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Best of 2010: A-sides, love em’ or hate em’! December 28, 2010

Filed under: ~Best of 2010~ — solarblade @ 10:14 pm

It’s that time again for the best of the year that was 2010.  Of course just like last year, there’s gonna quite a lot of posts like these and it’ll come in due time, but right now let’s pay attention to the A-sides that filled out the year!

BEST A-SIDES

The 5 that just missed the top 10!

Being as the 15-11, Over the clouds, Otakebi Boy WAO!, Ethnic Planet Survival, Freedom, and Fate represented great A-sides respectively but were just beaten out.  I will say that each of these releases were surprisingly good despite not having much of a good year.  Still great stuff nonetheless!

THE TOP 10!

10. Perfume – Fushizen na Girl

I will say that Perfume kicking off the top 10 is kind of strange, but Perfume hasn’t exactly had the best year in 2010.  However, I was split on which A-side to include between this and “Natural ni Koishite”, but I chose this song since it was more a nod back to the days of “GAME”.  Plus the PV and song itself was fun and had great stuff from Nakata. 

9. CHiAKi KURiYAMA – Ryuusei no Namida

For a debut artist to make this list is quite the daunting task, but Chiaki’s debut single, Ryuusei no Namida is one of the few ballads that I always keep coming to since it’s really heartfelt and kind of pretty strong inducing, and that’s not even including the fact that it’s a GUNDAM tie-in either.  It’s definitely the best ballad of the year considering the rest of the list is energetic songs for sure.

8. JASMINE – THIS IS NOT A GAME

When we first learned that JASMINE was going on a trilogy of singles, I was worried since those don’t do well (or sell well for that matter).  In the case of JASMINE though I was kind of getting tired of both “sad to say” and “NO MORE” since they were so one in the same.  However, when she released the first of the trilogy, THIS IS NOT A GAME, it changed everything about her and just quickly became one of my early favorites of the year with the darker vibe and heavier R&B sound that she was pushing out.  Still think the English parts were the best thing though hahaha.

7. moumoon – Sunshine Girl

If there was a song that perfectly epitomized summer in music form this year, moumoon’s Sunshine Girl was that song.  It was bright, cute, colorful and just catchy that it would make you wanna frolic down the beach singing the song, though even better was that there is an English version available as well.  Such an amazing tune heh

6. 4minute – FIRST

It was hard trying to decide which deserved this place from 4minute between this song and “I My Me Mine”. but considering the fact that FIRST was an original JPN tune, it kind of beats out said song.  To me I was already a fan when “IMMM” was released but FIRST was what kind of solidified it.  The song is just K-pop goodness but set with JPN lyrics and catchy hooks all over.  The thing was that the song did feel like a few ideas rammed together, but it’s still damn catchy!

5. mini – Are U Ready?

Like I said about Chiaki, debut artists getting on here is no easy task and most of the time debut songs are usually stepping stones.  With mini, she scored major points with her electro track, Are U Ready?  There was just something that screamed epic from it and given the fact that it was produced by JIN of High Speed Boyz fame made it even better for me. 

4. IMALU – Uh Uh

I was surprised at that IMALU would’ve have released something that’s synth-pop since her previous singles were more pop/rock.  Uh Uh at first confused me since the title kind of sounded sexually driven, but the song is kind of cute, kind of serious lyrically, and just bounds of fun (like the rather goofy PV).  One of the hidden surprises I loved this year.

3. MiChi – All about the Girls ~Iijanka Party People~

There’s not much to say when it comes to MiChi this year and surprisingly was strong with the releases.  All about the Girls ~Iijanka Party People~ though really surprised me with the fact it sampled “Scatman” in the arrangement made it even cooler.  I just love the carefree attitude MiChi portrayed for the song and it was just a fun party song and catchy all over!

2. VAMPS – DEVIL SIDE

As the only J-rock song and only English song on this list, VAMPS really came through the speakers with DEVIL SIDE.  It’s such a surprise that HYDE from Lariku would’ve released something so edgy, slick, dark, and just all out awesome.  Even KAZ should get points for the awesome and rockin’ arrangement. 

1. AAA – Dream After Dream ~Yume Kara Sameta Yume~

Finally at the No. 1 spot, AAA clearly won me over this year with the second A-side of the first single of the “Buzz Communication” era.  When I first saw that Tetsuya Komuro were taking over as arranger for the single (and later the era itself), I had my worries since his music can come off as too aged.  Dream After Dream was pretty much a gem of stuff he produced this year and while Urata, Nissy, Misako, Hidaka, and Chiaki took vocal roles, I think Tetsuya should get an applause since the song was arrangement heaven for me.  So many synths and melody abound.  I love this song to death and once again the PV was even better ^_^

WORST A-SIDES

The 5 that luckily missed being in the 10

There’s no doubt in my mind that theses songs won’t get the full blast of the 10 haha.  ALWAYS, Koyubi no Paradox, Toki wo Tomete, READY FOR LOVE, and Chance no Junban weren’t good songs, but they are better than what’s coming up.

THE BAD 10!

10. Juliet – 23:45

Juliet hasn’t really been that exciting a group for me, but it came at a low with the release 0f 23:45 which did break the monotony of similar-titled singles for a little but that’s not the point.  23:45 to me came off as way bland for R&B and barely stood out for me one bit. 

9. Natsuko Aso – Everyday sunshine line!

There’s just something very saddening when you see an artist go down the wrong path for her music career such is the case for Natsuko Aso.  She started out great with her two singles.  Then came “Perfect-area complete!” and it made me worry, but it wasn’t til her fourth single where I just shook my head in disbelief since this song is just very sugary and way too cute to be taken seriously.  She still hasn’t recovered, but I hope she goes back to where she started.

8. PUFFY – R.G.W.

After that short break after “Dareka ga”, R.G.W. just baffled me to no end.  I mean I know PUFFY is a pretty groundbreaking group and actually somewhat got popular here in the states, but R.G.W. was just kind of lame for a Christmas song since they’re yelling colors at ya for most of the song.  It just seems everytime I try to listen to it, I get a headache for trying, so whatever.

7. Kaori Mochida – green

I’m not entirely sure why Kaori had to choose this song to represent “NIU”, but green just did nothing for me but put me to sleep almost.  Nothing much more to say about the song besides the fact it wasn’t the worst on the album.

6. Ai Otsuka – I ♥ ×××

There’s sentimental songs that make you happy and there’s one like this that just gets annoying after a few listens.  While it’s great that Ai is married and pregnant, but somehow with that came the fact that her works since hasn’t been stellar and this song just kind of marks as her low point in A-sides.  I don’t know why I get so bothered by it, but it just is so repetitive…

5. m.o.v.e – Fate Seeker

We all know that m.o.v.e has always been about electronica and techno/eurotrance but what they did with Fate Seeker was just inhumane.  The rule is is that don’t give the leading lady who’s vocals are already kind of meh auto-tune….it messes things up and it did quite harshly.  Definitely did not like this song and still don’t

4. faylan – Last vision for last

Last vision for last for me was a failure amongst her other songs because while this was another tie-in to an anime it didn’t do enough to stand out like her other songs.  Add in the fact that the arrangement was all over the place didn’t help nor was faylan.  I don’t but this song was her worst yet.

3. Watarirouka Hashiritai – AkKanbe Bashi

I would like to believe that Ayaka Kikuchi had something to do with AkKanbe Bashi sucking so much.  The fact that the song feels so disorienting and just purely genki annoying was the reason I despise it so much.  Add the girls sounded too high and there was transitioning issues, and you got No. 3

2. Minori Chihara – Freedom Dreamer

While I’m not entirely entranced by Minorin’s music (her last album is a different story), Freedom Dreamer was pretty bad for her.  The fact that it was a summer song and Minorin was using her seiyuu voice for the song was just a recipe for disaster.  Ick, just hated this song and luckily “Ittousei” fixed things up.

1. S/mileage – ◯◯ Ganbaranakutemo Eenende!!

As the worst A-side of the year, S/mileage really chose a doozy with this song.  Not only it’s genki to the max, the song has the most random of sounds that H!P has ever used up to this point and it really kind of turned me further away from the song.  I still didn’t think the four gals did much to help alleviate the problem, but added to it.  Sorry, just not my song and it really sucks for me.

 

ANYWAYS, STAY TUNED FOR PT.2: THE B-SIDES!!!

 

 

pLumsonic! – Atomic-girl

Filed under: pLumsonic! — solarblade @ 12:41 pm

Track Listing

  1. AtomicGirl
  2. Aishuu Happiness
  3. SentimentalDisco
  4. HAPPY x2 SONIC!
  5. MoonBase
  6. Romantic Luminescence
  7. little happy days☆
  8. mystic module
  9. “Tadaima” no Kaerimichi
  10. Supernova
  11. CodeName “yuu.”

1. AtomicGirl

I love the fact that the beginning starts off with this robotic voice spelling the title of the song before fully getting into Yuu’s start, but that’s after a minute of the opening passes by.  To me, AtomicGirl is a bit strange and goofy sounding until it starts filling out in the second verse.  Yuu’s vocals are a bit like an idol’s but mixed in with auto-tune and slight vocoder…it’s a nice sound and gives the song a much more cute sound.

2. Aishuu Happiness

Whenever the opening of Aishuu Happiness starts up, it always sends me back to Kirby games from the SNES days and such.  It’s a bit more cuter coming from Yuu, but there’s times where her vocals are kind of hard to sit through since her vocals keep getting shaky when they shouldn’t be (aka the more legato like areas of the song).  When the song goes into its chorus, it gets better so the rest of the song flies by smoothly til it ends.

3. SentimentalDisco

After two cute songs, it’s nice that we got SentimentalDisco next and it’s a whole lot more upbeat and electro than the previous songs.  Even Yuu sounds so much more into the song and being peppy and connected to Yasushi.K’s arrangement.  There’s a bit more importance to the music this time, but I don’t mind the more spaces between Yuu’s lines and the music.  Good song though ^_^

4. HAPPY x2 SONIC!

I’m surprised that our next song would be the longest of the bunch passing over 7 minutes.  HAPPY x2 SONIC! feels like a very, very, very long interlude and it doesn’t help that Yuu’s vocals feels drowned out amongst the wavy arrangement.  The times she does sing gives the song some direction, but there’s a lot of musically-heavy parts.  I will say the more ethereal Yuu’s voice sounds, really works out here though. 

5. MoonBase

As this is a touch-up on a song they released originally on the duo’s debut album, “Pavilion”, MoonBase at first sounded no different from the original, but there’s some noticeable changes like the fact there was some synths removed and left us with this kind of ethereal and cosmic kind of song that sounded really pretty to listen to.  Yuu’s vocals are cute and they give this wondrous feeling in the song (minus the parts where her vocals get messed around).  I will say that MoonBase has always been an impressive track though to me and it’s update on their 3rd album made things even better.

6. Romantic Luminescence

After two of the longest songs passes us by, Romantic Luminescence brings us back to the shorter and kind mysterious songs starting with Romantic Luminescence.  I love the synth melody from Yasushi.K in this song in particular since it’s futuristic and the right kind of upbeat.  Even the warped up solo in the middle of the song was different and kind of flashy in a good way.

7. little happy days☆

Maybe the weirdest song off the album, little happy days☆ feels like more of a techno-idol-pop track since it’s quite lighter than most of the other songs and actually has a happier tone despite the weird synths of the song.  I will admit that Yuu’s vocals in particular are quite stronger than they were in previous songs so that’s a plus I guess.  It’s bouncy and deserves to be in a video game, but hahah I like it.

8. mystic module

While I feel that going back to 80’s techno is pretty awesome, mystic module leads this group since it clearly reminds me of Bomberman music for some reason.  I will say the deeper synths found here were pretty nifty and made the song a much cooler listen.  Yuu’s robotic-like form of singing the song did become bothersome, but the chorus brought me back up and it did save the song for sure.

9. “Tadaima” no Kaerimichi

I guess it’s time to dive back into the 80’s new wave sound with our next song.  To be honest, of the songs off the album, I wasn’t feeling this one much but it was to be expected since it’s kind of slowish in the way it’s kind of draggy.  I didn’t think Yasushi.K’s magic worked well either in this case so it kind of just went nowhere.

10. Supernova

Moving past that slip-up, Supernova wasn’t what I was expecting since it has an exploding kind of name, I was hoping it was going to be crazy and just wild.  I will say it’s more along the lines of “Romantic Luminescence” where it’s more poppy, but here it’s more futuristic.  I don’t feel much for the song, but I do think it’s a whole lot better than the last song.

11. CodeName “yuu.”

Of the songs that had been previewed on the duo’s YouTube, CodeName “yuu.” really stood out for me since it really had a great futuristic sound.  However the preview was just only the chorus.  The rest of the song is surprisingly cutesy stuff and while I was a little disappointed at that, it works with the arrangement and the chorus is still pretty much epic sauce though so I still feel that it’s one of the albums best songs.

Tracks Recommended

  • MoonBase
  • CodeName “yuu.”
  • mystic module
  • HAPPY x2 SONIC!
  • Aishuu Happiness

Song of Avoidance

  • “Tadaima” no Kaerimichi

As it is the duo’s 3rd album, Atomic-girl is kind of better than “Geometrical/Love” but also kind of worse.  I do think that they’ve grown much better and I love Yasushi.K’s arrangements since they’re kind of totally not like other techno-pop acts.  It’s like Nakata+YMCK=pLumsonic!.  I hope there’s a fourth album someday since right now, they’re pretty much their own category at this point.

 

alan×Kei Fukui – Ai wa Chikara

Filed under: alan — solarblade @ 7:19 am

Track Listing

  1. Ai wa Chikara

1. Ai wa Chikara

I’m just still surprised that alan would have released an opera song after such strong singles (minus “Diamond”).  For alan’s first JPN collaboration with opera singer Kei Fukui, the song makes “Kuon no Kawa” seem lightweight as an epic song.  The music is very orchestral and grand that it definitely feels like alan’s regaining her “Voice of EARTH” style.  I will say that Kei’s tenor vocals kind of overpowers alan’s in a few parts of the song they sing simultaneously.  It’s still pretty much alan’s gold tune and a great way to perhaps finish the era off. 

I was surprised alan would have released it to open 2011 with a bang and Ai wa Chikara was pretty much what alan needed to regain the awesomeness on my part.  Kei Fukui definitely has a strong tenor and while I honestly think he sings more in the song, the two sound great and for alan’s first “opera” tune, she did it with flying covers.  Makes me wonder if it’ll be on her third album…

 

MiChi – LOVE is. e.p

Filed under: MiChi — solarblade @ 6:16 am

Track Listing

  1. LOVE is.
  2. YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!
  3. JUMP ON IT
  4. PRETTY FLY (FOR A WHITE GUY)

1. LOVE is.

I never expected that MiChi’s next single would’ve ended up being an upbeat song (like a lot of the others of the era) but LOVE is. definitely has an 80’s New Wave sound going for it which sounds pretty good for being the main track here.  It does kind of remind me of a lot of her songs previous, but the synths sound a little different than those songs so it’s not like it’s bland or anything.  It might take a little longer to get used to, but I know I’ll end up enjoying it after a while.

2. YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!

I was a little surprised that the first of the B-sides started off as slow as it did and kind of raised into this mid-tempo pop track.  I love the MiChi’s speed of singing some of the lyrics.  The chorus is kind of meh because of how much it repeats itself after a while and it kind of just becomes white noise after a while.  It’s the weakest song off the single, but I guess there’s time for it to catch on.

3. JUMP ON IT

~if you feel like shit just jump on it~.  Oh god, I did miss angry and attitude prone MiChi and with JUMP ON IT, she pulls her side back out and shows off with a pretty interesting beat and melody that would normally seem one-dimensional, but somehow it’s just the right amount of simplicity she needed to pull a song like this out.  I mean MiChi isn’t fully an electro artist, but this song would be a good representation of it! 

4. PRETTY FLY (FOR A WHITE GUY)

When you do covers it should be something that would make sense, but MiChi being herself, she picks the weirdest songs to cover.  As a cover of that amazing Offsprings song, MiChi still comes off as the weaker voice to the original since the lead of The Offsprings has a unique and gritty tone to his voice that MiChi couldn’t replicate.  Still the song has a bit of 8-bit, but keeps it faithful to the original arrangement and MiChi did this much better than her Nirvana cover. 

As it is MiChi’s 3rd single in the era, LOVE is. e.p was actually a much stronger single than the previous two, but the main song lacks the memorability of the other two.  Though the B-sides (not so much YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!) really made the single shine stronger.  I wouldn’t be surprised if MiChi releases another cover album in light of her attraction of doing them, but JUMP ON IT needs to be on an album with “All about the Girls ~Iijanka Party People~”.

 

Yousei Teikoku – gothic lolita agitator

Filed under: Yousei Teikoku — solarblade @ 5:39 am

Track Listing

  1. Asgard
  2. still alive
  3. one
  4. Baptize
  5. keep existing
  6. Gekkou no Chigiri
  7. call my name
  8. Sacrifice
  9. Gekkakou
  10. rebellion anthem
  11. Viscum album
  12. gothic lolita agitator

1. Asgard

I found it pretty awesome that the album actually has a bit more of songs that weren’t released in the duo’s official list of releases, bounded by OSTs and such.  Asgard is definitely an interesting start to an album since the beginning sounded so happy and against the rule of Yousei Teikoku XD.  Once Yui comes in the song becomes like a lot of what this era has been like (which is Goth Rock and such).  It fits in on the album quite easily and made a pretty good opening as well.

2. still alive

Being the B-side from “rebellion anthem”, still alive is continues to bring a lot of “Schwarzer Sarg” into it’s sound and I kind of enjoy that since it’s dark, has a chorale to make things even more uncomfortable, and a pretty strong beat to push it forward like a slightly danceable goth-rock tune.  I love the part where she keeps repeating ~I’m still alive~ in the middle of the track.  I was surprised it was a B-side but happy it made the tracklist.

3. one

As the era’s first single released (could be argued that “Gekkou no Chigiri” was, but it was released before “Gothic Lolita Doctrine” was released).  one makes a much better representation since it’s after such a synthy song like “still alive” and with the more dramatic strings in the song, it’s pretty fierce.  I still think it has a bit much of similarity to “Schwarzer Sarg”, but this was pretty good and showed off both Yui’s vocals and Takaha’s arranging skills.

4. Baptize

As the A-side released after “one”, Baptize was the more energetic of A-sides released and the really tightknit sound that it conveyed was a bit weird to listen to through the verses, but the chorus made it a bit more tolerable and after awhile it became catchy and the chorale was pretty good too.  It’s prolly a bit sameish after all the singles released, but whatever.

5. keep existing

Coming from the same game “Asgard” was used for, keep existing kind of keeps up with the whole animesque-like atmosphere, but also hits hard like the previous songs as well which is a bit of a bad thing since the sound hasn’t fully changed much.  I mean strings, heavy guitars, and loud drums…I mean it’s not a bad pair but it needs to change lol.

6. Gekkou no Chigiri

Finally a change of sound that comes with Gekkou no Chigiri.  While it is the era’s oddball A-side (being released in the “Gothic Lolita Doctrine” era and stuff).  Anyways back to what I was saying, after 5 songs of hard-hitting arrangements and fastly sung lyrics from Yui, Gekkou no Chigiri is more along the lines of a ballad and a rather interesting one that’s based around piano and strings and some small beats.  Yui’s more flowing vocals really hit the spot and was a great surprise after the previous tracks.

7. call my name

Sadly it was just a small break before reentering the edgier songs again starting with the B-side from “Baptize”.  At the time of its release, call my name was pretty good but since “still alive” took whatever made this song feasible and just kicked its ass out the way, making this seem bit more of a letdown.  I mean it’s more mid-tempo, but still doesn’t do much for the album.

8. Sacrifice

As the other B-side to “Gekkou no Chigiri” (“Simulacra” was on “Gothic Lolita Doctrine”), Sacrifice was the surprise from that single because it was purely hard-hitting and just all over badass when compared to the ballads from it.  On the album, it’s still considered one the strongest songs and it shares its likeness with “still alive” with the crazy amount of synths used here as well.  The interesting thing about the song for me was how Yui was actually not trying to go all out in vocals.  For that, I was pretty happy with what we got and I’m happy it made the album cut.

9. Gekkakou

Slightly cooling off after “Sacrifice”, the B-side from “one” makes an appearance and while I love the chorale that opens up the song and the more anime-like flow to it, Gekkakou kind of feels underwhelming and shares that feeling with “Asgard” and “Baptize”.  The thing that surprised me though was the use of auto-tune for a little bit of the tune.  Otherwise, another tune that’s sort of forgettable in the long run.

10. rebellion anthem

Rounding out the old songs with the 3rd A-side released in the era, rebellion anthem joins in with the crazy rock arrangements from Takaha and while it’s just as dark and epic as “Sacrifice”, there’s something that still kind of takes me a while to enjoy, but I still think it’s one of their darkest songs and it’s pretty awesome to listen to this song.  Might not be up there on the favorites, but I can respect this song quite a bit.

11. Viscum album

It’s great that Yousei Teikoku gave us two original songs for the album.  The first, Viscum album kind of feels strange on this album since it’s there’s rockish sound, but taken to more of a ballad-like state (but not anywhere near as “Gekkou no Chigiri”.  I kind of like they tried this kind of song since it’s been a while since they’ve gone this direction.  I will say it kind of feels out of place on the album though.

12. gothic lolita agitator

Entering the second of the new songs and title track, I wasn’t expecting the best out of this one since the last title track was just really repetitive and annoying after a while.  gothic lolita agitator did surprise me though with it’s 9 minute length.  I mean a minute and a half has a chorale doing some chanting before the song becomes another hard-hitter on the album.  I was also very happy that it was done so much more better than the last title song.  It’s a song that’ll test your patience because of it’s real abnormal length, but it’s a pretty good song on its own.

Tracks Recommended

  • Sacrifice
  • still alive
  • Gekkou no Chigiri
  • one
  • rebellion anthem

Song of Avoidance

  • Viscum album

As it is Yousei Teikoku’s 3rd best-of album, I really do thing gothic lolita agitator is their strongest release yet out of the three.  The songs were pretty consistent in sound cept for a few ballads, but still it’s Takaha’s best arranging yet and Yui’s vocals are getting better and better so that’s always a good thing to hear.  The only thing I could complain is that some of their anime songs are a bit sameish to one another, but it’s a pretty strong release