So on top of it already being busy season in idol, there have been some fairly major happenings afoot, and I am not yet just behind on all of the stuff, I am now behind on stuff that’s happened in the last couple of days. Some it’s going to have to wait! What won’t? BILLIE IDLE, for they are queens and deserving of all of our rapt attention and respect and … oh, people didn’t like this? What?
By now, you’ve probably heard the stream of “Starlight”, Babymetal’s first release in (/checks watch) two and a half years, good lord. There’s an MV, too, which we’ll get to in a second. First, though, let’s take these things in meta-chronological order and note: Yuimetal is officially out of the group:
I know! You’d think it’d be easy. I can think of bad puns right now, but none of them are even oh-Maniac-chuckle-chuckle funny, and that’s the lowest level that I strive for. What’s the point of being a fancy idol blogger if you can’t make people acknowledge that they ought to awkwardly laugh for the sake of the wild-eyed madman screaming at them in HTML about things?
Anyway. Still, no idol news of note this morning, so let’s keep plumbing recent weeks’ unpublished drafts and see what happens. Like, for instance, a new-enough group that has notably been popping up in lots of photos with other idols but is yet to generate much of a following — NEAR!
Interesting! What else do you have?
I’ll take it! This isn’t actually a new unit, per se, given that they debuted like way back in the spring, but a 2018 debut is a 2018 debut, damn it, and I’m the boss here. They’re the “most confident idol,” is the angle, which probably means that they’re basically walking ganbare fists but would be way more fun if “confident” were more along the lines of “kept in confidence,” which would allow for all kinds of neat interpretations, including my preferred epithet of NEAR as human embodiments of the Keep of Secrets from OG Warhammer (remember Warhammer!).
But naw, let’s keep it sane-ish and just say that they remind me of 969 in good ways.
For a smaller, less-followed unit, NEAR produces a ton of media to take in, so make sure to follow them on Twitter and YouTube for the goods. For instance, of the girls just celebrated her birthday in a video that looks like it was produced by Lein on a day when she really wanted to keep the demons at bay but couldn’t quite hold them all the way back:
Has anything interested happened in the Idolverse yet today? I suppose that depends on your perspective. However: No. Not yet. There are apparently announcements to be made later, and that’s great, but I want to blog a post right now. Good thing there are so many new idol groups to catch up with!
So remember a few weeks ago, in the Weekender, when I was like “ex-BiS tongue piercing Nakayama Yukiko did an idol group”? It happened! Unveiled last week! They are Kimi no Mawari (Twitter). This is the teaser for them: Continue reading →
Kerrie is a great big fan of Gokigen Teikoku. Whereas I have always enjoyed them and at times felt like they, of anybody, had the potential to really shake up idol from the grassroots, my interest was more academic. For Kerrie, it’s more visceral — she owns one of those epic Ichiho body pillow doodads, for goodness’s sake. And so, it was an incredibly difficult decision to yank this out from under her when she wasn’t able to write it up immediately, and then deliver exactly the opposite take that I’m sure she’d deliver! Ahahahahahahahaha!
So anyway, Gokitei. If you’re newer ’round these parts, they started off as one of the super-indies, having broken with their management (as a different unit with a different name) to idol how they wanted instead. Their whole approach was oddball, putting real (or the appearance of real) personality on raw display (drunk dialing your groupmates!); their music veered left and right but always within the boundaries of fun, enthusiastic and genre-disregarding. They were fun.
And they are fun still. That’s the thing — most other super-indies, as they gain popularity, wind up back in some management company’s loving arms just to deal with the logistics of it all. Not Gokitei! If anything, they’ve doubled down on their independence while continuing to riff on idol tropes, right down to having a trainee unit. It has, though, come at a cost, as the original five-member lineup has ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years and now stands at a trio, with only Ichiho left of the originals. Depending on how you hold it up to the light, I don’t think it’s out of bounds to say that she’s the closest person in idol right now to embodying what Pour Lui was doing with OG BiS, and in fact may be an even greater realization of that vision.
Dear idols: When you take on the massive lift that is going from the Tokyo underground to international touring, you get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the ol’ Homicidols editorial calendar, and things that I’d ordinarily Weekender become features. If I can goose interest in your gigs when they’re going to happen right here in my country, I’m going to do it, you know?
In this case, with Oyasumi Hologram now only a couple of weeks away from their first (and hopefully not last!) run of U.S. tour dates, I wanted to highlight some live video from their gig over the weekend. If you’re new to them or just plain on the fence about whether to get to the Bay Area or New York or Philadelphia, maybe these little tastes of what’s in store can sway you. Or you’re like me and will just plain enjoy seeing OYSM doing their thing!
After that first couple of videos, I didn’t reckon that we’d been getting a trailer for IDOL SHREDDER that’s practically the length of many groups’ EPs with almost three weeks left until the album drops, but I’m also not going to complain about a bigger, fuller, better look. Frankly, nobody should!
I don’t have the best track record when it comes to converting other humans to the charms of this very grown-up unit with a very grown-up orientation, but please do, friends, consider it. As “just” idols, REGiNA KiSS was in fact quite good; with the band behind the slightly retooled duo, they mix things up more frequently and take some interesting chances. I’d love for this to wind up on some major streaming services so that folks can get the experience in full.
Have I ever mentioned the “Idols That Maniac Frequently Forgets Exist, Ranked” list? That started off as a pretty okay joke post, then became alarmingly serious as I worked on it — I seriously forget about a lot of idols. I’ll probably never publish it. But for real, BLACK NAZARENE is on there, which is a shame given the self-driven wota hype about their debut earlier in the year.
And it was a good debut! The deflation was less an issue with BLACKNAZARENE than it was wotas’ inability to sensibly respond to stimulus. Nonetheless, while the group has in fact been developing nicely and carving out their niche over the course of the year, they’ve been below the radar because they aren’t the most prolific thing in the world. Maybe they’re making a move now, though, because (as Andrew pointed out) they dropped themselves a new MV today, revealing and unacknowledged but apparent semi-abandonment of their “THUGxkawaii” image:
Well, it’s a few days late at this point, and just a quicky little post in acknowledgement, but SHINGEKI — that is, the frequently half-dressed idol unit that doesn’t have time for your “structure” and “theme” while it rocks out — dropped another new MV this week, just as I was adjusting to their new reality, and I swear they do these things at whatever interval strikes them as interesting:
I do think that every element in this song has appeared in at least one other, so that’s kind of neat
In a lot of ways, I could have just jammed this into the Weekender, but I feel almost obligated to stand by SHINGEKI at this point. Sixteen months ago, they were this bizarre on-the-fringes group that happened to employ an old personal favorite for a hot minute and made music a bump or two heavier than most; now that we’ve taken this incredible evolutionary journey together, and that they’ve proven to be compelling even if for no greater reason than their raw unpredictability, I’m all in.
Good morning! Well, we made it here. This is the 100th Weekender. I’d like to have something profound to say, but let’s be real: There’s no good point to it. Kerrie, though, in a side conversation the other day, summed it up when she said that she wanted her fill-in Fun to be #IdolIsBeautiful. There’s a lot of idol, both in the underbelly and right out there in the open, that’s a lot less than beautiful. But, at the end of the day, the sheer joy that idol can give you? The almost unlimited creativity that it allows? That really is a beautiful thing, and it’s been a hell of a journey to get here. Here’s to keeping it going.
Now, I did say that I was going to do a thing in honor of the occasion. The gist is, I’m not a collector of idol stuff and in fact sometimes make fun of others’ wanton collectioneering, and I’m not yet ready to part with some of the genuinely unique things that I’ve acquired by various means over the past couple of years. I am, however, going to part with a couple of particular items, and in addition to that do a very low-level creative thing. And that is why I’m temporarily backing off the full spectacle, because the creative thing isn’t ready. Instead, I think I’ll try to work it into the Best of 2018 stuff. Maybe it’ll be cool anyway!
At any rate, this is deliberately the biggest Weekender in history, as befits the occasion. Play the Fun, and then enjoy!