06 January 2013

BEST HITS Kayousai 2012 review

I figured that since I had all the major year end/new year music programs, or at least all the ones with Johnny's, I should do something of a review of them. Of course with some being hours long I knew this was going to have to be made into a project so I have decided that every Sunday I will review one of these music programs until I am done with them all.

To keep these reviews from going on too long I will mainly just focus on the idols and other J-pop artists I know something about and have cared to follow at some point. Or any of the special moments/highlights of the program I feel are worth mentioning.

Starting off I will be reviewing BEST HITS Kayousai which kicked off the season of special music programs. It originally aired on November 22nd, 2012 on Yomiuri TV.

While I am off and on about AKB48 there is no denying that their song UZA sounds the best out of their 2012 releases. And it works so well as an opening number as it is the kind of song that just pumps up the excitement level. Plus the girls just look boss in their outfits here.

AKB48 performances also give me the chance to play "spot the NMB48 member" and thankfully I only have two to find in the group. Watanabe Miyuki (Milky) being the first to get a decent screen cap.

Then while Yamamoto Sayaka (Sayanee) is in view quite a bit it still took longer for her to get a decent enough camera shot to make a screen cap of. I guess I should just be glad she cut her hair so short so I can spot her in shots that are not close ups like this.

We then get to meet the hosts of the program this year, Wentz Eiji, Miyane Seiji and Nishiyama Maki. I only know of Wentz because he used to be in a duo with Teppei Koike called WaT years ago. They impressed me that during a performance strings broke on one of their guitars, the mics toppled over and yet they kept on going to finish the song.

One of the things that I like about Kayousai is that it has a very concert-like atmosphere so you can see and hear fans react to the acts on stage. Of course it adds an extra responsibility for the hosts to keep that atmosphere going and the crowd excited.

I know I am kinda breaking my rule about only reviewing artist I have followed with Perfume here, but I know they are pretty much in every program I have and singing the same song, Spring of Life. So I just want to note them to do comparisons from show to show really. I do not care for the amount of auto-tune they use but I have no issue with watching this song be performed.

We get to see that there are a few London Olympics athletes in the hall to watch the show. With this being a summer Olympic year the athletes are bound to be highlighted for several of these programs.

The program highlights a young artist, only 14 years old, that comes from one of the areas that was devastated by the Tohoku quake of 2011. Her name is Usuzawa Misaki and she is considered a genius singer, having been taught how to sing traditionally and of course excelling in it.

They have her sing her song, Furusato ~Blue Sky Homeland~ on location in Iwate-ken. She is really amazing to listen to and probably has a really bright future ahead of her.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is not exactly an artist that I follow but I do feel entertained at least while watching her perform. I do have the same auto-tune issue with her music as I do Perfume but for whatever reason I like Kyary's songs more. She is also one of those artists that is in most of the music specials so I can do comparisons between them all with her as Fashion Monster seems to be the song she has chosen to sing ad nauseum for them.

AKB48 gets to do a second performance for the night, this time to promote Shimazaki Haruka (Paruru) the janken single Eien Pressure. Honestly I have no issue with Paruru and wish her luck if management is going to insist on pushing her to the top.

NMB48 then performs their single Virginity and I am baffled as to why. They have better singles, Kitagawa Kenji, that they could have performed instead and I know I would have preferred as I have never cared too much for this song.

Oh well, there is Yamada Nana getting some screen time and I am happy for that.

We get a Everyday, Kachuusha performance by all three groups there, AKB48, SKE48 and NMB48. Again I find myself questioning the song choice because Manatsu no Sounds Good is not only more recent but is the better summer song.

The program, in celebration of its 55 years of airing, has segments highlighting popular artists that were on in past years. It took me until this second batch to finally start recognizing acts, Kondo Masahiko of course being one that I could not miss.

There is also Shounentai shown in this batch performing one of their most covered songs by their juniors, Kamen Budokan.

While I am not a Morning Musume fan I do like some of their songs and Love Machine is one of those.

It happened to be the birthday of singer aiko so we get the program springing a surprise on her by having the audience sing her Happy Birthday. I know aiko has been around the J-pop scene for quite some time even though I have never been found of her music because she does have one of the squeakiest voices I have heard. But it was still a very sweet moment.

We finally get to Kis-My-Ft2, who are the only Johnny's group to be on this program. Which is a pretty big deal from that perspective. Also the fact that they are one of the final acts of the program is a big thing as that place is typically reserved for acts that are considered really popular. But with all the pushing the group has gotten over the year I cannot say I am too surprised that they got such a slot.

Of course they perform Ai no Beat -Dance Version-, being their most recent single. But they are wearing the outfits that clearly split the group into the 3/4 thing that we Kisumai fans love to complain about.

While I did not care for the song at first it has grown on me and I enjoy it now. This seems to be a trend with just about all of Kisumai's single songs. I will not be impressed at first but with repeated listens I will be eventually won over.

The final act of the program is EXILE, which is another group that I do not really follow but do like some of their songs. In fact I almost was able to add Rising Sun to that list but after performance after performance of it on these programs I will pass in the end. I can only imagine that EXILE fans must be sick of this song, since it was released back in 2010 and performed quite a bit since, IIRC. Why they did not go with a newer song, I do not know but it would have been nice if they did.

At the moment my main interest in this group is with AKIRA, the dancer here, mainly for his drama roles. That may change depending on whether or not DANCE EARTH PARTY is more than a one off thing.

Near the end we have the trainees from the agency EXILE is a part of arrive en masse on stage, proving that Johnny's and AKS are not the only agencies that can unleash their trainees to become an army of back dancers.

And we end the program on this. I liked the ending performance better the first time I watched this about a month ago as I was not sick and tired of Rising Sun back then. So going off those feelings I had with the original viewing it was a good end to the program.

Overall BEST HITS Kayousai is a good program to start off with for the coming onslaught of music specials. You get a good mix of artists and it is one of the shorter programs at about one and a half hours. Which is nice when you have others that are around three hours or more.

Of course with the main draw of these programs being the artists participating in it if you really only like a couple of artists than you are better off hunting down their clips of their performance than watching the entire program.

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