It was just a few days ago on March 12 that Morning Musume 14 released their 2nd compilation album called Morning Musume 14 Coupling Compilation 2. It was also on this day that current 11th generation member Sakura Oda of Kanagawa turned 15. They will now hold and audition called Morning Musume 14 Golden Audition in another attempt to recruit new members for the group. People between the ages of 10-17 of any nationality that are not married are eligible to apply. This is really smart on the part of the group’s producer TSUNKU who is attempting to expand the group’s influence and popularity outside of Japan. He explained that as the current members’ skills are increasing, the criteria to select candidates is also getting higher. He is sure that there are many amazing and talented people out there. TSUNKU also explained the reasons behind this new recruiting process. He says that the support of the fans made 2013 a big year for Morning Musume as the group reached the top of the Oricon singles chart three times in a row! In 2014, he expects Morning Musume 14 to take what he called a “great leap forward to enter their golden era.” The candidates that prove to be successful will be introduced at a Morning Musume 14 event this coming fall. They will be taking lessons at this time and they can then join in earnest by 2015. Even if no candidate officially passes the audition, they can select a semi-passed candidate who will then be chosen to take free lessons as a member of Hello! Pro Kenshuusei or training group. The person will also be able to take part in live events. The semi-passed candidate will also be able to be selected as a member of any new Hello! Project groups that may be formed in the future. Last spring while the group was still known as Morning Musume, no one passed the audition for what was to become the group’s 12th generation. It was late in 2013 that TSUNKU announced that he was changing the group’s name to Morning Musume 14 to correspond with the current year. The deadline to apply for the audition is May 11. On January 29, 2014, the group released their first single as Morning Musume 14 called “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa / Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai / What is LOVE?” The group’s name is pronounced Morning Musume one-four and they have been in the music business since 1997. They are second in terms of popularity in Japan compared to AKB48.