It’s that time of year again! To arbitrarily rank my favorite of Japanese idol pop music!
For the 25 songs I’ve chosen, there are a couple of rules. First, the song had to have been released for purchase in 2015. These must be original songs (i.e. no covers). Finally, I’m only looking at songs by female idol artists from Japan.
However, despite those rules for my main posts, there are quite a few songs that I want to acknowledge that might break one or more of those rules. There are also songs that just missed my top 25 that I’d like to give a shoutout to as well. So here is part one of my honorable mentions!
Ladybaby – Nippon Manju
I’m sorry! But, to defend myself, this song was written by one of my favorite songwriters in Japan right now, Asano Takashi, who writes a lot of Team Syachihoko music.
Nippon Manju is the debut song of LADYBABY, a group that was pretty much just a gimmick from the get go, considering the focal point of the group is Ladybeard, a crossdressing pro-wrestler from Australia. It is hard to take this group seriously at all. However, with the songwriting of Asano Takashi at play, there is a surprisingly strong melody and a lot of fun energy backing the song. It’s the type of song I don’t want to love but end up loving anyway.
Choutokkyuu – Battaman
Idol Renaissance is such a charming, sweet group that I hope goes far. However, they do a lot of covers, and their best song of the year, YOU, is a cover, which means I can’t put it on my top 25 list. Still, this is just such a pleasant song with a lot of piano instrumentation and beautiful harmonies. If you’re looking for an idol group that is still currently active but has the sensibilities of a classic 80s era idol, Idol Renaissance is probably your best bet.
ANGERME – Taiki Bansei
Whether Taiki Bansei counts as a cover is a bit tricky – it was originally slated for just being released as part of Nakajima Takui’s solo work, but then was given to ANGERME. It’s kind of like last year’s quandry with Rev. from DVL’s Love Arigatou, which is why it’s just an honorable mention. ANGERME had a lot to prove with its first single – it added some new members and had a name change. However, it was an immediate burst of energy of a song that almost symbolizes ANGERME’s real successes in 2015. Yes, they lost a prominent member (and one is leaving next year). However, musically 2015 was a great year for ANGERME, and Taiki Bansei was a superb way to open up 2015 for Hello!Project.
It’s a song to promote coconuts sable cookies. That’s what it was created for. So why is this song so fantastic? Probably because it’s by the alter ego band (and rival!) of Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku, who doesn’t do anything half-heartedly. This song is weird in a way that just appeals to me so much. It’s all over the place, with lots of rock instrumentation as well as choral vocals. It’s just undescribable and unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It’s almost like listening to Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time, if Bohemian Rhapsody was sung by 8 Japanese girls and made to sell cookies.
So, why is this in my honorable mentions? 5572320 attracted a lot of notice earlier when they played their own instruments – indeed, while they’re connected to Ebichu, their idol status is questionable. Also, this song is just so all over the place that I have no idea where I’d begin to try and rank this. The song is almost constantly shifting and morphing, that at certain points I’d rank this up high and others I’d rank it lower on my list.
On a side note, when I was in LA I stayed in a hotel with a couple of friends of mine, and we bought way too many boxes of these cookies while there because of the Ebichu wrappers. Good times. (And the cookies are good too!)