No Country For Young Girls

Country Musume Audition

Earlier this year it was announced that applications to join Country Musume were being taken in the wake of Satoda Mai’s move to the United States. UP-FRONT went as far as having the sole remaining member promote these auditions on their YouTube page.

Girls aged 10 – 17 from all over Japan were allowed to apply. This was despite the concept of the group being “country girls from Hokkaido”.

After two rounds a notification was recently placed on the UP-FRONT Works website stating that after strict examination there were no suitable candidates found, but thank you for participating and continue to cheer on Hello! Project.

Satoda Mai

Last year Morning Musume’s 12th generation Mirai Shoujo auditions were aborted for the same reason and now UP-FRONT decide to pull the same stunt again. The obvious thing to do whenever an audition goes belly up is to point fingers at the figurehead of all that is Hello! Project Tsunku and lay all the blame on him. It’s easy isn’t it?

But since the man is probably still going through cancer treatment and recovery I would like to think that he had no involvement and has been left alone to take care of his health.

Whoever was in charge of these auditions certainly had good reason to stop them. Or at least one would hope there was a good reason. A certain segment of fans like to make fun of UP-FRONT for turning their auditions into a farce, but if their criteria for an idol are not being met it’s up to their discretion to continue moving forward or not.

One has to wonder whether results such as these may cause a bit of negative reinforcement when future auditions are announced. Would any young girl want to audition for Hello! Project when there’s a high probability that the entire thing will be a wash and called off for whatever arbitrary reason UP-FRONT can think of?

Is it not better to bypass H!P and try out for the rising number of indie idol startups or more established idol agencies who are in direct competition with Hello! Project? At least there would be a greater chance of either getting into a group, getting picked up as a soloist or being inserted into a trainee program.

On the other side of the coin is the fact that Hello! Project has an existing farm system in their kenshuusei. They don’t necessarily pull from that pool of talent they have been training very often. But they do have more seasoned potential candidates are right under their noses. So why invite random girls from the street when you can promote from within?

Would this apparent wishy-washiness deter those within their system from trying for auditions if the end result is cancellation? That doesn’t seem like a strong enough incentive to try does it?

I don’t necessarily have a strong attachment to Country Musume. Their time was ending just as I was getting into Hello! Project. I know of their songs through research of H!P’s back catalog and they never really caught my attention unless they had Morning Musume members on loan to the group.

Country Musume 3rd Gen

However, I did find the announcement of auditions for a long dead unit kind of pointless. To me, it would have made more sense to just let Satoda Mai go like they did with Coconuts Musume’s Ayaka and put the final nail in the coffin of Country Musume.

Not many current fans remember the glory days of Country Musume anyway and the reaction to bringing the group back appeared to be lukewarm at best. Perhaps it was more sensible to just give up on trying to revive the past and live off the goodwill of nostalgia. If that is the case, then good on UFP for doing the right thing.

I’m more disappointed with the fact that once again there is nothing to show for all the hype UP-FRONT generated. While this isn’t on the level of fail of the first Morning Musume 12th generation audition results, it is starting to show a trend of indecision or extreme pickiness.

This doesn’t necessarily bode well for the restarted Morning Musume 12th generation auditions going to a satisfactory completion with new members actually being picked.

I’m not quite sure what UP-FRONT are trying to accomplish by wasting their staff members’ time and dashing the hopes of the young girls who simply want to the opportunity to be idols. Hopefully when the 12th generation Morning Musume auditions are done something tangible will be the result. Another return of nothing won’t be of benefit to anyone.

About Greg 975 Articles
Greg is the creator, administrator, editor, code monkey, overlord and general jack of all trades at Selective Hearing. He can be found lurking among the overseas Asian pop fandom and bumming around Japan every year for some reason or another.