Name: ココナッツ娘 (Coconuts Musume), M-CO2 –> ココナッツ娘。(Coconuts Musume.), M-CO2。
Date of group’s debut: March, 1999
Record label: Sony Music –> zetima
Disbanded: April 30th, 2008
Coconuts Musume was a Japanese pop group, active from 2000 to 2009.
The group was promoted as a sister group of Morning Musume, but with a Hawaii’an flavor.
Hence their name; Coconuts Musume (Coconuts girls).
Their name in Japan was first ココナッツ娘 then in May of 2000 changed to ココナッツ娘。(with a punctuation mark).
In Taiwan they went by the name M-CO2 when they promoted their first two singles. Promotion in Taiwan stopped after April and Chelsea left the group.
In November of 1998, a series of auditions called the «Pacific Dream Pop Singer Competition» was held in Hawaii, Usa. 1500 applicants had signed up, and Makoto (a band mate of Tsunku, producer of Morning Musume and Hello! Project) was alledgelly the one choosing five girls out of the 1.500. In March of 1999, he had chosen Chelsea Ching, April Barbaran, Mika Todd, Ayaka Kimura and Danielle Delaunay.
There seems to be another version of the story out there; one in which Makoto discovered them performing together at a bar in Hawaii, and he was so mesmerized he had requested that Tsunku pick up the act.
The first story seems like the most true one.
Coconuts Musume were first introduced on an episode of ASAYAN (a talent show aiming to produce new music talents) on May 27th, 1999, to a baffled Morning Musume who were in the studio at the same time. Morning Musume, not happy with the competition and how mature and beuatiful they thought the coconuts girls looked, were even more shocked when Coconuts Musume debut single was announced. It was an English version of Morning Musume’s second single «Summer Night Town».
In an interview, they said «We first heard «Summer Night Town» just before we started recording. It was only the second song we’d recorded, and of course we didn’t know anything about the song until we heard it.»
Their debut single was released on July 23rd, 1999, as a double A-side; «Halation Summer / Summer Night Town (English Ver.)». Halation Summer was the theme song to the anime «Kyoro-chan», and is described by music magazines as a song with Latin beat and brings up images of summer! The A-side is descbribed as an English version of a Morning Musume song, but with a very fresh sound.
The single reached #40 on the Oricon charts, charted for two weeks and sold almost 10.000 copies.
In 2006, fellow H!O group Berryz Kobo covered «Halation Summer» on their album «3 natsu natsu mini Berryz».
Coconuts Musume had actually debuted earlier, as they made their debut in Taiwan. They shot the music videos for «Halation Summer» and «Summer Night Town (English Ver.) while being there, as well as doing several photo shoots. They also held small concerts (at malls and such) and had hand-shake events where they signed CDs and interacted with their fans.
Their second single, Dance & Chance, was released only a month after their debut single. In an interview the girls described their thoughts on the release:
Chelsea: «I think ‘Halation Summer’ was a really cute song. But our real nature isn’t comical and cute.
Mika: «It’s like ‘Halation Summer’ was a song for me, and the coupling song ‘Summer Night Town (English Version)’ was a song for the sexy Chelsea, Danielle, and April. (lol) So maybe ‘Dance & Chance’ will be a blend of everybody?»
The single reached #86 on the Oricon charts, charting for one week, selling a disappointing 2.740 copies.
A collection of their music videos was released on VHS and DVD in October of 1999, simply called Coconuts Musume. It contains three music videos (from their first two singles), member interviews, behind-the-scenes footage in Taiwan, and the making of DANCE & CHANCE. It has the cat nr SRBL-1029 (dvd) and SRVM-5670 (vhs).
I January, it was announced that Chelsea and April had graduated from the group to continue their education back in Hawaii. Rumors and speculations tell that the girls had problems adjusting to life and culture in Japan as they spoke no Japanese, and had wished to go back home permanently.
I have no details regarding this, but I do know that a set of auditions were held in Hawaii to find new members after April and Chelsea left.
The judges had narrowed it down to two people who they were set to have as new members. Aledgelly, Lehua Sandbo entered in the last minute, singing a song in Japansese which convinced the judges to choose her instead.
Another version says that the judges had the final contestants narrowed down to three people. Lehua Sandbo being one of them, sang «Dance & Chance» in Japanese, which blew the judges away.
And the second generation member of Coconuts Musume would be Lehua Sandbo; she joined the group in January 2000.
They released the single «Tokonatsu Musume» in May of 2000. Described as a bubbly dance-tune with an early summer feel, and a colorful video to go with it, this showed a new direction for the group, where they were cutesier and more bubblegum-poppy, contrary to their earlier «sexy» and mature vibe. It reached #64 on the Oricon charts, selling a few copies more than their previous single; 2.820.
A few years later, in 2003, fellow H!P group ZYX covered this song on their second single «Shiroi Tokyo».
In July, Coconuts released what would be their fourth single; «Watashi mo «I LOVE YOU»». Continuing their new image, the song was a poppy, cute song with a fun, bubbly video to accompany it. It sold approx. 2.500 copies.
Around the same time, all the members of H!P participated in what was called the summer shuffles. In the fall, enka singer Yuki Maeda took Danielle’s place in the group Akagumi4 as she had had an injury. Some months later it was announced that Danielle had graduated from Coconuts Musume to complete her university education. Rumors and speculations from fans at the time said she had had a nervous break-down (for whatever reason) and had to take her time.
In Agust the group released their 5th single; «Jounetsu Yuki Mirai Sen». This time their image seem to have blended with what the original idea of the group was. They kept some of the cutesy stuff, but blended in a «sexy» image, showing they had grown-up a bit. This single was more succesfull than their previous one, and is their second best-selling single with total sales of 3.420 copies.
In late 2001, new auditions called Coconut Musume Project were announced. Application deadlines were December 31st, 2001, and selected applicants would be contacted early January. Open Interviews were also held in the first weeks of January 2002; in Kauai, Big Island, Maui and Oahu. An online site provided an application form that was to be sent in.
But the following month Lehua left Hello! Project and went back to Hawaii. According to her agency, she left to focus on her school education. Later she said she wanted to go back home because of the big impact September 11 had on the US, and that made her want to be closer to her family.
In June, and later on in August, the same site posted a comment saying «Thank you all very much for your interest in the Coconut Musume auditions.» I guess this means the auditions were unsuccesfull, or that the agency just didn’t bother anymore.
The remaining duo, Todd and Kimura, never released anything else under the Coconuts Musume name, though they contributed to Hello! Project compilations, performed songs (including English covers) during Hello! Project concerts, and became Japanese spokespersons for Dole pineapples. They also appeared on and hosted various radio and television shows separately. The longest running radio show they hosted was called «Kiss the Coconuts!», which ran from 2001 up until 2004.
In July 2004, Mika Todd graduated to study singing in California. Kimura was the only member left in Coconuts Musume, and was referred to within Hello! Project as «Coconuts Musume Ayaka».
On April 30, 2008, it was announced on Hello! Project’s official website that Kimura was graduating to pursue a career in acting, thus disbanding Coconuts Musume.