List Friday: Comfort Idol Songs

My little look at BiS this week was an interesting thing, but after I watched through some BiS videos and other idols I consider to be kind of out there, I decided to watch a movie. But not a strange, avant-garde, independent movie, but the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. This is a movie that I’ve watched countless times, and that I continue to keep on watching. It’s a movie I continually find comforting and pleasant. So while I compared BiS to avant-garde films, here are the idol songs that are closer to my favorite, comfort films. The chicken soup of idol songs, if you will. Like the books, except not terrible. These are the songs I continually come back to, not because they’re the best songs or the most interesting, but because they are things I know I will always enjoy.

Morning Musume – The Peace

I could honestly put most of golden era Morning Musume on here and a fair bit of pre-golden era MM as well. Even as I’ve expanded my horizons past Hello!Project, there’s something wonderful about that 1997-2002 era of Hello!Project that I think I’ll always be a fan of. There’s been great things past those years, of course, but there’s something special about golden era Hello!Project to me, and I think to a lot of idol fans.

It came down to a choice of The Peace and Renai Revolution 21, but I had to go with my biased pick. The Peace is Ishikawa Rika’s first big starring moment, but beyond that it utilizes all the members incredibly well. There’s also something wonderful about the combination of the warm feeling of the song and the nonsensical lyrics. It makes singing about convenience stores, English classes and ordering pizza on the level of falling in love. To quote Rika’s monologue (translated lyrics from Project Hello) “I wonder how important is a moment of my youth compared with the history of the earth?” It’s about nonsense not just to have nonsensical lyrics, but because that’s what youth is like.

I can wax poetic about the lyrics all day, but I just know that The Peace is one of Morning Musume’s best, and my favorite Morning Musume single. It’s upbeat and happy, but it’s also beautiful in a way that I don’t know if I got the first time I heard it. It’s lovely.

Tanpopo – Koi wo Shichaimashita

One of the earliest physical pieces of idol music I ever got was from a secondhand music place at my local convention. They sold CDs that had been rented, I think, and had a small collection of early-mid Hello!Project. The album was Together, an excellent collection of H!P subgroups; Mini Moni, Pucchimoni, Nakazawa Yuko and Tanpopo. At the time I was mainly excited about Pucchimoni, but slowly Tanpopo has become one of my favorite idol subunits, and Koi wo Shichaimashita is my favorite Tanpopo song. While Otome Pasta ni Kandou and Tanpopo are slower and sweeter, possibly making them more attuned to comfort, there’s something about Koi wo Shichaimashita that just draws me to it. I listen to a lot of Tanpopo songs regularly, but Koi wo Shichaimashita frequently pops up.

Pucchimoni – Baby! Koi ni Knockout

For a brief time, mostly during 2008, I was a Yoshizawa Hitomi fan. Now I still am a fan of hers, but in 2008 she was my favorite idol ever. So yes, I got the Together album partially for her, and the song I kept coming back to there is Baby! Koi ni Knockout. It’s certainly not a peaceful song by any means, but it’s still one of those idol songs that I keep coming to even though my Yoshizawa Hitomi fandom has faded. Everything just works in this song; the tempo’s never too slow or too fast, the instrumentation works very well, and it suits all the members in the song. There’s a reason this song is still beloved today, and that’s because it’s fantastic.

SweetS – Love Like Candy Floss

While I haven’t followed SweetS as much as others have, it always floors me when I think that Love Like Candy Floss wasn’t a mega hit. I honestly consider it to be one of THE greatest idol songs out there. It’s just perfect, the way it moves in from its slow beginning to the heavier beat at about 45 seconds in. It has the energy of a faster paced song and the sweetness (ha, see what I did there?) of a slower ballad. This song is also a regular thing I sing at karaoke, and it’s always fun then.

Matsuda Seiko – Natsu no Tobira

I might like Aoi Sangoshou better as a song and Akai Sweetpea is a sweeter ballad. However, again, there’s just that something about Natsu no Tobira. I think it’s best encapsulated in the chorus, with the swell of strings as Seiko sings “Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!” The arrangement in this song perfectly utilizes the strings throughout, and the verses lead up in anticipation to that one glorious line of “Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!” Seriously, that might be one of the best sections in idol pop music. Seiko herself sounds lovely (particularly in how she delivers the line ‘suki da yo to itteru no, masaka uso deshou!’) , and there’s a wonderful mixture of strings and electric guitar, a mixture that’s one of my favorite things. For all the classic idol songs that get covered now and again, I sometimes wish that Natsu no Tobira got covered more. However, I struggle to imagine anything better than the original.

AKB48 – Iiwake Maybe

For a good amount of time, Iiwake Maybe was my top played song on iTunes. I love it that much. It’s not as big of a deal as River was (being arguably AKB’s breakout song) nor is it one of the older songs that old-school AKB fans hold dear. And yet, it’s possibly my favorite AKB single. The back and forth in the verses, while successfully repeated in songs like Ponytail to Shushu, is at its best in Iiwake, and the song does an excellent job of balancing sweet and bittersweet. The song is upbeat but also a bit melancholy. Acchan’s “Suki da!” line, while short, is one of the more moving solo lines in idol music. This song, while on its surface a happy, cute idol song, ends up being full of more emotion than most. Which I think deserves some praise and credit.

Aso Natsuko – Perfect Area Complete

While most of Nacchan’s music is catchy and excellent (both of her albums are wonderful), I’m nearly always in the mood to listen to Perfect Area Complete. It’s an anime opening theme, so it has a bit of that sensibility to it that is very hard to describe. Also, since I saw Nacchan live, her music reminds me of some very fond memories.

Team Syachihoko – Koibito wa Sniper

The newest song on this list, while the others have stood the test of time, Koibito wa Sniper is mostly here as my favorite song from my favorite group. However, it was my favorite song of 2012, and still stands as such. While Syachi’s newest music continues to delight, there’s nothing quite like their first single, Koibito wa Sniper.

While this is only a small portion of the songs I consider comfort idol songs (perhaps I’ll continue this again next week,) these are some of the songs that I continue to listen to, over and over again.

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