Concert Report: Johnny’s Countdown 2014-2015 in Tokyo Dome

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This year on New Year’s Eve, I was able to attend Johnny’s Countdown for the first time! Since I became a fan, I have watched it every year on TV. This year though, Johnny’s Countdown wasn’t broadcasted on television, so it was different compared to previous years . In this post I will talk about what happened in the concert briefly, followed by some thoughts I had afterwards. Let’s get started!

The Concert

The concert started promptly at 11:00pm, starting with a video showing the names of all of the groups that were performing in Johnny’s Countdown this year, and then each group performed by debut year from the most recent debut. Johnny’s West started, followed by ABC-Z, Sexy Zone, and Hey! Say! JUMP. There were actually a lot of fans of these groups in particular that I spotted in the crowd, besides Kinki Kids, which surprised me. These are the “Kouhai” groups, or the younger groups,and it was an interesting experience to see all the different fans from these groups and how different the demographic was from the shows and concerts that I normally go to. I had seen Hey! Say! JUMP live back in 2011 for “Summary” in Kyocera Dome, but I had never seen the rest of the groups live before. If you had read my blog post about my 2014 favorite Johnny’s release picks, then you probably know that I was very interested in Johnny’s West and Hey! Say! JUMP in 2014 and that it was so much fun to sing and dance along with their songs! They really are fun groups to watch live.

After Hey! Say! JUMP was NEWS, which is my favorite group in Johnny’s, so it was very emotional for me to see them back at Tokyo Dome after about a year and a half, singing one of the same songs. They sung their new single “Kaguya”, as well as “Ai Kotoba” and to be completely honest, I was crying hard throughout their whole performance, especially at “Ai Kotoba”, which was a song written for their fans for their 10 Year Anniversary event and not yet released on CD. (Edit. NEWS just announced an album today 1/16 that has “Ai Kotoba” in it) It was very emotional for me to see them live as 4 members after so long.

Next up were Tackey and Tsubasa. This was Tsubasa’s first performance back from being admitted to the hospital, so you could tell that the Tackey and Tsubasa’s fans were very excited. After T&T was Kinki Kids. This had to be my favorite part of the countdown, besides NEWS, because I have heard amazing things about them performing live. I am not a huge fan of Kinki Kids, but their performance blew me away. I have always wanted to seem them live, and this was the perfect opportunity to! I loved hearing their famous debut single “”Garasu no Shonen” (硝子の少年) live.

After Kinki Kids, came the Sempai groups, Shounentai, who has Higashiyama in the duo, as well as Okomoto Kenichi (who is the father of Okomoto Keito of Hey! Say! JUMP. It was fun to see father and son interact with each other on stage, Keito at one point putting on his father’s jacket for him). After they finished perfoming, it was the countdown! After the countdown, Matchy came out on a motorcycle and rode around the dome! It was then introduced that it was his 35th Anniversary, and he performed for about 20 minutes. After his performance, special guest Kuroyanagi Tetsuko came into the dome in a police car with sirens and everything straight from Kouhaku, then came on stage and talked with the Sempais. She congratulated Matchy on his 35th year anniversary and also congratulated Tsubasa on being released from the hospital.

After this, all of the groups then came out and performed one of each of Matchy’s songs, ending with “Ikagen”, in which they all wore the same white jacket with “ikagen” on it. With that, there was the ending greetings and then the concert officially ended.

Overall impressions

This year’s Johnny’s countdown was different than other years, the biggest reason being because they didn’t air it on live television as they normally do. Talking with my other friends who have been many times, normally it would be very “start and stop” because of the TV broadcast and the talents themselves couldn’t really interact with the fans that much. This year, it was smooth and more fan interactions by each of the groups that performed. The Sempai groups did an amazing job performing as well and a highlight for me was seeing some groups perform live that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to see in a normal concert.

I had a few concerns though, which were the talking parts, and also Machy’s performance, and some fan manners. First off, because it was Matchy’s 35th year anniversary, they put a good amount of the attention on that, especially because it was December that he debuted. Because of this, Matchy dominated most of the talking parts, as well as the special guest, Kuroyanagi Tetsuko. Nobody besides Kinki Kids and the other sempai groups (Okomoto Kenichi and Shounentai) talked. If it weren’t for NEWS’s Masuda Takahisa being silly in the background on the screens, NEWS fans wouldn’t have seen much of NEWS talking, same for the other groups too. Many people online were upset at Matchy dominating most of the countdown concert, but others enjoyed it for the sempai groups, so it was divided on this particular point. I still think it is good to respect and honor the sempai groups, but they should have informed us that this would be a special Matchy tribute instead of thinking we would get our normal group interactions singing lots other group’s songs.

Another concern of mine was I saw a lot of people around me, and in the dome in general, sitting down during group’s performances that they weren’t a fan of. Since the concert was dominated by the sempai groups, a lot of the people who came for the younger groups were bored during the other performances and sat down, some even on their phones. Why was this a bad thing? Well, at a Johnny’s concert most people stand up and support the groups, so it is seen as rude to not support the other groups and just sit down. A lot of people online were mentioning this point as well. To be honest, I can’t blame them for wanting to sit down, I even sat down during Matchy’s long MC, but I didn’t sit down when the groups were performing. Even if I wasn’t a fan, I listened and stood up to support everyone and cheered them on.

Have you ever watched Johnny’s Countdown before? How do you think this compares to other years? What do you think about some of the points brought up? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Japanese Entertainment – Top 10 Johnny’s Release Picks of 2014

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It’s the end of 2014 , which means wrapping up the year with this year’s Top Johnny’s Release Picks! I have picked my favorite 10 releases of the year and will tell you a bit about them. some artists that I normally don’t pick have appeared in this year’s list, so I hope that you will enjoy wrapping up 2014 in Johnny’s style!

Johnny’s West – Yume wo Dakishimete/ Jipanngu ookini daisakusen「ジパング・おおきに大作戦 / 夢を抱きしめて」

Johnny’s West debuted this year with “ee janaika” and “Yume wo dakishimete/ Jipanngu ookini daisakusen” is their second official single. While I was in the store looking at some other music, I decided to have a listen to this single because the jacket covers were colorful and intrigued me. I ended up falling in love with this double A-side single and I found myself singing it at random times during the day for months, especially Jipanngu ookini daisakusen. Even now I have an energy boost whenever it comes up on shuffle in my iPhone. Yume wo dakishimete is a more “Johnny’s-like” song, I love the “Latin” sounds in it and shows a different side of West than I had seen before.  I even ended up buying their first album after listening to this single and quite enjoy that as well. Have a listen to Johnny’s West for some “genki”, fun music!

Kanjani8 – Ittajanika/ CloveR「言ったじゃないか / CloveR」

This was Kanjani8’s first single on their new Label, infinity records. CloveR was for member Ohkura’s movie by the same title, and Ittajanaika was for member Nishikido’s drama “Gomenn ne seishun”. Ittajnaika is a more rock band style song and the thing I love most about it is the music video and the lyrics. Its kind of reminiscent of a past single “It’s my soul” Basically, the lyrics are about guys not understanding why women say things and lie and wanting to know the truth from them. CloveR, on the other hand, is a more pop-like song that actually reminds me of a One Direction song. It’s different for Eito to have a more love pop-like song like that and I thought it was a perfect song to tie into the movie. It make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear it!

NEWS – ONE-for the win-

“One-for the win-“ is NEWS’s first single since “World Quest” in December 2012. Member Tegoshi Yuya was chosen as the main caster for this year’s FIFA World Cup Brazil and “ONE – for the win-“ served as the FIFA World Cup 2014 theme song on the network Tegoshi served as the Main caster on, Nihon Television. It’s an upbeat song with a Latin “Brazil”, summer feel to it. The amazing part of this song is that all the participating country’s names are contained inside of this song and didn’t just cheer on Japan, but every team participating! “One – for the win-“ was the song that defined my summer this year and has a special place in my heart. I have lots of memories watching Japan play in the World Cup this year with friends and cheering on Japan with this fun and energetic theme song!

Tegomass – Tegomass no Seishun 「テゴマスの青春」

“Tegomass no Seishun” was Tegomass’s first album since October 2011 and they didn’t disappoint! Tegomass has a signature “light and upbeat” style to their music that never fails to move me. With “Seishun” Tegomass, now 27 and 28, graduated to a more mature sound while still sticking with their normal style of music. They focused on the music and vocals more than ever and it really showed through the tour they had this past spring too. They had collaboration with the “Godspellers” called “DONUTS” and the main song promoted on the album, “Hikari”, has an incredibly beautiful music video. For more information and my full review of “Tegomass no Seishin” click here!

Kanjani8 –Omoi Dama 「オモイダマ」

Omoi Dama was used at the Theme song for this year’s “Koshien”, the hugely popular and prestigious High School baseball tournament held every summer in Japan. They had a high school band participate in the music video and the “marching band style” sound to the song is just amazing and reminds me of my own high school and University days cheerleading for American football and basketball games. The rhythm of the song speeding up and slowing back down and the meaningful lyrics connecting to the baseball tournament, cheering on people’s dreams really makes this song amazing. I listen to it when I feel down and every time I hear it now it makes me smile and know not to give up.

TOKIO – LOVE, HOLIDAY.

“Love Holiday” was written by member Nagase Tomoya and was a collobration song for the JRA (Japan Racing Association). It’s an upbeat song and I love the guitar in it. It has a kind of “country rock” combined with a swing feel to it and the bass combined with the horns in the song really makes the song for me! They are the only “band group” in Johnny’s, so their style and music is different from the typical Johnny’s sound. I really haven’t ever been a huge TOKIO fan, but since Massu (from NEWS) started working with Taichi on Ippuku, I have been becoming more intrigued in the group because of a close friend, and since this year was their 20th year anniversary, they had a lot of promotions and I was able to get a better feel for TOKIO than before.

Kanjani8 – Jyuusai 「十祭」DVD

This was Kanjani8’s 10 Year anniversary special event held this past August and it didn’t disappoint! This was also Kanajni8’s first DVD release on their new label. The quality is amazing, along with the videography itself. They had another Eight Ranger skit and also did a Johnny’s medley! Their feelings of the past 10 years were put into this special concert and it really shows through, even in the DVD. As an added bonus, they did other songs that they don’t usually perform and the fans were able to decide some of the songs that they did in the concert as well. It has a feel of a typical Japanese Summer Festival and I loved it, as summer is one of my favorite things about Japan. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time as when I went to this concert. Kanjani8 concerts are really an amazing experience, even on DVD.

Hey! Say! JUMP – smart

Hey! Say! JUMP was the first group I got into in Johnny’s! I hadn’t been following their music closely for a while, but this album caught my attention in the CD store and I decided to buy it. I was very surprised at the variety of music that was inside of it, from a Hip Hop sound, to band style, to pop. It was at that point that I realized that they had many sides to them and it was an interesting concept to me. I really enjoy most of the songs on the album and realize just how much Hey! Say! JUMP has grown since I was a huge fan of theirs. In 2015, I would really like to follow them more closely than before!

Kanjani8 – Kanjanizm 「関ジャニズム」

To be perfectly honest, I hated this album when I first heard it. I loved all of the singles from when Kanjani8 changed to their new label, but this album was a big question mark to me. I only liked the main song, E J Coaster, and the singles, and that was about it. I put the album down for a while because I got busy too, and then picked it up again a few weeks later. I fell in love with it! After listening to it a few times, I was able to pick up the flow of the album and the feel of the album and I thought it was amazing. It is a bit different than typical eito, but eito style none-the less. There have been mixed views about this album by people I have seen online, but I think it’s good that eito is taking charge of their stuff more with their own record label. Though it is more pop-like than before, it still has band style songs and has the “eito-feel” to it.

NEWS – NEWS 10th Anniversary in Tokyo Dome DVD

This DVD is a very special DVD to me, as I was able to attend this special even in person, and I was able to celebrate NEWS’s 10th Anniversary with them. This was NEWS’s first time back in Tokyo Dome since their LIVE LIVE LIVE! tour in 2010, which was about 3 years before this special event was held. They had an amazing enter stage set up, along with 2 live marching bands that came and performed with them. They even wrote a song for the fans that was only performed at this event called “Ai Kotoba”. This DVD also includes behind the scenes footage of the whole concert tour, as well as LIFE OF NEWS part 2, continuing from LIFE OF NEWS that was on the DVD with the Album “NEWS”. The album was amazing, so the set list and the songs are all amazing in this DVD, too.

Bonus: KAT-TUN – come HERE

I was originally not going to include an 11th this year, but I felt like I had to put this in here as well because the album was different from past KAT-TUN albums and I want to mention it along with the other releases. The title song “come Here” is a very pop-ish song, when KAT-TUN is normally more edgy and rock-like. People who don’t know KAT-TUN too well might think that they have changed style judging from just this song, but if you dive deeper into the album it has a rock feel to it as normal, just a bit more on the pop-ish side. I love Udea’s solo “Art of Life” along with Nakamaru’s “Crescent”, and all the singles are definitely KAT-TUN like.

Phew that was long! Johnny’s has had some great releases this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for the fans! What did you think of these pick for 2014? What are your choices for the top Johnny’s releases of 2014? Comment below and let me know!