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 June to December 2016. If you like the songs, we still recommend everyone to purchase the album from CD Japan.
こちらは2016年6月から12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。
Japan Top10がCD Japanと正式に提携しました！こちらで気に入った曲は是非CD JapanでCDをご購入ください。CD Japanは公式ウェブサイトで、このサイトからの購入はオリコンチャートに反映されます。送料も安く、商品価格も正規価格です。他のサイトは送料・商品価格共に高額となっている場合がありますので、ご注意ください。
December 1, 2016
1. 五五七二三二〇 – ガラパゴス・ビスケット (featuring U-zhaan)
Nick’s thoughts: A fast paced, beat-heavy, tribal-yelling song that piques my interest but doesn’t retain it. I was drawn to the peculiarity of the song, specifically the beat formed from rapid, relentless jungle drums and some a cappella accents in the first half of the song, but it doesn’t evolve much afterwards. It draws greatly from traditional African songs with its heavy focus on the beat, yells and calls, and lack of a leading melody. Interesting take, but not my cup of tea. 4/10
2. KEYTALK – Love Me
Nick’s thoughts: I quite like this catchy ditty. It seems to be the go-to pop rock tune that’s destined for the mainstream, but this Love Me sticks out to me in particular with KEYTALK’s vocals and their awesome guitar riffs. Specifically, I’m a sucker for sexy falsettos, which this chorus is filled with. 8/10
Love me [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
3. Charisma.com – 恨み積もって山となる
Nick’s thoughts: The electronic beds sound great under the lead vocalist’s voice. The synthy beats work well with her chants of “Sayonara”. After the first chorus Charisma.com throws you a curveball with a dubstep breakdown accompanied by a rap verse. Not a fan of this segment, but the rest is alright. 7/10
iTunes download: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/unpop-ep/id1162178383
4. back number – ハッピーエンド
Nick’s thoughts: I love me some Back Number! Whether it be upbeat or sentimental, you know you’re going to get an amazing male vocal performance and great production value – and that’s exactly what this song is. Great example of a decent uplifting song. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to differentiate this with other songs of the same tone. 7.5/10
Happy End [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
5. Aimer – 茜さす
Nick’s thoughts: Aimer’s voice is the focus and she does well to carry the tune along. Her voice has a maturity that sounds great for the lyrics and for her vocal runs, which she executes with an intricate excellence. However, the song composition sounds like very typical Japanese soft-rock with a predictable build up. 6/10
Akanesasu / Everlasting Snow [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type A]
6. オノシュンスケ – ディスコって
Nick’s thoughts: It’s extremely difficult not to be reminded of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” for the first few seconds of the intro. The song then turns into a very unique blend of staccato synth keys and smooth funky guitar wahs. Clearly, the highlight of ディスコって is the fantastic backing music and not the Vocaloid-esque vocals. Be sure to check out the adorable pencil-drawn stop motion music video. 8/10
7. chay – 運命のアイラブユー
Nick’s thoughts: Chay provides us with a cheery song that sounds like it belongs on a musical stage, complete with a flashy dance number, bright spotlights, and a big band. I like this aesthetic she creates, but sonically I can’t imagine myself going back and listening to this tune that feels like it was meant for the stage, and not the radio. 7/10
Unmei no I Love You [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
8. GReeeeN – 暁の君に
Nick’s thoughts: I didn’t particularly enjoy the quiet verse but absolutely loved its juxtaposition with the loud, hard hitting chorus. Every transition to the chorus is exciting and it helps that the song is just plain catchy. 8.5/10
Akatsuki no Kimi ni [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
9. sugar me – 夜明けのうた
Nick’s thoughts: Sugar Me comes up with a longing, soulful piece that projects a sweet melancholy. The singer’s soft, wispy vocal delivery reminds me of “La Vie en Rose”. Sugar Me made a superb decision to stick with a single acoustic guitar as the sole instrument, as it’s the only necessary one. Anything more would have taken away from the delicacy of this soothing tune. 9/10
10. Kero Kero Bonito – Big City
Nick’s thoughts: The intro pulls you in and sets the tone for the rest of “Big City”. The energy isn’t forced or overdone – it’s consistent and balanced in a way that isn’t boring. British group Kero Kero Bonito creates dreamy beats to dance to while the lead singer Sarah grounds the piece with a relaxed delivery. 9/10
iTunes download: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bonito-generation/id1145025782
November 1, 2016
1. PALU – 惑わす子羊
William’s thoughts: Look at the cover art for this track: it looks weird doesn’t it? In fact, the whole song has a weird tone about it – a good kind of weird. I can’t describe the uncanny mix of light rock, gospel, and jazz; but somehow it just works! The lead vocalist in this song sounds consistent and puts you in a relaxed trance at times. This track is good if you wanted to find something more different and well worth listening to if you gave it the chance.
100 Nen Toki ga Sugitemo
2. 宮野真守 – Sugar, Sugar
William’s thoughts: Japanese voice actor Mamoru Miyano’s song is an absolute delight to play over and over again. With a funky hook and catchy jazz inspired vocals, Miyano can bring you up off your seat and have you dancing in seconds with this track. He even does a pretty good job of rapping here and there. It;s an above all fun song to play at night and worth replaying as you shake your tailfeathers.
3. miwa – 結 -ゆい
William’s thoughts: Miwa brings a calm and soothing tone to this quaint little ballad. No instrument is overpowering each other in this soft song, but miwa demonstrates a vibrant, strong range of vocals throughout it. Not much else for me to add here, except to maybe walk along a beach and run towards the waves as you hit play for this song.
Yui [Regular Edition]
4. B’z – 世界はあなたの色になる
William’s thoughts: B’z returns with one of three songs on this list that’s being used as an anime opening. The acoustic guitar works really well at the start of the song, before transitioning to guitarist Tak Matsumoto’s instantly recognizable electric riff in the chorus and, later on, awesome solo. Koshi Inaba’s vocals hit the ceiling in this one and he consistently brings a standout performance to his lyrics. If you want to hear more of this song, it’s currently used as Detective Conan’s 43rd opening, so catch it while you can.
Download from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/shi-jiehaanatano-seninaru/id1159249726
5. 西野 カナ – Dear Bride
William’s thoughts: Kana Nishino’s Dear Bride is, plainly put, an optimistic love song (at least to me). Although I don’t understand Japanese, I can tell by Nishino’s vocal tones in the song that she feels happy and hopeful for a love of her life. Nishino is a strong singer throughout this track and is the sole figure holding it up. Piano and other accompanying instruments sound fine, but for the most part, Dear Bride largely falls upon Nishino’s story and what she has to tell you through song.
Dear Bride [Regular Edition]
6. WEAVER – S.O.S.
William’s thoughts: Weaver’s song is upbeat, personal, and an overall cheery song. Used as the opening theme for the anime Poco’s Udon World, this tune meshes well with the show’s calm, but expressive atmosphere. Much like the anime, S.O.S. / Wake ME Up is happy and energetic: worthy of getting up and dancing like no tomorrow. Bring this catchy song to a party and turn it up!
S.O.S./Wake me up [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
7. Mia REGINA – 蝶結びアミュレッ
William’s thoughts: Mia REGINA’s magical opening to the anime series Soushin Shoujo Matoi is a great introduction to the show and first time listeners. This track features a good mix of electrical guitars and drum with traditional Japanese string instruments. The vocalists of Mia REGINA all deliver loud and expressive singing throughout this song to get you hyped up for whatever happens in the anime. I highly recommend checking out the anime and the singers behind this track.
“Matoi the Sacred Slayer (Anime)” Intro Theme: Chomusubi Amulet
8. illion – Dream Play
William’s thoughts: Sick Lead vocalist of Radwimps, Yojiro Noda, is at his most experimental in this track. Noda’s acapella vocals shines throughout this song and practically takes over with the accompaniment of some light drum beats and strings here and there. Not to mention that his vocals are often broken up by weird fragments of static and electronic blurps and bleeps. It’s a deceptively simple song, but there’s more going on than you think. If you’re a Radwimps fan who wants to hear something different, give this song a good listen.
P.Y.L [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
9. Dream Ami – Lovefool – 好きだって言って
William’s thoughts: A relatively easy beat and gentle instrumentals makes this one of the more “girlier” songs on this list. Ami’s soothing voice is well serenaded with the light hearted tone of the song. Additionally, the chorus and hook of the song is infectious and I wouldn’t blame you if you kept repeating “Love me / Love me” over to yourself after the end of the song. It’s a delightful ear worm to say the least.
New Single: Lovefool Suki Datte Itte
10. Sekai no Owari – Hey Ho
William’s thoughts: Returning with a more relaxed, folk inspired tune, Sekai No Owari’s Hey Ho delivers an unforgettable orchestral sound to the ears. The great combination of drums, horns, and wind instruments with the tambourine and fiddle induce a picturesque, countryside image when you’re grooving to its beats. Hey Ho is upbeat and overall a pretty nice song to take with you on a stroll through the forest.
Hey Ho [Limited Pressing]
SEKAI NO OWARI
October 1, 2016
1. ONE OK ROCK – Taking Off
Recca’s thoughts: ONE OK ROCK has really been making waves in the US lately, and maybe they’ll become to rare Japanese act to achieve some crossover success. Naturally, this song features more English lyrics than your typical J-rock tune, and the English is well done. The instrumentation drowns out the vocals a little, so it’s hard to hear those nice English vocals. A little generic-sounding, but this one feels good enough to get Top 40 radio play in the near future. 5/10
ONE OK ROCK 2015 “35xxxv” JAPAN TOUR LIVE & DOCUMENTARY
ONE OK ROCK
2. EXILE THE SECOND – WILD WILD WILD
Recca’s thoughts: A lot of Japanese boy bands have been venturing into EDM territory lately and I have enjoyed the results of this. Some of the aggressive vocal delivery in this particular song really takes it down a notch for me, although I did enjoy some of the background vocals. The very beginning of the vocal sections almost has echoes of “Gangnam Style.” But, unlike that song, this one builds to a chorus that seems underwhelming at best. 5/10
Wild Wild Wild [CD+DVD]
EXILE THE SECOND
3. Hikaru Utada feat. Ringo Sheena – Nijikan Dake no Bakansu
Recca’s thoughts: The title means something like “a vacation for only 2 hours,” and this song is, fittingly, a little 2-minute vacation for the listener. I was expecting a laid-back bossa tune from the intro, but the strings give this song that distinctive “big-time J-pop sound” with shades of Chay. Utada/Sheena is really a dream pairing. Both ladies’ respective portions make the best of their distinctive vocal styles and the lyrical flow in the chorus is lovely to listen to. 8/10
4. plenty – One Room Dancer
This one starts off strong with a retro synth melody. The singer’s unique vocal style gets into a call-and-response with the synth as the song builds to its chorus. Indie J-rock acts have put out some great mellow hits in recent years and this is no exception. A real delight to listen to. 8/10
5. Aoi Teshima – Handsome Blue
Recca’s thoughts: I was previously familiar with Aoi Teshima’s work in melodramatic Studio Ghibli anime “From Up on Poppy Hill,” but had not yet heard any of her songs. The way this one starts out, I was expecting something like “Big Spender,” but the airy vocals are pretty atypical for the big-band jazz stylings at play here. The shades of Astrud Gilberto were enough to keep me snapping along with this one. 7/10
Aoi Toshoshitsu [Limited Edition]
6. sasanomaly – Re:verb
Recca’s thoughts: Vocaloid songmaker sasanomaly brings us this fun little electronic-infused pop number, with his own vocals substituting for those of the prolific Hatsune Miku. The processing and layering in this song make it difficult to pick out the individual instruments, samples, and pieces in this song, which gives it a unique, busy sound. It’s a little overproduced in some ways, but overall enjoyable to listen to. 6/10
7. aiko – Koi o Shita no wa
A classic and typical soaring J-pop ballad, with classic aiko vocals. I really prefer aiko’s jazzier tracks, because that style suits her voice much better. This song is fine, but it feels pretty generic – so generic that you could almost exchange aiko with a Kana Nishino or any other star for this one. That being said, there is nothing deficient about it per se. 5/10
Koi wo Shitano wa
8. Nagomi Chaya Musume – Utakata
Recca’s thoughts: This idol group consists of girls wearing traditional-Japanese-inspired fashion and was formed by the Nagomi Style Café in Tokyo’s Akihabara “otaku” district. As a result, I was expecting something much more traditional than this super-modern electronic number. These girls don’t have much in the way of vocal talent, but the breathy, layered autotuned harmonies are relaxing to listen to. The instrumentals have a chillwavey downtempo vibe reminiscent of alt-J-pop darlings Kindan no Tasuuketsu. 6/10
Find them on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/artist/he-cha-wu-niang/id698019131?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
9. downy – Shikisai wa Yoru ni Furu
Recca’s thoughts: downy describes themself as post-rock, and I really don’t understand what that is. I get shades of Malice Mizer in the instrumentals, but without the crazy fashion sense, and with the addition of distinctly modern broken-down drum loops and processed synths. Not exactly easy on the ears, but very unique. (This is the second time I’ve mentioned Malice Mizer in a review for this site…I need to get a more recent frame of reference). 6/10
Dai 6 Sakuhin Shu “Mudai”
10. SHISHAMO – Natsu no Koibito
Recca’s thoughts: Of course, it’s too late in the year for a “summer song,” so this falls into that sad “end of summer song” genre. (Seasons are a big deal in Japan – yes, the “end of summer song” is a real thing). I can feel the singer’s longing as she says goodbye to her “summer love,” as the title says. Something about it reminds me of sad ‘90s slow dance songs, but with those distinctly-J-pop soaring strings. A good listen, even if it makes me a little sad. 7/10
Natsu no Koibito
September 1, 2016
1. The Oral Cigarettes – Dip-Bap
Mike’s thoughts: This was a great rockin’ song. I could picture it either as the closing theme to an action movie or possibly playing during a montage. The vocals always make me think of TM Revolution and that’s not a bad thing. Really fun song. 8/10
DIP-BAP [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
THE ORAL CIGARETTES
2. 堀下さゆり – 今日は寝てしまおう
Mike’s thoughts: I love the simple piano/vocal feel of this song’s intro. It has a very energetic yet at the same time, relaxing feel to it. I feel that her vocals really work well with the instrumentals making for an overall enjoyable song. 7.5/10
Utakata no Hibi
3. back number – 黒い猫の歌
Mike’s thoughts: I loved the guitar work in this one, both during the verses as well as the interlude. The only thing I felt was going against it was the vocals sound a little too calm against the rocking sound of the instrumentals with came off a bit as a confliction. 6/10
Boku no Namae wo [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
4. 大黒摩季 – Higher Higher
Mike’s thoughts: The intro brought to mind visions of a calm ocean before building up, as the title says, higher. This song seems like it would fit as the opening to a show similar to Initial D and was a blast to listen to. 7.5/10
Golden Best Maki Oguro [Special Price] [Limited Pressing]
5. BUMP OF CHICKEN – アリア
Mike’s thoughts: This song opened with a somewhat Christmasy feel. I liked how well the vocals transitioned between the upbeat verses and chorus into the more operatic interlude. Another fun song. 8/10
Butterflies [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type A]
BUMP OF CHICKEN
6. いきものがかり – ラストシーン
Mike’s thoughts: I’m a sucker for good violin music so this song drew me in right from the start. It blended well with the rest of the instrumentals and the vocals had a sweet quality and just tied in so well. Just a beautiful song. 8.5/10
Last Scene / Bokura no Yume
7. Rihwa – Having A Good Time
Mike’s thoughts: I liked how this song opened with a very unplugged feel before the guitar distortion came in for the chorus. I could real tell how much fun she was having while singing which helped send that same feeling out to me while listening. 8/10
8. 高橋優 – 光の破片
Mike’s thoughts: This song was very energetic, not in a “everyone jump around while listening” way, but in a “it really got my heart pumping” way. The vocals were full of energy and, like the previous song, that permeated out while listening. Very enjoyable. 7.5/10
9. ジンタナ & エメラルズ – 二人の夏
Mike’s thoughts: This song had a very 50s doo wop feel to it. It’s rare to hear that style in a modern Japanese song so it definitely made it stand out. The instrumentals during the interlude had more of a Hawaiian feel which made me question my initial thoughts and listen again. Clever, song. Very clever. Overall pretty soothing and fun. 8/10
Jintana & Emeralds
10. バンドじゃないもん! – 夏のOh!バイブス
Mike’s thoughts: With the excess of the peppy J-pop groups, it can be hard to stand out. While this song was fun and well performed, it didn’t really do anything to stand out from any other similar group. It’s not always easy to stand out in this genre but the song still blended in too much with everything else in this style. 6/10
Natsu no Oh! Vibes [Regular Edition]
August 1, 2016
1. huenica – Hello Hello
Nick’s thoughts: I like the minimal, light backing instrumentals, including the acoustic guitar and soft percussion. It brings out both the singers’ voices and the overall soft tone of the song. It’s cute and dainty. It’s a solid piece and the vocal harmonies are decent, but does little to be outstanding. 7/10
Ta no Hito to Tabi no Hito
2. ナオト・インティライミ – Overflows~言葉にできなくて~
Nick’s thoughts: I’m sure there’s a good reason why Naoto Inti Raymi is shedding a tear in the album cover. Although I don’t quite understand the content of the song, he certainly expresses a great deal of passion in his words. I like his emotion behind the chorus, but the overall composition of the song sounds all too familiar. 6.5/10
Overflows -Kotoba ni Dekinakute- [Regular Edition]
3. 絢香 – Ambition
Nick’s thoughts: I can imagine peacefully sipping coffee or reading a book (I rarely do either of these things) at a comfy coffee shop listening to this song. The jazzy piano hits or muted guitar solo aren’t what’s ambitious here. Rather, it’s Ayaka’s own voice. Her voice is soft, a little hoarse, and a little sexy. It’s a beautiful combination which makes her perfect for this smooth pop jazz fusion. She can even go off for quick falsetto notes and runs as you’ll witness towards the subdued finale, which feels a little underwhelming only because of how enjoyable the rest of the song is. 9/10
THIS IS ME – Ayaka 10th anniversary BEST – [Regular Edition]
4. GReeeeN – Beautiful Days
Nick’s thoughts: I like the progression late in both verses, but it builds up to a disappointing chorus and as a result the rest of the song is simply forgettable. The synths are kinda catchy but that’s about it. GReeeeN has much better songs than this. 4/10
Beautiful Days [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
5. 和田アキ子 – All Right!!!
Nick’s thoughts: This incredibly uptempo song will get you singing right along to the simple English lyrics: hey, hey, hey, hey hey, hey! The exclamation points in the song title aren’t excessive at all – in fact, they’re quite necessary because they accurately describe the “get up and go go go” tone. A wild harmonica solo divides the song quite nicely. For what it does, it does a great job in slapping you awake and rejuvenated with energy. As a song I happen to come across looking for some new favourites, this is not one of them. But I feel like this would be great with an anime opening theme song. 6.5/10
6. SPYAIR – THIS IS HOW WE ROCK
Nick’s thoughts: I loved Rockin’ Out and this song shares the same ultra-high energy vibe. From their epic guitar riffs to their anthemic chorus, the atmosphere unmistakably belongs to an experienced rock group. There’s even a nice rap verse off the top. Admittedly, the powerful anthem (“This is how we rock”) makes the pre-chorus with just the main singer a tad dull. 9/10
This Is How We Rock [Regular Edition]
7. 平山みき – 太陽の下の18才 GO KART TWIST
Nick’s thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of Miki Hirayama’s constant trilling at the end of every single line, and her voice makes her sound like the creepy misunderstood mistress of an old abandoned castle. If Helena Bonham Carter could sing in Japanese I’d imagine she sounds not too far off from Miki. However, I do really enjoy the instrumental breakdowns with the piano solo accompanied by the 8-bit haunted house-themed synths. 5/10
Manatsu no Dekigoto – Now & Then
8. OK Go x Perfume – I Don’t Understand You
Nick’s thoughts: I never would have expected this collaboration between American alternative rock band OK Go and Japanese synthpop girl group Perfume. But this song makes me wonder why I haven’t seen this earlier. Both groups have their own quirky, whimsical charm (have you seen OK Go’s music videos?) and they mesh so well together in this eccentrically upbeat tune. 8.5/10
WE ARE Perfume -WORLD TOUR 3rd DOCUMENT [Regular Edition]
9. ウカスカジー – 前を向け!
Nick’s thoughts: This song starts off shaky with me. I feel confused about where this song is going, rather than excited. The UFO audio samples don’t do it any justice, and verse sounds dissonant. Having said this, I’m in love with the chorus. The playful trumpets sound like recent material from American hip-hop artist Chance The Rapper, specifically the chorus of “No Problem”. The second verse instrumentals could probably pass as background music for Super Mario Sunshine. Bottom line: this song makes me feel all kinds of things, good and bad. 7/10
T-shirt to Watashi Tachi
10. ZAQ – 行きたいイベント重なりすぎてコンプできないオタク葬送曲 (featuring 遠藤ゆりか)
Nick’s thoughts: Okay, this piano intro did not prepare of what was to come. Don’t let those first six seconds throw you off…is what I would have said before listening to the end of the first verse. From a few high pitched rapid-fire screams to a single morbid-sounding line mirroring the six-second intro, this song takes you on a crazy genre-defying adventure. This is my guess, but it appears to be inspired partly by Babymetal’s creative team. Not that I mind. 6.5/10
NO RULE MY RULE [Regular Edition]
July 1, 2016
1. Cheeky Parade – シェケナ!
Will’s Thoughts: An upbeat J-pop idol song with techno synths reminiscent of a Dance Dance Revolution game. It distinguishes itself very nicely with a light dubstep twist in between breaks. There are positive vibes and the song puts you in a great mood to stand and dance along.
Cheeky Parade II Type”W”
2. Every Little Thing – まいにち。
Will’s Thoughts: An inspirational light rock ballad that’s bound to make you more optimistic. There’s a great combination of drums, guitar, and piano that add a feeling of positive calm. The guitar solo works well with the gentle tone of the vocalist and compliments the overall delicateness to the song.
Kira Kira / Akari
Every Little Thing
3. Flower – やさしさで溢れるように
Will’s Thoughts: This song would fit right in with a Disney film. It sounds very magical and cheerful. The vocalist’s strong voice brings an unexpected joy in the overall tone. Instruments such as piano, strings, and chimes support the vocalist well throughout the song, ending off with a tear jerking climax.
Yasashisa de Afureru Youni [Regular Edition]
4. Galileo Galilei – 車輪の軸
Will’s Thoughts: Guitar works well with the percussion and echoey vocals of Yuuki Ozaki. The song has a very down to earth, soothing vibe going for it. It’s overall oddly reflective with its low energy, but would make a nice light jam for a road trip with family or friends.
Sharin no Jiku [2CD] [Regular Edition]
5. Limited Sazabys – Climb
Will’s Thoughts: It’s a very fast paced song with a consistent drum beat that drives it forward from start to finish. Like the song title suggests, the tone is very upbeat and energetic and the guitar riffs and drums are always on a high level. For its short runtime, “Climb” accomplishes what it sets out to do: motivate and energize.
AIM [Regular Edition]
04 Limited Sazabys
6. miwa – Princess
Will’s Thoughts: Definitely deserves to be the theme song for a Princess film or tv episode. The instruments add a blended folk-pop vibe to the song and gives off a good impression of a cheery, countryside area. It’s everything you’d expect from a song titled “Princess” and would be great to play in small gatherings.
Princess [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
7. Penguin Research – Boyhood
Will’s Thoughts: Beginning of the song gets you right in the mood to get out and do something. The hook is catchy and the hard rock tone of the song gives it a certain edge over the others on this list. It makes the perfect anthem for anyone struggling through everyday life.
Spotlight [w/ DVD, Limited Edition]
8. SPICY CHOCOLATE ft. 西内まりや & YU-A- 二人で
Will’s Thoughts: A reflective and emotional ballad with an honest, simple sound. For the most part, the acoustics make this song shine as well as the light drum beat and piano. Strong vocals from both singers towards the end add a good finishing touch to the song.
The Reggae Power 2
SPICY CHOCOLATE and SLY & ROBBIE
9. 斉藤和義 – マディウォータ
Will’s Thoughts: There’s a cool, contemporary jazz sound going on with this song, with a hint of Latin American tango. It has a mid-fast paced tempo to keep you going and also borrows elements of light rock and swing. The tango vibe flows consistently with the hollow percussion and funky instrumentals. Definitely play this song in a cool, low key night club.
Muddy Water [Limited Edition]
10. 能登有沙 – 深夜あにめーしょん
Will’s Thoughts: Good mix of rock and electropop. The 8 bit sound effects makes the song very fun to listen to and the energetic drum beat keeps you pumped up until the end of it. The high energy runs great throughout the song. Pop in a favorite retro game you have and do a level run with this song in the background.
June 1, 2016
1. 橘うらら – 幻想★メロディー
Recca’s thoughts: Typical idol fare overall, but with a key difference – Urara Tachibana wrote the lyrics to this one herself. In a system where most singers don’t write or compose their own music until far into their careers, this is a refreshing change. The song itself is upbeat and energetic (par for the genre), with a brief interesting Japanese festival music-inspired interlude. Props to Urara for an interesting onstage “character” – she bills herself as a “kitty-cat shrine maiden CEO.” 4/10
Get from Recochoku: http://recochoku.jp/song/S1003215209/
2. スピッツ – みなと
Recca’s thoughts: This reminds me a lot of Spitz’s ‘90s smash hit “Robinson.” They’ve always been great at the emotional ballads and this is no exception. I feel Spitz’s influence very strongly in some of the new popular bands, so it’s a perfect time for a comeback hit. The lyrics are contemplative and poetic, using a harbor as a setting for a reunion with a special person. 8/10
3. chay – それでしあわせ
Recca’s thoughts: Another retro-tastic hit from chay. But, this time, her influence seems to come more from ‘90s power ballads and Dreams Come True rather than the ‘60s. It’s an interesting change, but personally, I will always like her ‘60s-inspired hits more. Chay’s voice still gets a bit too breathy in parts for me, but overall I liked this one. 6/10
4. My Hair Is Bad – 戦争を知らない大人たち
Recca’s thoughts: Don’t think I’ve heard a mix of rock and rap since middle school – thank goodness it’s done better here than the bands that I remember! The lyrics relate an story of everyday life throughout various seasons. I very much appreciate when Japanese groups don’t just emulate the delivery of American rap, so this was a refreshing change of pace, even if the melody gets a little repetitive throughout. 5/10
Jidai wo Atsumete
My Hair is Bad
5. 家入レオ – 僕たちの未来
Recca’s thoughts: This is the kind of upbeat, “we’re all connected” song that would make a great theme for an Olympics or World Cup (hint hint, Tokyo 2020 people). As you may know, I tend to prefer the upbeat songs to slow, emotional ballads, so this is probably my favorite song of Leo’s to date. 7/10
Bokutachi no Mirai [Limited Edition]
6. Keishi Tanaka – 透明色のクルージング (featuring fox capture plan)
Recca’s thoughts: Very interesting combo of a jazz trio with a hint of sampled SFX. Not a sound I’ve heard too often before, and certainly not in J-pop lately. I very much enjoyed this one. The title means “invisible-colored cruising,” and I certainly felt like I was cruising along with this relaxing tune. 9/10
Toumeishoku no Cruising
fox capture plan feat.Keishi Tanaka
7. 印象♡プリンセス – Lucifer’s Code
Recca’s thoughts: The members of Insho Princess are all “otaku” – of video games, cosplay, Vocaloid music, or anime – and this shows in their music. This song sounds like it came straight out of a vampire anime, and I can definitely detect the influences of Vocaloid music in the fast paced electronic arrangement. The vocals here are so much less grating than many new idol groups, and this really brings me back to my days as a Malice Mizer fan. 7/10
Get from Recochoku: http://recochoku.jp/song/S1003238711/
8. AAA – NEW
Recca’s thoughts: Fun and upbeat – a perfect summer hit. “We got a brand new feeling,” says AAA in the song – I don’t know if it’s really a “new feeling” because this doesn’t sound too different from some of their previous songs, but it’s one of the peppiest I’ve heard from the group. I really like AAA’s mix of male and female vocals, which shines here as usual, although the “radio effect” on the vocals is overused. 6/10
9. 西野カナ – あなたの好きなところ
Recca’s thoughts: Sounds a lot like Kana’s recent hit “Torisetsu,” both musically and in its lyrical content. Instead of an instruction manual for a girlfriend, this song is a girlfriend relating to her boyfriend all of the many reasons that she loves him, including his weird sneezes and romantic outlook. I said this about “Torisetsu” before, and I’ll say it again here – too cute to dislike. My only complaint is that the arrangement could be a little less overpowering. 7/10
Anata no Sukina Tokoro [Regular Edition]
10. Masayuki Suzuki – Melancholia
Recca’s thoughts: Yumi “Yuming” Matsutoya wrote and composed this one – she’s written great songs for other musicians for over 30 years. Suzuki also has a long history – he was a member of the doo-wop throwback group Rats & Star in the ‘80s. I was expecting something very old-fashioned as a result, but this feels a lot more retro-modern, with a fantastic future-funk disco sound. Great job by both Suzuki and “Yuming” on this one. 10/10