5. Cheeky Parade – Candy Pop Galaxy Bomb
Cheeky Parade hasn’t been on my radar much since their debut – iDOL Street, Avex’s idol arm, has never been much more than hit or miss for me. However, Cheeky Parade’s PV they made in New York city drew me in, for which I am grateful, because this is a great song.
Candy Pop Galaxy Bomb is part of what I think of as the “Hyadain school” of idol songwriting, where the song is fragmented and contains different varied sections, often clashing with one another. Candy Pop Galaxy Bomb is all over the place in the best of ways, and often does so with a great energy. While the song wasn’t written by Hyadain, it feels like a meeting of the minds – taking the hyperactive and interesting idol pop that has been doing well lately and combining it with the level of polish that I have come to expect with Avex artists.
Candy Pop almost always has a great, driving energy throughout the whole song which goes a long way to unifying the sound. Even though the song contains a few slower passages, those feel like a contrast to the energy of the song. The members do a lot to sell the style changes, as well – I don’t know the members very well, but it feels like just about every girl in Chikipa has a moment to shine that fits her perfectly.
While I’m not sure if this is going to make me go back and reevaluate Cheeky Parade, Candy Pop Galaxy Bomb was a joy to listen to, and solidly one of my favorite songs of the year.
4. Takoyaki Rainbow – Meccha Funk
Part of the reason this list is so late is because I nearly had a change of heart about this placement. Not about Meccha Funk – it is a fantastic song. However, Odore Seishun Carnival, another Takoniji B-Side, really got on my radar in a way it hadn’t before. So that’s another honorable mention.
I absolutely love when idol songs incorporate any kind of funk and/or disco into the music – hell, this blog IS called Happy Disco. And Meccha Funk is a joy from start to finish. While Takoniji does a good job of adding a lot of energy to the vocals (which are spoken more than sung), the real star of Meccha Funk is the songwriting and instrumentation. The songwriting and the background vocals remind me a bit of Tsunku’s better songwriting, especially some of his Nice Girl Project stuff (why do I get Mecha Mote I Love You vibes from this?). The song builds itself up really well, and the best parts of the song are sections before the chorus, where the song builds up.
But the instrumentation goes a long way in making this one of the most fun songs of the year. The horns, the aforementioned background vocals, all have a really funky vibe which is super fun to listen to.
Takoyaki Rainbow proved in 2014 that they are a force to be watched like their sister groups, and I am excited to hear more from them!
3. Dempagumi.inc – Bari 3 Kyowakoku
I feel like I sometimes take for granted how good Dempagumi.inc is. All of their music consistently does it for me, and they consistently make interesting stuff, but I don’t talk about them nearly as often as I should. So, here it is: Dempagumi.inc is one of the most consistently interesting groups with a commitment to high quality music and PVs.
Bari 3 Kyowakoku is Dempa doing what it does best – high energy songs with electronic backing. It’s a lot more unified than other Dempa songs I’ve ranked highly up here, but this allows Dempa to shine beyond just having weird music. The melody is infectious, the drum beat is great, and Dempa’s high pitched vocals fit perfectly with this song. This song is incredibly addicting, which is probably why I ranked it higher than other Dempa contenders. This is one of those songs where I just had to keep listening.
Bari 3 Kyowakoku is Dempagumi.inc at its finest, and I am happy they have been able to keep up the momentum for so long.
2. Team Syachihoko – Dakishimete Anthem
OK, here we go, another Syachihoko song on the list! Dakishimete Anthem was the most promoted song off of Team Syachihoko’s first album, Himatsubushi, and for good reason – it is a whole lot of fun. The above video is from Syachi’s first Budokan live, which shows part of why they promoted this song so heavily – this is a LOT of fun live.
The song is really rock-influenced, hence the guitar solo by Japanese rock star ROLLY in this live show. However, it contains a lot of really Syachihoko elements, too – the rap section featuring Haruna is one of my favorite parts of the song. I also like the back and forth between the members, especially during the “woah woah woah” parts. At this point Team Syachihoko’s members know how to handle high energy, and they perform this perfectly.
The melody is incredibly catchy as well, and the pacing of this song is just about perfect – even though the song is four and a half minutes long, it feels like this song finishes instantaneously, with just how fun it all is. This song never drags or wavers, even when it goes into something like the rap section or one of the slower parts. It is a really well put together song.
Dakishimete Anthem is easily the most fun song of the year and probably my most listened-to song of the year.
1. Team Syachihoko – Shampoo Hat
One of the things that has made me the most nervous, as a Team Syachihoko fan, is their growth. Now, I want Team Syachihoko to achieve whatever goals they want to achieve, and I definitely don’t want them to remain stagnant. However, Momoiro Clover Z has made several missteps in their growth as a group, and while I admire a lot of what they do as artists, a lot of my fire as a fan has gone out. So, when Team Syachihoko mentioned that Shampoo Hat was a new side of the group, I was kind of worried. However, I shouldn’t have worried, because Shampoo Hat is fantastic from start to finish.
Shampoo Hat is one of the most emotionally mature songs I’ve really encountered in the idol world. Not that it’s a mature subject matter – the song is about first love. However, while the song might ostensibly be about high school first love, it takes a mature look at this. The song focuses on the uncertainty of first love and this is a first love that is unrequited. One of the first lines is “is my heart beating fast is your fault?” which then morphs into “My heart beating fast is your fault” (much more certain) which then turns to “My heart is beating fast, you feel the same, right?” which then turns to “the only person whose heart beat fast was me.” (Sorry for the poor translation but you get the drift). The shampoo hat in question is a metaphor for the protection of innocence, protecting the girls from first love and subsequent heartbreak.
Beyond the lyrics, however, it’s still very mature. The melody is unusual and often rambling – it doesn’t sound like a typical idol song melody. I also imagine this song challenged the members, as the melody is often all over the place. However, this makes for a unique, interesting sound. The instrumentation also shines, focusing on heavy strings and a strong bass line. There are some electronic sounds in there, which add an interesting contrast to the traditional feel of the strings. Even though this is seen as a bit more of a traditional path than Team Syachihoko’s usual music, the unusual melody and contrast within the instrumentation adds enough weirdness to make it still identifiable as a Team Syachihoko song.
The members all sell it well, but I was particularly impressed by Sakura Nao, who takes the first solo. Itou Chiyuri is generally seen as the strongest singer of the group, but Nao is improving rapidly.
This song is just about perfect, as an idol song, as a Team Syachihoko song, as a pop song. I cannot get enough of Shampoo Hat, and I think this shows that I don’t have anything to worry about in terms of liking Team Syachihoko’s growth as a group.