Momoiro Clover Z
|Momoiro Clover Z|
Live in August 2011.
|Also known as||Momoclo
|Genres||J-pop, teen pop, dance-pop, bubblegum pop, power pop, pop rock, pop punk, R&B|
|Past members||Akari Hayami et al.|
Momoiro Clover Z (ももいろクローバーZ Momoiro Kurōbā Zetto ), commonly abbreviated as Momoclo (ももクロ momokuro ), is a Japanese idol group, composed of five girls.
They are known for their energetic performances, which incorporate elements of ballet, gymnastics, and action movies. A 2013 survey shows that the group attracts the highest level of interest of all the female idol groups in Japan. (According to a survey published by an economic newspaper, the group's steady raise in popularity from 2011 to 2012 eventually led them to be ranked number one in early 2013.)
The band's songs are intentionally ridiculous "hyperactive J-pop numbers". Their live performances are heavily choreographed and feature acrobatic stunts. The group is noted for their "anarchic energy" that is similar to that of punk bands. The response from the audience has been characterised as "seismic". Although the girls' voices are not very stable when coupled with an intense dance, the group performs on stage live and does not lipsynch.
Some of Momoiro Clover's works are quite complex, switching from one musical style to another during one song and connecting "seemingly unconnected melodies". The group has worked with many noted songwriters and musicians, belonging to different genres of music, from pop to punk and heavy metal.
Overall, the group and its music has been noted as progressive and forward-thinking. Ian Martin from The Japan Times dubbed Momoiro Clover "a pop group who provoke squealing, teenage admiration from punks, indie kids, noise musicians and heavy-psychedelic longhairs throughout the Japanese underground music scene".
According to a representative of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Momoiro Clover Z "is known for upbeat tunes, eccentric choreography and the members' costumes". A music critic from The Japan Times cites Momoiro Clover Z as an example of "a seamless integration of personality, image, and music, with each element mutually complementary".
Name origin and concept
Formed in the spring of 2008 and officially debuting as a six-member unit a year later, the band was originally named Momoiro Clover (literally "Pink Clover"). The name was chosen to mean that the band was composed of innocent girls who wanted to bring happiness to people.
On stage, Momoiro Clover members are easily distinguished by the colors of their clothes, which is in the style of Japanese sentai (costumed superhero) shows. In some songs and music videos, the group loosely parodies them.
|Kanako Momota (百田 夏菜子)||Red||July 12, 1994||19||Leader|
|Shiori Tamai (玉井 詩織)||Yellow||June 4, 1995||18||Nickname: Shiorin|
|Ayaka Sasaki (佐々木 彩夏)||Pink||June 11, 1996||17||Nickname: Ārin|
|Momoka Ariyasu (有安 杏果)||Green||March 15, 1995||18||Shortest member|
|Reni Takagi (高城 れに)||Purple||June 21, 1993||20||Former leader|
- Former members
|Akari Hayami (早見 あかり)||Blue||March 17, 1995||18||Nickname: Akarin|
The group had several other personnel prior to its debut:
- Runa Yumikawa (弓川 留奈)
- Tsukina Takai (高井 つき奈)
- Miyū Wagawa (和川 未優)
- Manami Ikura (伊倉 愛美)
- Sumire Fujishiro (藤白 すみれ)
- Yukina Kashiwa (柏 幸奈)
|1||"Momoiro Punch" (ももいろパンチ)||Aug. 5, 2009||23|
|2||"Mirai e Susume!" (未来へススメ！)||Nov. 11, 2009||11|
|1||"Ikuze! Kaitō Shōjo" (行くぜっ！怪盗少女)||May 5, 2010||3||Music|
|2||"Pinky Jones" (ピンキージョーンズ)||Nov. 10, 2010||8||Live|
|3||"Mirai Bowl / Chai Maxx"
|March 7, 2011||3||Music|
|4||"Z Densetsu: Owarinaki Kakumei"
|July 6, 2011||5||Live|
|5||"D' no Junjō" (D'の純情)||6||Music|
|6||"Rōdō Sanka" (労働賛歌)||Nov. 23, 2011||7||Music|
|7||"Mōretsu Uchū Kōkyōkyoku
Dai 7 Gakushō «Mugen no Ai»"
|March 7, 2012||5||Music|
|8||"Otome Sensō" (Z女戦争)||June 27, 2012||3||Music|
|9||"Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi yo" *
|Nov. 21, 2012||2||Music|
|10||"Gounn" (GOUNN)||Nov. 06, 2013||Music|
*Billboard Japan Hot 100 number one
|1||Battle and Romance (バトル アンド ロマンス)||July 27, 2011||2*|
|2||5th Dimension (5TH DIMENSION)||April 10, 2013||1|
|–||Iriguchi no Nai Deguchi (入口のない出口)||June 5, 2013||2|
* Debuted at 3rd in 2011; updated the peak position to 2nd in 2013
The group was formed by the Stardust Promotion talent agency in spring of 2008. Momoiro Clover began its activity the same spring on the sidewalks of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park, where they performed for bystanders almost every weekend. On weekdays, the girls were at school. As the founding members of the band recall, sometimes only a few people would stop and look. In a one-year period, the band had a number of line-up changes.
On November 23, 2009, the group was joined by Yukina Kashiwa, Akari Hayami, and Ayaka Sasaki as new members and on November 24 unveiled live a new song titled "Momoiro Punch". When Kashiwa left on March 9 of the next year, they became a five-member band composed of Reni Takagi, Kanako Momota, Akari Hayami, Shiori Tamai, and Ayaka Sasaki.
To support and promote their first indie single, "Momoiro Punch", the band took advantage of school holidays from May to August and went by minibus on a long tour across Japan, from Hokkaido to Fukuoka. They gave a total of 104 concerts in 24 electronic stores of the Yamada Denki network. The tour was titled "Yamada Denki Presents: Momoiro Clover Japan Tour 2009 Momoiro Typhoon!" The girls slept in the minivan, and group's managers drove. On July 26, 2009, in the middle of the tour and shortly before the release of the aforementioned first indie single, Momoka Ariyasu was added to the group as a sixth member. The single was scheduled to be released on July 22, but was postponed until August 5. It was sold only at the group's live events and those sales were enough for it to place 11th in the Oricon Daily Singles Chart and 23rd in the weekly chart.
On March 3, 2010, Momoiro Clover signed a contract with Universal Records to release their first major-label single "Ikuze! Kaitō Shōjo" on May 5, Children's Day. The public contract signing ceremony featured public weighing of every member to determine if they passed the weight requirement set by the record label for idols. The weight formula set for the group was: Idol weight (kg) = [Height (cm) − 100] × 0.8, which was stricter than the usual one with 0.9 as the multiplier. If the band passed the requirement, they would sign a permanent contract. But Reni Takagi failed, and the ceremony resulted only in a temporary contract. Also, it remained unclear whether the group would succeed in passing the test by the release date. At the same ceremony, the girls stated their goals for the year ahead, setting them as "To take first place on Oricon, to participate in Kōhaku Uta Gassen, to perform at Budokan, and in Budokan to hold a handshake meeting with all the fans who came".
The single was written, composed and arranged by Kenichi Maeyamada and was scheduled to be released on May 5. From March 6, the group toured Japan in support of the single. It was initially planned that the group would give 28 concerts and the number 28 was included in the tour title. The single debuted at the first position in the Oricon Daily Singles Chart and at number 3 for the week.
On August 13, Momoiro Clover released their first movie. The movie, titled Shirome, was in the genre of a "mockumentary" horror movie. While it was being filmed, the girls were tricked into believing that they were participating in a documentary about an urban legend and that everything happening was genuine.
Leaving Universal Records after only one single, the group moved to King Records. On August 23, at a launch event for their next single, titled "Pinky Jones", the girls appeared in wedding dresses, symbolizing their "marriage" to King Records. The group's second major single (first on King Records and fourth overall) was composed by Narasaki from the band Coaltar of the Deepers and had a "more chaotic" vibe than their previous songs. It single topped at daily number 6 and weekly number 8.
On January 16, 2011 at the release event for a new song titled "Mirai Bowl", sub-leader Akari Hayami stated that she had decided to "graduate" (withdraw) from the group in April. Akari explained that her character was not suited to being an idol and that her dream was to become an actress.
The last single with Hayami, titled "Mirai Bowl / Chai Maxx", was released on March 7 and placed 3rd in the Oricon weekly charts, repeating the group's top position to date. On March 27, Momorio Clover released its first live DVD, which contained the recording of their first concert given last December.
At the April 10 Akari Hayami "graduation" concert, the group's management announced the name change to Momoiro Clover Z after Akari's departure. When the first single after Akari's departure, "Z Densetsu: Owarinaki Kakumei", was performed in public for the first time, the stage performance and the new image of the group were described as shocking to the audience. The girls wore sentai warrior outfits with helmets and so-called "transformation belts". The music video was also reminiscent of sentai (superhero team) movies.
On July 27, Momoiro Clover released their first album, Battle and Romance. Later in December, Hotexpress described the band as the number-one breakthrough idol artist of 2011 and stated that the album became a big turning point for them. Next February, Battle and Romance won the Grand Prix at the CD Shop Awards as the best CD of the year selected by music shop employees from all over the country. Momoiro Clover were the first idols to win the award.
Momoiro Clover's 8th single "Otome Sensō" came out on July 27, 2012; its lyrics can be interpreted as the start of a war for the top of the charts against other idol groups. The group also recorded an ending theme song for Pokémon's Best Wishes series (titled "Mite Mite Kocchichi" and included in the same CD single as a coupling track).
On June 17, Momoito Clover Z began a tour across Japan. The tour opened at NHK Hall in Tokyo and closed on August 5 at Seibu Dome. These two concerts were broadcast live to selected cinemas across the country, the latter also to Taiwan and Hong Kong. The stage at the sold-out Seibu Dome was in a 360-degree configuration, accommodating 37,000 people.
In July, Momoiro Clover performed at Japan Expo 2012 in Paris. At the event, the group announced that it would be providing the theme music for the new Sailor Moon anime due to be released in summer of 2013.
During the January 1 Ustream broadcast, the group made several announcements: that the band set a new goal for itself — to give a concert at the National Olympic Stadium, an arena with 60–70,000 capacity, that they will release a new album in spring and that Momoka Ariyasu had to undergo a throat treatment and she would not sing or even talk until the end of January. The treatment was subsequently prolonged for another month, until the end of February. During Momoiro Clover's live Ustream broadcasts, Momoka communicated by drawing and writing on a markerboard. At live performances, other members took turns in singing her parts.
Meanwhile on January 19, during a live event, the group announced that the band's second full-length album will be released on April 10 and that from March 12, the band would go on a live tour with six performances in Osaka, Nagoya, and Sapporo. The album title was later revealed to be 5th Dimension. In the beginning of February, it was also announced that Momoiro Clover would hold a concert at Nissan Stadium on August 4. Nissan Stadium has a capacity of 72,327, surpassing the National Olympic Stadium the band was aiming for.
5th Dimension sold 102,855 copies in its first day and 180,000 copies in the first week and debuted on top of the Oricon charts, with Momoiro Clover's first album Battle and Romance resurging to number two.
It has been announced that Momoiro Clover Z will also be performing the theme song of the upcoming film "Akumuchan The Movie", they previous sang the theme song of the 11-episode Akumuchan TV Drama in 2012 (Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi tachi yo) in which group member Shiori Tamai also guest-roled as the character "Yumenoke". Miss Tamai is expected to reprise her role. 
In 2012, their first album Battle and Romance won the CD Shop Award as the best CD of the previous year as voted by music shop salesclerks from all over Japan. It was the first time an idol (group) got this prize.
|2012||Battle and Romance||CD Shop Awards||Won|
|2013||"Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi yo"||MTV Video Music Award Japan for Best Choreography||Won|
- September 9, 2011 — Japan Media Arts Festival in Dortmund, Germany
- May 26, 2012 — Hari Belia Negara 2012 in Putrajaya, Malaysia
- July 5, 2012 — Japan Expo 2012 in Paris, France
- Shirome (シロメ) (horror film, August 13, 2010 , DVD release: September 24, 2010 )
- The Citizen Police 69 (市民ポリス69 Shimin Police 69 ) (March 19, 2011 , DVD release: September 2, 2010 )
- Ninifuni (NINIFUNI) (February 4, 2012 , DVD release: December 21, 2012 )
- Momodora (ももドラ momo+dra) (5-episode internet drama omnibus film, February 4, 2012 , DVD/Blue-ray release: April 11, 2012 )
- Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku — Momoiro Clover's sister group
- Team Syachihoko — Momoiro Clover's sister group
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