Hey there, Cal here. I’m Homicidols’ pin-up mascot, treasurer and I also lie for fun sometimes. I don’t normally write in first person so forgive me if I seem like a fish out of water. If you read the first entry in our personal top 10’s series, you’ll see Dae mention that I had this idea thinking it’ll be fun and it ended up being a little gruelling. He was 100% correct, I like too many songs to pick just 10! It’s like drawing blood from a stone, a really sexy stone with immaculate music taste.
When it comes to things like this, I prefer to separate things into different categories such as “music that has a personal meaning for me” or “music to touch the stove to” or “music that makes me want to run screaming into traffic.” I listen to a lot of idol songs, like a lotttttt, so in the end, I just ended up picking the best of the best from various criterias. So this list kind of ended up being a mix of the sentimental to the slappers. Please enjoy it.
10. MIGMA SHELTER, BANG ON
When I lived in France, I went to a lot of raves. MIGMA SHELTER as a group makes me truly nostalgic for that time – as a group they aren’t just idols performing to genres like trance, techno and hardbass but the members themselves truly embody that music. All a single DJ in Europe needs to do is play “BANG ON” and Migma will take the whole continent by storm.
9. PIGGS, NAKED BORN NAKED DIE
Recently, a certain pop-punk singer that was popular when I was a teenager released an album to much fanfare. I liked it, but I didn’t really agree with reviews saying that it felt fresh, because it was just a lot of what she’d already released before. That made me think about how idol groups have been taking on genres like that and consistently reinventing things and growing the sounds out in a way that’s able to reference not only the bands of yesteryear, but the bands that were the bands of yesteryear when it was yesteryear. Does that make sense? Anyway, Ryan B is a genius.
8. KOTO, Question Quest
Sasaki Kissa’s 80’s throwback high energy dance music combined with KOTO’s insane rapid movements and cute vocals really do make the ultimate pop songs. Everything about KOTO and her career is just… fun! I feel like i’ve been abducted by aliens and they’ve strapped me to a chair to make me watch an idol rotate her joints at ten thousand RPM.
When I listen to KOTO, I think about my friend’s story of how she was so nervous to go to an idol live, but the local fans were so kind and helpful in making sure that she had a good time. You’re a guest here, so you should be right at the front of the show! She’s your idol just as much as our idol, and KOTO really was everyone’s idol.
7. SHIMMER SHRIMPMER, Drawing the Sky
Both SHIMMER SHRIMPMER and Fingers Cross are Thai idol groups who aren’t afraid to say what’s important to them. Their political commentary on current affairs in Thailand is delivered through melodic walls of noise and to me, SHIMMER SHRIMPMER’s debut single “Drawing the Sky” with the “voice of dejected youth” is a shining example of that. The lyrics are simultaneously clear yet esoteric, direct yet vague and they’re able to be silly while being serious. They’re able to say something while simultaneously surrounding themselves with lyrical clouds, in true shoegaze fashion.
6. Avakaidan, Feedback Fryday
Legendary harsh noise group Hijokaidan were subculture monsters throughout the 2010’s. They covered Jun Togawa’s Suki Suki Daisuki, with Jun herself on vocals, and collabed with a bunch of idol groups because fuck it, why not combine idols and noise? There have been various <idol>-kaidans with BiS and You’ll Melt More!, but Avakaidan with Avandoned is my personal favourite. The extreme layers of noise and feedback (shocker) just really add to “Feedback Fryday.” Also, have you ever tried doing warm-up exercises to this early in the morning? It’s a good workout!
5. BiS, DESTROY
(Epliepsy warning for the video)
Honestly, I had to include a BiS song on this list but the process of going through every single generation and picking favourites was agonising. Do I go for the twisted memories I associate with BiS2’s “Against the Pain” or play it safe and pick “nerve”, the idol song that feels like the theme of the 2010’s? Then while I was listening to “DESTROY”, it kind of hit me how that song is what I love most about BiS; constant reinvention while still staying to a punk sound and just being outright fun. I really loathe the constant comparisons to the things that OGBiS did because it just fundamentally isn’t the point of the group.
The chorus starts with “DESTROY that path laid for you by somebody else” which for me is really evocative of how I feel about current BiS. They don’t have to fulfil any expectations laid by somebody else because somebody else did something, somewhere, sometime. I love OGBiS, but isn’t it more fun to just enjoy something for what it is instead of comparing it to something it isn’t trying to be, and hasn’t attempted to be for a while now? Destroy the old road, scream and shout, do whatever you want.
4. KAQRIYOTERROR, Therefore?
I love Kaqriyo simply for the fact that they juxtapose the sexy with the disgusting. In English, “eroguro” is more evocative of artists like Suehiro Maruo and Junji Ito but in Japanese, I think of the phrase “eroguro nonsense” – the culture surrounding new trends at the end of the Taisho era and the start of Showa like the works of Edogawa Ranpo and hot new pop cultural topic; Sada Abe cutting her lover’s penis off and walking around with it as a keepsake. Kaqriyo’s songs to me are the penis that Sada Abe had tucked in her obi, and “Therefore?”, with its chorus about using your ex lover’s entrails as jump rope, is the glans you probably shouldn’t look at but you can’t help but stare.
3. Especia, No1 Sweeper
There really must have been crack in the Tsubasa Records water supply because they had OGBiS, Wednesday Campanella and Especia just banging out the tunes at the start of the 2010’s. I was big into Vaporwave and retro futurism in general when I was 19/20; Artists like James Ferraro and Daniel Loptain were creating such beautiful soundscapes that it really made me feel like I was going to live and die inside a computer. After that we got the revival of City Pop and Future Funk jumping into the mix. But, despite the fact Especia were making that kind of fun, bubble era retro throwback music at the same time, they’re only considered apart of that canon by idol fans. Once I saw a stray, almost decade old Reddit comment saying they “missed the point of Vaporwave ” but honestly, people like that are just really dull. Also, what’s more counterculture than pissing off counterculture nerds? It’s countercounterculture.
Especia were cutting edge and still are! They’re fun, funky and still manage to sound fresh, even with how saturated that market became in such a short time.
Also “No1 Sweeper” is about sex, which is just really funny. To quote somebody in the livestream chat for their reunion show, “I’m No1 Swept!”
2. GANG PARADE, LAST
GP were the first group I truly got invested in, just after they dropped “GANG 2” and Saki came back from BiS. During the runup to their album “LAST GANG PARADE”, they released songs periodically on Soundcloud, and ended it with dropping the music video for “LAST” on the last day. How fitting! I was walking to a doctor’s appointment during the dead end of December and checking Twitter when I saw that the song came out. Hearing the leitmotif from “primal.” and “BiSBiS” made me so emotional that I had to sit down in the park for a while. I watched it twice, I watched it three times, I was late, but the doctor was late too so it was okay.
Outside of that personal story, “LAST” really represents what I love about WACK as a whole, too. The way their songs can be angsty without being excessively miserable, the inter-group referencing and seeing the members give their all so they can do something just that little bit different every time.
Sometimes, the “anything” in “anything to sell” can be earnesty in place of batshit insanity. And you know what? That sentimentality feels just as heart pounding.
1. HAMIDASYSTEM, down
My mission on this blog is to continually get people to listen to the groups that split off from HAMIDASYSTEM, which you’ve probably noticed if we follow each other on social media. For me, HMDS truly embody what it means to push the envelope of what an idol can be. The melodic electronica group where you couldn’t smile on stage and the audience couldn’t cheer because it would disrupt the atmosphere, singing the saddest songs they could. Of course, this was in part why they didn’t have many people show up to lives, because part of the experience is being able to jump, shout and cheer. It’s totally understandable, but for me those rigid rules for the sake of artistic expression are just as fun as stomping my feet and screaming “TIGER, FIRE, CYBER” etc.
“down” is not only some incredible production from Sayshine, but a song that, for me, was a kind of light in the dark during a bad time in life. To be blunt, I was really fucking depressed. But like an angsty teenager, it felt like this song just kind of understood me. That’s the power a song can have – the fact I was in mutual despair with this angsty love song, that itself was about mutual despair, was strangely healing.
Because all of their lives were recorded and put on YouTube too, I always got to look at my favourite idol, shining like an angel, feeling like she was singing for me and just for me. Which honestly, she might as well have been because they were not popular at all. Once She (now Shiika) posted a blog about how only 2 people came to see them. I wanted to crawl through my computer screen and throw money at the group manager, yelling “you have fans! We’re here! Just really far away!”
Earlier this year, I got to video call with Shiika. I’d prepared a speech in Japanese (with help from a friend) to tell her everything that I couldn’t tell her at a live, or wouldn’t fit into a reply on Twitter, or would just be out of place during one of her livestreams. I told her about how I was depressed a few years ago, but being able to see her sing those kinds of songs helped me, and that i’d always follow her. I told her I was sorry I couldn’t uplift her when she was sad over not selling well or not having enough fans. Then she told me “now you’re healthy, and i’m healthy, so we can be the best we can together.” I wanted to start crying, but have you ever actually spoken to an idol during talk time? Those things move fast! There’s no time to stop and bask in the words piercing you. Before I knew it, we were posing to take screenshots and it ended. I was back in my living room and not in the digital world i’d experienced HMDS and Shiika in.
I was back in the world that I could live in, because a complete stranger speaking a different language understood me.
You’ll Melt More! – Tora yo
Just because you’re depressed and haven’t cleaned your room in weeks doesn’t mean you can’t slay.
Paipai Dekami – YEAHHHH!!!
Super jpop duo ONIGAWARA on production and a woman whose name is akin to “Tits McGee” going ham on the vocals.
BiS – nerve
It kind of did start it all.
Billie Idle – Soshite, Mata…
NIGO you aren’t seeing heaven, put them back on streaming services NOW. Also once a guy ghosted me in college and I spent a week listening to this on repeat while watching Space Patrol Luluco.
Terashima Yufu – You May Dream
More traditional idol, but this is such a beautiful and cute cover of a Sheena and the Rokkets song.
Necronomidol – Skulls in the Stars
The goth Plastic 2 Mercy.
GANG PARADE – Plastic 2 Mercy
The wota Skulls in the Stars.
Bellring Shoujo Heart – The Edge of Goodbye
Everything from the referencing to the production to the singing is just on point here.
Zsasz – Nuigurumi ni Naritai
Idols and Vocaloid!
And that was Cal’s list! If you made it this far, we’d love to hear your favourite idol songs too. You might get featured! And what do you get if you get featured… absolutely nothing, but it’ll be fun.