15. Team Syachihoko – Kemono no Hanamichi
As you may have noticed, this is the third song from Team Syachihoko’s Cherie single to make it to this list, which is why, even though the highest ranking is #15, Cherie is probably overall the strongest song. Kemono no Hanamichi is a high energy, vaguely ska inspired (though not as much as Batten Shoujo Tai’s Osshoi). It’s one of the most positive songs of the year, with lyrics focusing on working hard to be your best self. It has some of my favorite lyrics of the year. Overall, though, Kemono no Hanamichi is one of the most fun, positive songs with a great arrangement and all of Team Syachihoko’s infectious energy. It’s Syachi at their best, and it’s one of the most enjoyable songs of 2016.
14. The World Standard – Ultra Mirakurukuru Final Ultimate Choco Beam
This year there were two big debuts that I think made a huge splash on the idol world. This is the first, the other is later on the list. The World Standard (also known as Wasuta) is a new group from Avex’s Idol Street label, but is cuter and more idol-y than Super Girls, Cheeky Parade and GEM ever are. This song from their debut album is all over the place in the best of ways. It’s just weird, and off the wall goofy, but with Avex’s production values. There’s a great melody, the lyrics are all really fun (though I have to say some of the cat stuff veers very closely to fan service). This is one of the songs that will get stuck in your head, and I feel like will continue to make an impact within the idol fan community for quite a while. It’s odd and delightful in a way I haven’t come to expect from Avex groups, and I hope that Wasuta keeps up the good work.
13. Momoiro Clover Z – Tougenkyou
Picking out the songs from Momoiro Clover Z’s albums to put on this list was a very very difficult choice. And frankly, if this list was more accurate, it would be half Momoiro Clover Z, becuase both Amaranthus and Hakkin no Yoake were pretty phenomenal albums. Of the songs not put on this list, I can think that We Are Born, Mahalo Vacation, Pink Zora, Saboten to Ribbon, Demonstration, Hakkin no Yoake, and many others really SHOULD be. That said, I tried to limit it to just a few songs to represent what I love about these albums. Because there is a lot to love.
If I had to sit down and pick a favorite between Amaranthus and Hakkin no Yoake, I’d probably go with Hakkin no Yoake. Hakkin no Yoake often feels more dreamy, laid back and conceptual. All of these things are in full force in Tougenkyou, the first song (aside from the prologue) on Hakkin no Yoake. Even when the song is more upbeat and even during the relatively fast chorus, the backing instrumentals is often slow and dreamy. The arrangement works perfectly, something that’s the case within all of Amaranthus and Hakkin no Yoake. This song is the perfect marriage of being a fun upbeat song to start off the album while also conveying the tone of the rest of the album.
12. Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) – Party People Alien
Party People Alien seems like a song almost tailor made to go viral, and the fact it didn’t is kind of baffling. It’s a catchy dance track with a fairly easy dance and almost inscrutably weird lyrics and one of Up Up Girls’ biggest (and weirdest) PVs. That said, even if it’s the song that seems designed to bring Up Up Girls more relevance, it’s just a great dance song. The entire song builds perfectly and is paced perfectly. The verses build perfectly up to the chorus, which ends up delivering on the promise of the verses (though I do find it interesting that the chorus doesn’t feature any vocals from Up Up Girls themselves). The few moments of slowness work well too – I like that it knows to vary up the energy of the song, and Sekine Azusa’s vocals in the few moments of slowness are absolutely lovely. This isn’t just a great idol song, it’s also a great dance song, and is one of Up Up Girls’ finest.
11. Takoyaki Rainbow – Dot JP Japan‘
Takoniji’s major debut with Avex didn’t start all that well. Nanairo Dance, their major debut single, was mediocre at best, and I know that as a fan of Takoyaki Rainbow’s indies work I was worried if this didn’t bode well for a Stardust act being part of Avex. However, Dot JP Japan assuaged those worries by being a perfect mix of what makes both Stardust and Avex work – being a weird, high energy song (Stardust) with some great production value (Avex). The song being written by Maeyamada Kenichi also doesn’t hurt. Dot Jp Japan is a weird song with odd lyrics but it works so well. It has a great melody, builds well (much like Party People Alien, now that I think about it) and has some of the strangest lyrics but ones that will stick in your head (I know I’ve quoted “it’s so yum yum yummy yummy gochisou sami sami” about a thousand times). Dot JP Japan also feels like Takoyaki Rainbow’s indie work, which is pretty important as well. It’s both Takoyaki Rainbow and Avex at their respective bests, and it shows that both of those can work together for something pretty great.