New Year Premium Party is an idol festival organized by TOKYO IDOL PROJECT and @JAM. It has been held in the Odaiba area since 2017 with Zepp Tokyo and Zepp DiverCity hosting the concerts and the Fuji TV building serving as the stages for fan service events.
January 2 and 3 2020 marked the fourth year of the New Year Premium Party event. It was also my fourth time attending this particular idol festival. Unlike last year I had a very tight schedule to adhere to, so the number of acts I could check out was limited.
So rather than walk in and see whoever I went back to planning around specific acts and hoped that their time slot matched with the few hours that I would be at the event. With that in mind, I had the following artists pencilled in on my schedule:
- Magical Punchline
- Tokyo Girls’ Style
- Lyrical School
- AKB48 フレッシュ選抜
You can see that I didn’t have too much time to hang around the festival this year, and I missed some regular acts I see, such as predia and AKB48 Team 8. I also missed out on seeing a full Wasuta performance as well.
Here are my thoughts on what I was able to see during my short time over the 2 days of the New Year Premium Party 2020.
January 2, 2020
I arrived at the festival area in Odaiba an hour early to pick up my press pass from Zepp DiverCity. After that, it was off to the DiverCity food court to find a quick bite to eat before officially starting my day. I ended up at the fine Japanese dining establishment known as Carls Jr. for breakfast.
During that time, I looked over the press kit materials and pasted my badge on the back of my phone case. There wasn’t much different from previous years, and many of the same rules I came to know and love applied to the 2020 version of the festival.
Once breakfast was over, I made the short walk back to Zepp DiverCity to start my workday.
My first act of the day was Up Up Girls (2). I managed to catch the last 10 minutes of their set after jockeying for a decent position within the venue. They were okay, but nothing memorable from their performance stood out for me.
The act after them (Magical Punchline) was who I wanted to see. The first thing I noticed when they hit the stage was that they appeared to drop the whole “Magical Girl” theme and instead were dressed like a traditional idol group. Their performance was excellent. The majority of their setlist was high energy idol pop. There were also some slower songs inserted to allow the members a short rest from all the dancing.
What stuck with me the most after they were done was Koyama Lina’s vocals. They were reliable and stable throughout Magical Punchline’s time on stage. That was impressive given the amount of dancing they were doing during their set.
Next on my list were CY8ER, who was performing on the other side of Odaiba at Zepp Tokyo. I got into that venue around the last 10 minutes of BLACKNAZARENE’s performance. This 5-member group was entirely new for me. They had some good energy on stage, and the songs that I did hear from them were pretty catchy. I made a note in my phone to look them up further after my trip to Japan was over.
CY8ER hit the stage shortly after BLACKNAZARENE’s performance ended. When I saw them last year, I was sitting all the way in the back where all the photographers were. This year I was much closer to the stage where I could see all the action clearly.
All of the members looked so tiny up close. That probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that idols, in general, are small in stature. When it came to their music, they spared no expense at working the volume to the maximum allowed. It was, to put it bluntly, fucking loud. You could feel the bass reverberate through your body, trying to pulverize your bones to mush. I thought it was great.
Their set was a fantastic, non-stop blend of idol pop and EDM/club music. They did not even stop for an MC break and just powered through the 40 minutes they were given to perform. When CY8ER was done, I decided to stay in Zepp Tokyo rather than go back outside again.
After a short intermission, the first of two collaboration mini-stages started. アキシブproject x 真っ白なキャンバス featured two groups that I don’t follow. I don’t recall a lot from their set at all, to be honest. The same could be said for the second collaboration between Up Up Girls and Magical Punchline. It was nice to see both groups again, but I don’t really remember what songs they sang.
I spent most of my time watching wota position themselves for Tokyo Girls’ Style. I also wanted to protect my spot from being taken by overzealous fans making their way into the venue. That distracted me from keeping my full attention to what was happening on stage.
When it came to the time for Tokyo Girls’ Style to hit the stage, I was full of anticipation. I didn’t get to see them when they made their appearance at J-Pop Summit in San Francisco, so this was my first real opportunity to see them perform live.
With the group recently going back to the idol ways, it was great to see them perform a lot of their older material. Yes, they added some of their EDM influenced songs, but for the most part, their set was a throwback to their idol days. I was okay with that as their older songs are great.
Of all the performers I watched on January 2, Tokyo Girls’ Style was the most polished. That was to be expected since they have been around for quite a while. Based on what I saw from them at NPP2020, it looks like Tokyo Girls’ Style will be plying their trade as idols again for the foreseeable future.
It was a toss-up between CY8ER and Tokyo Girls’ Style for best stage among the few short ones I attended on day 1 of NPP2020.
January 3, 2020
Much like day 1, I arrived at Zepp DiverCity to pick up my press pass and eat breakfast. Unlike the day before, I actually ate Japanese food rather than American fast food. After partaking in my meal, I went to see the first act of the day 22/7.
22/7 is a group that I know of due to the hype generated by a single member, Sally Amaki. This was my first opportunity to see them live. I thought they were an okay idol group. Their songs did not leave a lasting impression on me. I don’t remember much of their set at all. What I do remember is their fans are incredibly rowdy folks.
That ended my time at Zepp DiverCity, and the rest of my day was spent at Zepp Tokyo. I got into the venue at the tail end of MIGMA SHELTER’s set. Whatever song I walked in on had a real EDM/Club feel to it. I couldn’t catch the name of it (maybe I should have Shazamed it), but it was catchy. I made another note on my phone to check them out after my trip was over.
Lyrical School was the group I was looking forward to the most on day 2. I have been a fan of their brand of idol Hip-Hop for a while, and this was my first chance to see them perform live. When it came time for their set to start, they bum-rushed the stage hard and never let their foot off the gas. They were very similar to CY8ER in that respect, where they were high energy for their entire time on stage.
Their MC skills have always been on point in a recorded setting, and they just as great live. I have always been critical of their singing in the past. More recently, that part of their game has improved immensely. I was curious if that was studio wizardry or if there was actual progress in that area. I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was the latter.
They went through many songs from their latest release BE KIND REWIND, along with a few cuts from their back catalogue. Their stage went by too fast, and I was left wanting for more when they were done. I guess I will have to make a better effort to see their one-man lives the next time I am in Japan.
I stayed in Zepp Tokyo as AKB48 フレッシュ選抜 was the next group I wanted to see. Before them was a pair of collaboration stages.
The first was Jewel☆Ciel x 転校少女* and the second was Task have Fun x わーすた. I was curious as to why the place was filling up so quickly near the end of Lyrical School’s set, and I soon realized that it was because of all the Wasuta fans crowding in. They are a loyal and energetic bunch, to say the least. I don’t remember much from the collaborations other than the crazy Wasuta fans.
When AKB48 フレッシュ選抜 hit the stage, I didn’t recognize a lot of the members. I guess that’s why they are called “fresh,” right? Anyway, it was a standard AKB48 performance with little in terms of variety. I noticed that the crowd popped more for the songs than who was on stage. This was especially true of the nostalgic “golden era” songs of yore.
When AKB48 finished so did my time at the New Year Premium Party 2020. I was not as rushed to around as years past. In fact, this was the most relaxed I have been at this event. Given that I had only a short window to be there each day, I tried to maximize my time as much as possible.
As usual, I enjoyed watching various acts, both familiar and unfamiliar. I ended up with at least two new groups to put some research into, which is pretty good considering that I was only there for specific ones. I didn’t expect to invest in those, not on my list of must-see idols.
Whether I will attend next year’s event is unclear. After all, there is this coronamania running wild (Brother!) all over the planet. Will it be safe to travel at that time? I don’t really know. I will keep an eye on current events and hope for the best. I would like to keep my streak going.