Here's the score now: Both Kusumi Koharu's "Balalaika" and Morning Musume's "Aruiteru" CD sales have surpassed the 50k mark. Definitely, one of the most impressive outcome in Hello! Project track record this year.
I'm also looking at the fact that a new and young idol Koharu-chan being able to go head-to-head with Morning Musume as a whole in terms of sales. Let's not forget the impressive Koi*Kana also. I especially enjoyed the Balalaika B-side single "Mizuiro Melody".
Why is Koharu so successful? Honestly, she's not one of my favourites. I still cannot bring myself to listen to her singing. Compared to Abe Natsumi and Goto Maki, Koharu level is still far from being an "ace" as Tsunku has branded her. Her vocal range still lies somewhere within the low mid-key. She can't even beat Takahashi Ai's superb singing, showmanship and poise.
The only charm I find in her is her straightforwardness, young energy, enthusiasm and those cutesy little things that she do. I admire her heart, on how she is able to hang on in Momusu, despite being the youngest and having no peers/companion of her age in the current lineup. It is one of the reasons Fukuda Asuka felt disheartened and left Momusu in the first place.
So after 2 years of grooming, in spite of how low I rate her in the beginning, she has become a fine, pretty idol and befitting of Morning Musume. (She still needs to work on her singing, though)
But now, I'm a breaking down the "Miracle" mystery and see what makes Kusumi Koharu.
Kusumi Koharu is very privileged. Compared to even Goto Maki, who have had her share of low points during her tenure with Momusu, Koharu is always getting all the candies and goodies of opportunities, since the day she joined Momusu. (Maybe Tsunku just wants to prove his point and his trophy pick?)
I would attribute to Koharu's success to Santos's statement about The Law of One Piece. If you have read Santos' impressive write-up, it describes a phenomenon where NEW artistes would enjoy immense success when associated with the anime world, like singing the anime soundtrack. But that success will only last a short period, and the subsequent works could not bounce back to meet the previous record. Perhaps even giving the artiste a black spot in their portfolio.
The good thing is that the artiste would get an instant (but temporary) boost in CD sales. But as a result the artistes' name is welded to the anime, and people will hardly remember him/her unless you mention the anime title. For example, when I asked my friends if they have heard of the duo Rhythem, and they said that they don't know. But I say, that they were the ones who sang the ending them for Naruto "Harmonia", only then they realised who they were.
In Koharu's case, she did more. Not only she sang the soundtrack of Kirarin Revolution,(an anime about the tribulations of character who is also a new young idol) she provided the voice for the character as well. She is doing fine now. But if UFA don't think of something new for her, she will also suffer the fate of dipping sales, never bouncing back ever again. She can't be Kirarin forever.
Another thing - when an artiste sings the soundtrack of an anime or a video game, and released the single, people will flock the stores to get the CD. It's not necessarily because of the artiste, but because they liked the soundtrack. Remember that the fans that bought the Balalaika and Koi*Kana single are not all Momusu fans. They are the anime/gaming fans, and is outside of the Momusu fanbase. If UFA thinks that this will expand the Momusu fanbase, they should be concerned, because that has never worked. Not in the past, not now, not in future.
So the next time, before you start celebrating the "Miracle", and claim that Koharu is truly a saviour of Morning Musume, remember that a spark of light never last forever.
If we want to learn from another example to turn the tables, so that Koharu-chan can get out of her fated predicament, then take the sexy R&B sensation - Koda Kumi.
Koda Kumi was very successful back when she sang the Final Fantasy soundtrack "Real Emotion". However, everything she did after that was nothing but flops. But Avex did a great job following up with the "Ero Kakkoi" vogue and Koda's popularity managed to stay afloat. Even though her CD sales dipped a little, after moving on to the R&B genre her presense is still felt and also highly acclaimed. (But then again, it could be because of her parading of her boobs)
In conclusion, if UFA do not come up with more new ideas, the Koharu buzz will slow down soon, and instead of Kusumi "Miracle" Koharu being a saviour, she will eventually become a "Burden".
Just my humble opinion. Thanks for reading.