This is purely a roundup now–I’ll get the Final Four preview up by mid-week. In the meanwhile, review how we got here (conference corenaments, Round 1) and check out the bracket.
Round 2 matches are included after the jump; that’s now an archive.
Impressions? I only have two real takeaways: I need to find a way to make some money on here so I can say that I earned the right to build safeguards against drive-by voting. I feel like we had about 430 honest votes, and a lot of spoliation. Don’t be that guy. The other big takeaway, though, is that when folks did really put their heads to it, the voting was extremely even, and while I’m sad to be losing Zekkyousuru60do and PassCode and The Spunky and Party Rockets GT, I’m glad to have been able to expose them (or more of their music, at least) to more people.
The Final Four maybe isn’t what we expected, but it’s going to be good.
Round 2 Match-ups
Betcha did see us leading off with these two, huh?
This is rapidly becoming my favorite match of this round, and maybe of the whole damn thing. It has probably the least raw power of any pairing, but arguably the most raw energy. In The Spunky, our surprise #2 overall seed, we have “Rock ‘n’ Roll and Idol and I,” a pretty little pop punk ditty that just never slows down. Seriously, I’m not sure there’s a single rest in the thing until the very end. And people who weren’t aware of them before just can’t get it out of their heads. This is matched against Deathrabbits and “Koisuru Kisetsu,” one of the most death pop songs to have ever death popped, all rampaging beats and pretty melodies and tongue-in-cheek humor; the Deathrabbits Army was very clear that this is the song that they want to represent not only the group, but themselves as well.
Two teenage trios. One moves on with pride; the other goes home in tears.
The early returns on this match were “oh great, another walk for Babymetal, call me when the final happens.” But after today’s preview went up, in came the messages — folks often know of Screaming Sixties, but they had no idea that their debut single was such a blow-the-doors-off goddamn anthem. “Only Place We Can Cry” is the kind of song you go close a festival with, driving punk rock delivered with the kind of raw emotion that makes music so great to listen to; it’s making fans where once there were none. Of course, it’s matched up against the consensus #1 Babymetal song put to tape, energetic chants and high-powered lead vocals carrying the viciously on-point instrumental in a perfect marriage of J-pop and thrash. “Megitsune” has been carrying the burden of Corenament favorite since the day the bracket was announced; can it hold on?
I spent a lot of time listening to these songs while putting together this round, and what’s incredibly striking is how ragingly similar they actually are. Seriously, if you don’t stop to listen to any other pair on here, do it with these. The vocals are different, and the songs feel different in the end, but their instrumental backbones could be cousins. Hence, they’re a perfect match: Which do you prefer, the surprising power and rousing chorus of Party Rockets GT‘s “Kasabuta” or the earnest, heart-rending passion of Kamen Joshi‘s “Soul,” a rock anthem if there ever was one against as standout an idol-meets-metal fusion as has ever recorded? That both groups bring their own respective extreme versions of kawaii to the table makes it all the more surprising to hear them doing these songs. The thing is, only one can win.
Did I save the best for last on purpose? You bet your sweet ass I did.
But what’s this? LIVE VIDEO?!
As mentioned in the preview, under different circumstances, these two could be a final round. This is the 1994-95 NFC playoffs all over again. Here they are, idolcore’s #1 facing off against its #2 for the right to advance to the Final Four. If there’s a race that comes down to the final few votes, it’s probably going to be this one. Both groups are serious fan favorites, and these two songs ran away with the right to represent them when we did nominations.
The thing is, PassCode and BiSH both, as befits their idolcore nature, are known for their live shows. PassCode’s fans are notorious for treating venues like jump-bounces; BiSH got the ball rolling on WACK groups getting kicked out of TIF. These two signature songs are just plain at their best in a live environment, too. So why not present them playing the same event mere hours apart and experience two essential idolcore tracks in all their gritty, crowd-thrashing glory?
“Club Kids Never Die” is basically peak PassCode. It’s a cover of a much less well-executed digital hardcore track, given life with the group’s signature blend of chiptune, breakdowns, EDM and Yuna screams. But away from the studio recording is where it really shines, with Nao’s fuck-you impertinence and Kaede’s gamely matching Yuna bellow for bellow. The simple poppy chorus actually works well around the clubcore beats and sudden breakdown elements. It’s one to listen to over and over.
“Hoshi ga Matataku Yoru ni” is BiSH’s “nerve”; like their predecessors, they’ll lead a show with it, multiple times, as many multiples as pleases them. Doing so is a sign, a claiming of a legacy that they were literally made to assume, but it’s also a declaration that BiS may have died, but what they created did not. It’s pure power punk, never bothering to let off the gas, somehow finding room for acceptably poppy vocals among the pulsing riffs. Live, with the members scrambling around a stage that doesn’t quite know what to do with them, following their dance routine only as much as necessary to keep from falling apart … if you can’t get into it, I don’t know why you’re even here.
One of these gorgeous works of musical art is likely favored to move on to the final. The other will dust itself off, shake hands with the victor, raise both middle fingers and get ready for another run another day.
So who’s it gonna be? Who advances into our Final Four and faces not just the other top songs in the hard side of idol, but the little wrinkles that we’re going to throw in to keep it interesting?
While voting is open, add your predictions to the comments and see how you (and your votes) stack up against the rest!
*To make it interesting, and to make sure that you kids are paying attention: I’ll allow a certain amount of coordinated fan support for their favorites. No big deal. But because I know how to read the back end of a website and all of the data that comes with it, if I see chicanery of any sort that’s just plain against the spirit of this whole thing, I’ll ID who benefited and make eliminations accordingly. So, like, don’t try things and ruin it for other people. This is the only warning, and I have contingency plans that are almost as amusing as your complaints will be.