Monday, 26 December 2011

My top 15 J-pop tracks of 2011

Again, to be awkward, I have chosen a number to list, that probably no other blogger will.

This year, has been particularly difficult on me, as there has - in my opinion anyway - been a veritable wealth of stunning music, from both within, and outside of the Hello!Project, and again, this is reflected in my countdown. Also, unlike last year, I have only chosen Single tracks, as opposed to album tracks, as I'm sure you aren't interested in reading about nothing but C-ute's album Chou Wonderful 6, and Tokyo Girls Style's first album Kodou no Himitsu. (though this should give you an insight into a fair volume of my top 15)

Like last year, I will start off with some 'honourable mentions' for songs that I really enjoyed, but didn't quite make the list;

First Honourable Mention; S/mileage - Koi no Booing Buu

I really love this song, it's so full of energy, and is fantastically insane. Add the ultra cute pig noses and ears that steadfastly refuse to remain in place, coupled with the girls throwing Katakana around, and you get a great all-in-one package of 4-nin S/mileage goodness.

Second Honourable Mention; Aa Yo ga Akeru - Berryz Koubou

This is a great song, but sadly overshadowed by other great songs, and it's a shame it didn't get into the top 15, but there as a better Berryz song that did, so don't despair too much!
I liked the outfits, and location, and the song has a great 70's feel to it - especially if you have a good sound system, there is some good bass in there!

Third Honourable mention; Sayonara, Arigatou - Tokyo Girls Style

Tokyo Girls Style first caught my attention around the end of 2010, but hadn't really caught it enough back then to have a song in my top 15 of last year, but has I realised earlier, then both Kirari and Himawari to Hoshikuzu would have been quite far up my rankings!
This song is a beautiful ballad, and very long. Showcasing the amazing vocal talent of my personal favourite Konishi Ayano to brilliant effect. Keep an eye on this group, they will be going places!


O.K. Now it's time for my countdown in earnest to begin. Alot of you may disagree with me on many points, but it's my countdown, so I get to decide what goes where! Comment/moan/agree/disagee at the bottom, in the comments please.

In 15th Place; Hapi Rapi Sunrise - Kikkawa Yuu

Kikkawa Yuu debuted earlier this year, and this is her second single under the Universal Japan banner, and it's a very catchy number indeed. While she isn't my favourite idol, she is a fantastic singer, and extremely good live too. I hope she can get the fanbase she deserves.
Sadly, I can only find a short version of the PV, so enjoy Kikka and some crappy cars :P

In 14th Place; Please Mini Skirt Postwoman - S/mileage

If this single had been released earlier in they year, I'm sure it would have been alot higher in my chart. Yuuka Maeda's final song is a brilliantly catchy, and insanely cutesy one, and (happily for me) contains a fair chunk of Meimi Tamura singing.
The PV is very bright, and fun, and I am happy that Post Sakichii S/mileage is still able to deliver really good songs.

In 13th Place; Liar - Tokyo Girls Style

This is the latest song by Tokyo Girls Style, and again, as soon as I heard it, I was blown away once again, by the style and maturity of this single, and PV.
This maturity has seen some fans of their early work lose interest in the group, but for me, it has just given me a taste of what this group will be capable of in a couple of years, and with the spending power of Avex behind them, I expect big things of them

In 12th Place; Heroine ni Narou Ka! - Berryz Koubou

It took a while for me to get into this song, to be honest, and I'm a bit sad that is did - as it is an extremely good song, now I've been able to look past the Lady Gaga wannabe PV.
I really don't understand everyones obsession (especially in Japan) with her, but then again, it shouldn't make me miss out on a good song, so now it no longer does!
Sorry to all the Berryz fans out there, but this is as high as they managed this year. I hope for some true awesome next year!

In 11th Place; Love Like Candy Floss - Tokyo Girls Style

Yes, they are back again in my top 15 (get used to it, this isn't the last we'll hear of them) and it is testament to them (or to my current taste) that they managed to rank over Berryz Koubou, with what is basically a cover version of an old Sweets song, but they did, and they have.
This was their first single of 2011, and was the song that pulled me into serious fandom of them.
Sweets were also an Avex Idol group, and TGS are the first major Idol group Avex have done since Sweets disbanded, and so I guess it stands to reason that they get a go at the older groups music, and they do a damned good job of it too!

In 10th Place; Sekai Ich HAPPY na Onna no Ko - C-ute

Oh look, I get into the top 10 before mentioning C-ute! What's going on, have I lost interest? Not a bit of it! It's just they were SO GOOD this year, nothing was bad enough to be outside my top 10, so prepare yourself for more. Don't worry - it's a good thing! This song is extremely energetic, AWESOME live (I saw it performed live at least 12 times during this years trip to Japan), and personally, I love the outfits, dance, and the song its self.

In 9th Place; Only You - Morning Musume。

I'm not really much of a Morning Musume。 fan, compared to the other H!P groups, but Only You was, in my opinion, one of the best songs of 2011, and possibly one of MM's better tracks ever.
The PV is really pretty, and the song showed Rihoriho's awesome vocals off very well.
I can still listen to this song on repeat - which is one of the main criteria for getting into this top 15 - I listen to a HELL of a lot of music.

In 8th Place; Momoiro Sparkling - C-ute

A brilliant song, full of feel-good summer vibes, and the members look absoultely gorgeous in the PV.
Again, C-ute really can energise me with the songs they are putting out at the moment. If you want to hear a fantastic album, check out Chou Wonderful 6 - every song is utterly fantastic, and this is the 2nd best single of C-ute's, of 2011, for me.

In 7th Place; Tachiagaaru - S/mileage

The first song by S/mileage after Sakichii (my former No1 member) resigned, was most likely to have been a disaster for me, but thankfully I was able to adapt to their new style, and find a new member to follow.
I loved this track from the first listen, and have several hundred listens under my belt.
The PV is fantastically bright and colourful, and I love the dance routine!

In 6th Place; Oh My Ghost? ~ Watashi ga Akuryou ni Nattemo ~ - Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku

This song became a firm favourite from the minute I heard it too, and the PV is as insane as the song, if not more so.
EbiChu (as they are also known) have never failed to bring out a great song, and their PV's have always gone that extra mile this year.
Being a song about Ghost Stories, intertwined with EbiChu's own style of madness makes for an unforgettable experience!

In 5th Place; Kodou No Himitsu - Tokyo Girls Style

The absolutely incredible follow up single to Love Like Candyfloss (and double A-side with the previously mentioned Sayonara, Arigatou) was also to be the title track of their album, and was released only 2 weeks after the album was.
The PV is a work of artistic genius, coupling a dance filmed in slow motion, and sped up for the song itsself, with incredible Gothic Lolita style outfits, and in a unique 'museum pice' style environment, and mashed up with wonderful CGI, to make for one of the best PV's I have seen in a long time (until another TGS song came out!)

In 4th Place; Uchouten Love - S/mileage

The very last song Sakichii was is, was also S/mileage's crowning achievment of the year, for me. Unlike last year, they haven't hit the No1 spot, but since last years winner, Yume Miru 15 Sai was an absolute knockout (and is now probably my No2 song of all time, and is the ONLY song from last year that I still play very frequently indeed (at least 2 - 3 times per day STILL), it'll take a lot of beating indeed!
But Uchouten Love is a wonderful song. Done in the Para Para style, and with a beautiful PV (ok, it's still your generic H!P PV, but sometimes they fit the song brilliantly), full of great interaction between the members, and quite a lot of subtle humour, it still manages to bring S/mileage into the Top 5, despite some serious competition.

In 3rd Place; Limited Addiction - Tokyo Girls Style

When Kodou no Himitsu came out, I honestly thought TGS had reached a pinnacle that couldn't be surpassed, but when they brought out this, their next single, it knocked the brilliant Kodou into a cocked hat.
The artistic direction of the PV is beyond words, and the song itsself is breathtaking.
Again, the PV divided the fans, with some (westerners mostly, surprise surprise) commenting on the age of the members Vs. the maturity of the PV, but for me, it's a beautiful pice of art.
The song has a very unique sound, which really sets it apart from alot of other music out there. It's one reason I love TGS so much.
I have a feeling that when C-ute finally disband, I have found my next big obsession!

In 2nd Place; Doki Doki Morning - Babymetal

Babymetal isn't a full Idol group in reality, but is a sub-unit of Sakura Gakuin, and technically the song was written in 2010, but the single came out in DVD form this October (the day I saw them in concert actually - and bought a couple of copies for myself), so it gets through on a technicality, and it gets through all the way into 2nd place!
I come from a Heavy Metal background, and when I heard this song for the first time, I was stunned that Idol music could be so heavy!
I have enjoyed listening to Buono! for years now, but they are just rock music in comparison to the full on metal that is Doki Doki Morning.
Also, this song briefly found fame in the west somehow, garnering both love and hate from the Metal community there, but I'm glad to say I heard it before them, lol! :D

So, after a very long list indeed, we finally reach the Number One position. This year, it wasn't very hard to choose a Number One song, as for me, one song stood out from the crowd by a clear margin - despite 2011 being a year of awesome music.

In 1st Place; Kiss Me Aishiteru - C-ute

They didn't manage it last year, due to extremely strong competition by S/mileage and Momoiro Clover (who you may have noticed don't have a single song this year in my top 15), but this year, I was utterly utterly blown away by the quality that was C-ute's first single of 2011.
The way the song starts, told me that they were in with a winner. After the first few seconds, I was left with a grin from ear to ear. C-ute were in a strong position again, after the weaker songs of the 5th album. The 6th album was shaping up nicely. First, Dance de Bakoon, then Aitai Lonely Christmas had left me hoping for a strong follow-up, and I was not disappointed.
Then the PV was released, (I'd heard a concert rip of the song first), and after the talk of the outfits they were wearing, I was really looking forward to it, and again, the whole PV left me breathless.
OK, so the balloon thing had been done the previous year by Morning Musume。, but this time it was C-ute, and they were doing it with more interesting angles, and some damned fine camera work.
Add in the apple, the chair, the STUNNING gold & purple putfits and those gorgeous eskuche 33 1/3 Headphones, and it makes, for me, a PV made in heaven.

So there we have it. People may wonder why there is no AKB48 (or their sister groups/sub-groups), but since Beginner, my interest in them dropped off fairly sharply. Not really through any fault of their own, but as my interest in Tokyo Girls Style, Sakura Gakuin and EbiChu grew, something had to give, and it was the other non H!P groups who suffered most, namely AKB48 and Momoiro Clover.
It didn't help that Momoiro Clover had just lost Akari, who suddenly decided to quit, citing her (apparent) unpopularity - but after that, they had lost a large amount of their dynamic, in my opinion, and they went through a patch of averageness, in my eyes (and a name change) - which after the blindingly good songs leading up to Pinky Jones, damaged their interest for me, and AKB48 have always been a minority interest group for me anyway.
I guess I just like the less popular Idols. I used to prefer the less popular rock bands too, always have. I hated Arena concerts - and avoided them for years, only ever going to 2 (Rammstein & Duran Duran - not strictly rock though, lol) in 14 years, and well over 100 shows of concert going , preferring more intimate gigs, where I can get closer to the front.

So anyway, there you have it. C-ute are on top again! They have a new album out in February, and my favourite Idol of all (Okai Chisato) has a solo song on it, which I am looking forward to immensely, and also, Tokyo Girls Style have a new album out in March, and I'm looking forward to that immensely too!

Friday, 26 August 2011

A lesson in coping with change and loss - or how I learned to re-love S/mileage in 48 hours

If you know me at all, you will know that Sakichii is my S/mileage oshimen, and has been for over a year now. At first, Kanyon was, but something happened to my interest in her when she cut her hair off after "Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!!" - this may seem odd to many people, but for me, the visual appearance of an Idol is a large part of their appeal. In an Idol, I appreciate cuteness, and prettiness, and if that is missing, then it will affect my interest in someone - but anyway, I have followed her ever since I sent my photograph into the 10000 smile challenge, and this interested continued - and grew - with my visit to Japan last October/November, when I followed their Angel Smile Devil Smile tour, attending 5 shows, and where I finally got to meet her, at a handshake event at the Pony Canyon building, then again, at the group handshake, at Books Fukuya.
I loved this girl, she was funny, cute, and by far the best singer in the group. The world was going to be her oyster, eventually, and better than that, Chisato likes her! If she's good enough for Chisato, then she's good enough for me!
Little did I know, things were afoot that were to royally screw things up for me, for a while;

I had just finished a day at work, and was preparing to do my part in TKMR's podcast 'Konya mo TKMR', when somebody posted a link in the Hyakupa IRC channel, showing a screenshot from Oha Star, with a teaser for the replacement for Sakichii.
I'd known - or thought I had - for a while, that the tenure of the Oha Girls is a short one, and that they come and go, like so many Kids TV presenters, so this was something I had been expecting for a while, so thought nothing of it.

In a way, I was happy, as she could now focus more time on S/mileage, which for me, is a much more important thing for her to be doing, especially since with the coming of the 2nd gen girls, which to me, was a bad idea - little did I know the reasoning behind the whole thing.
It was about 10 minutes later, that turbos86 (I think it was), posted a link to the S/mileage official website, which as far as I knew, was advertising some event, but then posted a sentence that was to change the entire atmosphere of the evening, and more importantly to me, my fandom.
He said "Sakichii is quitting H!P" (or words to that effect)
Suffice to say, that one sentence, so simple in form, had the same effect on me, as a mallet does on a cracked glass.
I say a cracked glass, as this metaphor describes my (at that point), feelings about S/mileage - and this is why;
The announcement of the auditions for the second gen, had much the same affect on me, as it had on S/mileage themselves, mixing sadness, disbelief, and confusion (I remember seeing shaking heads, tears, and looks of surprise on the girls when this was announced). Why a second gen? Things had been going so well. OK, the last 2 singles hadn't been great sellers, but then again, they were hardly great singles, but you can't lay the blame for that at the feet of the girls, surely that's the writers problems?
The shock of the auditions, had given way to excitement by the final round - I'd seen who had got through, and knew for certain, that Miyamoto Karin MUST have got in. She was the most professional, the best singer, the best dancer, and by FAR the cutest person in the auditions, so she HAD to win.
S/mileage was about to get BETTER! This was going to be AWESOME!
Then the announcements of the winners came around. Of all the people in the auditions, they picked the worst of the bunch - except for Meimi, who I had hoped would get in as a trainee. This was what cracked the glass of my S/mileage fandom.
So for my favourite member, to be suddenly leaving, and not just 'graduating at the end of the next tour', but just quitting, in 3 days - well, the glass was shattered.
That was it, there was nothing for me now, how could she just go? What am I going to do?
All these thoughts went through my head, and the next hour or so, was one of numbness. I had suddenly lost my S/mileage fandom - all that was left were memories of 'the good old days'.
Should I now start following Tokyo Girls Style more? After all, they are also of the same age, and in a way, rivals to S/mileage, plus I really like them, so it's the logical step.
After an hour or two, the TKMR guys and I started our podcast, and so I got to hear everyone elses viewpoints, and what with Saki's thread on H!O suddenly coming alive at the news - I got to hear many different angles over the next day or so.
At this point, I'd like to point something out. I know it means nothing in truth, but recently, someone posted that they were sad that Saki's thread kept dieing, and that they 'wished it would see more activity' - all i can say there is - BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
And so, over the next 24 hours, I tried to come to terms with losing a big part of my life. I had read Saki's own blog posts about why she was going, I'd read Tsunku's post, and so the big picture seemed to be coming to light.
It appears that (if what they said was true) the second gen auditions came about as a direct effect of Saki wanting to leave.
According to alot of people, Saki wasn't that popular, compared to the others. I didn't see it myself, but then again, I did look at her through rose tinted glasses, so maybe I was unable to see it?

So, Saki - for whatever reason - decides that she has had enough of the Idol life, and so discusses it with management, who then decide that S/mileage isn't 3some material, so they need new members. Cue the auditions, and the management chose the girls they did.
I'm sure they had a reason to keep Karin out - I'm hoping it's because they see her potential can be increased in a different group, in the future.
After about 40 hours (or just before work today), I began to think along different lines. I still loved the old S/mileage songs, and didn't want to feel sadness at Saki's decisions. I follow her, I should respect what she wants, not be angry at some selfish desire to see her just once more, and if she does want out, I should be happy for her. she gets a real life back again. Good on her!
Then the final piece of my mental jigsaw fell into place, and it was this;
My favourite group is C-ute.
They were once 7 members.
Then, a 'second gen' member was brought in, called Arihara Kanna.
If I had been following C-ute since their origins, instead of becoming a fan at around the same time as they were releasing their 4th album, then I may have had some bad thoughts about this at the time.
THEN - Murakami Megumi (oddly, the best singer) quits/is kicked out. WHATEVER!!! She goes.
This is a similar circumstance to Saki's; She did one album before leaving, she was the best singer, she 'wanted to lead a normal life again'
So, I should look at C-ute for my answers. They got better and better (then a little worse, then better again), without Megumi - and their 2nd gen member became one of my favourites in the group, so why was I moping about, as if the world had ended, I'd grown a fringe over one eye, and stapled my hand to my forehead?
After all, I'm not an Emo, I'm a WOTA! I enjoy happiness, and that hapiness revolves around the music of my favourite groups, and the members of those groups!
I may have lost Saki, but I haven't lost Kanyon - or Yuukarin or Ayacho! So STOP MOPING, AND LOVE S/MILEAGE!
Ahh... now I DO have a dichotomy... do I start following Kanyon again, or do I increase my interest in Ayacho (who I really do like), or do I get more interest in Meimi?
Now my positivity is back, I'm all excited about the future of S/mileage. Yes, my S/mile has returned! I will miss you Sakichii, but you will always have a home in my heart.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Where does time go?

It seems like only yesterday that I last updated this blog...

Oh hang on, my nose seems to be growing.

It's been way too long since I last blogged on here!

Apart from my big post on New Years Day reviewing the previous years songs, I have neglected my poor blog, like an unwanted Egg....

It also seems that I didn't even do a proper post about my trip to Japan last year. Well, to be honest, I did a HUGE blog post, just not here.... I did it in person, as it happened, on my YouTube channel, as a Video Blog.

This is the first video, of well over 100. I'm not even IN Japan at this point, but standing on a freezing cold rail platform, at the start of a long, long journey.

Since then, I have come back, and am currently saving hard for my second trip - which starts in October, again. This time, I am going on my own (as things stand), and am basing my trip around the combined C-ute & Berryz 工房 tour that is going to take place.

Berryz Kamen Vs Cutie Ranger Pt2? Hell yes!! I'm also there for the S/mileage Osaka show (currently the final, but these things change, as we found out last year, when they added the Yokohama shows to the tour) - so will be one of only a handful of gaijin wota to have seen S/mileage live as both a 4人 and (probably) 5人 group - as long as I can get a ticket that is!! I arrive the day before the concert, and will be rushing around sorting out rail passes, Shinkansen journeys, and hopefully I will have got one of my awesome friends in Japan to have grabbed me a ticket in advance, to take one worry off my mind!

Another thing that happened this year, that for me was awesome, was that I wrote in to NHK Worldwide, for an English Language show they were having called Intl' Afterschool - where they had C-ute as the main guests, and some Japanese American guy hosting it (who can't say the word "Harrods" correctly *le sigh*).

Guys were asked to describe to C-ute what they would do if they were to take a member (or the entire group, for the greedy ones I guess!) on a Date. Well my answer was a bit vanilla, and to be honest, wrong, but hey, it got read out, and I got more of a response than I expected! Watch and enjoy (I know I do!)

So yeah... Chisato promised on TV to go on a date with me! Result!

In fact, when I get back to Japan, this October, I am hoping to attend the Cutie Circuit show - that was conveniently moved back from 10th Sept (C-ute Day), to the 10th of Oct (New C-ute Day, I guess), a.k.a. 3 days AFTER I arrive!
I know that at the Cutie Circuit shows, they have a handshake event as part of it, and my good friend Maoh~san is pulling out all the stops to get me a ticket (I love this guy! He is truly my hero) - and he will translate for me at the handshake if I need it, and I'm sure I will - where I may just remind her of who I am, and of her promise to me :P

Anyway, in other News, I have recently been really getting into the Avex Idol group, Tokyo Girls Style. I KNOW for sure, that they will appear in next years top 10 or 20 songs countdown (yes, when I next update my blog.. :P ) and for now, I leave you with the beautiful video for their upcoming song, Limited Addiction.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

My top 15 tracks of 2010

Now the calendar has flipped over to 2011, it's time for me to jump on the bandwagon that every other J-pop blogger seems to do, and put out an update where I tell you all my particular favourite songs of the past year, normally with YouTube links embedded for extra prettiness, and to point out just how awesome these tracks are.

Well, I better not disappoint (even though at least one of my tracks isn't a single track, but an album track, and so a live version may have to be found)

This has been a very interesting year, in my opinion, with good and, well, not so good tracks being brough out by several groups, and it has also seen a bit of a shuffle in my favourite groups, with one or two newcomers elbowing their way into my listings.

Before launching into my countdown, I will first give a few honorable mentions.

First honourable mention;

AKB48 - Heavy Rotation

This track is a typical release from the AKB stable (please, no horse jokes), combining a good song, with a saucy video. Even if you don't like the group, OR the song, it has to get a thumbs up for the pure quantity of lingerie clad ladies in the video!

Second honourable mention;

Morning Musume - Moonlight Night ~Tsukiyo no Ban da yo~

This is the first of my Album tracks to get into my list, and is a stunning, fast paced and fairly heavy track. I had to root around for a live performance of this, as there is no video for it - but it's great live (I saw it in Paris, so I know!), but this version from the Genki Piki Pika tour has much better production. Enjoy!

Third honourable mention;

Berryz Koubou - Shining Power

This was to be the last single by Berryz for 2010, and was a great end to the year for them. This song gave Yurina the chance to be the focus (and doesn't she look stunning!)

Right, now it's time for me to start my countdown in earnest.

Seriously, this was very hard for me to do, originally I intended to make this a top 10, but really couldn't leave out any of the tracks included, as I felt they needed to be there.
For those who know me, you may be a bit surprised at the outcome, but truly, this is how it ended up.

In 15th Place;

Mano Erina - Haru no Arashi

This is the first Mano song to really catch my attention. Before this, I thought she was an average soloist - albeit a very attractive one - but average, song wise.
Her stuff was always listenable, but ultimately, best for going to sleep listening to (and I did use it to put me to sleep for a while!).
This song, however, is relaxed, while also having the elusive spark her previous releases were missing, and probably made me into a bit of a fan.

In 14th Place;

Berryz Koubou - Maji Bomber

A truly rocking song from Berryz Koubou, and I was surprised it did as badly as it did in the Oricon. The only reason it didn't get higher on MY chart, was due to the high level of quality of releases it had to fight against. A good summer song, from my 2nd favourite group!

In 13th Place;

Momoiro Clover - Coco*Natsu

Momoiro Clover are a relatively new group to me, as I only really got into them while I was in Japan this autumn - yes, I will eventually get around to blogging about it here - but check out my YouTube page for my Video Blog about it.
Anyway, this is actually a B-side - but unlike Hello!Project, the creators of this group (Stardust Promotion Agency) go the extra mile, and have made PV's for all 3 of the tracks from the Pinky Jones single.
An extremely fun summer song, with a very silly video (with some fairly dodgy suggestiveness - a trait Momoclo are getting it seems), and so catchy!

co-co-co-co-co-co-co-co-co-co co natsu! woo!

In 12th Place;

C-ute - Shock

The first single of 2010 by my No.1 group - and it was basically an Airi solo, with some backing vocals by the other 4 members.
Because of this it got alot of slating by fans of the other members (I am actually primarily a Chisato fan - and was disappointed to see her once again pushed towards the back - and her solo version is not fun for me to watch, as she hardly sings anything, and looks unhappy), but it is actually, in my opinion, a very good song.
I can listen to it over and over (and did - 1485 plays on iTunes, in 2010), and so it lands in my list. Very good, but once again overshadowed.

In 11th Place;

Morning Musume - Onna to Okoto no Lullaby Game

This was to be Kamei Eri, Jun Jun and Lin Lin's final single with Morning Musume, and what a sending off they got!
The almost arabic sound to this song made it a very 'interesting' song at first, for me, but it soon grew on me, and the PV is very good too, the dance is, erm, interesting, with the "point at our nipples then do a very wierd body swing and head jerk" thing going on. Don't they look beautiful though?

In 10th Place;

Ogawa Mana - Hitoribocchi no Watashi

Nudging into the top 10 of this last year, is what may be one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Ogamana is an extremely talented singer with Nice Girl Project (for those who don't know), being both a member of Canary Club, and a soloist, and doing Anime songs as well.
This song leaves me speechless everytime I listen, as well as leaving a tear in my eye too. If you only watch one of these clips - make it this one!

In 9th Place;

Mano Erina - Genkimono de Ikou!

I earlier mentioned that Haru no Arashi was the song that made me notice Mano as a decent artist.
This was the song that proved it to me. A really upbeat song, with a video that is 100% insanity, and a complete change from your everyday H!P video make this a firm favourite of the year.

In 8th Place;

S/mileage - Onaji Jikyuu de Hataraku Tomodachi no Bijin mama

The (at this time) latest single by S/mileage, and hopefully the last of the insanely long - and impossible to remember - titles, is a fast paced, rock song, with the trademark cuteness of S/mileage, and the added touch of a cameo appearance of ex-Morning Musume & W member, Nozomi Tsuji.
S/mileage have fast become one of my favourite groups, and I can also report they are awesome live!!!

In 7th Place;

C-ute - Aitai Lonely Christmas

My favourite group once again pulled a blinder, by finally giving me a Christmas song I love to listen to over and over, complete with a video that is just purely perfect for the song (Chisato looks especially stunning in it too!)
A sad song, but it certainly made the grade as far as I'm concerned!

In 6th Place;

Sugaya Risako - Elegant Girl

This is a song made for the Anime "Mecha Mote Iincho", and Risako voices the part of Himuru Ibu, and this is her song.
From the second I heard it, I knew it'd be awesome - I love the sound of a Spinet or Harpsichord, and the music is based around that sound (I expect as they are an elegant sounding instrument, and Ibu-sama is meant to be an elegant, if snooty, girl (hence the title))
A really catchy song, and Risako looks mind blowingly beautiful in the video - if a little pouty.

In 5th Place;

Berryz Koubou - Tomodachi wa, Tomodachi Nanda

One of my all time favourites by Berryz, this is a happy, summer song, and I really love the video - Captain looks particularly magnificent in it, possibly at her best!
I like the cheerfulness of the song, and like that all the girls get solo lines in it.

In 4th Place;

Morning Musume - Ooki Hitomi

Oddly, apart from one, all my Morning Musume favourites have been album tracks, rather than singles, and this is my highest ranking song by Morning Musume this year.
I love the autotuned style of Sayumi's voice, and how it rivals the pure singing talents of Eri and Reina (I don't mean Sayumi can't sing, so don't get all bitchy on comments, lol, she's my 2nd favourite Musume after all!)
The song is massively catchy, and has a great disco style, and I can (and often do) play it on repeat for several plays.
As it didn't have an official video, I had to find another concert version, but again, it's a good one! Genki Pika Pika was a good show!

We now reach the top 3 songs of 2010, and for me, these 3 were the only easy part of the list. They stand head and shoulders above the others (like Yurina, standing with Momo, Captain, Chisa and Karin)

In 3rd Place;

C-ute - Dance de Bakoon

Ahh, I love the smell of Bakoon in the morning! I also love the sound of C-ute in the morning, so what better way to start my top 3, than with C-ute's dance song of the year, Dance de Bakoon!
Awesome song, and an even better dance! Who can resist Chisabutt! not I :P
Also, this was the song that heralded a strong change in Chisato's standing within the H!P community, her solo 'home dancing' version of the video is the most viewed H!P video by a huge ammount - having just under 900,000 views (at time of writing).
This huge viewing figure has now paved the way for more videos for her, and two solo concerts. Finally, people are waking up to this girls amazing talents!

In 2nd Place;

Momoiro Clover - Pinky Jones

Sadly, the full on awesomeness of this video is unavailable, as I cannot find a version with the 2 minute introduction included, but those who have the CD (limited A) will agree, the extra bit makes it even better!
The acting ability of Momoclo is awful - which makes it even better (and Momoka - my favourite, in green - is awful at sports) - and the whole scenario is silly, but the song is completely addictive, and I will think nothing of repeating this song for an hour or more, it never fails to bring a smile to my face.
I can see this group being a serious contender to H!P groups (and they did battle against Berryz Koubou's 'Shining Power' with this track - and it was very close indeed.

Chappa Chappa!

So, we come to the final spot. Will it be held by C-ute, My favourite group? Will it be some obscure group no one has heard of? or will my visit to the AKB Theatre, along with the live rendition of Beginner by ALL OF Team A have finally swayed me that way?

No, is the answer. My favourite group have been beaten into third place this year, and all it took, is a bunch of young upstarts to do it.

With just under 1200 plays since it was released on 26th May, averaging 5.4 plays every day.... this years song of the year, is.....

S/mileage - Yume Miru 15 Sai

This song blew me away the day it was released, being a very different song style to the previous 4 S/mileage songs.
It was their Major Debut song, and before its release, I didn't think anything could knock aMa no Jaku off the pedastal of No.1 S/mileage track. Then this came out, and did just that.
I love everything about this song, from the outfits, to the twinkly, dangly things. They all fit the song perfectly.
It is still my No.1 S/mileage song, and also my Number 1 song of 2010!

There you go, I guess you didn't expect C-ute to be No.3... or for Momoiro Clover to get anywhere, lol, but hey - if it's a good song, I listen to it.
I wish I had more space and time, to make an even bigger selection of songs, there was Lilpri too, that should have got in there, and the C-ute Musical theme song, gah, so much good stuff in one year!

Lets hope that 2011 brings an even better selection, and that my choices next year are even harder.

Happy New year everyone! Feel free to comment on my choices.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

MM in Paris, part three

Well, while I was queueing up overnight for a 'first come first served' autograph session, I started to do the 3rd in my Paris Japan Expo blog updates, but ran out of internet access before I could finish it, but I did save it, so here it is, unedited...;

"Well, today was the day of the concert, and it was fucking awesome.

I'll get to that later, first, a bit of the run up to it.

I set off from my fathers house at midnight, to get to the FNAC signing, for around 4am, which should have been enough time to guarantee a spot for myself at the very first signing session in Europe.
As it was, after a fun night of queueing, meeting many friends like Dran, Laa'Kea, .Brian and Chibilolli - all from H!O, It finally came time to go in for the signing.

I got down into the shop, and bought my CD (A copy of Kimagure Princess - for 11€), and was then told that the signing tickets had run out! I was understandably livid!!!

Anyway, I didn't get to the Expo yesterday, so today was my next chance for a signature...and yep, I failed again, ffs.

For the first time, I met Blu-Cherri outside the H!P stall, who had been frantically looking for other H!O members, and so she tagged along with us for the rest of the day, and we headed over to the signing first - to see our good friend GinaRAWR get her first signature (she was the only one of out intepid band to get a winning ticket) and so, during the signing, a gap in the queue for Aika appeared, so I shouted Aika's name out, as she was right infront of me, and doing nothing, so I blew her a kiss, and she made a gesture of snatching it out the air, and putting it to her lips, so I pretended to faint, which made her laugh.

I hope to do a repeat of the event, today but while actually being signed - she will remember me!

So after the signing event, we headed over to queue up for the concert, after gathering up Maoh-san, our good friend from Japan, who came to Eurowota, and there we sat in the boiling sun for a good hour or two....but it turned to rain and thunder, which was actually a blessed relief, as the heat was very opressive!

The security guard opened the door to the concert hall a couple of times, which drove the crowd wild, as Momusu were warming up in there, and other in-queue stuff happened, including a couple of Japanese Wota who were selling photocards in the queue - I couldn't resist a couple of Chisato, a couple of Miyabi, and a Momo card...

Also, Blu-Cherri showed off her dancing skills, to Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance, and Jankenpyon - she rocks at the dancing!!"

That's as far as I got - so I'll briefly sum up the concert again, then get on to a bit more about that & the following day.


When we finally got in to the concert, I managed to get a spot around 7 rows back, with Dran, Maoh, Blu-Cherri and -Kitsune-, and we got all glow-sticked up, and the girls came on.

They sang alot, danced alot, and to be honest, I can't remember what songs they did - except that they started off with Moonlight Night. The rest of the concert was a blur of beautiful faces, chants, glowstick waving, jumping up and down, and sweating alot - all while feeling very light-headed and euphoric.

If this is what it's to be like at an H!P concert, then it's a drug I was instantly addicted to! God knows how the REAL events in Japan will take me!

It's funny, looking back to that night of queueing, how excited I was about getting an autograph, and how that excitement was to be dashed, as the full night of queueing was screwed over by badly timed bad weather, and the inability of people to have a scrap of courtesy.

The rain came down while we queued, and came down hard. Several people left the line to stand under the canopy at the entrance to the Expo hall, and these people weren't the first to have arrived, but the security people let them in, in front of us, and it went downhill from there. The VIP ticket holders had got in 1/2 an hour before us, and virtually cleared out all of the 150 tickets for the signing, and so I had no chance, as I'm English. So I queue. I'm good at it, I'm even bred for it, some would say.

I'm not bred to be rude, pushy and aggressive - sometime I wish I was, but anyway, water under the bridge, etc.... I don't really care that I didn't get a signature, as I actually managed (along with Dran, Nimrod, -Kitsune- and Mnhuik from H!O) to bump into Morning Musume, just outside the Trocadero Metro Station, overlooking the Eiffel Tower

Yep, I know these pics have been bandied about a bit already, but they were from MY camera, so I'm going to put them up for myself - two not very well taken pics of some of the MM girls as I saw them...

We stayed well back, and tried to not interfere too much with their visit, but when Reina noticed Nimrod's tattoo of herself on his arm, she got excited, and took a photo of it (which later appeared on her blog - the lucky fella!), and a few of the other girls took pics of us with their phones, sadly none of these have yet come to light.

I got to catch Aika's attention again, and once more blew her a kiss, which she caught, and ate, then she blew one back! She blew it in a slightly different direction though, so I ran after it, and caught it, and ate it myself - before joke fainting again :D

As they were leaving, the staff came over to us, and asked us if we wanted to be in a photograph with the girls (like we'd refuse!!) and so we lined up with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, and the girls in a line infront of us, and we all gave peace signs to the camera, while they took a couple of pictures - and they also videoed it, so I am hoping against hope for a DVD to come out - even if it's only a FC DVD (I have friends in the FC - I'll get a copy if it comes into existence!!)

Nimrod snapped this awesome pic of me blowing my kiss to Aika, as she spots me doing it, and waves. So sweet!!

Well, there may be a 4th update, there may not - I've pretty much said it all, apart from complaints about certain aspects, but I really don't want to spoil my memories by remembering the bad things.

I'll sign off by thanking all my friends for making it a memorable event - that's friends both old & new - you all rock my world!

peace out!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

MM in Paris, part two.

I finally got to my fathers house, and spent a couple of days recuperating, and getting ready for my night time trip to Paris, to get to the FNAC store, as early as possible, so I can queue up for the autograph session there.

Well, tonight is THAT night, and so I have packed, and it's time for the 3rd of my 4 different transports of delight, that are to take me to see the glorious Morning Musume in the flesh for the first time.

Here is my next mode of transport, loaded up, apart from my huge rucksack, that will complete the ensemble.

It's gonna take me around 4 hours to get to Paris, I think, and I hope all goes well - strange country, wrong side of the road, night time etc...

And the worst thing happened, one of my headphones broke, so I will only have music in one ear - nooooo!!!!!!

Hey ho, I'll update again soon (maybe from the queue if there is WI-FI available outside the store, but i doubt it.

Monday, 28 June 2010

MM in Paris, part one.

Ok, I know MM aren't even in Paris yet, so why am I blogging about it already?

Do I have some kind of amazing time machine I used to skip ahead and tell you how the concert went?


(By the way, the surprise guest was Tsunku, and he even danced on stage with MM, and did some of his backing vocals live, and an old Sharan Q number, can't remember which one, but refused all requests for autographs.
Also, if Chibilolli EVER does that to Gaki again, I think she'll be getting a restraining order :P )

Seriously, I'm blogging now, because my journey to Paris is an epic quest ranging across half of England, and half of France, using 4 different forms of transport, all very (well, a bit) different, all for the chance of seeing Morning Musume live!

It all started the day the tickets were to be sold online, I had stayed up all night, to guarantee I could get one for myself, and shortly before buying it, I booked my flight with EasyJet (only £70 return from Liverpool), and had organised hotels, and then the tickets became available, and I leapt on them like, erm, like, well, like a wota after a Morning Musume ticket.

Only about an hour after I got my ticket, my father came online, so I spoke to him in MSN (He lives in France) and he said he'd been trying to get hold of me, because he was bidding on a van on eBay, and could I bring it down to him, and he'd pay all my costs.

Yeah, you guessed, I didn't realise until the next day, that my airline ticket wsn't refundable after 24hrs, so I was left with a flight that wasn't needed, and a wasted £80 inc insurance.

So, to cut a long story short (too late!!) I am now driving this van for him, still all expenses paid, and it now has my motorbike in the back, for me to go to Paris on, and my ferry out is a Fast Ferry, and it's a normal one back (or maybe the Channel Tunnel, I haven't bought my return ticket yet)

Anyway, here is the battle bus in all it's glory, on the carpark of the Cathedral of despair I am writing this from;

Yes, I am mad....yes that is a 16 year old Window Licker bus, converted into a motorhome....and yes, I am driving it all the way to Flers in France.


I'll update when I get to my Fathers house - sayonara!!