This article was originally published on April 2011, when there were six members of NEWS. An updated version in the future will be published, reflecting the four remaining members of the group.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7, IT’S BIG NEWS!! News? Wait… Rather than the ‘news’ most people have in mind, let’s try this: NEWS, acronym for North, East, West, and South, representing a Japanese male singing group belonging to the entertainment business called Johnny’s Entertainment.
There we go! Formed in 2003 with nine members, NEWS rooted themselves into the hearts of many to-be fans at the Volleyball World Cup 2003 event with a pre-debut song, “NEWS Nippon” that was used as the theme for it.
Johnny’s Entertainment, or simply Johnny’s, is home to some of the most flowery, sparkly boys one will ever meet. Amongst the many successful groups, there exists a division within the business called Johnny’s Jr., which consists of celebrities-in-training who are part of Johnny’s, but not quite up to the level of releasing their own full-length album. Johnny’s Jr. members form mini-groups, sometimes singing songs, but usually acting as back-up dancers during the live concerts of their many senpai.
Unfortunately, before they released their debut single “Kibou ~Yell~”, NEWS member Moriuchi Takahiro left the group, taking his beautiful voice with him to become the main vocal of the J-Rock band ONE OK ROCK. Later on in 2005, the group lost Uchi Hiroki, both a NEWS and Kanjani8 member, as he was suspended from both groups for underage drinking. About half a year later, Kusano Hironori was also suspended under the same offense.
These two losses put NEWS on hiatus for more or less than a year before they returned once more, flipping that initial number nine over to become a six-man group – Uchi and Kusano both having left the shining stage of Johnny’s, and Takahiro now shining on a different one. Uchi Hiroki came back into the picture during the Johnny’s Countdown 2008-2009, though he was no longer associated with NEWS. As of now, NEWS consists of leader Yamashita Tomohisa and members Nishikido Ryo, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya, Koyama Keiichiro and Kato Shigeaki.
Meeting the Members
Leader – Yamashita Tomohisa
Having starred in many popular dramas and even releasing a few solo singles and, recently, a solo album, Yamashita Tomohisa is a popular celebrity in the entertainment world. He is affectionately called Yamapi, a nickname given to him by his fellow senpai Takizawa Hideaki, a senior idol from the same company, when he was still part of Johnny’s Jr.
Yamapi has been seen to be ‘very friendly’ with actress Kitagawa Keiko, whom he co-starred with in Buzzer Beat. Of course, they claim to be just really good friends. However, to many fans it seems more than just mere friendship, as proven by photos of the two together. Now dealing with love connections, this attractive 26 year old idol has grown to become a man.
Quiet and cool, Nishikido Ryo is able to capture the hearts of many fans with his cute smile and Kansai dialect. He is also a part of Kanjani8, another Johnny’s Entertainment music group. He is often said by his group members to have a ‘poison tongue,’ roughly and bluntly voicing his opinions on everything but the dimples that appear when he smiles are enough to make up for his harsh use of words.
Ryo occasionally writes lyrics and composes songs that would show up as solos in the NEWS albums, rocking it up with his guitar songs “Code” and “Ordinary.” He has been in Johnny’s since a kid, spending a lot of time with Yamapi, so the two are very close friends.
Masuda Takahisa, Massu for short, has a bundle of different interests and hobbies that make him a unique part of NEWS. Massu is often compared to a pig, because of his love for eating and his laid-back, happy-go-lucky appearance. He nearly always has on a bright, simplistic smile that is able to put everyone at ease. Yet, he is quite an able-bodied dancer, having danced many times as part of the backup dancers at his senpai’s concerts when he was a Jr.
Massu has a very unique taste for clothes, and he loves to go clothes shopping…so be on the look-out if you ever visit Japan – Harajuku in particular – for a familiar face that just might be his!
In NEWS, Massu is considered to be the second best singer, after Tegoshi Yuya. His gentle, honey-like voice melts its way into listeners’ hearts, while his hands wave up and down to create soft waves that flow in sync with his song and voice. Although he is sometimes awkward and isn’t often seen at the center of the camera, Massu is a very special member, lovable and…well, lovable.
His partner in Tegomass, Tegoshi Yuya, is the youngest NEWS member with the best vocals in the group, which may have been rivaled by that of Takahiro who left. Having a spoiled prince character, Yuya is very competitive and self-confident. His self-confidence comes with reason though – he is a great athlete (especially when it comes to soccer), a talented singer and has good looks as well.
Yuya is what many consider ‘cute,’ with his face resembling that of a girl’s – but then again, those are the type of boys Johnny’s Entertainment tends to have. Contrary to his looks, Yuya aims to be more mature, as seen by his preferences in style and clothes. Yuya particularly has an interest in skulls, owning a handful of skull accessories and clothes – so many that Massu had jokingly stated it was very different from the cute image Tegomass was supposed to give off.
Koyama Keiichiro is the perky, outgoing member of NEWS; his social skills are very good, often putting him under the spotlight as MC or announcer at live concerts or other Johnny’s events. More recently, he was also given a chance to be a newscaster at an evening news program called News Every. Provided his excellent talking skills, one wouldn’t doubt that he would do a great job at it. Not only is he good with people, he is also kind, reliable and smart; having had graduated from Meiji University. In fact, he received notice of his graduation while on the Never Ending Wonderful Story tour with NEWS through a phone call to his professor during one of the live performances. Overall, his character contributes greatly to the group in maintaining high level of energy.
Lastly, there is Kato Shigeaki, more commonly known just as Shige. He shows up in a few dramas, and is not involved in any music groups other than NEWS. Thus, he does not seem to stand out as much as some of his fellow NEWS members.
He and Koyama often room together during tours, banding together as “Koyashige” to perform fun, silly songs both on stage and behind the scenes.
Shige looks like quite the normal guy, but he has the unique ability to pass as a pretty girl. In disbelief? You might need to look at him dressed as a high school girl in his “Shalala Tambourine” music video to believe so.
Closing It Up
Granted, NEWS may not be as popular as some Johnny’s groups such as Arashi, but they do have their own large fanbase, accumulated from the fans of Tegomass and of Kanjani8, as well as fans of each individual member. The songs sung by NEWS are generally light-hearted, encouraging, discussing topics that range from subjects about love to daily-life fun; topics that are sure to grab the attention of the fans, as all their 13 singles and 4 albums released so far have been number one on the Oricon music charts. Pretty amazing, yeah?
Though most of the lyrics are not written by the original members (with the exception of a few), its messages are well-conveyed through the voices of the six singers, resonating words of comfort or encouragement to the listeners, lightening up their hearts and mind. Starting in 2009, NEWS began their own television show named Soukon, starring Koyama, Shige, Massu, and Tegoshi, and its main purpose is to raise environmental awareness through their show.
In each episode, the members would do activities dealing with running, such as long distance marathons or short sprints. The show itself may sound boring, but it is interesting to see the many different activities they can come up with regarding running.
Their popularity is not only gained from their looks and their songs, but also from their compassionate hearts that reach out to the well-being of everyone and the future. Because of this, fans from all over the world are attracted to this particular group, for their kindness through their songs and their ambition to reach the top, to aim for the stars, to “give & take” their love to the rest of the world.
NEWS in “Fighting Man” (2010)
Countdown TV Special – NEWS Talk & Happy Birthday Medley (2008)