Welcome readers! We interrupt your regularly scheduled Lauren’s World for a takeover by the Notorious Rambler (also known as Holly). Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times.
Actually, Lauren asked me to write up a guest post for her blog, and so I’m choosing to write about one of the few things I know a lot about: Hey Say Jump. It’s fitting perhaps since Lauren was the one who introduced me to all things Johnnys and sent me down this rabbit hole of no return. (There may or may not have been an incident where I danced to Hitomi no Screen with knives in Lauren’s kitchen once. But I’ll admit to nothing and you can’t prove anything.)
But I digress. I came here to talk about Hey Say Jump (known now and forevermore as HSJ for the purposes of my laziness). More specifically, I came here to talk about HSJ and the year they hit a sort of renaissance. 2014 was a good year for the group, so let me just ask you to spare a few moments of your time while I tell you about it.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the group, here’s a brief introduction. They debuted as one of Johnnys’ volleyball groups in 2007 with ten members, ages ranging from 17 to as young as 12. HSJ has the distinction of being the largest group produced by Johnnys and Associates.
The group is split into two subgroups: Hey Say BEST and Hey Say 7. BEST comprises the five older members: Yabu Kota, Takaki Yuya, Inoo Kei, Yaotome Hikaru, and Arioka Daiki.
The younger members, Okamoto Keito, Yamada Ryosuke, Nakajima Yuto, Chinen Yuri, and Morimoto Ryutaro make up 7. If you are confused about the number, the seven is suppose to refer to the year they group was formed. In 2011, Ryutaro was suspended from the group because of a scandal involving underage smoking, and he has since left the agency.
Most of 2012 and 2013 were slow for HSJ with the group only releasing 3 singles in that 2 year period. But with the release of Ride with Me on December 25th, 2013, they hit the ground running and didn’t stop.
In 2014, the group released two double-A side singles and an album as well. AinoArika/Aisureba Motto Happy Life was released in February, followed by smart in June, and Weekender/Asu e no Yell in September. All of these songs showcased the group’s ability to try out new musical styles while still keeping their own unique sound.
While HSJ’s songs in the past were generally sort of generic pop, they have really started branching out and trying new things. In particular, this was the year that HSJ discovered rap. I mean, yes, Hikaru does a little bit of a rap part in their debut song Ultra Music Power, but that doesn’t compare to the amount of hip hop style music they’ve begun to include in their new music. (Of course, I use the term “rap” loosely to mostly describe the speed at which they are singing. I am certainly not implying that HSJ is suddenly the next Wu Tang Clan… despite how hilarious that would probably be)
Ride with Me was heavily reliant on rap verses, and Weekender had a fast-paced section with lines split amongst all the group members. Even AinoArika included a techno-sounding rap section, which honestly, was kind of weird in a song that featured a string orchestra in the music video.
Their album smart also had plenty of songs that followed this same style of including sections of rapidly sung lyrics, such as Forever, Compass Rose, and Come Back…? These songs in particular also have a sort of rock music vibe to them as well, which is something HSJ hasn’t really delved into much before now. In my personal opinion, they do it pretty well. Those are my favorite songs on the album. But then again, that’s just my personal opinion and that’s not worth much more than a regular three-leaf clover.
In the past, HSJ has stuck to the cutesy pop stuff like Magic Power and Come on a my house, so if you liked that sort of stuff, you don’t have to worry. They didn’t completely abandon that sound either. Ready Go from the album has that fun vibe to it. And you know it’s gonna be a cute song when they perform it in flower suits.
Aisureba was basically a follow-up song to Come on a my house, so they are similar in tone. And Asu e no Yell is pretty much a generic pop song but still super catchy and fun to sing.
So all in all, HSJ really tried some new music things in 2014 and I think they turned out pretty well. (But then again, I’m a fan and I’ll like anything if I listen to it enough)
2014 was definitely the year of dramas for HSJ. All nine of them got a role in at least one drama this year. Even with a normal drama season consisting of an average of ten episodes, that’s still a lot of television appearances! Here’s a list in case you’re interested in looking them up:
Yabu Kota: White Lab
Takaki Yuya: HAMU, Dr DMAT, Suikyuu Yankees
Inoo Kei: Dark System Koi no Ouza Ketteisen, Naruyouni Narusa (season 2)
Yaotome Hikaru: Dark System Koi no Ouza Ketteisen
Arioka Daiki: Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo: Gokumon Juku Satsujin Jiken, Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo N (Neo)
Okamoto Keito: First Class (season 2)
Yamada Ryosuke: Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo: Gokumon Juku Satsujin Jiken, Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo N (Neo), Jigoku Sensei Nube
Nakajima Yuto: Yowaketemo Katemasu, Suikyuu Yankees
Chinen Yuri: Jigoku Sensei Nube
I didn’t get to watch all of their appearances, but I enjoyed what I did get to watch. Dark System was a super strange show, but I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who has an off-beat sense of humor. (And I’d also recommend it just to see Inoo’s two-episode appearance as a blind pianist. He definitely went to the Large Ham school of acting and it is glorious.)
I also really recommend Suikyuu Yankees and that’s not just because it’s a show about a bunch of boys in speedos (although that doesn’t hurt). It’s a show that’s got a lot humor and heart and some great performances from Yuto and Takaki. (Also, I will shamelessly promote myself here and link you to my weird recaps of the series)
Along with the music and acting, HSJ did a few other interesting things in 2014.
Takaki and Daiki started hosting a late-night radio show every Friday on Bay FM called Jump da Baby!! Yes, that’s… not the best title in the world, but actually they refer to the show as BayJump so often that Takaki and Daiki even forgot the full name once. If you have a half-hour to spare sometime, look it up. The show is basically an excuse for them to talk in weird voices and roleplay. (Daiki gets to be the girl most of the time)
As for variety shows, the group is now co-hosting (with Johnnys West) the late-night show Little Tokyo Live every Wednesday. And just like the radio show, it’s basically an excuse for them to talk in weird voices and roleplay. There are also viewer-suggested challenges and on-location encounters with drunk people to keep things interesting as well.
Along with the regular show, HSJ has even had a few variety specials this year. That’s something they’ve never really had before. They had two episodes of Heisei Time Jumper which was a show where they explored how different things have changed over the years, such as fashion and makeup. Or alternatively, you can remember this as the show that put Takaki, Daiki, and Yuto into ganguro-style drag.
Most recently, they had a special called Itadaki High Jump. This show involved people (including Kanjani8’s Okura Tadayoshi) suggesting activities for the group to do. Okura’s suggestion was to see if the group could look like idols in any situation, so they were all abruptly awakened early in the morning and forced to run a short race.
I don’t know if HSJ will get to do more variety shows in the future (that probably depends on whether they can think of any more titles involving the word jump) but I’m certainly looking forward to whatever they will do.
What will 2015 bring?
2014 was definitely a busy year for HSJ. It’s cool to see them branching out and trying new things. Here’s a list of a few things to look forward to in 2015:
January 19th: Nakajima Yuto as a part of the regular cast of Date, the Monday night drama on Fuji TV
February 18th: DVD release for Hey Say Jump Live Tour 2014 smart
March 21st: Yamada Ryosuke starring as one of the main characters in Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, a live-action movie adaptation of the popular manga series.
Date to be announced: Yamada Ryosuke as one of cast members of Grasshopper
So what do you think of HSJ? Love them or hate them? Are you more interested in checking them out now? Do you have a favorite HSJ moment of 2014? (mine of course is still the ganguro drag, forever and always) Feel free to leave a comment and let Lauren and I know what you think! Thanks for reading!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Lauren’s World.
Holly is very bad at writing informational blurbs about herself, which is ironic since she’s a freelance writer. She likes sparkly Asian boy bands and really dumb puns. She always puts socks on her left foot first. That’s basically it. You can visit her (sporadically updated) blog here.