My Top 25 Songs of 2013 – Part 5

Here it is, my top five songs of the year!

5. W.W.D – Dempagumi.inc.

Remember how in the last post how I said Dempa had a stellar year? Yeah, I really can’t ignore more of their music. W.W.D was the first song that got me into Dempagumi.inc in a big way. I liked Future Diver when it came out and their cover of Sabotage made it into my top 25 songs of 2012 list. However, W.W.D was the song that changed me from a much more casual fan to being a pretty big Dempagumi.inc fan.

W.W.D was composed by Hyadain (so of course I like that on that level). However, it just fits the group in a big way. On the surface W.W.D is a weird song (and it’s that way when you dig down, too). It feels disjointed and like it’s this hodgepodge compilation of sounds and melodies. Personally, I love it. However, once you take the lyrics into consideration, this makes so much more sense. The whole song is about how six girls with different pasts came together and formed Dempagumi.inc. I don’t know if there’s ever been an idol song that sounds so good and serves the lyrics and the meaning that it’s trying to get.

Add this to the fact that W.W.D is incredibly catchy and fun, and it’s no surprise that this was my gateway into being a Dempagumi.inc fan and ended up as one of my favorite songs of the year.

4. Maji Kansha – Team Syachihoko

One of my favorite performances from this year was arguably one of the worst. It was a live performance of Team Syachihoko, performing outside. It’s shot by a single person so it has a very low video quality. The microphones aren’t working for half of the performance. And yet, despite everything going wrong that probably could, all the girls do their best to perform and the fans participate. The first song they performed in this way, possibly fate, was Maji Kansha.

Maji Kansha is Team Syachihoko’s relatively normal sounding song on the Shuto Iten Keikaku single, after the high-energy pace of its title track and the other B-Side, Soko Soko Premium. This is what I’d consider to be Team Syachihoko’s Hashire, for all you MomoClo fans. It’s slower in pace, features a lot of strings and violins, and is all about showing gratitude. This is Team Syachihoko’s song where they thank their fans.

It’s really pretty, personal, and doesn’t feel like a typical song you’d hear from a Stardust group. I became a fan of Team Syachihoko’s through their high energy songs like The Stardust Bowling and Koibito wa Sniper. And I still love those songs. But I love how personal and nice Syachi has gotten with songs like Maji Kansha, and it’s the reason they’ve remained my favorite idol group.

3. Koisuru Fortune Cookie – AKB48

OK, getting my bias out of the way, I was in the fan version. I feel like I talk about this all the time, but it was seriously one of the greatest experiences of my year.

That aside, one of the reasons I was so eager to participate is because Koisuru Fortune Cookie has been a favorite song of mine since it came out. I love music that does an upbeat callback to disco sounds, and Koisuru Fortune Cookie hits all those buttons. I’ve referred to it in conversations with non-idol fan friends as the anti-Blurred Lines; it has a similar effect in its callback to funky disco sounds, but KFC is a much more positive, nicer song.

These are also probably my favorite lyrics of the year. I’m a woman who generally has very low esteem, especially in my looks. Frankly this is something that’s affected me a lot, especially in my teen years. Having a song where it acknowledges “guys say they like a girl with a good personality, but looks ARE an advantage” is kind of huge. It’s a bit ironic that this is coming from a group where looks are highly valued, but I’m really not going to hold it against this song. This is a song that would have resonated highly with 16-year-old Serenyty, and as a 22-year-old it still resonates. I just love the chorus, as well. “The future is not that bad.” I love positive songs like this.

I’ve thought a lot about how this era in idol music is going to be remembered years on. For a long time I thought that Heavy Rotation was going to be THE song that people remember AKB48 for. Right now I think that Koisuru Fortune Cookie has the opportunity to be remembered for years and years, and I hope that’s the case. This is possibly my favorite AKB48 single track, and one of my favorite songs of the year.

2. W.W.D II – Dempagumi.inc

When I heard that Dempagumi.inc was putting out a sequel to their song W.W.D I was a bit nervous, but tentatively excited. I’ve liked pretty much all of Dempagumi.inc’s discography up to that point, but W.W.D was already one of my songs of the year, and if by chance Dempagumi.inc decided to put out their first bad song I was not looking forward to it being connected to one of my favorites. Luckily that didn’t happen.

Confession – I’ve shuffled around the top 2-6 of this list a lot. There are good chances that tomorrow I’ll look at this list, shake my head, and say “What was I thinking?” The reason I mention this is because that in doing this list I’m saying that I prefer W.W.D II to W.W.D. Which I suppose I do, but just know that this is a hard choice, and all the songs up here are songs that I adore.

The reason I have to rank W.W.D II higher is mostly due to the pacing near the end. Probably the only negative thing I could say about W.W.D is that the part where everything slows down and there’s an extended spoken word section doesn’t always do it for me. However, I love how well W.W.D II brings things in near the end. The first few times I listened to W.W.D II I started openly crying when the members all chant their names, much like the opening to W.W.D. This is extremely powerful stuff, and not many idol songs have affected me like the second half of W.W.D II.

W.W.D is amazing, but W.W.D II makes you feel the raw intense passion of Dempagumi.inc. W.W.D is a fantastic introduction song, but W.W.D II makes you realize that being an idol is a struggle past these introductions. It’s darker, more intense, and overall one of my favorites of the year. Dempagumi.inc gets these three inclusions in my top 10 purely because they 100% deserve it. They had an incredible year (something I keep on saying) and I have very high hopes for Dempa in 2014.

1. Hai to Diamond – Momoiro Clover Z.

This song is an anomaly for me. First, it’s a modern MomoClo song. I like most of what I hear from MomoClo, but they’ve been disappointing to me. Second, it’s a ballad. I like ballads, but rarely love them. However, Hai to Diamond is the song that breaks the mold for me.

Most of the time when I listen to music I choose to listen while I do other things. I check Facebook, type out something on Happy Disco, play a game. But however, there are a few times where I just have to sit and listen. Hai to Diamond did that for me. Just everything about it is just beautiful, from the arrangement to the song itself, which builds throughout the song into something just mindblowing.

I talked more on this in my 5th Dimension review, but I just love how everything comes together. The song-writing is so well served by the arrangement. It feels unique and special. I didn’t expect to really love much more music from MomoClo, but Hai to Diamond completely blew me away. The only negative I have is that I really wish that better singers could sing this, but even then I kind of like how raw the vocals are.

This song is just perfection to me, and I knew it was my song of the year the moment I heard it.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013 – Part 4

Top ten now! These are all songs I find extraordinary, and are songs that I’m positive I’ll continue to listen to and enjoy for years to come.

10. Megitsune – Babymetal

2012 was the year that I was surprised and impressed at Babymetal’s success. 2013 was the year where this was a given. Megitsune is not only the next in line of Babymetal’s increasingly popular tracks, it’s a very innovative track. Babymetal has pushed boundaries by combining both metal and idol music (though even that’s becoming more and more commonplace). Megitsune took it a step further by introducing traditional instruments and motifs. There are pieces of idol music, metal music and traditional Japanese music, but Babymetal somehow makes it all work together. That’s what Babymetal really does best; it combines various elements together, but Babymetal makes it make sense, as opposed to being a hodge podge jumble that it could be.

Every element is in place here. It’s well made music in all the genres it touches. Suzuka’s vocals have always been solid, but this year they were extraordinary, and Megitsune further proves her vocal talent.

While many thought Babymetal was going to end up a one-hit wonder, a brief flash in the pan meme, 2013 proved that Babymetal is here to stay, and that we’re better off for it.

9. Gomen Nasai no Kissing You – E-Girls

Of all the groups to have one of my favorite songs of the year, I really did not expect E-Girls to have one. But lo and behold, I absolutely adore Gomen Nasai no Kissing You.

If it wasn’t evident by my blog title, I enjoy happy things. I appreciate things like Megitsune and some of the heavier songs on this list, but more often than not I crave listening to fun, happy songs. Gomen Nasai no Kissing You completely scratches that itch.

This song is a complete Eurobeat sugar rush and I can’t help but love it. It’s such a feel-good song, with a heavy beat that makes me want to dance every time I listen to it. And since E-Girls are an Avex group, it’s a polished, well-produced song.

Gomen Nasai no Kissing You has no pretensions of seriousness. It never pretends to be more than a fun, happy song, and it does this very well.

8. Not Bocchi… Natsu – Dempagumi.inc

2013 was the year I became a Dempagumi.inc fan. Which is understandable because wow Dempagumi.inc was fantastic this past year! Not…Bocchi Natsu is just one of the great tracks that Dempa released this year.

Arranged by my very favorite idol producer (Hyadain), Not Bocchi… Natsu fits very well into Dempagumi’s established oeuvre of upbeat catchy music that’s a bit unhinged. As is expected by a song touched by Maeyamada Kenichi, the arrangement is excellent. Strings heavy in the chorus, the song is given a bit more gravity and pathos than it would in the hands of a lesser producer.

Still, this is just another song where everything comes together. All the girls sound nice and fit their selections nicely (Eimi does very well in her rap solo). One of the things I love about Dempagumi.inc is just how distinctive all the girls’ voices are, and that’s highlighted well in this song. This isn’t as tailor-made to Dempa as some other songs (that are on this list) do, but this feels like a song that fits Dempagumi.inc.

This song is not as weird as others, but is an upbeat, happy song that has me listening to it all year round.

7. Please Me Darling – Vanilla Beans

One of the things I’ve said at just about every mention of Vanilla Beans is that I love their style but their music never appeals to me, and that I wish they would have music that would be still retro but more of my style. And they did that, because I ADORE Please Me Darling.

Please Me Darling has the retro, 60s sensibility but does it in a pleasant, upbeat way. Their older stuff didn’t do anything for me, but Please Me Darling is the type of music that I want more from my idols (much like how I loved Nogizaka46’s similar foray into 60s era pop with Hashire Bicycle in 2012). One of my favorite Western acts that takes a look at similar music is She & Him, and that’s the closest approximation I can come to what Please Me Darling does. It is a modern look at this kind of music, and does it well.

I’m completely surprised at how much I loved a Vanilla Beans song this year, and I hope that they put out more music like this. If they keep this up, they can count me as a fan.

6. SUPERMCZTOKYO – Rhymeberry

I was a Rhymeberry fan in 2012, but I was so pleasantly surprised by their move to T-PALETTE Records in 2013. This allowed for this idol hip hop group to get higher production values and actual PVs, two things I was very glad about.

While R.O.D/Sekaichuu ni I Love You was a great single, SUPERMCZTOKYO is a superb showing of what Rhymeberry can do. First off, all the girls sound fantastic and polished. In the past Rhymeberry has really shined in their live performances and didn’t really show this in their recordings. In SUPERMCZTOKYO, you can hear how strong at rapping these girls are.

I also love just how funky and fun this song is. While Sekaichuu ni I Love You is perhaps more interesting, with its use of swing music as the background, SUPERMCZTOKYO is just plain fun, and shows off Miri, Hime and Yuka a lot better.

Rhymeberry has been a great group for a while, but their move to T-PALETTE records gave them the polish they needed to become even better.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013- part 3

Hey guys! Sorry for the missed post on Friday. I wasn’t feeling well so I decided to take a weekend off of blogging. 🙂

15. DD Jump – Dancing Dolls

DD Jump did what I wish Morning Musume had done this year; it took the song Love Machine and added a new twist on it. The song sounds VERY different to Love Machine as we know it, but the basic elements are in there as they made it much more of a dance track, and made it a song to really fit Dancing Dolls while taking the original framework from Morning Musume. For updating a song from 1999 DD Jump sounds fresh and exciting. However, even if I didn’t already have a bit of a history with Love Machine, DD Jump is just a well-paced, fun and energetic song that always brings me up. All the members sound fantastic in it, with top notch vocals and rapping, and it’s just a well produced, well-made dance track that happens to have well-known origins.

14. Shuto Iten Keikaku – Team Syachihoko

So, much like last year, I loved just about everything that Team Syachihoko did this year. In terms of what I listen to on a regular basis, Syachi’s discography could easily be up top. So I’m narrowing it down to my top two Syachihoko songs of the year, though know I wish that I could put Summer Lover and Ai no Chikyuusai on this list.

I didn’t love Shuto Iten Keikaku at first listen. After the high energy fun of songs like The Stardust Bowling and Otome Juken Sensou, Shuto Iten Keikaku felt very different. However, after a couple of listens, I began to appreciate Shuto Iten Keikaku a lot more. It was written by hip hop performer SEAMO and that shows. Most idol songs throw in an occasional rap verse, and even idol songs that are mostly rap based still feel like idol songs. This feels a lot darker and heavier than most of those, and isn’t a sound I hear much from idol pop.

However, this is combined with some goofy lyrics, which are all about how Japan should change its capitol to Nagoya (where Syachihoko are from). It feels like far too serious of a song to have such silly lyrics, but that’s part of Team Syachihoko’s charm. They are a goofy group that happen to do a lot of interesting things in their music. It’s Team Syachihoko’s way of saying “yeah, this song isn’t idolly, but it’s still us.”

While it might take a couple of listens, this is one of the most interesting idol songs of the year and is one of my favorites.

13. Rappa Renshuuchuu – Watanabe Mayu

I know this has been mentioned before, but for using oreskaband this isn’t a very ska sounding song. Which is a shame, because I would love more ska-inspired idol music. However, WOW I really loved Rappa Renshuuchuu.

The song is pretty much a typical idol song. The melody reminds me of one of my favorite songs of last year, Avocado Janeeshi. However, where this song shines is in the fantastic instrumentation and arrangement. I love hearing so much brass as well as some piano and strings. As Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne proved, there ought to be more variety in the instruments used in idol music, and this is another great example.

That’s not to say the melody fails in any way; this song is cute, sweet, and generally what I want from an idol song. However, the instrumentation is where Rappa Renshuuchuu shines brightest, and it’s something I wish more idol producers would take note of.

12. Walk My Way – Yokoyama Rurika

Idol vocals aren’t something I particularly care about in my favorites. One of my all-time favorite idols is Ishikawa Rika (though I personally love her voice). However, when there’s very strong idol vocals, that’s something I can appreciate. Yokoyama Rurika has fantastic vocals. Pair that with a song by Hyadain that is one of his more standard but still great songs, and you’ve got a winner. I don’t follow Idoling!!! much, but I’ve been missing out on a talent in Rurika. I just hope she continues more of her solo career, because she sounds so great in both of her singles. This is a case where a well-written song and some fantastic vocals go a long way to establishing a quality song.

11. Bokura no Eureka – NMB48

This is a song I know people criticized for hearing songs like this before, but I really love it. I think, again, part of it is the arrangement. The strings sound amazing here. But beyond that, there’s a really great feel to Eureka that I can’t really put my finger on; just everything combined makes me feel a bit melancholy. It’s a lovely song, and one that surprised me with how much I liked it, since I wasn’t too fond of most of what the 48 groups did in early 2013. This song is just wonderful, and one I’m glad relaunched my enthusiasm in the 48 groups after their less than stellar first quarter.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013- Part 2

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone here had a great end to their 2013 and a fantastic start to their 2014. 🙂

A quick note: Chiima of Okay! Musume Time and Idolminded picked me as one of her top two bloggers of the year! I’m completely happy and gratified. I respect Chiima a lot as a blogger and as a friend, so to see her recommend Happy Disco as a favorite site was very exciting!

20. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya Ne – Juice = Juice

Yep, even more Hello!Project on the list. I was honestly very impressed by Juice=Juice’s debut year. I wrestled between Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne, Romance no Tochuu and Ijiwaru Shinaide Daikishimete yo for what J=J song I should put on this list. However, thinking about what songs I’ll be listening to again and again as time goes on, Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne stood out the most for me.

First off, that sax. I have a friend who HATES the saxophone in the arrangement but I absolutely love it; I think it starts off the song with a punch and adds a lot of character to the song. That’s not to say that that’s the only thing that’s great about the song; it has a great melody and is paced well. It feels like the entire song really works together, as opposed to having some good parts and some bad. It feels like a really well-constructed song, which is something that I didn’t expect at the time it came out.

Further, it did a great job as the first song for Juice=Juice in that it set up the tone/feel for the group; that mature feel despite being a younger group. This doesn’t sound like anything any of the other H!P groups are doing, and set the stage for their other releases. I know that when H!P announced a new group that was called Juice=Juice I was more than a little skeptical, but Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne assuaged those fears.

I love this song so I want to become more eloquent, but the thought that keeps popping into my head is “did you HEAR that saxophone?” so I’ll leave it at that.
19. Kawasaki Junjou Ondo – Kawasaki Junjou Komachi

In my look at the 2013 Tokyo Idol Festival participants, I looked at a lot of idol groups. 111 acts, in total. Some of the groups faded from memory, others are still memorable. However, one of the songs that caught my attention and still won’t let up is Kawasaki Junjou Komachi’s Kawasaki Junjou Ondo. For being a fairly unheard of group, KJK has put out a song that would be exciting and fresh for groups with much more recognition and fame.

The thing that I love about this more than anything is the use of traditional sounds fused into the upbeat idol pop. Some groups do this type of thing, and while I generally appreciate any attempt, this feels so seamless; all the traditional sounds and “sore sore”s fit the song so well that it feels natural. The whole song is great in this regard, as well. The melody is very catchy and the arrangement, with how it puts together the few traditional sounds into a song with a great beat and instrumental is superb. Even the slightly awkward rap break works well.

While indie idols often have fantastic music, I rarely expect music of this caliber and polish to come from indie idols, especially indie idols that aren’t getting that much buzz. So spread the word about Kawasaki Junjou Komachi because they’re fantastic, and I hope to hear more great things from them soon.

18. Zipper – NMB48

I covered most of why I love Zipper in my post about NMB48’s first original stage. But one of the things that impresses me a lot with idol management is when songs perfectly match the girls who sing them. There are certain songs that are just so perfect for certain idols that others just fall flat. Zipper is that song. It strikes a perfect balance of cuteness with a hint of coy sexiness that fits Milky all too well. Yoshida Akari and Jonishi Kei do excellent jobs as well (Keicchi’s voice sounds beautiful in the song), but it’s really Milky’s unit song.

Aside from being the quintessential Milky song (maybe even more than Warukii?), it’s a catchy tune that has a bit of an old-fashioned feel to it. It’s not a particularly retro song, but the melody reminds me a bit of AKB48’s Undergirls song Namida no Seesaw Game. I love the instrumentation in this, as well, especially in that part in the chorus that I noted in my initial review. It mixes a lot of my favorite things: old-fashioned song, cuteness, a bit of coy sexiness and Milky. All of that makes for a fun song that I imagine is going to be a mainstay of NMB48 concerts for years to come.
17. Warai no Kamisama ga Oritekita – Hyadain

Oh hey obligatory Hyadain inclusion even though he’s not a female idol! Hyadain has had a lot of great solo stuff in the past couple of years; last year his song 20112012 made it near the top of my song ranking, and for good reason. However, as much as I loved what he put out in 2012, my favorite Hyadain songs have always been his first two singles; his duets with Hyadaruko, the female singer that’s really Hyadain. So imagine my joy when Warai no Kamisama ga Oritekita came out!

In terms of sound, it sounds like a mix of both Hyadain no Kakaka*Takataomoi-C and Hyadain no Jojo Yuujou; I can hear clear elements from both in there. This is a typical Hyadain song in the best possible way; if I heard another person perform this song first, there would be no doubt in my mind that Hyadain composed this. While I like it when Hyadain tries new things, the fact that Hyadain is still doing duets like this is almost comforting. This is such a feel good song.

It’s not the most interesting thing to be written by Hyadain this year, but it’s one that makes me happy as a Hyadain fan, and one I’ll definitely keep on enjoying in the future.

16. Haste to Waste – BKA48

One of the biggest changes in my idol fandom in 2013 is that I became a Kawaei Rina fan. She is being pushed by AKB’s management, yes, but I find a lot about her appealing. And one of the things that convinced me, in part, was Haste to Waste.

This is one of the few idol songs where one of the most notable things is the lyrics; a lot of the lyrics were taken from the AKB Mechaike Bakajo special of 2013. Haste to Waste takes a lot of the goofiest, dumbest answers and puts them in the song, which are still pretty funny out of context. The song itself is a lot of fun, as well. It makes being kind of dumb sound epic, that by being the “Baka center” that Kawaei Rina is somehow a legendary person.

Haste to Waste is a fairly standard idol song, but it does being standard so so well. It’s catchy, the arrangement sounds great, and it serves the fantastic lyrics well.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013- Part 1

Alright, now that we have those honorable mentions out of the way, here’s my top 25 songs of the year! I’d just like to remind everyone that this is a personal list, and one that’s intended to be a list of my favorites, not what I think is particularly best. On this list I generally limited groups to a couple of songs each, otherwise it would be dominated by just a few groups. These are my favorite songs spanning my entire idol fandom.

25. Oyoge! Shirasuchan! – KAGAJO*4S

After having very little interest in Takoyaki Rainbow, this year I wondered if my Stardust Promotions fandom was just contained to Team Syachihoko. However, I was very surprised and pleased by what I’ve heard from KAGAJO*4S so far and their first single’s main song, Oyoge! Shirasuchan, is quite excellent. If the name doesn’t tell you, it’s a take on the classic song ‘Oyoge! Taiyakikun’ (which is the highest selling single ever on the Oricon). However, it took me a while to really get that the melody is in there and it’s not just a reference to the title, because they do such a good job of making this children’s song from the 70s sound fresh and exciting.

Oyoge! Shirasuchan is one of the lesser polished and lesser interesting songs of the year, really. It’s pretty standard idol stuff, though the way it gives new life to an older song is wonderful. That’s why it’s at #25 on my list. However, this and the other early KAGAJO*4S songs were what got me into the group, which is why I imagine this is going to be a favorite for years to come.

24. HANABI – LinQ

I’ve known of LinQ for a while, but 2013 is the year I took notice of the group, and I think my interest in LinQ is only going to grow in the year to come. While I debated over whether to include HANABI or CHIKU-TAKU in this list, I ended up going with HANABI because it’s so good and I’m a sucker for idol songs incorporating traditional sounds in there. And HANABI did, in a completely nonsensical break that used festival music. Besides that, though, the chorus is completely catchy and fun, and the entire song has a great beat. The song is also mixed so that while it has a mature sound it also has the energy and fun of a younger/cute idol group, which is something we unfortunately don’t get all the time.

The one thing that unfortunately brings this down is that unfortunately the verses can be a bit slow and aren’t quite as interesting as the fantastic chorus. But really, for the most part it’s serviceable, and while the chorus is the section that shines the rest isn’t bad, either.

23. Ee Ka!? – S/Mileage

Last year S/Mileage put out Suki yo Junjou Hankouki and Samui ne, two of my least favorite S/Mileage songs. I was losing interest in the group when this year they came out with Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita, Yattaruchan/Atarashii Watashi ni Nare and then, finally, Ee Ka/Ii Yatsu. After losing two original members and gaining a new set, S/Mileage hasn’t been a cohesive group, not really. They had to find a new identity after these big changes. And fortunately, they did so with their last few singles.

Ee Ka!? appeals a lot to me personally because I do like some hip hop influence in my idol music and I prefer it on the light-hearted side. Ee ka!? is a fun song with a lot of attitude. I love all the attitude the girls have in the song. But almost more than that Ee ka!? feels almost like a culmination of some of the experiments that S/Mileage has had with songs lately. It has a mature feel to it, but it’s silly. It has a hip hop influence of sorts but has a cute chorus. It’s also one time where I feel like the entire group feels cohesive and utilized. Even Katsuta Rina, who often seems to be shoved in the back, gets some solo ee kas and gets to participate in the rap duets. Every member feels right here, and like a valuable part of the group. If S/Mileage continues like this, they will definitely keep improving a lot as a group.

21. Zenryoku Banzai! My Glory! – The Possible

If you told me last year that one of my favorite songs of 2013 would be from The Possible, I would have laughed at you. However, it happened; Zenryoku Banzai! My Glory is a great song, and probably my favorite song to come from the TNX/Nice Girl Project groups, at the very least my favorite in years. Even though it wasn’t written by Tsunku, it reminds me of the best songs written by Tsunku during that era where he wrote a lot for his TNX groups; it’s very catchy and is a very well paced song. It’s not the most interesting song of the year and I feel like I’ve heard songs like it before, which is why it’s so low on this list despite how much I adored it. However, it’s very polished, very well made, and is overall a great pop song.

21. Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke – Morning Musume

Again, if you told me Morning Musume would have a huge boom in quality and in sales in 2013, I would have laughed. Yet here we are, with Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke one of my favorites of the year. Some people aren’t really hearing the electronic Morning Musume sound again and again. And really, I get that. I’m not into the Platinum era of MM, and it does get a bit annoying when the same sound gets reused. However, I really like the direction that Morning Musume has been going this past year, and I feel like they have at least some variety with songs like Ai no Gundan which sound different. The thing about Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke is that it feels like the polished electronic Morning Musume sound; it has the elements that Morning Musume has favored over the past year or so and has just run with it. The song is just one big ball of energy that doesn’t let up, and there’s something good about a song that packs that much of a punch. And I have to say that “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke” might be one of the best lines to say from an idol song this year; it’s just a fun lyric. This is Morning Musume at the best its been in a number of years, and I’m thrilled that the sales are reflecting this surge in quality.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013 – Honorable Mentions Part 2

This is the last section of Honorable mentions, I swear! These are songs that I wanted in my top 25 and might have put in there if I was writing this at another time, but unfortunately I can’t make work in there. But they’re still some of my favorites of the year.

Te wo Tsunagou – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku

Ebichu had a good year; Ume, Te wo Tsunagou/Kindan no Karma, Mikakunin Chuugakusei X. Even though they don’t hold my interest as much as the other Stardust groups, they have a lot of excellent songs. Te wo Tsunagou is one of the most hard songs to put on this list because of how emotional it made me; I cried the first few times I listened to the song and watched the PV. This song is just really pretty and focuses more on emotion than Stardust’s default of weird, which I liked. It’s not quite something I’ve listened to as much as I thought I might, and it doesn’t really break new ground, but it’s a beautiful song that was made quite well.

Get Down! – Momoiro Clover Z

One thing readers may not know about me is that while idol music has definitely become the music I listen to most, I like other stuff. Specifically I listen to a lot of indie/alternative rock/power pop, and I love going to see live shows. I haven’t listened to too much OK Go, but Damian Kulash really channeled what I love about this type of music, the sound of it, and put it into MomoClo. Get Down doesn’t sound a lot like a lot of idol music because it sounds like some of the alternative/indie music I listen to. This makes it really unique and fun to hear MomoClo’s take on the genre. I hope other idol groups get in on this type of sound.

Ijime Dame Zettai – Babymetal

Ijime, Dame, Zettai is fantastic. Honestly, I think the fact that I first heard this song in 2012 hurt it a little (though it came out in 2013); it’s just been a bit overplayed for me. However, it’s still probably the most metal Babymetal song out there. It shows off Suzuka’s fantastic vocals, and it has the right level of seriousness to it without being too dark; it’s not difficult to listen to, but it still feels like a big step for Babymetal in terms of doing stuff that could legitimately be enjoyed by metal fans. Ijime, Dame, Zettai was the first idol song of the year (or so) that I heard, and it definitely started the year off with a bang.

Kamonegix – NMB48
While another NMB48 song is getting higher on the list, NMB in general did wonderfully this year. Their sales were great, they finally made it to Kohaku. Kamonegix is an amazing song; it’s fun, fast-paced, and a very cool dance track. However, it’s just not as good as the other NMB songs I placed higher, and just didn’t make it. This is one of the songs that I’m bummed didn’t get higher on this list, because it’s really a top song of the year.

Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita – S/Mileage
Yattaruchan – S/Mileage
S/Mileage had a wonderful year (my top 25 might have some in there). These songs are both VERY different, but are both very S/Mileage at the same time. Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita is a very sweet song; the strings in the instrumental are just beautiful. The song is clearly aiming to be pretty and succeeds. Yattaruchan is slightly (or not just slightly) hyperactive and energetic in a way that I feel has defined the current era of S/Mileage, and it’s a whole lot of fun while simultaneously being a nice song to listen to. Both are songs I listen to regularly, and they’re both songs I’m sad can’t be higher on this list.

Sekaichuu ni I Love You – Rhymeberry
I was SURE I was going to put this on my top 25 list; it’s so weird and fun. It mixes rap with 1920s-1930s era swing/jazz. I think this song is wonderful and it totally deserves to be one of the most lauded songs of the year. However I think that another Rhymeberry song ended up being a better song and I didn’t feel like I could justify both of them on my top 25 list.

Never Ending Voyage – Aso Natsuko

Both Never Ending Voyage and Moonrise Romance, Nacchan’s two singles this year, were excellent. They aren’t quite Nacchan’s best but they’re worthy entries into her collection of singles. Unfortunately I didn’t like either quite enough to put her into the top 25. Which is a shame; I really wanted to fit an Aso Natsuko song into my top 25 songs of the year. However, I didn’t think it’d be right to put her in my top 25 just because I love Nacchan. At the end of the day, Never Ending Voyage and Moonrise Romance just didn’t make the cut.

Sansei Kawaii – SKE48
Usually SKE48 releases impress me, even though all my favorites from SKE48 have graduated. The past few weren’t my favorites; Choco no Dorei was fine but not quite the caliber of release that SKE really deserves. However I was surprised and impressed by Sansei Kawaii pretty recently. I think by itself the melody/song isn’t that extraordinary, but it’s the arrangement that makes it sound so stellar. There’s a really epic feel to the arrangement which lends itself surprisingly well to the song.

=Melon Juice – HKT48
Yes, I know, I’m not putting Melon Juice on there, I’m a terrible person. Honestly, Melon Juice was super hyped up. A lot of that was me hyping it up to myself; I was so excited about the song even after a 20 second clip of it. I love the rock feel it has and the high energy; it took me a while to really open up to Suki Suki Skip, but Melon Juice felt like the single HKT48 needed. However, as the hype down, my enthusiasm for it did as well. I still think it’s a great song, but it’s hard for me to be super excited about it anymore.

Den Den Passion – Dempagumi.inc
This honestly SHOULD be in my top 25, but I didn’t want to put too much Dempagumi.inc in there because they’re already very prominent in my top 25 songs. Whoops.

My Top 25 Songs of 2013 – Honorable Mentions Part 1

Whoops, thought I posted this on Monday! My bad! Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Yes, part 1. I recently sat down and thought of all the songs that I’d consider to be my favorites of the year. I wondered if I’d be able to get to 25. I hit 47.

As such, I’m doing a fairly lengthy honorable mentions section. These are all songs I think are good, but not quite the best of the year. These are songs that made an impression on me, perhaps due to their artist, but never reached the top 25 level. This section in particular is songs that I wasn’t really considering but are good or memorable in one way or the other.

Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu – Doll Elements
This song is pretty typical idol, and the verse isn’t particularly great. However this is one of those songs that gets stuck in my head all the time, and the chorus is catchy enough that it’s remained memorable. Even after covering all 111 Tokyo Idol Festival acts, this song remained memorable for me. While I try to cover each act as well as I can, there gets to be a point when all the groups start to bleed together. Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu isn’t even particularly interesting, but it’s just catchy and fun, and made me remember an otherwise not that memorable act.

Toshishita no Otoko no Ko – Candy Macchiato

I would have actually put this on my top 25 list, but realized it’s a cover. Nevertheless it’s a cover of a fantastic song and a really well done cover, modernizing the song without trying too hard. It’s really great, and impressed me.

Ume – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku
Ume came out at the beginning of the year. It seemed like it would be a given for me; Hyadain plus a Stardust group. And this is really a great song. However, there was just so many good songs this year, including great Ebichu songs, that I couldn’t even fully consider Ume among the top. Still, it’s energetic, fun, and fully Hyadain. So naturally I approve.

Ichigo Hakase – Tochiotome25
GYO-ZA Party – Tochiotome25

Tochiotome25 was one of the groups I discovered this year during my Tokyo Idol Festival coverage. And I’m pretty impressed by how fun these two songs are, and I’ve listened to them a fair amount. However, they aren’t quite good enough to hit that top 25. They aren’t really polished and they’re not interesting beyond being super high in energy and utterly fun. So while I adore Ichigo Hakase and GYO-ZA Party, they don’t quite make it into my top favorites.

Asian Celebration – Berryz Koubou
It seems like every year a Berryz Koubou song makes my honorable mentions list. Asian Celebration is just fun, energetic, and very danceable. Even though Berryz is the group I follow least in Hello!Project and I’ve lost most of my interest in the group, Asian Celebration was the one song that made me buy it (off itunes) and play it a lot. And since I have such a low interest in Berryz, that’s significant in itself.

Samurai Girls – Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari)
Up Up Girls is one of those groups I want to follow more. I mean, Sekine Azusa is in there. However, to be honest, most of the music I find to be underwhelming at best. I like some of it but I’m rarely wowed. Up Up Typhoon was the song that got a lot of people’s attention, but Samurai Girls was my favorite Up Up Girls song of the year. I like the mixture of the electronic sound and the heavier beat; this is a type of thing we don’t often hear from idol groups. I mean, the whole electronic/dance song has been popular, but this heavier beat/darker sound feels unusual. It’s much more of a dance track than a lot of the other electronic idol songs out there. I normally don’t gravitate to this sort of thing, but something about Samurai Girls appeals to me.

Birthday Wedding -Kashiwagi Yuki
I didn’t think I liked this song. I’m not sure if I even do now. But I’ve gotten “Tanjoubi ni kekkon shiyou” stuck in my head countless times since Birthday Wedding came out. It’s one of those songs that I have a weird affection for, even if I’m not sure if I think it’s any good.

Yoropiku Pikuyoro – Bakusute Sotokanda Icchoume
While Bakusute’s best song will always be, IMO, Produce, their second indie single Yoropiku Pikuyoro is also up there. It’s just so manic and frantic in its pace and energy level that I can’t help but love this.

Nogizaka46 – Girls’ Rule
I liked a lot of Nogizaka stuff this year, but there was nothing that really grabbed me like Hashire Bicycle (which was in my top 5 songs of last year!) However, Girls’ Rule came pretty close; it has a great chorus and the arrangement is quite good. I’m also very fond of the PV, but hey, separate lists. The way that the instrumental leads into the sung parts, though, is pretty great. It’s not quite enough of an earworm or interesting enough to