Just as the Asayan auditions of long ago grew into the phenomenon known as Momusu, a most defining debut release has once again surfaced as UFA pushes to broaden their Asian horizons in the wake of their very successful Hello! Project New Star Auditions in Taiwan resulting in their first all Taiwanese pop group Ice Creamusume.
I did initially find their debut mini album's title "1st Best!" to be a bit odd as usually the word "best" is reserved for compilation albums released down the road in a group/artist's career…..however in the case of this mini debut it's actually very appropriate! 4 of the 7 tracks are fittingly Momusu cover songs with all but one being performed in Mandarin, that being a second version of "Morning Coffee" sung entirely in Japanese. All of the other tracks are also sung in Mandarin making this really my very first "extensive" venture into what may be called "Mando-pop." And being that Mandarin for me personally creates a solid language barrier as I understand not a single word or phrase of it although whenever I do hear "hello" in mandarin I think to myself….un~wakatta! ^ ^…but otherwise with the exception of their Japanese version of "Morning Coffee" this entire release's appeal would be reliant on the strength of songwriting and the sweet phonetic sounds of Mandarin itself.
One of my earliest encounters with Chinese pop music can be traced back to Taiwanese actress/singer/model Vivian Hsu's Japanese pop idol career which combined her debut with a comedic duo forming the Black Biscuits, and later her solo work in Japan continued with additional single and album releases containing both Japanese as well as Chinese language pop songs. And it was here that I first was able to appreciate and enjoy the the lovely "swishy" phonetics of Mandarin when put into song lyrics…sorry that's just my endeared way of describing that distinct and soft sound of the Mandarin language as I find it cutely "slippery." Mandarin really has a sound which rolls off the tongue and with so many subtleties in accents, intonation and phrasing which can change the meaning of words and phrases so drastically if spoken incorrectly I imagine it's one of the most challenging languages in the world to learn!
Vivian Hsu's "Mou aisenai" represents one of my very earliest encounters with Chi-pop and the Japanese title here was only derived as a translation for the Japanese listeners as the song itself is entirely performed in the Mandarin language.
Before getting to the album tracks let's meet those 6 adorable members which make up Ice Creamusume…
This is perhaps really really premature as so far I've only watched each of them in audition clips and the included DVD which accompanies this album, but I've decided to list them in order of my favorites…
I think it's so cute that each individual member has been given a nickname as well as a flavor of ice cream to represent them! ^o^ I don't even like ice cream but I so want one of those ice cream jackets that they're all wearing~! And the zipper is so cute!
#2. Guuchan/ Flavor: Mango! ^ ^
#3. Anchii/ Flavor: Coffee! ^ ^
#5. Shen Shen/ Flavor: blueberry! (Leader) ^ ^
1. Lian ai deng chang
2. Zao an ka fei (Morning Coffee)
3. Ame no furanai hoshi de wa aisenai darou?
4. Lian ai ge ming (Renai revolution21)
5. Go Girl~lian ai sheng li~ (Go Girl~koi no victory~)
6. Debut!~Lian ai de zhuan jiao hui you hao yun jiang lin~
7. Zao an ka fei (Morning Coffee/ Japanese version)
Producer Tsunku is credited with all lyrical & music content with the exception of arrangements and while four tracks are prior Momusu compositions of his I'm thinking…..Mandarin lyrics too~? :O Above is a version of their debut pv. It's so sweet that those backgrounds were drawn by the members themselves!! =)
Beloved classics "Morning Coffee", "Renai Revolution21" and "Go Girl~koi no victory" all get versions in Mandarin and it's really refreshing to hear these familiar songs in such a new light. Initially I thought I may feel a bit hesitant to enjoy these in another language but quickly upon hearing their very first notes that immediately is not the case and truly all six members shine both indvidually and as an ensemble as each member possesses vocal talent as well as playful personalities. In particular the three Momusu tracks that were chosen for this debut are quite perfect selections not only for their greatness individually as songs but also in that the vocal arrangements of early Momusu reflect a much higher level of vocal prowess in their arrangements and layers of vocal harmonies making these furthermore, perfect vehicles for a serious musical debut. Specifically speaking, it's Momusu's debut album "First Time" which includes some of the most advanced vocal arrangements and one may need not look further than such tracks as "Yume no naka", "Mirai no tobira", "Samishii hi", and "Good Morning" as good examples of how Momusu started out as a serious "vocal" group with the sense of "idol" coming in as a secondary element.
Ice Creamusume also bears a seemingly natural air of confidence within themselves which is viewable through many of the included clips on the accompanying DVD as well as others found on streaming video on the internet and what this really does immediately is create a very endearing aura for fans to both connect with and embrace….and whether this is a product of "idol" coaching or completely natural, the end result that we're witnessing in this early stage is one that could strongly suggest the group's ability to persevere and thrive in the very competitive music scene as fans really need to make a connection in order to continue their allegiance to just about any new group or artist that bursts onto the scene.
The accompanying DVD has a running time of just over 37 minutes and goes beyond the realm of a "making of" disc as in addition to the jacket shooting and pv making there's also the inclusion of their announcement into the group, short auditon clips, dining out moments, dance lessons, vocal studio clips as well as lots and lots of wonderful candid moments between members! A few notable favorites here would be their meeting with Nacchi! ♥, the Hangry & Angry promotion behind them while they're in Shibuya I think???, their visit to a Hello! Project Petit Museum which as them watching a Momusu pv (*´∀｀*)♪♪…..and of course the CD player giveaway on the bus where the very member who has a CD readily available keeps losing in jankenpo until…..how sweet~! as everyone gets one. o(*´∀｀)o゛♥
" Lian ai deng chang" (tracks 1 & 6) is truly Ice Creamusume's "Good Morning" in every sense and just like Momusu opened up their debut "First Time" concert at Shibuya Koukaido many years ago this will make for the perfect entrance song as Ice Creamusume takes to the big stage for the first time! (sigh…pray for a live band too in this instance although that's probably highly unlikely! ) And along with "Morning Coffee" I so love that they chose to include both a Mandarin and Japanese version for both tracks…..and with this Ice Creamusume does 100% justice to all Momusu tracks they're representing and I would really love to hear more cover Momusu songs along with originals in their future releases. Outside of the already familiar tracks I do ♥ ballads and track 3 "Ame no furanai hoshi de wa aisenai darou?" is pure love in every sense!!
I apologize for my insatiable desire to ramble on and on…….so here are the 7 tracks. =)
Hmmm…as a final thought,
in some of her photos and clips
I'm beginning to think
somewhat resembles a mixture of both Uehara Takako & Sayumin~♥
if I could morph them together.