Song of the Day #40: Team Syachihoko – Cherie

I just got my copy of Team Syachihoko’s latest album, Owari to Hajimari, and I had to recommend a Team Syachihoko song today.

Team Syachihoko is known for being like Momoior Clover Z but louder and more energetic. While I would agree with this, for the past couple of years the group has started to mature and started to expand beyond that to having more normal idol music – when the group says “we’re doing something we haven’t done it’s more a normal song.

That being said, Cherie is cute and charming old-school Jpop – it feels like the melody should be from some 80s pop star. It’s cute and well performed. However, the arrangement shines as well, full of strings and a variety of instruments.

Cherie is just charming. It’s not heavy or difficult to listen to, but it is instead sweet and cute, something that it took Team Syachihoko years to do.

Song of the Day #39: Rhymeberry – Sekaichuu ni I Love You

My Facebook memory for when I first discovered this song popped up today and I had to share this one as my song of the day.

While it took a while to get into Lyrical School, I’ve been liking them a lot lately. I think a big part of what prevented me from getting into them in a big way was that early Rhymeberry was such an oddball idol rap group. Sekaichuu ni I Love You is a weird song. I still don’t know if the 1910s/1920s jazz instrumental was a cover or if it was sampled from something, but it’s not at all what you’d expect to listen to with JPop rap from the 2010s. Yet, somehow, it works. The instrumental is great, with a lot of clarinet (my favorite) and is well performed. The members of Rhymeberry are not quite at their peak yet (I still don’t know if Miri has hit her peak, she’s so great), but they do an admirable job with what they’re doing. The lyrics include the phrase “dope the shit” which is one of the funniest things I think I’ve heard from idol lyrics, and also namedrop Han Solo which is a nice touch.

Sekaichuu ni is just eccentric. Even within the small subgenre that is idol rap, there is absolutely no other song even remotely like this. It’s unabashedly weird and I just want more songs that feel free to be this odd.

Song of the Day #38: AKB48 – Sugar Rush

Today, for once, I wasn’t thinking at all about idols – I was thinking about movies, specifically The Oscars. While the Academy Awards and their relative importance (or lack thereof) are topics that I could talk about a thousand times, that’s not why I’m here – Happy Disco is an idol music blog, after all, and I have to keep on topic. So it’s time to feature a song that’s been featured in an American movie!

While Sugar Rush didn’t get a nomination, it was kind of amazing to hear an AKB48 song featured in an American movie, or more accurately have an American studio ask AKB48 to do a song. While in hindsight I don’t think that Sugar Rush is in any way Oscar Worthy, it’s a fun, upbeat song that fits the movie it’s from perfectly (Wreck-It Ralph) and is seriously one of the catchiest idol songs ever.

Song of the Day #37: Aso Natsuko – Movement of Magic

I just got the Facebook notification that I met Aso Natsuko exactly five years ago, when I was at Hyper Japan in London. It was my first ever idol concert experience, and it was a very fun time. Natsuko is a skilled performer and all of her songs are really fun.

While I’ve already mentioned some of her music before, I can’t stress enough how great all three of her albums are, especially considering I’m bond of all three for different reasons. Precious Tone, her second album, reminds me the most of London. My Starlit Point is probably the most polished, and is almost perfect. And Movement of Magic, Aso Natsuko’s first album, has a lot of great songs written by my favorite songwriter (Maeyamada Kenichi) and is perhaps her most straight up fun album, which is reflected in its title track.

Movement of Magic is perhaps the most danceable Natsuko song I can think of – it has a great beat, has more of an electronic sound to it, and its tempo is probably the best paced song for that. It’s fun, catchy and with a solid beat. While there are other Natsuko songs I prefer, Movement of Magic is one I revisit quite frequently.

Song of the Day #36: Happiness – Ordinary Girls

Speaking of groups I haven’t followed to much of. While I like a lot of songs, I never really feel compelled to follow them very closely. So it was a surprise that one of the songs of 2016 I’ve listened to most was Happiness’ Ordinary Girls.

It has a very KPop, Western sound to it, but it also has a completely catchy melody and a fantastic beat. I also really enjoy how the song transitions from verse to chorus – the verse is relatively upbeat and peppy, though with that kind of KPop-y beat. However, the song has a strong transition to a darker electronic beat for the in your face strong chorus. The members of Happiness perform this so well, and have a lot of attitude. The vocalists are really strong too, and make this song work – it’s the type of song where I can’t imagine a, well, ordinary idol group perform it.

Ordinary Girls isn’t the type of song I choose to listen to on a very regular basis, but it has somehow become a recent favorite.

Song of the Day #35: Armor Girls – Anatatona Lover

There’s a lot I don’t get and don’t really like about Kamen Joshi and its subgroup Armor Girls. The focus on gimmicks and suggestive thumbnails on their videos doesn’t work for me, and of course their weirdly joke-y pro-Trump video wasn’t great either. They seem like their main product is people following the members and the more gimmicky side of the groups, especially considering they don’t put out very much music.

All that being said, the biggest issue for me with Kamen Joshi is their lack of output and new music because some Kamen Joshi music is really great, especially Armor Girls. Armor Girls combines a more traditional Irish sound with strings and flutes with a more pop music sound and it somehow works REALLY well. This makes their sound completely unique but great.

All of their songs are fantastic, but Anatanona Lover is particularly great – I love the strings, the opening of it, and the bridge that weirdly reminds me of something like a sailor’s shanty? It has a darker feel to it and it works really well. While I listen to all of Armor Girls’ music on a very regular basis, Anatatona Lover is the song that pops in my head when I’m doing something else that makes me need to listen to Armor Girls.

Song of the Day #34: AKB48 – Pioneer

I realized today that while I’ve featured a lot of different artists and groups on this list, I haven’t focused much on AKB48 and other 48 groups – just SKE48’s Aishiteraburu. I suspect a lot of that is because of how my fan level for AKB48 and its assorted groups has changed over the years. While, in my opinion, the main singles and songs for AKB48 haven’t been quite as good as of late, one of the biggest disappointments is just how little attention is paid to AKB48’s theater. One of the biggest things that drew me to AKB48 as a fan was the concept of the AKB48 theater, where members perform regularly. It’s just so unheard of for Western pop acts, which made AKB feel unique. While there are still regular stage performances, new stages are really rare. It’s understandable – the most expensive tickets at these stage shows are 3100 yen, so it’s not really the most economically viable experience. It’s just a bit disappointing.

The thing is, most of my favorite AKB48 songs originated in the theater. Since you have 15-16 songs, I find that they can be a lot more interesting than what gets performed as singles. While Pioneer isn’t one of the weirder songs performed in the AKB theater, but it has a lot of style and is one of the more fun AKB songs. I’m planning on writing an article about this, but a lot is made about AKB’s slow start – while they’re the most popular idol group in Japan now, at their first performance they only performed for seven people. So even though Pioneer was written and performed when AKB was at its peak, it still has the energy and lyrics of a group trying to prove itself.

Song of the Day #33: Nogizaka46 – Seifuku no Mannequin

This is a pretty perfect dance song – the chorus is so incredibly strong. While I have a lot of affection for Nogizaka46’s earlier, classic idol sound (especially the French pop sound of Hashire Bicycle) it’s impossible to ignore that Seifuku no Mannequin is a great song. My favorite group, Team Syachihoko, covered this song in concert – they don’t often cover other idol groups (preferring to cover bands or other pop acts) so its kind of huge. I remember watching a big idol special on TV, and every fan kind went wild for Seifuku no Mannequin, regardless of which act they supported. It’s impossible to deny how catchy and how wonderful Seifuku no Mannequin is.

It’s hard to really describe how great Seifuku no Mannequin is – it has a great beat, an incredibly catchy melody. It’s so well written, that I don’t know if I have any criticisms about it.

Song of the Day #32: Wakita Monari – Boy Friend

When I wrote about The Cut I mentioned that it would be on my top 25 list if it wasn’t a cover. Boy Friend is the first song I’m pretty sure will be on that top 25 list in general. It’s Wakita Monari’s second single (who I featured early on with her first single, In The City), and man is it good. Monari was a member of Especia, and Boy Friend feels like a continuation of that, a take on 80s pop music. That all being said, Boy Friend feels less intentionally dated – instead of focusing on the gaudy, dated city pop that Especia focused on when Monari was a member, intentionallhy being both nostalgic and kind of tacky, Boy Friend is what’s good about the 80s pop music. It reminds me of Carly Rae Jepson’s fantastic album Emotion, which has that same kind of feel.

The melody is incredibly catchy and Monari sells it completely.

Song of the Day #31: Country Girls – Wakatteiru no ni Gomen Ne

Wakatteiru no ni Gomen Ne is a transitional single. Country Girls’ first single songs, Itooshikute Gomen ne and Koi Dorobou, were both very cutesy, sweet pop songs. Then the group’s most popular member, Uta, left after that single. Country Girls would then go on to reinvent themselves and do more rockabilly, 50s style pop music with their 3rd single, Boogie Woogie Love, but with the new members of the group. Therefore, there are two styles of song, and Wakatteiru no ni Gomen Ne was stuck in the middle.

That being said, it’s probably my favorite Country Girls song, at least if you count Country Girls separately from Country Musume. Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne is one of the catchiest and possibly best written idol pop songs of the past couple of years. It has a great energy to it – it’s not frantic, but it’s fast-paced. It doesn’t feel too energetic, but it’s nowhere near laid-back. Because of this it’s a song that I almost always feel like listening to. The arrangement is beautiful as well – the upbeat keys sound particularly good. While I love the Rockabilly feel of current Country Girls, part of me yearns for more songs like Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne.