Cute (Japanese band)

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Cute
°C-ute at Japan Expo 2014.jpg
°C-ute at Japan Expo 2014
Background information
Also known as ℃-ute, C-ute
Origin Japan
Genres Pop, teen pop, bubblegum pop, electropop, dance pop, pop rock
Years active 2005–present
Labels Zetima (JP)
Pony Canyon (KR)[1]
Associated acts Berryz Kobo
Buono!
Hello! Project Kids
Aa!
ZYX
Hello! Project Mobekimasu

Morning Musume
Erina Mano
S/mileage
Juice=Juice
Website helloproject.com/c-ute
Members Maimi Yajima
Saki Nakajima
Airi Suzuki
Chisato Okai
Mai Hagiwara
Past members Megumi Murakami (2005–2006)
Kanna Arihara (2006–2009)
Erika Umeda (2005–2009)
Cute's logo

Cute, stylized as ℃-ute (キュート Kyūto?), is a Japanese girl group, consisting of five members. Cute is part of Hello! Project, produced by Tsunku, who also writes almost all the band's songs.

Cute made its major debut in 2007 and that year won the Japan Record Award for Best New Artist.[2] In 2008, the group was nominated for the main Japan Record Award, the Grand Prix, its song being named one of the year's best songs. As of May 2013, all of the band's major-label singles have debuted in the top 10 of the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart.

Musical style[edit]

Practically all the band's works are written and composed by Tsunku, the group's producer.

As of 2012, the band's image was considered bright and energetic.[3] Cute's 16th and 17th singles (2011) were happy songs in a major key,[4] but the 18th single "Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku" (April 2012) was quite unusual.[3] It was a rock ballad about saying goodbye (it is time to go home and the girl singer must part with the boy she loves).[3] Later, the band's songs became more mature.

Members[edit]

Lineup (as of 2009)[edit]

Name Birth date[5] Age Notes
Maimi Yajima (1992-02-07)February 7, 1992 22 Leader
Saki Nakajima (1994-02-05)February 5, 1994 20
Airi Suzuki (1994-04-12)April 12, 1994 20 Also a member of Buono!
Chisato Okai (1994-06-21)June 21, 1994 20
Mai Hagiwara (1996-02-07)February 7, 1996 18

Former members[edit]

History[edit]

2002–2004: Hello! Project Kids[edit]

All the group's members were initially selected during the audition for Hello! Project Kids in 2002.[6][7] Since then, the girls undertook serious professional training in Hello! Project.

In 2002, Airi Suzuki and Mai Hagiwara, as members of the group 4Kids, played in the Minimoni movie Okashi na Daibōken!.

In 2003, some Hello! Project Kids were placed in bands led by Morning Musume members: Airi Suzuki was selected to be in Aa!, while Erika Umeda, Maimi Yajima, and Megumi Murakami were in the group called ZYX. Both units were proved to be short-lived, and their activity virtually came to a stall with the creation of Berryz Kobo in January 2004.

Berryz Kobo was founded with 8 members out of 15 in Hello! Project Kids. The band members' average age was 10.75, making it the youngest Hello! Project group ever. On March 3, 2004, Berryz were already to release their first single, "Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai". Speaking at the unveiling of the new group at Nakano Sun Plaza on January 14, Tsunku said that its lineup will be changeable and he intends to rotate all Hello! Project Kids through it, thus allowing them more time for school activities.[8] Yet, that never happened.

2005–2006: Formation[edit]

Cute was formed in the year 2005, consisting of seven girls from Hello! Project Kids who had not been chosen to form the group Berryz Kobo.[9] The creation of Cute was officially announced on June 11, 2005, though its formation had been rumored for several months prior. In the announcement published on the Hello! Project official website on June 13, Tsunku literally wrote that it was confusing for him to call out the girls who weren't in Berryz, that he would say something like "... and ... and ... and ..." or "non-Berryz Kobo", so he decided to name them.[9] In contrast to Berryz Kobo, the title and release date of whose first single was announced at the same time with the band itself,[8] no plans for Cute were revealed.

On January 2, 2006, at the first performance of the annual Hello! Project Winter 2006: Wonderful Hearts concert tour, it was announced that Kanna Arihara, a Hello! Pro Egg member, was being added to Cute.[10]

In May–July 2006, in a span of 4 months, Cute released 4 indie singles. They received only limited distribution, being mostly sold at concerts.

On October 31, 2006, Megumi Murakami left the group, officially to concentrate on her studies.[11]

2007–2008: Major-label debut, 58th Kohaku Uta Gassen & the Japan Record Awards[edit]

On February 21, 2007, Cute's first official single "Sakura Chirari" was released. On the first day it ranked 3rd in the Oricon Daily Singles Chart, a feat not even accomplished by Morning Musume, whose debut single ranked 6th.[12] With their debut single, they became the youngest group (with the average age of 13) to rank in the top 10.[13]

On December 30, 2007, Cute received the Japan Record Award for Best New Artist.[14][15] The girls were too young to appear on stage at the awards ceremony, broadcast live late at night, so Tsunku accepted the award for them.

The year ended with the group's debut at the 58th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, an annual music show broadcast on December 31. They performed a number together with Morning Musume and Berryz Kobo.[16][17][18]

At the end of 2008, Cute was nominated for the main Japan Record Award, the Grand Prix, for the song "Edo no Temari Uta II", which was chosen as one of the best works of the year. Losing to the boyband Exile, that year they had to be content with a Gold Award, which is given to all main prize nominees.[19][20][21] The prizewinning song was originally written for veteran enka singer Hiroshi Itsuki, who was planning to release it on his end-of-2008 album. Cute's producer heard it and liked it. "I want the girls to sing it as a modern fairytale", said Tsunku, and Itsuki let him use the song. For Cute, it was rearranged from enka into boogie and the lyrics were slightly modified.[22] In what was called a collaboration by Tsunku[23] and a rivalry between two performers by Sankei Sports,[22] they both released the song as CD singles, Cute on July 30 and Itsuki as his 132nd single later in the year.

2009: Departure of Arihara and Umeda[edit]

On February 26, 2009, Hello! Project announced that Kanna Arihara was having difficulty performing on stage due to hallux valgus, or bunion deformity, and would not be able to attend Hello! Project 10th Anniversary fan club event that week. She would also be absent from Hello! Project's activities, including activities in Cute, while receiving treatment.[24][25][26] Finally, in July 2009, Hello! Project informed that Arihara had decided to leave Cute and Hello! Project and return to the life of a normal girl.[27]

On August 1, 2009, Hello! Project posted Erika Umeda's official announcement that at the end of the upcoming Cute's 2009 fall concert tour she would be graduating from Cute and Hello! Project to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion model.[28] Her graduation was held on October[29] 25 in Osaka, at the last concert of the tour.

The last single to feature Erika Umeda, "Everyday Zekkōchō!!", released on September 19, 2009, topped at number 1 in the Oricon daily singles chart and at number 2 in Oricon Weekly to become the Cute's highest-ranking single to date.

In November 2009, the official group member colours changed to: Maimi Yajima – red, Saki Nakajima – blue, Suzuki Airi – pink, Chisato Okai – green, and Mai Hagiwara – yellow.

2010: Expansion to iTunes and Youtube[edit]

On November 27, 2010, Chisato Okai released a solo single on iTunes,[30][31] becoming the first member in the group to do so. The single closely followed the success of Chisato's dance videos on YouTube, the first of which, “Dance de Bakōn!”, was viewed more than a million times by the end of January 2011.[32][33]

2011[edit]

On February 23 Cute released their 15th single, "Kiss Me Aishiteru".

Cute's 16th single, "Momoiro Sparkling", debuted in the 4th place of the Oricon daily singles chart for May 24. It spent two consecutive weeks in the Top 30 of the Oricon Weekly, ranking 6th and 17th.[34]

On June 18, 2011, a concert from Cute Concert Tour 2011 Haru: Chō! Chō Wonderful Tour was broadcast live on the group's YouTube channel. The live stream attracted a large audience from all over the world. As it was reported in Cute's official blog by band leader Maimi Yajima[35] and confirmed by the Up-Front Agency management on Twitter, the broadcast had been watched by a total of 93,144 viewers.[36]

2012[edit]

On February 8, the group's 7th album, titled Dai Nana Shō 'Utsukushikutte Gomen ne', came out.

On April 8, Cute performed at the idol festival Idol Yokochō Matsuri, giving the first non-Hello! Project joint concert in their entire career. The music news provider BARKS praised the "power performance" that was "overwhelming from beginning to end" and demonstrated the "number one" band's unity out of the whole Hello! Project.[37]

Cute's 18th single "Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku" ("You ride your bicycle, while I catch the train home"[38]) was released on April 18. The music video for the song was uploaded on Cute's official YouTube channel on March 12.[39] With more than 40,000 copies sold within the first week and reaching number 3 of the Oricon weekly singles chart, the single became their highest-selling single to date, breaking the record of their 3rd major single "Tokaikko Junjō".

On June 20, Cute released its second collaboration CD single with the fellow Hello! Project Kids group Berryz Kobo, named "Chō Happy Song" ("Superhappy Song"). The title tune is a mix of two previously published songs, Berryz Kobo's "Because Happiness" and Cute's "Shiawase no Tochū" ("On the Road to Happiness") from their 2012 albums. Both tracks were intentionally composed and produced by Tsunku to form a new song when played simultaneously.[40][41][42] The trick was originally scheduled to be announced at a summer Hello! Project concert, but was uncovered by fans in mid-April.[40][42] The song became a hot topic[41] on the Internet, and a set of the three tracks, "Because Happiness", "Shiawase no Tochū ", and "Chō Happy Song", was hastily released as a digital download single on April 28.[42]

Also in June, it had been announced that Cute's concert at the Yokosuka Arts Theater on June 30 would be broadcast live on YouTube.[43]

On September 5, Cute will release their 19th single, titled "Aitai Aitai Aitai na".[44] The song was premiered at the first concert of the Hello! Project 15th Anniversary Live 2012 Summer tour, on July 21 at the Onyx Theater in Osaka. [45]

2013: Paris & Live at Budokan[edit]

On April 3, it was announced that Cute would have their first solo overseas event, “Cutie Circuit ~Voyage a Paris~” on July 5th in Paris, France.[46] In addition,they performed at Nippon Budokan for the first time on September 9th and 10th(Cute's day) to commemorate their 200th performance. [47]

2014[edit]

On January 26, 2014 at a release event, ℃-ute's 24th single titled "Kokoro no Sakebi o Uta ni Shitemita / Love Take It All", was announced to be released on March 5, in 5 editions.

Origin of the name ℃-ute[edit]

℃-ute was named by Tsunku. According to him and the Hello! Project official website, the English word cute means "(little and) lovely, pretty" ((小さくて)かわいらしい,可憐な?). Wanting to somehow express the girls' overflowing fervor (enthusiasm), he substituted "℃" for "C".[5][9]

Critical reception[edit]

The music news provider BARKS praised Cute's "power performance" at the festival Idol Yokochō Matsuri on April 8, 2012 as being "overwhelming from beginning to end" and having demonstrated the "number one unity" out of all Hello! Project acts.[37]

Kawaii Girl Japan states that Cute has not only been acclaimed as "the best performer in the Hello! Project", but is also recognized as "the best live performer" or simply "the best performer" by fans of other idol groups. Reviewing the band's performance at the Nico Nico Chōkaigi festival, held on April 28–29, 2012, the website is impressed by how Cute covered the entire stage, being both dynamic and delicate, and how the band kept the audience intrigued and captivated. Depending on the song, Cute members changed their face expressions from happy to sad, easily commanding the audience's mood.[48]

Alleged dating scandals[edit]

After Kanna Arihara left the entertainment industry on July 9, 2009, officially it being her own decision to return to the life of a normal girl, fans of the group questioned the official statement. She might have been pressured to retire by her talent agency after last summer the magazine BUBKA published a scoop about her date with Johnny's Jr.'s Ryosuke Hashimoto. According to a women's weekly magazine (shūkanshi) reporter, soon after the publication there was an incident at a Cute handshake meeting, when some fans refused to shake Kanna's hand. She started crying in the middle of the event. Kanna Arihara's officially treatment for hallux valgus since February 2009 could have been in reality a hiatus from the group activities and a punishment. According to the same reporter, the publication itself wouldn't led to Kanna's retirement, but she continued to date Hashimoto in secret after that.[49] (What happened exactly is that the September 2008 issue of the tabloid magazine BUBKA published a paparazzi article about Kanna Arihara going to the cinema to see the movie Hana Yori Dango: Final with Ryosuke Hashimoto, a member of Johnny's Jr.[50] Despite rumors about an upcoming penitence, he was promoted to A.B.C-Z shortly afterwards.[51])

Controversies[edit]

The December 4, 2008 episode of the TV Tokyo variety show Yorosen!, featuring Cute, included a part on Adolf Hitler in a segment called "Great Men of the World". In it, a Cute member, acting as a "teacher" giving a comic history class to other members, friendly called the dictator "Uncle Hitler", presented a drawing of him, impersonated him, and said that Hitler's speeches had a "soothing effect".[52] The broadcast aroused heavy criticism on Internet bulletin boards, protesting against Hitler having been referred to as a "great man" and the contents of the comic lecture. TV Tokyo and the show's production company subsequently issued apologies. "The program's content was based on a mistaken interpretation of history and was inappropriate", TV Tokyo stated on its website.[53][54][55][56][57]

Discography[edit]

Main article: Cute discography

Awards[edit]

Best Hits Kayosai[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
2007 Cute (band) New Artist Award[5][58][59] Won
Best New Artist Award* Nominated

* Lost to RSP.

Japan Cable Awards[edit]

The Japan Cable Awards (日本有線大賞 Nihon Yūsen Taishō?) are sponsored by the National Cable Music Broadcasters Association (全国有線音楽放送協会?).

Year Recipient Award Result
2007 "Meguru Koi no Kisetsu" Cable Music Award[5] Won

Japan Record Awards[edit]

The Japan Record Awards is a major music awards show held annually in Japan by the Japan Composer's Association.

Year Recipient Award Result
2007 Cute "Tokaikko Junjō" New Artist Award[60] Won
Best New Artist Award[5][14][59] Won
2008 "Edo no Temari Uta II" / Cute Gold Award[5][19] Won
Grand Prix[19][20] Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Information for Cute Nandesu! Zen Single Atsumechaimashita! ① Pony Canyon Korea
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  38. ^ The cover of "Single V'Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku'"
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  48. ^ "(nico nico Chokaigi) ℃-ute, S/mileage and upupgirls(kari) have appeared in "Idol ga ○○shitemita!!" on nico nico Chokaigi. You might be able to see their kissing faces!? (2012-05-07)". Kawaii Girl Japan. 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ayaka
Japan Record Award for Best New Artist
2007
Succeeded by
Jero