This is the first in a series of introduction posts I’ve been planning for the new idol unit BiS (you can read a general overview about them here).

Before I begin, I have to make it clear that Pour Lui was not an artist I discovered through a news site, random late-night browsing on YouTube, or even a recommendation from friends. Rather, the first time I saw her face was in a Twitter follower notification sitting pleasantly in my inbox, which I found highly confusing. It took about five minutes of reading her profile for it to sink in that she was some kind of struggling idol wandering Twitter and following indiscriminate people — in fact, I remember one of her earliest tweets at the time of her following me, a bashful admission of being completely lost on the service and having been blindly instructed by a friend to follow whoever she happened to see.

Actually, if I’m going to be honest, it left me in the slightly awkward position of not knowing whether to follow back or pretend not to notice she was there. I’m kind of doing this with a really unabashedly horrible group as we speak. Even so, I was greatly intrigued by the idea of interesting new artists coming to me (how incredibly convenient!), so I took the opportunity to check her PVs out.

Oh, what PVs they were.

Lack of a budget or not, I found myself oddly drawn to the straightforward simplicity of her Auto-Tuned pop-rock style. I also found myself with her first digital single “Kagirareta Toki no Naka de” stuck in my head pretty often. In the end, I followed her back and said I thought her music was cute. I got an enthusiastic thank you in response.

I decided I liked this girl.

May marked the release of “I’m coming!!” and her first good PV to date, directed by Niwa Takayuki, known for his work with acts such as SKE48, w-inds., Sakamoto Maaya and more. I looped it for days, coming back to it now and then, even naming it my favorite PV of the year by the time 2011 was getting close. The song was incredible and I was feeling excited for the mini-album it was promoting. Dubious cover art aside, her singles were all reasonably strong, and there were going to be five new tracks. I was optimistic.

On June 23rd, 2010, however, Minna no Pour Lui was released with seemingly little fanfare. It was the same day as MEG‘s fourth Nakata Yasutaka-produced studio album, MAVERICK, and there’s no need for me to explain which one managed to grab my attention first. Though I’d later realize the charm in her earnest debut effort, Pour Lui and her little mini-album slipped from my mind for a good three months before suddenly, without any kind of warning, she brought my focus back with force.

The truth is, I always wanted to be in an idol group.

And there it was: Pour Lui was retiring from her solo career, whereupon she’d be personally auditioning members for a new group she planned to lead herself. She first spoke to OTOTOY, who would later provide full coverage of the auditions, about the decision and her feelings behind it:

…specifically, when I thought back to the things I’d wanted to do, it was the idol groups I’d admired since I was little like Morning Musume that I remembered.

Having spent her entire life in chorus groups and music clubs, she was used to the atmosphere of performing with others, even getting involved in a band shortly before her high school graduation and subsequent solo career. With her bandmates gradually beginning to scatter and go their own separate ways, she realized that she, too, had no choice but to find her own path without them. She went out for more than 100 auditions before finally managing to secure a contract with Tsubasa Records (home to artists like kumi and Kawashima Mai), but despite achieving her dream of a CD debut two years later, she knew there was still something missing.

It was a move no one could’ve predicted, especially considering that with this same announcement came the news of her next digital single (the SPANK HAPPY cover “Elegant no Kaibutsu”), complete with an edgy blonde look practically made for getting noticed. Unsurprisingly, these two conflicting decisions resulted not only in confusion and uncertainty amongst her fans, but also next to no promotion for the single. By the time it was out, the auditions had long since been over and Pour Lui’s newly-formed idol unit was getting ready to make their first public appearance.

And so, in a somewhat disappointing turn of events, Pour Lui’s solo career came very quietly to its end. Though she may not have fully reached the potential she’d shown as an artist in her own right, fans were lucky not to lose her completely, especially when she’s now so happily participating in the group of her dreams. How could anyone deny her that?

Next time: Nakayama Yukiko, the self-styled prince.

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