Name: タンポポ (TANPOPO)
Date of debut: April 21st, 1999
Record label: zetima
Disbanded: January, 2002

Official site (agency) 

Tanpopo was a Japanese group, consisiting of Morning Musume mebers Aya Ishiguro, Kaori Iida and Mari Yaguchi. They were managed by Tsunku and the agency UFA, and were a sub-group out of their main group Morning Musume.

History

ASAYAN was a talent search variety show airing on TV Tokyo. Several of the auditions held on the show was produced by the talent agency UFA with Tsunku as their manager.

On October 18th, 1998, Tsunku announced live on the tv show, to his girl group Morning Musume, that he wanted to make a new unit with Kaori Iida and Aya Ishiguro. This caught the whole group by surprise, and Iida, probably baffled by the announcement, asked if this meant that Morning Musume was no more.

But Tsunku explained that Morning Musume would still be around, and that the two girls would be a sub-unit, releasing music s members of both groups.

Tsunku wanted a third member, and held an audition between Kei Yasuda, Sayaka Ichii and Mari Yaguchi. They had to go trough test recordings, before Tsunku chose Mari Yaguchi as the third member.

The new group needed a name, and Tsunku suggested several:

  • ライラック (Lilac)
  • 3/8
  • 3HIPS
  • スーパーマン3 (Superman 3)
  • クレイ (Clay)
  • CRAY
  • スーマン (Suuman)
  • スーパーマンション単騎 (Super Mansion Tanki)
  • ホステス (Hostess)
  • チャームベイベー (Charm Baby)
  • トリプルージュ (Triple Ju)
  • ナインティンナインティンナイン (Nineteen-ninety-nine)
  • 大中小 (Daichuushou)
  • LMS
  • 6cups
  • スーパースリーヒップス (Super Three Hips)
  • あくび (Akubi)

The name he eventually chose was Tanpopo. Written in katakana (instead of hiragana), and meaning Dandelion. Tsunku said in an interview that he chose this name, as «Tanpopo (dandelions) can be blooming anywhere you see, and from a small child to a senior citizen, anyone is familiar with them. There is no strict season for dandelions, (and they can bloom and survive even in between the small cracks of buildings in a big harsh city environment) . For those reasons, I think they are really awesome. For some people, dandelions are just another weeds with a height of about 20cm, but under the surface, they have much longer roots than the small heights. When they crave for water, they make efforts to grow their roots longer and deeper. The efforts they make in unseen areas are what are so wonderful about dandelions.»

The group’s motto was set as a “more matured version of Morning Musume”, so the girls show a more matured attitude and vocal style than when they are performing as Morning Musume.»

On the show the following weeks we got to see the girls recording their first single, «Last Kiss» and shooting the cover for the CD jacket. They performed their new single on November 8th, in addition to talking about their experiences so far and giving a dance lesson.

The single was released a little over a week later, on November 18th, 1999. In its first week it ranked 2nd on the oricon charts, and eventually sold over 300.000 copies. The song was also used as the first ending theme song for the anime «Sorcerous Stabber Orphen».

Their second single, «Motto» (More), was released on March 10th, 1999. It ranked 7th on the Oricon charts, and sold 85.520 copies total. An interesting fact about this song is that the girls never sung it live.

Two weeks later, the group released their first album «TANPOPO1″. It featured their first single, two mixes, three solo songs and four new songs. It sold 64.430 copies in its first week and 88.680 copies total. Tsunku said in an interview at the time of the release, that 

«Tanpopo’s goal is “to become a group which is loved by a wide range of audience”. I think the album is well suited for this goal.»

In June, Tanpopo released the re-cut single «Tanpopo» (Dandelion). It was featured on the album, but Tsunku re-recorded the vocals and mixed the song over again. Making the song appearing on the single different from the album version.

He said in an interview, that one of his staff  had listened to the album for nearly hundreds of times, and  suggested to select and release “Tanpopo” as a single. In the music industry, they believe that a single that was selected from a previous album won’t do well in the market than a newly produced single. Tsunku’s staff to was well aware of this reality and yet still suggested it, which made Tsunku feel their warm affection towards the artist and the song.

The single reached  #7 on the oricon charts and charted for six weeks. It sold  112.320 copies total (their second best selling release so far).

When the single was released, there was a rumor of the group’s break-up. Iida said in an interview, she had actually went up to Tsunku and asked him directly. He just laughed at her and said, “I don’t know anything about that.”

At that time, Fukuda was leaving Morning Musume, and that probably made other members uneasy. Someone probably started a rumor as a simple joke, but because of the situation they were becoming sensitive towards anything they heard.

In October, a year after their debut, the group released their fourth single, «Seinaru Kane ga Hibiku Yoru» (The Night When The Sound Of The Holy Bell Echoes). This release has three solo versions of the a-side, instead of a b-side and instrumentals (which is uncommon for Japanese singles). It sold 86.090 copies in its first week, and 209.200 copies total. Interestingly, this song was never performed live (like «Motto»).

In January of 2000, Ishiguro’s graduation was announced. She participated in Hello! project’s new years concert, and left shortly after. 

Iida and Yaguchi continued on as a duo, called Tanpopo 1.5 by fans, until Ishikawa Rika and Kago Ai was added to the group in June 2000.

 

Tanpopo released 4 more singles and went through more member changes over the next few years. A week before the release of what would be their last single, they released a best-of album called «All of Tanpopo». It featured all their single’s a-sides, a few b-sides, and one new song. What is interesting about this release is the remix of their fourth single, called «Tanpopo (Grand Symphonic Version)». Despite it being over two years since Aya Ishiguro graduated from Hello!Project, she was invited back to re-record her vocals for the making of the song. The album sold over 100.000 copies and is their best selling album.

Shortly after these releases, it was announced that the group would be put on hiatus.

In 2004, Tanpopo released a DVD called タンポポ シングルVクリップス (Tanpopo Single V Clips 1). It had the PV and commercials for all their 8 singles, as well as close-up versions for their 3 latest singles. The cat nr is EPBE-5127.

 

In December of 2008, the agency released several mega best albums by several groups long disbanded; like Tanpopo, Pucchimoni and Taiyou to Ciscomoon. Tanpopo released their mega best as a joint album with Pucchimoni. They were released as a CD+DVD combo, but sold poorly. Total sales registered were just above 1.000 copies.

Six months later, Tanpopo was revived shortly (as Tanpopo#), with all new members peforming new songs at concerts. The idea was probably to revive the sub-units, since a release of an album or singles were announced, then scrapped.