Cute (Japanese idol group)

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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
Years active 2005–2017
Labels
Associated acts
Website helloproject.com/c-ute
Past members Maimi Yajima
Saki Nakajima
Airi Suzuki
Chisato Okai
Mai Hagiwara
Megumi Murakami
Kanna Arihara
Erika Umeda
Cute's logo

Cute, stylized as ℃-ute (キュート, Kyūto), was a Japanese idol girl group part of Hello! Project collective produced by Tsunku, who also writes almost all the group's songs. Cute consisted of Maimi Yajima, Saki Nakajima, Airi Suzuki, Chisato Okai, and Mai Hagiwara, who were all members of Hello! Project Kids prior to the group's formation. The original member line-up also consisted of fellow Hello! Project Kids members Megumi Murakami and Erika Umeda, as well as Hello! Project trainee Kanna Arihara, prior to their departure.

After releasing a string of independent hits, Cute made its major debut in 2007 with "Sakura Chirari" 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 April 2016,, all of the group's major-label singles have debuted in the top 10 of the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart.

Members[edit]

Final lineup[edit]

Name Birth date[3] Age Member Color Notes
Maimi Yajima (1992-02-07)February 7, 1992 25      Red Leader
Saki Nakajima (1994-02-05)February 5, 1994 23      Blue
Airi Suzuki (1994-04-12)April 12, 1994 23      Pink Also a member of Buono!
Chisato Okai (1994-06-21)June 21, 1994 23      Green
Mai Hagiwara (1996-02-07)February 7, 1996 21      Yellow

Former members[edit]

Name Birth date Age Notes
Erika Umeda (1991-05-24)May 24, 1991 26 Left the group on October 25, 2009
Megumi Murakami (1992-06-06)June 6, 1992 25 Left the group on November 1, 2006
Kanna Arihara (1993-06-15)June 15, 1993 24 Left the group in July 2009

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.[4][5] Later that year, 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 subgroups led by Morning Musume members. Suzuki was selected to be in Aa!, while Erika Umeda, Maimi Yajima, and Megumi Murakami were in the group called ZYX. Both units were short-lived, and their activity virtually came to a stall with the creation of Berryz Kobo in January 2004. When introducing Berryz Kobo at Nakano Sun Plaza on January 14, Tsunku intended to rotate all Hello! Project Kids through it, thus allowing them more time for school activities.[6]

2005–2006: Formation[edit]

Instead of rotating the members in Berryz Kobo as Tsunku originally had intended, the remaining Hello! Project Kids who were not selected for Berryz Kobo became a new group altogether in 2005.[7] Tsunku found it difficult to call the girls who were not part of Berryz Kobo collectively because they did not have a consistent group name, so he decided to name them.[7] He chose "Cute" because 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".[3][7] The creation of Cute was officially announced on June 11, 2005, though its formation had been rumored for several months prior. On January 2, 2006, at the first performance of the Hello! Project Winter 2006: Wonderful Hearts Concert Tour, Kanna Arihara, a Hello! Pro Egg member, was added to Cute.[8]

On May 6, 2006, Cute released their debut single, "Massara Blue Jeans." From May 2006 to July 2006, they released four indie singles, "Oki na Ai de Motenashite", "Soku Dakishimete", and "Wakkyanai (Z)", all of which received limited distribution and were mostly sold at concerts. Despite this, their songs were featured in mainstream media, as "Oki na Ai de Motenashite" was used as the second ending theme to the anime Kirarin Revolution.

On October 31, 2006, Megumi Murakami left the group to concentrate on her studies.[9]

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. With their debut single, they became the youngest group (with the average age of 13) to rank in the top 10.[10]

On December 30, 2007, Cute received the Japan Record Award for Best New Artist.[11][12] 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.[13][14][15]

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.[16][17][18] The prizewinning song was originally written for veteran enka singer Hiroshi Itsuki, who was planning to release it on his end-of-2008 album. Tsunku, however, heard the song, and said, "I want the girls to sing it as a modern fairytale." So Itsuki let him use the song. For Cute, it was rearranged from enka into boogie and the lyrics were slightly modified.[19] In what was called a collaboration by Tsunku[20] and a rivalry between two performers by Sankei Sports,[19] 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.[21][22][23] Finally, in July 2009, Hello! Project informed that Arihara had decided to retire from the entertainment industry.[24] On the other hand, Excite.co.jp linked Arihara's sudden departure to being caught on a date with Johnny's Jr. member Ryosuke Hashimoto in September 2008, which affected her image.[25]

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 begin a modeling career.[26] Her graduation was held on October[27] 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 Cute's highest-ranking single to date.

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

2010-2012: Expansion to iTunes and Youtube[edit]

On November 27, 2010, Chisato Okai released a solo single on iTunes, a cover of Aya Matsuura's "Love Namidairo."[28][29] She became 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.[30][31]

On February 23, Cute released their 15th single, "Kiss Me Aishiteru". Cute's 16th single, "Momoiro Sparkling", debuted in 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.[32]

On June 18, 2011, the 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 group leader Maimi Yajima[33] and confirmed by the Up-Front Agency management on Twitter, the broadcast had been watched by a total of 93,144 viewers.[34] 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" group's unity out of the whole Hello! Project.[35]

Cute's 18th single "Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku" ("You ride your bicycle, while I catch the train home"[36]) was released on April 18. The music video for the song was uploaded on Cute's official YouTube channel on March 12.[37] 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.[38][39][40] The trick was originally scheduled to be announced at a summer Hello! Project concert, but was uncovered by fans in mid-April.[38][40] The song became a hot topic[39] 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.[40]

Also in June, it was announced that Cute's concert at the Yokosuka Arts Theater on June 30 would be broadcast live on YouTube.[41]

On September 5, Cute released their 19th single, titled "Aitai Aitai Aitai na".[42] The song premiered at the first concert of the Hello! Project 15th Anniversary Live 2012 Summer tour, on July 21 at the Onyx Theater in Osaka. [43]

2013-2014: Paris and 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 5 in Paris, France.[44] In addition,they performed at Nippon Budokan for the first time on September 9 and 10 (Cute's day) to commemorate their 200th performance.[45]

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. On February 24, it was announced that ℃ute would be collaborating with Reebok to promote their product Your Reebok, where one could personally customize their Reebok, for March 2014. Both "Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita" and "Love take it all" were used for their collaboration "Your Reebok x ℃ute."

On March 5, it was announced that ℃-ute's "Love take it all" would be the inauguration CM song for 2014 BS-TBS' Idol Campaign. They would also have a 6-episode TV show called ℃ute no Challenge TV, every last Thursday of the month on BS-TBS. On April 15 it was announced that Berryz Kobo and ℃ute were invited to attend the 15th Japan Expo in Paris as Guests of Honor. On May 3, it was announced by Yajima Maimi, during the last MC corner of ℃ute Concert Tour 2014 Haru ~Cute no Honne~, that Cute will be performing at Budokan on September 10, "℃-ute no Hi".

On July 16, ℃ute released their 25th single The Power / Kanashiki Heaven (Single Version). On August 23 it was announced the ℃ute had set two world records (the longest passing of an egg in a relay (1 hour and 30 minutes) and the most snacks eaten in a relay (1 hour). The records were achieved at a public recording of their TV-show with respectively 259 and 346 of their fans at Asakasa Blitz On September 27, ℃ute performed at the 2014 Aomori SHOCK ON open-air music festival alongside Berryz Kobo and other artists. On November 19, ℃ute released their 26th single I miss you / THE FUTURE. On November 20, ℃ute performed alongside other artists at Tower Records’ 35th anniversary event

2015:10th Anniversary and Yokohama Arena[edit]

On April 1, ℃ute would release their 27th single "The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~ / Gamusha LIFE / Tsugi no Kado wo Magare." This single will be their 10th year anniversary commemoration. On April 2, ℃ute and Country Girls are set to perform at 'forTUNE fes vol.0' along with other artists.

On June 11, ℃ute performed their 10th anniversary concert at Yokohama Arena as part of their The Future Departure tour.

2016-2017: Final years and disbandment[edit]

In 2014, prompted by Berryz Kobo's announcement to go on hiatus, discussions about Cute's future began privately among the members. In February 2016, the members of Cute discussed this again with their management, citing interest in other career paths.[46] All members had the option of continuing as Cute outside of the Hello! Project name or to stay as Cute but suspend group activities. In the end, they ultimately decided to disband. Cute's disbandment plans were made public on August 19, 2016, where they announced their decision to dissolve in 2017 on their official Facebook account.[47]

On November 2, ℃-ute released their 30th single "Mugen Climax / Ai wa Maru de Seidenki / Singing (Ano Koro no Yō ni)"

They held their final concert on June 12, 2017 at Saitama Super Arena. Former members Megumi Murakami, Kanna Arihara, and Erika Umeda attended the concert[48], as well as other celebrities including Berryz Kobo (excluding Risako Sugaya), former Berryz Kobo member Maiha Ishimura,[49], Momoiro Clover Z, Rino Sashihara, Yuki Kashiwagi[50], and Nicole Fujita.[51] The concert was broadcast on multiple channels and also in Hong Kong and Taiwan.[52]

Artistry[edit]

Musical style and themes[edit]

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

As of 2012, the group's image was considered bright and energetic.[53] Cute's 16th and 17th singles (2011) were happy songs in a major key,[54] but the 18th single "Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku" (April 2012) was quite unusual.[53] It was a rock ballad about saying goodbye (it is time to go home; the song's young female protagonist must part with the boy she loves).[53] Since then, the group's songs have generally been more mature.

Public image[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.[35]

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 group'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 group kept the audience intrigued and captivated. Depending on the song, Cute members changed their facial expressions from happiness to sadness, easily commanding the audience's mood.[55] Cute's fans are known as "Team Cute."[56]

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, called the dictator "Uncle Hitler," presented a drawing of him, impersonated him, and said that Hitler's speeches had a "soothing effect."[57] The broadcast brought about heavy criticism on Internet message boards, protesting against Hitler being 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.[58][59][60][61][62]

In popular culture[edit]

A likeness of Okai, Hagiwara, and Suzuki appeared in episode 36 of Gintama.[63] The logo for Cute's bandname also appeared in the same episode. All eight members of Cute appeared in episode 93 of Gintama.[64]

Discography[edit]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
2007 Best Hits Kayosai New Artist Award Cute Won[3][65][66]
Best New Artist Award Nominated
Japan Cable Awards Cable Music Award "Meguru Koi no Kisetsu" Won[3]
49th Japan Record Awards New Artist Award "Tokkaiko Junjō" Won[67]
Best New Artist Award Won[3][11][66]
2008 50th Japan Record Awards Gold Award "Edo no Temari Uta II" Won[3][16]
Grand Prix Nominated[16][17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Information for Cute Nandesu! Zen Single Atsumechaimashita! ① Archived 2011-05-29 at the Wayback Machine. Pony Canyon Korea
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  4. ^ "【ハロー! プロジェクト モベキマス】超豪華! モーニング娘。・Berryz工房・℃-ute・真野恵里菜・スマイレージら総勢29名の巨大ユニット「ハロー! プロジェクト モベキマス」誕生! « Kawaii girl Japan". Kawaii Girl Japan. 2011-09-02. Archived from the original on 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
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  49. ^ Erika Umeda (2017-06-16). "大切な最高の仲間☺️💓💓💓りぃちゃんは残念ながらお仕事で来れなかったの😭そだ‼︎Berryz工房と°C-uteで合同コンサートやったのが懐かしいねっ😁💭💓もうみんな成人だなんてなんか不思議っ😆🙌🏻こうして皆んなでこれからも集まりたいっ☺️✨よし!ここは年長者として幹事やりますか🙋🏼✨改めてみんなお疲れ様だよぉ~😭🙌🏻💓 #仲間 #❤️" (in Japanese). Instagram. Retrieved 2017-07-23. 
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External links[edit]

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