It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for my top 25 songs of the year. The rules for this list are pretty similar to past years – to be eligible the song must have been released in 2017 (though this year I’m counting digital-only releases as well as), the song must be an original (no covers) and the song must be released by a Japanese act. This year I’m changing it up a bit and including some non-idol acts, but for the most part this is a list of the best idol songs of the year. That said, honorable mentions I fudge this a little.
This year was one of the hardest years for me making this list, mostly because there has been so much great music out this year. More than any other year I can think of this top 25 songs are all ones I genuinely love and I’m leaving off a lot of songs that would be in previous years worthy of a top 25 mention but this year had too much great music. So now, on to some honorable mentions!
Lyricalnaissance – The Cut
This is easily one of my favorite songs of 2017 and it pains me to put it on the honorable mentions, but it is a cover of the Base Ball Bear feat. Rhymester song. Performed by a super group of Idol Renaissance and Lyrical School, The Cut is something that just works, with Idol Renaissance’s vocals working perfectly with Lyrical School’s rap. What’s interesting to me with The Cut is just how much darker sounding it is to the original, which is downright upbeat and happy compared to Lyricalnaissance’s version. While the original is great, Lyricalnaissance’s spin works a lot better for me. Lyrical School also more than holds their own with Rhymester’s original rap verses. The Cut is a cover I didn’t know I needed, but it’s a fantastic one and one of the best songs of the year by far.
Nerfy Guiner Bieber – Ohana
This is such a goofy song, but I guess that is the point of Nerfy Guiner Bieber. As someone that doesn’t follow Avex’s Idol Street groups very much, I first saw this in a playlist of idol music and had absolutely no idea that this was a Cheeky Parade subgroup. Nerfy Guiner Bieber is member Nagai Hina (as Guiner)’s project, where they basically perform to overexaggerated parodies of Western pop music sung entirely in English. Ohana is probably their most normal song, but it’s still odd. And yet, after a few listens, Ohana became one of my favorite songs of 2017, mostly because it’s almost absurdly catchy. The lyrics might be silly (and almost incomprehensible) but there’s something really appealing and sweet about the line “It’s OK, let it go if you had a bad day” which is certainly part of why I listen to Ohana so regularly. Mostly Ohana is just ridiculously catchy, and if it had actually been released for purchase I would have probably put this on my Top 25 list.
Kamo ga Negi wo Shotte Kuru! – Guzo Reality
Kamo ga Negi wo Shotte kuru is one of the groups I discovered through my annual Tokyo Idol Festival posts, and they’re definitely a group that I feel has potential. This song was written by one of my favorite Japanese music composers, Koji Oba, and it shares a lot with other songs I love by him including Hangry & Angry’s Reconquista. Guzo Reality is a really fun, upbeat song that has a melody that has something indescribable to it, at least for me. It’s a really great song that unfortunately didn’t get any sort of release this year, but is really great all the same.
GEM – Sugar Baby
Sugar Baby is just pure, well, sugar. It’s bubblegum pop at its most bubblegum. It’s catchy, upbeat and a ton of fun. Is it doing anything new or original? No. Is it the best GEM song ever? No. But I listened to Sugar Baby a LOT this year, especially near the start of the year, and its cheerful melody and high quality production make it one of the most delightful songs of the year.
Rhymeberry – Chotto Yatte Mita Dake
Rhymeberry showed in 2017 that, despite member changes and label changes, that they are more than vital for the current batch of idol music. While Chotto Yatte Mita Dake isn’t a perfect song (it kind of fizzles out near the end) it’s kind of extraordinary just how minimalist it is, for the most part a drum line and the rap on top of it. Which is pretty extraordinary rapping, with the members showing off just how great their flow is. This is an exercise in skill, more than anything, and it’s a joy to listen to because of how skilled Miri, Yuika and Omochi are on this track. It’s not the perfect idol rap track (that comes later) but it’s a really fun listen.
Pristin – Wee Woo
Some of you may be surprised to see KPop on this list, and frankly I’m surprised too! I’ve had a casual interest in KPop for some time but it’s more of a once in a while type of thing. That said, I was surprised this year when Wee Woo was my most listened song on Spotify, so I thought I had to list it here. Wee Woo is pretty much my platonic ideal KPop track – it’s catchy and fun with a lot of polish, with a hard emphasis on the catchy. Wee Woo is the type of earworm that will be stuck in your head for weeks and it’s one of the most fun songs of the year.