Welcome to the 20th entry in our Reader’s Best series. We’re in the home stretch now. Thank you again to everyone who participated. Way back in the beginning I mentioned how the submissions ran the gamut, from entries with descriptions as simple as, “This tune slays!” up to songs lists accompanied by essays complete with footnotes. While most of our song lists have leaned towards the former, we’ve now come to the submission that most closely aligns with the latter gross exaggeration.
Today’s chapter is from Richard (aka Richimetal over on the Homicidols’ Discord server) and it is close to being a novella. This is not a complaint. Anyone who can crank out 2,300 words about their favorite idol songs is definitely going to endear themselves to the Homicidols heart. If they’re not careful, they may find themselves writing idol blogs posts on a regular basis, and therein lies the path to madness (or, at least, to the complete loss of all free time).
Since this post has enough words in it already, let’s just jump to it:
Richard’s 10 Favorite Idol Songs (and more)
10. MAOA2R – Failure, someday I will, STUDIO LIVE
This is representing all ex. Zenbu Kimi No Sei da. members and all idols that move on to other things. Brilliant name for a group and great tracks and performance. Mashiro looks super cool in the excellent video. It showcases her wonderful dancing ability which always stood out, and her distinctive vocal sound. I love that the video deliberately does not show her face and is all a swirl of hair and dress and boots. It is sad that after this fantastic start which softened the trauma of her departure from zenbukimi, the tracks were not released as an actual product and nothing else seems to have come out from Mashiro (please tell me if I have got that wrong and there are other things she has done).
[Daemon: Mashiro now goes by Rei and is currently a member of ONEKILL.]
9. Seireki 13ya – Matane
I just love this group (whose name roughly translates as “the 13th constellation”) so much as they make such wonderful pop music. Great tunes, the usual impeccable Codomomental production standards and their tracks are brimming with musical ideas. Also, especially with live performances, the world doesn’t seem such a bad place after hearing them and all their lovely vocals.
One of my favourite idols is Nene Komochi who is in this group and currently also in Zenbu Kimi No Sei da. So with Mei Yui Mei et. al. also in Zenbukimi I am currently a very happy person. Her voice is so pure and beautiful and distinctive and strong. At four-foot-ten inches she is a bundle of pure bubbles, happiness, fun and energy. Great singer and performer and is impossibly cool and cute with her multiple ear piercings. They are all nice singers, but you will know it’s Nene Komochi in this track especially at approximately two minutes 26 seconds in when she sings her little verse and I literally melt and go all gooey inside when I hear it (worth checking out the live DVD version as well). Such beautiful textures.
Please check out all their recordings, but I will just mention the Akashic Records EP because each song is a member solo track so you can fully appreciate each of their singing styles.
8. Franchouchou – Gekkou Survive
Well Franchouchou are definitely an idol unit. Ok, so it is a fictitious one from the absolutely brilliant anime “Zombieland Saga”. However real people must have recorded their music. The anime is recommended as it does cover the different eras and styles of idol. If you can watch the whole two series it will make more sense as to why this track is in this list and will give it more impact. Also, the episode with this song is one of my favourites in anime. Try to watch it rather than from the studio version (which is quite hard to get anyway – available as a CD with the Japanese version of the DVD series).
In any event, as the two metalhead fans in the anime say, “this rocks.” I admire the producers for being able to make each singer so distinguishable in the mix.
7. Stella Sugarlet – Wonderland
This is a relatively new track and I have still to properly play the rest of their catalogue. I only discovered this track from a Homicidols post and absolutely love it and can’t stop playing it. It is hard to put a finger on just why. Sometimes maybe it is just best not to try to analyze these things too much. Maybe it’s the lush guitar sound or the little keyboard refrain or that it is impossibly catchy or the vocals or the video (worth playing that rather than the album because of the little rewind at the start and the happiness of the members).
Having watched it so many times, I start to notice it is deceptively simple and there are loads of clever little production techniques that you might hear on dance tunes. Now the bad news – according to Homicidols, the footage on the video was their last performance before disbanding?
6. Hatsune Miku – Sharing The World
Is a vocaloid singer an Idol? Whatever. After all, a lot of idol vocals are mastered with additional effects, vocoder, auto tuning, etc. Anyway, I don’t care because this track is wonderful. It is so infectious and uplifting and whenever I play it I am immediately euphoric and leaping around with hands in the air. So you can’t ask for more than that. The live band that the vocaloids have when performing live are also awesome.
5. Nogizaka 46 – Inochiwa Utsukushii, Itsuka Dekiru Kara Kyo Dekiru
Hoping no one spots I snuck two tracks in there 😉
[Daemon: I noticed.]
Please don’t chastise me for including this group. Yes, I know they are the biggest selling female idol unit in Japan and they are an unstoppable marketing machine with the full resources of Sony behind them….. BUT. Their live shows are utterly brilliant and the scale of the shows: mind-blowing. For example the 7th Birthday live shows took place over four nights at the 55,000 seat Kyocera Dome in Osaka. They performed their entire back catalogue of over 170 songs and each night the show lasted for well over 4 hours. The stage show, performances, dance routines, costumes….. everything was amazing. The members are extremely hard working and multi-talented and the selection process is brutal and fiercely competitive. They have produced some wonderfully beautiful songs such as these I have chosen.
4. Kaqriyo Terror Architect – Kagome Kagome
Another Tower records discovery. I actually first heard the 2019 version of this on the Forbidden Masturbating EP. So now demonstrating my immaturity because I was drawn to the CD in Tower records by the title and because the photo of (who I now know to be the supremely talented artist) Nonamera on the cover looked impossibly cute.
I love everything they have done and Cultural Mixing is a classic. I chose this track because it was the first one of theirs I discovered and because it is brilliant. I would describe it as, along with HTT, “Rice is a side dish”, what The Ramones would have sounded like if they had been Japanese girls :-). [Daemon: HTT = Ho-Kago Tea Time, from the anime, “K-ON!”] One of those uplifting tracks that always makes me want to “dance my legs down to the knees,” as Morrissey would say, and limp-limbed like a puppet. Also it is impossible to play only once in a sitting and can never get loud enough.
They have recorded more interesting tracks than this, but which one to choose? I chose this one simply as it was the first for me. It also demonstrates (as does, for example, “Original Satire”) the amazing and distinctive voice of Nonamera (and the other members).
I love that this is typical idol because it seems like an innocent track (“Kagome Kagome” is a children’s game) with cutesy vocals etc. But then you learn that the game originates from something sinister, grim, gruesome. The (true?) story of a children’s orphanage in a remote forest in Japan that was used by the Nazis in the second world war. They experimented on the children to try to find and manipulate the brain’s killswitch. Google it for the full story. So similar to “Ring a Ring a Roses,” which is said to be about the bubonic plague, then “Kagome Kagome,” which means “follow me, follow me,” stems from the children at the orphanage.
It was quite a discovery when I realised they, and the groups for tracks two and three on this list are all on the same Codomomental label who also manage other excellent groups including Seireki13ya, Akugi, Tokyo Tefutefu to name a few. It is more or less the same people that write and produce all the tracks for the Codomomental groups, so to consistently produce the highest standard of songwriting and production and musical ideas is astonishing.
3. Zenbu kimi no sei da. – Afflicted Hallejullah
So there I was, happily into Yukueshirezutsurezure. I managed to catch up with the back catalogue by going back to Japan or importing by mail order. I was reading a review when I saw the words “and their sister group Zenbu Kimi No Sei da.….” …… OMG they have a sister group ????!!!!. So onto the CD Japan website I went and ordered their first album called Yamikawa IMRAD (and subsequently that discovery has cost me a fortune in CDs). To cut a long story short, I absolutely loved it (understatement of the year). This track “Wazurai Hallelujah,” immediately became one of my fave tracks ever. It’s why I love idol as it just seems to have more impact when cool Japanese people are singing about life, relationships, emotions etc. The vocals are tremendous (everything is tremendous) , especially the super-cool munchkin rapping and those drums.
The bit that gets me is when it goes stratospheric at about two minutes 30 secs in. Which leads me to the point that the writers, producers and musicians of idol deserve to be mentioned and credited, which are always second to none. In this part of the track there are no vocals, so it’s the music that gets the spotlight. The band that backs them at gigs are fantastic.
This track instantly makes me feel happy and saved my life during a really tough period in my life. Having now got everything they have done, they are my fave idol group (all the lineups) other than BABYMETAL and Yukueshirezutsurezure. So imagine my joy when Mei Yui Mei and Kotetsu joined. I would kill to see them at The Budokan next March.
2. Yukueshirezutsurezure – Shunkashuutou
If I hadn’t discovered BABYMETAL in 2015 I would have never gone to Japan, but in 2017 I did take my first trip. Top of my list to do was to go to Tower Records and try to complete my BABYMETAL collection and seek out more Japanese music. At that time I had no idea there was such a thing as “Idol” or that BM are considered to be in that category. I went to the department where the BM display was and spent a good two-to-three days listening to everything I could in the listening stations there. I saw a CD that had Miss Sins on the cover which looked interesting, so I gave it a try. The first two tracks (“Miss Sins” and “Moth Moth”) were very good I thought, but nothing that would change my world like BABYMETAL had. But then track three came on and I had one of those moments where I was completely blown away. This was music unlike anything I had heard before which had everything.
I stood out in the store as it was (being a 51 year old English guy) but I uncontrollably spoke out loud (because I had headphones on) “OMFG” and wept. Very rarely in life do tracks have such a profound effect on you, but this one did. I actually couldn’t wait to get back to the UK to play it again and when I did, couldn’t stop playing it. Being ignorant :
- I actually thought the group were called “Miss Sins” for a long time as everything on the CD cover was in Japanese
- I still had no concept of idol so at the time I didn’t realise this was the first idol group I liked apart from BM. I tried so hard to find out more about the CD and group and I have to thank “Idolisshit” blog for having a review. I only recently found a lyric translation and I am still none the wiser.
- It is a testament to idol that I can love tracks just because of the composition, production, musicianship, vocal sound, the feel of the track etc. without knowing what they are actually singing about.
I did find out that the title translates as “SpringSummerAutumnWinter” when spoken, but the kanji used in the title for “Tou”/Winter is actually the kanji for Tou/fight rather than for winter which immediately sends the track to a new level even with that little piece of info.
I could easily fill a top 20 with only this group’s tracks but chose this one because it was the first non BABYMETAL idol track I bought/heard and so had the most effect which I am reminded of every time I play it and get very emotional.
1. BABYMETAL – MEGITSUNE
I feel like I am copying Daemon’s homework with this choice and the reasons why. But that’s the point: they had the same effect on everyone globally. For me this was, in 2015, the second idol track I had ever heard, i.e. track two on the album, and my life was never the same from that point on. I could write pages and pages about BM, how I got into them and the journey they have taken me on. I could get very emotional and they could have filled the whole Top 10 just from the first album. I guess I don’t need to say anything, because you all already know and feel it yourselves.
Now to sneak in some other tracks that on another day could just have easily been in the Top 10.
Minna no Kodomochan – would have been in the top 10 but happy that Daemon has included them in his, so they are covered and saved me from trying to agonize over which track. Can I include the whole album in the list please !! [Daemon: Sure!]
・・・・・・・・・ – “Can you feel the change of the seasons”