Last week I finished my profile of every act performing at this year’s Tokyo Idol Festival. 111 acts in all. This might be daunting for a lot of people, so I decided to make a list of the groups that I personally found to be the most memorable. These are the groups that I personally am following more now that TIF is over. Note that not every quality group at TIF is on this list; this is just the groups that stood out to me. This is also focusing on the lesser known groups; I’m taking it as a given that you might know Up Up Girls, Idoling!!!, Sakura Gakuin, Super Girls, etc. These are groups/idols you may not know. But you should know them. If you like the groups I mention here, they all have longer profiles I did of them!
OK, Momoiro Clover Z, Team Syachihoko and Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku. These are the big three groups of Stardust promotions, and they’re starting to promote Takoyaki Rainbow up there too. But honestly, I adore everything about KAGAJO☆4S. If Stardust groups aren’t your thing, I ask you give KAGAJO☆4S a shot. For one thing, all the members have very listenable vocals. This might be the best Stardust group in terms of overall vocals (even if some individual vocalists are better). Another thing is that they’re a bit more subdued and less strange. Another is that they play their own instruments live, sometimes. That’s right, a Stardust group that performs their own instruments. While all the early Stardust groups feel very similar, KAGAJO☆4S is unique and a different group entirely. KAGAJO☆4S might not be popular and they haven’t done that much, but I have very high hopes for this group.
Seriously, what is up with Fukuoka and idol groups? Whenever I hear that an idol group hails from Fukuoka, I know they’re amazing. HR is no exception. Their music is all pretty good, but their energy in performance is really where they stand out. Kimi ni Spark is a fantastic song, and, performance wise, HR is up there with some major groups. If you like your groups energetic, definitely check out HR.
Oomori Seiko isn’t an idol. Not really. She’s more of a singer-songwriter. But she’s very talented, loves idols (her covers of H!P songs are some of my favorite things ever) and definitely deserves recognition.
Kawasaki Junjou Komachi
This is another regional group. Probably the biggest trend of this year were groups representing their home prefecture or city. Kawasaki Junjou Komachi does it well, though. They have an almost early Momoiro Clover feel in their embrace of traditional Japanese-inspired costumes and songs, and they do a great job of it. Kawasaki Junjou Ondo is one of my favorite songs of the year for that reason; it combines traditional sounds with modern idol music to make a very catchy song. I hope that KJK can start expanding as a group, because they are one of the top unknown local idol groups.
Dancing Dolls honestly blew me away. First off, the fact they formed themselves and took initiative to form a group says a lot to me. Next, their three first singles, all covers/remixes, are excellent takes on their original song. Finally, these girls are all very talented. There’s a very high level of both vocal and dancing talent here, all while the girls themselves seem personable, fun and energetic. I can see Dancing Dolls getting big; they certainly deserve it. This is one of the best groups I profiled this year.
Do you want hyper energy with some catchy songs? If so, Tochiotome25 might be your group. They’re a local group to Tochigi prefecture, and while they might not be as talented as some groups they certainly make up for it in enthusiasm and spirit. Add to this some truly catchy songs (Ichigo Hakase and Gyoza Party, notably) and you have a really fun group to keep an eye on. I know I certainly will stay a fan of these girls.
While I love the style and concept behind Vanilla Beans, their music has never quite grabbed me. That said, I generally pay attention to them in case they suddenly impress me. And that they did with Please Me Darling. I don’t know if it’s enough to make me go back and re-evaluate their previous efforts, but Please Me Darling is Vanilla Beans at its very best. Suddenly their style and concept and music go together and form a unique and lovely group. I’m very impressed by this song and PV and hope that Vanilla Beans’ next stuff is just as fantastic.
When I first heard about bump.y being a group of aspiring actresses, I wondered what they had to offer an idol group. Then I watched their stuff. They have good music, a diverse bunch of members and lots of charisma. While I’ve been listening to Gotta Getcha since I wrote my initial profile, they have a fairly diverse body of work and an interesting member base. While I’m interested to see them grow into young actresses, they are a great, high quality group that deserve your attention.
Babyraids was a group I’d heard hyped up a ton, and yet they were able to live up to the hype. Formed by an idoling!!! member, this group does fun, rock-inspired music without being a “scary” rock-inspired group like BiS or Alice Juban. They’re a nice change of pace if you want some different music with your idols, but they still resemble standard idol groups. They have a lot of energy and a whole lot of potential, and I strongly hope to see more of them soon.
Bellring Shoujo Heart
I still haven’t looked as much into Bellring Shoujo Heart as I should. But the one thing that really sets them apart is the music. Their music, which is 60s inspired, is unlike any other idol music I’ve heard. And I love it.
I love Rhymeberry. While Lyrical School also does good idol hip hop, Rhymeberry takes the cake for me. All their songs are just so fun, yet show off how proficient the girls are at rapping. Sekaichuu ni I Love You is one of the most interesting and unique songs I’ve heard recently, because it mixes 20s-30s era jazz/swing with hip hop and adds an idol flavor to that. Rhymeberry is one of the two groups that I have to buy every single release they put out, because everything is so good. They are a fantastic group that needs more support!
That website, man. Seriously, though, these girls seem really adorable and fun, they perform some good music (including interesting cover songs). Oh yeah, and best idol website ever.
OK, TIF didn’t get me into LinQ, it was my friend who loves them. Still, LinQ is good. They have really high quality music (see: my review of their first album), lots of great members (watching live LinQ performances is a treat) and they’re just a whole lot of fun. A lot of fun backed up by fantastic music. This group is a really high-quality idol group, and one you should definitely be following.