Another year and another fine collection of tracks. As with last year’s list we’ve tried to select the best songs in a year that was flooded with top notch tunes. The list is not necessarily in order of preference but is an imprecise summing up of the 20 songs that caught our attention in 2013. Here’s the final ten tracks for your consideration…
HATSUNE MIKU – VIVA HAPPY
If there was a theme tune for the summer, it had to be Mitchie M’s ‘Viva Happy’ featuring the familiar tones of HATSUNE MIKU. The song buzzes along with a fervent energy that’s topped off by a catchy chorus.
The polished pv, complete with stylish dance moves (picked up by dance outfits, such as Cinnamon Purin), made this one of Miku’s most popular outings in 2013.
PERFUME – SWEET REFRAIN
2013 has been a busy year for PERFUME. Aside from their UK debut, it saw the release of new album LEVEL3 which had been heralded by single release ‘Magic Of Love’. After the genius of ‘Spending All My Time’, we felt that ‘Magic Of Love’ was a little below par for our technopop trio.
‘Sweet Refrain’ had been conjured up by Nakata Yasutaka as the theme music to TV drama Toshi Densetsu no Onna and arrived post-LEVEL3, which is a shame as it’s a perfect example of what happens when Nakata has his game head on. The simple, infectious melody is offset by a breathy bright vocal with some crunchy sub-bass effects.
KYARY PAMYU PAMYU – NINJARI BAN BAN
KYARY PAMYU PAMYU had to be one of the busiest J-Pop artist of 2013 with 4 single releases as well as an album. That made the choice of tune a difficult one, but ‘Ninjari Ban Ban’ is Kyary clearly having a lot of fun with this pure pop winner.
Originally conceived as a CM tune for Japanese company au, the song offers up a catchy melody – and a wonderfully bonkers pv to accompany it.
MOMOIRO CLOVER Z – Neo STARGATE
Momoclo went all high concept for the release of their 5TH DIMENSION album. What that concept actually was, scholars are still debating, but there was no mistaking that the colourful outfit are the mistresses of weaving together the epic with a good tune. Momoclo seemed to be able to pull together traditional idol elements with a solid contemporary sound – and appear to always be having fun in the process.
Neo STARGATE is, of course, the video in which our 5-piece outfit go ‘full sea urchin’, scaring the crap out of everyone. Is this an improvement on turning into trees? Only you dear reader can decide…
BRAND-NEW IDOL SOCIETY – BiSUMULATION
BiS appeared to be absurdly busy throughout 2013. If they weren’t losing/recruiting members then they were embarking on collaborations, releasing offensive videos (a tradition) and generally doing anything but keeping a low profile.
The Ska leanings of ‘Mura Mura’ provided an interesting direction, but BiS excel at their unique hyper-energetic take on J-Pop, of which ‘BiSimulation’ is a classic example.
YUN*CHI – WAON*
This was a tough choice facing off against the pop sensibility of ‘Shake you*’ which had been YUN*CHI’s official 2013 release. However, the unforeseen event of a J-Pop artist collaborating with a fan-based singing outfit (in this case IroKokoro Project) had to mark this release out as significant in the events of the year.
It’s also pure joy as a tune and the pv also features some of the footage from Hyper Japan (featuring Marshmallow Llama Time’s Finny Attridge if you look closely).
UNA – JUICY JUICY
Emerging from the ASBOISYSTEM management outfit that brought us the likes of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Yun*chi comes UNA. This former Harajuku model caught our attention with her debut release in August.
‘Juicy Juicy’ is an energetic club tune whose driving beats offer up a stylish slice of dance pop – as we mentioned in our first Una article back in July.
LINKED HORIZON – GUREN NO YUMIYA
If there was one anime series that made an impact in 2013, it was Attack On Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) whose every episode of despair and misery made Evangelion look like Sailor Moon.
Rock outfit LINKED HORIZON did the theme song duties, originally with Guren No Yumiya for the first thirteen episodes, then Jiyu No Tsubasa for subsequent episodes. But the original is still the fan favourite for its stirring euphoric theme.
DIE MILCH – MAMA
DIE MILCH’s 2012 debut album Metronom boasted a superb collection of baroque pop tunes with a strong sense of classical influences and contemporary musical touches.
‘MaMa’, which marks Die Milch’s first official single release, continues the trend. With its driving strings-based tune, the song barrels along at a pace, only slowing to issue a captivating military rhythm for the chorus.
TOMMY FEBRUARY6 – SUGAR ♥ ME
Not content with her joint comeback album February & Heavenly in 2012, Tomoko Kawase dusted off her alter ego for another outing with the release of TOMMY CANDY ♥ SHOP earlier this year.
There was a much more of a Europop theme to the new album, as this example shows. The kinetic electropop elements showed that Tommy February6 could still deliver a rollicking good tune – and topped it off with an eyecatching candy-coloured video to match.
Clicke here for: J-POP GO SONGS OF THE YEAR 2013 : PART 1
Text by Paul Browne
29th December 2013