Going back to the early years of the Morning Musume (モーニング娘。) discography, I see (good heavens...only 7 members back then?!). Well, I've considered their 6th single, "Furusato" (Home) from July 1999, despite the release month, the Mother's Day song for MM due to the ladies' mothers (with their faces hidden) showing up in the video which was apparently filmed in the rolling hills of Biei, Hokkaido. It's about as heartwarming a song as I've heard from MM which back then seemed to go into all of the nighttime intrigue.
I hadn't heard "Furusato" in the longest time so when I listened to it again today, I realized that Tsunku (つんく) had created a pretty decent song for Natsumi Abe（安倍なつみ）who was singing lead here. Apparently, according to J-Wiki's article on "Furusato", when Tsunku was asked why Abe was at the fore this time, he simply replied "Even if Paul McCartney sang by himself, it would still be a Beatles song". Well, I could be curmudgeonly and rebut with a mention of Wings and all of his solo work, but OK, I think I got the idea here. Plus, I kinda wonder how Abe herself reacted when she was compared to McCartney, even superficially.
For me, it's the chorus work by the rest of the Musume and the languid melody that won me over although any comparisons between the vocal abilities of Abe and McCartney will always remain superficial...with the help of goodly amounts of beer. My apologies to the Abe fans.
"Furusato" sold a little over 170,000 copies as it peaked at No. 5 on Oricon. It was the softest-selling single of the 6 singles that had been released by Morning Musume up to that point, and I saw the ballad as being the swan song for those early years, two singles after the departure of first-generation member Asuka Fukuda（福田明日香）. A couple of months later, the group would enter a new era of spectacle with their disco hit "Love Machine"（LOVEマシーン）and the addition of adorably gawky Maki Goto（後藤真希）. It was also included on Morning Musume's 2nd album "Second Morning" (セカンドモーニング) which was also released in July 1999 and peaked at No. 3.
"Furusato" would not be forgotten by the later generations. Ai Takahashi（高橋愛）would do her cover of the song.
And Koharu Kusumi（久住小春）performed it at her graduation concert. By this point, I had already lost my interest in Morning Musume although I remember Kusumi being selected as the ace by Tsunku.
But of course, why not finish up with Miku Hatsune（初音ミク）?