20. Keyakizaka46 – Fukyouwaon
2017 was the year of Keyakizaka46, which is impressive after their strong debut in 2016 with Silent Majority. But 2017 saw three of their songs (Futari Saison, Fukyouwaon and Silent Majority) make the Billboard Japan top 10 songs of the year. Which is kind of amazing and shows what kind of a reach Keyakizaka46. And honestly, as someone that has outgrown most of the 48 idols, I get it. Keyakizaka46 combines incredible polish and some fantastic songs, often with a feel and tone unusual to idol groups.
Fukyouwaon is the spiritual successor to Silent Majority, continuing the lyrical theme of individuality and standing up for what you believe in, which it does in a way that I don’t think any other idol group really does – it’s one thing to have a song about being yourself, but it’s another to have a song with lyrics like “With the power of discord
Let’s destroy the established order.” The song itself is also intense and complements this nicely, with an intense dance track as the sound. It’s catchy and reinforces the fantastic lyrics.
19. Momoiro Clover Z- BLAST!
Momoiro Clover Z had a quiet year in 2017, which is just as well considering 2016 brought two Momoiro Clover Z albums and a single. That said, Blast was worth the wait. The song and the PV reinforce that MomoClo REALLY want to perform or appear at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the PV being set at a sporting event that just happens to be set in 2020. While I’m going to talk more about this during my PV of the year list, Blast works pretty perfectly in conjunction with the video. But beyond that, it’s a really fun song and one that does a lot to pump me up. It’s fast paced, has a great bass sound to the background instrumental, and is performed with a real intensity. It’s catchy and it’s become a song I listen to when I need to psych myself up for something. I don’t think it’s as good as MomoClo’s other tracks from 2016 (The Golden History was my #1 song of 2016 and other tracks from Amaranthus and Hakkin no Yoake made my list that year) but it’s still a great song to listen to.
18. Philosophy no Dance- Like a Zombie
Philosophy no Dance had a pretty good year, at least for me – they released a new album, The Founder, and released some excellent singles. This was the first year I really paid them attention and I’m glad I did because musically Philosophy no Dance is completely up my alley. Like a Zombie isn’t my only song on this list and thus not my favorite of the year but it’s a really fun track that feels like a modernized Jpop Thriller. It has a great funk sound to it and is bolstered by some really strong vocals and a great, catchy melody. There’s some great guitar playing on this track too. Like a Zombie is one of the most fun songs of 2017 and shows off just how great Philosophy no Dance can be.
17. Team Syachihoko – Road Movie
To be perfectly honest, it took me a while to really get Owari to Hajimari. I feel like Team Syachihoko are in a transitional place similar to where Momoiro Clover Z were about 4-5 years ago where they’re all getting older and moving past some of their older stuff and it’s taking me a while to get through it. To be fair, Owari to Hajimari has a lot of great stuff on it and it’s a great album, but it’s different to Himatsubushi. That’s not a bad thing, it just means they’re growing as a group.
Road Movie is a song that’s not quite as dramatic as Professional Shishunki or as weird as Kissy-Men but it’s my favorite off the album. It’s sweet, has a nostalgic feel, and is more than anything just a great, classic idol song with a great melody and a sweet, string-heavy instrumental. It’s the type of song that feels absolutely timeless – a group could cover this in 10 years and it could still feel relevant. It’s a beautiful song that has, true story, made me cry more than once and makes me look forward to hearing more from Syachi.
16. Band Ja Naimon! – Yakimochi
Maybe it’s because I was Dempagumi.inc deprived this year, but Band Ja Naimon made an impact in a big way with me this year, and while I liked some of their other tracks (and their cover of Yatta! is too good) nothing stood out like Yakimochi which is such a weird, unusual track that I can’t imagine it not standing out for most people, even if you don’t like it. It’s a jazzy track that’s almost indescribable in how unconventional it is. The arrangement with the horns and prominent bass sound works so well for me, as does the jazz sound. There’s no idol song quite like Yakimochi. It also helps that it’s ridiculously catchy – I think I’ve had this song stuck in my head more than any other idol song while composing this list. If Band Ja Naimon! does more stuff like this I might have to become a bigger fan of the group!