Here we go, time for my second batch of honorable mentions! This is a bit of a bigger group of songs than I normally put as honorable mentions, but this year had a lot of amazing music. The last four songs in particular are ones I really wish had a place on my top 25 list, but unfortunately didn’t make the cut.
LoVendoЯ – Buppanase! Baby, I Love Ya!
This song proves that Maeyamada Kenichi can make me love any group. LoVendoЯ isn’t a group I paid much attention to – Tanaka Reina was never my favorite Morning Musume member and their brand of rock music didn’t do much for me. And yet, Maeyamada wrote them one of the catchiest songs of the year, a song that I replayed over and over and over. It’s biggest flaw is that it isn’t exactly a rock song in the typical sense, and stands out from LoVendoЯ’s other discography – though a guitar solo manages to make Marin shine. But Buppanase is catchy and fun, and one of LoVendoЯ’s highlights for me.
Country Girls – Konamaiki Girl
2017 was a weird year for Country Girls. After Tsugunaga Momoko’s triumphant graduation from the group (her graduation concert felt like a giant victory lap), Country Girls had one of the biggest shake ups of the year with the group being reduced to being a part time thing and Funaki Musubu, Yanagawa Nanami and Morito Chisaki being shuffled to other groups within Hello!Project. That being said, despite Country Girls’ lowered status within Hello!Project, Konamaiki Girl shows just how much of a shame this is, in producing one of CG’s best songs to date. Continuing Country Girls’ steady stream of retro, 50s-inspired pop, Konamaiki Girl reminds me more of Hello!Project’s Tanpopo more than anything – it’s a lot sweeter and gentler than Boogie Woogie Love or Dou datte Ii no. The performances are all great, too, more than proving that five member Country Girls could have continued on. While Chisaki, Nanami and Musubu are all doing really well in Morning Musume, Juice=Juice and Angerme respectively, it’s a real shame that Country Girls wasn’t given more of a chance – I feel like this proves they could be extraordinary.
Magical Ban☆Bang – Moshi, Watashi ga Maou ni Nattara
2017 was the year I found out about Magical Ban Bang (now rebranded as Majibanch) and they immediately spoke to me. A group formed by the members themselves (all Niconico performers), they have a very DIY mentality and aesthetic. Their album this year, Magical Pandemic, is all really solid indie idol pop, but Moshi, Watashi ga Maou ni Nattara is absolutely my favorite. It’s catchy, a bit weird, and a really solid song for such a relatively small group. Majibanch’s music is all remarkably good, so I recommend you check it out!
AKB48 – Darashinai Itoshikata
This song by AKB48’s Undergirls is basically Gesu no Kiwami Otome’s Killer Ball but done by idols. It has a very similar vibe and sound. And yet, this is easily the AKB48 song I’ve liked best. #Sukinanda is just fine but Darashinai Itoshikata is a legitimately interesting, well-written, well-performed song. This reminds me of AKB at its peak, when they had more interesting music, and I wish that AKB would do more songs like this!
Inkey Oops – Take Me Shopping Yeah!!!!
Inkey Oops made their debut this year with their 80s-inspired jam Take Me Shopping Yeah. This is ridiculously catchy and fun, and has a feel that reminds me more of American/ Western pop to Japanese pop music. If you’re looking for some catchy 80s pop, Inkey Oops is a fun place to start. This is a very solid debut track, and I’m interested to see what Inkey Oops puts out next.
BiSH – Promise the Star
Man, BiSH has taken a long time to click for me. And while I think they still have yet to fully click, and I’m not quite there to be a BiSH fan, Promise the Star is a remarkably good track that I wish I could have put on my top 25 list. I love just how dramatic the whole thing feels, with emotional and raw vocals performed well by the members of BiSH. While the group being on Avex means that there’s a level of polish, this still feels emotional – at points this song gives me chills. While BiSH’s song Orchestra made waves in 2016, Promise the Star feels like I understand what everyone saw in Orchestra – Promise the Star is big, brash, emotional. It’s a great idol rock track and one of my highlights of 2017.
Takoyaki Rainbow – RAINBOW～Watashi wa Watashi Yanen Kara～
Takoyaki Rainbow had a really solid, with their pinnacle being Rainbow. The fact that they’re only an honorable mention shows just how strong 2017 was for me. This song has some really great lyrics, focusing mostly on the value of differences and diversity, and while the song isn’t my favorite Hyadain written song of the year it’s still really solid. It doesn’t hit the highs of Takoyaki Rainbow’s past music but Rainbow is a really solid song with an even better PV.