2011 marked the 5th year of Selective Hearing’s existence and it’s been a hell of a ride so far. I am truly amazed at how far things have come from the sub-blog on my (soon to be decommissioned) personal site to the fully functioning stand alone web site that it is today.

I really did have something cool planned way back in January to celebrate 5 years but that kind of fell through but other things made up for that. Many who follow this site on a regular basis know that since last year others have joined the Selective Hearing family, contributing their thoughts on the music and news covered here and helping the site grow.

This year marked another year of growth with Paul, Chiima and the soon to debut Otahiro joining the writing staff and graciously sharing their take on things.  To them I say thank you very much for taking up the offer to join Selective Hearing. I hope that the site allows you to express yourself freely without having to worry about holding back on how you really feel about the music we all listen to.

To the first generation of my staff (TOZ, kuro and maliciel), whether you were present or not throughout the year (we all lead busy lives after all) I would like give you all a very big thank you for your contributions to Selective Hearing. This site would not be the same without you guys balancing out some of the bullshit I write. =)

But really, all of you helped me from burning out on trying to keep up with some of the more established sites and were a reminder that there’s more to running a web site than silly statistics. It’s really about what we have to offer the community of readers who come here either on purpose or by mistake.

To those of you who are regular readers of this site. A HUGE thank you for sticking around through all the changes and sometimes lack of posts. Whoever you are and where ever you are I hope you found what you were looking for and that it was helpful and informative.

Berryz Koubou Sakura-con 2011

Personally 2011 has been another great year of touring. First was Berryz Koubou at Sakura-con in Seattle. Even with the lack of press conference and interviews being canned (except for special people) my first Berryz experience was still full of awesome. I got to meet a lot of new people and hang out with old friends from previous excursions, get autographs from the girls twice, give them all presents and participated in my very first riot.

There was also the free booze at the Nico Nico launch party and Hello! Party 2. I also further sold my soul to h.NAOTO and Gashicon. In the end, not getting any real press access to anything was offset by a lot of fun.

For those of you who missed out you can read my recap of the festivities below:

Sakura-con 2011 Day 0

Sakura-con 2011 Day 1

Sakura-con 2011 Day 2

Sakura-con 2011 Day 3

Sakura-con 2011 Recap & Final Thoughts

SCANDAL AM2

In June there was the inaugural AM2 convention in Anaheim that featured the lovely ladies of SCANDAL.  This was my very first time getting all access (so to speak) at a convention. To actually show up to do work was kind of strange but I think I did well enough to at least give people the experience of what it was like to be there, even if I was a bit fuzzy on the details sometimes. =)

Again I got the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones along the way. The SCANDAL concert itself was awesome and although the autograph session was kind of a screw job it was still really cool to see the women of SCANDAL up close and personal. It’s something that most of us who were press experienced many times over during the weekend of AM2.

I was able to interview Gashicon, Sixh and Mint and also got to experience Kanon Wakeshima and Kanon x Kanon for the first time as well and left impressed by what they had to offer. Much like Seattle I again sold more of what was left of my soul to h.NAOTO & Gashicon and the number of times I got pictures with her was silly.

If you missed out on AM2 then you can read my recaps below:

AM2 2011 Day 1

AM2 2011 Day 2

AM2 2011 Day 3

AM2 2011 Wrap Up Part 1 Panels

AM2 2011 Wrap Up Part 2 Scandal Press Conference

AM2 2011 Wrap Up Part 3 Final Thoughts

SCANDAL at AM2 2011

After those two conventions I was tapped out and I couldn’t go to anything else for the rest of this year. I’m sad that I missed out on the marriage of Bryan and Jen from Hello! Ranking but at least I sort of got to be part of the nuptials thanks to their webcast. Congratulations guys, I wish you many happy years together.

I was also scheduled to go to the New York Anime Festival due to a rumor that started way back at the end of Sakura-con that ended up to be bogus so that fell through. SMTown also hit New York around the same time but I wasn’t exactly keen on going due to the lateness of notification and the fact that flying from the west coast to the east ain’t cheap.

What else? Well Selective Hearing Radio turned 2 back in April and it continues to go strong every week. There’s no indication that I’ll stop the show any time soon so if you haven’t heard of the program shame on you, and check out the archives for the previous late night shenanigans if you have no idea what I’m talking about.  The monthly house mixes also are continuing. Even though I’m a busy dude with a day job and other side projects I always have time to do what brought me to the dance in the first place.

Other than that I’m continuing to do my part to help promote a lot of different music to all of you out there. You may have noticed that there are a lot of promos from 303lovers / Hotfingers recently. There are also a few coming in from other labels as well. That’s part of the initiative to continually bring fresh content to you the reader & to make this site a well-rounded place.  I never said that Selective Hearing was going to be purely idol based, even if it was back when it started.

I guess 2011 can also be the year that I became a cold hearted, self-entitled asshole. (According to some) For the most part I don’t see the idol world like a lot of fans do. For example, the average idol fan may see the world like this:

Rainbow Unicorn

Whereas I’m more along the lines of this:

NPH Unicorn

I’m not saying that whatever I say is the be all and end all about whatever I choose to rant about. I’m just being honest and mostly objective. If some of you can’t swallow that bitter pill perhaps you should take your blinders off and try to not think like a silly fan girl or boy for a few minutes and see things from a different perspective.

Wow. That’s quite the bit of stuff and I haven’t even got to the music part. I figure answering the year end survey as much as I can will end this recap properly.

Best Hello! Project soloist or group

C-ute

 

I was very pro S/Mileage at the beginning of the year going as far as to say they were better than Morning Musume (& starting fights along the way) but that all changed when they were dismantled by 2 of the 4 original members departing and the pointless 2nd generation audition that didn’t accomplish anything because nature eliminated a contestant for UFA before the competition was over.

Now that they have slipped well below my radar I would have to say that C-ute has redeemed themselves from the atrocity that was Sucking Shocking 5. Every one of their singles and their album Chou Wonderful 6 were a pleasure to listen to. Even their videos were fun to watch. I mean who doesn’t like the metaphor of colored balls pelting the girls in the face or them pulling out the 90’s Will Smith dumb dancing moves?

They were also successful with their UStream and YouTube concerts pulling in 93,144 viewers for their YouTube stream alone.

Best Hello! Project Release

Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo

Um… This was one was difficult because Hello! Project made a big turn around this year and had way more hits than misses musically.

As much as I love Buono! they weren’t exactly up to par with their material as they experimented a bit on their Partenza album. I did like Miyabi’s solo on that album and the cover of 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou. If Partenza had Runaway Train on it I would have picked their album as the best release.

Instead I’m going with the flagship group Morning Musume and their double a-side Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun Da yo/Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai! Both show sides of Morning Musume that have been woefully lacking and broke them out of the rut of Emo releases.

Anything capable of doing that and increasing my interest in Morning Musume again deserves to have top spot.

Best AKB48 artist or group

no3b

I have stated it many times here and on the podcast that I am a total AKB noob. I have a hard time figuring out who is who among the millions of members of the group. I can recognize some of the more popular girls but other than that I’m at a complete loss. It’s much like how I started with Hello! Project being completely overwhelmed by the numbers.

I kind of know of at least one sub-group outside of the monster that is the parent group and that is No3b. (No Sleeves) I choose them by default because of that. I still can’t name any of the members on sight but upon further investigation I found out that Minami Minegishi is the one I gravitate to the most. I have no idea why quite yet.

Anyway, I like this group’s songs and their debut album showed potential for future greatness.

Best AKB48 release

no3b

If I did this last year I would have picked Beginner and be done. Unfortunately that isn’t the case here. I don’t have a clue what to pick. Looking back on the list I noticed that I didn’t list any SKE songs (although they’re technically on AVEX so that kind of DQ’s them) or NMB. (which I just forgot about due the number of groups that come out of AKB every half second or so)

I would have gone with AKB48’s Flying Get but that song (despite its sales) is average at best compared to some of their other material. The video is pretty good though.

Instead of trying to figure out what I’m taking about  I’ll settle upon my default (and safe pick) of No3b and their self-titled debut just because.

Favorite J-Pop female soloist

Namie Amuro

Namie Amuro

Favorite female J-Pop duo or group (excluding AKB & H!P)

Perfume

Perfume

Favorite male J-Pop duo or group

EXILE

EXILE

Favorite male K-Pop duo or group

Super Junior

Super Junior

Favorite K-Pop female duo or group

2NE1

2NE1

Best J-Pop single (excluding AKB48 & H!P)

Tokyo Girls Style – Love Like Candy Floss

Best K-Pop single

Girls’ Generation – Mr. Taxi

Best J-Pop album (excluding AKB48 & H!P)

Girls Generation 1st Japanese Album

Best K-Pop album (yes, mini-albums count)

Miss A A Class

Most shocking news item & why?

Let’s cross out the obvious right away. Takahashi Ai’s grad was expected and it was announced way ahead of time so that’s not shocking. It sucks but it’s not a shock when you know it’s coming. Maki Goto’s hiatus was unexpected considering that she’s probably been more successful on AVEX than at any time during her Hello! Project/UFA tenure but considering that she’s been through a lot of traumatic issues she does deserve a break.

For me that leaves Kago Ai’s suicide attempt.

My opinion on the whole Kago Ai thing has already been stated and she pretty much screwed herself over by making questionable life choices. She reaped what she sowed. Others may not agree on that but we’re all entitled to our own opinion. (and calling others out because they don’t agree with you is just immature and petty) Hopefully she gets the help that she looks like she desperately needs and gets rid of the bad influences around her.

Given her life path at the time she was either going to kill herself or go into JAV. Either way she was fucked. Let’s hope that she tries to turn her life around before it’s too late.

Biggest waste of time (a.k.a. insignificant news item blown out of proportion)

Oh boy, I could go to any K-Pop news site and point out 99.9% of the “news” on any of them as part of this category. Who gives a shit if someone took a picture of themselves or airport fashions or what some skinny ass pretty boy ate for breakfast? (& threw up subsequently after) Do you know how difficult it is to wade through the bullshit of these sites trying to find actual information? Try doing research for my podcast every week when it comes to K-Pop and you’ll want to throw your computer through a wall after clicking the “Next” link over and over and over for about 30 minutes.

Even with that fruitless effort there is something much worse. My pick for biggest waste of time is the dismantling of S/Mileage. They were considered by many to be the next group to take the reigns in Hello! Project after Morning Musume’s age hit single digits on average. Ever since their debut they were on an unstoppable roll that was halted when the pointless 2nd generation auditions were announced. This entire sham of an audition was totally unnecessary.

Those who follow Hello! Project know what happened, one of the competitors got sick and had to drop out. The end result was that the remaining four got in by default. No making little girls cry, crushing their dreams & placing them in purgatory (a.k.a. The Eggs) for life. Nope, they ALL GOT IN. Talk about anti-climactic. To top it all off 2 of the original four members just went “Fuck this shit, I’m out!”

I’m all for furthering ones education but man, to see Ogawa Saki & Maeda Yuuka go just blows. Especially Yuuka. She was my favorite and when she’s gone S/Mileage is all but dead to me.

Is there anything else that you enjoyed about music in 2011? Please elaborate.

Um… This year was interesting to say the least. I’ll sum everything up in point form:

  • Hello! Project finally got their shit together and for the most part look like a competitive collective again.
  • Morning Musume’s 10th generation looks promising already & they haven’t done jack other than survive the audition process.
  • K-Pop and their insane number of look and sound-a-like groups still confuses me to no end. Don’t even get me started on “comebacks” and “repackaged albums”. With that said, I found more stuff to like than dislike in the genre this year.
  • I learned that AKB is not the enemy. It’s too bad there are still many immature idiots out there who haven’t figured that out yet.
  • Thanks to rhythm games like Dance Central and its sequel I sort of care about North American music again. A little.