generasia:Featured article for 2011 week 42
FLOWER is a Japanese pop group signed to the Sony Music record label. Originally a four member dance unit serving as backup dancers for EXILE, FLOWER has added two more dancers and three vocalists. The new members were selected through a nationwide talent search by LDH titled EXILE Presents VOCAL BATTLE AUDITION 3 ～For Girls～. FLOWER made their debut on October 12, 2011 with the single Still.
In 2009, EXPG (EXILE Professional Gym) recruited four girls to form a new dance unit. The four members, Mizuno Erina (Leader), Fujii Shuuka, Shigetome Manami, and Nakajima Mio became known as FLOWER, and they participated in EXILE PV's in addition to doing modeling work. Most notably, they served as backup dancers during EXILE LIVE TOUR 2010 FANTASY, alongside groups like Happiness and Dream who are also under the LDH agency. Little was actually known about the group when they mysteriously appeared on the LDH website under the category of "Artist".
In February of 2011, it was announced that EXILE would be sponsoring a nationwide talent search, titled EXILE Presents VOCAL BATTLE AUDITION 3 ～For Girls～, specifically aimed at young girls, ages 12-25. Thousands auditioned through three stages of initial screening. In the end, two dancers (otherwise noted as "performers") were selected to join FLOWER. They were Bando Nozomi and Sato Harumi. However, the winners of the Vocalist audition would not be announced until an E-girls show on May 14, 2011 held at SHIBUYA-AX. There, it was announced that Washio Reina, Muto Chiharu, and Ichiki Kyoka would be the vocalists of FLOWER. The new FLOWER performed their audition song, Still, and also revealed that Still would be their debut single.