It’s a Friday edition of Readers Best, this time courtesy of Suben (aka SubenW over on the Homicidols Discord server). Over the course of this series, our readers have proven to be fans of rarefied artists and aficionados of deep album cuts. Each carefully curated list has included at least one surprise or unearthed a new, unheard of gem. Suben continues this trend, but also decided to set a couple records along the way.
Suben’s top ten not only skews more traditional than any other list featured so far, but also contains the first song we’ve seen from the past century. Actually, the track in question’s release date (1984) is probably before most of our readers were even born, so this list isn’t just good music, it’s a time capsule! Let’s go!!
Suben’s 10 Favorite Idol Songs
Oyasumi Hologram, Mahiru no Dance
“Neuromancer” is their signature song and is, of course, great but it was this song which first really made me pay attention to the group. The droning, moody melancholy of the instrumental is nice and I feel works well with the fact that quite frankly 8gatsu and Kanamil weren’t exactly the best singers to produce something charmingly lo-fi.
Siam☆Dream, Long Distance
It’s kind of ironic that I’d consider a Thai group of having the perfect traditional idol stye song but, well, they do. It’s upbeat, energetic, fun, insanely catchy and the live versions are enjoyable to watch thanks to the bouncy choreography… practically the perfect recipe for idol music.
Shihatsu-machi Underground, Kanjousen Wakusei
I really enjoy just how different this is. Most idol rock songs fall into the realm of some variation of metal or hard rock whereas Shihatsu-machi Underground comes out with a song with calm-yet-gritty bluesy verses before launching into a catchy, high energy, very Franz Ferdinandish chorus. They’re a great group in general but this is the one song I always come back to.
Dance for Philosophy, Johnnie Walker
I feel that DfP has been a bit inconsistent over the last year since going major label with the label wanting to push them in a more modern pop direction (the K-Pop style Cup Ramen Program is the definite low point of their discography for me). But the Sunflower EP was a return to form and “Johnnie Walker” is everything that’s great about DfP. The jazzy/funky/soul instrumental combined with Haru’s big voice and some unexpected stuff like Otoha singing with her more natural voice make it probably my favorite song from what’s basically Especia’s successor.
Dempagumi.inc, Den Den Passion
Dempagumi is awesome and is almost like the un-killable idol group. Graduations, marriages and children seem to do nothing to slow them down and even fourteen years after their debut they still manage to keep going with no signs of stopping. “Den Den Passion” is, for me, always going to be their signature song (even though in truth that’s probably “Future Diver”) as it best exemplifies the hyper manic energy and catchiness that makes the group what they are.
BURST GIRL, Cell No. 8
I don’t think anyone will ever surpass BURST GIRL as the greatest live idol act ever. Not even Pikarin or Hanako-san. Their lives were always fun to watch videos of because of how the group and the fans fed off of one another. They weren’t good singers and only Yurapico could do anything resembling dancing and none of that mattered, BURST GIRL lives were all about passion and energy. “Cell No. 8” usually came early in their sets and was always the song that seemed to set the mood and get everyone hyped up for the rest of the show so for me, it exemplifies everything that made the group great.
Negicco, Idol Bakari Kikanaide
The idol song about not obsessing over idols is ironically, one of the early songs that helped get me into the genre in the first place. Being written by Pizzicato Five founder Yasuharu Konishi probably helped lend legitimacy to the group and it’s the song that launched them into the more Shibuya-kei influenced direction that’s been Negicco’s hallmark ever since.
Yukiko Okada, Dreaming Girl- Koi, Hajimemashite
She’s the furthest thing from being “alternative” but hey, it says idol songs so… Yukko was someone I didn’t quite get the first few times I tried listening to her music. Ignoring the obvious tragedy of her life, she was still a popular idol but something about her music wasn’t working for me until I heard this song and suddenly it clicked. The singing and the instrumental combine to form something that is simultaneously gentle, hopeful and a twinge melancholic.
You’ll Melt More!, Only You
“Only You” is Yurumerumo at their very best. I feel like over the years, the group’s actually lost a lot of the dynamism and the “we’ll throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” style that made them so interesting but “Only You” will continue to exist and continue to embody everything that’s ever made them good. Hell of a live song, too, as especially shown by being Younapi’s last song.
Especia, No1 Sweeper
I knew the top spot would have to go to Especia. It was 2014, I’d started getting into city pop in the days before Plastic Love and vaporwave really blew up and came across this almost by chance. I was instantly hooked and from there I was slowly pulled into idol music, something I’d long dismissed as being the domain of groups like Morning Musume. So it really couldn’t be any other group or song, though the fact the song is perfect doesn’t hurt.