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!


  1. Nice countdown! I didn't have any H!P in mine this year but S/mileage probably would have been the only ones who made it if I did.

    I love TGS this year, they've been amazing! <3 Can't wait to see what they do next year!

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  3. surprised at the lack of momoclo, i have been getting more into them as they are clearly mental, they love performing and it shows and the stage shows are getting quite frankly bizarre, just got the Yomuriland summer concert and it was concert of the year for me. Also found out the Marty Friedman played on thier Xmas day show at Saitama Super Arena.
    i cant get into Tokyo Girls Style myself, the music is great, they dance superbly and the PV's are gorgeous but there is something missing for me.
    not going to do a top 10 as my favourites seem to change daily though i expect a good quantity of Scandal would be there if i did, Okay they are not idol music but they are damn good.

  4. its time for a Top 15 J-Pop tracks 2012, or a new blog entry (from your trip in japan at the moment) ;)