2017 is all but dead. 2018 has already started in much of the world. So let’s let GANG PARADE’s new year’s message take care of things to start off:
GANG PARADEとOTOTOYから新年の挨拶を込めて、録り下ろしの「新年のご挨拶(新春おみくじ付き)」をお年玉としてフリー・ダウンロードいたします。さらに、GANG PARADEの特製おみくじつき!! ランダムで各メンバーの手書きの運勢と写真が封入。誰が出るかはあなたの運次第です!!チェックよろ https://t.co/1T96LvZDId
— GANG PARADE official (@GANG_PARADE) December 31, 2017
Great. I wanted to publish this look-back-then-look-ahead yesterday (the first day of the year and all), but I, uh, had some complications like a raging headache and desire for lots of naps to work through instead. I don’t think anybody missed this jazz too much, though.
My New Year’s Resolution
One thing that I want to say right from the start? We had a great Best of 2017, yes; we’ve also shown that, as a community, we still have a pretty narrow range of what constitutes the best of things overall. I’ll concede that the nominations-cut-vote process isn’t the most efficient thing in the world, but it’s the way it is to make sure that the voice of the community, rather some person or people, was what was being counted and then amplified.
So I’m going to ask for a resolution: Let’s all try to expand our personal horizons a little bit in 2018. That sounds kind of insane, given that we’re idol fans who don’t live in Japan and have ergo already done some horizon-expanding, but you know what I mean. Let’s look at some projects that we haven’t looked at closely before, let’s try new things, let’s tell some new people about the stuff that we discover. Like, I’m personally down with Necroma winning a ton of awards every year and being considered the best in chika loudol etc. etc., but it’s good for everybody involved if we can recognize other great work (that isn’t just from WACK).
2017 in Review
I tried to get Krv’s input for the Best Of responses, but the poor guy was waiting on some CDs to arrive. He finally got what he needed and pounded out one of the most expansive reviews of all kinds of music stuff for the year. Totally worth your time, and you’ll probably learn about something new along the way nudge nudge.
Definitely check out Derek’s look back at Necroma’s U.S. tour, and pay attention to the end, which includes a detailed look at what might be next.
Remember this craziness?
The more I think about it, the more glad I am that Sam made the video. It’s a perfectly solid primer for people who might be looking to explore a little bit.
Other yearly reviews?
Good read about the Idol scene in 2017 with insight by renowned music critic Munekata Akimasa and 10 notable idol records of the year each from him & the editor. https://t.co/wHm108L649
— ラップスター (@VizMajor) December 20, 2017
— Alex (@AlexRisingSound) December 13, 2017
— Alex (@AlexRisingSound) December 15, 2017
Check out Dat IDOL’s year-end countdown:
— MUTEKI deadgrandma (@deadgrandmablog) December 7, 2017
— MUTEKI deadgrandma (@deadgrandmablog) December 9, 2017
— Patrick St. Michel (@mbmelodies) December 27, 2017
If you want to get into even more not-idol Japanese excellence, the crew at Basugasubakuhatsu can hook you up:
And Speaking of Stuff That Fans Do
If you missed it before, you can pick up Krv’s band’s new album:
I bought it and enjoyed it quite a bit!
Also cool to pick up? Big-time fan Andy Edge is involved in a few projects, and put out this album a few months back:
Keep creating, people.
What I’m Looking Forward To
Babymetal will, in fact, release something in 2018, and we can stop making fun of Amuse’s constant attempts to wring as much money out of the fans as possible for the same material on loop, until they start to do it again with Album #3.
The more I listen to Broken By The Scream’s Screaming Rhapsody, the more I think that they’re going to have exactly as big a move in 2018 as management is willing to let them have; they’re the best metal project since Necroma debuted, and the most sophisticated blend of extreme metal with idol done yet.
The Dots-mentum is obviously something that this site wholly supports. Their new album is quite good if imperfect, and it made me pine for Hauptharmonie in a good way, and I can see this bizarre project explode if given a chance to do its thing at TIF.
Explicitly on the homi side of the idol equation, I’m waiting for Yanakoto Sott Mute to really, truly break out, possibly to achieve PassCode levels of popularity. And, at that point, the sky’s truly the limit. Perfect Music has built a good, strong stable of talent, so it’s going to come down to whether they have the resources to deliberately promote and grow what they have.
I can see nice breakouts, too, for GANG PARADE (who made a great move at the end of 2017), Kaqriyo Terror Architect, DAIDAIDAI and maybe even JyuJyu, if they can stabilize the membership and release more than one new thing in the year. sora tob sakana are so good that I’m surprised that they haven’t already become a big deal, but maybe it’s their year. HAMIDASYSTEM, too.
Among your more traditional idols, I don’t think that Task have Fun have exhausted their rise. It feels weird to say that about Kayakizaka46, too, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them get all the way to the very top of the heap.
After KiLLER BiSH and the huge tour to promote it, I thought that BiSH had Budokan circled for 2017. They didn’t (though they arguably could have pulled it off), and I’m not so sure that they’re even going to aim there this coming year, either; instead, I’m doing the obvious math and placing them in the United States for plural dates. Possibly also Europe. And if that happens and it pays off, watch out for a WACK Attack.
Speaking of idols abroad, I’m still fantasizing about an AQBI-family coalition getting involved in the indie rock circuit, irrespective of their idolness, because they’re perfect for it. Also, taking Derek at his word, Necroma’s coming back soon, and I bet they bring friends with them. Not Secured, Loose Ends, ditto, especially if the once-rumored play in Europe pans out for Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da. PassCode teased us in the past; if they can put out another strong album and are able to get their momentum back following Yuna’s full recovery, they might make a play.
Will idol be a bigger deal in the West? I don’t know, actually. I started this stupid project because I could see how Babymetal would be a bridge for other idols and idol-fronted projects who do loud and/or creative and/or otherwise awesome music to catch on — the added element of idol-style performance being the difference maker for stuff that otherwise might attract a niche of metal/punk/whatever fans but wouldn’t otherwise make a blip on account of very similar stuff being available in one’s home market, anyway — and we’ve seen, over the last couple of years, how the Power of the Internet and the availability of product has created new opportunities for idols to look outside of the usual Tokyo club scene, but the momentum has been slower in developing than I expected. While Necroma, who I thought were shoo-ins, did ultimately make it and honestly have barely cleared their international floor, others who I thought were certain to catch on (FRUITPOCHETTE, Bellring Girls Heart) didn’t for various reasons, and others who flirted with it (Guso Drop) went so far as to break up.
If we’re content to be fans of idol, consuming content from afar, and we get the ongoing trickle of new faces over time, we’ll still probably see some additional plays for Western attention; the kicker, though, is whether we can be the mechanisms for fan growth. If that’s what we (I do) aspire to, then we collectively need to be more proactive about it. The handful of websites and social groups and other content that we create, it’s mostly service to the existing group of people — what we need to do is deliberately and pointedly introduce new people, online and in person, to the music that we love.
John and I talked about this in Seattle: We need more people with more blogs and fan sites and YouTube channels. We need to be bold about sharing the stuff — MVs and blog posts and reaction videos and whatever — in the idol-ignorant places that we also inhabit. Your friend, co-worker, spouse, parole office, etc. just might be looking for the new performance act that leads them down the road of re-watching the WACK auditions at 3:00 a.m. on a Wednesday.
So take that as a challenge. Create stuff. Start a blog. Share your takes. If you’re afraid that you don’t know enough, trust me: You learn by doing, and you’ll never actually know enough, so you may as well get your toes into that water and see what happens.
As for this site, I’ve been trying to think of ways to generate more and better stuff. Folks have had some really good ideas, or floated ideas that turned into other ideas, and while I don’t know what the actual shape of things to come is, I do know that there will be change, and it’ll be good.
Hey, it’s been quite a journey so far, and in a lot of ways it’s still just beginning. Take a breather and think about how idols can spur your own creativity. Hell, use this very handy playlist of everything that’s ever been in the Weekender ender to focus your brain!