チェキッ娘．．．Sweet J~pop never goes out of style!
~Trends for all time and their successes breeds copies or emulations~
It’s Friday♥!!! ending of another long week of work (;゜□゜)。Tonight we’ll take a trip down memory lane and revisit the idol group Checkicco (also written: Checkikko, チェキッ娘). The year was 1998 and Morning Musume’s quick ascent to success didn’t go unnoticed and just shortly after their indies debut in late in that year another version so to speak appeared on Japan’s idol music scene. From about the mid 90’s till the beginning ascent of Momusu there was a slight lull in the popularity of idol music groups in general and while breaking this brief trend would ultimately mean a rethinking of the very structure of idol music groups and their success for longevity the creation of Checkicco was still perhaps ahead of their time all the while the early similarities with Momusu were still most evident.
And what would begin originally as a 3 member group quickly grew into 9 by the time their first single “Dakishimete” was released on December 9th, 1998. Hmm…sound familiar in a sense? And while Momusu would later venture into the teens in member count, Checkikko (later written as “Checkicco”) would grown in member size as well reaching 18…and then 19 members total (just roughly the size of a single AKB team but for the time was most ambitious as the existence of groups like Onyanko Club and their numbers were still thought to be a thing of the past for the most part of the modern era). While Momusu’s first 3 generations are arguably the most vocally talented lineups the group has ever sustained, Checkicco’s vast group lineup included some great vocal talent as well as some weaker ones mixed in. But in a choral arrangement which Checkicco really embraced and soared in, a very sweet and sound vocal presence can be heard as this was the case in many of their songs. Think “Dekkai uchuu ni ai ga aru”, “SHIP TO THE FUTURE” as two great Momusu examples of this type of choral approach which defined some of Checkicco’s most beloved songs.
While gathering a start up group and heading into battle head on with the mothership aka Momusu, Checkicco came well prepared as their debut single “Dakishimete” (pictured above) was written entirely by Luna Sea’s kawamura Ryuichi! A seemingly unlikely pairing as Luna Sea’s lead singer is known for his brand of power rock in a unique and sleek package that led Japan’s rock scene for many years. Luna Sea’s place in J-Rock history is solid as they’ll always be regarded as one of Japan’s premier bands.
Kawamura Ryuichi would later embark on a solo career in early 2001 after Luna Sea’s disbandment in 2000 and he would go on to numerous releases which featured a new lighter pop sound as well as produce and write for outside projects such as Say a Little Prayer and Uehara Takako’s solo career to name just a couple. Kawamura Ryuichi’s solo singles opened up an entirely new dimension of his personality as they’re so outside of the lines of Luna Sea’s edgy sound and to some may have appeared as an out of body experience at the time in a sense as he apparently had accumulated a lot of material that wasn’t suited for Luna Sea over the years, all in hopes of heading into a solo venture one day. This new dimension of Luna Sea’s front man can also be heard in his composition for Checkicco which breathes sweet~♥ pop to its core.
One certainty that I loved about Checkicco was that they never wavered from that lovely true “J-Pop” sound and always remained free from outside musical and international influences/styles and perhaps this was just the end result of the group not being together for all that long as they would say good-bye in October of ’99 with their final release “Best Memories” which is a double disc album that celebrates their entire career just a year after debuting. Short but sweet may best describe this endeavor and while Checkicco never reached the popularity level enjoyed by Momusu they did employ seemingly some of their techniques outside of growing member wise in ways such as…
..…..featuring “key” members on particular songs with no other members present which can be viewed sort of in a “unit” sense even though no separate group names were ever issued for these releases and while I did embrace them for awhile it did kind of feel like dare I say…”cheating” or going behind the back of your favorite group at the time…and I’m referring to Momusu of course! 😛
my Checkicco collection
(Above my collection includes 6 singles & 2 albums)
And at the time I remember thinking that Momusu had a lot of members at times in their lineup!! :O Furthermore what’s perhaps most startling about this group is that despite such a large number of member only a single member…Shimokawa Mikuni continued on in the music industry after their break up. Hot flashes can be great…(not those kinds of hot flashes! (*>ω<) ) and Checkicco left us with some really well written catchy songs which embody all that is wonderful about idol groups and J-Pop in general! If you love J-Pop in any sense then give Checkicco a listen! (^-^) ♪～♪。
First is Checkicco’s best known song “Hajimari” which I think is as good as any other great J-Pop song out there! Without question! “Hajimari” is Checkicco’s 2nd single and its melody is pure J-pop love perfection! So beloved is this song that Checkicco released 3 versions of it! This single features 2 b-sides and both of them are “unit” type tracks which feature 3 members each. Enjoy!!
~Checkicco “Hajimari” mp3~
Next is Checkicco’s title track from their 3rd single “Umi e ikou~Love Beach Love~” and this is such a cute song!! Infectious vibrant melody and this song like “Hajimari”‘s b-sides features select members from the group. Note the songwriting as it’s really top notch here.
~Checkicco “Umi e ikou~Love Beach Love~” mp3~
Next is Checkicco’s final single release “Arigatou” which gave the group closure in a pretty profound sense and despite their short tenure this song has kind of a grand feeling to it…hmm…it’s kind of difficult to explain though. Another beautiful memorable melody with overlapping harmonies! And I just love the sound of the school bells that are incorporated into this song.
~Checkicco “Arigatou” mp3~
And here’s Checkicco’s debut single “Dakishimete”, written by Kawamura Ryuichi. The group was a bit smaller at this point but the ensemble vocals are just just as rich! Some of the solo vocals aren’t particularly strong but together in the choruses Checkicco shines! ^-^ And this song’s undeniably catchy too!!
~Checkicco “Dakishimete” mp3~
And tonight we’ll end with one of the two aforementioned alternate versions of Checkicco’s finest in their song “Hajimari”, this version is the polar opposite of the original as the arrangement here is that of a pure ballad and this version appearing on their final single creates a beautiful bookend for Checkicco with the mood of this track being a lot more somber in a bitter~sweet of ways.
~Checkicco “Hajimari –Departure 2000-“ mp3~
Thanks for listening ＾＾。
Have a wonderful weekend!!