In Japan’s highly competitive and almost overwhelming cookie-cutter world of idol culture, where everything feels manufactured, overpopulated, insincere and ultimately fake, it can be incredibly hard to stand out, to rise above the parapet and be noticed.
Even the word ‘Idol’ brings images of AKB48, Morning Musume, Momoiro Clover Z or Hello! Project. But since the success of Nogizaka46, idol franchise Sakamichi Series would introduce a group in 2015 called Keyakizaka46, who’s early success would see their 2016 debut single Silent Majority fly to the top of the Oricon chart. Their success would continue to climb and they have since solidified their place as one of Japan’s leading idol groups.
Keyakizaka46 would form a subgroup called Hiragana Keyakizaka46, which would eventually become a stand-alone group changing their name to Hinatazaka46.
They have become more well-known internationally since starring in 2017’s Netflix drama Re: Mind and most recently, having their own popular variety show HINABINGO.
Hinatazaka46 boasts 20 members: Mao Iguchi, Sarina Ushio, Yūka Kageyama, Shiho Katō, Kyōko Saitō, Kumi Sasaki, Mirei Sasaki, Mana Takase, Ayaka Takamoto, Mei Higashimura, Miku Kanemura, Hina Kawata, Nao Kosaka, Suzuka Tomu, Akari, Akari, Akari Hiyori Hamagishi, Konoka Matsuda, Manamo Miyata, Miho Watanabe and Hinano Kamimura.
They are quickly becoming one of Japan’s strongest idol groups and due to their success, I wanted to review their 2019 track JOYFUL LOVE featured on the Kyun single, a highly addictive, heartwarming and catchy track that highlight the group’s vocals, their harmonics and the subtle way the vocals project above the melody. In accompaniment, their music video is a colourful, intriguing and oddly-nostalgic visual treat.
The video in its function is simplistic, it features each member performing a series of choreographed dances, with sections or carefully timed motions that are mirrored among the members. The stunning, sun-soaked scenery and the bright, colourful dresses give a sense of hope and happiness, set against the track, it’s an uplifting collection that’s infectious.
Beware though, if you watch it enough times, it can start to appear more like a cult.
A cult has never looked so appealing.
Hinatazaka46’s 4th single, titled Sonna Koto Nai Yo, is available for purchase 19 February, 2020.