While this is the last five songs on my top 25, there will be an honorable mentions post and a top 10 PVs of 2012 list soon, so keep an eye out for those!
5. 20112012 – Hyadain
This was the year Maeyamada Kenichi was at his strongest. While I’ve enjoyed his compositions for some time and my favorite solo piece of his came out a while ago (Hyadain no Kakakatakaomoi-c), this was the year he became known beyond the people who knew him for anime openings or the Momoiro Clover wota. He’s becoming a force in the Japanese music world, beyond his niche, and 20112012 exemplifies his strength asa composer as a whole. While the song has many of the features that are classic Hyadain to his fans (the use of his voice as both male and female vocals, the video game sounds as a callback to his start), this sounds a lot more mature than Hyadain in the past. While Hyadain has been known for genre-bending and his very unique and odd instrumentals, this song is almost strange in how little gimmicks he uses. Yet, the song sounds great and really works, showing that behind the little oddities that make Hyadain well known there’s a really strong composer. The rap sections done by famous rapper m-flo fit really well and show that he can really collaborate well with a more “mature” artist. While this isn’t as immediately enticing as some of Hyadain’s other works, it really shows off his chops as a songwriter and it makes me excited for more.
4. Hashire Bicycle – Nogizaka46
After reading up the English language response to Nogizaka46, I think I might need to become the wota blogging Nogizaka super fan to balance things out. I understand to an extent why some people don’t like Nogizaka46, but to me they’re a consistently good group. While they aren’t necessarily the most inventive group nor the most daring, I really enjoy their classic idol appeal. As a fan of the classic idol aesthetic, having a group that really is trying to fit it appeals to me.
That being said, none of their songs even held a candle to how impressed I was with Hashire Bicycle. Remember how I said I liked a piano heavy arrangement? Well this comes up here. The song has a lovely arrangement with lots of piano, and the song is full of beautiful harmonies. It’s retro and classic idols at their finest, drawing inspiration from French pop (including some spoken bits actually in French!). I also like the lyrics well enough; maybe not the best of this list, but still really great; my favorite line is the first, ‘yuujou to renai wa dou chigau’ (How different is close friendship and romance?’). It’s a surprisingly interesting song that I’ve greatly enjoyed all year.
3. Headbanger- Babymetal
I love Babymetal. 2012 started off very strong for Babymetal with the incredible Ii Ne! single, but Headbanger really stole the show (note: Ijime Dame Zettai, the first release of 2013 for Babymetal, is even better). Headbanger is by far their most metal song, which is definitely to Babymetal’s advantage. Doki Doki Morning was good, but the chorus was still extremely idol-y with some heavier instrumentation. Ii Ne! had a lot more of a metal flavor, but the rap verse and chorus still don’t quite feel like metal music. Headbanger is a step in the right direction that shows just how strong Babymetal can be, and that the metal image isn’t a gimmick, but a tool for some really fantastic performances and songs. This song is high energy and interesting, with every “HEADBANGER!!!” scream giving me chills. The slow start is a really great way to bring up the tension when the faster section starts, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to. While Yui and Moa take a backseat to Suzuka’s vocals, Suzuka’s never sounded better (again, until Ijime Dame Zettai). This is a fantastic song that really shows Babymetal’s strength.
2. Otome Juken Sensou – Team Syachihoko
I haven’t held back on my disappointment with Momoiro Clover Z’s Otome Sensou. Which I realize is a little bit unfair; it’s not that bad. However, I think my disappointment stems from just how much potential it had when I heard small bits of the song (watching the PV via ustream with spotty internet at the time) and seeing the costumes. Parts of Otome Sensou are great, and I was convinced that if Otome Sensou could live up to the really strong potential it had for it. Otome Juken Sensou lived up to it. This was a special limited single where the titles of the songs were based off other Stardust songs, and while I’m fond of the other song Mochotto Hashire (after Momoiro Clover’s Hashire and Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku’s Motto Hashire), Otome Juken Sensou was special in how it lived up to all the potential of Otome Sensou. From the opening shouts of “ganbatte ganbatte” by Honoka to shouting SYA CHI HO KO, to the fast paced energy of the rest of the song. This song fits a lot more and is one of the songs with the most pure energy and excitement. It rightly sounds like it should be a theme to some big epic, combining the ideas of Otome Sensou with the epic feel and overall polish of Momoiro Clover Z’s Mugen no Ai. This song is just plain epic and perfect.
1. Koibito wa Sniper – Team Syachihoko
When coming up with this list, I went back and forth over Otome Juken Sensou being #1 or #2; however, ultimately, I think that Koibito wa Sniper is going to have a lot more significance to Team Syachihoko as a whole. This was Team Syachihoko’s first indie single, and while a lot of groups have a bit of a slower start for their singles (I love AKB48’s Sakura no Hanabiratachi and Momoiro Clover’s Momoiro Punch, but they’re not the most exciting songs). This feels akin to Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo, in that Koibito wa Sniper feels group defining to Team Syachihoko. This is fast, high energy and just flat out fun, with the “HAs” and all the mentions of Team Syachihoko. The instrumentation is fantastic, as well, with lots of great brass sound. Ultimately this is the most exciting song of the year, the song that got me interested in my current favorite idol group, and is incredibly polished while remaining fun. This is quite possibly a perfect idol song, and will remain one of my lasting favorites for years to come.