C-ute is probably my favorite group in H!P right behind Morning Musume. They’re the reason I found H!P and thus began my journey of fandom for H!P. When I first stumbled upon them they brought such a fresh look of cuteness and energy that I never seen before, with their bright smiles and their high energy music which was very refreshing at the time, C-ute stole my heart and kept impressing me with every new single that they released. They have the best set of Indie songs for a H!P group and the choreography for their songs is right up there with Morning Musume in terms of difficulty.
Though with recent events of scandals and Tsunku’s decision on the groups music direction,c-ute has really been in a downward spiral of mediocrity and staleness as of late. A lot of C-ute Fans have theories to what triggered this downfall in the group. Some actually feel the group started to decline when Original member Murakami Megumi left the group in 2006. Megumi was consider a lead vocalist along side members Airi and Maimi so hence the popularity within C-ute fans and H!P fans in general. She was one of the more active H!P kids at the time with her being in 2 popular Shuffle Groups (ZYX,Sexy Otonajan) her exposure to the public made her rise above most of the H!P kids. Though the higher they are the harder they fall, during the groups preparations of their major debut, A scandal broke out with Megumi embracing another male in public. Remember that the Kago Ai Scandal was still fresh in everyone’s minds so my assumption is that Up-Front (The Agency for all H!P artist) were very strict on Megumi and I assume she was forced to leave C-ute under the cover up of her wishing to continue her studies. Many C-ute fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths as there was no graduation ceremonies and the sudden departure of a popular H!P kid left many H!P fans pointing fingers at Up-front with another mishandling of a H!P artist.
As for my thoughts to when I think the group started to decline, I believe it started around the time of former member Kanna Arihara’s departure from the group, coupled with the release of the single “bye bye bye”. I guess you can call me a bit bias as Kanna was my favorite member of C-ute at the time. She had a certain aura of confidence that made me gravitate towards her during concerts, plus my tendency to root for the underdog were the major factors in my interest towards Kanna. Her departure from C-ute really started to make me lose faith in Up-front and their repeated mishandling of H!P Artist as Kanna was yet another victim to a scandal with photos of her embracing and being on a date with one of the members of hey!say!JUMP (a Johnny’s JR band). Up-front yet again decided to cover up this scandal with Kanna being on hiatus with a foot injury, and after a few months of not hearing any activity over at the Kanna camp, the announcement of Kanna leaving H!P surprised many fans, but to other fans it was business as usual, and their disgust with Up-front made many C-ute fans to jump ship.
Now to discuss Tsunku’s horrendous decisions in the music direction that C-ute has been putting out these last few singles. When I think of C-ute, I think of fresh upbeat tempo and energetic music with catchy choruses and memorable choreography like “soku Dakishimete” and “Tokaikko Junjou”. Nowadays, The first word that comes to mind with the last few C-ute singles is inconsistency. Bye Bye Bye was the first single from c-ute that when I first heard it, my first thoughts were “well that’s different”… different isn’t always good my friends. First off the single sounded like a bad funkpop 80’s song and the arrangement of the song was messy at best, It was nice to see Mai Mai get more spotlight in this single, but her bowl haircut in the MV really made me wish to grab a time machine and go back to the time when Mai was still cute. I think the most disheartening thing about this single was the failed choreography. C-ute is well known to have some of the best choreography in their singles, but the dancing in “bye bye bye” made all the members look stale and awkward every time they performed the single. Things though started to look up with the next releases of “shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu” and “Everyday Zekkouchou” not the greatest singles from c-ute, but refreshing singles with up beat tempo and memorable dancing. It seemed that Captain Tsunku was taking this C-ute ship and steering it towards the promise land. The graduation of Erika was also seen around this time. She would be missed as the awkward tall girl always on stage left.
Just as you think the C-ute ship was heading towards the promise land. A horrendous storm by the name of “SHOCK!” hit the C-ute vessel and it has yet to be heard from since. “SHOCK!” didn’t sound like a C-ute song at all. It sounded like a Airi and the backup singers. The song was entirely sung by Airi with not even leader maimi getting a solo line. The single created a lot of disscusion within the wota community, some felt that this single was Tsunku preparing the end of C-ute with Airi departing from C-ute and doing a Fujimoto/Matsuura solo career, and having the rest of the C-ute members be lost at sea. To make matters worst, The single picked to represent the new C-ute Album “shigatsu Sengen” sounds like a boring lullaby with no passion what so ever in the song. It makes me cringe to think that this is one of the very few songs to have even line distribution throughout the members, yet the song fails so hard. To further prove that the C-ute ship is sinking, the new album “shocking 5” was only able to muster 6.5k in the first week and not even come in the top 20 of oricon weekly with even album’s that were released MONTHS ago outperforming them.
Now it isn’t like I have jumped off the C-ute shipped just yet. I still believe that Tsunku can salvage this mess and turn it around. Hopefully he sees the poor sales that C-ute is doing and is acknowledging there is a problem, and that this problem needs to be fixed before it is to late. C-ute has the personality that not a lot of idol groups have nowadays, each member of C-ute brings something different to the table, and I feel that UFA and Tsunku just aren’t utilizing these girls to their best potential. Maybe not put so much focus on Airi and Maimi, and actually utilize ALL of C-ute for a change.
You have the pieces Tsunku, the ball is in your court.