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1997-Present

Main article: Morning Musume

1997Edit

Japanese producer Tsunku started the group in 1997 through an audition for a female rock vocalist for his band Sharan Q.[1] The audition was held on the Japanese TV show ASAYAN. The winner was Heike Michiyo, who later became a soloist under what would eventually become known as Hello! Project.

Tsunku decided to form a girl group consisting of five of the runners-up: Nakazawa Yuko, Abe Natsumi, Iida Kaori, Fukuda Asuka, and Ishiguro Aya. Morning Musume was officially announced as a group by Tsunku on the September 14 episode of ASAYAN.

They were issued a challenge to sell 50,000 copies of their demo single, "Ai no Tane," with just five days of promotion events.[1] They managed the feat in four promotion days (spread out over November) in a very grassroots manner. Tsunku began his mission to create the most famous all-girl group in Japan.

1998Edit

In early 1998, the girls were ready with their first official single, "Morning Coffee."[2] The success of this single, hitting #6 on the Japanese pop charts, brought them three new members known as the second generation: Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, and Ichii Sayaka, bringing the total member count to eight. The second single, "Summer Night Town," was the first single of the new lineup—a mature pop tune about unsuccessfully attempting to hide one's true feelings.[3] Their third single, "Daite HOLD ON ME!," continued in the same vein musically as "Summer Night Town," and managed to hit #1 on the charts.[4] Leader Nakazawa Yuko also started her solo career.

First Time, Morning Musume's first album, released on July 8, featured the singles "Ai no Tane," "Morning Coffee" and "Summer Night Town."[5]

That year, Tsunku also formed Tanpopo, the first subgroup of Morning Musume, with Iida Kaori, Ishiguro Aya, and Yaguchi Mari. Tanpopo touted slower, more mature songs.

On December 31, Morning Musume won the Japan Record Award for "Best New Artist."

1999Edit

This year started off with the group's fourth single, "Memory Seishun no Hikari," failing to hit #1 but managed to reach #2 on the weekly Oricon charts.[6] The song contained a rap section and intense vocal harmonization on the girls parts. Fukuda Asuka later surprised everyone and announced this would be her last single. She had the shortest tenure of any Morning Musume member. She got her own solo song, "Never Forget," as the 3rd track on the single.

"Manatsu no Kousen" was released on May 12 and has a summer theme. It reached #3 on the charts.

Their sixth single, "Furusato," was released on July 14. Abe Natsumi sang the entire song, with the other members harmonizing discreetly. This single reached #5 on Oricon's charts.

Second Morning, Morning Musume's second album, was released on July 28. It contains the singles "Daite HOLD ON ME!," "Memory Seishun no Hikari," "Manatsu no Kousen" and "Furusato." Both "Daite HOLD ON ME!" and "Manatsu no Kousen" were remixes.

Tsunku held auditions for the third generation of Morning Musume. Two girls were expected to be admitted, but ultimately only Goto Maki was added. Goto was 13, the youngest member of Morning Musume at the time. The group's seventh single, "LOVE Machine," sold 1,730,000 copies, making it a major hit. It is still their highest-selling single to date. The song touted an image of Japan as the future "envy of the world" and cheered the masses during a period of economic recession. It was Goto Maki's first single and Ishiguro Aya's last. Its success dramatically increased the popularity of the group.

Soon Goto was paired with Yasuda Kei and Ichii Sayaka to form the subgroup Petitmoni. Petitmoni's first single, "Chokotto LOVE," rivaled the success of "LOVE Machine," selling over 1,123,610 copies.

2000Edit

This year first saw the release of Koi no Dance Site on January 26, which hit #2 and sold over a million copies, 400,000 copies away from reaching LOVE Machine's success. The single had the highest 1st week sales, more than any other of Morning Musume's singles, an amount of 600,860 copies. Even with this large number, the single did not reach #1 because of Southern All Stars's biggest hit single, TSUNAMI, which sold a total of 2.93 million copies. It was released on the same date as Koi no Dance Site. Ishiguro Aya left the group before the single was released in order to marry Shinya, the drummer of the rock band Luna Sea. This left the group with seven members.

The second event of 2000 was the creation of "shuffle units," in which all members of Tsunku's then 16-member family, Hello! Project, were shuffled around to form three one-time groups: Akagumi 4, Kiiro 5, and Aoiro 7. The idea was to battle for the highest single sales. This was achieved by Akagumi 4, which boasted Goto Maki as the lead vocals.

On March 23, their third studio album, 3rd -LOVE Paradise- was released. Despite having LOVE Machine and Koi no Dance Site on its track list, it did not manage to claim the #1 spot, but did sell more than 800,000 copies, making it Morning Musume's highest-selling studio album to date.

This year also brought a new generation search. The fourth generation consisted of Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Tsuji Nozomi, and Kago Ai, lending a completely different feel to the group by adding the 12-year-old duo of Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai. After the single, Happy Summer Wedding (released on May 17 and eventually reaching #1 on the charts with 1,370,000 copies sold), Ichii Sayaka left the group to pursue her own music career. She became the vocalist of Japanese group Ichii Sayaka in CUBIC-CROSS and later married fellow member Yoshizawa Naoki (no relation to Yoshizawa Hitomi).

With Ishiguro Aya and Ichii Sayaka gone, both Tanpopo and Petitmoni revised their lineups, Yoshizawa Hitomi joined Petitmoni, and Kago Ai and Ishikawa Rika were added to Tanpopo. Meanwhile, Yaguchi Mari had started performing informally with Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi in concerts as Minimoni, a group tailored towards younger audiences with all the members being less than 150 cm (about 5 ft) tall. Mika Todd, of Coconuts Musume, was later added into the group and Tsunku made them official. Their debut single, Minimoni Jankenpyon!, was a #1 hit on Oricon.

As an idol group, they were extremely successful, drawing comparisons to the popularity of former girl idol group Speed. I WISH and Ren'ai Revolution 21 (Nakazawa Yuko's last single) continued the trend of happy pop songs, which were becoming staple hits for the group. Morning Musume also began their tradition of performing in musicals each year, breaking new ground as idols with their hit musical, Love Century -Yume wa Minakerya Hajimaranai-.

2001Edit

Morning Musume was featured in a PlayStation 2 video game called Space Venus, which was released on January 11.

On January 31, the best selling Hello! Project album to date, at 2,259,510 copies, was released: Best! Morning Musume 1. It featured 15 tracks, the only original song being "Say Yeah! -Motto Miracle Night-."

In April, group leader Nakazawa Yuko graduated to concentrate more on her solo career (she also felt it was limiting her ability to meet the physical demands of the group's activities) making Iida Kaori and Yasuda Kei Morning Musume's co-leaders. During this time, Ishikawa Rika was "loaned" out to the inactive group, Country Musume. She did not officially join, but she sang with them for a short period of time.

On July 25, the string of #1 hits had yet to be broken with the release of the single The☆Peace! The☆Peace! was another somewhat bizarre pop tune, beginning with an almost fight song-like call and response, and featuring Ishikawa Rika as the lead. She had a dialog in the middle of the song, many solo lines, and took center in the dance and the cover shot. The promotional video echoed the song's strangeness by placing the group in the middle of what appeared to be a gigantic public bathroom, displaying the girls dancing inside the urinals and posing for photographs in the stalls; supposedly as a response to hidden camera footage of the members that had recently surfaced, filmed from a toilet in their production offices.

At the end of 2001, four new members joined the group as the 5th Generation through the "Love Audition 21:" Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami, Ogawa Makoto, and Niigaki Risa, bringing the roster to 13 girls. Their first single "Mr.Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~" (done in the big band style, of course), released on October 31, featured fourth generation member Yoshizawa Hitomi as the central focus and main vocalist of the song. The single sold over half a million copies.

2002Edit

On February 21, "Souda! We're ALIVE,", was released. It featured many different styles combined into one song, centering on Yaguchi Mari.

Morning Musume's fourth studio album, 4th Ikimasshoi! was released on March 27. It is the first studio album from the group to reach #1 on Oricon. It featured the singles "Ren'ai Revolution 21," (re-recorded with the current 13-person formation) "The Peace!," (in an extended version,) "Mr.Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~," (with added dialog at the beginning) and "Souda! We're Alive."

On July 24, Do it! Now was released. This single came in at #3 and was Goto Maki's last single.

Late 2002 was marked by the graduation of Goto Maki and a mass re-shuffle of the sub-units. Tsunku removed Iida Kaori, Yaguchi Mari, and Kago Ai from Tanpopo, adding in Konno Asami, Niigaki Risa, and Shibata Ayumi of Melon Kinenbi to join Ishikawa Rika. Tanpopo only released one single with this lineup before the group was put on an indefinite hiatus. Ogawa Makoto and Kimura Ayaka of Coconuts Musume joined Yoshizawa Hitomi in Petitmoni to replace Yasuda Kei and Goto Maki. However, this version of the group never released a single, and only performed in concerts. Their song, "Wow Wow Wow," was later released on the Hello! Project's compilation CD Petit Best 4. In Minimoni, Yaguchi Mari was replaced by Takahashi Ai and the new lineup went on to put out several singles and a second album until member Mika Todd graduated in May 2004, adding Minimoni to the list of "indefinite hiatus" subgroups.

On October 30, Koko ni Iruzee! was released. It was a fast-paced, feel-good song about making the most of life and music's ability to unite the world. It reached #1 on Oricon.

2003Edit

The unique child-like tune Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima was released on February 19 as the group's seventeenth single. It is significant because it was a cover song, marking the first time Tsunku did not write a single's lyrics.

Before the auditions for the sixth generation were held, the group released the album No.5 March 26. It was unique in a few ways. It was the last studio album to feature Yasuda Kei and Abe Natsumi as full members of the group. It was also the first Morning Musume studio album to feature a former member, as Goto Maki guests on "Megami ~Mousse na Yasashisa~" and "Ganbacchae." It only featured two singles: "Do it! Now" and "Koko ni Iruzee!."

April 23 brought the notably successful single AS FOR ONE DAY, a synthesizer-driven song about lost love, which sold 129,893 copies and hit #1 on Oricon charts. It was the last time a Morning Musume single got #1 until "Aruiteru" (released in 2006). This single was also Yasuda Kei's last single with the group.

In mid-2003, four new girls were added as the sixth generation: Fujimoto Miki, Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina. After she pulled off a successful appearance on the New Year's music program "Kōhaku Uta Gassen" with several Morning Musume members dancing as backup, Tsunku also added in Fujimoto Miki as part of the sixth generation. Their debut concert was also Yasuda Kei's graduation concert, and Tsunku has said that this one-time 16-member group is the largest Morning Musume will ever be.

The sixth generation's first single was Shabondama, released on July 30. It featured "break-up" lyrics, a seemingly spontaneous dance routine, and rolled "r"s.

Yaguchi Mari became Morning Musume's sub-leader after Kei's graduation and was also put in charge of training and assisting the trainee group of Hello! Project Kids, eventually forming a group with 5 of them, known as ZYX.

Later in 2003, Morning Musume was split into two subgroups so that it could tour more cities (especially smaller cities that could not support a 15-member troupe). Morning Musume Sakura Gumi, which focused on slower and more traditional love songs, included Abe Natsumi, Yaguchi Mari, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Kago Ai, Takahashi Ai, Niigaki Risa, Konno Asami and Kamei Eri. Morning Musume Otome Gumi, which had more upbeat pop songs with a slight rock flavor, featured Iida Kaori, Ishikawa Rika, Tsuji Nozomi, Ogawa Makoto, Fujimoto Miki, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina. Sakura Gumi released two singles: Hare Ame Nochi Suki♥ and Sakura Mankai, and Otome Gumi released two singles as well: "Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~ and Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~.

The last single of Morning Musume in 2003 to feature the entire group was Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~, released on November 6. It had the members girlishly proclaiming the victory of their love.

2004Edit

In January, Abe Natsumi (known as "the face of Morning Musume" to the general public) graduated to pursue a solo career. Her last single was Ai Araba IT'S ALL RIGHT, released on January 21. It was Morning Musume's last song to sell more than 100,000 copies. "Ai Araba IT'S ALL RIGHT" had uplifting lyrics and a cheerful dance sequence.

On March 31, Morning Musume's second best-of album, Best! Morning Musume 2 was released and featured "Yah! Aishitai" as the only new track.

The group soon released another single, Roman ~MY DEAR BOY~, on May 12. The song showcased an almost rock flavor and centered its lyrics around offering "a dance" to a boy. This was followed by their twenty-third single, Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari, released on July 22. It is unique in that it was actually about the Morning Musume girls themselves, each member got a verse about their personality. This song would later be remade several times as "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 2" and "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 3," included in their sixth and seventh albums respectively. This single also marked the graduation of fourth generation members Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai in August, to focus on W, their new duo.

In May, it was announced that then leader Iida Kaori and Ishikawa Rika would be graduating from Morning Musume in 2005.

Auditions for the seventh generation (named "Lucky 7" to commemorate the seventh generation, the seventh year of Morning Musume, and seven audition sites across Japan) were held in various Japan cities in late 2004, resulting in six finalists. However, on January 9, 2005, Tsunku surprised everyone by announcing that no one in the Lucky 7 audition would be added to Morning Musume, citing that he had set his expectations extra-high this year in hopes of finding an "ace."[7] This was the first time an audition had ended with no new members.

On November 3, Morning Musume released Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago, a ballad that featured Ishikawa Rika, Konno Asami, and Michishige Sayumi.

On December 8, the group's sixth studio album, Ai no Dai 6kan, was released. It contained three singles: "Roman ~My Dear Boy~," "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari," and "Namida ga Tomaranai Hōkago." This was Kago Ai, Tsuji Nozomi, Iida Kaori, Yaguchi Mari, and Ishikawa Rika's last credited studio album.

On December 15, Morning Musume EARLY SINGLE BOX was released. It was a 9-CD set containing their first eight singles with a bonus track on each one, as well as a karaoke CD of some of their more popular tunes from the early years.

2005Edit

On January 30, then-leader and the last member from the first generation, Iida Kaori, graduated to pursue a solo/artist career, with Yaguchi Mari taking on the leadership role. Yoshizawa Hitomi was made sub-leader. Her last single was THE Manpower!!, released on January 19, was about the abilities of the human race and was also the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles theme song.

The beginning of the year also saw the TV broadcast of Musume Document 2005, which covered behind-the-scenes material, historical footage, and interviews.

In February, Tsunku started another audition for Morning Musume's seventh generation, titled Morning Musume Audition 2005.[8] He noted that he was still intent on finding an "ace." This audition resulted in Kusumi Koharu finally being chosen as the sole "miracle" member of the new generation.

On April 10, photos were taken of Yaguchi Mari with Shun Oguri (scheduled to be published in the gossip magazine Friday! on the April 15). Yaguchi announced that she would "retire" from Morning Musume and would continue on with solo activities. In her public statement, Yaguchi said that due to the scandal and its publicity, she could no longer sustain an "idol" image befitting of Morning Musume. Because of the nature of her departure (resignation rather than graduation), Yaguchi did not receive a graduation concert. Sub-leader Yoshizawa Hitomi took over as the leader of Morning Musume, and Fujimoto Miki became sub-leader as of July 15.

On April 27, the group's twenty-sixth single, Osaka Koi no Uta was released. The final version featured Yaguchi still, presumably because they did not have enough time to re-record and remix it. The lyrics are in an Osaka dialect. This single was also Ishikawa Rika's last. She graduated on May 7 to assume full-time leadership of the Hello! Project trio known as v-u-den.

Kusumi Koharu's first single with Morning Musume was Iroppoi Jirettai, released on July 27. It featured a flamenco-styled song. It sold over 60,000 copies. A 3 city handshake event was organized for the promotion of this single.

Morning Musume's last single of 2005 was Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wa Ookiizo!~, released on November 9. It was a remake of a previous album-only song about the importance of using your intuition and not taking good things for granted. "Koi wa Hassō Do The Hustle!" was going to be the title track for the single, but due to poor preview results, became the coupling track instead.

On December 31, 2005, graduated Morning Musume members Nakazawa Yuko, Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, Goto Maki, Ishikawa Rika, Tsuji Nozomi, and Kago Ai joined the current lineup of Morning Musume to perform the band's signature hit "LOVE Machine" on the 2005/2006 edition of Kōhaku Uta Gassen. The performance was Yaguchi Mari's first since leaving Morning Musume eight and a half months earlier

2006Edit

On January 16, it was announced that Morning Musume had won a Kanagawa Image Up Award in recognition of Hello! Project's support of an anti-pollution campaign. Yoshizawa Hitomi, Fujimoto Miki and Takahashi Ai represented the group to accept the award.

On February 15, the group released their seventh studio album, Rainbow 7. It was the first album for Kusumi Koharu and the last for Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto. The album features "THE Manpower!!!," "Osaka Koi no Uta," "Iroppoi Jirettai," and "Chokkan 2 ~Nogashita Sakana wa Ookiizo!~" (in a remixed form). Iida Kaori, Yaguchi Mari and Ishikawa Rika are not credited anywhere in the liner notes although their vocals appear. Three of the songs on the album are performed by smaller clusters of several group members, and are credited in the liner notes to the featured members involved, rather than to the entire group.

On March 15, "SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~" was released. It featured an easy-to-learn dance and a parapara style.

On April 28, it was announced by Tsunku from his official website that fifth generation members Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto were going to graduate. Konno Asami graduated on July 23, to attend University and Ogawa Makoto graduated on August 27, to study English abroad. Both left Morning Musume, but only Konno Asami left Hello! Project entirely; Ogawa Makoto intended to return after completing her studies, and continued to be pictured as a soloist on Hello! Project's official website. However, in 2007, Konno Asami returned to Hello! Project to join the new group Ongaku Gatas, making it the first time ever that a girl who left Hello! Project actually returned. She remained an active member within the agency and Ongaku Gatas while continuing her university studies. Ogawa Makoto, on the other hand, returned in June 2008 by appearing on an episode of Morning Musume's television show Haromoni@.

Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto's last single was "Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan", released on June 21. It featured a parapara type arrangement, with a rock 'n' roll flair. It was the group's 30th single, and a limited-edition CD of all past 30 singles mixed into a thirteen-minute track was included on the first pressing.

In August, the group performed Ribbon no Kishi The Musical. Takahashi Ai took the main role; the secondary role was played by alternating members. There was also a mini-concert at the end of each performance, which served as Ogawa Makoto's real "graduation concert." The Wonderful Hearts 2006 concert was initially intended for Konno Asami's graduation only, although Ogawa Makoto wore a special outfit and read her graduation comments as well. It was a last minute decision that fans were unaware of before the concert began.

In mid-2006, Tsunku announced the audition for the eighth generation, called Morning Musume Happy 8ki Audition. The audition started on August 27, and ended in Tokyo on October 22. On the December 10 episode of Hello! Morning, it was announced that the only new member was Mitsui Aika.[9] The show had a piece of audition footage each week leading up to December 10.

The last single release in 2006 was "Aruiteru", released on November 8. It was the first single at the #1 spot after 3½ years (their last #1 hit being "AS FOR ONE DAY"). The song's lyrics were credited for its success, with lines like "walking, you're not alone because everyone's here with you, praying for peace." It was a bit of a turn from the hyperactive singles the group had been releasing. Tsunku's group, Sharam Q, also made a rock cover of this song.

Their first mini-album, 7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini!, was released on December 13. It featured five tracks by solo and/or smaller combinations of band members. It also featured the single "Aruiteru."

2007Edit

In early 2007, Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai, a unit consisting of Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Goto Maki, Niigaki Risa, and Kusumi Koharu, was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Morning Musume. They released a commemorative single called Bokura ga Ikiru MY ASIA on January 24. The members chosen symbolize the beginning of the group; how they had five members ranging in age from 13–24. Additionally, each member was from an odd-numbered generation (Iida Kaori and Abe Natsumi from the first generation, Goto Maki from the third, Niigaki Risa from the fifth, and Kusumi Koharu from the seventh).

On January 2, an announcement was made during Hello! Project's 2007 Winter concert that the group's leader at the time, Yoshizawa Hitomi, would graduate from Morning Musume on May 6, the last day of Morning Musume's 2007 spring tour. The concert was at the Saitama Super Arena in Yoshizawa Hitomi's hometown.

On February 14, the first single with eighth generation member Mitsui Aika, was released, Egao YES Nude. This was the first PV of Morning Musume to appear on the Dohhh!Up site (a streaming website of Hello! Project media). The single reached the #4 spot on Oricon. The song has a funky, disco feel, and is highly-reminiscent of some of the oldest songs of Morning Musume, most notably "Summer Night Town."

On the March 11 edition of the weekly TV show Hello! Morning, producer Tsunku revealed he would make an important announcement on the following episode. Several days later, on March 15, he announced that two other eighth generation members would be joining the group: Li Chun and Qian Lin, both Chinese nationals, were to join as "exchange students."[10] Tsunku stated the two new members would be an important key for their group's planned expansion into Asia and gave them the stage names "Junjun" and "Linlin" respectively. The two made their stage debut on May 6, at the Saitama Super Arena, during then-leader Yoshizawa Hitomi's graduation. This was notable, as they are the first non-Japanese members of the group.

On March 21, the group's eighth studio album, SEXY 8 BEAT, was released. It was the first album for Mitsui Aika and the last album for Yoshizawa Hitomi and Fujimoto Miki. It featured the singles "Aruiteru," "Egao Yes Nude," "Sexy Boy ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~," and "Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan."

On April 25, Morning Musume released their 33rd single, Kanashimi Twilight. The song displayed a loud rock arrangement and the angriest lyrics since "Shabondama."

With the success of Kanashimi Twilight, on May 1, Morning Musume was announced as the "best single selling female group in Japan" with 11,085,000 copies sold, their fifth Oricon record. The achievement surpassed the previous record set by Pink Lady of 11,037,000 copies sold.

On May 6, Yoshizawa Hitomi graduated. Fujimoto Miki took her place as leader and Takahashi Ai replaced Fujimoto as sub-leader.

On June 1, Fujimoto Miki resigned from Morning Musume, due to the tabloid magazine Friday running an article depicting Fujimoto and comedian Tomoharu Shoji in a relationship. Takahashi Ai replaced Fujimoto as leader (a position the latter occupied for the briefest period in the band's history, 26 days), and Niigaki Risa became sub-leader.

Morning Musume's 34th single Onna ni Sachi Are was released on July 25. It featured the debut of new eighth generation members from China, Junjun and Linlin. This was the first time that girls from another country entered the group. The single reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, with sales of 43,364 copies.

On October 26, Takahashi Ai, Niigaki Risa, and Kusumi Koharu visited Korea to promote their singles collection album Morning Musume ALL SINGLES COMPLETE ~10th ANNIVERSARY~, which was released on October 24. Takahashi and Niigaki also appeared as special guests in a Korean radio show called Maybee's Turn Up the Volume (메이비의 볼륨을 높여요). Later that same month, on October 29, all nine members traveled to Taiwan for three days to promote the album. This was the first time Morning Musume held a non-Fan Club promotional event at a country outside of Japan. During their visit, they attended press conferences, appeared for radio and TV show recordings, and held the first-ever public handshaking event outside of Japan.

November 21 marked the release of Morning Musume's 35th single, Mikan. Initial sales were poor for the song, which became the group's lowest-selling single, (even lower than the initial indies release of "Ai no Tane", which sold 50,000 copies), both in terms of first week sales and absolute sales figures. As a result, unlike all previous singles, "Mikan" failed to appear on Oricon's Top 5 Chart, breaking the group's previously held record.

On December 31, Morning Musume performed in the 58th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen with a remixed version of their song "Love Machine" along with ℃-ute and Berryz Koubou. Similar to the previous Kōhaku, the red team (females) lost to the white team (males) after attaining votes from the viewers and judges.

2008Edit

Takahashi Ai, Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, and Tanaka Reina participated in the musical Ojigi 30 Degrees at the Shinjuku Theater from February 26 to March 2. Morning Musume's 36th music single, Resonant Blue, had been announced for release on March 5, but was postponed until April 16, because of the busy schedule in the winter/early spring season. Multiple promotional videos were released. With the original, another version, a studio dance shot version, a night scene version, and a one-cut dance version, it makes the most PVs ever released for one single. Also notable is the smoky eye make-up used on the members, a daring new look for Morning Musume as they attempted to expand into Asia.

The group held a concert at Taipei Nankang Exhibition Hall, Taiwan, on May 24. the first time ever for Morning Musume to hold a concert outside Japan.

On April 5, Morning Musume’s Mitsui Aika complained of a stomach ache after a concert at Hachiōji Citizen Hall. She was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and was ordered to rest for two weeks. Mitsui subsequently missed the concerts on April 12 and 13.

"Resonant Blue" was released on April 16, the 36th single after it had been delayed due to a hectic schedule. The single debuted at #2 and finished third in the Oricon Weekly ranking. Overall, the single marked a rebound from poor sales of the previous single, "Mikan." In its first week, it sold 48,086 copies, 20,004 copies more than "Mikan" and around 5,000 more copies than Onna ni Sachi Are.

From August 6 to August 25, Morning Musume performed with several members of the all-female Takarazuka theatre troupe in a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Takahashi Ai starred in the main role of Cinderella, with Niigaki Risa as the Prince, and Kamei Eri and Tanaka Reina as the stepsisters. The other members participated as fairies and guards.

Morning Musume's 37th single, Pepper Keibu, was released on September 24. Unlike past singles (with the exception of "Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyoutanjima"), this song is actually a cover of Pink Lady's debut single, which was originally released in 1976.

Berikyuu! and Haromoni@ finished their run and both were replaced with Yorosen!. It started on October 6. The show starred Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, and ℃-ute.

2008 was the first year in which there were no changes in Morning Musume's lineup.

2009Edit

Morning Musume released their 38th single, Nai Chau Kamo, on February 18. The title is translated to "I Might Cry" and was released in two limited versions A and B, each including a DVD. On March 18, they released their ninth studio album, Platinum 9 DISC.

In March 2009, all Morning Musume singles and albums, past and present, became available through JapanFiles.com via digital MP3 format in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It started with "Nai Chau Kamo" and the simultaneous Japan and USA release of their 9th album "Platinum 9 Disc" on March 18. Japanfiles also sold Morning Musume CD's as USA versions. It started with the album "Platinum 9 Disc" and their most recent single "Shouganai Yume Oibito."

Morning Musume released their 39th single, Shouganai Yume Oibito, on May 13, attaining a rank of #1 on the Oricon weekly chart, the first time since their "Aruiteru" single in late 2006. It also became the group's first #1 single to feature eighth generation members Mitsui Aika, Junjun, and Linlin.

Following the success of "Shouganai Yume Oibito," the group released their 40th single Nanchatte Ren'ai on August 12th, which was their third single in 2009. At the same time, with "Nanchatte Ren'ai" being the group's 40th commemorative single, a commemorative edition was released along with the usual regular edition plus two limited edition with two different DVDs. What is interesting about the commemorative edition is that there were different c/w tracks in it than the ones for the regular and limited editions. This is something the group had never done before (having 2 c/w tracks in different editions of the singles) since their 4th single "Memory Seishun no Hikari" in 1999. (note: 'Memory Seishun no Hikari' had two c/w track in one edition). "Nanchatte Ren'ai" charted at #2 on the Oricon Weekly Sales Chart with 54,973 CD's sold. This single marked their best opening week since "Iroppi Jirettai" back in 2005.

With good sales from "Nanchatte Ren'ai." Morning Musume released their 41st single Kimagure Princess on October 28. The single had four versions (Regular, Limited A, B, and C). The regular had a photo card, while Limited C contained 10 different covers. This was not the first time Morning Musume did this. "Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan" came with 10 different covers for their 30th single. "Kimagure Princess" was the last single with Kusumi Koharu as she graduated in December to pursue a modeling career. Her graduation marked the end of Morning Musume's longest lasting line-up.

On October 7, a greatest hits album, Morning Musume Zen Single Coupling Collection, was released featuring all B-side songs from their debut single to their 40th single on 3 discs.

2010Edit

Morning Musume released their 42nd single, Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai, on February 10. It had four versions: regular and 3 limited editions. This was the first single released with the new eight-member lineup and the first single following the graduation of seventh generation member Kusumi Koharu. Their tenth album, 10 MY ME, was released on March 17. Their 43rd single, Seishun Collection, was released on June 9 and had four editions: regular and 3 Limited editions.

It was announced that Kamei Eri, along with 8th Generation members Junjun and Linlin would graduate from Morning Musume at the "Morning Musume 2010 Rival Survival Fall Concert Tour." "Morning Musume’s Concert Tour 2010 Fall ~Rival Survival~" an additional date at Yokohama Arena was added to the schedule as the final concert of the tour.

Around the middle of 2010, Tsunku created a new unit called Muten Musume to release their new single Appare! Kaiten Zushi. It was released on October 27. It was created to promote sushi all over the world.

Their 44th single, Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game, was released on November 17 and it had four versions: 1 regular and 3 limited editions. This was the last single to feature Kamei Eri, Junjun and Linlin.

Morning Musume was part of the cast for the movie "Keitai Deka The Movie 3: Morning Musume Kyuushutsu Daisakusen! ~ Pandora no Hako no Himitsu~."

On December 15, the graduation of Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin was held. It was the biggest graduation in Morning Musume's history. With this the group went down to 5 members, the smallest line-up since 1998.

It was announced that a new group had been created, Dream Morning Musume, which consisted of former-Morning Musume members: Nakazawa Yuko, Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Ogawa Makoto, Fujimoto Miki and Kusumi Koharu.

2011Edit

On January 2, four ninth generation members were revealed to be Fukumura Mizuki, Ikuta Erina, Sayashi Riho and Suzuki Kanon at the Hello! Project 2011 Winter ~Kangei Shinsen Matsuri~ A gana Live concert.[11] Fukumura Mizuki was a former member of Hello Pro Kenshuusei and a former member of Shugo Chara Egg!.[12] Sayashi Riho and Suzuki Kanon became the first members of Morning Musume to be born after the groups formation.

On January 9, an announcement was made that leader Takahashi Ai would be graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project at the group's Autumn 2011 concert (August to October). This announcement shocked many fans, considering the group just had a triple graduation in December, plus the addition of the ninth generation only a week previously. The new leader of Morning Musume would be Niigaki Risa.

The ninth generation's debut single was Maji Desu ka Ska!. It was originally going to be released on March 23, but it was postponed to April 6 due to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.[13][14] Also due to the earthquake and tsunami, on March 16, it was announced that Morning Musume's upcoming tour would be postponed.[15] The new single reached number 5 on the Oricon weekly charts. Although the sales were relatively low compared to the majority of Morning Musume's recent singles, due to the recent natural diasters.

On April 11th, It was announced that the ninth generation of Morning Musume would have a show titled "UstreaMusume."

On April 20, Dream Morning Musume released an album, Dorimusu ①. It consisted of two new songs, as well as remakes of older Morning Musume songs.

It was announced on May 8, that Morning Musume 10th Generation Audition submissions were starting and would begin on June 13. According to the news there would be 2 girls added after Takahashi Ai's Graduation.

Mitsui Aika went to the hospital, and was diagnosed with a bone fracture in her left ankle. While her activities within Morning Musume became extremely limited, she completed the Morning Musume 2011 Spring Tour while continuing treatment for her injury. Unfortunately, the injury was not healing as quickly as it had been initially expected. As a result, Mitsui Aika did not participate in the Hello! Project 2011 Summer Concerts. Sayashi Riho also endured an injury during the Summer Tour and was absent from a large part of it.

That summer, Morning Musume held a Fanclub Tour in Hawaii from July 20th through July 26th. This was the first time that the ninth generation members traveled overseas as a part of Morning Musume.

On September 14th, Morning Musume released their 47th single. This was the last single to feature leader, Takahashi Ai. It was the first of many double-A side singles to come and was titled "Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo!"

Morning Musume's fall tour was revealed to be called, "Ai Believe." It has also been revealed that Takahashi Ai would graduate on the final day of the tour, September 30th, at the Nippon Budokan.

On August 26, Morning Musume 5th generation member's, Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa officlally spent 10 years in Morning Musume. It was also ten years since the Fifth Generation was added to the group, giving them the longest tenure for any members at the time.

The tenth generation members were introduced on September 29th, they included Iikubo Haruna, Ishida Ayumi, Sato Masaki, and Kudo Haruka.[16] Then-leader Takahashi Ai graduated on September 30 and the tenth generation appeared again to give their graduation messages to Takahashi Ai and sing with the existing members. Their addition made the group stand at 12 members, the largest the group had been since 2005. Once Takahashi Ai graduated, she passed leadership of both Morning Musume and Hello! Project to Niigaki Risa, the only remaining 5th generation member. This made Niigaki Risa the longest serving member of the group and the 1st member to go from youngest in the group at entering to becoming leader.

2012Edit

On January 2, it was announced that Niigaki Risa would be graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project on May 18, the last day of their Spring Concert Tour. While there were no official announcements about who would succeed Niigaki at that time, Michishige Sayumi had publicly expressed her desire of leading the group.[17]

On January 5, Morning Musume lost the record of having the highest overall single sales (of a female group) on the Oricon charts to AKB48.[18] They were then tied with the most number 1 singles.

On January 25, "Pyocopyoco Ultra" was released. In its first week it reached #3 on the Oricon charts and sold 31,094 copies. Although it beat "Mikan's first week of sales, it became their lowest selling single, selling only 34,050 copies.

On April 11, "Ren'ai Hunter" was released. It peaked at #1 on the Oricon daily charts, the first to do so since "Seishun Collection" in 2010.

On May 4, it was announced that Mitsui Aika would be graduating from Morning Musume along with Niigaki Risa on May 18, the last day of their Spring Concert Tour, at the Nippon Budokan.[19][20] Her reason for graduation was due to the possibility of the stress fracture in her left ankle from last year reoccurring if she continued with her activities in Morning Musume. After a discussion with her family and UFA staff, it was decided it would be best not to delay any longer which resulted in the decision for her to graduate as soon as possible.[19][20] After her graduation, she would be discussing with UFA staff about what possible activities she could do for Hello! Project.

On May 18, at Morning Musume Concert Tour 2012 Haru ~Ultra Smart~ Niigaki Risa Mitsui Aika Graduation Special, both Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika graduated from Morning Musume at Nippon Budokan.[21] On the same date, Michishige Sayumi declared that she was Morning Musume's 8th leader, succeeding Niigaki Risa.[21][22][23] The Morning Musume Eleventh Generation Auditions, titled Morning Musume 11th Generation ~Suppin Utahime~ Auditions, were announced.[21][24]

On May 26, Morning Musume was one the special artists to perform at Girls Award 2012 Spring/Summer collection ~All you need is LOVE~ event at Yoyogi Stadium along side names as ICONIQ, Kato Miliyah and Korean Pop Group Wonder Girls.[25][26]

On July 4, Ikuta Erina announced on her Ustream show that she would change her official member color from Dark Purple to Yellow-Green in the fall.[27] During the announcement, she commented that the reason she changed her member color was because she admired former Morning Musume leader Niigaki Risa.

On July 28, Iikubo Haruna made an announcement at a press conference that she would change her chocolate color at Morning Musume's Ustream broadcast on July 30. Her new member color became honey.[27]

On August 8, Morning Musume's 50th single, "One•Two•Three / The Matenrou Show" became Morning Musume's best selling single since "Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~" in 2003. It was also the first single since "Ai Araba IT'S ALL RIGHT" to sell over 100,000 copies. It was widely speculated that the single would have sold more copies if the initial print run had been larger.

On September 14, at Morning Musume's 15th Anniversary Concert Tour rehearsal, it was announced that Hello Pro Kenshuusei member, Oda Sakura had passed the 11th Generation Auditions, making her the sole 11th Generation member.[28] Oda would start official Morning Musume duties in January 2013 at the Hello! Project 2013 Winter Concert, after Morning Musume's 15th Anniversary Concert Tour.

On November 18, it was announced that Tanaka Reina would be graduating from both Morning Musume and Hello! Project to focus on her new band.[29] Her graduation ceremony would take place at their spring concert tour, Morning Musume Concert Tour 2013 Haru Michishige☆Eleven SOUL ~Tanaka Reina Sotsugyou Kinen Special~ in May 2013.

2013Edit

On January 8, Morning Musume began the Zenkyoku 47 Todoufuken Campaign (全国47都道府県キャンペーン) during a "Help me!!" release event at the TOWER RECORDS Shibuya store in Tokyo, Japan.[30][31] The campaign focused on having release events for the 2013 singles in all 47 prefectures of Japan. The campaign was completed on August 19.[32]

On January 19, both Michishige Sayumi and Tanaka Reina officially had 10 full years in Morning Musume. This made them together the 3rd and 4th persons in Morning Musume history to pass this mark, after Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa's 10th Anniversary back in 2011.

On January 23, Morning Musume's 52nd single, "Help me!!," was released. It became the first Hello! Project single to reach #1 on Oricon's weekly single chart since Shouganai Yume Oibito, which was released in 2009. Help me!! also had the best first day sales since 2003.

On January 23, Tanaka Reina's graduation was announced to take place at the Nippon Budokan on May 21.

On March 16, the 12th generation auditions were announced.[33] The application deadline was April 30. It was later announced that no one passed the audition.[34] However, all finalists from the audition were offered positions in Hello Pro Kenshuusei.

On April 17, Morning Musume's 53rd single, "Brainstorming / Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai," was released. It was Tanaka Reina's last single with the group. It went on to rank #1 on Oricon's weekly singles charts and became Morning Musume's 2nd consecutive weekly #1, which was previously achieved with "Mr.Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~" in 2001.[35] The single also became the first since "Aruiteru" to have every day of the first week rank at #1.

On May 21, the day of Tanaka Reina's graduation, Fukumura Mizuki and Iikubo Haruna were appointed sub-leaders of Morning Musume, making this the first time in Morning Musume history that there was more than one sub-leader.[36]

From August to December, all of Morning Musume's previous concert tours from 1999 to 2009 were re-released on Blu-ray Disc.

On September 12, "Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke / Ai no Gundan" became Morning Musume's highest selling single since "Koko ni Iruzee!," which was released in 2002. The single also became Morning Musume's 3rd consecutive weekly #1, which was previously achieved in 2002 with "The☆Peace!," "Mr.Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~," and "Souda! We're ALIVE."

On October 12, Michishige Sayumi was declared the longest serving Morning Musume member, which was previously held by Niigaki Risa. On that day, she had served a total of 3,920 days in the group (Niigaki graduated with 3,919 days served).[37]

On October 30, Morning Musume was appointed by the Japanese Olympics Committee as the Olympics official support team called the "Nippon! Call Project Ambassadors." They would be cheering on and singing an official song produced by Tsunku, for the Japanese Olympic Team.

On December 6, it was announced by Morning Musume's producer, Tsunku, that starting January 1, 2014, Morning Musume will be renamed Morning Musume. '14 (モーニング娘。'14; Morning Musume. One Four). Tsunku stated that the name change would help the fans recognize from which period the songs were in and which members were featured in the songs.[38][39]

On December 14, Morning Musume won "Billboard JAPAN Active Artist of the Year 2013," an award presented by the Daiwa House Industry.[40]

2014Edit

On January 1, Morning Musume began the new year with their new group name, Morning Musume '14.[38][41]

On January 21, Tsunku announced at the au Presentation Spring 2014, that Morning Musume would be part of a commercial along with comedians Morisanchuu, forming a new unit called Mori Musume.

On January 29, Morning Musume '14 released their 55th single "Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa / Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai / What is LOVE?" This was their first single released as Morning Musume '14.[38][42].

In February, Morning Musume cheered and sang an official song produced by Tsunku, "Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai", for the 2014 Sochi Olympics Japanese Team.

On March 15, the 12th generation auditions were re-held as Morning Musume '14 <Golden> Audition! The application deadline was May 11, 2014.

On March 30, NHK BS Premium aired a four hour special on Morning Musume's history and their 55 singles.

On April 16, Morning Musume '14 released their 56th single "Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe / Password is 0."

On April 29, during the Morning Musume '14 Concert Tour Haru ~Evolution~ concert held in Yamaguchi, Michishige Sayumi announced her graduation. She would be graduating at their fall 2014 concert tour.[43][44][45][46][47][48]

On May 29, a second in-group unit was formed. The unit, named Zenryoku Yasai Musume, would be promoting KAGOME vegetable juice.

The 12th Generation members were officially revealed on September 30. They were Ogata Haruna, Nonaka Miki, Makino Maria, and Haga Akane. This was the groups biggest line up since 2004.

On October 15, Morning Musume '14 released their 57th single "TIKI BUN / Shabadaba Doo~ / Mikaeri Bijin." It was the final single featuring 6th generation member Michishige Sayumi.[49]

On October 29, Morning Musume '14 released their 14th studio album 14shou ~The message~. It was the last album to feature Michishige Sayumi, as well as the last to feature a 6th generation member.

On November 14th, Morning Musume ’14 announced that they would be holding an audition for a music video director for one of their future songs. The results of the audition would be announced on December 29 on the audition program BIG CHANCE, one of FujiTV’s end of the year specials. To enter the audition, one had to submit a three minute video. The audition was open to any nationality. Both amateurs and professionals were welcome to apply.[50]

On November 26, 2014, Michishige Sayumi graduated, appointing Fukumura Mizuki as the leader of Morning Musume and both Iikubo Haruna and Ikuta Erina were appointed sub-leaders of Morning Musume.

On December 28th, 2014, it was announced that Morning Musume’s 12th generation members would start their own radio show on FM-FUJI titled Morning Musume. ’15 12ki Nikki and started airing on January 4, 2015.[51]

2015Edit

On January 1, Morning Musume '14 changed their name to Morning Musume '15. The group began activities with the new name and new members on January 2, with the opening day of Hello! Project 2015 WINTER concert tour. On February 14, during the same concert tour, it was announced that sub-leader Iikubo Haruna would be the official mentor to the 12th generation, bringing back the mentor system. It was also announced that sub-leader Ikuta Erina would be the "watchdog" of Morning Musume '15.

On February 9, it was announced that Morning Musume would be releasing the song "Ima Koko Kara" for the Pretty Cure movie PreCure All Stars: Haru no Carnival, which was released in theaters on March 14. Iikubo Haruna, Ishida Ayumi and Oda Sakura provided voices to the 3 spirits whose artwork they designed themselves. The soundstrack single, which featured Morning Musume 15's version of "Ima Koko Kara," was released on March 11. The soundtrack single debuted at #22 in the daily Oricon charts and at #39 in the weekly charts.

On April 15, Morning Musume '15 released their 58th single "Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru / Yuugure wa Ameagari / Ima Koko Kara," the debut single of the 12th generation members. The single debuted at #2 in the daily Oricon charts and peaked at #1 on the daily charts. The group had 13 simultaneous handshake event on April 16 and April 17, with each member going to different locations around Japan to promote the single.

2016 Edit

On January 1, 2016, Morning Musume '15 renamed to Morning Musume '16.

On January 2, Morning Musume '16 Shinseki Audition was announced during the Hello! Project 2016 WINTER ~DANCING! SINGING! EXCITING!~ concert, to look for the 13th Generation members.

On February 7, Kanon Suzuki announced she will graduate from Morning Musume '16 and Hello! Project at the end of the Morning Musume '16 Spring Concert Tour Haru ~EMOTION IN MOTION~.

On February 26 to February 28, 2016, Morning Musume '16 will be main guests at Anime Matsuri in Houston, Texas to celebrate the convention's 10th anniversary.

ReferencesEdit

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  3. "サマーナイトタウン" (in Japanese). UP-FRONT WORKS.
  4. "抱いてHOLD ON ME!" (in Japanese). UP-FRONT WORKS.
  5. "ファーストタイム" (in Japanese). UP-FRONT WORKS.
  6. "Memory 青春の光" (in Japanese). UP-FRONT WORKS.
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  49. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named yokohama7
  50. http://www.fujitv.co.jp/thebigchance/index.html?45077
  51. https://hellonewsservice.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/morning-musumes-12th-generation-members-get-their-own-radio-show/

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