Morning Musume (モーニング娘。), currently known as Morning Musume '16 (モーニング娘。'16), is a Japanese all female J-Pop group and the core group under the more expansive Hello! Project (H!P for short). Formed in 1997 when the producer of the band, Tsunku, challenged the 5 runner-ups of a TV competition, where they competed to become the lead singer of Sharan Q, to sell 50,000 copies of their demo single "Ai no Tane" in 5 days. They were successful and the reward was to be fully produced as their own act by producer Tsunku.
In a year, their popularity had surpassed the winner of the original competition (Michiyo Heike); in three they had surpassed the popularity of Sharan Q, who had broken up to become full time producers. The reach of MM and H!P extends to music, TV, radio, film, modeling, commercials, their own PS2 and GBA games, as well as their own indoor futsal and kickball teams, though their popularity has been waning in recent years. They also quickly became, and still remain, one of Japan's top all girl groups with a number of hit records and albums. They have sold over 17,746,446 copies in Japan alone. (dated figure)
The members of Morning Musume change often. Every year or two, auditions are held to add new members. Morning Musume's current line-up has 11 members, none of which are the original five or the three generations that followed. Fukumura Mizuki (譜久村聖) is the current leader of Morning Musume.
Morning Musume Generations (bolded names are part of the current line-up):
Third Generation (1999):
Maki Goto (後藤真希)
Seventh Generation (2005):
Koharu Kusumi (久住小春)
Eleventh Generation (2012):
Sakura Oda (小田さくら)
As the members grow and become better singers or feel that Morning Musume no longer suits their careers, they "graduate" to become solo artists. Some H!P members graduate to leave the idol world and are not part of H!P anymore. As of March 31st, 2009, members of Hello! Project's Elder Club concert unit (also called the older sister group, including former Morning Musume members ("OG"), Aya Matsuura, Melon Kinenbi, Mai Satoda (Country Musume), Atsuko Inaba and Yuki Maeda) are not a part of Hello! Project anymore but remain under UFA management. Morning Musume, and other H!P acts (Berryz工房, ℃-ute, 真野恵里菜, スマイレージ, 吉川友, Hello! Project Egg, and all sub-units associated with them) continue releasing under the Hello! Project.
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