Song of the Day #94: Philosophy no Dance – I’m After Time

A mutual follower on Twitter sent me some YouTube links saying that they thought I would enjoy this. Wondering if I was so easily understood, I checked it out. Turns out yep, I like this group, but I’m After Time is so great.

It has a great retro sound to it with a lot of what sounds like real instrument – saxophone solo? Flute? More horns? It all works here and serves the retro, disco sound of the track. Everything’s incredibly well produced, with a catchy melody and a really great sound. It reminds me a lot of recent years’ Especia – instead of thriving in the more kitschy sounds of the 80s it replicates some of the cooler sounds of disco and funk instead. It’s skipped over fun but purposefully dated Especia to get to purposefully good Especia. And man does it work here.

I’m After Time is a lot of fun and I’m honestly a bit mad I didn’t listen to it last year – it’d easily make my top 25 song list.

Song of the Day #93: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Super Scooter Happy

Is this particularly in my wheelhouse for this blog? Not really. Kyary isn’t considered to be an idol singer and the song in question is a cover of a song by Capsule. Yet this is one of my favorite Kyary tracks and one I’ve been listening to pretty frequently. One thing I’ve said about Kyary in the past is that her music often sounds like it should be the soundtrack to some Katamari Damacy game, and that applies here – I think it’s the combination of endless optimism and happiness combined with just an oddness of sound is that makes Kyary’s music fit that aesthetic so well. Super Scooter Happy is so happy that it’s just charming, and, as you’d expect from Yasutaka Nakata, it’s endlessly catchy. Someone needs to do a video game with Kyary music as the soundtrack, stat.

Song of the Day #92: Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi – 16sai no Koi Nante

I’ve been thinking about this time for years. I was 17 when I first discovered 16sai no Koi Nante, and now I’m finally one of the ages mentioned in the song. In a way, this feels like me really being an adult, which is silly considering I’m 26. But turning Abe Natsumi’s age in this song, who is the adult voice to Yajima Maimi’s teenage voice, is kind of amazing.

One of the things I love about Hello!Project in its heyday is the weird units that popped up from time to time. There’s no reason for Abe Natsumi, at that time one of Hello!Project’s most senior members, and Yajima Maimi, a member of one of Hello!Project’s groups, to do a duet single together. And yet, here we are.

16sai no Koi Nante isn’t one of Hello!Project’s greatest singles by a long shot. It’s fun and silly, with both members pulling off their roles well and a catchy enough melody. But the interplay between Nacchi and Maimi works really well, with Maimi playing the 16 year old who thinks that teenage love is the end of the world and Nacchi being the 26 year old who remembers that feeling but is a little bit wiser. It’s funny, light, and a pleasant song all around. It’s a song that didn’t really need to exist, but in a way that’s precisely why I like it.

Song of the Day #91: Country Musume – Hajimete no Happy Birthday

While there’s been a few different Jpop birthday songs including AKB48’s Namida Surprise, the one I always turn to is Country Musume’s Hajimete no Happy Birthday. Today was my birthday and it was one of the first things I listened to today, and I’ve actually done this for the past 8-9 birthdays at least.

It’s not quite as upbeat and flashy as something like Namida Surprise, but I kind of like that – it’s happy and cheerful but easy to listen to and not too fast or hyperactive. It’s the kind of feeling you want for a birthday – happy, pleasant, and not too busy. It has a pleasant melody, a solid arrangement, and is mostly just a solid idol pop song.

Plus, you know, one of my favorite idols of all time is the star of the show here so that’s a big reason I like it. Let’s just link her solo version of the song.

Song of the Day #90: Ongaku Gatas – Yattarouze!

It’s rare that a song gets so embedded in your thought patterns that you don’t think of anything else, but whenever something good happens to me or I’m particularly excited I often think of or put on Yattarouze. Ongaku Gatas is an incredibly underrated Hello!Project group, and while Yattarouze is not quite on the same level as their first single Nari Hajimeta Koi no Bell, Yattarouze is upbeat, happy, and has become the song that I think of whenever I’m particularly excited about something!

(note: I totally meant to publish this yesterday but forgot to hit the Publish button, whoops!)

Song of the Day #89: Keyakizaka46 – Sekai ni wa Ai Shika Nai

If you follow idol music you know that Keyakizaka46 has been killing it on the charts. While my main interest was in just how good Silent Majority, their first single is, their subsequent singles have been particularly solid. I have a lot of affection for Sekai ni wa Ai Shika Nai, which is their second single song. Normally I’m a bit mixed on how I like spoken monologues in idol songs (I like it fine in something like Morning Musume’s The Peace but in other songs it can get a little old) but they work here, and I love the instrumental that backs these spoken monologues. The chorus is also incredibly catchy. While this doesn’t pack the punch lyrically or musically that Silent Majority did, I like that they didn’t decide to make an inferior copy of Silent Majority as their followup single and instead went for something completely different but still well-made and catchy. I think doing this (and their subsequent singles as well) only serves to establish Keyakizaka46 as a force to be reckoned with and not just a one hit wonder.

Song of the Day #88: Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) – Upper Disco

Honestly, it’s a pretty good bet that if an idol song has “Disco” in the title I’ll probably like it. That means that Up Up Girls’ most recent track, Upper Disco, is definitely up my alley, especially with Up Up Girls’ recent history of having some great dance tracks. Upper Disco feels like another Up Up Girls song in the vein of recent tracks like Party People Alien in that it’s a very fun dance song, but now it has a more disco flavor to it. Upper Disco has a really catchy chorus more than anything else – after one or two listens yesterday it was already stuck in my head. It took a few years, but UUG has found a niche they fit very well in.

Also, this has a just wonderful saxophone solo that elevates everything. More sax solos in idol music please!

Song of the Day #87: Momoiro Clover Z- Saraba Itoshiki Kanashimitachi yo

While Saraba was the start of when I took a small MomoClo break and focused a lot more on Team Syachihoko as a group, looking back it’s a pretty fantastic single. I love the fast back and forth between the members at the start of the verse, the dark/gothic vibe of the video and the song, and in general the feel of Saraba. It also pretty perfectly bridges rock and pop to make a great song. The instrumental is fantastic as well, with what sounds like a mix of a harpsichord and a guitar at one point? It’s probably meant to sound more like a harpsichord but also works well as a guitar sound. The entire song production is really well done and the arrangement is pretty perfect. Saraba was part of the start of MomoClo’s move into more artistic pop music and remains one of the group’s great singles.

Song of the Day #86: Takoyaki Rainbow – Naniwa no Haniwa

Since moving to the major label Avex Takoyaki Rainbow has started to make a real name for themselves with some great singles and a fantastic album. However, they had a remarkably good slate of indie singles, including Naniwa no Haniwa. I almost forgot how much I liked this song until it came up on a random shuffle. Their first single, Over The Takoyaki Rainbow, is just fine but Naniwa no Haniwa feels like the start of what would become Takoyaki Rainbow’s music trajectory – quality music, weird music, and music with a lot of energy. Naniwa no Haniwa is a bit all over the place but in a way that works, in no small part due to Maeyamada Kenichi’s songwriting prowess. The members do really well on this song as well, hamming it up in the right places and performing with so much energy. The weirdness is capped off by the recorder duet midway through the song. This is idol pop at its weirdest, but also at its best.

Song of the Day #85: W – Miss Love Tantei

W is such an interesting group that it’s a real shame they never got their third album and their last single was Miss Love Tantei. However, due to Kago Ai’s smoking scandal, it wouldn’t happen. That said, Miss Love Tantei feels like a hint at to what was to come for W’s music and it would have been great. Miss Love Tantei has a bit more of a Western/American feel, though maybe that’s because it has some American songwriters. That said it’s a well-paced, well-written pop song. It’s also one of the first rap breaks I can remember in Hello!Project songs, which Tsuji Nozomi performs with aplomb. Nothing in Hello!Project sounds quite like Miss Love Tantei, which is part of why I love it so much.