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POP ABROAD

The word in Japan is 'WOW'

November 17, 2002|Gendy Alimurung

The lyrics: "Starting something new, you make an anxious face. WOW WOW WOW Everybody lonely boys and girls. WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW Here is wonderland!"

The song: "Kokoni Iruzee!" (I'm Here!).

Where it's charting: No. 15 on the Japanese pop Top 40.

The artists: Morning Musume.

The concept: Japanese schoolgirl clones playing dress-up.

The back story: In 1997, five girls lose on a Japanese TV talent contest in which the winner gets a record deal. When the winner's records don't sell, the show's producer cobbles the five rejects into a group, Morning Musume (Morning's Daughters). If they could move 50,000 copies of their first single, the lore goes, producer Tsunku would turn them into Japan's next big thing.

In five days, the girls meet their goal as a nation of teenage boys and middle-aged "salarymen" swoons. The all-singing, all-dancing group crosses over into the realm of phenomenon. Morning Musume's five doe-eyed girls grow to eight, then to 13. These days, Svengali Tsunku shuffles the girls into sub-units: short girls into Mini Moni, girls born in the countryside into Country Musume, other girls into groups named after primary colors. Auditions are being held for a new crop of Morning Musume members. Cuteness? Required. Winning singing voice? Optional.

-- Gendy Alimurung

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