10. Momoiro Clover Z – Imagination
Here’s another MomoClo track, this time it’s Imagination off the Hakkin no Yoake album. This is one of the more straightforward songs off these albums. It’s very cute, upbeat pop. Cute is the operative word – it’s straightforward and one of the cutest songs the group has done. Yet, everything works for Imagination. It’s got a perfect arrangement, the melody is cute, and its pacing is impeccable. It’s not one of the most inventive songs of the year, but it’s one I listened to on repeat and feels pretty perfectly crafted. Imagination is a delight from start to finish, and it says a lot that this is one of the highlights from MomoClo’s two wonderful albums.
9. Juice = Juice – Keep On! Joshou Shikou!
I have high hopes for Juice=Juice moving forward. Hello! Project’s output is inconsistent at best, but Juice=Juice keeps having solid music. I think it helps that all of the members are increasingly becoming legitimately good performers and singers. Last year’s Umaretate no Baby Love was my #1 song of the year, and here Juice=Juice is again in my top 10. Keep On Joshou Shikou is basically tailor made for me to love it. It was written by Maeyamada Kenichi, my favorite songwriter, and was arranged by Dance Man, who arranged a lot of classic H!P tracks like Renai Revolution 21, Love Machine, The Peace, etc. It lives up to that impressive pedigree, by being a clearly 80s Michael Jackson inspired track that works incredibly well. Even if I cringe a bit at the repeated “you only live once,” it also has some great lyrics. Everything about this song is impeccable, and it should be no surprise that it’s on this list.
8. Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku – Haruyasumi Moratorium Chuugakusei
Ebichu’s most recent album, Anarchy, would have been a contender for album of the year had MomoClo’s albums been any less good. The clear stand out of Anarchy (other than Zette Anarchy, which should be an honorable mention here) is Haruyasumi Moritorium Chuugakusei. With a lot of rock flavor, this song is a perfect combination of some killer guitar-heavy instrumentation (with some great piano/keys too), a great melody, and some great pacing. This song has some great interplay between different vocals and exclamations, so there is zero boredom in this song. It’s one of the most fun, high paced songs of the year. Anarchy is available on iTunes, so if you have some money definitely give it a shot, but at the very least check out Haruyasumi Moratorium Chuugakusei.
7. Niji no Conquistador – Alien Girl in New York
Niji no Conquistador didn’t have quite as good of a year musically in 2016 as they did in 2015, but Alien Girl in New York all but makes up for any songs I didn’t particularly care for because it’s just wonderful. A bit funky, a bit disco inspired, a bit jazzy, Alien Girl in New York has some great instrumentation (there are some clanking piano sections that are particularly great), one of the catchiest choruses of the year, and, if not great vocals, vocals that completely sell the song. I feel like in many ways this song is completely up my alley. The arrangement also reminds me a bit of Berryz Koubou’s Ryuusei Boy, which, given that both of these songs were ALSO arranged by Dance Man, this totally makes sense. This song is weird, funky, and hits all my buttons.
6. Momoiro Clover Z – Guns n’ Diamond
Guns n’ Diamond is one of the hardest songs to describe – I’ve been trying to think for a while how I would describe it, and I’m coming up blank. The best way I think I can describe it is that I can almost imagine it being used as the theme song to a modern noir, detective film – it’s mysterious, almost inscrutable (given how much the last 45 seconds deviate from the last of the song). It feels almost completely new, dark and mysterious. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard any songs completely like Guns n’ Diamond, which is why it’s my standout song from MomoClo’s Amaranthus.
In trying to describe just what Guns n’ Diamond actually IS, I came across this review on New School Kaidan which I think describes just how special I feel Guns n’ Diamond is, and why it’s one of the best songs on Amaranthus. Take a look!