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Music / Negicco

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Negicco (ねぎっこ) in 2019.note 

Back in 2003, a group of girls were hired as a PR stunt to promote locally grown onions in the Niigata prefecture. Called Negicco ("Negi" meaning "Onion" and "cco/ko" standing for "Child/Girl"), these young women formed an idol group and were initially only expected to receive one month of promotion before their disbandment.

Defying all odds, the group went from performing in cramped department stores and teaching kindergarteners about onions to going on nationwide tours and celebrating their 15th anniversary as a group together. They are a well known example of "local idols", Japanese idols who are centered around a location for their work, and became the "Niigata Tourism Special Envoy" for their dedication to their home. They currently have three members, although they started off as a quartet. The members of Negicco are:

  • Nao☆ (なお☆): The leader of the group who usually stands in the center. She also goes by "NaoNao☆" or "Nao☆-chan".
  • Megu (めぐ) - Known as DJ Megu during club events, she is normally on the right. She also goes by "Poncha".
  • Kaede (かえで) - The youngest member, who is also a solo artist and on the left. She also goes by "Kaepo".

Former members include:

  • Miku (みく) - Started with the group in 2003, but graduated in 2006.
  • Misaki (みさき) - Took Miku's place as the fourth member, but graduated in 2008.

Negicco began by only having one song, but were saved from obscurity when a producer called "connie" helped introduce them with several other artists. They now have a widely varied discography and are often described as an "idol group that doesn't fit in a box". While they may have gotten flack for being entertainers centered around a vegetable, Negicco is standing the test of time. Their aim is to perform at the Budokan in Japan.

Discography (Albums):

  • アノソラヘ (Anosorahe) (2009)
  • GET IT ON! (2011)
  • Negicco 2003~2012 -BEST- (2012)
  • Melody Palette (2013)
  • Rice&Snow (2015)
  • ティー・フォー・スリー (Tea For Three) (2016)
  • Negicco 2011~2017 -BEST- 2 (2017)
  • MY COLOR (2018)

These idols provide examples of:

  • A Day in the Spotlight: Negicco was the subject of a VICE Japan documentary .
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Negicco's fanbase is mostly in Niigata, and their priority is promoting the area. Their efforts are becoming internationally known.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Attouteki na Style" has the crowd performing in a line dance together with awesome results.
  • Animated Music Video:
    • "Tomodachi ga Inai!" has lonely schoolgirls walking around a school.
    • "Festival de Aimashou" is shot in live action, but has several intercut animations.
  • Author Appeal: "CONNIE SIDE OF NEGI SOUNDS" (published only as a cassette) was based on a private cassette tape that Negicco's sound producer owned. An entirely new song called "Venus" was made for this album by connie himself.
  • Battle of the Bands: Negicco took part in several of these during their early years. They infamously became the first U.M.U. AWARD champions in 2010, making them the top national local idol group in all of Japan.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Negicco falls neatly into this.
    • Megu (Brawn) set a track record in 2017 for the Niigata City Marathon Fun Run. Her positive points include her energy and smile.
    • Kaede (Brains) graduated from Niigata Univesity with an engineering degree. She has released a mini solo album and held her own mini acoustic live.
    • Nao☆ created an artbook called "nanohana*book" and likely provided some of their merch designs herself. She tends to be the face of the group.
  • Climactic Elevator Ride: "Ai no Tower of Love" features a black elevator for each of the members to get to love.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Nao☆'s preferred color is yellow, Megu's is blue, and Kaede's is pink.
  • Country Mouse: Part of their appeal is that they are rooted in the rural Niigata prefecture as opposed to other idol groups that tend to move to Tokyo.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Early idol groups and audiences likely saw Negicco as joke characters waving around onions rather than an actual girl group. Negicco has since proven their versatility as artists.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Negicco in the MV of "Mujyun, Hajimemashita".
  • Determinator: There's a reason one of their taglines is "Never Give Up Girls!"
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Negicco started with only one song and without a general producer or choreographer. Until they signed with T-Palette Records, they were doing everything from dances and performances nearly entirely by themselves.
    Interviewer: After forming in 2003 and continuing Negicco for 12 years, what kind of idol group do you think Negicco is?
    Megu: For the “Yawahadanegi” (a famous green onion variant from Negicco’s hometown of Niigata) campaign, we were together as a limited one-month unit, and Connie-san helped with musical composition. But we had no general producer and had to come up with the dances from scratch. For that first month until we signed with T-Palette Records, we made and ran the group by ourselves.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how.
    • Ever since their debut, Negicco had an insane amount of obstacles put in their way. Not long after they debuted, their talent training school was shut down and forced them to switch labels. A year after that, that agency went bankrupt. They also lost their fourth team member (twice). Back then, many of Negicco's early shows had an absolutely abysmal turn out and the members were often targeted by bullies for their theme. They often had to hand out CD's themselves and had nearly broken up before they had met connie. There were several performances without so much as a dressing room, which forced the girls to make their own out of cardboard to change before shows. One recollection was that they had been the only act to not receive a dressing room and had to change in an alleyway near a garbage can with flies buzzing around. As a last ditch effort, Negicco went on a game show with the challenge of passing four separate auditions to get a 'major debut'. The idols actually managed to win the challenge, but the show had a problem with setting up the agreement and management downgraded Negicco's major debut to a simple CD release. That incident would be followed by two years of instability before Negicco would finally sign with T-Palette Records in 2011 as their first "idol" artist.
    [From the VICE Japan documentary]
    Yoshihito Kumakura (Negicco's manager): They're able to turn any sort of humiliation into energy.
  • Ending Theme:
    • "Attouteki na Style" became one for the variety show "Mecha-Mecha Iketeru!".
    • The show "Choukou 21 Gatter" (Gatterman) had "Gatter! Gatter! Gatter!".
    • The show "Goddotan" had "Idol Bakari Kikanaide".
  • Greatest Hits Album:
    • "Negicco 2003~2012 -BEST-" and "Negicco 2011~2017 -BEST- 2" serve as this, while "CONNIE SIDE OF NEGI SOUNDS" featured their B-Sides.
  • Hand Puppet: The MV for "Oyasumi" features three Negicco themed puppets going on a bizarre adventure together. Nao☆ falls in love with a shark and tries to write a pun-filled love letter. Kaede eats sushi (at the same restaurant as the shark) and goes to sing karaoke, her smartphone never leaving her side. Megu fights a bear with a shinai (bamboo sword) and takes a taxi to see Tokyo Tower at night, where she meets up with the others.
  • Hero of Another Story: Negicco seems to be this to Perfume, as both groups have been known to cheer each other on at events and give each other challenges. Negicco has been the guest of Perfume during major lives and on MUSIC JAPAN, and Negicco has made blog and Twitter posts. They also performed "Sweet Donuts" for a television spot.
    Interviewer: What is the idol image the members of Negicco are aiming for from now on?
    Nao☆: (immediately) Perfume. In 2008 they came to Niigata on their Game tour and talked about Negicco and the time we played together before, and after they finished we got to talk to them and Aa-chan said, “ Let’s stand on the stage together again”. And I was happy when we worked hard and were able to meet again on MUSIC JAPAN and Aa-chan cried for us.
  • Idol Singer: Negicco started as this and are still labeled as such over a decade later.
  • Instrumentals: The "MY COLOR" album received a completely off vocal version.
  • Japanese Tourist: In several music videos, the singers are just walking around the location of their video shoot. "Hikari no Spur" puts them in Finland, "Sunshine Nihonkai" had them walking along a beach in Niigata, "Nee, Bardia" follows them through Niigata with the Niigata Kotsu (public transportation), and Negicco freely ride their bikes through Niigata in "Ai wa Hikari". They never cause any trouble or get in the way of passersbyes though.
  • Live Album: "Live at UMEDA CLUB QUATTRO, LIQUIDROOM" and "Live at NAKANO SUNPLAZA" are from two of their 2018 concerts.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: With Misaki's graduation in 2008, the current three member unit has gone beyond the ten year minimum.
  • Martial Arts Movie: "Ai, Kamashitaino" parodies this as a movie being performed in a theater by the members of Negicco.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Several of the songs made by Negicco also were used to promote various shows or programs specific to Niigata. Some of the commercial work that Negicco has done includes cold medicine, Ryokan (Japanese style inn), Kagami mochi. A showcase of some of their CM work can be seen here and here. They also have T-shirts, onion penlights, and many more items for sale through their website.
  • Ocean Awe: The theme around "Sunshine Nihonkai" was the Sea of Japan. The MV featured Negicco running around the beach and seaside.
  • Portmanteau: Negicco usually introduces themselves with "Konnichi-neginegi!"note  or "Konba-neginegi!"note .
  • Shout-Out: To Earth, Wind & Fire of all bands. "Nee Bardia" is an homage to their song "September". The song's "Ba-de-ya" became "Bardia" and the hook for "Nee Bardia" repeats the words "Anata ni" in a very similar rhythm and tune. The opening line of “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” in "September" is also mentioned in "Nee Bardia"note .
  • Slice of Life: The MV for "Calypso Musume ni Hanatabao" follows Negicco as they make a meal together and "Ai wa Hikari" includes scenes of the group simply writing letters.
    • Taken up to eleven with "Canale no Madobe", which is comprised entirely of behind the scenes footage of Negicco and the NEGiBAND recording the single.
  • Song Style Shift: "Tokimeki no Headliner" starts off with a quiet piano intro and simple beat but is quickly abandoned for a hyper J-pop style.
  • Spelling Song: "Triple! Wonderland" has an incredibly catchy tag spelling out the name of the band.
    N.E.G.I.C.C.O! Shake it!Do it!Make it!Negi!
  • Special Guest: Negicco has had several collaborations with other idol groups and artists.
    • The song "Girl's Life" was a collaboration with Especia, "Niigata☆JIMAN!" collaborated with Sachiko Kobayashi and fellow Niigata local idols RYUTist, and "Baby EBINegi Pop!" was a joint song by Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku.
    • In addiction to the above artists, NGT48, Perfume, Megumi Nakajima, lyrical school, Scoobie Do, □□□, Shiggy Jr. and more have worked with Negicco for live events and concerts.
    • Gota Nishidera of Nona Reeves, Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzicato Five, Takao Tajima of ORIGINAL LOVE, Takafumi Ikeda AKA Lexi, Asako Toki, Uwanosora, YOUR SONG IS GOOD, and several others have provided arrangements and compositions for the unit.
    • Nao☆ herself has also written lyrics for both Negicco and other artists, like Megu's friend Shiho Nanba.
  • Stage Name: Enforced by the group, although fans do use their nicknames fairly often.
  • Street Performer: Several of Negicco's smaller lives count as this.
  • Tagline: The English phrases "Live Local, Live Nice." and "Never Give Up Girls!" seem to be associated with them in promotional materials.
  • Take That, Audience!: "Idol Bakari Kikanaide" scolds people who listen only to idol music, pay exorbitant amounts of money towards idols, or still listen to CDs. This is because it's written from the perspective of a girl whose boyfriend is obsessed with idol culture.
  • The Rival: Heavily averted. When NGT48 was announced, there was a lot of worry that Negicco would either struggle with new competitors or fade into obscurity. Negicco actually welcomed the newcomers and even performed with them.
    Interviewer: After forming in 2003 and continuing Negicco for 12 years, what kind of idol group do you think Negicco is?
    Kaede: Kind of like we hate losing, or that the three of us felt strongly about not giving up. We had been really, really negative, but were able to overcome that because we all supported each other, and we all have our own abilities. I think our roots are rather negative, but also thought “we can’t continue this way”. We’ve been through some incredibly tough memories, so we can’t triumph until we succeed. We were often asked if we had any rivals, but actually we didn’t even have the time to look around us. (laughs)
  • Theme Tune: "Make Up Prelude" plays before Negicco's live concerts.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The yawahada negi, an onion grown in Niigata that they promoted when they first started the group.
    • Curry for Megu, who made the fictional label "CURRY RICE RECORDS" and appeared in a talking segment of "CURRY & MUSIC JAPAN 2019".
  • Updated Re-release: "Attoteki na Style" received two. The original version included the four original members. The first update came when Negicco joined T-Palette Records. The second update (called "-NEGiBAND ver.-") updated the vocals and arrangement.
  • Voice Actor: It's well known that Nao☆ originally wanted to be a seiyuu due to her being a fan of anime. Unfortunately, being in Negicco caused a conflict of interest and she was unable to try it out herself.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Megumi Nakajima has credited Nao☆ as a major contributor towards coming back to the entertainment industry after her hiatus in 2014. During Nakajima's lowest point in life, Nao☆ invited her to Negicco's lives. During private meetings and while onstage, Nao☆ was simply herself which impressed the voice actress. Being the same age as Nao☆, Megumi was encouraged to go back to work and start singing again. She easily related to Negicco's song "Negative Girls".