Contemporary Japanese music features many artists creating some of the most exciting songs going, from burgeoning rappers putting their spin on the genre to electronic creators pushing down sonic boundaries. It isn’t always easy to get familiar with them, though, thanks to a combination of label-born internet shyness that cuts them off from potential fans alongside the general noise of daily life on the internet.
In this feature, Otaquest aims to help introduce some of Japan’s best musicians to the world. Today, an idol group that has been delivering upbeat pop numbers since 2013, finding a way to adapt to a corner of the Japanese music industry that isn’t always patient.
Being able to boast that you’ve been a music group for seven years might not seem like the most marquee-worthy fact, but it is something worth celebrating for Chuning Candy. The five-member group has been chugging along since 2013, navigating the world of J-pop idols — a corner of the music industry that doesn’t exude patience — despite never even putting out an album. They’ve sustained on singles alone, but their upbeat approach to the style has made that work well for them.
The group will perform at OTAQUEST CONNECT on Aug. 16, as part of the virtual event’s Sunday Concert. They’ll represent the idol scene, and ahead of that performance let’s dive into the group’s history.
Way before properly debuting, the members of Chuning Candy went to Cat’s Eye Talent School in their native Okinawa. For the first year, they were simply tween-age students learning the basics of song and dance, performing one show in Tokyo in Sept. of the next year. Two months after that, they finally settled on the name Chuning Candy.
The next 12 months saw the outfit shake up the lineup. At the start of 2015, three more members joined, but by the summer two had left. Come fall, another dropped out in order to focus on her school studies. After this period, though, they started performing more, including a handful of shows in the capital, including two consecutive appearances at the Idol Matsuri event at Tokyo Dome City Hall.
After adding another member and continuing to perform live, Chuning Candy’s breakthrough came in 2018. They signed with major label Pony Canyon, and in February of that year they released their first single, “Dance with me.” That number offered a good summary of what their approach to idol music would be — the same pep found in most idol music was joined with splashes of contemporary electronic music. Now with the chance to release music on a larger platform, they didn’t waste any time, dropping two more singles in the remainder of the year, making the most after several years of building up to this moment.
Perhaps the most impressive feat they managed in that first year was appearing on “SHOW CHAMPION,” a popular South Korean music program routinely featuring the biggest K-pop acts in the country, in the summer of 2018.
Despite some more member moves, Chuning Candy continued on in 2019, releasing two more singles over the next 12 months. While not breaking through to the top level of idoldom, they were moving in the right direction. It was this year, though, where the group hit on something bigger. This March they released “Dynamic Ryukyu,” a number that found them merging their bubbly dance-pop songs with elements of Okinawan traditional music. This embrace of their roots resulted in their biggest YouTube hit to date, with the dance video gathering over a million views at time of writing. It points one path forward for the group.
Five Essential Songs
“Dance with me” (2018)
Chuning Candy’s debut single shines both as a mission statement and one of their bounciest cuts to date.
A little less frantic than “Dance with me,” their second major single still delivers no shortage of sweetness.
“Over the cloud” (2019)
This b-side shows a mistier and, eventually, tougher sound for Chuning Candy, showing they didn’t have to just be sugary to excel.
“Ai No Uta” (2019)
A jittery number that also marks the first moment Chuning Candy let their Okinawan origins sneak into their sound.
“Dynamic Ryukyu” (2020)
Wherein Chuning Candy embrace who they are and where they are from, resulting in their best song yet and a strong case for being a group to keep an eye on.