The following is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect those of the Selective Hearing staff, our affiliates and/or partners.

What is new… Is new again?

In a November article on Tokyo Sports it was stated that Morning Musume’s goal for 2014 is to be invited to Kohaku. Given that the group’s shift to electronic dance music has brought them back to a path of success this is an achievable goal.

How this will happen is what is of most interest, reimportation. So what exactly is this concept? Based on what I understand of the translation of the article it is focusing on making Morning Musume an overseas sensation and using that momentum to get invited to Kohaku.

Morning Musume 14

With that in mind it appears the plan this year (if you are to believe the words of Tsunku) really is to break Hello! Project’s flagship group internationally. That means more promotional activities in the west while leaving their Japanese fan base in the cold.

Good news for overseas fans? Yes. Obviously those who are frothing at the mouth for Momusu action in their part of the world are eagerly anticipating where and when they will appear and/or perform. It’s been 4 years since they have done any significant overseas work and in the minds of many they are long overdue for such activities.

But is this a good idea in the long run to achieve such a lofty goal? As mentioned previously their music has evolved to something modern to help their cause. Gone are the silly chicken suits and in are as one our staff members (who shall remain unnamed to protect their identity) so lovingly describes as “Robocop sounds”. Like it or not, Morning Musume in its current state are surpassing the last great era in most fans minds (the Platinum era) quite hastily.

Unfortunately there are a few barriers to make this whole thing a solid course of action. The most glaring one is the language barrier. Since I live in North America I will only speak of what I know here, and what I know is if you don’t speak English you aren’t getting very far.

Not a lot of the Joe/Jane public that make up the general listening population are going to give songs they can’t understand a chance. Morning Musume could drop the track of a lifetime with the fattest beats, catchy hooks and a kick ass PV and yet fail miserably because no one can sing along.

You only have to look at the failure of K-Pop (who arguably one up their American counterparts with the same type of radio friendly pop) to see one of the possible paths this idea may lead Morning Musume. The only saving grace is that they maybe pull a PSY and become a novelty one hit wonder.

And really, that should not be the fate of a group with the legacy of Morning Musume.

The other problem is if this whole plan is actually what UFP wants to do, who are they marketing to? Sure Morning Musume is amazingly popular overseas…. To weaboos and some Japanese music connoisseurs. Those people are a small niche market when you look at the big picture.

In a country as big as America you’re more likely to get a blank response when you bring up the topic of Japanese idol pop music so to hope for total domination is a pipe dream.

If Up-Front are looking to go through with this plan maybe they should consider staying away from the anime convention world unless they just want to maintain their weaboo quota. Would they gain more fans if they didn’t branch out past conventions? Sure. But it wouldn’t gain them any real mass appeal.

Perhaps something like a small live house may be able to accommodate an act like Morning Musume. If Utada can sell out smaller concert halls, there’s no reason why Morning Musume can’t do the same with their cult following. Sure it may be inconvenient for some, but having having in a concert in a place meant to hold such events lends more credibility to their quest.

In the end it’s hard to tell whether this idea will work until it actually is executed. Well, maybe we should say IF it is executed. It is a huge gamble that may pay off big or fail hard in the end. At this point in time who knows?

Comments

  • meowmel January 5, 2014 at 4:24 am

    good article. still it will be nice to see morning musume
    tour the world even if its just to cater for the fans.

  • yuritan January 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Maybe they saw how popular Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is and wanted to try something like that. I’m not entirely sure how they could do it though.

  • Gabby January 5, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    If UFP thinks Morning Musume can somehow “make it big” in the US, they are delusional. Their cheap PVs will never get them viral on Youtube, they don’t have the backings/TV background that the Disney/Nick stars can rely on, and of course, the language barrier. If they somehow can’t even succeed in pushing MM in Taiwan in 2007, where there were crowds of people welcoming them in the airport, what sort of popularity do they think the can get in the US?

    Really, if they just want the illusion of overseas popularity to fool the people who run Kouhaku to let them back in, they might as well just stick to bigger anime cons. They are guaranteed to draw a crowd of people already interested in them, and they may even grab a few new fans here and there from con attendees who are more inclined to accept their shit. A tour in smaller concert halls may work, but from what I know about how UFP works, it’ll likely be too much trouble for them to try.

  • Firstname Lastname January 6, 2014 at 5:03 am

    UFP needs to sort out their priorities if they’re really thinking about touring/promoting MM overseas. They haven’t even secured themselves as one of the top few groups within Japan and they wanna target another country? I’d rather they continue with the momentum they have and push for even stronger promotion locally. It may even be a good time to knock off AKB who are without a large chunk of their old guard.

    Objectively speaking no asian act (korean, japanese, or otherwise) has truly made it in USA. At best, Wonder girls, SNSD, and PSY were 1 hit wonders. Highly doubt MM can outdo them.

  • Steve Summers January 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Very well-said. I also read this a little while ago and was pretty astounded at the audacity of Tsunku, but I guess that’s nothing new. But when those of us who have a pretty basic level of understanding on how the West receives foreign entertainment process these ideas he has for just a few minutes, it becomes clear just how ridiculous it all is. I don’t have much to say past what you already said in the article, but I agree with every word.