Just recently, I decided I should get to know Aya Matsuura more. Though I've been a H!P fan for quite some time, I had never gotten to know the soloists and old groups well (except for Maki Goto and MiniMoni), and I eventually started feeling bad about it, since most people often say they are immensely more talented than the current groups. I kinda felt like a noob. So I decided to download Ayaya's discography, just to get started. I then proceeded to download the second Country Musume album, almost all of Melon Kinenbi's singles, most Yuko singles, lots of one-shot units singles, and some other stuff. I also downloaded many H!P concerts, though I have not had time to watch all of them just yet.
I must say that it saddens me to realize that I could have seen many awesome things happen in H!P if I had gotten into it when I had first contact with japanese pop music, back in 2004. I know the golden era had already come and gone by then, but still. Listening to Ayaya's discography opened my eyes to so many things. First of all, I realize that the amount of fans and supporters she has is absolutly justified. She deserves to be up there with Utada, Ayumi and all of J-Pop royalty. The fact that her popularity faded away with time is almost unbearable. She improved consistently, and though I don't really enjoy her new style much, and wish she would go back to her idol days, she has evolved into an amazing singer, and no one can tell her what to sing and what not to sing, so if she's happy singing more serious stuff, so be it.
Her first single, Dokki Doki! LOVE Mail is probably one of the best debut singles I've ever heard of. She was just 15 when it was released, but she already could sing very well. The video was very funny, since she was still a bit fresh, and probably didn't know how to act in front of the cameras. Back then, you could still see they'd put some thought into PVs in H!P, so they were mostly fun. Seeing her so young after seeing her in the Elder Club Graduation concert felt kind of weird. Getting to know her work after she graduated from H!P. I feel kind of silly. But Melon Kinenbi is releasing 5 singles, aren't they? Let's hope Ayaya has something in the works too.
Tropica~l Koishite~ru was her second single, and it's a very popular one. It's constantly sung in H!P concerts, so I guess it's a fan favourite. It's one of my favourite, that's for sure. The video is by far one of the coolest H!P PVs I've ever seen. Ayaya against herself in a tennis match. Does it get better than this? At this point she had already gotten a bit better with the camera, so she wasn't awkward at all.
She had yet to release another two singles before her first album, but I'd like to talk about that first. As of now, her first album is probably my favourite H!P album of all-time. Tied with Café Buono!, of course. The singles are great, but some of the album tracks really stand out for me. My favourite, maybe my favourite Ayaya song overall, is Hajimete Kuchibiru wo Kasaneta Yoru. This song was sung by LinLin, Suzuki Airi and Ogawa Saki at the 2008 Winter Wonderful Hearts concert. When I watched it, I totally loved the song, but, as usual, didn't know who it was by. When I downloaded Ayaya's discography, and finally got to the first album, it was a nice surprise to see that this song was an Ayaya song. LinLin, Airi and Saki did it justice, but nothing is quite like the original. Ayaya managed to sound truly heartfelt in the song, and when that happens, no matter who is singing, the song really shines. That's probably the reason why I like it so much.
I could go on, and talk about the amazing Get Up! Rapper, DEF. DIVA (Suki Sugite Baka Mitai is almost too awesome), Nochiura Natsumi and other Ayaya works, but her career is far too long to talk about in only one post. I'm probably going to make more Ayaya Immersion posts, so please check back, and if you don't know Ayaya, please watch the videos :)