Here’s a round-up of songs (plus videos) that caught our attention throughout 2012. In order to be fair, only one song per artist and we’ve opted for purely J-Pop tunes for this list. There were a lot of great K-Pop songs this year but it says ‘J-Pop Go’ on the tin and if we do too much K-Pop coverage then people rock up to J-Pop Go events and throw temper tantrums. You like J-Pop and we like J-Pop, so let’s look at some great tunes as 2012 reaches its end…

AKB48 – Sugar Rush

We could have gone for the more obvious UZA which saw the ubiquitous idol outfit adopt a gothic electropop theme. UZA was a real change of gear for AKB48 and probably surprised a lot of people who perhaps had gotten used to a fairly standard template from the team.

However, their contribution for the Disney film Wreck-It Ralph does everything you expect a J-Pop song to do. The construction of the song is very simple, but the production and arrangement give it an unexpected beefed-up feel. Add in an infectious melody and simple vocal refrain and you’re good to go…


MOMOIRO CLOVER Z – Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi-tachi Yo

Colourful idol outfit MOMOIRO CLOVER Z kept busy throughout 2012, but this slice of edgy electropop really stood out. Written and produced by guitar legend Hotei Tomoyasu, Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi-tachi Yo is, as you would expect, a great tune. It takes a Gothic pop theme and weaves it perfectly into the energetic ‘Hyper Pop’ that Momoiro Clover Z are so well known for.

Plus, you can’t ignore a video in which the Momoclo girls get turned into trees…


BRAND-NEW IDOL SOCIETY – PPCC

In a lot of ways, 2012 was the year of BiS. They caught everyone’s attention from their bizarre antics, but then backed up their behaviour with some solid tunes. PPCC remains the stand-out song with its epic production and ‘fleas-on-helium’ vocal approach that sounds like a hyper-charged t.A.T.u.


AKARI MOCHIZUKI – Hitori De Nadeshiko

This was another surprise – a distinctly 70’s J-Pop-influenced tune telling a tale of kitchen sink drama. A great London-based video is the icing on the cake…


HATSUNE MIKU – Gift Nor Art (HSP & Tripshots ft. Hatsune Miku)

It was tough deciding on which Hatsune Miku track stood out. Certainly Weekender Girl was a strong contender, but in the end it had to be this HSP effort with stunning video…


PERFUME – Spring Of Life

Embarking on a plan for global domination, the Perfume trio kept themselves busy this year. While we could have easily put up Spending All My Time as an alternative Perfume choice, some people would have had a good cry about it. So here’s Spring Of Life which is a perfectly serviceable Technopop number…


KYARY PAMYU PAMYU – FASHION MONSTER

You couldn’t get away from Kyary (Of The Scary Hairy) this year and her star appears to show no signs of stopping its ascent. Fashion Monster has all the classic Kyary elements you would expect (bonkers tune, bonkers video, bonkers hair). Although the use of the song to promote a fashion store did cause the anti-advertising crowd to weep into the soft absorbent goodness of new Kleenex mansize tissues…


SAORI YUKI – Yoake No Scat (Marsheaux Remix)

Another tune that came out of a leftfield direction was this remix of a classic SAORI YUKI song. This wistful and engaging remix was courtesy of Greek-based synth duo Marsheaux.


SHONEN KNIFE – POP TUNE

The triumphant return of SHONEN KNIFE brought with it a new album, including title track Pop Tune with its blistering guitars and Naoko’s pitched vocals. The video shows a band having a lot of fun too.


AYA HIRANO – Stargaze Love

The success of popular anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya proved to be a boost for seiyuu and musician AYA HIRANO, who provided the voice for title character Haruhi. Aya encountered a few dramas along the way, but bounced back in 2012 with new album Fragments and the perky pop goodness of Stargaze Love (of which we could only source the edit below)…


mini – ハーコーぷにんそす

Avex-signed artist mini launched her album Electro Hardcore Bam Bam Picasso this year – and this tune stood out by a mile. There’s more than a hint of K-Pop here on a song that’s bursting with energy and style.


OISHII!ICHIGO – GAMETIME

We enthused about our resident idol outfit Oishii! Ichigo previously and their debut release GAMETIME showed an amateur outfit that’s got a lot of potential. A simple, but infectious slice of Electropop goodness.


Which pretty much sums up our take on J-Pop in 2012. Was there anything we missed? Any tunes that stood out for you this year? Let us know through the wonders of the Book Of Faces

Text by Paul Browne
31st December 2012