It is once again that time of year for the annual Festivus Airing of Grievances. For those not familiar with this tradition it is basically the lashing out at the world about how you have been disappointed by the actions of others.

We at Selective Hearing have adopted this tradition as part of our year-end wrap up with the inaugural edition last year.

This is my final contribution to the recap series and much like last year, I have a lot of stuff to get off my chest in regards to clearing the air before the new year. As always, the opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the other Selective Hearing Staff or affiliates of the site.

Festivus

Your company stinks! (Hello! Prjoect / Up-Front)

Hello! Project and Up-Front have gone through what can only be described in sports terms as a “complete overhaul of the team” when it comes to their flagship group.

Morning Musume Help Me

Morning Musume are completely unrecognizable with the departures of long-time members Niigaki Risa, Mitsui Aika. The soon to part Tanaka Reina will only add to their woes leaving Michishige Sayumi as the last remaining reminder of Musume’s past glories and a harsh reminder of what happens when you strip the singers out of the group systematically.

While I believe Sayu is the right person to lead the youthful charge the overall result is that Morning Musume will be left vocally handicapped as a result of all the change.

Once Tanaka is gone the vocal load should fall on the tiny shoulders of 9th generation standout Sayashi Riho and 11th generation miracle girl Sakura Oda.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on the new breed and hopefully they, along with the rest of the youngins are ready for the uphill climb.

Tanaka Reina

And yes, Morning Musume fans it will be an uphill climb once their only remaining real lead vocalist jumps ship to front her own band. Riho is good, but she ain’t that good and Sakura has yet to prove anything.

Yes, her audition footage was outstanding but let’s see if she can handle the weight of the world that the fans will heap upon her.

Mano Erina

The graduation of Mano Erina continues to puzzle me. Why exactly is she leaving? Does she really want to become an actress?

Just when Up-Front finally got a sense of what to do with her she ups and goes? I seriously don’t get it.

It’s really quite sad since she was in a comfortable groove with her past singles and albums. I know I may have ragged on Mano Eri a bit when she first debuted but she has proven herself to be a capable soloist and when she leaves that leaves a rather large hole in the Hello! Project roster.

They don’t have any pure soloists other than her.

It does appear that Up-Front is already backfilling that role with the recent announcement of that random chick from some audition who will be part of their SATOYAMA Life movement. Don’t bet all your chips on her quite yet as it is still unknown if she is Mano’s replacement.

We still have the chosen one a.k.a. The Second Coming of Jesus Miyamoto Karin languishing in the kenshuusei after all. She’s due right?

S/mileage have become a shell of the future greatness that they were projected to become. All that promise has been pissed away with each subsequent single after Maeda Yuuka left.

I found that there was so much overwhelming change in H!P that it’s still hard to comprehend or get a good grasp on.

I would like to think that it will result in positive growth but my gut tells me that 2013 will be a tough go.

Your company stinks! (AKS)

Maeda Atsuko

AKB is not off the hook either. Don’t think just because they’re selling millions of singles and are all over the damn place that they get a pass.

Apparently the 48 family is not the land of milk and honey we all thought it was. Look at all the girls who left over this past year. The list is endless and includes both main roster and kenkyuusei members.

NMB48 by itself had 15 members walk away. AKB48 lost 13, SKE48 had 7 go, and even HKT48 and JKT48 have gotten into the act with 5 members each, packing their bags for a non-idol life.

This brings the grand total of future endeavors to 45 so far with the highest profile names including Maeda Atsuko, Kasai Tomomi, Masuda Yuka and Yagami Kumi.

The reasons for leaving seem to boil down to one or more of the following:

  • Booty calls / Alleged sex with an ugly man
  • Wants to become an actress / soloist / free to do whatever
  • “Studies”
  • Career ending injury

The “studies” excuse is getting stale. All the girls who used that reason can’t all be educational failures (a.k.a. dumber than a rock) can they?

Yagami Kumi 02

Okay, it was proven that Yagami Kumi, while very pretty is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But, come on. I believe that “studies” is code for “I’m never going to make the main roster ever so I might as well quit.”

That of course applies to kenkyuusei but it makes you think if the competitive environment where your friend is also your rival screws with some girls heads. Maybe sacrificing studies to become a better dancer or singer than everyone else pushes some of them too far to where they can’t handle what is a full-time job and school successfully at their young age.

I can see the point of Maeda graduating since she reached the peak of all she could do in AKB48 and by all accounts she seems to be a decent actress. I wouldn’t really know since all I watch when it comes to AKB acting are shit late night dramas no one in their right mind would view sober.

Kasai I’m not so sure about. Her solo song is okay but is it really a reason to just up and walk away? Perhaps her poor attitude after bailing on that variety show challenge (and not apologizing for her actions) has something to do with this sudden announcement.

Masuda Yuka

If so, this ain’t the best way to deal with that kind of problem. Perhaps AKS is using the philosophy of sweeping stuff under the rug as quickly as possible instead of having a possible problem child or uber diva on their hands.

Out of all of the 48 family members who have left I am most disappointed in Masuda Yuka. If only she had allegedly had sex with a better-looking dude. I’m all for her getting her freak on but wow. ISSA must be packing some serious heat in his pants to make her just drop out of AKB48 altogether after an assumed one night stand.

I hope that ride on the dark side of space mountain was worth it.

Despite the fact that the AKB48 and its associated groups are faring so well something definitely is up to make some of these girls just jump off the gravy train. Who’s next is the question going into 2013 and will the sky fall as a result?

Riding that horse to the bank

Apparently Hallyu found its new savior in the form of a rotund man who provided social commentary on the ridiculousness of the opulence of the upper class; or something similar to that.

No one really knows because they were too busy laughing at the video for Gangnam Style to notice.

Indeed PSY was the one who got closest to breaking that glass ceiling and hitting number one on the Billboard charts. But he was cock blocked by Maroon 5 over and over and over.

PSY

I found that hilarious but I’m sure some Hallyu flag bearers were burning effigies of Maroon 5 as a sacrifice to the Gods to push PSY to the top. It didn’t happen but hey, he did better than those before him didn’t he?

Unfortunately his song has jumped the shark and will probably be a footnote as another one hit wonder when he returns in March to promote his album a few months too late to capitalize on his fame in the U.S.

This is not a good idea and rather piss poor planning on YG’s part. You have to strike while the iron is hot. I could be wrong but I don’t expect PSY to be as huge next year unless he whips out Gangnam Style Part 2 feat. MC Hammer or something similar to that.

I hope PSY enjoys his piles of money and manages to score some high-class ladies to help him burn it away.

A Cup of Coffee

Girls Generation

Since we’re on the topic of the Hallyu wave what was the deal with Girls’ Generation doing half-assed promotions for their half-assed The Boys album in America? While the effort was there by showing up, it was like SM was just expecting K-Pop fans to carry the load through word of mouth.

It probably didn’t help that the self-titled lead song off that album was just plain awful. But hey, we got to see Regis Philbin’s Mighty Kong awaken without the use of any blue pills.

That seemed to be the highlight of their talk show tour of duty. Good job ladies! You made an old man happy in his pants on nationwide T.V.

Regis Boner

A lesson could have been learned from the Wonder Girls who spent a few months in the U.S. pimping like mad all over the country. Oh well. It was a nice attempt but very half-hearted.

Idol Fans

Sometimes the overseas fandom is just unbearable. I tend to avoid forums of any kind just because I no longer have time for drama but from those I know who still frequent them apparently some things haven’t changed.

AKB48 fans seem to expect to have everything handed to them on a silver platter. Every event, no matter how insignificant has to be broadcast on Google+ and YouTube because it’s owed to them. It is their God given right as a fan to be able to see their favorites perform and to be denied that is like being the denied life itself

To put it in simpler terms, the recent fuss over the AKB48 Kohaku singing competition not being streamed sounded like a bunch of whining kids who got toothbrushes and dental floss for Halloween treats.

Shimazaki Haruka

Why do people insist that this year’s Janken tournament was rigged? How exactly do you rig a game of chance? So what if Ponkotsu Shimazaki won? Good for her even though she was in the middle of a huge push to the moon before taking the tournament.

I’m happy she won because it resulted in the most graceful thing ever caught on video for an AKB center. (Paru falling off a cliff if you haven’t watched Eien Pressure)

It’s like nothing will ever satisfy you people. AKB48 could become a global phenomenon and tour every possible venue where their fans could see them and that still wouldn’t be enough.

Hello! Project fans are no better. Apparently Morning Musume selling over, 100K for their 50th single means the good times are back. And exactly how many years has it been since they’ve hit that number?

Let me go back in my time machine and see. The last time they even hit that mark was 8 years ago with Ai Araba It’s All Right.

Yet the parade to the top of Idol Mountain is already being planned without seeing if consistency can be achieved with this new crop of girls. Obviously Wakuteka Take A Chance is a baby step in the right direction. Hey, 80K ain’t bad for a follow up, I’ll admit that.

But let’s wait a bit longer after Tanaka leaves to see what happens before we start proclaiming that Momusu is indeed on the path back to being competitive.

What really grinds my gears about the overseas fandom is that there is still this huge divide between Hello! Project and AKB48 fans when there should be none at all. I thought we were all past this animosity.

But since it still exists there will be folks like me who egg on the stupidity simply because it’s entertaining. For me any meaningful and mature discussion about idols is usually only done within the confines of my peer group who understand the absurdity of it all.

I have been accused of trolling the Hello! Project fandom. That is true simply because many of them deserve it for the overuse of a certain word that begins with “a” and ends with “zing” for just about every release without really looking at the quality of said works.

So while some may call it trolling, I consider it calling things as they are. I simply care too much to see what brought me into the idol game be monopolized by the Borg-like mentality that is being permeated throughout the fan culture. Does that make me a complete asshole for doing that? Maybe.

Of course those who know me best understand that I am an equal opportunity hater and my wrath is not just limited to the Hello! Project denizens. I have a strong dislike for the self-entitled AKB fans I mentioned above. I also did not like that my early encounters with the fan culture were with some less than welcoming individuals. That really soured me on things until I met more sensible minded people who don’t take all this idol business so seriously.

Something else…

There were some business related issues that I will not discuss here that have made me question whether certain idol agencies understand the concept of professional courtesy.

I will not disclose details but I am very disappointed with how the negotiations for a simple request have broken down to a one-sided conversation. In the end it’s just an unfortunate case of being left hanging to the point where one just gives up out of frustration.

Too bad.

Anything else?

Nope. That’s it for this year’s cleansing. Bring on 2013.