Did anyone have “Bellring Girls Heart Reboot” on their 2022 chika idol bingo card? While we were aware that the storied idol unit was releasing all of their back catalog on major streaming services and holding a handful of live events in association with their 10th anniversary, I’m not sure anyone would have predicted this latest development.
First things first: as of midnight local time, all of Bellring Girls Heart’s major works are available on your streaming platform of choice. You may now mainline some nostalgia or, if you’ve come to alternative idol since this legendary unit’s 2016 breakup, discover some of the most formative and influential works of the genre. Continue reading
After years of silence, the Modern Freaks of “Chika” Idol Department in Japan re-emerged yesterday to drop a surprise announcement that rates as some of the biggest music news of the year: in recognition of the 10-year anniversary of the debut of BELLRING Girls Heart, the legendary unit’s entire catalog will be made available via streaming.
Here it is!! The final top ten in our countdown of the 50 Greatest Albums of the last decade. Be sure to let us know the albums you feel we were criminally negligent to exclude, and the punishment you think we deserve. We are collecting your feedback for our follow-up article: “Albums We are Awful for Leaving Off the Greatest Albums List”.
While we know that our imperfect process (and questionable taste) has overlooked some stellar albums and deserving units, we hope that you have still found the exploration worthwhile. I know I have enjoyed revisiting some classic albums that I haven’t listened to in years and even discovered a few new favorites. We may try the exercise again, perhaps with the “50 Greatest MVs”. If we do, we’ll find a way to incorporate community participation in the selection next time.
Without further ado:
We have hit the half-way point of our attempt to capture some of the greatness that the alternative, indie and underground idols of Japan have contributed to the world over the past ten years. If you would like a recap of the methodology we used to arrive at the album rankings, please visit week one’s installment. If you missed last week’s post or want a refresher of the albums that placed 31st – 40th, you can find that here.
Now, on with the next ten albums in the countdown plus one honorable mention that fell just a little bit short of the top 50:
When future music historians look back at the history of the genre the English-speaking world, for lack of a better term, generally refers to as “Alternative Idol”, the decade of 2010 to 2020 will be seen as foundational. Underground idol in Japan has been around since at least the late 90s, hard rock composers were penning songs for idol units in the mid 2000s, and indie idol has probably existed since the birth of the idol genre itself. However, it was the year 2010 when the momentum of disparate events would begin to coalesce and eventually define the broad genre we know and love today. That year’s creation and subsequent seismic success of BiS and BABYMETAL would inspire the formation of hundreds of punk and metal idol units. At the same time, the zeitgeist of the early 2010s independently birthed several other less prominent but just as significant influences. Bellring Girls Heart, You’ll Melt More, Especia and others emerged to embrace an edgier and more avant-garde approach to idol, crafting the sounds and sensibilities of post- and pop-punk, new wave, techno and progressive rock into something entirely new. These early groups inspired both creative composers and adventurous music fans to embrace independent and underground idol as an effective medium for expressing almost every subgenre of rock, hip hop and electronica. Over the past decade, alternative Japanese idol has grown into a world class laboratory for the creation of some of the most innovative music on the planet. Continue reading
A Friend of Homicidols™ is a friend indeed, a wise person once said. N.FENI may no longer be identifying as the charming human named Yoneko, (or even Kanra) and may no longer subscribe to the occasionally limiting genre classification of “idol”, but they’re absolute royalty in our eyes, and we want to do anything for them.
The belief is simple really: If you emerged from one of the most seminal chika units of all time, and you continue a music career that’s going to create music this outstanding, then yeah, we’re right there with you!
And “FUNNY TATOO SEAL” is really outstanding…
It’s not every day that we get new long form content from the underground idol scene, especially now that we are in this whole sanitary disaster. So it was with great curiosity that I rented Derek Vasconi’s first episode of his documentary series Flowers of Passion.
Derek Vasconi has made his mark in the idol scene through several ventures: he organized the East Meets West Music Festival, and went on to create the idol merch website Idol Underworld, which aims to make idol merch more accessible for overseas fans, as well as producing original merch, like the many idol exclusive photobooks. Idol Underworld also has a sister site called Cheki World, a second-hand market to allow oversea fans to sell and trade their covetable idol polaroids. Flowers of Passion is his first foray into film and his first documentary.
The hour long episode, first of a series of five, seems centered on the production and self-production aspect, as well as the historic roots of idols. It revolves mostly around Asakura Mizuho via Bellring Girl’s Heart & Saka-Sama, NaNoMoRaL, Usakura Beni from avandoned, and finally, Merry Bad End.
By now most of you know that Kai, one of our favorite quirky oddball idols around these parts, has decided to step down from all activities. TRASH-UP!! Records released a statement late last week breaking us the news…
For a lot of us, this retirement of sorts is a more personal loss than usual in a business where graduations and disbandments are common events that we’ve developed an understanding and acceptance of. Kai was just something… well, unique, y’know? Aside from her fans, she’s also always been a consistent friend of idols. I can’t recall exactly how many times she showed up in my instagram feed having lunch with someone else I followed. Beni made a point to post her well-wishes and reminisce over some fond memories…
Ever since it was announced that Aqbi superstar Kai was joining the TRASH-UP!! roster, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what she’d be doing as a solo artist. Kai of course, is no stranger to TRASH-UP!!, having been part of the oddball folk song trio Engawa, (Most often referred to in these parts as “The weird Beni/Kai thing”) and considering the close ties between my favorite idol label and Aqbi, (Including Yoneko and Mizuho connections!) it made perfect sense as career transition…
Anyway, there’s been a bit of an anxious delay on my part because I tried to order “Moonlight Tokyo” from Amazon Japan and it was momentarily listed with a possibly two month shipping delay. (!) I don’t know if I’m correct in my theory, but I’d like to believe that’s because it was a surprisingly bigger seller than anticipated, so that’s what I’m running with. It pleases me to share that the digital version is finally online!! streaming with Spotify and Apple Music, and the latter platform is selling it via iTunes as well. For lossless purists, I keep checking on OTOTOY but no luck just yet, but don’t assume it won’t happen eventually.
So anyway, how is Kai’s solo debut? Continue reading
In a final ICYMI from the long weekend, I call your attention to the latest progeny of Aqbi Rec boss Tanaka in the aftermath of the demise of flagship project (and chika royalty) THERE THERE THERES, who in turn were by the end basically just Bellring Girls Heart Redux with a membership twist anyway, but also kept the look and music of the original as well as core personnel. Hell, even the Cleveland Browns had a cleaner break!
But in the aftermath of the TTTS breakup, Aqbi announced various spin-offs for the former members, just as had been the case following BRGH, and happened to mention that Mei was staying with the company, and that she’d have her own project to lead. Said project is NILKLY (Twitter), NIL by MEI apparently, and they had their debut live the other day, which was extensively covered by the very hardcore wota who remain dedicated to the Aqbi family the way that I’m dedicated to gardening and auto repair.
This was the scene: