I posted this as a post for a topic on Hello!Online, but it was so long, I felt that I should post it on the good ‘ol blog too.
I wouldn’t agree with anyone that would say no one is pushed at any time during Morning Musume’s history. Natsumi was the center of quite a few singles during her time, and she’s had the most photobooks of any member of Morning Musume’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation, and had the first solo photobook of any Morning Musume member by 3 years. She got the center of “Morning Coffee,” which had originally belonged to Iida, but which Tsunku gave to her because he wanted to push her more. If you look at all of the Dream Morning Musume covers, Natsumi is also the obvious center of them.
Maki Goto was also pushed, and for good reason. She was extremely popular since the time she was selected, and started releasing solo singles before she left Morning Musume. She was also the center in most of the singles she participated in. Her amount of solo lines is also enormous- just look at Project!Hello’s color-coded lyrics database.
The 4th generation were all pushed, most likely because of the group’s popularity when they joined. Yossie and Rika were both centers of singles while they were still Kouhais in the group, and Kago and Tsuji were in Mini Moni, along with forming W slightly before Mini Moni went on hiatus. Kago in particular, though, was really pushed to the center. She was in Morning Musume, Tanpopo, and Mini Moni, all at the same time, along with getting tons of solo lines, particularly in “I Wish,” which was only her second single with the group.
As for the 5th generation, I can’t judge how much Asami or Makoto were pushed, but Risa got the only 5th gen solo line of their 1st single in the group, and obviously Ai has had plently of solos on CDs and in Concerts. Ai also has the most photobooks out of any H!P member, ever, if I’m correct. She has also been the lead in many a MM musical, every single she’s been in since 2007, and has appeared in TV dramas. She’s the gold standard for pushing an idol in my book.
In the 6th generation, Miki didn’t need to be pushed, because she was already a solo artist with a healthy fan base, though they did put her in the center of a few singles and gave her plenty of lines. Eri and Sayumi didn’t seem to be pushed initially, but Sayumi was eventually placed on every talk show and variety program they could find to put her on, along with giving her a blog and plenty of photobooks. She has also been getting more lines on albums and B-sides. (ie. Yowamushi and Fantasy ga Hajimaru) Sayu’s even gotten a solo album song and had a few concert solos. Reina is the one that was really pushed here. She’s had photobooks, been the center of singles, has lots of lines in concerts, and generally spends her time in the limelight along with Ai. She’s also had a magazine column and her own mini-Anime series.
Kusumi was obviously pushed. She was called the “Miracle” for one thing. She had an anime that became essentially based around her and her solo career, and had quite a few solo lines despite her voice not being as strong as some other girls who didn’t get lines. She also got many photobooks, and appeared on TV almost as much as Sayumi.
None of the 8th generation were really pushed. Junjun and Linlin never got significant solo lines in singles, b-sides, albums, or in concerts. Sure, Linlin got one major solo in a concert, and one solo on an H!P cover album, but the album didn’t sell that well, and the solo in the concert was part of a larger medley that she didn’t get any other good solo lines in. Aika got lots of solo lines in her first two songs, and a duet on the first album, but since then, she’s also been in the back with little promotion. Hey, at least she got a photobook, unlike her fellow 8th gen members.
I hope you enjoyed this!