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Tom Smith on the music to part nine

Long before it was cool for western artists to collaborate with Japanese idol singers – pre Momoiro Clover Z vs. KISS, or hypo-guitar shredders Sam Totman and Herman Li of Dragon Force uniting with BABYMETAL – there was one all-girl troupe already leading the way; Idoling!!!

The idol unit, with three exclamation marks planted at the end of their name, teamed up with French electro / house producer Martin Solveig and Canadian synthpop trio Dagonette on their hit 2011 single Big In Japan, which managed to get in the charts in Belgium and Canada, as well as reach 21 in the UK Dance Chart.

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Ironically, Big In Japan didn’t live up to its name in Japan, where it failed to get an official release. Instead, Idoling!!! released their own single around the same time entitled Don’t Think. Feel !!!, and that really was big in Japan. So big that it reached number three in their charts and featured as the eighth ending theme to fantasy-comedy anime series Fairy Tail.

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Even without the tie-in with anime, Idoling!!! had had a strong presence on television. After all, the group were created by a bunch of media moguls from Fuji TV. They figured out that by appealing to two of Japan’s more dedicated entertainment fangroups, idol fans and TV junkies, that they could be on to a winner.

In 2006 Fuji TV held the first auditions for the group. They were looking for nine girls who could not only sing and dance, but could also be up for TV-based challenges through a planned variety-style TV series around the girls.

Since their creation, the member-count of Idoling!!! has more than doubled and although a total of 35 ladies have been part of the group so far, the current line-up stands at 21 members – two of which were part of the very first generation of Idoling!!!, from those 2006 auditions.

To date, Idoling!!! have had over a thousand episodes of their series aired and sold more than 500,000 singles. Some if its former members have also elevated the idol world and moved on to star in films and plenty of glamour magazines.

Phongchi, one of the group’s original line-up, and part of its sub-group Pocchari Dohmei (‘Axis of Chubby’… yes, really, it consisted of Idoling!!!’s three heaviest members), left to pursue a career as a talent. She graduated from the group at the same time as her ‘Chubby’ buddy Erika Yazawa, who is now a comedienne.

One of the biggest names post-Idoling!!! is Morita Suzuki from the group’s second generation. As well as continuing her career as a gravure model, she has also been a regular in the Super Sentai tokusatsu series, as well as Kamen Rider and other over the top super hero shows.

As far as anime’s concerned though, the group also has a track in Katekyo Hitman Reborn, but Fairy Tail is the only series so far released here to feature their music – make sure to check it out in part 9!

Fairy Tail Part 9 (episodes 97-108) is out on UK DVD courtesy of Manga Entertainment from 23 February 2014.

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