20. Seigi no Mikata Ja nai Hero – Team B
If you are an AKB48 fan, probably one of the news items that probably affected you most was the new team shuffle. While I was a fan of the old team B (both original and after the first shuffle), I was tentatively very excited for the new Team B, which contains almost every favorite member of mine in the 48 groups, but the thing that really solidified new Team B for me as being really great is their first original song, Seigi no Mikata Janai Hero.
It’s not quite as cutesy as Team B has been in the past ( a la Love Jump), but I think really works well with all the members currently in the team. It’s high energy, has some really good guitar solos, and I am a total sucker for anything that has a back and forth like this song does. All the members sound really good, and mix well together, which is an achievement for a song with so many people. It’s catchy and fun, and really succeeded in getting me pumped up for new Team B, which was really the purpose of the song.
19. Kari Keiyaku no Cinderella – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku
While I am a big fan of the entire Kari Keiyaku no Cinderella single (especially the song with some purposefully unenergetic rapping, Utae! Odore! Ebidada), ultimately it was the A-Side that I came back to again and again. Since this was Ebichu’s first major debut single, it did a really good job of taking a lot of the things that made Ebichu great on their Indies label and just did it a step beyond. In my opinion one of Ebichu’s biggest strengths is just the overall level of energy they bring to everything, and I really don’t think a different group could pull this really strange song off. All the fast singing really stands out (including Ayaka singing the first 15 digits of pi really quickly), as does the tempo/style changes. Quite frankly, this is a weird song. However, that’s part of what makes it great, and underneath everything is a really catchy, strong melody that makes this a really great song and a really great start to Ebichu’s major label career.
18. Parade – Aso Natsuko
Being the one idol I’ve seen live, I have a really strong soft spot for Aso Natsuko. Her music does back this up too; her first two albums are excellent, she has a lovely voice, and her A-sides are catchy and infectious (since she does a lot of anime openings). However, while I love the ballads she sings, Nacchan is at her best singing infectious, upbeat songs. So even though her other singles this year, Lovely Girls’ Anthem and Fighting Growing Diary, were very very good, Parade feels like a return to the style that made me a Nacchan fan in the first place, somewhat similar to Diamond Star and Perfect Area Complete in style. There’s the fast singing she perfected in More More Lovers, a great guitar solo and the whole song feels almost uplifting (singing about moving into the future and whatnot). So while I love when Nacchan tries different things, this was a welcome return.
17. Samba de Toriko – Hyadain
OK, a male artist on this list, but I’m counting it because Hyadain writes for idols, so he counts. Anyways, I’m a fan of pretty much everything Hyadain does, but Hyadain is at his most interesting when he’s genre-bending, taking all sorts of different instruments, styles and vocals. And while Hyadain is ready to admit that this song isn’t a Samba, the tropical theme is certainly a big part of the charm of Samba de Toriko. While he has explored this in Momoiro Clover’s Coco * Natsu, he takes this to a different level with lots of different tempos and sounds blended into one really fun, energetic song. While I know some people don’t like this, I think this really shows Hyadain’s mastery of songwriting and arrangement, and it works really well here. While Samba de Toriko wasn’t immediately as catchy as some of his previous singles (at least in my experience), it really grew on me and became one of my favorite songs of the year.
16. Kataomoi Finally – SKE48
The fact that Kataomoi Finally isn’t even in the top 15 of my list shows how strong a year 2012 really was. Kataomoi Finally blew me away at the beginning of this year, and continues to be one of my favorite songs and PVs. However, the song itself shines apart from the spectacular PV. It’s a mature, darker sound, but it definitely worked well with the normally upbeat and energetic SKE48. The song has a lot of impact, and the forceful nature of the song really sometimes makes me shiver. I’m a sucker for a good string sound, and the rest of the arrangement is fantastic. Kataomoi Finally really showed how strong that SKE48 can be, it started 2012 with a bang and is still remembered as one of the best songs of the year.