The community voting for Homicidols Best of 2021 has closed. We had a huge turnout this year, so thank you to everyone who cast a ballot! While we tabulate the results and prepare the formal announcement of the winners (to be posted this Friday, December 31st) we thought it would be a good time to reveal the members of Team Homicidols’ individual picks for the best releases, moments and miscellanea of 2021.
A couple of times in the past, Team Homicidols has been accused of stuffing the ballot box for the Best of the Year voting. The Team always finds this amusing. As you can see below, a lot of times our picks for BOTY don’t even survive the nomination process, much less eek out a win. Also, we don’t come to consensus on anything so, even if we wanted to, we wouldn’t ever be able to reach agreement on who to fix the vote for. Team has eclectic tastes: it’s one of our strengths and helps give the site’s front page a variety of coverage. It’s also important for reasons of continuity, like how the President and VP never travel on the same plane. It’s bad enough that two of us were knocked out of commission by Tsurezure’s dissolution. Luckily we had others on staff who were less affected by the devastating loss and kept things going during that dark period of mourning.
It is all part of the Strategic Master Plan here at Homicidols dot com, where we listen to and think about idols a lot. At times, we write those thoughts down and post them on the Internet. Like now:
Surprise of the Year
Daemon: I’m still shocked Maniac gave me the keys and is letting me drive the site. The only thing that would surprise me more is if Yamakomaro rejoined KAQRIYOTERROR. Wait. What?!!
Cal: Can I cheat and say BiSH announcing their disbandment plans? I want to cheat. But that aside Yurapico joining APOKALIPPPS did give me a wee shock.
Chris: I was surprised, and doublesuperplus delighted, that Monari Wakita and Haruka Tominaga re-united to perform a short but sweet Especia set.
Brian: Yura joining APOKALIPPPS was a quite a surprise, and it’s nice to get a surprise that’s actual good news.
Papermaiden: I am never getting closure from the way Maison Book Girl announced their disbandment, but at least, it was very clearly surprising.
Letdown of the Year
Daemon: The continuing COVID-related international travel restrictions that, by and large, still won’t let idols come to us or allow us dirty foreigners to go to them.
Kerrie: Everything surrounding the ZOC abuse situation still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. From the fact that it even happened to begin with, to the way the entire situation was handled and how Seiko essentially got off scot-free. Massively disappointing to learn of such a toxic environment from an artist who had been a source of comfort for so many.
Chris: KOTO‘s retirement. I would have seen her last year too, if it wasn’t for some virus going around.
Brian: I too was bummed out about KOTO’s unexpected retirement. A real loss of a major talent who I think had even bigger heights to reach. Having said that (rather selfishly) , I wish her the very best at wherever the road takes her!
Cal: I have no expectations so I’m never disappointed! That being said I also miss KOTO.
Papermaiden: Let’s just say everything about ZOC this year, except Riko wearing Atelier Pierrot. The lack of Yukueshirezutsure was also a huge hit throughout the year.
Daemon: I was tickled by the Zenkimi Flea Market where “Feathers Fallen From Mei Yui Mei” were put on sale for ¥100,000,000.
Kerrie: I don’t know why I laughed so much when Ricky-P popped up in my notifications to confirm to myself and several other fans that Necroma did indeed have a cheeky Nandos on tour. But it did. I hope they had the spicy rice.
Cal: Love from WAgg continues to be a constant source of joy in the MainichiWAgg hashtag. Also Rairai from Planck Stars buying a churro mid performance. And Planck Stars selling lucky bags at Christmas with used cigarettes in them. Planck Stars getting followers by doing a possibly fake Amazon gift card giveaway. Planck St-
Chris: BABYMETAL opening up exotic new markets in merchandising, including packing crates and camping equipment.
Brian: The absurdly oddball and yet fully self-aware solo career of Nerun Poku Poku is gold. The right amount of silliness and catchiness was a needed respite from other less-pleasant things this year.
Daemon: I am still in therapy to recover from the loss of Yukueshirezutsurezure. I may never be the same again.
Chris: Yeah, it’s a shame Tsurezure are no more.
Brian: The understated dissolution of Maison book girl was in keeping with their enigmatic persona, but it also leaves the top position on the Art-Idol hierarchy vacant.
Cal: Maison book girl for me too.
Papermaiden: Both of these. My grief has been named by the other contributors.
Daemon: I am still in therapy to recover from the absence of Michi Shito. I may never be the same again.
Cal: Mikoto from RILISREVERSE was a little heartbreaking. She was very open and candid about things during her final livestream and I could really relate a lot. Doing what you can to not fail university is extremely grueling, but whatever she’s doing now, I hope she’s happier.
Chris: Kechon and Chiffon, the last people left in You’ll Melt More! from the time I first encountered them (late 2014-ish if you’re counting) and they became my favourite group. Truly the end of an era.
Brian: What Chris said! Kechon and Chiffon are legends in my eyes and solid representatives of what I love about this whole idol thing. I’ll miss them a bunch, but wow what a legacy!
Papermaiden: Mikoto from RILISREVERSE and the graduations of Seireki13ya members throughout the years are hitting harder that I thought, but I am really looking forward to their renewed debut.
Debut of the Year (Soloists and Members)
Daemon: Does a re-debut count? If so, then Yamakomaro rejoining KAQRIYOTERROR. If not, Emily’s seamless insertion into PassCode.
Kerrie: During Necroma’s cursebreaker tour, Malin and Meica from NECRONOMIDOL really impressed me with how quickly they had improved in such a short space of time.
Brian: The new YOU’LL MELT MORE!’s (Meari, Heso, & Matsuri) leave me with no doubt that the group is in good hands! I’m certain the group will continue to uphold the joyfulness and love of music that defines YLMM! and makes them such treasures in fan’s eyes.
Cal: I’m fascinated by Matilder and Wonker, the actual twins who joined ASP. But also Natori joining Rilisreverse! She admitted she had to stop drinking Monster Energy Zero for the sake of her health and I think about that at least once a week.
Papermaiden: Yamakomaro!!!! But also Nonamera as a solo artist.
Debut of the Year (Group)
Daemon: By far, the new group whose music made it deeper into my regular rotation than any other was SIPP. Their brand of Elvis Costello-meets-Against Me! pop punk is both innovative and infectious.
Chris: Over the year I’ve become increasingly enamoured with Everything is Wonder, 80’s revivalist idols from the people that brought you PiGU.
Brian: I’ll call on an executive privilege that I don’t actually possess and declare two groups! re:miaw and innes are two delightful units with lower-case names and upper-case personalities! I’m all-in on supporting both any way I can.
Cal: ASP bring a little more chaos that had been missing from WACK lately. Also trying to think of sex themed headlines that aren’t too vulgar has been a fun challenge they’ve brought me.
Papermaiden: They’re not idol PER SE but I would be remiss to not nominate Akugi as my favourite debut of the year.
Best/Worst New Unit Name
Daemon: So many great names! So many bad names! So many nominees! My favorite new unit name of 2021 was Uncool Panda Club, but I think the inaugural winner of this category for me has to be the inexplicable STAiNY.
Cal: Remembering when ASP launched with the hashtag #ANALSEXPENiS but had “anti style idols” in their Twitter bio so I thought “maybe the AS stands for ANTi-STYLE,” and also remembering when I was a huge idiot.
Chris: I mean, nothing’s going to beat ASP, unless you point out that – er, that – isn’t really their name, in which case let’s remember that SPECIAL CHEESE MENU not only have a great name but also a member called Rabbit fur Houston.
Brian: SPECIAL CHEESE MENU, I mean c’mon, I love cheese!
Friends of Homicidols
Daemon: They vanished as suddenly as they appeared. I patiently await the return of former idol and video artist Michi Shito.
Cal: I’m contractually obliged to push my favourite solo idol Kaede Tsukimori! She makes cute Jpop and she filled the package she sent me with so many extras. If you like good ol’ jpop with a cute spin, check her out!! Also Kinoco Hotel and Urbangarde get their yearly shoutout for being my favourite bands.
Kerrie: N-feni deserves a shout-out for dropping the lovely little Summer EP, and for being a sweetie in general.
Brian: I just want to declare N-Feni “Homicidols Bestest-Friend-Ever For Life”!
Papermaiden: N-feni and the extremely not idols of Akugi.
Collaboration of the Year
Daemon: The continuing collaborations that I am most excited about are the rival idol supergroups Eveninglory and Blood Cherry created for Gyuno Films upcoming, crowdsourced idol/zombie film IDOL NEVER DIES (to be released this Spring!).
Chris: I was very happy to see Mr. Kiyoshi Ryujin singing with idols again when he worked with Nemopero.
Cal: Yoko Hamasaki’s songs for Cinema and Boy CQ were as dark and elegant as I hoped they’d be.
Brian: I think it’s what I said last year, but gosh-darn it I sure do dig those songs with Beni and CHILDISH TONES working together!
Papermaiden: Yoko Hamasaki‘s “Tranquilizers no koibito” (for Cinema & Boy CQ) was a complete delight.
Non-Japanese Act of the Year
Cal: It’s hard to decide! I’ve been really privileged this year to be able to interview and talk to some amazing overseas acts and their staff members so I’ll have to say a tie between Akira-Kuro, Fingers Cross, X!dent and A-Muse.
Daemon: I’m a huge Poppy fan and she had an excellent year (despite her apparent recent romantic difficulties), but no non-Japanese unit delighted me more in 2021 than Fingers Cross. I love that they are socially and politically conscious yet still know how to have fun. I especially loved their Halloween slasher film.
Chris: Another one for Fingers Cross here.
Brian: What the wise voices above me said…. Fingers Cross!!!
Performance of the Year
Daemon: Because of stupid COVID, I only got to attend one idol live this year. Luckily, it was awesome: ATARASHII GAKKO!’s US debut at Head in the Clouds.
Kerrie: Necroma’s cursebreaker tour was the first time many of us were able to see an idol live in over two years. It truly was an event that united the fandom in ways that we hadn’t seen in so long, in multiple ways. Seeing Himari’s beautiful solo rendition of Jun Togawa’s “Mushi no Onna” was an especially moving moment, especially during the tour finale.
Chris: It’s the Haruka/Monari Especia-redux set. Was just so pleased to have them back. Then just sad that Especia are gone. Then very bitter about their mismanagement and unnecessary destruction…
Cal: I’m forever a GANG PARADE fan so FOREVER GANG PARADE FOREVER. They’re the crux of my idol fanhood and being able to say goodbye to them properly felt like closing a chapter because without them I wouldn’t be here right now!
Brian: I really enjoyed all these fun videos of innes performing, growing, and improving their live set. It’s fun to watch a new idol group evolve from the ground up, and they’re all super-charming.
EP of the Year
Daemon: This category tends to be the most competitive and difficult for me to pick each year but, for once, the decision is an easy one. The one EP I had on repeat in my car every day for months and months on end was It all begins here by SIPP.
Cal: GO TO THE BEDS coming out with a largely industrial rock EP was a fun surprise. It’s got the standard WACKcore tracks (however “OK” sounds like “primal.” and “LAST” instead of “Orchestra” so that means it’s good) but BLOOD COMPACT really took me back to being an angsty teen who listened to too much KMFDM and Lords of Acid. Also LIBERATION by RILISREVERSE, i’ve had Kanshouteki Moratorium on repeat constantly since it came out!
Chris: You’ll Melt More!: DELIVERY LIFESAVERS – a typically great EP to mark the transition from old to new’ll melt more!
Brian: I’m terribly torn between Yellow by RAY and DELIVERY LIFESAVERS by YMM!, both are endlessly listenable gems to savor…
Papermaiden: Akugi‘s Playplay.
Single of the Year
Daemon: There were so many great singles this year, but the one I was most happy to see was Minna no Kodomochan’s surprise release of “The Final Blinkings”.
Chris: zizi‘s BARK was a hell of a tune. So great it was that they released a second version too. And the third version is out on New Year’s Day. You may wonder how long they can get away with releasing the same song over and over but hey, BiSH made an entire career of it.
Cal: Too many to pick from! But off the top of my head, “Reversal” by Rilisreverse, “IZA” by EMPiRE and “THE STRUGGLE IS REAL” by meme tokyo.
Brian: “Precious Flight” by HALLCA! Did you hear it? You really should!
Daemon: My pick is a virtual toss-up between two exceptional examples of infectious idol insanity: Craveit’s electro-swing “Oyasuminasai! Salieri-chan” and buGG’s pop punk, “Hicchaka Mecchaka”. They are both delightfully mad tracks in their own way, but I may have to give the final nod to buGG for their fantastic drop in the bridge.
Chris: Machida Girls’ Choir – “Neko ni Negai o” only because it descends into a massive cat/dog brawl at the end.
Cal: When I lived in France I went to too many raves and “BANG ON” by Migma Shelter took me right back there.
Brian: I found myself rather addicted to “Apathy” by NILKLY, a most unique and compelling ear worm!
Daemon: My favorite promo art this year was MIGMA SHELTER’s poster for Tamane’s birthday rave, “HALLUCINORANGE vol.2”.
4/4 (日) 代官山UNIT
— MIGMA SHELTER公式 (@MIGMASHELTER) March 22, 2021
Chris: I don’t want to nominate You’ll Melt More! too much but cover art that grabs my attention most are ones that reference other albums, so DELIVERY LIFESAVERS‘s homage to Kraftwerk‘s Tour de France gets my nomination here (and kudos to ASP as well)
Brian: Plenty of great choices but I especially loved the cover art and package design of N-Feni’s “Summer EP”!
ジャケットの絵はいつもの箕芳さん @yoshimachi44 艶やかで個性的で最高の絵！
— ん・フェニ (@n__feni) July 7, 2021
Papermaiden: I have to say, one of my regular pleasures is to see the variety of collages made for Cinema and Boy CQ’s shows. It’s extremely hard to only choose one, but I think the poster for their 202nd show takes the cake:
— 【電影と少年CQ】Official (@cinemaboycq) August 29, 2021
Song of the Year
Daemon: I love a good, chill-inducing ballad, so it’s no surprise that my top three songs of 2021 fall into that category, albeit from different genres. I relentlessly binged both Yanakoto Sotto Mute’s heart rending anthem, Shatouno Higashi and Ringwanderung’s soaring prog-rock epic, fall into sky. My Song of the Year, however, goes to the surprisingly emo, pop-punk-a-billy title track off of Shihatsu-Machi Underground’s album, kurdaranai-sekai.
Chris: Runaten!’s “Idol Zombie” is insanely catchy and hasn’t left my head for months.
Cal: “Tsuyogarisan” by BiS hit me right in the feels.
Brian: “Theory” by Fingers Cross! At the beginning of the year, I never would’ve guessed that a new-ish group from Thailand would’ve scored this big, but dang what an amazing tune!
Music Video of the Year
Daemon: I wrote a whole article about Ui from SIPP’s awesome solo debut and self-directed MV, “WONDERFUL TRIP”. The post got one whole like, and that was from Ui herself. All y’all squares. VIDEO OF THE YEAR right here:
Chris: It’s just got to be the wonderfully bonkers (and educational!) “Anata no Katana” by Nerun Poku Poku.
Cal: “Theory” by Fingers Cross was great! All of the members directing their own segment during lockdown let everyone’s creativity really shine through and it also just really matches the vibe of the song.
Kerrie: I’ll be honest, 2021 wasn’t really a year where I paid much attention to music videos. But NECRONOMIDOL’s END OF DAYS was lovely. I’m weirdly drawn to cultist themes so, as dark as the video was, I had a lot of fun seeing my favourite group pretend to be a UFO apocalypse cult for five minutes.
Brian: I LOVED the MV for YMM!‘s “47 Cities in the East”! So much fun, such good vibes, such a great song! It affirms that this group will only keep moving forward…
Papermaiden: I’ll redeem myself for not nominating it during the nomination period due to, well, life happening. Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da‘s HeavenlyHeaven and SCAR SIGN has both grown on me so much that they are now part of my body.
Album of the Year
Daemon: As much as I wanted to give the nod to Shihatsu-Machi Underground’s, kurdaranai-sekai, the lack of new material made it feel more like a best-of collection than a cohesive album. There were a few other standouts but, for me, the album I keep going back to and can play from start to finish without encountering a single mediocre track is NELN’s debut album, dawn .
Chris: Well if Daemon won’t then I will nominate Shihatsu-Machi Underground‘s Kudaranai Sekai. Instant classic, just like their first one, and it matters not that some of the songs had been out as singles for a year or more already.
Cal: ANAL SEX PENiS.
Kerrie: Is it predictable of me to choose O’CHAWANZ‘s Do The Right Thing and NECRONOMIDOL‘s vämjelseriter as my picks? Yes. Am I going to choose them anyway? Yes, but I’ll also throw in Dope-chan‘s, BLINDNESS, which made their sudden disbandment announcement soon after all the more painful.
Brian: The more I think about it, and the more I listen, the more I love HALLCA‘s album Paradise Gate! (Also,I’m gonna toss in N-Feni’s I Have A Little Hangover as an honorable mention…)
Papermaiden: Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da‘s FlashBlack NightMare.
Idol of the Year
Daemon: Though they did not have a major release in 2021, the artist I feel quietly had the best year is Okinawa Electric Girl Saya. If you caught any of her frequent livestreams, you could clearly see that she has elevated her artistry to another level. She was also able to land appearances at several non-idol events, expanding her potential audience and positioning herself for future success.
Chris: Nerun has been very entertaining throughout the year, whether as part of You’ll Melt More!, partnering up with Nani, or Pokupokuing away by herself. She is a treasure and I can’t wait to hear what she’s got for us in 2022.
Kerrie: As much shit as I gave them the past couple years for their repeated abuse of Kenta’s violin soundboard, after BiSH announced their disbandment just now I feel the need to throw them a bone.
Brian: Do I say RAY or do I say YOU’LL MELT MORE!? Aww, it feels so lazy to hedge and pick two things yet again, but not enough for me to not do it.
Papermaiden: The perfectly balanced 7 members Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da because I am nothing if not predictable.
Most Expected to Break Through in 2022
Daemon: My top two hopefuls, NELN and SIPP both ran into personnel issues late in the year, so they will probably be busy rebuilding in 2022. That means I’m going with the irrepressibly no-fucks-given MAD JAIMIE who have enough chaotic energy to power entire cities.
Cal: Fingers Cross for sure.
Kerrie: After Banamon disbanded this Summer, PLANCK STARS very quickly and comfortably filled in their void of “token weirdo group”, but can they go even further than that next year? I’m really excited to see what they do next. Especially when Tenka from the aforementioned Banamon was recently announced to be working with them on their next album.
Chris: After I tipped CARRY LOOSE in this category two years ago and they subsequently broke up, I tipped Baby♡♡Holic last year to see if I could similarly destroy them. And it worked! Therefore it gives me great pleasure to say that the idol group that I foresee global success and superstardom for in 2022 are the fantastic Cryptocurrency Girls.
Brian: I was listening to Fingers Cross today and holy heck, all it takes is for more people to listen to them to realize how much they deserve this. Just phenomenal, really! But let me also tell you that I really do strongly believe that when innes gets more songs and polishes their craft a bit, they are gonna win over a lot of folks big time,