the world a better place again.

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So now v2.0, the cutie and Miyavi are kissing a cake? Well at least it takes their minds off that traumatic cartoon.

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I think that may be v2.0 at the front again here but if so she’s gone some way to redeeming herself as her dress sense is pretty epic in these sections, only to be rivalled by you-know-who.

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The hot one is doing her best to keep up despite little screen time up to now and I have to say that she’s doing pretty damn well.

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She’s making a pretty strong fight back here as she shows that she can damn well dance and puts in a mixture of cute and hot with ease, the gal’s got style y’know?

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I could only be bothered taking one cap here and it was either of the real mans man or this great one of the hottie with epic glove accessory; there was only one winner but damn! Even voice is deep, suspicions are starting to arouse now.

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If that doesn’t remind me of Captain from the ZYX PV then nothing ever will. Not necessarily a good or bad thing really.

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A wild Oguri Shun appeared!

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The switching of cameras between the two scenes made me realise how much better the outfits were in the blue setting. The ones in the house kind of place aren’t bad at all but the skirts really let them down quite a bit.

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What would a Korean song be without a rap section? Probably not Korean in all honesty, no prizes for who gets the role either. Up until now I’ve not had much of an opinion one this girl(?) probably because I was in too much shock but I have to say that I don’t really did the voice, not in this section anyway. It’s good to have someone with a deeper voice to help balance the song out in other parts but I get the feeling that she’s going to be limited to these rap parts alone; I could be wrong but for some reason this seems to be the in thing I’ve seen in some KPop bands. The sheer manliness here has also reached astronomical levels; no doubt this is most girls favourites who listen to f(x) (Sayaka and Yossie, amirite JPop fans?)

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This is the only acrobatics we get after the epic introduction?  Well it was good but hardly worth the wait; blending it between the two shots was a nice touch though.

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Looks like this girl can be pretty cool after all. She’s looking pretty damn good here and here gangsta moves and style were pretty swish too. There’s hope for you yet girl.

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Whatever this girls name is, I’ve decided that I think I love her. Not in the “I have deep feelings for you and want to spend the rest of my life with you” love, more the “wow, you’re pretty damn hot” kind of love; you know, real love.

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And that is about the last good cap that I could manage to get. All in all I was pretty impressed with both the video and the song. It wasn’t cutesy bubble pop and it wasn’t trying too hard to be gangsta and managed to fall quite nicely in the middle. There were a few times that the cute one acted like a retard a bit more than was necessary but I’m guessing that’s part of her charm. It’s made me take notice of them anyway so away I go to find out a bit more about them and see what I can find. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be fun to do or realise halfway through what a chore it was but I enjoyed more than I actually though I would.

Please let me know how much of a fool I’ve been with this and feel free to laugh in my face as you point out all of the errors that I made.

Peace.

PS: If you’re wondering how I magically knew the girls names for the tags it’s because I googled that band AFTER watching the video!

November 12, 2009 at 1:10 am 2 comments

AKB48 Setlist Best 100 – 2011 Preview

What comes once a year, at a time when it’s really really cold outside and you just know is going to be full of surprises?

Yes, that’s right; it’s the Setlist Best 100 and 2011 should be no different!

It seems this year they’re really putting some effort in by even giving us an official site, wow!

I honestly think that these performances are one of the best ways to understand what AKB48 is really about and they’re great whether you know your stuff or you’re a complete AKB n00b. You get to see the lesser known members, and if there’s a few songs in there that are stinkers then so what? There’s like another ninety something to choose from!

2008’s show was awesome and when I heard that it was going to be happening again in 2009 I was pretty damn excited about it. I played down my expectations as much as I possibly could but I don’t think it would have made any difference as it blew away last year’s performances. Of course there were a few songs that I loved that inevitably got taken out but a couple of new ones that were wrongly excluded from 2008’s list were brought in.

It makes me wonder just how someone could have any kind of animosity towards such a splendid piece of work. But of course there are those who will find problems when there aren’t any, I’ve noticed that some SKE fans don’t seem to be happy with the lack of love they seem to be getting from these lists.

Below is a list of the provisional top 29 (why pick such a weird number?) for this year’s list and yes, there is no SKE48 present there. But why should there be? I can quite happily rise my hand up and say that I’m not massive on SKE but at the same time I still like them and hope they follow the success that AKB have had. Let’s look at this list one more time though, what does it say on at the top? You don’t have to be good at Japanese to read this part, it’s just three little letters: A, K and B. Now Meatloaf said that two out of three ain’t bad but I think that Meaty would agree with me that one out of three isn’t going to cut the mustard. This list is for AKB songs and I think that SKE have done well to get in the list at all.

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One thing can be certain though, last year’s performance of SKE48 certainly wasn’t voted to be there, obviously it was AKB48, but that’s fine, that’s fine. Was there anymore SKE songs in there? No, it was just to help them get a little more exposure and from then till now you can guarantee that their popularity has gone up a fair bit. If SKE ever get their own list to themselves I’d be just as pissed, if not more so, to see random AKB songs making it in there. So will we be seeing anymore SKE songs in next year’s list? Personally I hope not but if you find any creeping towards the top end of the list you can bet that there’s something sinister afoot.

You see now we come to the true problem with these lists: the fact that they’re almost certainly a setup.

As upset as I was to see “Shonichi” take the number one spot last year I’m happy to give credit to the hardcore wota that follow Team B for getting them pushed so high. Some of the songs positions though simply make no sense. Why was “Mori e Ikou” not in the list at all two years ago and then managed to jump up to 72nd? Yet “Lay Down” went from relatively high up to dropping out of the list entirely? I could sort of understand such movements if there were about one hundred people voting and they’d forgotten certain songs or simply wanted to change things around but this is literally thousands of people voting; are they really that fickle? If I was to sit down two years ago and make a list of my top 100 AKB songs I’m sure it would have changed after a whole year but not to the extent that this does. I mean what about “Nounai Paradise”, from 18th to 97th? No way.

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I’m arguing against myself here when I say that wota are the most disloyal fans there are, jumping from one fad, one idol to the next who they worship until they find a better one, but I still simply cannot get my head around this.

If people are so bad at making their mind up about which songs they like and which they don’t then I suppose it’s my problem more than theirs since I’m the one worrying about it, I just fear a top 10 full of King Records singles that simply do not belong there.

Okay, that’s an easy point to argue against since they boast larger sales, but what about all the long time fans who’ve been following the band for three years or more? Surely the likes of “Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru” should at least get some sort of a look in? Instead this year it seems that we’re getting songs performed by a band that doesn’t even technically exist.

I am of course referring to “Persona” and “3seconds”. Now I’m all for a bit of lulz and so it would be quite funny to see this song in there but 12th is really not a realistic position for it. That coupled with high positions for both “Relax” and “Tane” makes me very sad indeed.

I’m expecting a huge push from “RIVER” by the end of things and it’s likely to take top spot by a fair margin and I won’t really mind that as long as the awful “Iiwake Maybe” doesn’t make it. Of course that’s all personal preference but I’m choosing the lesser of two evils ehre. Not that I have anything against RIVER, but it hardly compares to the likes of “Seifuku” and “Aitakatta”.

So what is it, am I already becoming an elitist AKB fan who wants things to remain old school and wants nothing more than to see their new stuff fail? Am I pointing out all the flaws in the system and simply not addressing them? Or am I just being a really biased bastard and failing to see the truth? Whatever it is and whether you agree with me or not I hope you’ll join me in weeping openly if “Iiwake Maybe” does take the top spot.

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Of course I can say with a completely unbiased view that “Bird” should take top spot.

November 11, 2009 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Itano Tomomi – TOMOCAWAII

It seems that Tomocawaii is making a return with the oh so hilariously named Tomohawaii. I’m constantly surprised by just how much better she looks every time I see her.

If it’s anything like the first one it should be pretty damn good; oh and you can find that for download just below:

TOMOCAWAII

TOMOCAWAII

Credit to original uploader at So Nyeo Shi Dae MusicWorld .

November 11, 2009 at 3:26 pm 1 comment

Morning Musume Album Discography

After numerous attempts at uploading them I’m sort of happy to say that I can bring you all eight Morning Musume studio albums available for download, as well as “Cover You”. Why they were acting up I’m not quite sure since I ripped them from CD myself, but for whatever reason neither Megaupload nor Mediafire liked them.

I’ve also decided to add passwords to the files as a few of the things I’ve uploaded have gotten stolen in the past, a minor problem for you at best I’m sure so we’ll both learn to live with it.

The password is: akbproject

Inventive eh?

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First Time

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Second Morning

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3rd – LOVE Paradise

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4th Ikimasshoi!

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no.5

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Ai no Dairokkan

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Rainbow 7

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Sexy 8 Beat

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COVER YOU

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Platinum 9 Disc

Let me know if you end up having problems with any of the files.

November 11, 2009 at 6:05 am 6 comments

AKB Project Forum

Now this isn’t a post I was expecting to be writing anytime soon; or at all for that matter; but I suppose that’s what boredom and too much free time on your hands does to you.

  • AKB Project Forum

That’s right AKB Project already has its own brand new forum. Can you say “rushing into things?”

It can be slightly justified though; a forum built by its members would be great to see (even if it is a disaster) and worth a go, that’s why at the moment if you do pay a visit you’ll notice there isn’t a massive amount going on. If you want to try something try though then I suggest you give it a go. I have as much idea about whether or not this will work as you do but I’m here for the long-term so if people decide to give it a go and then abandon me for a while then I’ll still be around most likely talking to myself.

Hey come on, you’ve got the time to read this blog so don’t make out as if you’ve got too much of a life to join the forum, right?

EDIT: Surprisingly enough it seems that badly made plans can go wrong more often than well thought out ones; the forum is closed, already. Yup it lasted less than 24 hours which may well be some kind of record for these things. Apologies to those few that did join in the time it was up but I notcied that Norton was warning me abouta ll sorts of phishing scams from the host and decided it was best not to run the risk for my own good as well as everybody elses.

Well what can I say? When I fail I fail in style and that’s got to be something to be proud of, hasn’t it?

November 11, 2009 at 5:10 am 1 comment

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takaboy

Closet fanboy waiting to escape.

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