There’s no doubt that 2008 was a fantastic year in the J-Pop world. New groups like GIRL NEXT DOOR, Buono!, the return of capsule, Amuro Namie’s rise in popularity, alan, Wakeshima Kanon and the Wonder Girls’ multiple hits really made this year stand out, though it can’t possibly be all positive.
Utada’s absence after HEART STATION, Tamaki Nami’s absence, Fujimoto Miki’s absence, Amano Tsukiko’s retirement from music, Angela Aki’s absence and let’s not forget the mass H!P Elder Club graduation announcement.
So without further complaining, here’s my thought on the best and worst of 2008:
1)Amuro Namie – 60’s 70’s 80’s
2) Kalafina – oblivious
3) Suzuki Ami – ONE
Since it’s release early this year, 60’s 70’s 80’s has managed to stay on top from all of the multiple releases this year. Could it be that each of the three A-sides had it’s own entertaining PV? The sexy cover art? It’s release after the success of PLAY? Or maybe it’s just that each song on the single is just so damn good. Each track offers it’s own style and their something for everyone while each one being enjoyable no matter the person’s taste. There’s no doubt about the awesomeness of this single.
1) Matsuura Aya – Kizuna
2) misono – Kazoku no Hi
3) BoA – Vivid
Oh dear. It’s not hard to see why Kizuna is so horrific. 2008 is simply not Matsuura’s year. Nor was 2007 or 2006 for that matter. Whom was H!P’s top soloist is now a stale ballad releasing machine who get’s a single a year. It’s comforting to hear that she has one more album and single before she get’s officially kicked off of H!P but they better make up for this single. Honestly, the vocals were okay but the music was just so horrible that it made the song totally un-listenable. Don’t even get me started on the B-side.
1) Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION
2) KOKIA – THE VOICE
3) Perfume – GAME
While it was Utada’s only real release in 2008(apart from a recut single and a new recording of a 2001 song), it was more than worth the absence. This album is absolute gold. Unlike her last album, ULTRA BLUE, HEART STATION manages to flow so perfectly and capture one entire atmosphere, instead of jumping around genres and into random ballads. Although we do find R&B, pop, ballads and synth inspired tracks on this album, they all manage to work well together. The singles were perfect, and no song off the album managed to disappoint me(well, maybe Boku wa Kuma).
1) Ongaku Gatas – 1st GOODSAL
That’s right, there is no second or third place. No album released this year was as bad as this total flop of an album. Maybe Berryz and °C-ute’s albums would have made it, but I was only choosing them ’cause they were from H!P. Also, there’s a general rule when it come’s to H!P albums. Don’t listen to them. When I began reviewing this album, I was actually quite impressed but as the album begins to lose it’s nice vibe and feeling that the album totally fails. Half of the album is absolutely un-listenable. It’s kinda bittersweet to have known that this group has split.
1) Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World
2) BONNIE PINK – Kane wo Narashite
3) High King – C\C (Cinderella\Complex)
I had a feeling when I first heard this song that it was going to be the most epic thing I had listened to. I was surprised to know that I was indeed correct. There is no song that gives me as much shivers as this one and watching it live only gets me more obsessed. While the other content on the single was pretty average, it was it’s A-side that let the single stand out. While being 1/3 of Ayumi’s releases in 2008, it certainly fulfilled most listener’s wants.
1) BoA – Kissing You
2) Koda Kumi – Once Again
3) Matsuura Aya – Kizuna
We all know it. Vivid was waaay rushed. Unfortunately, such a swift release couldn’t possibly be too good. Sickly looking cover aside, Vivid was an okay triple A-side. Only one song was “listenable” to me, and that was Sparkling. The other two were generic, stale boring light pop songs. Remember, quality, not quantity(just take Utada for example -_-‘).
1) Suzuki Ami – A token of love (FM88 mix)
2) Otsuka Ai – Ame no Tsubu, Waltz ~LOVE MUSiC~
3) Aira Mitsuki – SAZAE FUNKADELiC
My love for A token of love was absolutely unbeatable back when ONE was released. I easily listened to this song more than anything, including the A-side(which I have only begun to accept is better than the b-sides as of a month ago). C’mon, you know this song has some amazing vocals from Ami and some incredibly catchy music.
1) misono – music letter
2) misono – Aburazemi (Osaka version) -Piano version-
3) BONNIE PINK – A Perfect Sky (Björn Remix)
misono’s follow up single to her album was an absolute disaster. The biggest mistake was music letter, a whooping 6:15 long b-side with misono’s emo girl vocals and the most bland instrumental(it’s really only a music box) ever. Jeez, even the 8:25 Aburazemi was better.
1) Wakshima Kanon – Suna no Oshiro
2) Amuro Namie – BEST FICTION
3) YMCK – FAMILY GENESIS
Epic song aside, goodness that’s a fine cover. :O Kanon looks spectacular, the background blends perfectly and the cello looks astounding. @-@ It looks both dark and bright at the same time due to the lighting and the actual mood that the single gives off. An easy winner.
1) AKB48 – Oogoe Diamond
2) Aira Mitsuki – ROBOT HONEY
3) Otsuka Ai – LOVE LETTER
Goodness what were they thinking? Awseome song and PV but the cover is just so fugly. First of all, isn’t this supposed to be AKB48? Why put just one ugly girl? I honestly prefer 20+ ugly girl’s, at least that way I have variety. The girl isn’t ugly, but she’s not that pretty either. The whole “I was just thrown in the pool” thing doesn’t help and she really needs to close her mouth. That’s what bothers me the most, her ugly yellow teeth.
1) AKB48 – Baby! Baby! Baby!
2) Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!
3) BoA – Eat You Up
Lucky for me, I had Baby! Baby! Baby! be my first ever AKB48 PV. ;) There’s nothing better than 20+ hot girls in a bikini and playing around in the pool. Let’s not forget the suicidal emo girl! Honestly, the non-bikini parts are pretty lame, though it’s funny to watch how uncoordinated the girls are sometimes. XD But seriously, these girls are amazingly hot.
1) misono – Kazoku no Hi
2) BONNIE PINK – CHAIN
3) Abe Natsumi – Screen
You see, that video was so freakin’ bad that I barely remember anything about it. All I know is that it showed misono in this ugly wedding dress walking around in a church and singing her emo song. She didn’t even get kissed at the end or anything. :l
Best H!P Act:
3) Berryz Koubou
2008 was Buono!’s year. Luckily for Tsunku, e made a subgroup that’s actually pretty popular and just a tad bit behind Berryz and °C-ute’s sales figures. They released 4 singles and an album this year, more than any other H!P artist. And it’s not just the amount of material they released, it’s the quality. The album was one of the best I have heard come from H!P since Momosu’s No.5. I’m looking forward to their already planned next single and album for 2009.
2) Hamasaki Ayumi
3) Otsuka Ai
alan was on Fire this year. Well, also on Wind, Air, Water and Earth, but that’s not the point. Not only did she release 6 physical single, but also some digital stuff, plus her Chinese releases, this girls been busy! It’s not simply the amount as well, while all of her work is made up of ballads, there all so interesting and amazing that one can’t dare complain. Releases such as RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ may raise alan’s popularity and hopefully she’ll get the recognition she deserves.
Best non-H!P Group:
1) Wonder Girls
2) GIRL NEXT DOOR
Gawd I love these girls. Not only are they extremely popular in Korea, but their slowly making their was into North Ameirca. Their song “Nobody” has been extremely popular and their’s no questioning why. It’s amazing! :O I’m so glad that I got to find these girls. Luckily, they’ve had an amazing year and should soon be releasing a Nobody remix.
1) Hamasaki Ayumi – Together When…
2) alan – RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~
3) Angela Aki – Tegami ~Haikei Jugo no Kimi he~
Earlier this year, Ayumi released a little digital single by the name of Together When… Later, it appeared on her GUILTY album. It was then that I really took notice of it. Never have I heard such an epic ballad. :O Though alan’s ballad was VERY close to first place, Ayumi managed to come out on top. If there’s ever a ballad to listen to, this is it.
Best Electropop Song:
1) capsule – JUMPER
2) Suzuki Ami – ONE
3) Aira Mitsuki – BEEP COUNT FANTASTIC
Jumpin’ Jumper! If you haven’t listened to this song yet, go do that now before reading this. Not since Ami’s FREE FREE has a song managed to trap me as much as JUMPER. It’s 6:56 of electropop Engrish bliss. Now that teh lyrics are out, I can finally lip sync to this. 8) Thank you Nakata.
Best Rock Song:
1) BONNIE PINK – Kane wo Narashite
2) Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World
3) Ogawa Mana – Suppin Rock
Jebus. Thank god Kaori made this song. It’s absolutely awesome! O_O The vocals, the guitars, everything is spectacular! That chorus is to die for. And if it isn’t enough, we even get an English version to quench our greedy ears.
And that’s that.
I’m really looking forward to 2009 in terms of J-Pop. BoA, Utada and Wonder Girls should be gettign some action in N.A.
H!P looks interesting next year. There’s a ton of releases before the Elder Club graduation, so we’ll see how those come out.
alan is finally getting her album, not without announcing another 2 singles though. -_- It’s gonna be more like a best album.
I’m kinda iffy about MEG and Ami no longer being produced by Nakata, bu tit’s also fresh to finally get a new sound from them. I’m looking more forward to MEG than Ami though.
Still waiting for Nobuchika Eri to come back though… >->