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.