25.C-ute – Final Squall
2017 was the year that C-ute disbanded after what felt like an extended victory lap. Most of the last two singles of C-ute’s felt geared towards their eventual disbandment, and even then that’s after songs like Gamusha Life that directly focused on their lives as idols and performers. Of these final songs, Final Squall is by far my favorite. It has a great, dramatic feel and is the one song that feels like an ending, saying goodbye to fans. The strings sound fantastic and I love the emotional, but upbeat rock feel to it. Final Squall is the type of song that reminds you how great a group can be, and it certainly reminds me how great C-ute was for being a group for so long. It’s one of C-ute’s finest songs, and they left on a high note.
24. Osaka Shunkashuto – New Me
Osaka Shunkashuto had a big year, with their major debut single with Avex coming out later. And while their first single with Avex, “Travelin’ Travelin'” is fine, their first single of 2017, “New Me,” made a much bigger impact. It’s a departure for Osaka Shunkashuto for sure – it has a jazzy, upbeat feel that feels totally different to their other rock-inspired songs. That said, New Me is a lot of fun and has a catchy melody, great instrumentation and, most of all, Maina’s vocals continue to be the powerhouse that carry Osaka Shunkashuto.
23. amiinA – Callin’
Separating an amiinA song to single out as being the best is a difficult one – their albums and mini albums feel like unified wholes more than any other idol group I can think of. I think that’s why Callin’ is so low – it’s a great song on its own, a sweet country-inspired song that continues amiinA’s gentle, laidback music. But Callin’, as good as it is, works best in the context of the rest of “Valkyrie” as a mini-album. The intro song (also called “Valkyrie” ) works as a perfect intro to Callin’. Still, Callin’ is a very catchy well-written song with some beautiful vocals. I don’t like it quite as much as some of their other songs from years past (“Drop” and “Atlas” both being highlights) but it’s a reminder of just how great amiinA is.
22. Sora tob Sakana – Ribbon
It took me a while to fully warm up to Ribbon. I always liked the song, but it wasn’t top 25 worthy until I had several listens, mostly due to Ribbon’s beautiful animated music video. That being said, once I got used to Ribbon it became one of my favorites of the year. It has a dreamy, laidback feel to it and its instrumental is so unusual. It’s almost indescribable, it just feels like such a departure from most idol music. It’s a sweet, lovely song that worked its way into my heart.
21. Gang Parade – Beyond the Mountain
Alt-idol / anti-idol music isn’t typically my thing, with a few songs that are an exception. Beyond the Mountain is one such exception. It’s a big, powerful rock song that has a great sound and hits the sweet spot for alt-idol sound – it’s very listenable but isn’t just a thinly veiled idol song with rock trappings. This has a unique sound with a lot of power. Power is the thing that hits me about Beyond the Mountain more than anything – the initial wall of sound at about 20 seconds into the song consistently gets me pumped up. Beyond the Mountain is a really great outing for Gang Parade and I hope that they keep this up.