It’s that time of the year again!
I’ve been delinquent in updating Happy Disco as much as I’d like, which made me wonder if I’d even have 25 songs to put up here. Writing on Happy Disco helps me discover and listen to more idol music than I normally would. However, like every single year, the more I think about it the more I realize how much good music came out in 2016.
The rules for this list are similar. For the top 25 songs proper, all the songs need to have been released for sale in 2016 (I usually mark that as being on a single or album, no individual song downloads). The songs must all be originals – no covers. The songs also all must be performed by a female idol act from Japan. That said, the honorable mention list can fudge this a little (or a lot) and is also for songs that I liked but don’t want to put on the top 25 list for specific reasons.
Dream Ami – Lovefool ~Suki Datte Itte ~
Right off the bat a cover, but man it’s a good one. Ami (from the group Dream and from the group E-Girls) covered the song by The Cardigans in Japanese, and it works incredibly well. Ami’s voice works particularly well with the song – she’s has such a sweet, almost vulnerable voice that works very well with the song. As expected by an Avex song the production values are high, and the instrumentation is pretty perfect. The song itself itself is great, too – I had heard it before but I wasn’t terribly familiar before Ami’s cover. The song is a perfect mix of sweet and melancholy and I’ve had this on repeat for a couple of months. If I could put this on my Top 25 list I would but, alas, arbitrary rules!
Idol Renaissance – Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari
It’s almost a shame that Idol Renaissance primarily performs covers because it would be great to put them on my actual Top 25 list. Last year’s You was one of my favorite idol songs of the year, and this cover of Supercell’s Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari is also wonderful. The song builds wonderfully, the members’ voices sound beautiful, with some lovely harmonies and instrumentation. If you aren’t following Idol Renaissance yet you definitely should check them out, they’re great.
AKB48 – Love Trip
The award for least bad AKB48 (and other 48 group) song goes to AKB48’s Love Trip. I’d actually say this song is pretty good – it has a solid melody, and I like the general feel of the song. The PV is also great. I actually considered putting this on my top 25, but I don’t think it’s quite enough of a stand out song – it’s overshadowed by other AKB48 election songs, including last year’s Halloween Night. Still, if AKB did more songs like this I’d be happy to start listening to them more on a regular basis.
Kobushi Factory – Sakura Night Fever
Kobushi Factory has taken a while to grow on me and, truthfully, I don’t know if they’ve grown that much on me. The members are all trainees I never paid much attention to, and their earliest stuff was fine but not particularly extraordinary. Then, in 2016, their second major single came out and was all great, old-school Hello Project. Sakura Night Fever was one of my highlights of the year – it’s a catchy, disco-esque song that is also a cover. While their first single was pretty good, I hope that the energy and the quality music of this second single helps define Kobushi’s future in Hello!Project.
Morning Musume ’16 – Sexy Cat no Enzetsu
I kind of hate how much I love this song. I’ve had the most complicated relationship with Sexy Cat no Enzetsu since the first preview came out, and I can’t think of a song I’ve love-hated as much since Berryz Koubou’s ode to dieting. In fact, now that I think about it, that’s a pretty apt comparison – both songs are often repetitive in a similar way and both songs make you kind of uncomfortable.
The other song that a friend of mine compared this to is Juice = Juice’s Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo, which is in every way a superior song in terms of melody, pacing, and arrangement. And yet, the feel of that song and especially the use of horns is present in Sexy Cat no Enzetsu, which makes me kind of love it. I can’t say that Sexy Cat no Enzetsu is a particularly good song, especially when you compare it to something like Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo, but I know I’ve been listening to it a lot these past few weeks.