Minimoni

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Minimoni is an offshoot of the J-pop squad Morning Musume, initially formed around the silly premise of uniting members of the band with a height under 150 cm (4''11), but proceeding to become one of…
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Minimoni is an offshoot of the J-pop squad Morning Musume, initially formed around the silly premise of uniting members of the band with a height under 150 cm (4''11), but proceeding to become one of MM's most successful subgroups, thanks to a combo of extravagant stage and interview conduct and a wild but skillfully executed mishmash of musical styles. The group was founded in 2000 on the suggestion of Mari Yaguchi, and was initially a live trio that also featured Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji. But when Mika Todd of Coconuts Musume joined as well, Morning Musume's producer Tsunku blessed the idea, and the band became official. Their debut single, "Minimoni. Jankenpyon!"/"Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki!" (2001), topped the charts straight away, and the debut album, Minimoni Song Daihyakka 1 Kan, scored number four. The band's antics -- of which grabbing a female assistant's buttocks was not the rowdiest or silliest of them-- were filmed and circulated online, winning older teens and grown-ups over to their side, as well as establishing a sizable cult following abroad. The band also contributed their voices to two cartoon series about themselves, including one where they were presented as hamsters, and even Yaguchi's departure -- she went on to helm ZYX, another subgroup of Hello! Project, the umbrella project that encompasses Morning Musume -- did not stop them. Minimoni released a movie fictionalizing the lineup change (Ai Takahashi stepped up to replace Yaguchi), and in 2003, they recorded their second album, the R&B-leaning Minimoni Songs, Vol. 2. But it only charted at number 11, signaling that time was, after all, running out for the band, which folded in 2004 after the final single "Lucky Cha Cha Cha" (number six on the Oricon). But the band's legacy lived on -- their antics were even remembered on the Jay Leno Show in 2006 and spoofed in Weezer's 2008 "Pork and Beans" video -- and finally, Tsunku decided to resurrect the group in 2009, dubbing it Shin Minimoni ("New Minimoni"). The new project, which featured Kanon Fukuda of S/mileage, Linlin of Morning Musume, and Akari Takeuchi and Karin Miyamoto, contributed a track for the Hello! Project 2009 cover song compilation Champloo 1 and performed several live shows in 2009-2010.