My Top Songs of 2012 – Honorable Mentions

When deciding to make a top songs list, I initially thought I’d do 10. Then it expanded to 25, and I had even more songs I wanted to discuss. These are songs that might not necessarily be perfect, but for various reasons I wanted to discuss here, in no particular order.

Cha Cha Sing! – Berryz Koubou

Berryz Koubou and I have an interesting, slightly complicated relationship. They were the first idol group I ever knew (Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai was my first idol song) so I have a bit of a fondness for them. However, lately I’ve been disappointed with their releases, and it’s hard to remember the last time I actually really liked a Berryz song; it might go as far back as Otakebi Boy Wao or Dakishimete Dakishimete. That being said, I really enjoyed Cha Cha Sing; it’s energetic and fun, but still feels like a Berryz song due to the arrangement. With Cha Cha Sing and Dschinghis Khan, I find it interesting how much Berryz excels at covers.

Oide Shampoo – Nogizaka46

OK yep I’m going to be the Nogizaka46 defender of the year. While I love B-sides like House and Guru Guru Curtain grew on me, Oide Shampoo was the song that made me like the group. This isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s very pleasant and hits a lot of my personal buttons (piano, string sounds, classic idol feel). There’s definitely room in the idolsphere for Nogizaka46, and while it might not be everyone’s type of music, it’s definitely my type.

Science girl Silent Boy – Kagaku Kyumei Kiko Logica?

I like Sakura Gakuin well enough; they’re a solid idol group with younger members (every member graduates from the group once they hit high school), and have some really catchy stuff. However, the subgroups are where Sakura Gakuin really shines. BABYMETAL hails from Sakura Gakuin, Twinkle Stars was a great group, and now Kagaku Kyumei Kiko Logica?. They’re the “science club” (kagaku-bu) and their song Science Girl Silent Boy is just good. It’s not the catchiest song but it’s definitely a great debut. The song reminds me slightly of Perfume music, and it’s mid-tempo and memorable. While it didn’t quite qualify for the top 25 (though I know people who would have put it top 10), I still loved it.

Manatsu no Sounds Good – AKB48

I’m a bit of a weirdo, in that I legitimately liked every AKB48 main single track this year: Give Me five, Gingham Check, UZA, Eien Pressure But Manatsu no Sounds Good stood out to me as my favorite piece. It initially took a while to grow on me, but it’s the most interesting of AKB’s summer songs, choosing to be more mature sounding than in past years. For me, though, its ending is what really shines, sounding triumphant and exciting.

Warukii – Watanabe Miyuki

This is the type of song that appeals mainly to me as a Milky fan and I don’t know how many non-Milky fans would like it. It just fits Milky perfectly and is a fun thing to listen to.

Fuwa Fuwa Precious – CQC’s

I only heard of CQC’s this year due to the Tokyo Idol Festival, but their song Fuwa Fuwa Precious had a big effect on me. It reminds me of Morning Musume/Hello!Project around 2000 with a strong disco sound. While I put Rhymeberry high up on my list and BABYMETAL was still an indie act in 2012, but CQC’s really impressed me with Fuwa Fuwa Precious and made me interested to hear more from them.

Fore fore Forest for Rest – DIY

This is kind of my dream unit in Hello!Project. Take my two favorite members of C-ute, my two favorite members of Berryz Koubou and my 2nd favorite current member of Morning Musume, and you got DIY. That being said, this song is energetic, fun, and kind of a cool appeal. It’s a very unique sounding song, and one I really enjoyed.

Daisuki 100 Manten – Ishida Ayumi and Fukumura Mizuki

While I’m still apathetic to most of current Hello!Project, recently I’ve become a pretty big Ishida Ayumi fan, and Fukumura Mizuki’s become my favorite 9th gen Morning Musume member. This song reminds me a bit of Shiroi Tokyo, and while it’s not necessarily unique or the best it reminds me a bit of that era of Hello!Project.

Matsu wa DD Daikangei – Team Syachihoko

OK so I didn’t want to put too much Team Syachihoko on my list for fear of being kind of obnoxious about it. Because really, all their songs are excellent examples of the idol genre. However, Matsu wa DD Daikangei has a place in my heart and was one of my most repeated songs of the past couple of months.

Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku – C-ute

C-ute is kind of the last group I expected to do one of my favorite idol ballads of the past year, but they did. I’m not a ballad person, but this was a really excellent song. Like Hatsukoi Cider they had solo versions, which also added to my enjoyment; I could just listen to Maimi!

Like I mentioned on my first list, this was a toughie. There are a lot of songs I didn’t feel I could put on here but I enjoyed a lot. 2012 was a fantastic year, and I hope 2013 follows suit!

My Top 25 Songs of 2012 (Part 5)

While this is the last five songs on my top 25, there will be an honorable mentions post and a top 10 PVs of 2012 list soon, so keep an eye out for those!

5. 20112012 – Hyadain

This was the year Maeyamada Kenichi was at his strongest. While I’ve enjoyed his compositions for some time and my favorite solo piece of his came out a while ago (Hyadain no Kakakatakaomoi-c), this was the year he became known beyond the people who knew him for anime openings or the Momoiro Clover wota. He’s becoming a force in the Japanese music world, beyond his niche, and 20112012 exemplifies his strength asa composer as a whole. While the song has many of the features that are classic Hyadain to his fans (the use of his voice as both male and female vocals, the video game sounds as a callback to his start), this sounds a lot more mature than Hyadain in the past. While Hyadain has been known for genre-bending and his very unique and odd instrumentals, this song is almost strange in how little gimmicks he uses. Yet, the song sounds great and really works, showing that behind the little oddities that make Hyadain well known there’s a really strong composer. The rap sections done by famous rapper m-flo fit really well and show that he can really collaborate well with a more “mature” artist. While this isn’t as immediately enticing as some of Hyadain’s other works, it really shows off his chops as a songwriter and it makes me excited for more.

4. Hashire Bicycle – Nogizaka46

After reading up the English language response to Nogizaka46, I think I might need to become the wota blogging Nogizaka super fan to balance things out. I understand to an extent why some people don’t like Nogizaka46, but to me they’re a consistently good group. While they aren’t necessarily the most inventive group nor the most daring, I really enjoy their classic idol appeal. As a fan of the classic idol aesthetic, having a group that really is trying to fit it appeals to me.

That being said, none of their songs even held a candle to how impressed I was with Hashire Bicycle. Remember how I said I liked a piano heavy arrangement? Well this comes up here. The song has a lovely arrangement with lots of piano, and the song is full of beautiful harmonies. It’s retro and classic idols at their finest, drawing inspiration from French pop (including some spoken bits actually in French!). I also like the lyrics well enough; maybe not the best of this list, but still really great; my favorite line is the first, ‘yuujou to renai wa dou chigau’ (How different is close friendship and romance?’). It’s a surprisingly interesting song that I’ve greatly enjoyed all year.

3. Headbanger- Babymetal

I love Babymetal. 2012 started off very strong for Babymetal with the incredible Ii Ne! single, but Headbanger really stole the show (note: Ijime Dame Zettai, the first release of 2013 for Babymetal, is even better). Headbanger is by far their most metal song, which is definitely to Babymetal’s advantage. Doki Doki Morning was good, but the chorus was still extremely idol-y with some heavier instrumentation. Ii Ne! had a lot more of a metal flavor, but the rap verse and chorus still don’t quite feel like metal music. Headbanger is a step in the right direction that shows just how strong Babymetal can be, and that the metal image isn’t a gimmick, but a tool for some really fantastic performances and songs. This song is high energy and interesting, with every “HEADBANGER!!!” scream giving me chills. The slow start is a really great way to bring up the tension when the faster section starts, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to. While Yui and Moa take a backseat to Suzuka’s vocals, Suzuka’s never sounded better (again, until Ijime Dame Zettai). This is a fantastic song that really shows Babymetal’s strength.

2. Otome Juken Sensou – Team Syachihoko

I haven’t held back on my disappointment with Momoiro Clover Z’s Otome Sensou. Which I realize is a little bit unfair; it’s not that bad. However, I think my disappointment stems from just how much potential it had when I heard small bits of the song (watching the PV via ustream with spotty internet at the time) and seeing the costumes. Parts of Otome Sensou are great, and I was convinced that if Otome Sensou could live up to the really strong potential it had for it. Otome Juken Sensou lived up to it. This was a special limited single where the titles of the songs were based off other Stardust songs, and while I’m fond of the other song Mochotto Hashire (after Momoiro Clover’s Hashire and Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku’s Motto Hashire), Otome Juken Sensou was special in how it lived up to all the potential of Otome Sensou. From the opening shouts of “ganbatte ganbatte” by Honoka to shouting SYA CHI HO KO, to the fast paced energy of the rest of the song. This song fits a lot more and is one of the songs with the most pure energy and excitement. It rightly sounds like it should be a theme to some big epic, combining the ideas of Otome Sensou with the epic feel and overall polish of Momoiro Clover Z’s Mugen no Ai. This song is just plain epic and perfect.

1. Koibito wa Sniper – Team Syachihoko

When coming up with this list, I went back and forth over Otome Juken Sensou being #1 or #2; however, ultimately, I think that Koibito wa Sniper is going to have a lot more significance to Team Syachihoko as a whole. This was Team Syachihoko’s first indie single, and while a lot of groups have a bit of a slower start for their singles (I love AKB48’s Sakura no Hanabiratachi and Momoiro Clover’s Momoiro Punch, but they’re not the most exciting songs). This feels akin to Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo, in that Koibito wa Sniper feels group defining to Team Syachihoko. This is fast, high energy and just flat out fun, with the “HAs” and all the mentions of Team Syachihoko. The instrumentation is fantastic, as well, with lots of great brass sound. Ultimately this is the most exciting song of the year, the song that got me interested in my current favorite idol group, and is incredibly polished while remaining fun. This is quite possibly a perfect idol song, and will remain one of my lasting favorites for years to come.

My Top 25 Songs of 2012 (Part 4)

10. Hey! Brother – Rhymeberry

While working on Tokyo Idol Festival coverage was fun and I found a lot of groups, probably the group that stuck with me the most was Rhymeberry. They’re a rap subgroup of Usa Usa Shoujo Cllub, and much like Babymetal really sets itself apart from its main group. Their debut single came out this year (though they’ve performed these songs for a while) and while I enjoyed Rhymeberry iz No. 1 possibly more than the title track, Hey! Brother really is more of a complete song. While some idols rap in their songs, this is full on rapping and is kind of what you’d expect from the words “idol rap.” The song’s about their big brother and involves meowing. However, despite these idol elements, the thing that sets Rhymeberry and Hey! Brother apart is just how good they are. Most raps in idol songs are short and idols tend to not be great at rapping. Rhymeberry is just flat out good at what they do and this makes Hey! Brother very good to listen to and a really fun song. I’m not a big hip hop fan myself, but Rhymeberry transcends this and is an enjoyable listen.

9. Hatsukoi Cider – Buono!

Just as a piece of context Buono is not my type of group. I’m not a big fan of Buono and I haven’t followed them much since their early singles. However, Hatsukoi Cider transcends my preconceptions and just ends up being REALLY good and one of my favorite songs of this year. The melody’s beautiful and just sounds sweet. The arrangement is great, as well; my biggest complaint with a lot of Hello!Project songs is that the instrumental sounds kind of empty and hollow, but this is the opposite of that. The band sound with heavy keyboard is just perfect for Hatsukoi Cider. It doesn’t sound cheap or fake, but is just wonderful sounding.
Further, Hatsukoi Cider has some of my favorite lyrics of the year. Occasionally I’ll listen to an idol song, love it, and then realize later that, once I’ve looked up translated lyrics or been able to use my limited Japanese skills to piece them together, the song isn’t as sweet-sounding as I once thought (this notably happened with C-ute’s Sekaiichi Happy na Onna no Ko; I love the song, but the lyrics do nothing for me). However, here the lyrics are really great, about deciding to take friendship into a more meaningful relationship. It’s sweet, romantic, and I love these lyrics.
And finally, H!P did what they should really do with all their smaller groups and made solo versions of the song, though just on the Single V so no actual audio files. My only complaint with the original was that I vastly preferred Airi’s vocals to Miyabi and Momoko’s, and that I would have preferred Hatsukoi Cider to be a solo song as a whole. Hello!Project delivered. I would argue that not only is this Buono’s best song ever, this is the best song to come out of Hello!Project for a good while.

8. Moretsu Uchuu Kokyokyoku Dai 7 Gakusho “Mugen no Ai” – Momoiro Clover Z

While I think 2012 wasn’t quite as good for Momoiro Clover Z music as 2011 (especially considering the completely excellent Battle & Romance that stole 2011 for me, album wise) their first single of the year was fantastic, especially the title track. Written by Maeyamada Kenichi, “Mugen no Ai” is possibly one of the most epic, symphonic idol songs that I’ve heard described as being the Bohemian Rhapsody of JPop. And it deserves it. While I think “epic” tends to be an overused word, it fits here perfectly with a full choir, some of the best idol guitar riffs provided by ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, and the overall theatrical tone fit here perfectly. This is the type of song I could see showing how strong pop music can really be. This is weird, but it fits and I believe is one of the things that convinced a lot of people of Momoiro Clover Z’s real strength as an idol group, embracing weirdness. This is a fantastic song.

7. The Stardust Bowling – Team Syachihoko

This is not the last time you’ll see Team Syachihoko on this list. Truth be told, I could legitimately put pretty much all of their songs on this list, because they’re all very excellent. However, The Stardust Bowling was the first song that got me interested in Team Syachihoko since it was their first major debut single and their first song with a (very strange) PV. The Stardust Bowling, while I doubt it will be as important to Team Syachihoko as Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo is to Momoiro Clover (Team Syachihoko’s signature song is still to come on this list), kind of reminds me of Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo. In fact, the song is structured pretty similarly to Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo, right down to the slow part before the final repeat of the chorus. However, this isn’t a bad thing at all, and The Stardust Bowling really does stand out as a great idol song. It’s high energy, fun, wacky, and despite comparisons really stands out on its own. With Stardust idols, the major debut single song does a lot to say what kind of group the group’s going to be, and The Stardust Bowling only says good things. Team Syachihoko’s still slightly weak in the vocals department and they’re not completely polished, but that’s part of the charm of he group and strong songs like The Stardust Bowling only make me more excited for Team Syachihoko to improve and get better. An excellent major debut and an excellent song in general.

6. DNA Kyoshikyouku – Momoiro Clover Z

When I first heard Mugen no Ai I was immediately in love with the song and convinced that nothing could beat it. Until I heard one of the other songs on the single, which is DNA Kyoshikyoku (DNA Rhapsody). DNA Rhapsody is similarly epic sounding like Mugen no Ai is, however instead of being the guitar-heavy operatic sound that Mugen no Ai has, DNA Rhaspsody is a bit more symphonic and the whole arrangement is orchestral. I’m a sucker for strong strings in a piece as well as piano heavy arrangements, and this combines both of them. This is one of the most simultaneously beautiful and extravagant sounding songs while still feeling very Momoiro Clover Z. Momoiro CLover Z’s music, at its very best, is music that you’ve never heard before. To some it’s weird, and yeah it’s strange, but I can’t say I’ve heard songs quite like DNA Rhapsody and Mugen no Ai, at least within JPop before. This transcends idol pop and is one of the most interesting songs I’ve heard lately, period.

My Top 25 Songs of the Year (Part 3)

15. Show Fight – AKB48 Future Girls

Badass idols incoming! While this song is really augmented by the fantastic PV where AKB48’s future girls beat each other up, this song stands out well on its own showing that AKB48 doesn’t just excel in cuteness, that the girls can be badass and have a cool vibe as well. The song starts off a bit quiet and I admit at first I wasn’t sure how I liked this song; however, the chorus is the real star of the show, with the strong vocals and the soft, but interesting counter melody. The rest of the song is a lead up to this strong chorus, and does so extremely well. Ultimately this has a cool, not very idol-like sound that I really enjoyed.

14. Kinenbi ni Aimashou – Station

My album of the year, for those who don’t visit Idolminded, actually came from a surprising source, and that’s Station. Densha de Go Go is an all around very excellent album, and all the songs on it were very good. However, Kinenbi ni Aimashou did a tricky thing with me, and that’s make an idol ballad that I absolutely love. While I like ballads, they’re most of the time not the type of song that I choose to listen to. However, Kinenbi ni Aimashou is a total exception to this rule. My biggest pet peeve with ballads is when there’s a lot of over singing, or trying to overdo things with their voice. Kinenbi ni Aimashou thankfully avoids this by having very sweet (but still very good) vocals over a really beautiful instrumental track. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and that’s why it works so wonderfully.

13. Next Flight – Passpo

Passpo’s just one of those groups I’ve never gotten into. I can appreciate why they’re beloved by some, but I never really got the appeal. Until Next Flight. Next Flight shows just how well straight up rock music and idols can mix if done well, and it’s done VERY well. It’s extremely polished (the mix of Passpo’s vocals and the instrumental is exceptional) and it doesn’t take the idea of Passpo being a rock oriented group lightly. This sounds like it could be a song from a band that just got an idol group to do the vocals, not the other way around, and that’s a compliment. Its guitar solos are really great, but the whole sound of the song is just fantastic. This song, despite not being very traditionally idol-like, also is catchy and addicting, and was one of the songs I came back to again and again this summer. While Passpo is not necessarily my go-to idol group, this is just flat out a great song and one of my favorites of the year.

12. Sabotage –

I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall the day that someone pitched that the group cover the Beastie Boys, and rap/shout it in English. It’s weird, it’s strange, it shouldn’t work. But it totally does. The reason most likely is in it’s fantastic arrangement that combines Sabotage with some idol elements including the MIX at the beginning and some very cutesy parts. This arrangement was done by the one and only Maeyamada Kenichi (Hyadain) who excels at writing some really strange genre-bending songs of his own and for Momoiro Clover Z, Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku and others. Another reason for its success is how into it these girls get; I liked a lot when I first encountered them in their single Future Diver, but they really commit to Sabotage, which is what makes it a lot of fun. This is another love it or hate it song, but I personally find it a lot of fun and a refreshing change from a lot of cutesy idol pop. If you have a low tolerance for weird this is something you probably won’t like, but if you want something definitely different Sabotage might be for you. Or if you just want to hear an idol shout “I’ve got a fucking thorn in my side,” that’s another good reason too.

11. Mousou Girlfriend – NMB48

Speaking of cutesy idol pop, here’s a cutesy song! This is just a lot of fun, again love it or hate it. It’s almost paint by numbers adorable, singing about girlfirends and boyfriends and love, but I love how unashamed of how adorable it is. With the song alone it was one of my favorites of the year. However, despite having a fun song, the lyrics are what make it really remarkable, because it’s about being in a relationship with an idol. The POV of the song is a guy who is dating an idol, but despite challenges doesn’t want it to stop because their love is too strong. The line that blows me away every single time I hear it is “A scandal would be bad, but our love can’t be stopped!” The song is also very blatant in saying “you are an idol” and not just implying it. This is really gutsy, and because of this is probably the most daring song of the year, which says a lot since it’s the B-side to NMB’s single “Virginity.” Also, the fact that this came out not even a year after NMB48’s big scandal really shows how ballsy this song is. So while I find the song very enjoyable and very fun to listen to, the lyrics are a good part of why I found Mousou Girlfriend to be so outstanding.

My Top 25 Songs of the Year (Part 2)

20. Seigi no Mikata Ja nai Hero – Team B

If you are an AKB48 fan, probably one of the news items that probably affected you most was the new team shuffle. While I was a fan of the old team B (both original and after the first shuffle), I was tentatively very excited for the new Team B, which contains almost every favorite member of mine in the 48 groups, but the thing that really solidified new Team B for me as being really great is their first original song, Seigi no Mikata Janai Hero.

It’s not quite as cutesy as Team B has been in the past ( a la Love Jump), but I think really works well with all the members currently in the team. It’s high energy, has some really good guitar solos, and I am a total sucker for anything that has a back and forth like this song does. All the members sound really good, and mix well together, which is an achievement for a song with so many people. It’s catchy and fun, and really succeeded in getting me pumped up for new Team B, which was really the purpose of the song.

19. Kari Keiyaku no Cinderella – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku

私立恵比寿中学『仮契約のシンデレラ』Sub R/E/K by asahi2307

While I am a big fan of the entire Kari Keiyaku no Cinderella single (especially the song with some purposefully unenergetic rapping, Utae! Odore! Ebidada), ultimately it was the A-Side that I came back to again and again. Since this was Ebichu’s first major debut single, it did a really good job of taking a lot of the things that made Ebichu great on their Indies label and just did it a step beyond. In my opinion one of Ebichu’s biggest strengths is just the overall level of energy they bring to everything, and I really don’t think a different group could pull this really strange song off. All the fast singing really stands out (including Ayaka singing the first 15 digits of pi really quickly), as does the tempo/style changes. Quite frankly, this is a weird song. However, that’s part of what makes it great, and underneath everything is a really catchy, strong melody that makes this a really great song and a really great start to Ebichu’s major label career.

18. Parade – Aso Natsuko

Being the one idol I’ve seen live, I have a really strong soft spot for Aso Natsuko. Her music does back this up too; her first two albums are excellent, she has a lovely voice, and her A-sides are catchy and infectious (since she does a lot of anime openings). However, while I love the ballads she sings, Nacchan is at her best singing infectious, upbeat songs. So even though her other singles this year, Lovely Girls’ Anthem and Fighting Growing Diary, were very very good, Parade feels like a return to the style that made me a Nacchan fan in the first place, somewhat similar to Diamond Star and Perfect Area Complete in style. There’s the fast singing she perfected in More More Lovers, a great guitar solo and the whole song feels almost uplifting (singing about moving into the future and whatnot). So while I love when Nacchan tries different things, this was a welcome return.

17. Samba de Toriko – Hyadain

OK, a male artist on this list, but I’m counting it because Hyadain writes for idols, so he counts. Anyways, I’m a fan of pretty much everything Hyadain does, but Hyadain is at his most interesting when he’s genre-bending, taking all sorts of different instruments, styles and vocals. And while Hyadain is ready to admit that this song isn’t a Samba, the tropical theme is certainly a big part of the charm of Samba de Toriko. While he has explored this in Momoiro Clover’s Coco * Natsu, he takes this to a different level with lots of different tempos and sounds blended into one really fun, energetic song. While I know some people don’t like this, I think this really shows Hyadain’s mastery of songwriting and arrangement, and it works really well here. While Samba de Toriko wasn’t immediately as catchy as some of his previous singles (at least in my experience), it really grew on me and became one of my favorite songs of the year.

16. Kataomoi Finally – SKE48

The fact that Kataomoi Finally isn’t even in the top 15 of my list shows how strong a year 2012 really was. Kataomoi Finally blew me away at the beginning of this year, and continues to be one of my favorite songs and PVs. However, the song itself shines apart from the spectacular PV. It’s a mature, darker sound, but it definitely worked well with the normally upbeat and energetic SKE48. The song has a lot of impact, and the forceful nature of the song really sometimes makes me shiver. I’m a sucker for a good string sound, and the rest of the arrangement is fantastic. Kataomoi Finally really showed how strong that SKE48 can be, it started 2012 with a bang and is still remembered as one of the best songs of the year.

My Top 25 Songs of the Year (Part 1)

Initially when working on this top list I intended for a top ten songs I loved from 2012. However, when writing down candidates I realized that that was far too small. The fact is, the past couple of years have been really really great for idol fans. Idols have been popular in Japan, which leads to more acts, more work being put on idol acts, and more money being put into idol acts. So instead of doing a top ten (which would end up shutting out groups and songs that quite frankly deserve notice) I’m doing a top 25 list with some honorable mentions. And even then I feel like I’m leaving off excellent candidates (my tentative list was originally around 50+ songs!), so if you see a favorite song not mentioned here I might have wanted to put it on here. It’s a good time to be an idol fan.

25. Avocado Janee~shi – Watanabe Mayu and Sashihara Rino

As a whole I found the 1830m album to be pretty underwhelming, and I am one of the few that actually really enjoyed Koko ni Ita Koto. However, I really enjoyed Avocado Janee~shi. One of the things that I really like as an idol fan (that will become very obvious further into this list) is that I like classic idol songs. While I like idol songs of today, if something is in any way retro or a callback to previous idols, I will eat it up. Avocado Janee~shi really reminds me in a weird way of Matsuura Aya songs in the peak of her Ayaya idolly days. Things like Momoiro Kataomoi, Ne~e and Yeah! Meccha Holiday. The song’s cute, but has a good upbeat pace to it, and some really fun guitar solos in there. While Watanabe and Sashihara aren’t known for being good vocalists, their voices sound really good here and play well off each other.

The lyrics are also really cute, with the person in the song comparing themselves to an avocado being among more appealing fruits. The whole song is pretty standard idol, but is really fun for if you want an idolly song, and as a big Ayaya fan this really appeals to me, and I know for a long while to come I’ll be singing “Avocado janee~shi, avocado dashi~” to myself.

24. A~rin wa Hankouki – Sasaki Ayaka

Has anyone ever had to justify “no, I’m not into this song because I’m biased, I really like it!” to others? This is how things work as a Momoiro Clover Z fan. Sasaki Ayaka is my oshimen of the group and one of my favorite idols, but out of all the Momoiro Clover Z solo songs Ayaka’s are always my favorite. Perhaps it’s because both of them are written by the wonderful Maeyamada Kenichi, who, spoiler alert, has a decent presence on this top list.

The reason that A~rin wa Hankouki works so much is because it feels very tailored to A~rin as an idol. Lots of idol solos can be generic and sung by everyone, but both A~rin wa Hankouki and the fantastic Datte A~rin Nanda Mon are songs that only really fit her. However, A~rin wa Hankouki is both high energy and mature sounding (a bit funny considering the lyrics are about A~rin wanting to rebel from her mother who tells her what she can and can’t do), and is a lot of fun. Some people might be put off by the long spoken/shouted monologues, but I really like them, as well as the rap done by none other than the songwriter himself, Maeyamada Kenichi. This is the type of song you’ll either love or hate, and I just happen to love it.

Ultimately, yeah I am biased towards A~rin and this song. However it’s a whole lot of fun and really is unique in how well it fits the singer.

23. Giri Giri Safe – Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

OK, this is kind of cheating because I don’t REALLY consider Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to be an idol. However, Pamyu Pamyu Revolution was a really strong album and I really wish that I could put more of it on this list. One song I particularly liked was Giri Giri Safe. It’s one of the most mellow songs on the album that’s sugary sweet and energetic, but it’s really sweet and mellow sounding. In my opinion this song really shows the variety that Kyary is able to do in her songs. The instrumentation is fantastic in the whole album, but shines in Giri Giri Safe especially with the sweet flute/whistle sounding part behind Kyary at some parts in the verses.

While I enjoyed her other singles of the year, especially Tsukema Tsukeru and Candy Candy, this album song is really nice to listen to. It’s not as out there as Kyary has been done (which I do love) but it shows that Kyary isn’t just weirdness and flash, but that there’s a lot to enjoy in her musical releases. This is why Pamyu Pamyu Revolution is one of my most played albums of the year and why I love Giri Giri Safe.

22. Hatsukoi Butterfly – HKT48

Even though it’s a b-side of an AKB48 single, I’d wager that Hatsukoi Butterfly was more highly anticipated than the A-Side, Eien Pressure. This is because it’s the first original song recorded by HKT48 and it includes ex-AKB48 members Sashihara Rino and (one of my favorites ever) Oota Aika. The song and PV was really the first time we get to see what to make of HKT48, at least to get a sense of what their debut single might be like.

While Hatsukoi Butterfly is admittedly a very idol-y song and isn’t quite as out there as, say, NMB48’s song on the single “HA!,” it’s the type of song I really wanted from HKT48. HKT has had its host of difficulties since it was formed with the big scandal it faced and the group had to fit two older veteran members into the group. However, despite everything, this song is energetic, cute, and fun to listen to, which is very fitting for a younger group. Maybe I’m just overthinking this, but the song sounds downright triumphant at times (starting at 2nd generation member Tashima Meru’s solo), which fits.

Even if this might not be earthshattering groundbreaking music, this is idol pop as a genre at its best, and I love it!

21. Renai Higaitodoke – NMB48

Despite everything, I’d say NMB48 had a pretty good year. Yes, there were graduations galore, especially among lesser known members. However, NMB48 successfully navigated past the big scandals of 2011 and really shined as their own group, slowly having more girls enter the senbatsu election line-up (five instead of one!). They have also had their own image, continuing to impress with their strong dancing skills and slightly sexier image than AKB48. I honestly liked every A-side this year and a lot of the B-Sides, and I wish I could put more of these on there.

However, Renai Higaitodoke really stands out. One of the B-sides from NMB’s Kitagawa Kenji single, it’s sung by the group’s Akagumi, with the chorus primarily alternating between very short solos sung by the members. The result is slightly haunting and unlike most idol songs, reminding me of a faster paced Dokusenyoku (Morning Musume), which is a good thing. This is especially unusual in a 48 large group song, which tend to focus on large group parts with very few solos. This causes Renai Higaitodoke to really stand out among the other songs released by the 48 groups this year. The song also does a really good job in playing to the strengths of the girls in the song, with Yamada Nana’s lines standing out to me a lot. This was one of the most memorable songs of the year, and one I liked a lot.