Well, folks, you did it: After a nice fuckton of feedback and then three rolling rounds of voting, we got down to your collective community picks for the Best of 2019. There are loads of differences between the first time I did this and now, not the least of which being the level of sophistication and organization in the process, but it all comes back to the whole purpose of this site: To build a community that gives people who aren’t Japanese an easier way into the idol world and a quicker route to understanding — and supporting — these incredible performers. This year’s award winners really sum up that last part, too, I think, because while 2019 isn’t going to be remembered all that fondly by most folks, it was in fact full of great work, memorable people and big developments in this world we love in common.
Without further ado!
Biggest Surprise of the Year
What a fantastic way to kick things off! Yes, after years of generally being treated like garbage — kayfabe or no — WACK finally had a mini-rebellion, wherein nearly all of the BiS2 members got pissed off and, well, pissed off. Idols quitting is a daily occurrence; idols ragequitting en masse is truly special.
Biggest Letdown of the Year
Wota are, by and large, lovely people. Idol is, more or less, fairly wholesome. But when the worst aspects of one meets its pair, it’s like some kind of hideous flashmob. Bad fan behavior is endemic to the industry, but 2019 felt like a banner year for human shittiness. I don’t even want to talk about the specifics.
I thought that maybe this was the first tie in Homicidols history, but no, we’ve done it before. It’s just that, this time, nobody felt like breaking it up because we can honor more people this way! But yeah, this particular grouping of sadness was pretty evenly divided among the community, so much that we could have put everybody and had it count. After all, how do you rank sadness when it’s a year filled with it?
Out of a very strong field, the second iteration of BiS, which had gone through tons of wild-ass change and didn’t even have Pour Lui to kick around anymore, got the nod over really strong competition. I had always wondered if the fans took to BiS2 at the end as well as at the beginning, and this answers the question. We really did lose some great idols in this shakedown.
Best Debut (Individuals)
I’ll be honest and say that I am not in the least bit surprised that Michelle took home the fan vote here — anyone who joins the international community’s favorite project automatically has a leg up. Which isn’t shade at all! Michelle caught on like wildfire and, if history is any indication, will probably be around for a while.
Best Debut (Groups)
Without spoiling too much, the demise of Dots was a tough one for many of us on Team, so the arrival of RAY not long after was a vital benefit to our ability to love again. This one feels like a victory for the music nerds side of the fandom.
There are a couple of narrative threads in these awards, and here we get into maybe the clearest one. The Codomomental Shakeup of 2019 saw us lose all of the original KTA members and, in the process, KTA itself; out of the ashes rose KAQRIYOTERROR, who came out swinging with the same ribald gusto of the original, and with equal impact.
Most Likely to Break Through in 2020
The award geared toward the most random results gave us the most random result, but let’s all face facts: Though voting was more or less kind of close between all of the nominees here, the WACK project with the established idols and built-in fans was the easy choice.
Performance of the Year
A group of Italian fans went large for the first chika/loudol festival in their country’s history, and very good times were had by all. The lineup for 2020 took a little hit recently, but with 2019 showing off ever-growing work to bring idols to the West, we may have only scratched the surface of this movement.
Funniest Moment of 2019
Quick, everybody boo Twitter for their abundance of zeal! Yes, we should be mindful of violence and threatening language and intimidation online and all of that, but how can you possibly punish a 4,000 year old toilet ghost for doing what 4,000 year old toilet ghosts do?
Best Melon Batake a go go
You guys are hilarious.
J/k Melon won. But by two votes.
Collaboration of the Year
Well look at Babymetal bringing home a major award! Like, a good one! And well-deserved, if I say so myself. This wasn’t my personal winner, but it’s tough to argue with, and this was the runaway fan favorite even after I deleted the entries by the jamoke who voted just for this and METAL GALAXY for AOTY, and nothing else, a great many times in a row. Never change, Babymetal fans.
Best Friend of Homicidols
When we inaugurated this award last year, the idea was to highlight cool collaboration partners, idol-adjacent performers and innovators who might not get the most love otherwise; it was never meant to be what it has become, and what it shall henceforward be known as: The Tentenko Non-idol Favorite Homicidols-friendly Artist of the Year Award, or something thereabouts.
B-side of the Year
We had a small number of runaway favorites this year, and this was one of them. MIGMA SHELTER has always been really well-supported by the community, and this is a great example. And, like, this is a hell of a song. Also, what a title!
Single of the Year
About that narrative thread! To be honest, that “lilithpride” won specifically for this award and not for either Song or Video is interesting, but this is a very good fan vote. Despite all of the angst in 2019, there was actually a good bit of really solid shorter-form music released, and KAQRIYOTERROR is like syva’s place to get really wild, with predictable results.
EP of the Year
This is pretty much exactly what I was getting at, in fact, when talking “shorter-form”: There were a lot of very good EPs this year. Is it any surprise that the group that’s made mid-length releases into an art form would be voted as having the best of the year? scions connected in a big way.
Album of the Year
Right?! Poor benighted Babymetal, who by all outward-facing measures are on a collision course with a destiny to rule the entire planet but have to many longtime fans and especially the more idol-centric among them been known more for disappointment since the banner year of 2016, finally released that new album to almost universal applause. It won this award comfortably even after I (see above) removed the spoiler votes.
Song of the Year
And speaking of near-universal applause, Minna no Kodomo-chan had one of the most heartbreaking years of all because these little darlings of the chaos set really seemed to be on the cusp of something great when Honoka literally headbanged herself into retirement. While the project continues on in Cinnamon’s capable hands, it’s this piece from what would be the near end of Duo Kodomochan that won the day for its sheer power. And I’m talking won — the very distant second place had barely half as many votes. Wild.
Video of the Year
In one of the tightest non-tie competitions on the board, it came back to BiS for one of everybody’s annual favorites to vote to within a hair of separation. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this wild-ass epic, a swan song of BiS2, took home the prize. And while every year’s Best Of winner should technically be involved in any all-time discussions, this is an obvious one for that honor, I think. Is that foreshadowing? Maybe!
Performer of the Year
Hanako-san has always been a darling of chika fans, even those who don’t necessarily want to be pelted with garbage and food or like grind or whatever, but this is the year that she really emerged as a real boss. But this award, created so that particular individual idols would be appropriately honored for their awesomeness, probably hasn’t been summed up quite so well as in Hanako winning it this year by a close margin over Cinnamon. She is, at her heart, a performer, to the point of completely owning her persona and having so much magnetism that she barely needs to release music to become and remain beloved. It’s kind of an honor just to be the delivery boy for this award.
Idol of the Year
FFS! I kid, of course; again, Necroma is probably the ultimate fan favorite among international fans, and in a year when there were more tears than cheers across our part of idol, doing that thing you do better than everybody else is a good reason to remain at the top of the heap. This was, if I recall correctly, the year when they had the most direct competition, as Banamon fans in particular kept it close, but Necroma once again as Idol of the Year was in no real doubt. Congratulations to them of course, and additionally to Ricky for building this colossus. Five years in, and what he’s built may yet prove to be the ultimate bridge between idol and Westerners. Now we just gotta get them booked for Deathfest!
And that’s it for the people’s choice for 2019! Tomorrow, Team’s picks will be made known and you’ll all point and laugh because we’ve become such total hipsters. And more fun yet to come in the Year in Review in Review!