20. Rev. from DVL – Step by Step
I can’t find a video link that contains this song, but if you haven’t checked out the B-Sides to the Rev. from DVL singles, please do! There are some really surprising and excellent songs in there. One song in particular is Kimi Dake no Story, a duet between members Nagisa and Miki, and Eien Puzzle. But man, Step by Step is one of my favorite songs of the year and ended up being my favorite Rev song, after a year of three really solid groups.
It’s hard to explain why I latched onto this song so much. The back and forth in the vocals during the verses is great, the (admittedly fake) strings in the instrumentation sound great, and everything has a nice energy to it. But really, it’s the repetition of “step by step” in the chorus that got to me. The back and forth between “step by step” and the other words of the chorus have a great, infectious effect. I first really listened to this song during one of their performances at Tokyo Idol Festival and since then I had the song stuck in my head. This is one of the catchiest, most infectious melodies of the year.
This isn’t one of the most groundbreaking singles, but Rev wasn’t one of the most groundbreaking groups. Yet, despite that, Rev has succeeded by having a discography of really solid pop tunes with catchy melodies. So while I might not think they are the most interesting songs of the year, they are some of the songs I’ll be listening to in the future.
19. Aso Natsuko – My Starlit Point
This is a very bittersweet placement on my list, as Natsuko announced this year that she was putting her music career on hiatus. I don’t blame her; last I checked she was studying law at a prestigious university as well as being a television presenter. However it is bittersweet that her last album ended up being so good, possibly her best album. Natsuko’s music has always been a very high standard, but My Starlit Point as an album was cohesive, well-written music, and its titular song is no exception. While not as strong as her recent singles Moonrise Romance and Never Ending Voyage, My Starlit Point goes heavy on the strings and guitar to create a fast-paced yet beautiful song. It’s arranged beautifully, and Natsuko is at her finest, vocally. It’s more laidback than something dramatic like Never Ending Voyage, but it does a lot to show off how strong Natsuko is. I’ll definitely miss her, as she was a bright spot in the idol business.
18. RYUTist – Chu-la-la
One of the best moments of my year was seeing RYUTist live, but man do I wish they had put out this song before the live because this is fantastic! I love a good deal of RYUTist’s music, but I don’t think I would complain if they veered more to the style of Chu-La-La. This is definitely old-school, but what it reminds me of more than anything is 2nd generation Tanpopo, stuff like Otome Pasta ni Kandou. This song gets that style perfectly, down to the background vocals of “ooh la la.” Deciding to do this song is one thing, but the execution of it is near perfect, from the vocals to the melody to the arrangement. The back and forth between the main vocals and the background, for example, is stellar. This song chose to have a specific style and just aced it, and it happens to be a style of song I really love. This is a big highlight of the year, and I hope that RYUTist can keep it up!
17. Team Syachihoko – It’s New Sekai
Choosing a selection of Team Syachihoko songs to include on this list was no easy feat. So there are going to be others higher up on this list. This is a late addition, a B-Side off their newest single, Shampoo Hat. When Shampoo Hat, a much more normal song, came out, I think a lot of people wondered how Syachi’s music would end up in the future, since Syachihoko has long been a group known for upbeat, weird music. However, It’s New Sekai proves that they aren’t completely doing a new thing. It’s New Sekai is fast paced and catchy from the getgo; it’s hard to not get the “Wow wow wow” stuck in your head. The further you go into the song, thought, the more interesting it gets, with tempo and style changes. The slower sections are very beautiful, with piano-heavy instrumentation. I also love the execution of this song; the members really growl out the word “ishibashi” for example, and get into this.
I really don’t like using the word “epic” because it’s really overused, but that’s how I feel like I have to describe this song. It feels like there is a sense of scale to it; even the title, “It’s New World” has a sense of scale. Immediately after this song was first played, people started saying it sounded like an anime ending, and I think it’s because of that sense of weight the song has.
It’s New Sekai is a fantastic song, and one I’m glad to have in the Team Syachihoko discography.
16. LinQ – Uessai! Gassai!
I believe I said this last year, but I want to get more into LinQ. I really like the leader, Amano Natsu, and the group is a bundle of fun, as in Uessai! Gassai!. This single had quite a bit of hype surrounding it, as it was produced by Dempagumi.inc’s producer. And, by the vast amount of energy in this song, it shows. This song is very high energy, with a great melody and a really fun back and forth between the members. It reminds me a bit of SKE48’s 1 2 3 4 Yoroshiku, which is one of SKE’s best singles in my opinion. This song is very well produced, with tons of energy and fun. There’s never a dull moment, and even at it’s slowest it still feels like there’s a good deal of energy at play. Uessai! Gassai! is one of the most fun songs of 2014, and one I will keep listening to for quite a while.