I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Nogizaka46 - Influencer

People usually ask each other "Where were you at the 9/11?" or some other remarkable happening. Here in Portugal, since last year, we started asking each other "Where were you when we won the Eurovision song contest?"

I'm not aware of non-European people's idea of the Eurovision song contest, but basically, it's a pretty big deal in Europe. Here in Portugal it was big until the late 90s and our participating songs are still icons of the country. We never really got great classifications but people enjoyed the show anyway.

At some point, the quality of the songs became worse, everyone lost interest, and we sat off the contest for some years. Last year, our public TV network grabbed that lack of expectations and called a group of young talents who competed for the place in the European contest, generally thinking "we're not going to win anyway, let's just have fun". Guess what, we won. We submitted a wonderful song, Amar Pelos Dois, sang by Salvador Sobral, a melancholic ballad amidst the explosive, mostly generic pop the other countries presented.

I still remember that feeling of national happiness. This year, we're hosting the contest and the final is tonight.

I wanted to share that hype I felt last year (and am still feeling now that the event is happening) and link it to another song I love that won a nationally recognised prize last year. That song is Influencer by AKB48-related idol group Nogizaka46, which won the Grand Prix in the 2017 Japan Record Awards.

Before hitting that landmark, it was the first single by the group to sell a million copies. This year, with their latest single, they managed to surpass AKB48's simultaneous release's sales in the first week. So they are basically riding the wave their parent group used to ride.

Influencer is a pop song with latino sounds composed by Shinya Sumida (the maker of AKB's Flying Get, another Grand Prix winner) and arranged by APAZZI. The lyrics were penned by Yasushi Akimoto, as usual with his produced groups. People speculated if "influencer" was intended as a pun with "influenza", as the lyrics describe such an intense obsession with one person that one would think they were sick.

It's definitely a earworm, with the repeating "boom boom boom", and visually interesting due to the coreography which relies intensely in arm movements. While shooting the official music video, the members reportedly panicked because of the difficulty of the dance.

Not only because Nogizaka46 is probably my favorite idol group, I see this song as a classic tune. There's something about the melody that takes me back and makes me feel like it would fit other decades. It's not Nogizaka's signature song but it's one of those I won't forget.

It's a shame that the Japan Record Awards headed the same way as Kouhaku, with a gradual lack of prestige and interest by the spectators. Even worse are the rumours that the recent winners may have been arranged by their respective companies. Nevertheless, I see Influencer as the kind of song who could win regardless of those circumstances. It was also Nogizaka46's song choice for 2017 Kouhaku.

As for today's Eurovision final, I'm positive that Portugal won't be winning again, but I heard Salvador Sobral is making a special appearance with Caetano Veloso... Maybe I'll check that out.

(By the way, here's my Twitter for more idols (both modern and vintage) and related stuff.)


  1. Hello, Joanna, and thanks for your latest article. :)

    Speaking as a non-athletic J-Pop viewer, I think any of the choreography that any of the current aidoru groups does can induce seizures within me. :) So it must have been quite the challenge for the individual Nogizaka46 members to tackle the "Influencer" moves.

    I would be interested in hearing some more of Sumida's compositions since the music takes me back to some of my old favourite kayo days.

  2. Just a little tidbit: The band and the song appear in this commercial:


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