15. Show Fight – AKB48 Future Girls
Badass idols incoming! While this song is really augmented by the fantastic PV where AKB48’s future girls beat each other up, this song stands out well on its own showing that AKB48 doesn’t just excel in cuteness, that the girls can be badass and have a cool vibe as well. The song starts off a bit quiet and I admit at first I wasn’t sure how I liked this song; however, the chorus is the real star of the show, with the strong vocals and the soft, but interesting counter melody. The rest of the song is a lead up to this strong chorus, and does so extremely well. Ultimately this has a cool, not very idol-like sound that I really enjoyed.
14. Kinenbi ni Aimashou – Station
My album of the year, for those who don’t visit Idolminded, actually came from a surprising source, and that’s Station. Densha de Go Go is an all around very excellent album, and all the songs on it were very good. However, Kinenbi ni Aimashou did a tricky thing with me, and that’s make an idol ballad that I absolutely love. While I like ballads, they’re most of the time not the type of song that I choose to listen to. However, Kinenbi ni Aimashou is a total exception to this rule. My biggest pet peeve with ballads is when there’s a lot of over singing, or trying to overdo things with their voice. Kinenbi ni Aimashou thankfully avoids this by having very sweet (but still very good) vocals over a really beautiful instrumental track. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and that’s why it works so wonderfully.
13. Next Flight – Passpo
Passpo’s just one of those groups I’ve never gotten into. I can appreciate why they’re beloved by some, but I never really got the appeal. Until Next Flight. Next Flight shows just how well straight up rock music and idols can mix if done well, and it’s done VERY well. It’s extremely polished (the mix of Passpo’s vocals and the instrumental is exceptional) and it doesn’t take the idea of Passpo being a rock oriented group lightly. This sounds like it could be a song from a band that just got an idol group to do the vocals, not the other way around, and that’s a compliment. Its guitar solos are really great, but the whole sound of the song is just fantastic. This song, despite not being very traditionally idol-like, also is catchy and addicting, and was one of the songs I came back to again and again this summer. While Passpo is not necessarily my go-to idol group, this is just flat out a great song and one of my favorites of the year.
12. Sabotage – Dempagumi.inc
I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall the day that someone pitched that the group Dempagumi.inc cover the Beastie Boys, and rap/shout it in English. It’s weird, it’s strange, it shouldn’t work. But it totally does. The reason most likely is in it’s fantastic arrangement that combines Sabotage with some idol elements including the MIX at the beginning and some very cutesy parts. This arrangement was done by the one and only Maeyamada Kenichi (Hyadain) who excels at writing some really strange genre-bending songs of his own and for Momoiro Clover Z, Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku and others. Another reason for its success is how into it these girls get; I liked Dempagumi.inc a lot when I first encountered them in their single Future Diver, but they really commit to Sabotage, which is what makes it a lot of fun. This is another love it or hate it song, but I personally find it a lot of fun and a refreshing change from a lot of cutesy idol pop. If you have a low tolerance for weird this is something you probably won’t like, but if you want something definitely different Sabotage might be for you. Or if you just want to hear an idol shout “I’ve got a fucking thorn in my side,” that’s another good reason too.
11. Mousou Girlfriend – NMB48
Speaking of cutesy idol pop, here’s a cutesy song! This is just a lot of fun, again love it or hate it. It’s almost paint by numbers adorable, singing about girlfirends and boyfriends and love, but I love how unashamed of how adorable it is. With the song alone it was one of my favorites of the year. However, despite having a fun song, the lyrics are what make it really remarkable, because it’s about being in a relationship with an idol. The POV of the song is a guy who is dating an idol, but despite challenges doesn’t want it to stop because their love is too strong. The line that blows me away every single time I hear it is “A scandal would be bad, but our love can’t be stopped!” The song is also very blatant in saying “you are an idol” and not just implying it. This is really gutsy, and because of this is probably the most daring song of the year, which says a lot since it’s the B-side to NMB’s single “Virginity.” Also, the fact that this came out not even a year after NMB48’s big scandal really shows how ballsy this song is. So while I find the song very enjoyable and very fun to listen to, the lyrics are a good part of why I found Mousou Girlfriend to be so outstanding.