10 years without SweetS?!

088-830x1024In 2003, this beloved group of charming pre-teens with a girl-next-door vibe debuted. They were a powerhouse for talent, each girl showing a spark in certain areas of strength. SweetS had the personality, the chemistry, the vocals, and the visuals that made them so unforgettable to all of us.  These 5 found a place in our hearts: Aki, the bossy but caring leader; Aya, the quirky, quiet, smart vocalist; Haruna, the sweetheart with the heavenly voice; Miori, the secret weapon and charm; and Mai, the personality with passion and drive. For some, of us, they meant the world. For many, they were one of the staples of J-pop in the era they were in. Although they only had minor success, SweetS provided substance to the J-pop fanbase, especially overseas. SweetS fans were one of the most peaceful and tight-knit communities around, because their talent brought us together.

089On June 7, 2006, SweetS had their final release and disbandment as a group. The months between Bitter Sweets release and Color of Tears release were a strange time within the SweetS community, because the anticipation of a new single also meant the end of SweetS. This group had only been active for a little under three years, but they had already made a place in our hearts. I know I’m not the only one that remembers checking SweetSdesu forums daily — not just for SweetS news, but after a while just to talk with fellow fans. SweetS was a part of our daily routine. Time with this amazing group was short, but the memories of anticipating live performances, releases, interviews, and guest appearances on variety shows and laughing over them with friends from all over the world sits dearly with us. June 7 was one of the saddest days of my life. The SweetS fans made a strong bond not just with each other, but also formed a genuine love for the girls and their performance abilities themselves.

SweetS will always be a part of us. I know they’ll always be a part of my childhood. Ten years later and we’re still here. I know we’ll never have our 5 hearts that beat as 1 back in the way we miss so dearly, but I treasure 2003-2006 even more with age. Those were sweet times, every pun intended.

So where are the girls now?

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Aki is currently just being awesome in Tokyo with her really cute dog. No. Really. She auditioned with EXPG back in 2011 to be in the LDH group FLOWER, along with some former avex members. However, it was just honorary auditions. Since then, Aki’s kept an online personality and is probably one of most easily accessible and responsive SweetS members! She and I have communicated some over the past few years. It appears as though she may have given up on her music dreams, but she keeps up an active social life with the other former members, notably Miori and Mai (this is a cute video and you should watch it). She’s definitely worth a follow on instagram (and so is her dog… no really, do it) and is pretty friendly, but naturally I request that everyone will be respectful (although I know we’re one of the best mannered bunch out there) because it would be a shame to not have a chance to talk to her!
instagram ameblo twitter • aki’s dog’s instagram

 

o0480048012660856061Aya

Aya attempted a solo artist career from circa 2009 until 2013. She was with an indie label, Kool Groove Studios. I don’t know if it was just lack of proper budgeting or losing her passion, but Aya has more or less disappeared from any of the limelight for years now. It makes me sad to see vocal talent like hers go to waste, but she didn’t have enough structure on her own to create a successful solo career. I’m not sure what she’s up to these days, but I hope that she is happy and wish her all the best in the years to come. It would be great if she auditioned for a bigger label in a group atmosphere, but I will always respect her decision! Maybe the music biz just wasn’t for her after all.
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Haruna is by far the member I get asked about the most and who people seem to miss the most. I can agree, she was the heart of SweetS and she was the entire package. It’s no wonder she was so loved. However, Haruna hasn’t pursued any sort of celebrity career and keeps her social media private. She attended cosmetology school and graduated and was temporarily employed at ATENA salon. I’m not sure on the specifics since then, but I *think* the child she is with in this picture is hers (don’t quote me on that, I have no official source confirmation). She seems happy and still interacts with the other girls on social media. It looks as though she wants to be a normal and private person, and I respect her choices. I miss her a lot and would have loved to see a solo career but perhaps she has found her calling in life. Since there is not much to say about her public life after SweetS, please enjoy a few photos of her:
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Miichan! She’s the most successful member post-SweetS. She’s a well-known actress in Japan and has landed leading roles in dramas (Ikemen Desu Ne and GTO being notable). She’s currently the vocalist for the band LAGOON. She jumped right into ad campaigns and appearing in music videos shortly after SweetS disbanded. I think it goes to say that she was probably the most underrated member of SweetS. She’ll always be that awkward kid I grew up with, though. Rumors reported that she was dating her former co-star Fujigaya (Ikemen Desu Ne, Kis-My-Ft2) in June 2015, but April 2016 it was reported that they had broken up. She’s doing very well for herself, but it’s nice to see that she’s still quirky and charming when she’s in interviews. I’m so happy to be able to follow her career all these years later, even if I don’t pay as much attention as I should.

instagram • ameblo official lagoon imdb

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My favorite of the SweetS. She’s only recently become active, but now she’s doing as much as Miori! Mai lived a normal life for a couple of years after SweetS, hanging out with her best friend Mai and being excited about her boyfriend. She appeared in some local commercials. She became a member of Yuigadokuson in 2014 and they began performing live and releasing singles in 2015. Mai definitely gets Most Improved in terms of vocal skill. Her hard work shows. Mai is always genki.
instagramtwitter ameblo yuidoku

And there we have it. 5 of the most important girls from 2003-2006, completely grown. Go ahead and take a moment to cry with their graduation footage:

LAGOON release: 『bokutachi no mainichi ga eien ni naru.』

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LAGOON, April 2016

Great news! LAGOON will be releasing their first mini-album titled bokutachi no mainichi ga eien ni naru” on June 1. The even better part is that this will include all new songs. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to hear the new material! I think Sony is doing a great job with the pace. Details below:

『僕たちの毎日が永遠になる。』 (bokutachi no mainichi ga eien ni naru)
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Release Date: June 1, 2016
SRCL-9077  Price: ¥2,037+tax

Tracklist:
M-1 僕たちの毎日が永遠になる。 (bokutachi no mainichi ga eien ni naru)
M-2 あの日の青空、君と。 (ano hi no aozora, kimi to.)
M-3 my home ~心が帰る場所~ (my home ~kokoro ga kaeru basho~)
M-4 サヨナラ (sayonara)
M-5 Red eye ~1人の時間が教えてくれたこと~ (Red eye ~hitori no jikan ga oshiete kureta koto~)

So far you can pre-order it at the following places:
iTunes
Recochoku
mora

 

[REVIEW] Star Shine single

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Yuidoku’s Star Shine single was released today! Here’s my review of it (keep in mind that I am holding any work here up to SweetS standards; if I was going to rate this against only other Yuidoku singles it would be a solid 5/5).

This is Yuidoku’s first release, not including the previous two digital releases. I would say this is definitely the first release by them that I will take seriously (beyond the Mai nostalgia factor). The work here proves that they are getting more funding and can grow as a group.

1. Star Shine  ★★★☆☆

This song is really cute and has some nice electro elements to it! It has the space-sound to it that a song related to stars would be expected to have. Overall, the vocals here are really smooth and stable. It’s much better produced than their former songs. Mai has proven herself as a lead vocalist, which never ceases to amaze me. Their voices blend really well in harmonies. Yuho and Sakura just aren’t strong vocalists and their parts make this song less of a contender than it could be – they sound really strained during their parts. This song is an easy listen and I don’t want to skip it, but there’s no real catch to get it stuck in my head so far. All of my critiques aside, this is the kind of direction that I hope Yuidoku continues going in. If Mai and Nonami have grown so much as vocalists, I have faith that Sakura and Yuho can get to this point as well. Side note: the instrumental is so pretty!

 

2. Anata no naka ni nemuru anata no kanousei o anata ga shinjiro  ★★★☆☆

I was surprised listening to this. It’s more on the rock side and a lot of the vocals sound really mature in comparison to Yuidoku. The chorus sounds very pop/rock girl group. This song yet again shows their potential and growth in a short amount of time. I wish it had a more mellow sound throughout it (there are awesome slower parts) but the girls stay strong despite the energy tempo (I remember Mai’s voice used to get shaky during up-tempo beats and certain notes). Overall, there’s good energy and this is a good listen. My only complaint is the idol-y elements of the song, but that’s probably unavoidable.

Overall, this single gets ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars). This single is their most solid and I can see more potential with Yuidoku than I originally assumed. I’m really proud of the girls for a strong release like this – they really could be contenders if they keep improving like this. I’m excited to see what they do next. Looks like I’ll be keeping a closer look on this group than I thought.

Please find a way to purchase this single! The digital copies are really easy to get via Amazon Japan or Recochoku. I do have it available at Jpopsuki as well. Yuigadokuson is also on Spotify! Give it a listen.