January – June 2017 Song Reviews

//January – June 2017 Song Reviews
January – June 2017 Song Reviews 2017-07-06T01:17:06+00:00


CDJapan   6_Jpop CDJapan    

Japan Top 10 is now an official affiliate with CD Japan! If you like any of the songs listed here, then we would greatly appreciate it if you click on these links and buy the official CD from them! They are a 100% official website to get music goods from Japan and record sales from their site are tabulated onto the Oricon Charts! They have very reasonable prices for shipping and all prices for their goods are set at standard prices that are listed on the CD (or any other product you purchase). Many other sites that sell goods to foreigners either have very expensive shipping costs or raise the prices of products from the standard price set by the record companies. CD Japan does not have any of these cash grabbing techniques! So if you like any of these songs, we highly recommend you guys to purchase the song!

These are older song reviews that we have done in the past, from January to June 2017. If you like the songs, we still recommend everyone to purchase the album from CD Japan.

こちらは2017年1月から6月までのレビューでございます。 もし、気にってる曲はございましたら、CD Japanにお買いするとお勧めです。

 

June 1, 2017

 

1. UN-JAMI – あくる日も僕はヒモ

Yamaari Taniari / UN-JAMIEthel’s thoughts: Simply loved how the song opened with a playful jazz-bop rhythm on saxophone, followed by plucky sounds on the double bass and bass guitar. I must say the distinctive washboard ‘rat-ta-tat’ used for percussion made me smile because you don’t hear it often as an instrument in the modern music scene. The vocalist, RYUTA, has a great carefree way of singing the playful lyrics which ties in with overall light-hearted mood of the song. A simple, fun, jazzy tune to put a spring into your step. 6/10

 

 

2. Ken Hirai – ノンフィクション

Non Fiction / Ken HiraiEthel’s thoughts: Non-fiction stands out as an interesting anomaly amongst Ken Hirai’s well-known repertoire of romantic, bluesy ballads, and catchy pop tunes. The song has a string heavy arrangement, opening with a brief duet on cello and violin which later breaks into an acoustic guitar rhythm to accompany Ken Hirai’s vocal melody. A harmonica solo in the middle and subsequent appearance towards the end of the track neatly brings in the concept of hope to a song that picks up on difficulties and worries faced in daily life. Although not as melodically memorable, this song may lyrically resonate to a kindred spirit who feels the same way. 6/10

 

 

3. Nikiie – Happy Without Me

TRANSFER / nikiieEthel’s thoughts: The one thing I love about songs that primarily features the piano is that you not only get to enjoy the simplicity of the song’s composition, but you get the chance to really focus on the song’s lyrics. Happy without me takes on a poignant perspective as the singer wonders out loud about the outcome of a past relationship and the wellbeing of a former lover. Nikiie’s strong vocals gracefully pulls the melody together, buoyed by rolling piano chords, without turning it into some sort of whiny melodramatic piece. The arrangement of the song intensifies in tonality with the appearance of the cello and violin creating a rich, cinematic-like sound that reminds me of the works of another famous lady and her piano, Angela Aki. 8/10

 

 

4. RADWIMPS – サイハテアイニ

Saihateaini / Senno / RADWIMPSEthel’s thoughts: The song opens on the chorus accompanied by an exciting rhythm on the electric guitar, later exploding into a rapturous erratic moment of sounds as the band jams for at least four bars before the singing comes back. The sense of excitement and infectious joy I felt that the song exudes is reinforced by a consistent hand-clapping tempo heard in the background in the pre-chorus just as everyone shouts out ‘HEY!’ moving into the chorus. Lyrically, the song is actually written like a nervous yet exciting proclamation of love to someone. The song’s composition is reminiscent of Noda Yojiro’s introspective approach to romantic relationships similarly found in ’25コ目の染色体’ (The 25th Chromosome) and ‘Order Made’ which are popular standouts in RADWIMPS body of work. 8/10

 

 

5. Kana Nishino – パッ

Pa / Kana NishinoEthel’s thoughts: A light-hearted, upbeat melody and rhythm weaved with twinkling piano keys, sparkly xylophone and chime work, and cheerful brass tunes. Best described as a perfect ‘pick-me-up’ song to end a dreadful day or work week! The song easily got me singing along to Kana Nishino as she describes all the parts of the work week from waking up and crawling tiredly back into bed too exhausted to wipe off your make-up; only to look forward to the weekend of fun and relaxation. PA! Oh baby, baby, woo~ woo~ 7/10

 

 

6. Bump of Chicken – リボン

Ethel’s thoughts: Ribbon opens with a simple rhythmic guitar riff, gently setting the tempo to Motoo Fujiwara’s easy-going and distinct vocal style, immediately capturing any listeners’ attention. The melodic tempo builds midway through the first couple of verses with the appearance of a heart-thumping solid beat on the bass drum and a few strums on the bass guitar by the first bridge. The gradual participation of each member’s instruments throughout the song showcases how the band produces their distinct and familiar Bump-esque melodies beloved to fans all over the world. Overall, I feel the melody creates a sense of nostalgia complimenting the lyrics written to reflect on how far the band has come as they draw a close to their 20th anniversary celebrations. 7/10

Download from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/ribbon-single/id1229581421

 

7. つしまみれ – ハナミ・ソト・デ・サケ

Ethel’s thoughts: It’s quite hard not to immediately notice how quirky and fun the song sounds. The main vocalist speaks some parts of the song (I genuinely have no idea what she’s talking about besides talking about cherry blossoms) before launching into a girlish duet with her fellow band member in the chorus. You can either really love the quirky-ness of the song’s overall sound or completely hate the weird contrast between the vocal work and melody. Personally, I enjoyed how raw the track plays out especially when it feels like it was recorded at some livehouse. TSMMR reminds me of the fictional female rock band from the movie, Linda Linda Linda. 5.5/10

Download from Amazon Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%83%8F%E3%83%8A%E3%83%9F-%E3%82%BD%E3%83%88-%E3%83%87-%E3%82%B5%E3%82%B1-%E3%81%A4%E3%81%97%E3%81%BE%E3%81%BF%E3%82%8C/dp/B071R1S5X1

 

8. WANIMA – ララバイ

Gotta Go!! / WANIMAEthel’s thoughts: Needless to say, this is definitely not a lullaby in any ordinary sense! Lullaby effortlessly gives listeners a taste of the power punk rock music style that I’ve been a fan for many years. One of the first things you’ll notice about the song is simply how fast KENTA spits out his lyrics and how the song sounds oddly melodic despite everyone hitting it really hard on bass, guitar and drums. Towards the chorus you’ll notice elements of a summery island vibe and by the second bridge, the slower tempo will show you why WANIMA titled this song, ‘Lullaby’. Basically, this is a lullaby going at 200 mph and that’s totally fine by me. 7/10

 

 

9. カホリ – 替え玉ください

Oishii Rock Hitorijime / KahoriEthel’s thoughts: Gotta give it to a song that immediately wants to make the audience jump up and down. Kahori wrote and composed this original song at just 16 years old. The song immediately harkens to the influences of 70s-80s Japanese rock and roll style of music and the lyrics are incredibly cute as it talks about her love for a type of ramen! FYI that amazing electric guitar solo you just heard was all her. Make sure to check out some of her live performances on YouTube! 8/10

 

 

10. ピロカルピン – 流星群

Gnome no Sekai / PirokalpinEthel’s thoughts: The track has a very thorough scope of sound and has guitar work that matches the song title, creating a meteor shower-like sound quality. The vocalist, Chieko Matsuki, has a very distinctive voice quality (at times it reminds me of YUI) makes you take notice of the band’s overall indie-pop sound. Personally, I like bands that produce indie-pop/rock like Pirokalpin and having a female vocalist is fantastic plus point. Check out their full album on Spotify! 8/10

 

 

May 1, 2017

 

1. 17歳とベルリンの壁- 平面体

DC’s thoughts: The initial looping guitar line seems like it will outstay its welcome rather quickly, but as the song gathers momentum and some shoegaze-influenced elements are introduced, it becomes the backbone of the track to great effect. There is an immersive quality to the song which is very enjoyable, but the downside is that after a little while it kind of washes over you, and without a tangible hook, it can be a little forgettable. 6.5/10

Download from Recochoku: http://recochoku.jp/song/S1004574730/

 

2. きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ- 良すた

Iisuta / Kyary Pamyu PamyuDC’s thoughts: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is know for her wild style and experimentation, both musically and visually, but using what sounds like midi bagpipes throughout the song is perhaps somewhat of an acquired taste – it’s certainly memorable, but very jarring, and at odds with the song’s otherwise lovely melody, which is a real shame. Compared to her many other excellent songs, this is a real disappointment. 4/10
Iisuta [Limited Accordion Packaging] Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

 

3. SPYAIR- Be With

Be with / SPYAIRDC’s thoughts: This powerful ballad sounds custom built to soundtrack a hugely emotional scene in a drama – I feel like I’m rooting for a couple to work out their misunderstandings, and by the time the guitar riff hits I’m pretty invested in the future of my imaginary couple. Will they? Won’t they? Only SPYAIR knows, and I’m happy to be along for the ride. 7/10
Be with [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] SPYAIR

 

4. 女王蜂 – 雛市

Q / JoobachiDC’s thoughts: This one takes its time warming up, but once it gets going the orchestral and choral elements really elevate the track. The vocals are what really drives the song, and although melodically speaking the song plays its hand very early on and doesn’t deviate much from there, vocalist アヴちゃん delivers a varied and emotional performance, which really draws you in, and keeps you engaged right to the end. 7/10
Q [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Joobachi

 

5. Satellite Young – AI Threnody

Satellite Young / Satellite YoungDC’s thoughts: From the opening chords of the intro it’s clear that this is a little retro gem. Though at first you might find yourself unconsciously donning a jumpsuit, ready to take part in an outdoorsy 80s TV gameshow, by the time the chorus hits you may have swapped high-tops for hairspray, as melodrama takes the lead. It’s a high-tension affair which wears its heart on its sleeve – the 80s influence is earnest but not overwrought, and the result is hugely enjoyable. 8.5/10
Satellite Young
Satellite Young

 

6. 高橋優 – ロードムービー

Road Movie / Yu TakahashiDC’s thoughts: There’s a lot of pop-rock songs which set out to travel the well trodden path of being somewhat epic or uplifting in the chorus, but it terms of doing it well, it’s easier said than done – when the path is well trodden it’s hard to make your own footprint stand out, after all. On this occasion it’s the half-spoken-half-sung delivery of the verses which give this song a warmth and personality to set it apart. It lifts when you want it to lift, but settles in as an amiable companion at just the right moment when you need a break – well crafted and enjoyable. 7.5/10
Road Movie [CD+DVD] [Limited Edition] Yu Takahashi

 

7. The Mods – Scarface A Go Go (featuring Kozzy Iwakawa)

DC’s thoughts: The throwback rockabilly style on this one is either going to be a home run or a strike out, depending on your taste. It’s an accomplished affair musically speaking, but if you’re like me and you prefer your rock ‘n’ roll a little more 20th Century, it might not be for you. 5/10

The Mods Live (Title subject to change) / THE MODS

 

8. 963 (くるみ) – -ろすとぷらねっと

DC’s thoughts: Lyrically speaking the song seems to toe the line of near-nonsense, but if anything this adds to its appeal. The style is playful and the production is fresh – 8.5/10

Download the track here: http://tower.jp/item/4458054/%E3%82%8D%E3%81%99%E3%81%A8%E3%81%B7%E3%82%89%E3%81%AD%E3%81%A3%E3%81%A8

 

9. 椎名林檎 & トータス松本 – 目抜き通り (The Main Street)

Sheena Ringo to Kyatsura ga Yuku Hyakkiyako 2015 / Ringo SheenaDC’s thoughts: Get your sequins on standby, this song is one which might reasonably be described using the word ‘shebang’. Overflowing with energy, it’s a big-band brass led affair, buoyed by effective pace changes and elaborate flourishes in the arrangement. Very dynamic, it sashays by in the bat of an eye. 7/10
Sheena Ringo to Kyatsura ga Yuku Hyakkiyako 2015
Ringo Sheena

 

10. DADARAY – 美しい仕打ち

DADAISM / DADARAYDC’s thoughts: Sugar-sweet toe-tapping jazz-pop is what you can expect from this one. The pace turns on its heel and changes rapidly throughout, bounding back and forth between chilled out and a wild flurry of movement seemingly on a whim, but it never misses its footing – it’s unpredictable and whimsical in terms of tempo, but the style is resolute, and it never falls into disarray – fun, energetic and keeps the listener engaged to the very last note. 8/10
DADAISM
DADARAY

 

April 1, 2017

 

1. COLTECO – “Surely (featuring CHIYORI)”

Nick’s thoughts: What a groovy song to kick off our list. Love the minimalist beat with the synth keyboards. Gives it an 80s vibe. The catchy “doo’s” and “ooh’s” mesh well with the instrumental and fittingly achieves COLTECO’s self-described title as a “future disco trio”. However, the music drowns out Chiyori’s mellow voice in the latter section of the song. 8/10
Albus
Colteco

 

2. 片平里菜 – “なまえ”

Namae / Rina KatahiraNick’s thoughts: Okay, so I’m a little impatient. I enjoy a calming song but this isn’t the case. When the slow pace of the song finally picks up halfway through, I’m introduced to a jarring childish flute. Luckily it doesn’t last very long but the rest of this tune is more or less the same thing. 片平里菜’s voice is decent but unspectacular and the song sounds like it came straight from a fairly tale, albeit a very mundane one. 4/10
Namae [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Rina Katahira

 

3. KEMURI – “GO! GO! GO! GO! GLOW!”

FREEDOMOSH / KEMURINick’s thoughts: KEMURI’s creation is not unlike a shōnen anime opening. I like the singer’s husky voice and as hinted by the title, KEMURI takes you on a ride through the near almost-3 minutes. Although the guitar riffs are pretty awesome, the general song composition shows little variation, and is nothing out of the ordinary of J-Rock. 7/10
FREEDOMOSH [CD+DVD] KEMURI

 

4. 大原櫻子 – “ひらり”

Hirari / Sakurako OharaNick’s thoughts: I’m a fan of Sakurako Ohara, so naturally I’m a fan of her vocals which I find are suitable for the chorus. I feel like the main driver for this ballad would be its emotional appeal, but Sakurako’s performance isn’t enough to break the language barrier to immerse me in that emotion. Without this feeling, I’m left with a decent, but generic pop ballad. 6/10
Hirari [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type B] Sakurako Ohara

 

5. 三代目 J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE – “HAPPY”

HAPPY / Sandaime J Soul Brothers (3JSB) from EXILE TRIBENick’s thoughts: The pop beat is alright and I normally appreciate a catchy pop tune but this song doesn’t do much creatively to stand out for me. It certainly fulfills the “HAPPY” requirement yet I don’t feel motivated to get up and party in this pounding, relentless dance tune. 5/10
HAPPY
Sandaime J Soul Brothers (3JSB) from EXILE TRIBE

 

6. JUJU – “Because Of You”

Because of You / JUJUNick’s thoughts: JUJU’s voice is fantastic. From her flying falsetto’s to her emotional crescendo’s, her experience in R&B and jazz are evident. The music seems to be built around her voice alone, which is the clear centre of attention. Whatever JUJU sings, the music has to follow her lead, as opposed to having both the vocal and instrumental portions compliment each other. And that’s what’s holding her back from creating a good song to a great one. 6.5/10
Because of You [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] JUJU

 

7. Diggy-MO’ – “首都高2”

Bewitched / Diggy-MO'Nick’s thoughts: Knowing nothing about Diggy-MO, I almost expected a female singer. His singing voice isn’t the smoothest, but I can feel the emotion behind him. The combination of instruments is interesting: strings, pop synths, and a dance beat combined with a singing rapper. But somehow, this wonderful organized mess meshes so well to create a unique sound that I can jam to. 8.5/10
Bewitched
Diggy-MO’

 

8. RINNE HIP – “KITTY”

Uraharanway ep / RINNE HIPNick’s thoughts: The “doo-doo”s off the intro are reminiscent of a Super Mario Bros. tune, which is fitting given the playful, nonsensical nature of “KITTY”. In fact, most of the quirky, repetitive instrumentals sound like they could be substituted for video game music. If you’re into the ordinary, you do not like this song. I’m not quite sure what I make of it, after 3 minutes of RINNE HIP I can say that I had a positive experience. 7/10
Uraharanway ep
RINNE HIP

 

9. 平井堅 – “僕の心をつくってよ”

Boku No Kokoro Wo Tsukutteyo / Ken HiraiNick’s thoughts: Ken Hirai has a delicate voice that pairs sweetly with the accompanying piano. The trumpet solo suits it nicely and is a great juxtaposition to his vocals. Backing vocals only come in towards the end of the song which makes for a fitting build up. But I’ve heard so many solo ballads you’d need to do something insane to impress me. Objectively, it’s a pretty good song. Just maybe not for me. 6.5/10
Boku No Kokoro Wo Tsukutteyo [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Ken Hirai

 

10. HY – “ありがとう”

Chance / HYNick’s thoughts: I love the creativity from the intro to the verses. There are tasteful sprinkles of instruments that pop out during each verse that feel like the perfect condiments to HY’s unique voice. Because she has a lower register, the higher pitched bells and whistles (figuratively and literally) flesh out the tune scrumptiously. The only thing lacking is the chorus, in which the choir uncomfortably drowns out HY. I would’ve appreciated a bigger spotlight on just her. 7.5/10
Chance [2CD+DVD / Limited Edition] HY

 

March 1, 2017

 

1. AAA – “Magic”

Magic / AAARecca’s thoughts: The fat horn section loops give it a bit of Vegas flair that jives perfectly with the title and magic motifs in the music video. This strong start builds to a somewhat underwhelming standard K-pop-influenced pop song, however. Despite AAA’s unique mixed-gender lineup, for me, at least, their songs tend to be either mediocre or great, and this is definitely the former. 5/10
Magic [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] AAA

 

2. Misokkasu – “Dancing Monster”

Dancing Monster / MisokkasuRecca’s thoughts: I was definitely not expecting a vaguely ska-infused rock number with some fun synth hits, a vaguely disco beat in parts, and a very upbeat chorus. I don’t listen to too much J-rock, but I really enjoyed the unique sound of this one. I feel like more and more rock groups are using electronic elements in their music due to EDM’s current global popularity. 7/10
Dancing Monster [Regular Edition] Misokkasu

 

3. Necronomidol – “NEPENTHE”

Recca’s thoughts: This group takes the “idol” concept to a whole different level with their occult, horror, and gang-inspired look and performances. I can detect BABYMETAL’s influence in this group, although Necronomidol doesn’t sound as polished. I’ll give them brownie points for a unique visual style, at least, but frankly, this just isn’t my kind of music. 5/10
Deathless (SANGUIS Ban) [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] / NECRONOMIDOL

 

4. Tempalay – “ZOMBIE-SONG”

5 Kyoku / TempalayRecca’s thoughts: Tempalay brings us a psych-infused sing-song hip-hop number that transitions into a sweet little chorus. There’s a very strong resemblance to pioneering Brazilian psychedelic band Os Mutantes, as well as some of the more ambitious tracks by Japan’s own Happy End. I’m a big fan of the weirder end of the pop spectrum, so I really enjoyed the craziness of this song. 8/10
5 Kyoku
Tempalay

 

5. aimer – “Kogoesou na Kisetsu kara”

BEST SELECTION "blanc" / AimerRecca’s thoughts: An icy, classic “big J-pop” song with a slightly New Age otherwordly feel. I was almost expecting a “Let it Go” based on the beginning piano riff. This song is decidedly more pop-rock-influenced, though. Aimer’s vocals and the tense melody in the chorus are not my cup of tea in the chorus, but otherwise this song stands out slightly from many similar-sounding tunes. 6/10
BEST SELECTION “blanc” [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type B] Aimer

 

6. Ohashi Trio – “DOLLY”

Blue / Ohashi TrioRecca’s thoughts: Ohashi Trio has worked on some film scores, so it seems fitting that this song feels like the start of an epic journey. I detect a sprinkling of Beatles influence here, specifically “Here Comes the Sun” and “Day Tripper.” It’s no wonder, then, that this song feels nostalgic despite being brand-new. 7/10
Blue
Ohashi Trio

 

7. Perfume – “TOKYO GIRL”

TOKYO GIRL / PerfumeRecca’s thoughts: Full disclosure – I’m a giant fan of Perfume. The rhythm of the melody in this song is very similar to their recent “Pick Me Up”, and the more Japanese-influenced melody recalls last year’s “Flash.” Both of those songs are superior to this one, sadly. It suffers in the quieter parts, like many Perfume songs, because the heavily-processed vocals don’t sound quite as good without a lot of electronic music behind them. This song just doesn’t get me up on the dance floor and feels a little like “more of the same”, but that being said, it’s still a good song. 8/10
TOKYO GIRL [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Perfume

 

8. KANA-BOON – “Fighter”

Fighter / KANA-BOONRecca’s thoughts: The backing strings and vocals give this song an edge over your typical J-rock number, and the bridge between the chorus and second verse is killer. I don’t listen to too much J-rock, but I reluctantly enjoyed this one despite myself. It seems like the perfect accompaniment to a shonen anime battle scene. 7/10
Fighter [Anime Ver. / Limited Edition] KANA-BOON

 

9. Niji no Conquistador – “No Life Baby of the End”

Drama Yori mo Dramatic / Beboga! (Niji No Conquistador Kigumi)Recca’s thoughts: This is the theme song for a movie called “Sei Zombie Jogakuin” (Saint Zombie Girls’ Academy), which stars the girls of Niji no Conquistador. The title of the movie, the song, and this group themselves are certainly different from your typical Japanese idol group. The big band sound of this one and slight weirdness make it a standout for me, but I don’t care for the vocal stylings of certain members. 6/10
Drama Yori mo Dramatic [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Beboga! (Niji No Conquistador Kigumi)

 

10. amazarashi – “Inochi ni Fusawashii”

Inochi ni Fusawashii / amazarashiRecca’s thoughts: Quiet, pensive, and relaxing – not exactly what I expected from a rock band like amazarashi. I don’t care for the singer’s voice, and in a quiet song like this that can be a deal-breaker. This song builds to that classic string-and-piano-driven “big J-pop sound”, but the quiet moments are just as strong. The second verse integrates another unique sound as well with some complex bass riffs. 6/10
Inochi ni Fusawashii [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] amazarashi

 

February 1, 2017

 

1. パスピエ – “夜の子”

&DNA / PassepiedWill’s thoughts: Everything in this track has a slow, moody tone to it. The light drums, bass, and guitar contribute to a sombre twilight mood that’s great to hear during those calming nights. Main vocalist Natsuki Ogoda’s soft tone compliments the song really well as she sings to you hypnotically – almost like a lullaby rocking you to sleep.
&DNA [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Passepied

 

2. Flower – “モノクロ”

Monochro/Colorful / FlowerWill’s thoughts: “Monokuro” has a dominant power pop tone. The vocals and guitar riffs rises you energy. The beat is catchy and keeps the listener engaged throughout the run of the song. Not to mention that the rock sound gives the single an edge and distinguishes itself from other J-pop idol girl acts.
Monochro/Colorful [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] Flower

 

3. 三浦大知 – “EXCITE”

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid TV Main Theme Song: EXCITE / Daichi MiuraWill’s thoughts: A fast, techno song with a great hook that reminds me of the intro for a superhero show for some reason. It’s great for dance parties or whenever you’re about to hit up a night club. Overall, it has an exciting tone with lots of energy put into it to keep you engaged.
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid TV Main Theme Song: EXCITE [w/ Rider Gashat – Battle Song ver.] [Limited Edition] Daichi Miura

 

4. きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ – “原宿いやほい”

Crazy Crazy (feat. Charli XCX & Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) / Harajuku Iyahoi / Yasutaka Nakata, Kyary Pamyu PamyuWill’s thoughts: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu returns with an EDM inspired earworm that\s won’t disappoint her loyal fans. Accompanied with a chorus that that almost immediately hooks the listener in, “Harajuku Iyahoi” has a really catchy beat and a great leading buildup to a danceable EDM hook. It’s energetic and makes you want to dance along with it. The best thing by far though is that it still captures Kyary’s quirky nature that we’ve come to know and love.
Crazy Crazy (feat. Charli XCX & Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) / Harajuku Iyahoi
Yasutaka Nakata, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

 

5. SKY-HI – “アドベンチャー”

OLIVE / SKY-HIWill’s thoughts: If you like Bruno Mars, you’ll love this song. SKY-HI brings a confident funk vibe that will convince you to groove along. The instruments complement the funk well and the beat is consistent throughout along with the saxes. This is a song that distinguishes itself from any other J-pop track out there.
OLIVE [Live Edition] [CD+DVD] SKY-HI

 

6. 土岐麻子 – “Peppermint Town”

Pink / Asako TokiWill’s thoughts: Vocalist Toki Asako’s vocals are on point in this single and match the overall mellow jazz vibe of the track. What you hear is a nice cool atmospheric sound that makes you feel like you’re waiting at a slow moody lounge. Asako\s voice is whispery, but you can make it out just enough to appreciate her range. The slow groove works well overall and creates a relaxing mood for anyone who listens to it.
Pink [CD+DVD] Asako Toki

 

7. Mr.Children – “ヒカリノアトリエ”

Hikari no Atelier / Mr.ChildrenWill’s thoughts: The acoustic guitar makes its presence known along with the other light instruments from Mr. Children. I get a slight folk, relaxing country vibe from this track and just sounds very familiar and friendly. Definitely share this with someone for a nice, thoughtful moment together.
Hikari no Atelier
Mr.Children

 

8. テンテンコ – “ドライブ”

Kogyo Seihin / TentenkoWill’s thoughts: This is probably the weirdest and most experimental song on this whole list. The synth in the beginning sounds like you’re about to start the first level of a retro Nintendo game. The vocals sound purposefully distant and echoey. This can sometimes make it hard to hear the song, along with the bleeps and blurps of the consistent synth beat. The melody is very unique and can put you in a trance like state if you let it.
Kogyo Seihin
Tentenko

 

9. [Alexandros] – “SNOW SOUND”

Snow Sound / Ima Made Kimi ga Naitabun Torimodoso / [Alexandros]Will’s thoughts: SNOW SOUND has a melody that is awe inspiring and somewhat catchy. Vocalist Yoohei Kawakami’s voice is made known by his wispy, but clear tone throughout the song. It’s a great mix of pop rock and light EDM that conjures up images of a wintery landscape and snow capped mountains. Play this single for those really cold winters.
Snow Sound / Ima Made Kimi ga Naitabun Torimodoso [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] [Alexandros]

 

10. G.RINA – “ヴァンパイア ハンティング” (featuring Kick A Show)

Live And Learn / G.RINAWill’s thoughts: This quirky titled track is a nice, snappy J-pop/rap tune that’s got a nice beat to sway along to. I like the nightly R&B tone of the song, but a bit more rapping would’ve made it slightly more interesting. The ending is mellow and dreamy and the beat follows that lulling pattern. It’s a very relaxing and fun song that’s well worth listening to.
Live And Learn
G.RINA

 

January 1, 2017

 

1. ゆうき – 虹色シャワー

Ataerareta Mono / YukiMike’s thoughts: I really enjoyed the soft sound that came from both the vocals and the instrumentals here. Yuuki was able to transition to falsetto smoothly, something some singers really struggle with. 8.5/10
Ataerareta Mono
Yuki

 

2. MIKA♡MISA – Make Honey

Make Honey / MIKA MISAMike’s thoughts: I liked the instruments used in thus song and the vocal work was very good. The only bad thing is that the music and vocal seemed to be competing with each other. 6.5/10
Make Honey
MIKA MISA

 

3. cero – ロープウェー

Machi no Shirase / ceroMike’s thoughts: This song made me picture a couple walking along a beach at sunset. The smooth music coupled with the pleasant voice really came together well. 8/10
Machi no Shirase
cero

 

4. カネコアヤノ – 退屈な日々にさようならを

Koi Suru Wakusei / Ayano KanekoMike’s thoughts: I enjoyed the acoustic sounds of the verses that transitioned into a more reverberated sound for the refrain. The vocals also had the slightest bit of an echo with it being distracting. 8/10
Koi Suru Wakusei
Ayano Kaneko

 

5. back number, 秦 基博 & 小林武史 – reunion

Encore / back numberMike’s thoughts: I love a good compilation and this one worked well. The voices blended just right and the melody made me just close my eyes and smile. 9/10
Encore [Regular Edition] back number

 

6. 大森靖子 – オリオン座

Orion Za / YABATAN Densetsu / Seiko OmoriMike’s thoughts: I liked the simple instrumentals used in this song. I also enjoy the slightest tremble in the vocals during the verses. 8/10
Orion Za / YABATAN Densetsu
Seiko Omori

 

7. ONE OK ROCK – I Was King

Ambitions / ONE OK ROCKMike’s thoughts: The opening seemed like the start of a training montage which reminded me of some of my favorite movies. This was a really rocking song that seemed like it would fit at the end of and action or adventure film. 9.5/10
Ambitions [w/ DVD, Limited Edition] ONE OK ROCK

 

8. 家入レオ – それぞれの明日へ

5th Anniversay Best / Leo IeiriMike’s thoughts: Nice and strong vocals worked well with the music for this song. This was another one with good blending and an overall pleasant sound. 8.5/10
5th Anniversay Best [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type A] Leo Ieiri

 

9. BUMP OF CHICKEN – アンサー

BUMP OF CHICKEN STADIUM TOUR 2016 "BFLY" NISSAN STADIUM 2016/7/16, 17 / BUMP OF CHICKENMike’s thoughts: I really like the drum work on this song and it worked well with the rest of the instrumentals. Motoo Fujiwara is usually spot on with vocals and this song was no exception. Great performance as usual. 8/10
BUMP OF CHICKEN STADIUM TOUR 2016 “BFLY” NISSAN STADIUM 2016/7/16, 17 [2DVD+LIVE CD] [Limited Edition] BUMP OF CHICKEN

 

10. For Tracy Hyde – Outcider

Film Bleu / For Tracy HydeMike’s thoughts: The intro had kind of a country feel to it which is a change of pace from typical j-pop. The music worked well with the very young sounding vocals that almost reminded me of the first opening of the anime Rurouni Kenshin. 8.5/10
Film Bleu
For Tracy Hyde

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