Idol groups in Japan are not a new thing. It has been a thing in Japan since the 1970’s and its popularity has undeniably grown throughout the decades considering the number of idol groups that have emerged in the more recent years. All of these idol groups are filled with cute, sexy, and highly attractive ladies who are intended to be role models for their youthful audience but there is one that stands out amongst all because of the history that the particular idol group has. This group is none other than the idol group known as C-ute or °C-ute.
The Details on the Beginning of C-ute
It is truly funny how the world works sometimes. You may have the necessary piece to make something great but most of the time, you can’t see it right away. This was the case when the idol band C-ute started. The current and former members of C-ute are and were Maimi Yajima, Saki Nakajima, Airi Suzuki, Chisato Okai, Megumi Murakami, Kanna Arihara, Erika Umeda, and Mai Hagiwara. All of them were already in the music industry even before C-ute was formed and coincidentally, they were all also were a part of the same project a couple of years prior to the formation of their kick-ass idol group.
This project was the “Hello! Project Kids” and it ran from the year 2002 until 2004. All of them were selected during the audition for the project but as the years went on, they were assigned to different idol groups. An example of this would be how Airi Suzuki and Mai Hagiwara were assigned to be a part of the group called 4Kids in the year of 2002 or how Erika Umeda, Megumi Murakami, and Maimi Yajima were assigned to be a part of a group called XYZ a year after. These groups didn’t fail but the creation of the Berryz Kobo changed everything.
The initially proposed Berryz Kobo can be thought of as another project because the intention for this was to be able to rotate the kids who are a part of the “Hello! Project Kids”. By creating a rotation system between the artists instead of having them be a part of multiple groups, it would provide the children with more time off work to be able to focus on school work and other academic activities. With all the action happening in these children’s lives, it is easy to forget that they are still in their 10 ’s to around 14’s so letting them have these childhood experiences and memories in school and in other places aside from the workplace are essential for their growth and learning as people.
It sounded like a great plan but not all plans work out as intended and turned out to be one of those times. The original plan was for all the girls from Hello! Project Kids to be on a cycling performing roster for the newly created group, the Berryz Kobo. Instead, Tsunku founded the Berry Kobo and then grouped all the other girls who were not selected to be a part of another idol group. A person handling a group that big can surely be challenged considering the work you have to put in to call them all but this challenged was easily remedied by Tsunku decision to give the group a proper name. That moment was when the group “C-ute” was named for the sole reason that they were all cuties but the announcement of their formation came later on June 11, 2005. When the group started in the year of 2005, the members were Maimi Yajima, Saki Nakajima, Chisato Okai, Mai Hagiwara, Airi Suzuki, Erika Umeda, and Megumi Murakami. Kanna Arihara joined the idol group a couple of months after, particular during the Hello! Project Winter 2006 which happened on January 2, 2006.
They released their first single entitled “Massara Blue Jeans” on the 6th of May 2006 and this song, along with the majority of their other songs, was personally written by Tsunku. It didn’t get a great amount of attention but it was enough to get them on the radar of the music industry. They worked hard and as a result, within 2 months after the release of their first single, they were already able to release more singles which were entitled “Oki na Ai de Motenashite”, Soku Dakishimete”, and “Wakkyanai(Z)”. Contrary to what people might think, their singles and DVD’s were sold out during their concerts. They had a hard time making their sound known globally because social media’s reach was still limited during that time but the consistent sales of their songs at their events helped them to grow regardless of this restriction. It also helped that their single, “Oki na Ai de Motenashite”, was chosen to be featured in the anime called “Kirarin Revolution”. This might not be seen as an accomplishment for some but if you take into consideration the reach that the anime has on a global scale, you will realize that songs on those anime series reach people from all kinds of places and cultures too and that is great for C-ute’s growth.
C-ute’s Rise in the J-Pop Scene and the Discography of their Songs
The year 2006 was good to them until something beyond their control happened. This event was the departure of Megumi Murakami from the rising idol group. Megumi did what she did to focus on her studies and a lot of her fans commended her for that. After all, she was only 14 years old at the time so it couldn’t be helped if she personally felt that another career was what she wanted to go for in her life.
There is no denying that what Megumi did was what was right for her but it doesn’t change the fact that it left the group rattled for a bit. It would take C-ute around 4 months to release a new song after what happened and, luckily, it turned out to be a hit. They released their song entitled “Sakura Chirari” on February 21 in the year of 2007 and right off the bat, it was able to get 3rd place on the Oricon Daily Singles Chart. This was a monumental feat because with this under their belt, C-ute became recognized as the youngest group to rank in the top 10 of the Oricon charts. The public was clearly reminded of this fact at the end of that year because the group ended up winning the Best New Artist Award at the Japan Record Award which was held on December 30, 2007. You see, this event is held late at the and since everyone from C-ute was only around 13 years old, Tsunku ended up accepting the award for them during ceremony night.
They continued to work hard on their craft and by the end of 2008, they were once again up for amazing awards in the Japan Record Award. They could have potentially won the Grand Prix by winning the best work of the year award with their song “Edo no Temari Uta II” but, as fate would have it, it was the Exile that won it all that year. Despite this loss, it was still clearly a positive sign for the group because they were competing and contending for awards that are considered to be some of the highest recognition in the Japanese music industry.
Things were going great for them but in the year 2009, more members of the group had to leave due to different reasons. One of the members who left the group that year was Kanna Arihara and her departure from the group was a struggle. It was a struggle not because the group had any negativity towards her but because she was painfully suffering from hallux valgus or, to simply put it, a really bad bunion. It may seem like a small injury to some people but if you have to keep moving and dancing every day to practice and to perform at a professional level, a foot injury like that could be gruesome. She tried her best to recover but in the end, she had no choice but to retire from the industry so, in July 2009, her departure from the group was made official to the public.
The other member who decided that it was time to move on was Erika Umeda. She openly stated that her reason for leaving was because she discovered a passion for modeling and needed more time to focus on that career path. She made this announcement official and it came with an announcement to stay on-board until the end of the idol group’s planned 2009 fall concert tour. This was great because it gave time for their fans to make the tour special through the volumes of support they showed throughout the entire tour. It was also a nice touch that the last single C-ute recorded with Erika entitled “Everyday Zekkocho!!” was the single that became their highest-ranking single to date by topping the Oricon daily singles charts as well as ranking 2nd in the Weekly charts.
The Events Leading to C-ute’s Disband and How Their Last Concert Was
There would be many more things that would happen in the career of C-ute before they even got close to disbanding. Chisato Okai would first be known for her dance videos on YouTube, which indirectly and naturally brought attention to the idol group between the years of 2010 and 2011. They would also release their 15th single entitled “Kiss Me Aishiteru” and 16th single entitled “Momoiro Sparkling” in February 2011 which led their recognition on several of the Oricon charts once again. They even got to broadcast a live concert called “Cute Concert Tour 2011 Haru: Cho! Cho! Wonderful Tour” through YouTube which really made them viral on the Internet for a bit by the latter part of 2011 as the broadcast reached nearly 95,000 viewers which could be enough to fill a stadium.
They released their 18th and their 19th single which were entitled “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku” and “Aitai Aitai Aitai na” in April and September 2012. Amongst the two, it was definitely the first that was a bit more special to them because it turned out to be their highest-selling single ever. The group’s growth in popularity continued into the year of 2013 as this was the year that they had their first solo overseas event which was called “Cutie Circuit – Voyage a Paris”. Things would only get better throughout 2013 because they got to perform at Nippon Budokan to commemorate their 200th performance in a monumental event that they had never gotten the pleasure of performing at until that time.
They continued to receive all kinds of accolades throughout the year of 2014 but it would be 2015 that would one of the more essential years to the group because it was the year that marked their 10th year in the entertainment business. Reaching that milestone is rare to see, especially in this industry, so it was something that was featured in all kinds of magazines. It was a milestone that showed how much love and support they have behind them through their fans but it also made the members think about the next 10 years of their lives. With these kinds of thoughts naturally entering the minds of the members, it was only a matter of time before they announced a hiatus to discuss their future plans properly.
By the end of 2016, the group had already made it official that they were going to disband in 2017. All of them had decided to go for new things in their lives and so they went on one last hurrah. June 12, 2017, marked the final concert had by C-ute and it was epic. All the former members of the group made an appearance along with many more celebrities and it was broadcast in multiple places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and, of course, Japan. They had their final concert in June of 2017 but their final single was released in November of that year. Maybe it was done for a more dramatic effect but, nevertheless, it was something that both fans and music lovers surely enjoyed.
Considering all that has been said about C-ute, it can be clearly seen why they were and still are loved so much in Japan and by their fans internationally. They may not produce music like bands like “The XX” do but, in their own way, they were able to create a sound that brought joy to people’s hearts. They have been disbanded for nearly over a year now but their legacy will forever be recorded in the history of Japanese culture because of the great examples they were able to leave the youth as well as the incredible music that they were able to leave with the world.