Thank you, friends, one and all, for your participation in this year’s Homicidols Best Of. Because I enjoy waxing nostalgic, let’s take a quick trip dow– No? Okay fine. Point: Simpler process now, almost all of the weight on the community nominations, and of course the voting is all yours.
This year, despite all of the everything, we had our highest total number of individual votes cast ever. That’s amazing! Idol has incredible fans, and this community is at the end of the day one that’s endlessly supportive and motivated by love. Good for us. And then in a few days you’ll all get to see just how weird the community preferences are vs. the individual when we publish the Team winners!
I’ll give up the mic now so that we can get down to winners. There are some interesting narrative throughlines here, you’ll notice, that I’ll try to give some credence to.
The Homicidols Dot Com Best Of 2020
Speaking of narratives! The Rona dominated 2020 like no force I’ve ever lived to see. It touched all aspects of everybody lives, and it did so basically on the same calendar as these Best Ofs, considering when the Wuhan outbreak started. From a purely idol perspective, the pandemic’s lockdowns meant more virtual idoling than ever before, which paradoxically made idol much more accessible to people like us. That would be cool if not for the millions dead and millions more lives ruined.
Yes, given all of the everything that’s happened with them over the past several years, it’s almost hard to believe that Ladybaby’s final gig wasn’t even a year ago. And, like, that the project had at least one other final gig before that, but I digress. A much different outfit from the Babymetaloitation days, this Ladybaby got a lot of worthy attention before flaming out. We salute you!
There was a lot of competition here and the votes spread out all over the list of candidates, but at the end of the day it was the three refugees from Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da that “won.” I’ll admit that this is where I voted, too, and just thinking about it reminds me that Yotsu is gone and may never be seen again and that’s just sad, man.
Some of our greatest innovations are born not of necessity or even desperation, but pure boredom. With naught to do (see: Coronavirus, above), members of THE BANANA MONKEYS found that streaming yourself doing live reactions to porn can in fact not only be a good way to kill time, but, uh … win a major award? Is that how we’ll do it? Sure.
Here we begin one of the big narrative chunks; these next three awards fit together like Legos.
First, the big surprise of the year was the saga that we (okay, I) call Necromanacle, in which all of NECRONOMIDOL not named Himari jumped ship, only to then form into Manacle a few months later. That last part probably isn’t all that surprising, frankly, but stories have beginnings and middles and ends. Also splits, because we’ve only covered one middle so far.
Which, it then follows that NECRONOMIDOL’s recruitment of new members to join with Himari would be a pretty big deal, as far as these things go, and you all definitely thought so. (They were a very good debut, I agree.) So then it completely stands to reason that:
Reboot of the Year
Just like that. But about those narratives. If I may give up a bit of detail about what happens behind the scenes, when the votes for Debut were counted up, the Necromas definitely won, but a certain newbie in another long-term much-beloved group — but one that’s disbanding shortly — was right on their heels. And bear with us, because this awards show still has a Moonlight moment to get to.
PIGGS won this by a country mile, which incidentally (well, structurally) sets the tone for the best year ever for projects directly associated with Pour Lui. Odd in a way! But PIGGS, really, just a rampaging house of fire from the minute they emerged. I was skeptical until I heard the first few tracks from their debut album, which narrowly missed out on a much bigger award.
Friends of Homicidols
Connected to absolutely nothing (this year) is our honorary award for projects that involve ex-idols, projects that do lots of work with idols, projects that people in our community just happen to all mutually enjoy together, that sort of thing. This year, Knuckle Chiwawa — the band led by former Guso Drop and BURST GIRL boss Rei — gets the honor.
For all of its challenges, 2020 was actually a really great year for idol. Incredible debuts, really great albums from established acts … and one of the biggest developments was bizarre art-post-idol-something-or-another project Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders — now christened ATARASHII GAKKO! to we gaijin — signing with 88rising and immediately being thrust forward as an act to watch beyond Japanese shores. Obviously anything can happen, but in the limited instances we’ve seen, when genuinely good idol projects that get proper financial backing to grow abroad are given a chance, they tend to do very well for themselves.
That’s foreshadowing, folks.
Babymetal has historically underperformed in these awards, which is funny because none of *waves hand at screen* exists without Babymetal having Babymetaled! This is a year for good things, though, and while there weren’t a lot of idol performances, anywhere, period, for long stretches of 2020, Su and Moa and Not Yui took their simplified show back to Europe and melted faces. All possible because of the support of management and the label!
So then it shouldn’t surprise anybody that a collaboration that was years in the making finally happened, was good in the first place and actually charted (here in the USA at least). Babymetal, Bring Me The Horizon, “Kingslayer”. Pretty much a slam dunk as far as you all were concerned, and rightfully so.
Can ATARASHII GAKKO! have the same kind of result now that they’re getting some serious money behind them and a push toward the anglosphere? Time will tell.
Best Cover Art
Our newest category this year, and one that you all really couldn’t agree on. KAQRIYOTERROR won for, well, the pictured, but 963 and MIGMA SHELTER were both right on their heels. It’s just a fun thing, you guys. Maybe you like it and maybe you don’t and maybe next year when somebody’s handing out CDs wrapped in actual underwear we’ll have a more thrilling competition.
And now for the big stuff.
You know how I feel — the B side is the best side because that’s where artists like to put not the radio-friendly tracks that might get some airplay and drive sales, but the more personal creative work that they definitely want to release but know they probably can’t feature right out front like that, because it lacks mass appeal. Paradoxically, B-sides are not only often awesome, but the most popular thing among fans and even passersby. Which brings me to meme tokyo.’s “suicide borderless”, a beat that will annihilate your attention span and an A-side you may have already forgotten about.
We’re now on our third iteration of BiS, and while personalities over the years are something that you are all free to debate how and where you want, I think it’s unquestionable that this group is doing the best work under the BiS brand since the OGs broke up, if not maybe even all the way back to IDOL is DEAD. This single had all the energy, all the songwriting, and all the attitude.
And it barely won. Yet again, a certain legacy group on its last legs was lurking right there behind it, a mere vote separating them.
Which certainly does put Yukueshirezutsurezure and “Wish/” into perspective, doesn’t it? And this was a big win, too, which is really something when you consider the competition. The lead track off of paradox soar hit YouTube just as I was emerging from a months-long hiatus; a long-time love of mine hitting us with this song at just the right moment? What a shot in the arm. And of course deep down in here is the lurking disbandment, just barely over a week away.
And if you think that’s bittersweet, then friend, do I have news for you. In a minute.
Music Video of the Year
In the most seasonally appropriate win in Homicidols history (the image file is called “MVsanta”), NECRONOMIDOL‘s first big swing with the new members was bloody, claustrophobic, supernatural, even somewhat Sapphic body horror run amok. I’d warn you not to watch if you don’t like blood and slashing and stabbing and stuff, but you’ve probably already done so a dozen times and are about to go do it again. For what it’s worth, this is Necroma’s like 30th overall Homicidols award, I think putting them solidly in the all-time first place.
EP of the Year
This is one of the truly big surprises of this year’s awards. Idol EPs have been a preferred form of release the past few years, and they keep getting better and better. For 2020, this may have been the most loaded list of candidates in the entire field … and not only did BiS win it, they did so going away. I believe the Daemon has commentary on that! But is that to say that there’s anything wrong with ANTi CONFORMiST SUPERSTAR? It is not! It’s a very good and cool and fun record.
Album of the Year
And speaking of surprises! Not really. MIGMA SHELTER has long been a favorite of the gaijin wota set, and they’ve either won or nearly won a mess of awards of the years. Alice is honestly a remarkable accomplishment, something that you can both groove to as you need it or dance with when the mood strikes. And of course it’s trippy as hell! This crop of albums was almost as good as the lot of EPs, and this is not just an award well-deserved, but one won without a doubt.
Performer of the Year
I think we may want to re-dub this one the Hanako-San Memorial Performer of the Year Award and only give it out on an honorary basis. Everybody’s favorite pint-sized centuries-old toilet ghost continues to be the standard by which other idols should measure themselves, whether it’s intensity of performance to sheer commitment to the part. Hanako-san is an icon. We salute, we stan. It’ll be a dark (well, yes, but you get the metaphor) day should she ever decide to stop spitting milk on people who pay for the privilege.
Idol of the Year
Our big tamale. I have no idea if the idols themselves care about these awards, even as a bellwether of their own popularity outside of Japan, but to me they feel significant, and I feel that to win Idol of the Year is an honor. You have to have really climbed some mountains and done some great work to even be considered for it, there’s a ton of competition in most years, and then you still have to contend with the fickle jealousies of fans.
This year, for the first time ever, we crown two Idols of the Year.
In MIGMA SHELTER, as just noted, we have a group that’s always been a favorite, and this year it felt like their putting a stamp on that status. It’s hard to deny a group that’s always so good, and so well-attuned to who and what they are and what they do and how they do it. About the only thing left is to come to the States and do some random festivals! What a win for MIGMA SHELTER. I hope they appreciate how much people across the various ponds enjoy their work.
But speaking of narratives.
When the results of these votes were exported and tallied the other day, we had a tie at the one spot where it feels like that shouldn’t be possible. But Yukueshirezutsurezure/Not Secure, Loose Ends, with a great single and great album and all of the emotional energy of the past few weeks, they too had majority support. Seeing them go at the beginning of 2021 is going to be devastating, at least as devastating as their music has been (in a good way) ever since they first twee-screamed their way into our hearts. I’m so happy for them, and I’m happy that so many of you supported them as well.