Friends, for all of the bellyaching about the overall volume of quality idol output in 2017, we still managed to have an exciting showdown of idol forces for the best of the year. You don’t know it, and I won’t be too specific, but there were a lot of close calls in what follow here, and a number of ties just below the winners even at that — ultimately, even you all couldn’t decide what it was that most deserved to be honored with a Best Of. Good job!
Nonetheless, after months of pre-nominations and voting and etc., we got down to a healthy group of finalists, all of whom deserve a ton of credit for being the literal cream of the crop even thought only one was going to win — ultimately, in a situation like this, everything is subjective, anyway. BUT! To make things more interesting overall, while it is the picks of you all, the Western loud idol community, that really matter, I will again demonstrate my own incredible acumen for being correct about what’s best in idol, as will folks who contributed to the site over the course of the year. You’ll find it fascinating if not unnecessarily obscure!
As a brief preview: Do you remember how BiSH ran roughshod over the awards last year, basically making a mockery of the whole shebang? We managed to avoid that this time, though WACK’s influence was strong. However, for all of Watanabe’s stable’s influence over Western fandom, a new apple of our all-seeing eye has emerged, and the distribution overall, I think, speaks volumes as to where people line up and how they view what idol is producing.
Without further ado, I give you the Best of 2017.
After being completely, hilariously shut out last year despite the dominance of “Karate” and METAL RESISTANCE, Babymetal finally gets off the schneid and takes home an award, albeit probably not the one that kitsunes would prefer. But look — yeah, you toured with rock legends in a number of countries and made a ton of new fans, but you also failed to deliver on that promised animated series, turned in a very whelming theme for the Unikitty show, released nothing new and even ended the year on a middling note, with Yuimetal out of the big Hiroshima shows due to illness. Babymetal grew, but not in a way that impressed anybody who was already a fan.
Maniac sez: This is a good take. You don’t get to skate by just because you’re the biggest name in the game, especially not when you generate as much hype as you do. Nobody else was even close.
Brian sez: WACK’s continued slow slide into comfortable formula. Thank goodness there’s still Gang Parade keeping that fire lit.
Thanks to Watanabe flapping his virtual gums a few weeks early, we knew that BiSH had something cooking, but nobody was prepared for the guerilla release of THE GUERiLLA BiSH on a random Saturday, nor for the MV that came with it, nor the implications that followed. It was a master stroke, beautifully marketed in real time, and it proved just how big a share of the loud idol pie BiSH truly commands. It also inadvertently set the expectation that they arrive on U.S. shores sooner rather than later, so we’ll see how that goes.
Maniac sez: That was a good one, but I’ll never forget how I felt the day that Twitter had a miniature freak-out over Guso Drop’s announced departure. The whole Idolverse was shocked.
Papermaiden sez: Seeing NECRONOMIDOL live. I am not into metal as much as my entourage. Despite that, I still enjoy some Necroma from time to time. I was NOT ready for how amazing they are live. Their choreography are incredibly well oiled and sharp. I was speechless and chantless for most of their set because of how breathtaking it was. If you have a chance to see them on their US tour, I urge you to go.
Kerrie sez: Agreeing with Papermaiden for NECRONOMIDOL taking over the world, but also for me, the WACK swap was certainly a surprise that brought about many conspiracy theories and questions, especially as it followed the heels of the hot mess that was the 2017 WACK audition. I was pretty optimistic about this from the start; bringing back a BiS OG could have been a great learning opportunity to the newbies (and even management) on what made the old BiS so great and how BiS2 could improve. Meanwhile, taking away who is ultimately the face of GANG PARADE could give the other girls the opportunity to prove themselves as more than just “the tattered remains of pla2me”. And honestly? In my opinion, with Aya taking the reigns I think GANG PARADE has been strongest they’ve ever been. It’s just too bad this is probably going to end in March. -Shakes fist at Watanabe-
It seemed that Himari even being nominated here (over Rei, because the rules) was kind of weird, given her loudol history, but, in a year’s worth of NECRONOMIDOL performances and recording and touring the friggin’ globe, she really did stand tall. And impossibly elegant. Her hair may in fact be a separate entity wrapped in a symbiotic relationship with her head.
Maniac sez: This is one of those few times when I’m going to default to an easy, predictable choice, but I loved the emergence of Pan Luna Leafy in BiS. You all can have your Peritans and MOMOLANDs and so forth; I’ll take the future leader of the former baddest idols alive.
Much like last year, it’s not an individual performance that gets fans’ attention, but a short tour after a long journey to a strange place. NECRONOMIDOL’s announcement of a European tour kick-started months of hype, getting hype and remaining hype, and the whirlwind goes on now in the United States.
Maniac sez: Um, tonight’s show in Seattle is pretty clearly going to be the best of the year, rules about dates and stuff be as damned as the poor fools who will prostrate themselves before Necroma …
Kerrie sez: Maybe I’m biased, because NECRONOMIDOL’s London show was the only one of these nominations that I actually attended, but that night I can say was the highlight of my entire year. So once again, I want to give an enormous thank you to every single person that made this possible, because that was probably the happiest day of my life so far.
It took months from the WACK Fes announcement of its formation as Project aW (eventually to be rechristened) for anything to happen with EMPiRE, and the first responses to their existence was mixed. The reaction to their first few tracks was muted even. Then they crushed their first single, and it’s basically off to the races. The ceiling is high.
Maniac sez: How the hell does a unit that begins life as a project of a major label constitute a breakthrough if they meet expectations? That doesn’t even make sense. You guys are drunk. Dots and Kaqriyo Terror Architect tied in the voting right behind EMPiRE, and both would have been better choices; for total potential and mass-appeal-ability, I’m giving it to the nameless singularities.
No category in this whole process was as much of a runaway as Guso Drop’s sudden, seemingly inexplicable disbandment announcement. And then they actually went through with it! Yes, there were very good personal and business reasons for Guso Drop to fold, but the action removed one of the truly great forces in the underground and led us to a world where something called CHICKEN BLOW THE IDOLl is going to exist.
Maniac sez: BURST GIRLS hopes to have the last laugh, and maybe they will, but this was a big ugh moment. There were a lot of brutal graduations this year, but come on, this is it.
Brian sez: THE SPUNKY calling it a day [was] a pure, shining example of the impermanence of idols.
Kerrie sez: Can I just rant for a second? What the hell was it with 2017 and my favourite groups disbanding? I know this thing is common in idol and I should have been prepared for it, but Christ on a cracker it was never this bad in 2015-2016! Guso Drop, Especia, LADYBABY, C-ute, Country Girls (sort of), Pottya, Buono!, FRUITPOCHETTE… I need a sit down. Thank goodness for BURST GIRLS. Screw 2017.
No category is more prone to random fluctuations of access and general subjective measures than whether a B-side that most may not have even heard is better than another B-side that is likewise, but the community fairly overwhelmingly selected “Help!!” from a strong set of contenders.
Maniac sez: This is a good choice, but it’s not the best choice, which would have been “Karmaloop” from the list of official nominees, or GANG PARADE’s “WINTER SONG” from the very edges of eligibility.
Brian sez: The last 50 minutes or so of Dots’s “Tokyo” mix.
Single of the Year
Perhaps appropriately, the saddest mass graduation in the business this year also had the community’s overall favorite single. “Painfully Violent”, with its raw speed and volume, and unmistakable MV, was idolcore at its simultaneous best and worst, a delicious orgy of Going For It. That it came in some of the best fan service packaging in history may have had something to do with it, too.
Brian sez: “Slide” by Dots (I’m considering “Slide” the actual A-side to the 72 minute “Tokyo” mix.)
Collaboration of the Year
Maniac sez: I liked this, and I can’t frankly think of anything better all year, but can we please give some love to the dearly departed Hauptharmonie and their album with Tapferkeit Band? One of the most unique things to hit idol in forever died a truly glorious death.
Brian sez, and Papermaiden probably agrees: Avandoned + Cinema and Boy CQ
Kerrie sez: Guso Drop and NECRONOMIDOL on the sole basis that they’re my two favourite alt units working together, but also Togawa Jun and Vampillia’s collaboration is one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard in recent years. Only Jun could have a song where she makes cuckoo noises repeatedly and it’ll still make me tear up every time I hear it.
Though there weren’t as many raw debuts as in some past years, 2017 nonetheless brought out a very strong stable of loudol projects from some well-versed-and-or-heeled sources. Candye Syrup is backed by one of the chika scene’s favorite salons, and they tore up plenty of stages on their way to winning plenty of hearts.
Maniac sez: Candye Syrup was fine, but their music was kind of all over the place in terms of quality, and it takes more than one really good song to be the best. Do you know who had more than one really good song? Kaqriyo Terror Architect, that’s who. And let’s not even get into the groups that nobody paid enough attention to, like le biglemoi in particular.
Kerrie sez: I knew Kaqriyo Terror Architect were going to be something special the moment they launched those promotional photos that had British schoolyard insults such as “minger” and “berk” scribbled all over them.
BiSH put out a ton of material this past year, but the cream of their crop was the <em>GiANT KiLLERS</em> EP and its wild, rollicking title track, as good a reminder that the biggest name in today’s game (ahem) can still drop powerful, unpredictable songs and push all kinds of boundaries while doing it.
Maniac sez: I don’t know, man; this is basically an all-timer. If you can’t get hype for the obvious wota bits, you can’t get hype for anything.
Ayuni shot first! A great song deserves a great, creative music video, and BiSH takes this one home for the second year in a row. The idea of Atsuko gleefully gunning down her abusive father’s henchmen, a song on her lips the whole way, apparently really speaks to people.
Maniac sez: This is fine and all, but mistress really deserves a lot of credit for “DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEetc”. The MV isn’t as polished as many, but that’s perfectly fine; raw and gross work, too. Also giving a nod to merry merli for this masterpiece, and how the hell did you guys forget about Task have Fun?
Brian sez: “NEW WAVE STAR” by You’ll Melt More!, especially the weird quiet part at the end that I wanted to see continue for at least 20 more minutes.
Kerrie sez: I am so disappointed at how few of you voted for that gorgeous Sora Sob Sakana MV. Where is your passion for animation, people??
There was a shortage of great nominees for this hard-to-define category, but nobody seemed to complain; instead, the voting was closer here than for any other category. Ultimately, Team WACK won out and handed GiANT KiLLERS its third award in a row. Wild.
Maniac sez: And this is where I get obscure on you; I added Nemlesss’s BOSSSRUSH EP to the nominees list to flesh it out, but also because it might be my favorite thing released all year. It’s aggressive, loud, technical and all about my girl Utane Yuki, Oshi-sama’s best friend and the former PSYBOU KANOJO. Screaming Rhapsody was extremely good, too, but ultimately too repetitive for a short release.
Brian sez: TALKING HITS by You’ll Melt More! (and, holy crap, how many records did they put out this year?)
She didn’t release as much as in years past, nor was she as prominent, but Pikarin’s taking home the title here is a testament to how well loved she is by her fans. And she won it despite being up against some real heavies among the nominees. Shiina’s career has been long enough at this point that she could retire, but she’s clearly having a blast and doesn’t seem like she’s losing an ounce of momentum.
Maniac sez: You know that I want to give this to Oshi, but I should be fair. I’m going to give an honorary shout-out to Azuma Shiori for always kicking tons of ass even when the project that she helped to make great fell apart around her.
Papermaiden sez: I was not ready for Usakura Beni. Either solo, in APOKALIPPPS, in her zines, she has incredible charisma. She’s really personable and productive. Despite my infinite love for Shidare, I have to give my personal prize to Beni for all her hard work. As much as I would like to see Beni dressed as a crow, her rejection from Bellheart was a blessing for us, as we get to enjoy her full, unleashed creativity.
Brian sez: Without a second thought, Beni from Advandoned. With 210% effort into everything she does, be it performing, planning, or self-managing, Beni is hands-down one of the hardest workers in the business. She’s a future rock star. No, actually … Beni IS a rock star.
NECRONOMIDOL won the editor’s choice last year, but this time around is all about the huge impact that they made on fans new and old. DEATHLESS was the first of two excellent long releases for the year, arguably finer even than last summer’s sublime from chaos born. It even spawned one of the greatest fan mobilizations that we’ve ever done ’round these parts.
Maniac sez: This one isn’t a case of the masses getting it wrong so much as it is differing sets of expectations; Yanakoto Sotto Mute, the perfect modern idols, put out an awe-inspiringly beautiful rock record the likes of which rarely get written at all anymore, let alone for idols, and yet BUBBLE was beloved of all who heard it.
Brian sez: Maison Book Girl, Image.
It should surprise absolutely nobody that a year packed with extremely plus releases, massive international touring and budding respect from the international music press would get NECRONOMIDOL the top spot for 2017. They ran away with the fan voting here, and I’m not in a position to argue. This is the kind of dominance that we talk about when we talk about “world domination,” and not only can they keep growing, so can a lot more in idol that can follow their lead. It’s going to be a very interesting 2018, I think, and we may remember Necroma and NSLE going West as major milestones in the rise of idol.
And now some specialty awards!
Excellency of 2017: Codomomental, however, is still definitely in their prime, debuting a new group that is more than up to my expectations, poaching old favourites and putting them in an excellent place. Their past as a video making company still shines through, as they managed to pull compelling, visually striking videos despite being a smaller company.
But this isn’t all about Kakuriyo. My intial love for Tsurezure transformed into devotion as I got to see them three times in Canada! Cococo’s graduation was a blow as unexpected as it was painful, seeing how the group’s synergy was working. Getting to see them a fourth time in November, post Cococo’s grad, I believe the group can still go on and I hope they’ll find an amazing fourth member to be revealed during their By the Avant-Garde Tour.
The group that started it all, Zenkimi, I have yet to see live. While I wasn’t into their peppier image as much as their “yami”-Er kawaii stuff, I got to see their full genius in their album songs, recent and older. –Papermaiden
Website of the Year: So look at the Nemlesss website sometime. Maybe eat some shrooms first.
Comeback of the Year: Lots of idols have health problems. Lots of idols overcome their health problems. Imada Yuna barely missed a beat after being diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, and is right back to roaring like hell on stage. Good for her.
Fan Love-in Event of the Year: #WorldDotmination was an unparalleled success, and maybe the coolest thing about it was how much people were excited to see so many other people posting dots, eclipses, etc. It was heartwarming.
(Kerrie Special Award) Most Bizarre Use Of British Appropriation By An Idol Group: How this even managed to become a category this year I have no idea. I should have known this was coming when a few years ago woman in J-Pop such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu had a brief obsession with our Queen, but as for 2017 we had Kaqriyo calling us all gits and pillocks, Sakigake New Game recruiting Mr Blobby of all people, Ur-Brits Buono! disbanding despite never having done a UK show, even though they plaster the Union Jack over everything (also their name is Italian) and finally NECRONOMIDOL going several steps further than everyone else and actually doing a one-man in London. Honorable mention goes to that dream I had where mistress were voted into the UK parliament because the alt-right got bored of UKIP. Now, all of these are pretty amazing in my opinion. But I think I’m going to give the award to Sakigake New Game just so I have an excuse to expose the horror that is Mr Blobby to any of our readers who didn’t like in the UK during the 90s.
(Kerrie Special Award) The Richard Simmons Award For Questionable Attempts At Fitness Promotion: I actually got a few submissions for this one! We have .-chan’s Youtube workout series, Pour Lui’s DiET OR DiE, Guso Drop does “clean eating”, predia’s Ms. Frontier MV, Just Dance 2018’s Kawaiicore song, and Up Up Girls and Deadlift Lolita both bringing wrestling to idol in 2017.
This was a hard one to pick, so let’s narrow a few things down; Pour Lui: I don’t think anything that sounds like the name of a Tumblr pro-ana blog should be aspired to as fitness goals, sorry Rizap. I don’t think semen counts as “Clean Eating” but thanks for the laughs Guso. Sayonara is just a wee bit on the cringey “look how kawaii and Japanese we are!!!” side for me to allow it to win (although admittedly it is my most played song on Just Dance. Look, sometimes a girl’s just got to pretend to be an idol during her workout ok?), I think in the end, Up Up Girls and Deadlift are this year’s joint winners, just because I now want to see them face off in the Royal Rumble of Idoldom.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Togawa Jun was always going to be an icon, anyway; that she made a comeback (and also worked with Vampilia what) so long after her heyday deserves a ton of respect. To Arguably the Ur-homicidol: We salute you.