Thursday, May 22, 2014

If I Could Build My Own Senbatsu...

So the preliminary results are out for AKB48's 5th Senbatsu Election. As you have probably seen by now, there are a variety of ups and downs with these first-day results. As there are still a few weeks to go until voting time ends, I'll just briefly go over my own opinions- You know what? I really don't care.

Yeah, do you guys wanna talk about something else? Like Perfume? BiS disbanding? The state of the economy and how it will effect graduating students? Do any of you guys actually care about the Senbatsu election this year? Because I really don't. I don't know what it is about this year. Maybe it's the fact that most of the members I liked have jumped ship graduated by now. Maybe it's because AKB48's music has gotten so unoriginal that there's no point in getting excited now. Or maybe it's because I know that the same people who got it last year are going to get it this year with little to no surprises. And those surprises will probably be dull ones. Sasshi's gonna get center, Mayu and Jurina won't be far behind, and the members that AKS pushed for Senbatsu will get in the Senbatsu. I'm sorry, it's just boring now. I don't feel that same nervous anticipation from elections past. I think it's just because I don't really care about any of the members now. Most of them are from different groups anyways, so the Senbatsu's probably gonna end up with like five of sixteen girls actually being in AKB48. Gosh, I don't see why AKS just doesn't go ahead and shuffle all the members together since they like cherry-picking their favorites from other groups so... much... wait a a minute...

What if... what if AKS could take other members from other idol groups?

I'm not talking about just the sisters groups, I'm talking about any idol group. From Morning Musume to Team Syachihoko to Brand-new Idol Society, it doesn't matter. Any group. Obviously, this can't ever happen due to conflicts between agencies, but abstractly speaking, it's a cool idea. I always love seeing idols interact with each other on music and variety shows, even if it's just for a little bit. And one of my favorite concepts is the shuffle groups from Hello! Project. It's a shame they don't do that anymore. Seeing other H!P idols out of their usual groups is such a cool, kind of surreal thing to watch. Thinking about this got me thinking about what members I would choose if I could make my own Senbatsu. I'd definitely get different idols from vastly different groups into one group. I think to do this I'll stick to the 16-member format that the current AKB48 Senbatsu election has. Everything else though is fair game. I am sticking to idols that are still around, so no idols from the 80s or 90s or early 2000s. Besides, I don't follow enough of those older idols to even make a full Senbatsu of them. So not only would I build my own Senbatsu, but I'd also be in control of who produced the songs on my Senbatsu single.

I think I'd have the leading song be produced by Togawa Jun, former idol herself. Togawa Jun is known for her weird, usually morbid and grotesque music and lyrics, but she has a very theatric style. I always remember what her songs sound like after the first or second listen. I think it would be cool seeing the former ero-guro idol produce a song for an idol group, especially a Senbatsu along the lines of AKB48. It would probably be weird and may even turn people off from it, but it would be so interesting. But I'd also want a song produced by Shiina Ringo, and definitely Hyadain, and maybe even Nakata Yasutaka or Usagi Disco. I think what I'd do is split my Senbatsu into little subunits, and each producer would create a song for each subunit. So Nakata would do an electronic song, Ringo would do alternative, and Hyadain would do... whatever you call his stuff. Those would all be the B-sides of the single, and the Togawa Jun-produced song would serve as the A-side. The overall single would be a collage of different styles of music from pop to techno alternative. Most importantly though, there would be any bland, generic AKB48-style songs on them.

There's also the matter of a music video... I love reviewing music videos, so mine definitely wouldn't be the generic dance shot/close-ups idol music video. I think I'd want a story in mine. Nothing deep or mind screw-y, just a clear storyline. Maybe it would involve saving the world from a government agency set to destroy idol groups. And all these idols in my Senbatsu are survivors from their own groups, so they all band together to release a song so epic that it destroys the powers trying to suppress idols. It wouldn't be a long PV, but I think I'd have it at around 10-15 minutes. It would be mostly action, taking performance with fight scenes and mashing them together. I would either have that as the music video or this: an homage to idols. It would include re-enactments of famous idol music videos and performances, from Matsuda Seiko to Morning Musume. I've always liked it when idols reference other idols, but it never happens that much. This music video would be kind of like Togawa Jun's music video for Suki Suki Daisuki but not satirical.

Then there's the most important aspect of my Senbatsu: the members. Since I have free reign in my own little imaginary world, I'd want as many members from different groups as possible. There would also be this melting pot of different personalities! Like some would have dancing as their strong point or vocals or personality! And a lot of these idols are just personal favorites of mine. So let's take a look at Nia's Senbatsu and see how impossible it would be!

16. Masui Mio (Passpo) - At the bottom of my Senbatsu, I'd go with Mio from Passpo. Her and Negishi Ai are my favorite members of Passpo, but between the two, I'd go with Mio in my own Build-a-Senbatsu. Not that Ai would be a bad choice either, but I think Mio has a stronger personality that would shine better amongst fifteen other girls. In such a big group, it's easy for certain idols to get drown out by more prominent personalities and voices. While Mio may not have the greatest voice, she's got just enough charisma and charm to hold her own in my Senbatsu! And besides, she's such a cutie; how can you not love that mischievous little grin?

15. Kanazawa Tomoko (Juice=Juice) - I like all the members of Juice=Juice, but I think the member that would fit the best with different idols is Tomoko. She has this poise and confidence in her singing and dancing that some of the younger members of Juice=Juice lack. And since most of the members of my Senbatsu would be older, Tomoko would fit nicely among them. But she isn't only a fitting member visually; Tomoko also has the pipes to back that up! Sure, her voice isn't the strongest, but it's still a nice balance between low and high. Which is good considering the two members behind and ahead of her in this Senbatsu...

14. Momota Kanako (Momoiro Clover Z) - Of course, a good Senbatsu isn't a good Senbatsu without some different flavors in it! And Kanako of the zany and crazy (or at least they used to be) Momoiro Clover Z could bring some real zest to the Senbatsu! I wouldn't want her to be leading vocals of this Senbatsu though, so she'd be at a lower position. That way she still has presence, and I don't have to hear her shriek! Maybe at their live performances, Kanako could performance her signature "shrimp jump" at the end of one of the songs! She may come off as a bit creepy in some of the group singles, but Kanako would still provide a lot of entertainment!

13. Nishiwaki Sayaka (9nine) - As A-chan's little sister has already proved with 9nine's joint concert with Perfume, she's capable of fitting in with another group nearly seamlessly. I thought about putting A-chan herself in this Senbatsu, but I think she fits better with Perfume. Sayaka on the other hand has got just as good of a voice as A-chan and just as great of a smile! And she's more seasoned to being an idol rather than a performer! Sayaka could do the MCs at my Senbatu's concerts and provide the waterworks! I wonder if emotional, passionate crying is a genetic trait in the Nishiwaki family...

12. Tentenko (BiS) - There's nothing like an idol who isn't afraid to do weird things for the sake of entertainment, and every member of BiS could basically qualify for that. But to me, the member of BiS that seems the most okay with doing anything weird is Tentenko. Seeing some of her antics on music shows, I firmly believe that Tentenko is up for anything, even a Senbatsu with fifteen other girls. Tentenko could be the more risque, unconventional representative of this Senbatsu, doing strange, sometimes grotesque things on and off stage. But still being freaking adorable. And with BiS disbanding, that would give Tentenko an outlet to something else idol-related!

11. Yamamoto Sayaka (NMB48) - The only thing that tops a cute idol is a cool idol, and Yamamoto Sayaka is just about as radical as mainstream idols get. She plays the guitar, she's the badass and understanding leader of NMB48, and she has a nice voice to boot! Should my Senbatsu ever do a single in which they decided to play as a band, my management would be sane and allow Sayanee to play the guitar. Should my #1 Senbatsu member not be around for a performance, Sayanee could easily take up her heels and lead the rest of the Senbatsu to a great performance. Other than that, Sayanee's just cool. Can she be in all the idol groups?

10. Ishida Ayumi (Morning Musume) - Why did I pick Ayumi out of all the Morning Musume members? Well, because she's one of the groups best dancers and doesn't shriek the same way Riho does. Speaking of which, in my Senbatsu, all the girls will hit notes that are comfortable to their ranges, Ayumi included. Speaking of which, there's a position in K-pop groups called the "lead dancer" that I wish J-pop groups would utilize more. Because Ayumi, along with one other girl on this Senbatsu would definitely take up that position, with kickass dance solos in my Senbatsu's songs and special dance numbers in concert performances!

9/8. Rena & Risa (Vanilla Beans) - I don't follow Vanilla Beans very closely, but from the songs I've listened to and PVs I've watched, the two members of the duo come off as very classy. Like refined, stylish robots from a retro-style future. I don't know much about the members' personalities, so I've no idea how either one of them would mesh personality-wise with the rest of my Senbatsu. But visually, I think they would contribute both finesse and style to my Senbatsu, giving a veneer of effortless class. Kind of like GAM did except with more style and slightly less sexual tension. Like GAM though, the legs of the Vanilla Beans girls go on for miles.

7. Nakajima Saki (C-ute) - Here we are now in the Kami 7 of my Senbatsu, those holy seven idols who make up the top tier. Filling that first Kami 7 spot along with the other position of leader dance in my Senbatsu would be the lovely Nakky. Not only is Nakky one of my favorite H!P members, but she's also one of the best dancers. Nakky can pull off both adorable and sensual dance, sometimes at the same time. Not only that she can look cute and sweet or sexy and badass. She's kind of like a chameleon! In my Senbatsu, she and Ayumi would have dance solos, and maybe even a dance battle like the ones Ayumi partakes with Riho in Momusu!

6. Nakamoto Suzuka (Babymetal) - While I'm not a fan of Babymetal, I do love the voice of the main singer, Suzuka or Su-Metal as she goes by in Babymetal. Her voice has such great power and resonance, along with a very distinct sound. I love strong voices, so I would definitely have her in my Senbatsu. That's why I have her in one of the higher positions, so she could sing more prominently than in any of those lower positions. And her experience in a metal idol group should give her a different perspective than the other Senbatsu members. But she still also has experience in traditional idol group Sakura Gakuin. It's the best of both worlds!

5. Minegishi Minami (AKB48) - I guess I'm kind of cheating by including a member of AKB48 on a Senbatsu that's kind of not supposed to be solely AKB48 members... But Miichan is just awesome! She's adorable and kooky and sweet, and she went through so much crap last year. And from the looks of it, she's probably not gonna make it onto this year's election Senbatsu either. And if she does, it won't be a high position. So on my Senbatsu, Miichan would have a high position in the Kami 7! The only reason she's not higher is because I have a few more idols that I like just a teensy bit better. But still, I'd definitely want Miichan up high for her bubbling personality!

4. Terashima Yufu - I've always missed Yufu ever since she left BiS, but it does make me happy that she's started solo activities again. I think Yufu's got one of the most distinct idol voices on the market right now, and it really makes her stand out. So I'd want her to be at the top of the Senbatsu, where the more solos/duets/trios would be. Also like Tentenko, she has a past with BiS, along with being an idol on her own. So she's been both a member and a soloist, with two very different images for each! And Yufu's such a photogenic member. Even in BiS she always looked very pretty, whether she was swinging a baseball bat or covered in fake blood!

3. Konishi Ayano (Tokyo Girls' Style) - Even though her voice has been struggling these past two years, I'd still like Ayano in my Senbatsu. She has such a distinctive voice, and her performance skills are pretty high too! I'd want Ayano in my top 3 because again, she has a strong voice and I think she'd carry herself well in the top 3 of my Senbatsu. She also comes from the mature Tokyo Girls' Style, so I think she'd be up for doing a more mature concept despite her young age. I mean, have you guys seen the PV for Juujika? She totally rocks it! And so does Hitomi, but when it comes down to those two, I'd still have to go with Ayano. She's got the pipes for my Senbatsu!

2. Curumi Chronicle - Much like Suzuka, Curumi Chronicle offers a different angle of idol music than many of the other idols on this list. As the only purely technopop idol, Curumi might enjoy performing more traditional music. And I think it would help her to participate in a group! She seems a little nervous and hesitant when it comes to performing. So singing with a big group of girls might help Curumi come out of her shell and allow her to grow more comfortable with performing alone. I thought about making her #1, but I figured she wouldn't be up to centering a single. Besides, I had one person as #1 from the very beginning I thought of this idea...

1. Akimoto Sayaka - I don't care if Sayaka's graduated from being an idol, I'd still want her to be the center of my Senbatsu! Sure, she's 25, but so what? If Shinoda Mariko stayed an idol until she was 27, I'm sure Sayaka could too! Something that always pained me was that Sayaka never got a really high spot during the Senbatsu elections, only making it so far as #12. Personally, I think she deserved better, even after that scandal that wasn't really a scandal. Sayaka has a great voice, vibrant personality, commanding stage presence, she was probably so cool that AKS got blinded by her coolness and were afraid to promote her!

There you have it! Now this would just be my Senbatsu. As for what B-sides would go on each single and who would produce them, I think I've figured that out:

  • Shiina Ringo: Akimoto Sayaka, Konishi Ayano, Terashima Yufu, Nakamoto Suzuka, Yamamoto Sayaka, Tentenko

Ringo could definitely do something weird and experimental, and these six idols have the vocals to pull off some weird stuff. I don't know if Ringo would go the more jazz or rock route, but either one would work! I'm thinking maybe a little bit more jazz though, something mature and sensual like Meisai. And she could add some percussion in too! This would be kind of bombastic and scattered song, with smooth, sexy vocals to carry it through.

  • Nakata: Curumi Chronicle, Rena & Risa, and Nishiwaki Sayaka

For the electronic number, I think I'd want something more on the pop side for Nakata's work. Not like straight-up idol pop, but maybe something that combines a futuristic sound with the peppy sound of J-pop. I'm thinking along the lines of Aira Mitsuki's works or even Perfume's Computer City or Electro World. And if there was a music video, it could be similar to Spring of Life! That would be so cool... I just love technopop that sounds like it comes from The Jetsons-style future...

  • Hyadain: Minegishi Minami, Momota Kanako, Kanazawa Tomoko, Masui Mio

The crazy ones, all in one group together. Okay, Tomoko's not that crazy, but it would do her good to be around Kanako and Miichan! The Hyadain single would be totally all over the place, with a variety of random sounds kind like what he did in Wani to Shampoo. This would definitely be a pop song, maybe with elements of ska or punk in it. I'm thinking something very fast-paced, that doesn't require strong vocals but is still really catchy!

  • Nakata (again): Nakajima Saki and Ishida Ayumi

What? I really like Nakata's work... In contrast to the other group, this duo of Nakky and Ayumi would have a dance song. Something like Party Maker or The music or maybe even Jumper, with minimal vocals and an emphasis on the dance aspect. In fact, wouldn't be cool if Mikiko could choreograph it? I would love to see Mikiko choreograph a duo, I think she could really work off that dynamic! It would be a long song too, five minutes at least, mostly instrumental.

Admittedly, my ideal Senbatsu and single would be a mess. But it would be a wonderful mess. I noticed from doing this that I either like cool idols with strong voices or idols with outgoing personalities. And that I like music that isn't boring, but I already knew that. My ideal Senbatsu will never happen. It isn't feasible in any way possible, but it's still really fun to imagine this kind of Senbatsu in lieu of the usual one that we're gonna get at AKB48's Senbatsu election this year. So I want to extend this question to you guys: who would you have in your Senbatsu. You can pick anyone, retired or not retired, old or young, as long as they have been an idol at some point. You also get total creative control over what they release. They can be a concert-based idol group, more commercial, street-performers, etc. They can release any genre of music bland or unconventional, same for music videos. You are in control, which is something that none of us will probably ever get to be when it comes to idol groups. I'm sure some of you guys have fantasized what it would be like creating your own idol group. And if you haven't, you should try it! It's really fun! And it may even reflect your own personal taste in idols and even music!


  1. If I could build my own senbatsu, I would choose idols with good dancing skills and a stable voice. But it's hard to make a list...
    But, for the song, I would put Toshiki Kadomatsu and Hyadain for the lyrics, Nakata for the composer role, and DANCE MAN for the arrangement. A good balancement, with the old and new sounds of japanese music, as a homage to all idols existent.

    1. Oh yeah, I could definitely see good dancing skills. It's essential to have the voice to go with those dance moves too!

      I like your choices for the song, they all fit very well together. Man, it would so cool if all that actually happened in one song... Seeing all those different producers collaborate would just be awesome!

  2. I wish akimoto sayaka had been put to better use in akb and had ranked higher... Love that girl ㅠㅠ

    1. I feel ya, she was an awesome member of AKB48 and management really gave her the shaft after that scandal.

  3. speaking of sayaka, she was the only NMB member who made into the senbatsu according to the preliminary result... Seriously, the other front girls in NMB performed so bad this year. Milky got 25, Nana got 26, Fuuko didn't even made it. I wonder why...

    1. I'll bet it was because Sayanee was so COOL her coolness got her a high spot. Her sheer coolness probably just overshadowed the other members so barely anyone else from NMB48 got onto the preliminary results! In all seriousness though, they'll probably go up with the final results, the prelims just show the first day!

  4. My wallet is really grateful that this isn't an actual group, but it's so in line with my tastes I really wish it could happen. I mean, you've got Curumi, Akimoto Sayaka, Yuffy, Kanatomo, Miichan, and Heaven's Own Descended Angel Tenko all in one group, so there's no way I couldn't fall in love.

    Were I to try the same thing, I'd probably want a band concept. That phrase no doubt conjures up flashbacks to those disastrous GIVE ME FIVE! live performances, but unlike the higher-ups at AKS I would involve members who actually understand how to use their instruments.

    On drums: First Summer Uika, from BiS. Her drumming was praised by famous musicians like Otomo Yoshihide, so I get the feeling she'd be able to do something like this pretty easily. (That said, she was being praised for her contribution to a free jazz & noise performance, so maybe she's actually really arrhythmic. Can't be worse than poor Matsui Jurina and her off-tempo Wavedrum-smacking, though.)

    On piano: Matsui Sakiko, from AKB48. Her solo piano album is fantastic and I feel like that aside, her talent gets kind of overlooked by the management.

    On synthesizer: asCa, from Electric Ribbon. It feels like self-produced idol groups are kind of a rarity, and her skill as a producer is actually really good.

    On guitar: Noella Sisterina, from JKT48. There might be other idols who can play guitar better than Noella, but I have kind of a soft spot for JKT.

    On violin: Kato Rena, from AKB48. No real reasoning behind this choice other than that I love violins a lot.

    As a DJ: Yumemi Nemu, from I'm aware this sounds like an odd choice of roles given the arrangement.

    Finally, as vocalists: Curumi Chronicle, Akiyama Alice (LinQ), Tentenko (BiS), Stella Cornelia (formerly in JKT48), and maybe SU-METAL (BABYMETAL).

    There are a load of emerging idol groups that have been experimenting with less conventional musical styles lately, but I've yet to come across one that plays with more ambient sounds. That's probably because nobody can do a MIX to something slow and dreamy, but until it comes true it's something I'm going to keep fantasizing about. Ideally, this completely improbable idol band would be performing with some kind of vaguely Boards of Canada-like sound, like "Teck Teck Walk" but more electronic, Nemukyun as a DJ making loops from sampling the various instruments, asCa putting together the perfect analog-sounding synth patch, the vocalists performing almost in whispers... Okay, I'm getting way more into this than I expected and I should probably stop while I'm ahead.

    I feel like nobody would ever buy their single or attend their shows but me, but I can still dream, right?

    1. We'd both be broke is this were a Senbatsu to ever happen. So I take it your fave BiS member is Tentenko? She's pretty crazy, she's one of my favorites too! My #1 will always be Yufu though.

      I didn't think about the band concept! Now that you mention it though, that would be super cool. You'd definitely have to teach the idols and give them time. The best way to learn an instrument is pacing yourself. And practicing. Constantly.

      I could see Uika on drums, she's cool enough for it. I'm getting Shishido Kavka vibes from the idea...

      Omg YES to Sakiko. Absolutely yes. I've heard her piano-playing, and her technique is wonderful. It really is a shame that AKS doesn't think to utilize that more.

      I haven't heard of Electric Ribbon, but a self-produced idol group sounds rad. I think I'm gonna check them out. Thanks for mentioning them!

      I don't really follow JKT48, but I'll take your word on Noella. She's got a cool name! I'm also not familiar with Kato Rena, but again, I'll take your word for it!

      Yeah, I'm okay with anyone from DJ-ing as long as they don't sing. Especially that Eitaso chick. That girl could break glass.

      I have no complaints about your choice of vocalists. I think they'd all work splendidly together. Man, I'm just imagining what this band would be like. They'd be so cool. Even if they didn't sell well, their coolness would run strong.

      I'm really happy hearing all these more experimental sounds from idol groups, especially in the techno/alternative areas. I hadn't thought about a more ambient idol group though. I think the hardest thing about doing that slower and dreamier sound would be making it *too* slow. There needs to be a balance. Teck Teck Walk is one of my favorite idol songs in general, I'd be totally okay with more music like that. Something kind of ethereal, and whispery, like you said!

      We can all dream of idol groups that will never happen I suppose. It's so much fun though! Especially when you really get into the details of it!

  5. Not even the possibility of Watanabe Mayu beating Sasshihara Rino to the top spot stirs you up?

    1. Nope. AKS wants Mayu for #1 anyways, so it wouldn't be much of a surprise. Now if someone like Matsui Sakiko got #1, THAT would stir me up. But (sadly) that won't ever happen...