Morning Musume (モーニング娘。) is a Japanese J-Pop group that was started by Tsunku in 1997. Morning Musume is one of the most well known groups as well as the lead group of Hello! Project. Often shortened to Momusu (モー娘。) by fans, Morning Musume currently has 8 members. This number constantly changes as older members graduate and auditions are held for new members. Morning Musume currently has 6 main albums, 2 best of albums, 1 mini album, and 31 singles.
Morning Musume is an extremely popular all-girl group. They are the flagship group of the Hello! Project, a group that has dozens of different singing and entertainment groups underneath them, and they are seen as the best selling female group in Japan. In 1997, Tsunku, a well-known Japanese producer, started looking for a female singer for Sharan Q, a band he was running. He took the auditions to Asayan, a Japanese television show. After the show aired, Tsunku decided to change his plans and to make an all-girls group with the five runners up. He told them that if they sold 50,000 copies of their demo single, Ai no Tane, he would produce them as a group.
The original girls, Yuko Nakazawa, Kaori Iida, Asuka Fukuda, Natsumi Abe, and Aya Ishiguro managed to sell more than 50,000 copies and Tsunku made good on his word. Their first real single, Morning Coffee, was released in 1998 and made it to number six on the charts. After this, three new members, Sayaka Ichii, Mari Yaguchi, and Kei Yasuda, joined the group. Tsunku chose to make a smaller group out of Morning Matsume, and had Aya Ishiguro, Mari Yaguchi, and Kaori Iida form the group known as Tanpopo.
Girls in the group came and went, and as each girl leaves the group to go on and do other things, she would have a graduation ceremony. Often girls were added to the group using contests, much in the same way that the first girls were chosen for the group. In 2007, two Chinese girls were added as “exchange students”. This was to help the group find more success in Asia. Many of the girls, once they left to become solo artists, would still work under the same label and would be involved in the Hello! Project on different levels. So far, Morning Musume has had 25 members.