I found a new (for me, they disbanded in 2006) jPop group called “Zone” while browsing Stage 6 (now defunct). They were a manufactured band from Sapporo, of four high school girls. The idea was that this would be a new genre called “Bandol” — band idol; they’d look good, could sing and dance. Apparently they couldn’t play instruments at first but they learned how.
Japan Teen Idol dodgyness to one side, they had great stylists and amazing energy. This feel good pop is what I like about them. They feel much more fun and genuine than the similar English and American manufactured bands like S-Club, Steps, Spice Girls (ゲッ）or the original boy band The Monkees.
The bassist, Maiko, has gone on to be part of a group called Maria,; I must see what they’re like…