Morning Musume (モーニング娘。 Mōningu Musume.?), sometimes referred to as Momusu (モー娘。 Mōmusu.?), is one of the most successful Japanese pop idol girl groups, holding the second highest overall single sales (of a female group) on the Oricon charts as of February 2012, with the Oricon record of most top ten singles with an amount of 50, and they have sold over 18 million copies in Japan alone. They are the lead group of Hello! Project, which specialises in upbeat, pop-oriented music coupled with dance performance. The project is managed and produced by Tsunku, who composes vast majority of their song's lyrics and melodies. Over the years, the group produced several splinter groups, and often worked with other Hello! Project acts, including Country Musume, Berryz Kobo, Cute, Melon Kinenbi, and v-u-den.
Since their expansion into the Chinese-speaking market in 2007, the group officially adopted the name Jou An Sao Nu Jou (Zǎo Ān Shào Nǚ Zǔ,Traditional Chinese: 早安少女組, literally "good morning girl's group"). In recent years, the group have been making a concerted attempt to break into new markets in Asia, Europe and the US, performing at EXPOs worldwide.
The group's name can be translated as Morning Girls, as the name suggests, (with some degree of variation) it consists of members mostly in their late adolescence and early 20s. This has remained more or less unchanged since its formation in 1997 because the group maintains a "school-like" system for their continuous line-up changes, with older members "graduate" and new, usually younger, members selected from nationwideauditions admitted to the group annually.
1997-1998: Formation and beginnings
Japanese producer Tsunku started the group in 1997 through an audition for a female rock vocalist for his band Sharan Q. The audition was held on the Japanese TV show Asayan. The winner was Michiyo Heike, later to become a soloist under what would eventually become known as Hello! Project. Tsunku decided to form a girl group consisting of five of the runners-up: Natsumi Abe, Yuko Nakazawa, Kaori lida, Askua Fukuda, and Aya Ishiguro. They were issued a challenge to sell 50,000 copies of their demo single, "Ai no Tane", with just five days of promotion events.They managed the feat in four promotion days (spread out over November, 1997) in a very grassroots manner, and Tsunku began his mission to create the most famous all-girl group in Japan.
In early 1998, the girls were ready with their first official single, "Morning Coffee".The success of this single (hitting number six on the Japanese pop charts) brought them three new members known as the second generation: KeiYasuda, Mari Yaguchi, and Sayaka Ichii, bringing the total member count to eight. The second single, Summer Night Town,was the first single of the new lineup—a mature pop tune about unsuccessfully attempting to hide one's true feelings. Their third single, "Daite Hold on Me!", continued in the same vein musically as Summer Night Town, and managed to hit number one on the charts. Leader Nakazawa also started her solo career.
First Time was released in July 1998, featuring the singles "Ai no Tane", "Morning Coffee" and "Summer Night Time".
That year, Tsunku also formed Tanpopo, the first subgroup of Morning Musume, with Kaori lida, Aya Ishihuro, and Mari Yaguchi. Tanpopo touted slower, more mature songs.
1999: Groundbreaking success with Love MachineEdit
The group released its fourth single "Memory Seishun no Hikari" in early 1999, reaching number two on Oricon, second to Glay's "Winter, Again" which had 1st week sales of 955,780 copies, verse Memory Seishun no Hikari's 195,720).
The song features rap passages by L The Headtoucha and intense vocal harmonization by the group's members. This was Asuka Fukuda's last single with Morning Musume, making her currently the shortest-lived member at 2 years. Asuka claimed that she was leaving in order to focus on her studies, only to drop out of school soon after.
"Manatsu no Kosen" was released in May and was a summer tune. It went to number three on the charts, and the sales dropped by half from Memory Seishun no Hikari. Morning Musume's chart position was visibly lagging at the time: their sixth single, "Furusato", only sealed the fact. Natsumi Abe was the only one who sang the melody on "Furusato"; the other members just harmonized discreetly. This was their fifth single, and the sales once again decreased by half.
Second Morning was released in July 1999, and contained the singles "Daite Hold on Me!", "Memory Seishun no Hikari", "Manatsu no Kōsen", and "Furusato". "Daite Hold on Me!" and "Manatsu no Kōsen" were remixed.
Eager to add new life to the group, Tsunku held auditions for the third generation of Morning Musume. Two girls were expected to be admitted, but eventually only Maki Goto was added. Goto was 13, the youngest member of Morning Musume at the time. The group's seventh single, "Love Machine", sold 1,760,000 copies, making it a major hit; it is still their highest-selling single as of 2012. The song touted an image of Japan as the future "envy of the world" and cheered the masses during a period of economic recession. It was Maki Goto's first single and Aya Ishiguro's last. Its wild success dramatically increased the popularity of the group.
Soon Goto was paired with KeiYasuda and Sayaka Ichii to form the subgroup Petitmoni Petitmoni (also known as Pucchi Moni). Petitmoni's first single, " Chokotto Love", rivaled the success of "Love Machine", selling over 1,123,610 copies.
2000 first saw the release of "Koi no Dance Site", which hit number two and sold over a million—400,000 copies away from reaching Love Machine's success. The single had the highest 1st week sales than any other Morning Musume's singles, an enormous amount of 600,860 copies. Even with this large number, the single did not reach number one because Southern All Stars's biggest hit single, Tsunami, which sold total of 2.93 million copies, was released at the same date as Koi no Dance Site. Aya Ishiguro left the group before the single was released in order to marry Shinya, drummer of visual kei rock band Luna Sea, leaving the group with seven members.
The second event of 2000 was the creation of "shuffle units", in which all members of Tsunku's then 16-member family, Hello! Project, were shuffled around to form three one-time groups: Akagumi 4, Kiiro 5, and Aoiro 7. The idea was to battle for the highest single sales. This was achieved by Akagumi 4 which, to no surprise, boasted Maki Goto as the lead vocals.
In March, their third studio album, 3rd: Love Paradise was released. Despite having "Love Machine" and "Koi no Dance Site" on its track list, it did not manage to claim the number one spot, but did sell more than 800,000 copies, making it Morning Musume's highest-selling studio album to date.
This year also brought a new generation search. The fourth generation consisted of Rika Ishikawa, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Nozomi Tsuji, and Ai Kago, lending a completely different feel to the group by adding the 12-year-old duo of Tsuji and Kago. After their debut single, "Happy Summer Wedding", (continuing the legacy of number one hits with 1,370,000 copies sold,) Sayaka Ichii graduated to pursue her own music career. She became the vocalist of Japanese group Cubic Cross and later married fellow member Naoki Yoshizawa (no relation to Hitomi Yoshizawa).
With Ishiguro and Ichii gone, both Tanpopo and Petitmoni revised their lineups—Hitomi Yoshizawa joined Petitmoni, and Ai Kago and Rika Ishikawa were added to Tanpopo. Meanwhile, Mari Yaguchi had started performing informally with Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji in concerts as Mini Moni, a group tailored towards younger audiences with all the members being less than 150 cm (about 5 ft) tall. Mika Todd of Coconuts Musume was later added into the group and Tsunku made them official. Their debut single, "Minimoni Jankenpyon!", was a number one hit on the Oricon.
As an idol group, they were extremely successful, drawing comparisons to the popularity of former girl idol group Speed. "I Wish" and "Ren'ai Revolution 21" (Yuko Nakazawa's last single) continued the trend of happy pop songs becoming staple hits for the group. Morning Musume also began their tradition of performing in musicals each year, breaking new ground as idols with their hit musical, Love Century: Yume wa Minakerya Hajimaranai.
In April 2001, group leader Yuko Nakazawa graduated to concentrate more on her solo career (stating her age as a factor as well—she felt it was limiting her ability to meet the physical demands of the group's activities) making Kaori Iida and Kei Yasuda Morning Musume's co-leaders. During this time, the Rika Ishikawa was "lent" out to the rather inactive group, Country Musume. She did not officially join, but she sang with them for a short period of time.
By July 2001 the string of number one hits had yet to be broken with the release of the single "The Peace!". The Peace! was another somewhat bizarre pop tune, beginning with an almost fight song-like call and response, and featuring Rika Ishikawa as the lead. She had a dialog in the middle of the song, many solo lines, and took center in the dance and the cover shot. The promotional video echoed the song's strangeness by placing the group in the middle of what appeared to be a gigantic public bathroom, displaying the girls dancing amongst the urinals and posing for photographs in the stalls; supposedly as a response to hidden camera footage of the members that had recently surfaced, filmed from a toilet in their production offices.
At the end of January 2001, the best selling Hello! Project album to date was released: Best! Morning Musume 1. It sold 2,259,510 copies. It featured 15 tracks, the only original song being "Say Yeah! -Motto Miracle Night-".
At the end of 2001, four new members joined the group as the fifth generation through the audition "Love Audition 21:" Ai Takahashi, Asami Konno, Makoto Ogawa, and Risa Niigaki, bringing the roster to 13 girls. Their first single "Mr. Moonlight: Ai no Big Band", (done in the style of big band) featured fourth generation member Hitomi Yoshizawa as the central focus and main vocalist of the song.
Morning Musume's fourth studio album, 4th Ikimasshoi! was released in March 2002 after a two-year wait. It is the first studio album from the group to reach number one on Oricon. It featured the singles "Renai Revolution 21", (rerecorded with the current 13-person formation,) "The Peace!", (in a 'full', longer version,) "Mr. Moonlight: Ai no Big Band", (with added dialog at the beginning,) and "Sōda! We're Alive".
Late 2002 was marked by the graduation of Maki Goto and a mass re-shuffle of the sub-units. Tsunku removed Kaori Iida, Mari Yaguchi, and Ai Kago from Tanpopo, adding in Asami Konno, Risa Niigaki, and Ayumi Shibata of Melon Kinenbi to join Rika Ishikawa. Tanpopo only released one single with this lineup before the group was put on an indefinite hiatus status. Makoto Ogawa and Ayaka Kimura of Coconuts Musume joined Hitomi Yoshizawa in Petitmoni to replace Kei Yasuda and Maki Goto, but the group did not even release a single, only performing in concerts. Their song "Wow Wow Wow" was later released on the Hello! Project's compilation CD Petit Best 4. In Mini Moni, Mari Yaguchi was replaced by Ai Takahashi and the new lineup went on to put out several singles and a second album until member Mika Todd graduated in May 2004, adding Mini Moni to the list of "indefinite hiatus" subgroups.
The unique childlike tune "Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyōtanjima" was released in February 2003 as the group's seventeenth single. It is significant because it was a cover song, marking the first time Tsunku did not write a single's lyrics.
April brought the notably successful single "As for One Day"—a synthesizer-driven song about lost love—which sold 129,893 copies and hit number one in Oricon charts, and was the last time a Morning Musume single hit number one until "Aruiteru" (released late 2006). This single was the last for Kei Yasuda.
Before the auditions for the sixth generation were held, the group released the album No. 5. It was unique in a few ways. It was the last studio album to feature Kei Yasuda and Natsumi Abe as full members of the group. It was also the first Morning Musume studio album to feature a former member, as Maki Goto guests on "Megami (Mousse na Yasashisa)" and "Ganbacchae!". It only featured two singles: "Do It! Now" and "Koko ni Iruzee!".
In mid-2003, four new girls were added as the sixth generation: Miki Fujimoto, Eri Kamei, Sayumi Michishige, and Reina Tanaka. Eri Kamei, Sayumi Michishige, and Reina Tanaka successfully passed the traditional auditions; however, Miki Fujimoto was a solo singer in Hello!Project at the time. After she pulled off a successful appearance on the New Year's music program "Kōhaku Uta Gassen" with several Morning Musume members dancing as backup, Tsunku added her as part of the sixth generation. Their debut concert was also Kei Yasuda's graduation concert, and Tsunku has said that this one-time 16-member group is the largest Morning Musume will ever be.
Mari Yaguchi became Morning Musume's sub-leader after Kei's graduation and was also put in charge of training and assisting the trainee group of Hello! Project Kids, eventually forming a group with 5 of them, known as ZYX.
Later in 2003, Morning Musume was split into two subgroups so that it could tour more cities (especially smaller cities that could not support a 15-member troupe). Morning Musume Sakuragumi, which focused on slower and more traditional love songs, included Natsumi Abe, Mari Yaguchi, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Ai Kago, Ai Takahashi, Risa Niigaki, Asami Konno and Eri Kamei. Morning Musume Otomegumi, which had more upbeat pop songs with a slight rock flavor, featured Kaori Iida, Rika Ishikawa, Nozomi Tsuji, Makoto Ogawa, Miki Fujimoto, Sayumi Michishige, and Reina Tanaka. Sakuragumi released two singles: "Hare Ame Nochi Suki" and "Sakura Mankai", and Otomegumi released two singles as well: "Ai no Sono: Touch My Heart!" and "Yūjō: Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!".
In January 2004, Natsumi Abe (known as "the face of Morning Musume" to the general public) graduated to pursue a soloist career. Her last single was "Ai Araba It's All Right", Morning Musume's last song to sell more than 100,000 copies until 'One Two Three / The Matenrou Show'. "Ai Araba It's All Right" had uplifting lyrics (as would be expected, with the title), and a cheery dance sequence.
The group soon released another single, "Roman: My Dear Boy". The song showcased an almost rock flavor and centered its lyrics around offering "a dance" to a boy. This was followed by their twenty-third single, "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari", which is unique in that it was actually about the Morning Musume girls themselves—each member got a verse about their personality. This song would later be remade several times as "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 2" and "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 3", included in their sixth and seventh album respectively. This single also marked the graduation of fourth generation members Nozomi Tsuji and Ai Kago in August, to focus on "W", their new duo group.
In April 2004, Rika Ishikawa was caught in a rare scandal, as an audio recording revealed her saying of the groups fans at a show, "look at them. Grownups screaming like that! I can't believe it. So stupid!" 
In mid-2004, Morning Musume's second best-of album, Best! Morning Musume 2 was released and featured "Yah! Aishitai" as the only new track. It had a lukewarm reception at best, compared to their first best-of compilation.
Auditions for the seventh generation (named "Lucky 7" to commemorate the seventh generation, the seventh year of Morning Musume, and seven audition sites across Japan) were held in various Japan cities in late 2004, resulting in six finalists. However, on January 9, 2005, Tsunku surprised everyone by announcing that no one in the Lucky 7 audition would be added to Morning Musume, citing that he had set his expectations extra-high this year in hopes of finding an "ace". This was the first time an audition had ended with no new members.
Following this single Morning Musume Early Single Box was released. It was a 9-CD set containing their first eight singles with a bonus track on each one, as well as a karaoke CD of some of their more popular tunes from the early years.
Finally, at the end of 2004, the group's yearly album was released. Their sixth studio album, named Ai no Dai 6 Kan, hit stores in December. It contained three singles: "Roman: My Dear Boy", "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari", and "Namida ga Tomaranai Hōkago". This was Ai Kago, Nozomi Tsuji, Kaori Iida, Mari Yaguchi, and Rika Ishikawa's last credited studio album.
On January 30, 2005 - then-leader and the last member from the first generation Kaori Iida graduated to pursue a solo singer/artist career, with Mari Yaguchi taking on leadership role with Hitomi Yoshizawa as subleader. Her last single was "The Manpower!!!", which sung about the abilities of the human race and was also the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles theme song. The beginning of 2005 also saw the beginning of Musume Document 2005, which covered behind-the-scenes material, historical footage, and interviews.
In February 2005, Tsunku started another audition for Morning Musume's seventh generation. He noted that he was still intent on finding an "ace". This audition resulted with Koharu Kusumi finally being chosen as the sole "miracle" member of the new generation.
On April 10, 2005, photos were taken of Mari Yaguchi with Shun Oguri (scheduled to be published in a gossip magazine Friday! on the 15th). On April 14, 2005, Yaguchi announced that she would "retire" from Morning Musume and would continue on with solo activities. In her public statement, Yaguchi said that due to the scandal and its publicity, she could no longer sustain an "idol" image befitting of Morning Musume. Because of the nature of her departure (resignation rather than graduation), Yaguchi did not receive a graduation concert. Sub-leader Hitomi Yoshizawa took over as the leader of Morning Musume, and Miki Fujimoto became sub-leader as of July 15, 2005.
Just days after Yaguchi resigned, on April 27, 2005, the group's twenty-sixth single, "Osaka Koi no Uta" was released. The final version featured Yaguchi still, presumably because they did not have enough time to rerecord and remix it. The lyrics are in an Osaka dialect. This single was also Rika Ishikawa's last. She graduated on May 7, 2005, to assume full-time leadership of the Hello! Project trio known as v-u-den.
Kusumi's first single with Morning Musume was July's "Iroppoi Jirettai", a flamenco styled song, which was considered to be the biggest hit of the year—selling around 20,000 more copies than anything else. A 3 city handshake event was organized for the promotion of this single.
Morning Musume's last single of 2005 was "Chokkan 2: Nogashita Sakana wa Ōkiizo!", which was a remake of a previous album-only song about the importance of using your intuition and not taking good things for granted. "Koi wa Hassō Do The Hustle!" was going to be the title track for the single, but due to poor preview results, became the coupling track instead.
On December 31, 2005, graduated Morning Musume members Mari Yaguchi, Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Yuko Nakazawa, Ai Kago, Nozomi Tsuji, Rika Ishikawa, Maki Goto, and Kei Yasuda joined the current lineup of Morning Musume to perform the group's signature hit "Love Machine" on the 2005/2006 edition of Kōhaku Uta Gassen. The performance was Yaguchi's first since leaving Morning Musume eight and a half months earlier.
On January 16, 2006, it was announced that Morning Musume had won a Kanagawa Image Up Award in recognition of Hello! Project's support of an anti-pollution campaign. Yoshizawa, Fujimoto, and Takahashi represented the group to accept the award.
In February, the group released their seventh studio album, Rainbow 7. It was the first album for Kusumi and the last for Konno and Ogawa. The album features "The Manpower!!!", "Osaka Koi no Uta", "Iroppoi Jirettai", and "Chokkan 2: Nogashita Sakana wa Ōkiizo!" (in a remixed form). Kaori Iida, Rika Ishikawa and Mari Yaguchi are not credited anywhere in the liner notes although their vocals appear. Three of the songs on the album are performed by smaller clusters of several group members, and are credited in the liner notes to the featured members involved, rather than to the entire group.
On April 28, 2006, it was announced by Tsunku from his official website that fifth generation members Asami Konno and Makoto Ogawa were going to graduate. Konno graduated on July 23, 2006, to attend University and Ogawa graduated on August 27, 2006, to study English abroad. Both left Morning Musume, but only Konno left Hello! Project entirely; Ogawa intended to return after completing her studies. However, as of 2007, Konno returned to Hello! Project to join the new group Ongaku Gatas, making it the first time ever that a girl who left Hello! Project actually returned. Ogawa, on the other hand, returned in June 2008 by appearing on an episode of Morning Musume's television show Haromoni@.
Konno and Ogawa's last single was "Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan", which, yet again, featured a parapara type arrangement, with a rock 'n' roll flair. It was the group's 30th single, and a limited-edition CD of all past 30 singles mixed into a thirteen-minute track was included on the first pressing. Unfortunately, sales did not meet the hype, and Ambitious! clocked in as Morning Musume's lowest-selling single yet.
In mid-2006, the group performed the musical Ribbon no Kishi. Ai Takahashi took the main role; the secondary role was played by alternating members. There was also a mini-concert at the end of each performance, which served as Ogawa's real "graduation concert"—the Wonderful Hearts 2006 concert was initially intended for Konno's graduation only, although Ogawa wore a special outfit and read her graduation comments as well. (A last minute decision that fans were unaware of before the concert began). As for Ribbon no Kishi, an album with a selection of songs was released: Ribbon no Kishi The Musical Song Selection.
In mid-2006, Tsunku announced the audition for the eighth generation, called Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition. The audition started on August 27, 2006, and ended in Tokyo on October 22, 2006. On December 10, 2006's Hello! Morning, it was announced that the only new member was Aika Mitsui. The show had a piece of audition footage each week leading up to December 10, 2006.
The last single release in 2006 was "Aruiteru", which was a huge hit. It was the first single at the number one spot after 3½ years (their last number one hit being "As for One Day".) The song's lyrics were credited for its success, with lines like "walking, you're not alone because everyone's here with you, praying for peace". It was a bit of a turn from the hyperactive singles the group had been releasing. Tsunku's group, Sharan Q, also made a rock cover of this song.
Their first mini-album, 7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini!, was released in December. It featured five tracks by solo and/or smaller combinations of group members. It also featured the single "Aruiteru".
In early 2007, Morning Musume Tanjō 10nen Kinentai, a unit consisting of Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Maki Goto, Risa Niigaki, and Koharu Kusumi, was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Morning Musume. They released a commemorative single called "Bokura ga Ikiru My Asia". The members chosen symbolize the beginning of the group; how they had five members ranging in age from 14–24. Additionally, each member was from an odd-numbered generation (Kaori Iida and Natsumi Abe from the first generation, Maki Goto from the third, Risa Niigaki from the fifth, and Koharu Kusumi from the seventh).
On January 2, 2007, an announcement was made during Hello! Project's 2007 Winter concert that the group's leader at the time Hitomi Yoshizawa would graduate from Morning Musume on May 6, 2007, the last day of Morning Musume's 2007 spring tour. The concert would take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Yoshizawa's hometown.
In February, the first single with the eighth generation member Aika Mitsui was released, "Egao Yes Nude". This was the first PV of Morning Musume to appear on the Dohhh!Up site (a streaming website of Hello! Project media). The single went up against tougher competition than "Aruiteru" had, only landing them a number four spot, although it sold relatively the same number of copies. The song has a funky, disco feel, and is highly reminiscent of some of the older songs of Morning Musume, most notably Summer Night Town.
On the March 11, 2007, edition of the weekly TV show Hello! Morning, producer Tsunku revealed he would make an important announcement in the following episode. Several days later, on March 15, he announced that two other eighth generation members would be joining the group—Li Chun and Qian Lin, both Chinese nationals, were to join as "exchange students". Tsunku stated the two new members would be an important key for their group's planned expansion into Asia and gave them the stage names "Junjun" and "Linlin" respectively. The two made their stage debut on May 6, at Saitama Super Arena, during current leader Yoshizawa's graduation. This is notable, as they are the first non-Japanese members of the group.
On March 21, 2007, the group's eighth studio album, Sexy 8 Beat was released. It was the first album for Aika Mitsui and the last album for Hitomi Yoshizawa and Miki Fujimoto. It featured the singles "Aruiteru", "Egao Yes Nude", "Sexy Boy: Soyokaze ni Yorisotte", and "Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan".
On April 25, 2007, Morning Musume released their 33rd single, "Kanashimi Twilight". The song style was a huge departure from almost anything Morning Musume had released prior to it, displaying a loud, rock arrangement and the angriest lyrics since Shabondama. This would be the group's last single with members Hitomi Yoshizawa and Miki Fujimoto.
With the success of Kanashimi Twilight, on May 1, 2007, Morning Musume became the "best single selling female group in Japan" with 11,085,000 copies sold—their fifth Oricon record. The achievement surpasses the previous record set by Pink Lady of 11,037,000 copies sold.
On May 6, 2007, Hitomi Yoshizawa graduated. Miki Fujimoto took her place as leader and Ai Takahashi replaced Fujimoto as sub-leader.
As of June 1, 2007, Miki Fujimoto resigned from Morning Musume, due to the tabloid magazine Friday running an article depicting Fujimoto and comedian Tomoharu Shoji in a relationship. Ai Takahashi replaced Fujimoto as leader (a position the latter occupied for the briefest period in the group's history—26 days), and Risa Niigaki became subleader.
Morning Musume's 34th single Onna ni Sachi Are, a song with a beatmania style was released on July 25, 2007. It features the debut of new eighth generation members from China, Junjun and Linlin. The single reached number two on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, with sales of 43,364 copies.
On October 26, 2007, Ai Takahashi, Risa Niigaki, and Koharu Kusumi visited Korea to promote their singles collection album Morning Musume All Singles Complete: 10th Anniversary, which was released on October 24, 2007. Also, Takahashi and Niigaki appeared as special guests in a Korean radio show called Maybee's Turn Up the Volume (메이비의 볼륨을 높여요). Later that same month, on October 29, 2007, all nine members traveled to Taiwan for three days to promote the album. This was the first time Morning Musume held a non-Fan Club promotional event as a group outside of Japan. During their visit, they attended press conferences, appeared for radio and TV show recordings, and held the first-ever public handshaking event outside of Japan.
November 21, 2007, marked the release of Morning Musume's 35th single, "Mikan". Initial sales were poor for the song. It became the group's lowest-selling single (even lower than the initial indies release of "Ai no Tane", which sold 50,000 copies), both in terms of first week sales and absolute sales figures. As a result, unlike all previous singles, Mikan failed to appear on Oricon's Top 5 Chart, breaking the group's previously held record.
On December 31, 2007, Morning Musume performed in the 58th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen with a remixed version of their song "Love Machine" along with Cute and Berryz Kobo. Similar to the previous Kōhaku, the red team (females) lost to the white team (males) after attaining votes from the viewers and judges.
Ai Takahashi, Eri Kamei, Sayumi Michishige, and Reina Tanaka participated in the musical Ojigi 30 Degrees at the Shinjuku Theater from February 26 to March 2. Morning Musume's 36th music single, "Resonant Blue", had been announced for release on March 5, 2008, but was postponed until April 16, 2008, because of the busy schedule in the winter/early spring season. Multiple promotional videos were released. With the original, another version, a studio dance shot version, a night scene version, and a one-cut dance version, it makes the most PVs ever released for one single. Also notable is the smoky eye make-up used on the members, a daring new look for Morning Musume as they attempt to expand into Asia.
The management of Morning Musume revealed in an interview in March that they were going to take a new approach to promoting the group, pushing the individual members so that they could do more personal work and become more well known, as was the case in the first line-up of the group.
On April 5, 2008, Morning Musume’s Aika Mitsui complained of a stomach ache after a concert at Hachiōji Citizen Hall. She was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and was ordered to rest for two weeks. Mitsui subsequently missed the concerts on April 12 and 13.
"Resonant Blue", the 36th single, was released on April 16, 2008, after being delayed due to hectic schedules. The single debuted at number two and finished third in the Oricon Weekly ranking. Overall, the single marked a rebound from poor sales of the previous single, "Mikan". In its first week, it sold 48,086 copies, 20,004 copies more than "Mikan" and around 5,000 more copies than Onna ni Sachi Are.
The group held a concert at Taipei Nankang Exhibition Hall, Taiwan, on May 24, 2008. the first time ever for Morning Musume to have a concert outside Japan.
From August 6 to August 25, 2008, Morning Musume performed with several members of the all-female Takarazuka theater troupe in a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Ai Takahashi starred in the main role of Cinderella, with Risa Niigaki as the Prince, and Eri Kamei and Reina Tanaka as the stepsisters. The other members performed in minor roles as fairies and guards.
Morning Musume's 37th single, "Pepper Keibu", was released on September 24, 2008. Unlike past singles (with the exception of Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyōtanjima), this song is a cover. It is originally known as Pink Lady's debut single, released in 1976. In the first week of the release, it sold approximately 10,000 copies less than Resonant Blue and 10,000 copies more than Mikan.
2008 was the first year in which there were no changes in Morning Musume's lineup.
Morning Musume released their 38th single on February 18, 2009. This was their first single of 2009, titled "Naichau Kamo". The title translates to "I Might Cry" and was released in two limited versions, A and B, each including a DVD. On March 18, 2009, they released their ninth studio album, called Platinum 9 Disc.
Morning Musume released their 39th single, "Shōganai Yume Oibito", on May 13, 2009, attaining a rank of number one on the Oricon weekly chart for the first time since their "Aruiteru" single in late 2006. It also became the group's first number one single to feature eighth generation members Aika Mitsui, Junjun, and Linlin.
Following the success of Shōganai Yume Oibito, the group released their 40th single "Nanchatte Ren'ai" on August 12. Because 'Nanchatte Ren'ai' was the group's 40th single, a commemorative edition was released along with the usual regular edition plus two limited editions. The commemorative edition has a different c/w track on it than the regular and limited editions. The group hadn't had two different c/ws since their 4th single, "Memory Seishun no Hikari" in 1999, which has two c/w tracks in one edition. The single came in at number two on the Oricon chart, only behind the new single of powerhouse Ayumi Hamasaki, Sunrise/Sunset (Love Is All). This single marked their best opening week since Iroppoi Jirettai in 2005.
Their latest Greatest Hits Album (B-side collection album) was released featuring all B-side songs from their debut single to 40th single on 3 discs.
Morning Musume released their 41st single "Kimagure Princess" on October 28, 2009. There are four versions of the single (Regular, Limited A, B, and C). This marked the first time a Morning Musume single released a C version. The C version contained 10 interchangeable covers, much like 30th single "Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan", which came with 10 different covers.
The announcement was made that 7th Generation member Koharu Kusumi would graduate from Morning Musume and Hello! Project on December 6, after the first performance of Morning Musume's Fall Concert Tour 2009 ~Nine Smile~, in order to pursue a modelling career. This was the first graduation since 4th Generation member Hitomi Yoshizawa's graduation in 2007, ending the longest stable line-up for Morning Musume.
Morning Musume released their 42nd single, "Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai", on February 10, 2010 It was released in four versions: Regular, and Limited A, B, and C. This was the group's first single released with the new eight-member lineup, following the graduation of seventh generation member Koharu Kusumi. Their tenth album, 10 My Me, was released on March 17. Their forty-third single, "Seishun Collection", was released on June 9.
On August 8, producer Tsunku announced at that day's concert, and later on his blog, that sixth generation member Eri Kamei and eighth generation members Junjun and Linlin would be graduating from Morning Musume at the end of the autumn tour, and that the 9th generation audition would be held later in the year. The triple graduation left Morning Musume temporarily at five members for the first time since its creation. Kamei stated that the reason for her graduation was to spend more time on the treatment of her atopic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema, while Junjun and Linlin graduated to pursue careers in China. JunJun and LinLin's graduation would make them the first Morning Musume members to graduate during the same generation they joined in. An official site was opened shortly after the announcement. One of the few conditions of the audition stated was that girls auditioning must be between the ages of 10 and 17. There were over 9,000 applicants.
Morning Musume's 44th single "Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game" was released on November 24 and Morning Musume's eleventh studio album, Fantasy! Jūichi, was released on December 1. These are the last single and album to feature Kamei, Junjun and Linlin and the album contains only two singles. On December 15, the last day of the autumn tour, Eri Kamei, Junjun and Linlin graduated from Morning Musume and Hello! Project.
In 2010, It was announced that a new group has been created, "Dream Morning Musume" which will consist of former-Morning Musume members: Yuko Nakazawa, Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Kei Yasuda, Mari Yaguchi, Rika Ishikawa, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Makoto Ogawa, Miki Fujimoto, Koharu Kusumi. They will release an album titled "DoriMusu 1" which will consist of two new songs, as well as remakes of older Morning Musume songs.
The three audition winners, Riho Sayashi, Kanon Suzuki and Erina Ikuta, were announced on stage by Tsunku at the Hello! Project 2011 Winter: Kangei Shinsen Matsuri concert on January 2, 2011. He then announced that Mizuki Fukumura, a Hello! Pro Egg, would also be joining Morning Musume.
On January 9, also at the Winter concert, it was announced that leader Ai Takahashi would be graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project at the group's Autumn 2011 concert. The decision came after Tsunku suggested that Takahashi should consider her own graduation soon. After Takahashi's graduation, Risa Niigaki will take over her role as leader, and Sayumi Michishige will take over as sub-leader. Takahashi will continue her musical and theatre careers after her graduation.
On February 3, 2011, Morning Musume's 45th single, Maji Desu ka Ska!, was announced. The single was set to be released on March 23, 2011; however, due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the single was postponed until April 6. The new single reached number 5 on the Oricon weekly charts.
Morning Musume 46th single, "Only You", was released on June 15, 2011. There were five versions to the single: Regular, Limited A, Limited B, Limited C, and Limited D. The single reached number 4 on the Oricon Weekly charts.
On April 13, Morning Musume launched a weekly 1-hour Ustream show called UstreaMusume. On their official website, there is an e-mail provided, so fans can submit questions, messages and requests.
It was announced May 8, that 10th Generation Audition "Genkijirushi" submissions were starting until June 13. This surprised many fans as it had only been four months since the 9th generation had joined.
During the summer, Morning Musume did a Fanclub Tour in Hawaii from July 20–26.
On September 14, Morning Musume released their 47th single. This was the previous leader, Ai Takahashi's last single with Morning Musume after a tenure of 10 years with the group. In order to celebrate Ai Takahashi's long career with Morning Musume, their 47th single was released as a double A sides. This is the first time in history that Morning Musume has purposely done a double A side single. There will be five versions of the single: Regular, Limited A, Limited B, Limited C and Limited D. Furthermore, in the Limited B version of the single, the B side will be an Ai Takhashi solo, which has also never been done before. The single names are as follows: "Kono Chikyū no Heiwa o Honki de Negatterun Da yo! / Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!" as the double A side and Takahashi's solo song has been revealed to be called "Jishin Motte Yume wo Motte Tobitatsu Kara". The 47th single reached number 2 on the Oricon daily and weekly charts.
Morning Musume's fall tour was revealed to be called "Ai Believe ~Takahashi Ai Graduation Memory Special~". It has also been revealed that Ai Takahashi would graduate on the final day of the tour, September 30, at the Nippon Budokan.
On September 29, the second last day of the fall tour and the day before Ai Takahashi's graduation, Tsunku announced the four winners of the tenth generation audition, Haruna Iikubo, Ayumi Ishida, Masaki Sato, and Haruka Kudo from Hello! Pro Egg. This brings the group to 12 members, excluding Ai Takahashi, which is the highest number of group members since late-2004 and early-2005 before Iida Kaori's graduation. On September 30, Takahashi graduated, handing over her position as leader of Morning Musume and Hello! Project to Risa Niigaki.
It was announced that Morning Musume 48th Single will be called Pyoko Pyoko Ultra, this will be the first single feature the 10th generation and Niigaki Risa as leader of the group. The set release date is January 25, 2012.
It was announced on January 2 that new leader Risa Niigaki would graduate from Morning Musume and Hello! Project on the last day of their spring concert tour, May 18, at the Nippon Budokan. The tour is set to start on February 19. Niigaki's successor has not yet been announced but Sayumi Michishige has expressed her desire to be the next leader.
Morning Musume's 49th single "Ren'ai Hunter" was released on April 11, 2012. This is Risa Niigaki's last single in Morning Musume and it came in Limited A, B, C, and D editions and also had a solo cover song by Risa called Egao Ni Namida, originally sung by Matsuura Aya. Following Aika Mitsui's graduation announcement, it was the last single to feature her also.
With "Ren'ai Hunter" achieving a top 10 Oricon weekly rating, the group broke a record (previously held by Ayumi Hamasaki) for the most top 10 consecutive singles, with 49.
On May 4, Aika Mitsui announced that she would graduate from Morning Musume, due to an unhealed stress fracture in her left foot. She graduated along with Niigaki at Nippon Budokan on May 18. Michishige Sayumi was declared as the new leader at the concert, along with the announcement of the 11th Generation 'Suppin Utahime' audition. Submissions will be accepted until June 25 for girls age 10 to 17.
On July 4, Morning Musume's 50th single, 'One Two Three / The Matenrou Show' was released, and sold 56,139 copies on its first day, charting at #2. These first day sales surpassed the first week sales of all Morning Musume singles since 'Iroppoi Jirettai' in 2005. The single came in 7 editions: Regular, Limited A and Limited B (featuring 6th Generation), Limited C and D (featuring 9th Generation) and Limited E and Limited F (featuring 10th Generation). The Limited A, B, C, D, E and F had tracks featuring the respective generations.
One Two Three/The Matenrou Show placed at #3 weekly, selling over 100,000 copies in its first week, thus becoming the group's first single since Koko ni Iruzee! (released in 2002) to sell over 100,000 units in its first week, as well as first single since Ai Araba It's All Right (2004) to sell over 100,000 units total and receive a gold certification. This also became the group's 50th top-ten single, breaking their own previous record of 49 singles and becoming the first artist to do so.
Morning Musume's 13th album 13 Colorful Character was released on September 12.
On September 14, 2012, at Morning Musume's 15th Anniversary Concert Tour Rehearsal, Hello! Project producer Tsunku, announced the winner of the 'Morning Musume 11th Generation Suppin Utahime Auditions'. Sakura Oda was chosen out of 7,000 applicants and was the only one out of the 6 finalists to be chosen making her the 3rd sole generation of Morning Musume, previously being Maki Goto (3rd Generation) and Koharu Kusumi (7th Generation).
On November 18, Reina Tanaka announced that she will be graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project at the end of their 2013 Spring Concert Tour.
On December 14, 11th generation member Sakura Oda's Morning Musume member color was revealed to be Lavender.
It was announced that Morning Musume's 52nd Single would be called Help me!!, and would be the first single feature 11th generation member, Oda Sakura. The single was released on January 23, 2013. It is Morning Musume's first single since "Shouganai Yume Oibito" in 2009 to achieve the weekly #1 spot on the Oricon charts. On February 28, a loose shot version of a new song titled Brainstorming was posted onto Youtube, a few days later a dance shot version of another new song titled Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai was also posted. It was then confirmed both tracks will be released as a double A-side single on April 17. It will also be Tanaka Reina's graduation single.
On March 16th, Tsunku announced 12th generation audition called 'Morning Musume Mirai Shoujo audition' .
Life in the GroupEdit
The audition process has been described by Ai Takahashi as involving a training camp of three days and two nights, in which participants were expected to learn a new song, a dance routine and a script.
The girls are afforded three holidays a year of five days each, in winter, summer and for New Year's.
In the past, the group has always had a leader and sub-leader, though neither comes with any responsibility. Takahashi has said that the role merely includes encouraging the others to do their best, while Niigaki has said that as sub-leader, "there is nothing I have to do, but I want to support [the leader]". After Takahashi's graduation, Michishige stated on her radio show that there would not a sub-leader under Niigaki.
Activities outside JapanEdit
In addition to already having official fan clubs in Taiwan and South Korea, Hello! Project and Morning Musume began actively extending its fanbase outside of Japan and primarily into the rest of Asia starting from the middle of 2007 and into 2008.
In March 2007, Morning Musume inducted its first two non-Japanese members from China, Li Chun (Junjun) of Hunan and Qian Lin (Linlin) of Hangzhou. The duo left in 2010 after the group failed to break into China due to piracy levels, leading to the group focusing on European and American fans and performing at anime EXPOs.
In addition to the unveiling of Hello! Project's Taiwanese website in 2007, Hello! Project has also launched the Taiwan H.P. New Star Audition as well; an audition aimed at recruiting new members to join Hello! Project as Hello Pro Egg members. At this audition, Morning Musume also performed as well.
The TV show Morning Musume New Star aired on Taiwan's TTV network every Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 pm with re-runs Monday to Thursday at 10:15 pm. It ended in mid-August 2008 for re-runs.
Morning Musume also held their 10th Anniversary Live Tour in Korea in June 2008.
In France, Morning Musume music videos are aired on a television channel called Nolife, a channel that features video games and Japanese music.
On February 12, 2009, it was announced that Morning Musume would be performing in the United States at the 2009 Anime Expo, the nation's largest anime convention, as one of the first official guests of honor. Niigaki stated that "The movies that Disney makes are full of dreams, but when I have children, I'd like them to know about war, the pain of death and such things, so I hope they will watch anime."
It was also announced that "3, 2, 1 Breakin' Out!", the coupling track of their upcoming single "Shōganai Yume Oibito", would be the official theme song for Anime Expo 2009. The convention was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California on July 2 to July 5. Their concert was on Friday July 3 with a packed audience of American fans, as well as many foreign fans who traveled for the chance to see them.
On Friday, July 1, 2010, Morning Musume made their first appearance at the Japan Expo 2010 in Paris, France as guest of honor. "Tomo", the coupling track to the group's 43rd single, "Seishun Collection", was the event's theme song.
- Kōhaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦?) youngest participant – 12-year-old Ai Kago (51st Kōhaku) from December 31, 2000, until December 31, 2007, when Mai Hagiwara of Cute at age 11, broke that 7-year record.
- Two of the ninth generation members, Riho Sayashi and Kanon Suzuki, are the first members to have been born after the group's formation in 1997. Tenth generation members, Masaki Sato and Kudo Haruka, and eleventh generation member Sakura Oda, were also born after the group's formation.
- Kudo Haruka is the youngest person to ever join Morning Musume at the age of 11 years and 11 months, and auditioning at age 11. She beat Kago Ai's 11 year record which was set at the age of 12.
- All of their singles except for the first, "Morning Coffee", the 35th, "Mikan" and the 44th," Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game" have ranked in the Oricon Weekly Singles Top 5.
- Oricon – Most Top 10 singles by all artist in Japan
- Oricon – Most number one singles by a female group in Japan, beating the previous record set by Pink Lady. The record was later beaten by AKB48 in 2012.
- Oricon – Most consecutive Top 10 singles by a female group in Japan.
- Oricon – Best single selling female group in Japan—18,067,949 copies sold, becoming their fifth Oricon record. The record was later beaten by AKB48 in 2012
Morning Musume Subgroups are groups founded by active Morning members (with the exception of the 10th Anniversary Group - Tanjō 10nen Kinentai), and should not to be mistaken with shuffles units or other separate groups of Hello! Project.