Here it is guys, the main event!
25. Babymetal – Gimme Choco
Babymetal had quite an eventful year, but most of it was just that – events. Babymetal released their first, self-titled album, but spent most of the year touring, and doing a lot of that touring abroad. It’s a very solid strategy, but that means that there wasn’t too much new Babymetal music out this year. While I liked their album just fine, it did the all too common idol album thing where most of the album was already existing singles and B-Sides; there were only a couple of new songs.
Gimme Choco has a lot going for it, and does a lot well. I like how the heavier metal seems to be in the verses where Yui and Moa shout, and I like how the chorus is a bit poppier. This song is one of Babymetal’s most poppy songs since Doki Doki Morning, but that’s definitely not bad. The electric guitar solo is really fantastic, and the whole instrumentation is great. I love the arrangement that manages to mix metal, idol pop, and a bit of electronic music in there. What Babymetal does best is mix and match genres, and while Gimme Choco isn’t as obvious as something like Megitsune, it still has clear metal and pop in there, which makes for a fun listen.
Gimme Choco isn’t as successful as Headbanger or Megitsune, but still is a fun song. It’s easy to see why Gimme Choco caused the viral sensation it did.
24. Rev.from DVL – Do My Best!!
While I’d consider Love Arigatou to be a stronger single song, Do My Best has the distinction of being one of the most fun songs of the year to me. While their third single, REAL, stood out to a lot of people, Do My Best is just a happy energetic song that is just trying to be happy and fun. Its melody is addictive and memorable, the arrangement is cute but not cloying, and the pacing of the song is pretty impeccable. It’s not trying to experiment, but is instead a very successful pop song. The song builds all the way to the end with a driving beat and never outstays its welcome.
Even though Rev became popular because of Hashimoto Kanna’s rise to popularity, Do My Best does a great job of proving that Rev is ready for the big time. Their first single is all covers of previously released music, and while it’s fantastic (I really wish I could put Love Arigatou and Kimi Dake no Story on this list), it’s still all older music that they have done for a while. Do My Best!! was their first new music after their major debut, so there was really a lot to prove. Could they continue the momentum? I say yes. Do My Best is the type of fun and happy idol song that made me fall in love with the idol genre in the first place, so even if it’s not the most intriguing song of the year I feel comfortable putting it on this list.
23. Team Daiouika – Diving
If you haven’t heard of Team Daiouika, you are probably not alone. The team was a temporary group that was formed for this year’s 3B Junior concert, and to be on the 3B Junior best album. They will probably not continue being a group, as two of the members went on to join Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku. Still, man I love Diving a lot.
Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head, had no idea what it was, and then realize that it was some song you listened to weeks prior? No? Well, that happened with me with Diving. It’s a relatively simple idol song, but I love the way the melody goes back and forth between members of the group. The arrangement isn’t really anything special, but is a solid guitar-heavy arrangement that goes a long way in supporting the stand out melody and vocal line.
This isn’t really anything new, which is why it’s so low down my list. However, I do think it’s a really solid song for the idol genre, and one to be looked to for good songs within the idol genre. It doesn’t break new ground or anything, but it’s strong melody and vocal line does a lot to elevate this song into one of my most liked songs of 2014.
22. HR – Evolution Da
I am very pleased by HR’s rise to relevance. The group first grabbed my attention when they performed at Tokyo Idol Festival, and now it seems like they are ready for the big time. Evolution Da was the single that I think really grabbed a lot of people’s attention, and it certainly got me even more intrigued in HR. Starting out with the plucked, almost Spanish-sounding guitar line and then moving into a more electronic sound mixed in with heavy percussion and guitar, this is an unusual, but cool sounding idol song.
This song reminds me of older-school anime them songs, in the best way; it’s a song that’s specifically geared to sound epic. Just about every second has a lot of stuff going on, never letting up except for a single moment of silence later in the song. I really like how the strong beat can combine with the lyrics, about becoming a different person from yesterday (hence, evolution). The lyrics have a great, strong message, and are backed up by the fantastic melody and instrumentation.
There was so much strong music out this year that Evolution Da has to be down this low, but it definitely made me much more excited for HR’s future.
21. Babyraids – Koi wa Panic
Babyraids’ first album, Ji Tora Shoukai, was a bit of a revelation for me this year. While I had passively enjoyed Babyraids’ debut single for a while, their entire first album is really quite good. I really hope it ends up being a sleeper hit, or at least gets recognition from the idol fan community, because Babyraids is really putting out a lot of solid stuff.
Koi wa Panic is a bit of an odd duck among all of the rest of the songs on this list because it is relatively mellow. However, it’s a song that never happens to be boring while being mellow, which is the key. Koi wa Panic comes across like an indie rock song or a classic rock song with a mellower melody. Even when the instrumentation veers into being more minimalist, the sound feels full. Every element in the song feels like it’s working together for something great, which is always good to hear. Nothing feels excessive, and yet it never feels like it’s missing anything.
Koi wa Panic is a good song that I didn’t expect to find as an idol song, in a good way. It feels more akin to a good indie rock song, and I’d really like to hear more songs like this, from Babyraids and from the idol world as a whole.