We’re GEM!

GEMI know I’m totally slow on this, but I actually didn’t notice that GEM had released their first MV before today, even though it came out Dec. 4th already! However, I’ve watched it now and must say it totally lived up to my expectations. It was bright, colorful and shiny, just like gems are supposed to be (haha). I’ve been keeping an eye on this group for over a year, so was really happy to finally being able to watch their first music video~

GEM member pictureTo make a short introduction to those who don’t know about GEM, their name stands for Girls Entertainment Mixture and they are a new 10-member girl group under Avex’s iDOL Street project. They will be making their big debut next year Jan. 1st with the single We’re GEM! which will be released in 3 versions: CD only, CD+DVD and a mu-mo shop version. The coupling songs include the new song BFF (Best Friends Forever) and GEM’s version of the iDOL Street All Member’s song PAN-PAKA-PAN!

Here are the names, birthdays and member stones of GEM’s 10 members.

I think they are a nice fresh contribution to Avex’s other idol groups, as opposed to SUPER GiRLS and Cheeky Parade, they doesn’t have a overly cute or funny/crazy style. I would rather say there style is more simplistic and dance-focused compared to the previously mentioned groups. Maybe even a more mature style, if you count their songs like Speed up and Do it Do it.

Check out a performance of their previous indie song Speed up below. (This is a performance with some of the old members, before the final line-up was decided)

And also this performance of their song Do it Do it

For their debut song, I think it’s really catchy! It has a more cute style than their previous indie songs like Speed up or Kitto For you! (love those songs a lot btw.) but I don’t find it too much, if you know what I mean? Of course it also helps that GEM’s members all have really good vocals! Here I’m especially thinking of Maaya, Rana, Jurin and Maho. I think We’re Gem! is a solid debut song, easy to remember (which is very important to get noticed in the biz) and extremely catchy as well. This is a song which will be good in concerts as well, I think, as it has this sort of “main song” feeling to it (sort of like SZ’s debut song Sexy Zone). So they can probably use it to open concerts with or anniversaries etc.

To talk a bit more about the music video, I want to comment I was very impressed by the special effects actually. I was afraid they were going to be totally cheap and ugly-looking, but I think they made the gemstones and setting look fairly decent.

Of course it would have been nicer with a real setting, instead of all CGI, but I think in this case it probably couldn’t be helped. So at least it looks alright. I also think the choreography was really nice and well performed by GEM’s super dancers. I especially noticed Sara and Rana’s dancing!

By watching this music video, I also noticed something else… Nana is totally cute! We're GEM22I may even think she has become one of my favorite members together with Rana and Jurin. But I’m also tempted to add Sara to that list, after watching her superior dancing skills!

So these are my favorite (or to be favorite) members so far:

Rana – because she’s cute and have an amazing and unique voice!We're GEM53Jurin – because her voice is amazing, maybe the best of GEM (together with Rana and Maaya of course)We're GEM56 Nana (maybe) – because I love her looks, which reminds a bit of Hashimoto Ai and her gem stone is aquamarine~ (I like marine stuff haha)We're GEM05Sara (maybe) – because I like her energy and bad-ass dancing, as well as she has a cute face.We're GEM29
These girls totally reek of talent, and I’m sure this is the first great release from them of many to come. And I think it’s great to see an idol group with members picked by their talent rather than only their good looks. It’s obvious they trained a lot and their vocals just keep surprising me! I also think 10 members is a good number for a group which focuses on dancing, as they will be able to make cool choreographies with that number. But of course, I know it’s never certain all members will stay for the future. In this case I really hope they do though, because I think all members of GEM have a lot of talent.

Japanese Christmas playlist

Now we are in December I thought to myself: I want to do a post about Japanese Christmas songs! I’m not sure I know that many, and most of them I know are from idol groups, but well here is my list~

Many probably don’t know about this Arashi song (I didn’t at least), but as I searched to see if Arashi had a Christmas song hidden in their discography, I found this! Ano Hi no Merry Christmas (あの日のメリークリスマス) is a light, typical Arashi song. Nevertheless, it’s a Christmas song and it has sort of grown on me, after having listened to it a couple of times. I would have liked some solo lines, but apart from that it’s a nice jingle for Christmas~

This is a song I know well, having listened to it many times. As always Buono! produces some great pop-rock tunes and this is no exception. I love Winter Story‘s catchy and groovy sound, as well as the brilliant chorus. A Buono! classic of mine and a great song to make me in mood for Christmas!

I can’t forget to include Momoiro Clover Z’s crazy and energetic Christmas song Santa-san! From the first time I listened to this song, I was hooked. It’s such a great, funny song with a lot of small gimmicks. Here I’m thinking of things like Reni’s ii toko (“good qualities”) dance for Santa Claus (or whatever it is) and a mentioning about Australian Christmas being in midsummer, which results in a throwback to their summer song Coco☆Natsu (ココ☆ナツ)(haha), so crazy!

This year Momoiro Clover Z’s “little brother” group DISH// (under Stardust) has released a Christmas single, nearly as crazy as Santa-san. Itsuka wa Merry Christmas (いつかはメリークリスマス)is a funny rock/pop song with fresh voices from the group’s young members (15-18 years old). Like Momoiro Clover Z they sure like to make funny gags during their songs, which I really like about this group. I also like the message of this song, which is wishing for a girlfriend from Santa Claus in order not to be lonely on Christmas eve (lol). DISH’s members always seem in desperate need of one, even though they are all quite handsome! That I find very ironic. Then again it’s just a song, and an entertaining one at that.

This Christmas song by actress Maeda Aki is from her album Winter Tales, and is the only song of that album which isn’t a cover of previous Christmas hits, I believe. I think it’s a nice “gentle” song (like the title Fuyu Fuwari ふゆふわり, meaning “gently winter”) which a  lot of bell chimes, beautiful violin and Aki’s sweet voice to top it all. I like this actress a lot, as well as this Christmas song.

I love this Christmas love ballad by C-ute! I like Aitai Lonely Christmas (会いたいロンリークリスマス)so much I even listen to it when it isn’t Christmas (haha). It’s such a catchy song and the chorus is easy to remember too~ I wish C-ute could make songs like this again. It has a strong setsunai (“wistful/yearning”) feeling to it right? I kind of like that type of songs. I guess it’s because we all yearn for that special someone during the holidays (sigh).

I know this isn’t a song sung by a Japanese person, but Canadian René Simard released many Japanese songs as a child, and I like his song Christmas Tree (クリスマス・トォリー)a lot, so thought I would include it in my list. René has a nice heartfelt voice and delivers yet a beautiful song to enjoy during Christmas. He has released a lot of other Christmas songs in French as well as some in English I’m sure. So if you like this song, you should check his other songs out (even though they are old)~

This is such a happy song from Hey! Say! JUMP about having fun in the snow with one’s sweetheart (or that’s what I gather at least). I’m not sure it’s a Christmas song, but the theme “snow” is enough for me to make it so (haha). I love the intro line: masaka, yuki da! (“no way, it’s snowing!”). That line always make me in a good mood. Not that I’m too fond of snow, but I guess we all love the magic of the first snow of Christmas right?

I had to include Nino’s Winter Song as well. Nino is my favorite member from Arashi and I just love this beautiful Christmas ballad from him. I only have the version recorded from his radio show Bay Storm, and I’m not even sure if it’s been released anywhere else. He should totally release this on an album though! My favorite part of this sweet song is when he ends the song with the line: Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you~

Fairies has also released a Christmas song! Sweet Jewel has a very uplifting feeling to it and always make me in the mood to be productive (haha). Fairies always knows how to make very girly, yet stylish songs. That’s what I love about them. In addition, the PV for this song is so glittering and pretty, you should check it out if you haven’t!

This is the theme song from Morimoto Shintaro’s movie Snow Prince and is such a beautiful Christmas song! I love the piano play in the background, as well as the Snow Prince choir’s young adorable voices. I totally wish they could have been a permanent group, but unfortunately they only released this single. And I wish Johnny’s would do other songs like this too. It’s so precious!

I know this isn’t an official Christmas song maybe, but I always found it very Christmas-like for some reason! Apart from that, I see the light ~Bokutachi no Stage~ is one of my favorite Sexy Zone songs. It was included on their first single and also features the very young fresh voices of Marius and Sou (I totally miss their voices now! *cries*). I would have included their more official Christmas/summer song Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu (Sexy Summer に雪が降る)as well, but Soundcloud wouldn’t let me upload it (buuhuu).

So these were my suggestions for Japanese Christmas songs (which aren’t covers of English ones). I hope you enjoyed and if you know some other good J-Pop Christmas songs, don’t hesitate to mention them in the comment section below~
And let’s hope Soundcloud doesn’t delete my uploads.

Sexy Zone – Arena Concert 2012

Last week I received this jewel of a concert. Sexy Zone’s first concert and arena concert in Blu-ray!
As you can see on the picture the limited edition Blu-ray came with a bunch of nice extras; 5 gorgeous member postcards + 1 group postcard, a B2 concert poster, 32p booklet with beautiful concert photos and a tour documentary. But even with all these lovely extras I will have to say the best thing about this release was watching Sexy Zone perform in stunning Blu-ray quality ♥♥♥ It’s my first time to have purchased a Japanese BD concert (they are crazy expensive!), but I tell you it’s worth every last penny!

This release includes two concerts; Sexy Zone’s first concert and their arena concert performed back in March and April. The arena concert on the first disc is the longest lasting 112 min, while their first concert on the second disc only last 55 min. I think they cut parts out from their first concert – beats me why. But the second disc also has a tour documentary lasting 35 min.

Now to the review!!

Note: All concert pics were taken by a camera while the BD was playing on my flat screen (as I don’t have any BD drive on my PC)

I will start talking about their arena concert ~
If I have to describe my impression of this concert with only one word I would choose the word fresh. It felt so good to watch a Johnny’s concert with a group which I hadn’t watched before! Apart from Sexy Zone, a lot of Johnny’s Jr.’s performed as well. All so young it’s hard to understand! It was interesting to watch how Shori, Kento, Fuma, Sou and Marius acted in front of such a huge audience. Some of them seemed a bit overwhelmed and unsure, here I think of Marius of course, but at times also the other members showed signs of nervousness. But I don’t blame them, it’s their first time to perform a major arena concert – must have been tough! They did a tremendous job though~

The concert began and ended (way too soon) with a lot of memorable moments. They celebrated Marius’ 12th birthday, acted as cops and thieves, did a member introduction rap-song (much like Arashi’s La Tormenta!!), performed in traditional warrior styled clothing, played the taiko drums, guitar and piano, Fumaken got to perform and the famous “Kaze wo kitte hearts”  got to shine as well. Some of my favourite performances were probably Lady Diamond, IF YOU WANNA DANCE, Can do! Can go!, GAME, Yokubou Rain, Secret Agent Man, Knock! Knock! Knock! and Kaze wo kitte ♥
Their costumes were really nice as well~ They performed first in the white princes’ costumes, then (member coloured?) star-pinned vests with black shiny trousers, then the lady diamond costumes, then the gold-coloured outfits (my favourite!), then simple white clothes with (member coloured?) scarves, then traditional samurai-like clothes, then the black uniform clothes with yellow stripes and lastly white shirts with (member coloured?) patched vests and black trousers. That’s EIGHT costume changes! (wauw) And no embarrassing costumes like some past Johnny’s concert costumes (well don’t get me started haha).

All the Sexy Zone members really amazed me with their talents in this concert. Of course they have impressed me many times in Shokura and Johnny’s Jr. Land already, but a concert is still something else entirely. A concert takes a lot of stamina, a good memory, endless energy and simply just a lot of tough work!  Sexy Zone had it all~ Fuma and Kento really owned the scene with their Yokubou Rain performance. Their dance moves, singing and overpowering “sexiness” really impressed me ♥ Shori, Marius and Sou were cute as hell and simply wonderful performing Secret Agent Man, but also surprised me in their epic IF YOU WANNA DANCE performance – they’ve got the “sexy power” too! (Haha)

One of my favourite moments of the concert was member introduction rap. It was just so cute. Kento started out introducing Fuma and mentioned his love of rock and his pout lips, then Fuma introduced Kento and mentioned his never-ending glimmering smile. Afterwards Shori, Sou and Marius entered and sang their introductions.

Marius’ introduction of Shori was the best! He sang: “At the school marathon he’s no. 1 – He’s running solo, yeah! Crazy – Sweet – LOVE! His signature phrase is “Sexy Rose” ~the cool sweetheart~ ♪ This person is?” Shori:  “SATO SHORI!” (Kya~!)

Then Shori introduced Sou and sang things like Sou always smiles, has a cute way of dancing and mentioned when Sou’s in high spirits he starts speaking dialect ♥

And lastly Sou introduced Marius as the cool, sexy harufu ikemen who speaks German, English and Chinese (!)  fluently, and the natural airhead of the group(Eh, didn’t know that!) And then the famous play on words: “Sono ko ni ~ HAMARIUSU~!” (Let’s get into this kid~!) It’s a play on the verb “hamaru” (to be into something) and his name “Marius”.

Sorry for only going into depth with Shori, Sou and Marius – I just couldn’t understand most of what Fuma and Kento was singing… They were all really cute when rapping though. Especially because one could feel they wrote the lyrics themselves and put thought and work into them. But my description here doesn’t do it justice – you have to watch it yourself! It’s that great~

Other memorable performances was Kento playing the piano while the members sang Sexy Zone. It was such a different song in piano version, but really beautiful. And then there was Marius and Sou playing the taiko drums while Shori, Fuma and Kento were fighting in their traditional clothing with other juniors (so cool~). When they performed Kaze wo kitte there was wind blowing in their hair. Shori’s look into the camera with his bangs blowing away from his head was just mind-blowing! (Had to add a gif picture of it haha).

GAME was really nice as well. They performed in front of red hangings of cloth with their shadows showing on the red background. A clever effect which worked incredibly well. And then I just love that song because Shori has a solo line, which isn’t a whisper or a haiku lol.

The juniors got to perform a medley of 4 songs as well~ I was so happy to watch Jinguuji Yuta and Nakamura Reia (my two favourite juniors ♥) perform. They are not only cute but talented as well! I imagine Yuta will develop a really nice singing voice when he gets older. As for the other juniors, I especially noticed Takahashi Fuu and Haniuda Amu. Fuu’s dancing looked really pro and Amu just had such a cute nose and eyes I couldn’t help noticing him (haha). They must be special when I was able to notice them among a ton of other juniors performing! But seriously, I have great hope for the next generation of juniors who’s going to debut in the years to come~

Watch Jinguuji’s face! (lol) So cute ♥

The best performance of them all had to be IF YOU WANNA DANCE though. The gold outfits is perhaps half the reason, but for the most part I just love the song. My heart just went crazy when they sang “I’m gonna make you mine” and “Let’s dance until the morning” kya~. And then it must be one of those talented Swedish composers who wrote the music, because it’s hell of a catchy song. The lyrics and dance also went incredibly well together. It must the combination of epic song lyrics, sexy dance choreography and gold outfits! (Haha) Sort of reminds me of Michael Jackson actually – but hey – that’s whom Sexy Zone wanted to be like right? Well they sure made their goal in my book~ As a matter of fact their song I see the light reminds me really much of an old Jackson Five song! It will be interesting to see how far they will go with the Michael Jackson style.

The arena concert was like you can hear pure win. I’ve probably already watched most of it more than five times already, but I just can’t get enough! I’m really impressed with their first arena concert. To perform in front of so many thousand people while so young – that’s an amazing achievement if you ask me. I really have high hopes for Sexy Zone after having watched this concert.
But now to their first concert! How did their first attempt at holding a concert go? (this is going to be smaller – I promise! lol)

Sexy Zone’s first concert was a lot shorter and as I said earlier a cut version as well… I guess they cut out parts that where either too similar to the arena concert or maybe performances that went wrong? I think their first concert was only performed on 2 or 3 days, but I’m not sure. Anyways, there were still some great moments in those short 55 minutes~

They started out singing their debut song “Sexy Zone” followed by the other b-side songs. One thing I noticed immediately (as I had just watched the arena concert) was Shori’s hair. It was much longer in this concert! I’ve missed seeing that hairstyle on him. He looks much cuter with long hair, as for when it’s short it makes him look too serious and less adorable… I like this hairstyle on him better ♥

Right after the golden trio appeared. Shori, Sou and Marius! This was the one thing about their first concert I had looked forward to the most: Sexy Zone singing Arashi’s songs! Sou in front and the trio dancing the intro to Believe was just so epic. I’m a huge Arashi fan, so watching one of my favourite Johnny’s performing to Arashi was just like a gift sent from heaven. The medley included other songs (by whom I don’t know), but most importantly they sang Sakura sake. They were just the cutest things ever, trying to imitate their senpais and singing with their light voices – gaaa! ♥

And out of the blue this happened ↓↓↓






Shori hugging Sou!! I loved Sou’s look of surprise and happiness – just too cute omg!

The confession challenge was a lot of fun as well. I loved Marius’ direct and simple line “I love you so much”. He always seem older when he speaks English, doesn’t he? But cute nonetheless ♥

After the golden trio ended, Fumaken appeared. They performed Andalucia ni akogarete (Yearning for Andalucia); a song originally sung by The Blue Hearts guitarist Mashima Masatoshi (love that group!) and later covered by famous solo Johnny’s singer Kondō Masahiko aka. “Matchy” in ’89. (Well, not that important I know, but sometimes I just want to know for once whose songs they are singing to!) This song, the smoke effect and the roses – well do I have to say anything else? Just amazing~ And then just after this song they cut to Biri Biri Dance out of the blue. They were also suddenly wearing the gold outfits, which made it obvious that they had cut out some performances (I guess IF YOU WANNA DANCE was one of them – but who knows?). Just a damn shame if you ask me…

Then they got to the piano corner and once again Kento did a really fine job on the piano. When Fuma sang solo I got the chills. That boy has an incredible voice! Definitely the best voice of Sexy Zone, hands down. And once again I love Sexy Zone ~piano version~ The song already has a special place in my heart and hearing it to my favourite instrument just makes it even better ♥

They also performed GAME and Suki sugite before the encore. I have to say the intro of GAME gets me every time! Kento challenging Fuma to a duel is just so much fun to watch lol. I love Suki sugite’s choreography; the members look so adorable with their hand movements in front of their microphone stands and then it’s just a crazy cute song (that’s stuck in my head all the time lol).

As encore they performed the intro songs again: Sexy Zone, Knock! Knock! Knock! and With you. Funnily enough Sexy Zone’s first concert ended with the song With you and their arena concert started with that song as well. Like they were sort of connected~ Pretty cool (or is that just me again?) Anyway, when Sexy Zone came back for the encore, I loved how Shori shouted “SEXY ROSE!” at the beginning of the performance. It was just so unexpected, because he normally whispers it, but also really funny and cute too ♥ I hope Shori will do other nice improvisations like that (or hugging Sou) in future concerts!

This concert started and ended even faster than their arena concert, but it was still a lot of fun to watch~
The ending was so beautiful with the confetti and the fans shouting “Sexy Zone” with all their might (haha). The members looked so happy ♥

The disc also came with the tour documentary, which was a really nice bonus. Seriously, all artist should consider including tour documentaries with their concert releases. They give us much more insight into how much hard work and effort it took to complete a concert tour, and also shows us glimpses of the members behaviour and behind the camera personality. These boys really seem to have a lot of fun together. It’s lovely to watch how they tease each other and hang out. Noticed that Kento and Fuma often sang out loud while they were walking from one place to another. They must really like to sing huh? (Or maybe they just love to hear their own voices? Haha.)

This got way longer than anticipated, but I still hope some people will be willing to read it lol. I just want to round it all up by saying; I’m really happy I bought this concert and I will keep watching it until they release a new one for me to watch! Sexy Zone is pretty simply just a wonder group. Let’s wish for their career to take them far and that it’ll be a successful path ♥

Sou says thank you for reading!

(Note: All gifs were made by recordings made by my camera from my TV screen, so sorry for the low quality lol)