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Biography

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Morning Musume. is a Japanese all female 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, 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 16,379,822 copies in Japan only.

The members of Morning Musume change often. Every year or two, auditions were held to add new members. The last audition held for the group were in 2006. Morning Musume's current lineup has 9 members, none of which are the original five or the three generations that followed. The current lineup has lasted the longest without any graduations or additions (June 1st, 2007 - present). Takahashi Ai is the current leader of Morning Musume and Hello!Project and Niigaki Risa is the sub-leader.

Morning Musume Generations (bolded names are part of the current line-up):

First Generation (1997): Yuko Nakazawa, Aya Ishiguro, Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Asuka Fukuda.

Second Generation (1998): Kei Yasuda, Mari Yaguchi, Sayaka Ichii.

Third Generation (1999): Maki Goto.

Fourth Generation (2000): Rika Ishikawa, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Nozomi Tsuji, Ai Kago.

Fifth Generation (2001): Ai Takahashi (current leader), Asami Konno, Makoto Ogawa, Risa Niigaki (current sub-leader)

Sixth Generation (2003): Miki Fujimoto, Eri Kamei, Sayumi Michishige, Reina Tanaka

Seventh Generation (2005): Koharu Kusumi

Eighth Generation (2006-2007): Aika Mitsui, JunJun, LinLin.

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. モーニング娘。, Berryz工房, ℃-ute, Buono!, 真野恵里菜, Ice Creamusume, Hello! Project Eggs, and all sub-units associated with them are the Wonderful Hearts concert unit. As such, they will continue releasing under the Hello! Project umbrella.

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