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Morning Musume is a J-Pop girl group that was assembled through auditions for members in 1998. They are the lead group of the Hello! Project that is produced by and managed by Tsuku. Throughout their career they have been through a major change of members, due to age or incapability to perform to the groups ability anymore. At this present time they are at their seventh generation of members. In total through Morning Musume's career they have released 42 singles that all received commercial success. Morning Musume also have large success outside of Japan in countries such as Taiwan and South Korea due to the creation of fan clubs. Through their management and producing, Morning Musume’s image is a very important concept for their music, due to Japan having a major interest in the look of their music artists. A massive trend in the fashion of Japan is a look that is very girly, innocent and pure. In the images on the right it is easy to identify that all of the members are equal due to them all wearing the same thing and wearing the same accessories as well. A lot of their fashion includes dresses, kimonos and floral patterns that are in feminine colours to highlight their femininity. Their hairstyles are also always down and curled or straight and tied up (rarely) to create a childish innocence to their look. In images, rule of thirds is heavily used, due the members always being organised into lines so each member is inserted into different parts of the image correctly. Their image is heavily organised to attract the right type of audience and still uphold a good influence for them as well in case there are fan imitations. In Japan, lyrics are very poetic and formal, which highlights the stereotype of Japan very well due to their formality being a major part of their image as a country overall worldwide. Therefore their lyrics incorporate the culture of Japan very well. Morning Musume have typically done this in their song Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game as if they were the words from a novel: (Translated from Japanese to English) Hey, let me relax From the uneasiness I feel everyday Hey, whisper love to me Like we did in the beginning
Girls Generation (SNSD)
Girls Generation (or SNSD mainly outside Korea) are a nine-member girl group from South Korea that were assembled in 2007. In 2009 they gained the record for the longest running number 1 on the KBS’s Music Bank with a Number 1 ranking for nine weeks. At the present time the group have released two full-length albums, three mini-albums and various singles. They have made their mark in China and Korea but have recently started to make a name for themselves in Japan this year. Before the group were officially assembled, all of the members received training for singing and dancing. Their image is very similar to Morning Musume’s due to the use of feminine colours and all of the members wearing similar costumes. The only difference between them is the colours of some clothing pieces, for example in the picture on the top-right their shorts are all different colours. However, with their style they do portray a much more sophisticated and mature style in comparison to Morning Musume. On one of the pictures on the right, they all look like young women with the uses of the colours black and white and the use of heels. However, they still maintain the young girl look by having their hair curled and have a fringe or have it tied up cutely. They also have a much more provocative style with the use of shorts in some of their photos to highlight their flawless legs making them look like Barbie dolls. In the same way as Morning Musume, they still want to attract a female audience that yearn to be like them, but at the same time they are aiming for older girls, preferably in their older teens with their more sophisticated look. Once again, in a typical fashion their lyrics are formal, however due to their teenage audience there is a hint of an attitude and it also conforms to a traditional pop lyric style: Aha! Listen Boy My First Love Story My Angel and My Girls My sunshine Oh! Oh! let's go However, as much as these lyrics are poetic they do seem a little childish so their storyline with their music and image could be that they are young teenage girls who easily fall in love and dress older to make them look older and sophisticated to a male audience.
4Minute are a new 5-piece girl group from Korea who made their debut in 2008 and have achieved major success in Japan resulting in their first tour in Japan selling out within hours. Their music has pop roots, but mainly has a R’n’B vibe to it to create a variety. Rap is also incorporated to create more of a hip-hop sound. They have a little know-how of the music industry in Japan due to one of their members, HyunA, being in the girl group Wonder Girls who have also achieved major success. So far 4Minute have released 3 singles and one album that is due for release on December 15th 2010. Their look is very different in comparison to SNSD and Morning Musume due their large separation of music genres even though they all target the same audience of teenage girls. However, these girls send off a different message, they don’t want to be an ongoing trend but a good role model of dressing due to 4Minute already having their own individual style. Their look is still organised with the same colour layout for each photo shoot, however each member of the group dresses it in their own way with different patterns and accessories. A lot of their clothing does involve sportswear such as air walks and leggings with baggy shirts so it is easy for them to move, especially when they dance heavily in their music videos. Their hairstyles are also very different in the J-Pop circuit due to one of two of their members having their hair cropped to create an individual yet sophisticated style. Due to short hair being a trend in the Western world (USA and the UK) they could easily have an attraction there if they attempt to promote their music further internationally. Their poses in photo shoots are also strong and posed to make them look very independent and strong with where they want to go. Their lyrics do relate to the rest of the music genre with the use of poetic language, but it sends out a strong message of breaking from the mould and being themselves. For example in their hit song, I My Me Mine (in English): The same place, the same thing *Je ne dit que "déjà vu" Break the pattern, break the mould Yeah, please show me somethin' new Breakin' rules, breakin' free Also, in the same song there is the use of English I gotta break it let’s pop in the bridge to create an international message and notifying their English-speaking audience that the same thing can apply to them. The chorus of the song is sung with strong vocals of the individual members above the whole group singing the main chorus to prove that even though they all have the same difficulties of being individuals, they are also separate people within the group.
Brown Eyed Girls
Making their debut in 2006 Brown Eyed Girls, usually abbreviated as B.E.G are a four member girl group from South Korea who have achieved commercial success, since the start of 2008 with their single “Love.” The band started when their first member Jea wanted to start a group and searched for members. Jea first found Miryo who was well known for being a great female rapper. Narsha was then chosen from Jea remembering her as a great singer from their high school days. The final member Gain was luckily found by Brown Eyed Girls when she had previously auditioned for the girl group Battle Shin Wa but wasn’t accepted. She was found through their producer Ahn Jung Hoon and chose her through the audition process. Before B.E.G hit the big time, they trained for four years through singing and dancing to heighten their skills. They then started holding small concerts throughout Korea and released their first album Your Story in 2006. However, their image didn’t seem to make an appeal to an audience when they released their first two albums due to their heavy use of R’n’B ballads. So they went through an image upheaval, creating a much more dancey-pop sound, with bigger hits that were more pumpy than their original R’n’B ballads. Brown Eyed Girls original image was very plain compared to their image now. Previously their style included pastel colours that represented a girly innocence, but with that teamed up with their R’n’B ballads, it didn’t have an appeal for long. So when they released their third album their image changed dramatically. In the images on the right, dark colours are used such as black to represent a sophistication, but brighter colours are then teamed up with it to create a girly style, but not as innocent and fair as it previously was. They also wear much tighter, and more skin-bearing clothes to create a sexiness to their image, proving to their fans from the beginning that they have grown up as a band and as people, discovering different music and finally settling on something that they can be good at. With the use of thirds, each image creates a little story. In the first image (top-right) this is a screenshot from their music video for Abracadabra which was eventually banned from TV for being too provocative, and their clothing goes along with that very well with the use of baring their flawless legs, dark colours and leather, to create a more sexual image to go along with the song. In the second image, dark colours are used yet again and bare their legs, however Gain is dressed in white and the other members are whispering about her while she stands strong. This sends out a message to the fans that even though they have this image as band, the members are still separate individual people. The third image then dresses the band in typical Japanese school uniforms, but with the use of different coloured cardigans to separate each member accordingly, and the skirts being short, it highlights their attractive bodies yet again. The use of Japanese school uniforms are very useful for this image because it was used for their Japanese promotions in 2010 to try and make their mark there. Finally, in the fourth image a low angle has been used so the members can look down at their audience and portray an attitude that they have to prove that they have a strong personality. Colour separation is used once again but only with black and white to create their members separation but only to a degree to also highlight that they are a strong team and they get along well with each other. Their lyrics are once again poetic and are told as if they were from the pages of a novel. However, in their single Abracadabra they have used their sexy image to create a story of a man changing them badly in their lyrics: I used to be nice, soft and tender but if I keep going crazy like this you’ll change me into something bad It is like I am a puppet to you However, despite the lyrics being about a wrecked relationship, the secret message in the lyrics could be about their change of image in the music industry. At first this band used to be ‘soft and tender’ with their lighter music but now they have grown up and become more sophisticated young woman, but haven’t changed for all the bad reasons.
Nightmare a rock band from Japan and were formed in 2000, and have gained success ever since. However, they achieved mainstream success by the use of their song My World on the popular anime Deathnote. Their major label debut was in 2003 with their single Believe and December that year they had their first tour along with the release of their first album Ultimate Circus. The formation of the band wasn’t through any music management or production, but the members of Nightmare all came together in high school, and as a typical high school band, they started off a cover band before eventually writing their own material. On their tenth anniversary Nightmare held a New Year’s Eve countdown show at the ZEPP Sendai on Dec 31st 2010. The band also went a long tour to also celebrate and in June 2010 they released their 21st single a:Fantasia which went to number 5 in the Weekly Oricon chart. Nightmare’s style is very different to the J-Pop girl groups because Nightmare have categorised into a different genre of music called J-Rock which is basically Japanese rock. Their image represents their genre of music well, but also conforms to the traditional Japanese style. With their heavy music, their style goes along with it very well with the dominant use of dark colours such as black and red. Their outfits are very dramatic with the use of leather, frills and wacky accessories. It creates a gothic style and it is easily perceived that they are influenced by the rock ‘n’ roll generation where wild outfits were a heavy part of the image. Their hairstyles also conform to the rock genre well as well due to it being long, and the use of different colours such as red and black accessorise well with their clothes, but also makes them look punky. It conforms to the Japanese style well with their individuality and omissible style. We exchanged promises of revolution in the expanding darkness I loved you, so the flower of evil sprouted I won't let anyone interfere with Everything that is to come in the future The lyrics in their hit song The World (in English) conforms to the poetic and novelist style well in Japan but with Nightmare being placed in the rock genre, they also have to appeal to that too. They do that with the use of dark words used such as ‘expanding darkness’ to create an evil darkness in their music. A lot of rocks songs do use dark metaphors and imagery in their lyrics to create a more deeper and darker meaning in the messages they are trying to send out.
Gazette are a heavy metal/rock band that came together in 2002 with members that were originally in past bands but decided to create The Gazette as their last band. The line up came up to be Ruki (vocals), Reita (bass), and Uruha (guitar), but they then recruited Aoi (guitar) and Yune (drums) who were from the disbanded band Artia. In 2003 they released three Eps, and then released their first studio album Disorder in 2004 and reached the chart at number 19. They then received larger success when their next studio albums climbed up the charts, with NIL being released in 2006 and reaching number 4, with STACKED RUBBISH released in 2007 and their latest studio album DIM going to number 5 in 2009. They have also gone on tours in Japan and have done a few shows for their fan clubs as well. Just like Nightmare, The Gazette’s style is very well put together to conform to the Japanese fashion but also conform to their genre of rock music. All of the members of the band wear outrageous fashion that includes frills and leather, and the heavy use of dark colours adds to their rock style and adds a gothic fashion as well. Their hairstyles are also very dramatic, like Japan is with it’s style, with the use of bright blonde and long hair that can easily be styled to hang loosely down or be styled into spiky hairstyles. In photshoots, they also conform to pop/punk by always having their lead singer in the middle of the picture to increase his importance in the band. However, they do not use comical expressions, instead they pout and pose to make it look much more serious. It's a promise, we'll link our little fingers as a sign 8th of July, our third month anniversary. I wonder if you remember The time we first met? You, looking down in shame, were crying... Those were enjoyable, inevitable days. It was short, but we were happy Even though we were happy From the lyrics of The Gazette’s song Wakeremichi the lyrics are very poetic and they still have a darkness to the lyrics with the use of words such as ‘inevitable’ to say that even though this relationship was the best, there was always going to be that dark end, so it creates a much more deeper and serious meaning to the band’s music. On the other hand, this song also creates a sadness to it, with it’s poetic and emotional story of a broken down relationship, and when seeing these lyrics it creates empathy within it’s audience.
Tokyo Jihen are a very popular rock band in Japan and have over crossed their sound with many other music genres such as electronica and jazz. The lead singer, Shiina Ringo was originally a solo singer and when it came to her last solo tour she decided to form a band with her backing band. Tokyo Jihen was then introduced in 2003 with their guitarist Hirama, keyboardist HZM, drummer Hata and bassist Kameda. They then decided to become permanent in 2004 and performed live sets which included that year’s Fuji Rock Festival and they also made their debut with their first single Sugoroku Ectasy. However, in July 2005 it was confirmed that their keyboardist and guitarist HZM and Hirama were to leave the band. They left the behind befor their first tour “dynamite!” came to fruition. This then gave Shiina a long obstacle of finding new members, she eventually found a new keyboardist but when it came to audition guitarists, she either turned them down or they turned her down, thinking that band was all about her. Many rock bands have faced that problem with the popularity of a female lead singer. Pop/punk bands such as Paramore and No Doubt have suffered this due to No Doubt splitting due to jealousy of Gwen Stefani’s appeal and two members of Paramore leaving this year due to, in their opinion, their band being all about Hayley Williams. Tokyo Jihen’s overall style conforms to the gothic style of J-Rock well with the use of leather jackets and the colour black in some photoshoots. However, their items of clothing, especially Shiina’s is very formal with posh dresses and suits. This may attract an older audience with their sophisticated style and due to the age of some of the band members. However, due to their mainstream success with their music, they also conform to the style that many mainstream J-Pop acts have. This includes bright colours, and Shiina’s hair is styled to be long, dark and shiny to create a beauty for her and bring some appeal to her.