Never give up girls | The history of Negicco

negicco_asha_a_WEB

There’s still a lot of confusion in recognizing Idol units in the midst of cute girls, shining smiles and sugary melodies: Someone says even Perfume are technically idols, and even though this might be true in a way, I don’t think the three girls from Hiroshima would fully agree with this. But does it even matter in the end? In all honesty, no. Labelling an artist is sometimes useless, as only music and talent is what makes the difference in the end, and Niigata based unit Negicco have lots of good music and passion to deliver, showcased in several of the trio’s discography with their 2013 studio album Melody Palette as the high peak of it and the best proof of what Nao, Kaede and Megu are made of. What makes Negicco so particular and, in a way, special, is their history and never-give-up attitude, and to understand this at the best, it’s necessary to take a few steps back.

Negicco formed in 2003 under contract of the Japan Agricultural Cooperative Group, as young promoters of the local Yawahada Negi, a particular kind of green onion related to Niigata’s typical food. While this may not sound like the most serious or enthralling beginning, the real intentions of these three girls were anything but a joke: Indeed, after the end of their promotional period, Nao, Megu, Kaede and Miku (who left the group in 2006) continued their activities together as an idol unit, keeping the green onion leaks as symbol of their identity.

Produced by their hardcore fan connie and creating the choreographies by themselves, Negicco continued to dance and sing for all the 2000s, and between change of formations and label shifts, in 2010 the three girls won the local idol award U.M.U. , a real turning point for their career. In 2011, after the release of their first Best album, they left their old label to join T-Palette, Tower Records’ indie label, finally getting more attention by the national audience. The three girls then started to release some very good singles, such as Ai no Tower of Love and Idol Bakari Kikanaide, to then release their first original album Melody Palette, a solid and consistent pop album with lots of variety and very good tracks emphasized by valuable collaborations, including tofubeats, Yasuharu Konishi (Pizzicato Five), RAM RIDER and many more, a factor that blessed the album with a very positive recognition in 2013.

After the release of their first original studio album, the girls explored new musical genres, a constant approach that always characterized their thirteen-year career, and started to adopt more acoustic and jazzy sonorities to their sound, with nice results like their classic track Sayonara Music and others like Sunshine Nihonkai and the most recent Hikari no spur, even though the same can’t be said for other tracks. The release of their second studio album Rice & Snow brought mixed feelings: While some tracks like some of the ones mentioned above are good, as well as others exploring new sonorities spacing from Techno-pop to a slightly Shibuya Kei feel, most of the other ones kinda resulted in less attractive compositions, leading to a controversial result represented by disappointment due to some shallow tracks and excitement for the future brought by some interesting and well done compositions exploring different sonorities. After all, this is what happens when an artist dares to explore new influences and constantly renew its sound, something that needs courage and tenacity, which are strong points of Negicco’s personality and something absolutely admirable: “Trying” can result into success or failing, but the will of constantly offering something different with great effort is what makes an artist alive, and that’s why Negicco are still a constant presence in the Idol scene. These girls are tenacious and incredibly passionated, and even now, after more than ten years, they still perform in small stages and put one hundred percent in their performances, something that definitely not all the short-life idol units out there can claim, and you can bet they will be like this for many years to come. Their strong personality is perfectly showcased in live performances where all the charisma of these three girls comes out, dancing and singing tirelessly, and constantly involving the audience: There are no special effects here, only lots of passion and fun, and their down-to-earth personality will make you love them instantly.

Let’s be honest: If they really wanted to, today Negicco could have been one of the most successful Idol acts of the mainstream scene: They have talent, passion, and their production team can craft valuable compositions, sometimes even above the standard of the Idol pop scene. And while all the most famous acts unavoidably move to Tokyo at a certain point of their career, Negicco decided to “protect” their identity and origins by remaining in Niigata, as their wish is still to represent their hometown at the best and with lots of love.

The truth is, Negicco are an anomaly in the Idol scene: in thirteen years they could have reached any milestone a standard Idol group dreams of, but at the same time, as local idols, they reached a national (and also global) fame that no other group in their category ever achieved, dancing, singing, crying and smiling for thirteen years, something that most of the Idol groups out there can only dream of. And despite their conservative, sometimes rebellious approach towards the Idol scene, they probably represent the most natural and human form of it, something that after all these years, judging from the tears they shed everytime they’re in front of their ever growing fanbase, is finally starting to pay off.

– Alex 

Negicco – Nee Badiya | SINGLE REVIEW

negiccoTPRC-135a

Release Date: August 11th
Formats: CD, CD + DVD, Analog 7′ Vinyl
Number of Editions (5): Limited Edition Type A (CD + DVD), Type B (2CDs), Type C (CD – 1 track only) Regular Edition (CD only), EP Limited Edition (7′ Vinyl)

More than ever in the last couple of years, the story of Negicco has finally come to light and made the mainstream scene acknowledged of the reality and the struggles (and genuine successes) that composed the thirteen years-long career of the Niigata-based local Idol unit, an act that’s an anomaly in a genre that averagely sees the rise and fall of its groups in less than half of the time Negicco have been active.

Now, after more than a decade, the “Never give up girls” are still active and more vital than ever, cause their story evolves slowly but with consistence and genuine results: From the struggle of getting the well deserved recognition they’re starting to achieve now, to the search of a sound that could represent their identity that made their pre-T-Palette era a mixture of different sounds, it really seems like Negicco finally found their recognition and music stability they’ve been seeking for years, and their new single Nee Badiya is the proof of it: The title track sums up the sound that represented the unit for the past few years, now improved and finally getting rid of misleading elements like the sometimes forced idol chants in all benefit of a structure that remains simple but functional, flowing much better if compared to their past compositions; the instrumental sounds great and “alive”, with every instrument putting out the best to give a jazz/funky charisma (sometimes slightly reminding of 90’s Shibuya Kei) to a track that delivers an happy and thoughtless vibe in a catchy key, mainly thanks to the chorus that will easily get stuck in your head in no time. The singing of the girls sounds improved as well, and better balanced between the verses/bridge too, which is something that comes to the ear in the whole single more than once.

Singing is indeed the most surprising part of the second track Oyasumi, a slow paced ballad that detaches itself from everything we’ve heard in Negicco’s discography for its pleasant and classy feeling. Despite being five minutes long and pretty much repetitive, it’s simply a pleasure to listen to it, and the above mentioned vocals are what makes it kind of unique for Negicco, reaching levels of expression rarely shown by the girls, showcasing an interesting improvement in vocal skills that backed by a soft and relaxing instrumental make Oyasumi a nice piece to add to their discography, and a good variation of their sound.

It’s clear that both track on this single are the result of a now well developed sound that Negicco decided to make their own, improving it one release after another and reaching interesting and very nice levels with Nee Badiya. Without a shade of doubt, this is Negicco’s most convincing single in a while, and I can’t wait to see how the girls will manage their new and finally stable music identity. The fact this release already reached the top of the Oricon Daily Chart, and their future participation at the Perfume FES!where the girls will hit the stage together with their beloved role model J-pop group Perfume, makes it feel like Negicco’s long awaited success and recognition has finally arrived. And with all the passion and love they show with every release and concert, we can only wish to Nao☆, Megu and Kaede all the best for their future, sure that they’ll never give up.

Vote: 7 / 10

Tracklist

[CD]

01. Nee Badiya
02. Oyasumi
03. Nee Badiya (Instrumental)
04. Oyasumi (Instrumental)

[CD 2 | ReNegi – Limited Edition Type B exclusive]

01. Summer Breeze (Royal Mirrorball remix)
02. Festival de Aimashou (bo en remix)
03. Negi-sama Bravo☆ (Tomggg remix)”

[DVD]

01. Nee Badiya (Music Video)
02. Oyasumi (Music Video)

* Note: The Limited Edition Type C only contains the Nee Badiya track. The Regular Edition contains both songs and instrumentals.

– Alex

Negicco – Hikari no Spur | SINGLE REVIEW

5767423

Release Date: December 2nd
Formats: CD, CD + DVD, 7′ Vinyl
Number of Editions (4): Limited Edition Type A (CD + DVD), Limited Edition Type B (2 CDs), Regular Edition (CD only), Analog Limited Edition (7′ Vinyl)

In their eleven years career, Negicco experienced lots of changes in terms of music directions, spacing from classic Idol music to Techno-pop, Jazz and Pop rock, and even a bit of Trance, all of them built on their solid J-pop core sound; But despite this numerous and sometimes repentine change of directions, the three girls from Niigata always managed to deliver good music and expose their pure and down-to-earth personalities their fans love, giving coherence and excellent flow to their bigger productions mainly represented by their 2013 album Melody Palette, able to unite several music influences under the same roof and make them work greatly, for a result that represented one of the best Indie Idol albums of 2013.

Lately, though, this loss of a precise music direction and trademark sound started to influence negatively the Niigata-based group, with their last two singles falling in bland tracks that, while still finding some value during their energetic live concerts, don’t even represent half of what these really talented girls and their long time producer Connie can do. In this sense, Hikari no Spur doesn’t represent the revolutionary single some fans were waiting for, and not even the birth of a definitive style that could widen the girls’ popularity, but it’s a step in the right direction that brings Negicco outside that sense of monotony and shallowness that recently hit their career for the first time, despite the shadow of it still slightly lurking around.

The truth is that Hikari no Spur is a nice single that fully achieves its main goal, which is to be a Winter/Christmas release to warm your bones during the shivering season and to enjoy these girls’ adorable personalities in such a festive period of the year. The first track and A-side takes a little step back to the Negicco classic formula, that first of all brings back the order with a standard structure finally free of the repetitive Idol chants and replaced with the classic verse-bridge-chorus that works just fine with this kind of tracks. Nao☆’s solo singing welcomes the listener with a catchy and happy chorus, later followed by verses where each girl gets her spot, showcasing once again their different but cute and not excessively cheesy singing, well balanced during the whole length of the track. The above mentioned chorus comes to full life as all the girls’ voices join in, with a melody that will easily get stuck in your head while summoning happy and thoughtless feelings, for a simple but definitely well made passage enriched by a shiny and delicate instrumental that shyly gets the spotlight in different parts of the track, giving the right feeling and variousness to it.

The following track 1000% no Kataomoi keeps the wintery and festive atmosphere alive, but differentiate itself with a funnier and upbeat vibe; The entire track exposes its identity with the happy and thoughtless singing of the girls and with an instrumental that emphasizes each instrument delicately, from the piano to the electric guitar, coupled by occasional more exposed bass notes and dreamy synths that refine the atmosphere with class and delicacy, with a very nice result that elevates this entire single as a perfect Negicco Christmas single.


Verdict

Hikari no Spur wants to be nothing but a cheerful and happy single to listen to during the Christmas season, and it achieves this goal with simpleness and delicacy, composed of quality instrumentals and good interpretation by the girls, who literally fit the festive atmosphere in the best possible way (who wouldn’t feel like it after traveling to Finland?). Negicco fans will love it, while occasional listeners will find a pleasant single that will deliver great atmosphere and an adorable personality. It’s great to see Negicco going back on track with a nice single, and we hope the new year will ultimately see the three girls from Niigata coming back with more quality music, leaving behind the shallow sounds that represented their most recent period. For now, we can enjoy this single and wait for a thoughtless and happy Christmas to come. Konnichi Negi Negi!

Vote: 7/10


Tracklist

[CD]

01. Hikari no Spur
02. 1000% no Kataomoi
03. Hikari no Spur (Instrumental)
04. 1000% no Kataomoi

[CD 2 – Limited Edition Type B only]

01. Koi no Express Train (ayu toky0 arrange version)
02. Soushisou Ai (Ara Koi remix)

[DVD – Limited Editon Type A only]

01. Hikari no Spur (Music Video)
02. Hikari no Spur (Making of MV)
03. T-Palette Records president prank (!)

Negicco – Triple! WONDERLAND | SINGLE REVIEW

negicco-triplewonderland-7sr-300x300

The girls from the Niigata based idol unit Negicco definitely made themselves notice during the last year in the indie idol panorama: After the release of the strong Melody Palette album and Tokimeki no Headliner single, Nao☆, Megu and Kaede are now back stronger than before with a new single packed by their long time producer connie and a team of talented musicians that made us appreciate their previous releases under the T-Palette label. The three girls proudly hailing from their hometown will need all their strength to show once again their talent and energy, not only to satisfy all the fans that longly awaited for this single, but also to continue the line of good releases and get the exposure they need and deserve for being active for over ten years. Was the waiting worth it?


[A-SIDE] Triple! WONDERLAND

An A-side generally needs to be strong, and Negicco totally did everything possible to follow this concept with Triple! Wonderland. Beginning with a shiny melody, the song kicks in with one of the “idol chants” Negicco have been using for a while, a great boost for live performances, but that kinda slows down the mood set up by the brilliant and exciting introduction during a normal listening session. The verses are definitely the most well developed part of the song, featuring a groovy, slapping bass and a funky guitar that perfectly couple the singing of the girls, each one getting their spot in every verse with great excitement, giving the perfect touch to the upbeat and almost over excited atmosphere. The pre-chorus bridge pretty much follows the same concept, exactly as the chorus, now filled with synths to make everything even more shiny and brilliant. The song goes on with another chorus, a standard vocal-only bridge and a final chorus, for a simple structure that’s almost convincing… or, better, could have been convincing.

To make it brief, Triple! Wonderland isn’t that bad, but there are two major problems. First of all, while the shiny and upbeat mood is surely exciting and good, they went a bit too far with it: Don’t get me wrong, you’ll go insane if you’re a fan attending one of their intimate and funny concerts, but it sounds a bit too cheesy and almost forced during a normal listening session. Second, probably the thing that kills the structure of the track and gets really annoying with time, are the above mentioned “idol chants”; Negicco always used them accurately without exceeding too much, and almost always appropriately, but this time they exaggerated and played with it too much: In all the 4 minutes and half of the song, there are four of these chants, one at the beginning, one before the main bridge, one after the final chorus, and another, probably the only one placed correctly, at the end of the first chorus. All of this not only lengthen the song unnecessarily but ruins what would have been a standard and nicely structured song, ruined by these chants popping out of nowhere when you less expect it. Without these issues, Triple! Wonderland would have been a maybe too cheesy but still good song, and it’s a shame when these girls can express all their personality and the production team craft detailed and good instrumentals. Not bad, but it could have been way, way better.

[B-SIDE] LIFE IS CANDY TRAVEL

The fans of that great song that is Sayonara Music will be happy to know that the production team behind Negicco decided to make the B-side of this single pretty similar from a stylistic point of view, but sadly, the excitement will probably disappear as the song will reach its end.LIFE IS CANDY TRAVEL has a soft mood, definitely relaxing after all the synth euphoria of the previous song, and the instrumental (without considering the way too plain structure) is still on good levels, but the whole song is just forgettable. It doesn’t catch the attention in any way, and it fails in giving something at least interesting to make it enjoyable, and you’ll hardly press the replay button for this track. It’s still convincing in the production and quality fields, but when the singing of the girls is unexpectedly lifeless and the song just plain boring, that alone isn’t just enough to bring up the hopes for this track. Really, there isn’t anything much to add, and there’s no way this song will get stuck in your head or simply be interesting enough to give it a second listen. Totally forgettable.


Verdict

The biggest issue of this entire single is the exasperation of the formula that made Negicco’s song great, with a messy result that’s disappointing, especially if compared to the previous great releases from the Niigata trio. From the way too over pumped and badly structured A-side to the plain and almost lifeless boring B-side, this single fails in creating a good balance and it doesn’t reach a sufficient or at least reasonable result in none of the two tracks. Triple! Wonderland is still a song with its own live potential, but not that suitable for continuous lonely listens, while LIFE IS CANDY TRAVEL is a failed attempt in proposing the successful Sayonara Musicmood in a softer key that just doesn’t work.

Perhaps what these girls need is to either continue with their own style in the right way as they always did, or take a step forward and evolve their sound into something more mature and fresh. Whatever Nao☆, Megu and Kaede will do, we hope they won’t repeat the same errors and take this single only as a moment of weakness.

Vote: 5.5/10


Tracklist

1. Triple! WONDERLAND
2. LIFE IS CANDY TRAVEL
3. Triple! WONDERLAND (Instrumental)
4. LIFE IS CANDY TRAVEL (Instrumental)