Between January 18th & the 22nd AKB48 performed their top 100 songs as voted by the fans. The final show featuring the top 25 was broadcast live on the official AKB48 YouTube channel & on Google+.

I, as a recent AKB convert decided that this would be a prime opportunity to at least get a general idea of the entire collective’s most popular songs seeing that everyone is all in one place. Simple enough in theory right?

With that said most of you hardcore fans will probably dislike my noobish take on this concert. Remember that you all started somewhere too so if you disagree with the following content you can try to put yourself in my shoes before unleashing some asshsat comment.

AKB48 Request Hour 2012 – Top 25

Set List

025: Ponytail to Shushu
024: Kiseki wa Maniawanai
023: Seishun no Lap time
022: Zetsumetsu Kurokami Shoujo
021: Omatase Set list
020: Mushi no Ballad
019: Oh My God!
018: Beginner
017: Kareha no Station
016: Pareo wa Emerald
015: Heart-gata Virus
014: Kurukurupa-
013: Bird
012: Kimi no koto ga Suki dakara
011: Iiwake Maybe
010: Yokaze no Shiwaza
009: Nakinagara Hohoende
008: Dakishimecha Ikenai
007: Kaze wa Fuiteiru
006: Itoshiki Natasha
005: Team B Oshi
004: Flying Get
003: Kodoku na Runner
002: Everyday, Kachuusha
001: Heavy Rotation

Popping the AKB48 Concert Cherry

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January 22nd, 2 AM MST (6 PM JST) I connected to the live stream and  saw a lot of glow sticks on the screen. I heard Taylor Swift or some sort of Pop/Country blasting through my speakers. Was I really watching the right feed? The lights faded and some dude starts screaming in Japanese hyping the wota as they scream “A-K-B! 48!”  Yeah, I was watching the right thing.

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The show started with Ponytail to Shushu. There were many of the more popular members of the collective who I can’t name on sight. The song I knew about as it has been part of my AKB48 indoctrination, I mean education. My Twitter feed during this time was afire as many of my fellow J-Pop fans who managed to stay awake for this were freaking out.

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Me? Um… Well. I was just taking it all in. After all, I pretty much had no clue what I was watching and I felt that I should probably pay attention. I intently watched the first 7 songs not really paying attention to the blaze of Tweets running across my feed. As I got more comfortable with the whole AKB concert vibe one of my friends sent me a tweet asking about my thoughts on the show so far.

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Well, this will probably make a few of you AKB fans upset but I found their performances similar to those of Perfume. Meaning that I didn’t think the microphones were on when they were up there doing their thing.

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That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Looking at the dance routines that they do, the songs would obviously sound kind of bad with all the vigorous dance action. Hiro (one of the writers here at Selective Hearing), mentioned that the more stages you watch the more you can tell when they’re singing live.

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This being my first official AKB48 stage viewing means that I can’t tell the difference quite yet. But when someone did sing live it was like night and day. Another one of my friends on Twitter mentioned during Akimoto Sayaka’s performance (Mushi no Ballad) that of course the Filipina would be the one to sing live.

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I found that funny as hell cause it’s true. I guess you have to be Filipino or understand the culture to get the joke. I did like her song even if it did sound like the syrupy type of stuff that would expect one to sing a karaoke bar.

She also happened to rock a pretty sexy outfit as well so that made me a happy camper.

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The other early solo I liked was from Matsui Reina. (Kareha no Station) Again, a typically sweet idol ballad but it was nice. People were commenting that she was off key but I thought she was alright. There were some rough spots here & there but it wasn’t like a horrible music related TV show audition. Her voice fit the mood of the song perfectly in my opinion.

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As the concert moved on I noticed that many of the songs had similar sound patches used over and over. That’s really nothing new as  a lot of producers create their signature by recycling their favorite sounds. I would probably complain much like I do with Hello! Project when their composers recycle the same song but again, I don’t know enough about AKB to quite bitch about that yet. But I can see it coming as I get familiar with past and present material.

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I also noticed the stage outfits. As a Hello! Project fan I’m used to seeing some horrendous choices for costumes. So much that I’ve become desensitized to the wardrobe malfunctions.  As a fresh faced and highly impressionable AKB48 recruit I guess I’m going to nitpick on every detail until I become jaded like everyone else.

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Overall I found the stage gear to be quite nice. There were some takes on the school girl outfits (as with every other idol group) along with some other tasteful bits of clothing. I guess I’ll go and piss off my fellow Hello! Project fans and say that perhaps that these outfits show what can be done without having to resort to pretending to be farm animals or heavy substance abuse for inspiration.

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Although it wasn’t all good. The outfits for Kurukurupaa were probably some of the most whacked out stuff I’ve seen since any incarnation of Mini-Moni. The girls looked like they were having fun in those ridiculous costumes so I guess I can let that slide for now.

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The one big announcement at this concert was the graduation of SDN48 at NHK Hall. I had to ask my more knowledgeable friends what the deal was and it was explained to me in terms that I could easily understand. I was told to think of the Hello! Project Elder Club graduating in terms of scale and impact in the grand scheme of things.

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Yup. That totally made sense to me. I would like to point out that some of the ladies in SDN48 did look plenty “elderly” compared to the youngins around them. Not to say that they’re old. I’m sure many of them are closer to my age, but in idol years they’re senior citizens.

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The last thing I want to mention show wise is the 2nd last performance of the encore. The debut of the band Baby Blossom performing AKB’s next single Give Me Five. Granted, this group sounded like a mediocre high school talent show but that’s a hell of a lot better than much of their similar competition.

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The most competent member of the band happened to be drummer Kashiwagi Yuki. Those playing the guitars were also decent. I would like to have heard the keyboards more. Unfortunately they were drowned in the mix so it’s hard to judge just how well those who were given those instruments did. The horn section was kind of iffy but it could have been worse so they get a pass.

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At this point in time Baby Blossom are not going to give Stereopony or SCANDAL any scares but if the powers that be in AKB land decide to let this concept ride and give them more time to gel and practice I think this could be a cool side project thing for those involved.

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Overall I found this to be a fun concert to watch. Normally I tune out & get bored if there’s a lot of unfamiliar material but what was presented here showed what I have been missing out on for the past few years. It’s not like I’ve been a hard headed idol fan it’s just that it my experience with some AKB fans has not always been the most positive so that soured me on the group for a while.

Their music on the other hand slowly crept on to my playlists so even though I may think some of the fans are overly sensitive, defensive, illiterate douche bags who take EVERYTHING out of context; I can easily avoid those idiots in favor of just focusing on the tunes and the girls.

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Speaking of the girls. I guess there are a few who really caught my eye as I was watching this concert. The first would be Takahashi Minami, hereby known as my future ex-wife. =P  Probably out of all the girls on stage I paid attention to her the most whenever she was on. There was something about her that kept my focus almost exclusively around her vicinity at all times.

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Maeda Atsuko was another I was watching intently. I understand her appeal but I saw that she looked either extremely happy or extremely uninterested whenever she was on stage. It kind of depended on the song I think. I’m not the only one who noticed that so perhaps that is a normal character trait?

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Minegishi Minami I believe is a hot piece of ass. Others don’t necessarily agree but I guess everyone views each of these members differently. Anyway, I was wishing I was a trombone by the end of this concert.

That ends my first AKB concert experience. I think I’ll end up buying this when it comes out on DVD or Blu-Ray. I haven’t bought many Japanese concert DVD’s/Blu-Ray’s considering how expensive they are but this I believe would be worth the price of importing.