Buono! – Take it Easy! [8th Single]

September 4, 2009 at 9:37 pm (Buono!) (, )

Buono! - Take it Easy

Buono!’s 8th single, entitled Take it Easy!, was released on 08.26.09.

Take it Easy! takes things down a notch from the last single for a calm summery tune. The song opens up with a nice midtempo instrumental that really gets into the atmosphere of the summer and then comes the first verse. Momoko begins things and there is a real cuteness in her voice, which stands out. Airi then comes in and the music is quite interesting during her part so it makes her shine even more. Miyabi’s part carries a slightly more cool instrumental part, highlighting her voice nicely. The chorus is nice and breezy, giving the listener a nice calming feeling. It also sounds very cute when they sing the title of the song. The pure instrumental section carries that fun-ness that is what the song is all about, continuing the song in a strong way. Overall, it isn’t as memorable as MY BOY but it’s still an enjoyable summer perfect for the end of summer.

キライスキダイキライ is the single’s B-side. The song starts off with a rock-filled instrumental and already the mood of the song is established. Then comes the first verse and although the vocals probably would have been better with some more emotion in them, they sound nice. Those parts right before the chorus sound quite nice and really catch the ear. The main problem with the chorus is that it sounds so disjointed from the verses, ruining the flow of the song. Other than that, it sounds nice and do stick quite well. It’s a nice B-side even though it’s not the best.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Take it Easy! was made. The video features the girls taking a bus ride to the beach to enjoy the summer sun and it fits the image of the song so wonderfully that the director really knew what he was doing. The dancing wasn’t really needed but it was a nice touch. All three girls looked great, adding to the strength of the video.

Single Ranking: B

This single was definitely a step down from the amazingness that is MY BOY. However, it was worth the listen and does fit the summer season well. Hopefully they’ll be doing more mature stuff because they really shined with their last single.

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Hello! Project – チャンプル①~ハッピーマリッジソングカバー集~ [Special Cover Album]

July 13, 2009 at 3:23 am (Berryz Koubou, Buono!, C-ute, Morning Musume) (, , , , , )

H!P Album 1

A special Hello! Project album, entitled チャンプル①~ハッピーマリッジソングカバー集,~ was released on 07.15.09. The album features various newly updated shuffle units from the various groups in Hello! Project: Morning Musume, C-ute, Berryz Koubou, Buono! and some eggs. All the songs on the album are covers.

The opening track of the album is ダイアモンド, sung by High King (Tanaka Reina, Takahashi Ai, Shimizu Saki, Yajima Maimi and Maeda Yuuka). The song begins with a cool sounding instrumental that soon quickens in pace and then the happy and sweet real sound of the song comes in, making the listener smile. There is kind of a wintery atmosphere to it which makes it all the more special. On the first verse, the vocals sound good with Reina really standing out. Everyone sounds good on the chorus with Reina and Ai shining the most although everyone definitely holds their own. It’s a great way to start things off with the leaders of the group along with front-girl and leader of High King, Reina as well as one of the stronger Hello Project Egg girls.

The girls of C-ute team up with Mano Erina for the second song, 愛は勝つ. Starting things off is a sweet instrumental driven by the piano. Everyone sounds so happy and cute when the first vocals come in and it really does fit the album’s theme. On the verses, the vocals are good although there are a little too many vocalizations that are held too long and the constant vocalizing in the background do grow to be annoying. Overall it’s sweet and cute although not as interesting as hoped.

Aa! is revitalized with a new line-up for the third song, YES-YES-YES! The new line-up features both Suzuki Airi and Natsuyaki Miyabe, who were in the original line-up. However Tanaka Reina was replaced with Akari Saho. The song starts off with a very pretty and simple instrumental that just feels very romantic. Those vocals are very smooth and suit the atmosphere of the song perfectly. The emotions just pour out on the chorus as they give stronger vocals and the music sounds more intense. The three girls did a great job on this one and it definitely is one the jewels of the album.

Mini Moni is given new life and a new line-up (Linlin [leader], Fukuda Kanon, Akari Takeuchi and Karin Miyamoto) for their song, てんとう虫のサンバ. The song opens up with a really cool upbeat instrumental that will make the listener want to dance along with everyone. On the first verse, the vocals carry such happiness and sweetness that will make the listener smile. It’s kind of hard to notice when the chorus comes in but once it does, it sounds quite nice although not as strong as the verses. It’s a shame that the song is so short because it’s definitely one of the strongest songs on the album. Plus it’s nice to have Linlin as leader of the group and get the attention she deserves.

Pucchimoni V (Nakajima Saki, Hagiawara Mai and Mano Erina) for the fifth song, 君がいるだけで. The song kicks off with a very pretty instrumental and then the chorus comes in, carrying the same sweetness like the other tracks. It does have a nice wedding feeling to it. On the first verse, there is a relaxing feeling to it that sounds nice. Basically it’s a nice track although it was just a little dull.

Tanaka Reina gets the chance to shine with her solo track, 部屋とYシャツと私. The song starts off with a really cool instrumental that has a sort of lulling effect to it. She sounds great on the first verse, her vocals supporting the beautiful sounds of the harp perfectly. The sound of water drops is also a nice touch and somehow gives the song a slightly more personal feeling. The chorus is so sweet and cute that the listener can’t help but love it. It’s a very pretty song and Reina brings it to life, giving something extra to make it feel more personal.

Niigaki Risa and Eri Kamei (of Morning Musume) team up for the next song, 守ってあげたい. Those opening vocals on the chorus sound angelic and really stand out to the listener. English phrases like “you don’t have to worry” and “cause I love you” really shine here. Then the instrumentation becomes slightly more diverse with the addition of a few new sounds and spices things up. Risa and Eri both sound very good here with the emotions definitely staying in their voices. It’s a very enjoyable song and only good have come with two of the strongest members of Morning Musume came together for a duet.

Takahashi Ai gets a solo song with 秋桜. A very enjoyable and pretty instrumental starts things off and there is a real connection to nature here that stands out nicely. Ai’s vocals carry a lot of emotion when she comes in on the first verse and it’s clear she understand the story of the song. She really sounds great on the chorus as she gives stronger vocals and the magic of the instrumentation meets her voice soothingly. She definitely brings her personal charm on the song and makes the listener want even more.

ZYX-a (Niigaki Risa [leader], Umeda Erika, Tsugunaga Momoko, Tokunaga Chinami, Maasa Sudou, Kusumi Koharu, Ayaka Wada and Saki Owagi) steps up to the plate with 未来予想図II. The song begins with a very pretty piano opening that easily catches the ear. Everyone sounds nice on the opening vocals although it would have been nice to have some solo parts. The chorus fits with the marriage theme very nicely and sounds very emotional, even somewhat sorrowful. Although there are a lot of girls in this unit, it would have been better if there were solo parts, mostly from Risa as leader.

ONLY YOU is delivered by Zoku Biyuuden (Michishige Sayumi, Junjun and Sugaya Risako). It’s one of the cooler songs with some rock influences to bring out the girls’ interesting and clever style. Although it’s not one of the stronger songs, it’s still a nice listen and it does get points for stepping away from the general sound of the album.

The fourth generation of Tanopopo (Eri Kamei, Mitsui Aika, Kumai Yurina and Okai Chisato) take on 赤いスイートピー.  Beginning the song is another sweet and calming instrumental that stands out nicely. All the girls of this unit sound great with their vocals suiting the sweetness of the music perfectly. It’s particularly cute when they sing “I will follow you” on the chorus and it really does fit the atmosphere of a wedding.

It was surprising to see Linlin get a solo but that’s exactly what she got with for you…The music is pretty and her vocals show a lot of vulnerability and emotion for the listener to hear. She really bring the song to its magical peak and with vocals like that, it’s a wonder why she doesn’t get more solo parts in Morning Musume songs.

Mano Erina teams up with another group, this time Berryz Koubou for 関白宣言. The instrumentation feels a little empty and the vocals aren’t anything particularly wow-worthy so the track just doesn’t stand as strongly as it should have.

Such a romantic song, 世界は二人のために, sung by Michishige Sayumi, Kusumi Koharu, Mitsui Aika and Junjun closes the album off nicely. It’s such a beautiful ballad and everyone brings their best to the table, letting the emotions of a wedding shine through. The title of the song fits it well since it feels like a song that was perfectly made to suit two people.

Album Ranking: B

Overall, this album was a nice package with the stars of Hello! Project coming together and switching up the usual groups to sing happily. It was nice to see the return of High King; Linlin got quite the attention she deserves, Reina and Ai shined on their solos and it was just an overall cute album. A little more variety in the songs they chose to cover would have been nice but still a good package.

Most Memorable Songs: ダイアモンド [High King] / てんとう虫のサンバ [Shin Mini Moni] / YES-YES-YES! [Aa!] / 秋桜 [Takahashi Ai] / 部屋とYシャツと私 [Tanaka Reina]

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Buono! – MY BOY [7th Single]

May 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm (Buono!) (, )

myboy

Buono!’s 7th single, entitled MY BOY, was released on 04.29.09. MY BOY was used as the new ending theme to the anime series Shugo Chara. ワープ! was used as the ending image song for Bowling Kakumei P League, sponsored by Pizza-la.

MY BOY really spices things up for the group and is probably their best song to date. The song starts off with a guitar, bringing in the rock instrumentation perfectly but there’s also an aggressive dance sound that catches the listener’s attention. It’s hard to describe but the girls’ vocals on the verses sound slightly different and in a very positive way. Perhaps the music brings out something inside them because they sound fantastic and catch the listener’s attention. The chorus stands out and it’s nice to hear the song stay smooth on a mature path rather than move into a cuter sound on the chorus. They also end the song nicely by singing “my boy.” That pure instrumental section is stellar as it spotlights the cool attitude of the song perfectly. MY BOY is a great song and a strong way to get into this group.

ワープ! takes on a futuristic feel to draw the listener in. Opening the song is a very cool and upbeat instrumental that has a sort of rocky feel to it, while still keeping those twinkling sounds to make it cute. Then the first verse starts and it sounds like such a Buono! song that the listener can sort of get into the Buono! mood. All the girls come together for the chorus and there’s something very loveable and sweet about their vocals that stand out. The pure instrumental section takes things in a slightly different way and manages to stand out particularly nicely. ワープ! is a pretty good song and although it does sound a lot like many of Buono!’s other songs, it’s still a nice listen.

In order to promote the single, a PV for MY BOY was made. It’s definitely different from the usual H!P videos. The girls are spies and their mission unfolds throughout the video. From the title it seems like they’re on the search for a boy or something but their objective is actually some cake. The dancing is nice although it could have been a little stronger. Nonetheless, it’s a good video and it fits the cool atmosphere of the song well.

Single Ranking: A –

The girls of Buono! outdid themselves this time since MY BOY is the most memorable song they have released thus far. The combination of a cool rock sound and an aggressive dance feel bring the listener to the point of addiction on this track. ワープ! has more of the traditional sound for this group but it’s still enjoyable. It’s good to see these girls get a mature track and hopefully they will be getting more in the future.

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Buono! – Buono! 2 [2nd Studio Album]

March 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm (Buono!) (, )

buono2

Buono!’s 2nd studio album, entitled Buono! 2, was released on 02.11.09. This album comes after the singles Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!, ガチンコでいこう!, ロッタラ ロッタラ and co・no・mi・chi.

The album begins with the happy and cute song, Early Bird. Opening the song is a very pretty and sparkly instrumental that seems very representative of the girls’ overall style. Then they sing the first verse and their vocals come together perfectly, staying cute without going over the edge. Throughout, the instrumentation actually is pretty addictive and has a way of getting into the listener’s mind. Much like the verses, the chorus stands out particularly because of the vocals. All three girls sound great together. The only thing that does get annoying is the little shouting in the background. The pure instrumental section is pretty cool as the guitar is spotlighted and brings out the slight rock tints in the song. Early Bird is cute and catchy, perfect for opening the album and keeping the listener’s attention.

Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! is the first single to hit the album. Generally, it sounds like all of the other singles but the chorus features the girls singing in a higher range than usual and it’s nice to hear them switch up it up, if just in that one aspect. It does kind of drag on because there is no particular standout moment but it works well enough.

The next new song is キラキラ. The opening instrumentation focuses on a heavier rock influence, which is definitely ear-catching and has a sort of aggressiveness to it. When the girls come in to sing, it’s slightly cuter but it still maintains that cool edge that makes the song so good. Admittedly, the chorus is a little disappointing. If the girls would have reached a little higher, it actually would have served as a positive contrast to the cool rock sound of the music. They actually do reach high once but they should have done it more often. This is a great song and one of the album’s strongest tracks.

The girls slow it down for the next song, 消失点 -Vanishing Point.- The opening instrumental has a very pretty charm to it but that charm comes even more strongly on the following chorus. They sing wonderfully and manage to bring out the emotions very strongly. The image of the moon is evoked through the music and it’s always nice to have a visual to be associated with the music. On the verses, the music stays interesting and becomes more mellow. The girls adapt to this change and the vocals are a little deeper, still staying with the atmosphere of the music. There is a little section of pure instrumentation following the second chorus and the guitar really takes the music to the next level. Once again, the girls bring the great quality and really show what they can do.

ロッタラ ロッタラ is the first in a line of three singles songs. Again, it bears a similarity to the rest of the single songs but there is a certain calming effect in this one that makes it slightly different from the others. It’s certainly one of the weaker songs on the album but it’s worth the listen if you’re a fan of the upbeat pop-rock sound that the girls tend to bring.

Next is co・no・mi・chi. Out of all the singles, this one is without a doubt the most memorable. The relaxing atmosphere of the song as well as the girls’ strong vocals combine to make it one heck of a performance. It also is nice because it shows a different side of the girls’ music from the usual pop-rock upbeat stuff.

The c/w track of the Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! single, みんなだいすき appears next. This is probably the cutest song on the album and unfortunately it does have a sort of generic H!P sound to it that really doesn’t catch the listener’s attention.

The eighth song on the album is I Need You. The song starts off on a very relaxing note before moving into the first verse. Their vocals are enjoyable and have that naturalness to them that suits the music perfectly. It’s actually these slight different moments in the instrumentation that make the verses so enjoyable. What’s really strange is that suddenly, the music becomes quickly-paced and high-energy on the chorus. There is absolutely no transition between the two so it definitely comes as a surprise to the listener. The pure instrumental section is definitely one of the standout moments of the song as the guitar keeps the cool feel while maintaining the energy. I Need You isn’t a bad song but it feels a little messy because of the lack of transition between the verses and chorus.

ガチンコでいこう! is an upbeat and exciting poppish number that has that usual Buono! sound. It’s nothing stellar, vocally or instrumentally, but it’s somewhat enjoyable. One thing that can be said about the song is that it does sound better in the context of the album than during its release as a single.

Up next is You’re My Friend. The song opens up with a very Buono!-like instrumentation, featuring some rock tints to spice up the pop sound. They sound great on the first verse and they really shine when they sing “you’re my friend.” There is something very personable and likeable about that one phrase that catches the listener’s ear. Even though there isn’t much of a vocal or instrumental change on the chorus, it still sounds good and manages to keep the listener’s interest. The pure instrumental section is a little boring but overall, it’s nice. It may not be the greatest song on the album but it’s definitely worth the listen.

The album’s semifinale is Over The Rainbow. Opening the song is a pretty and almost magical instrumental, which suits the title of the song perfectly. Then comes the first verse and the vocals are great as the girls are able to reach the higher notes with smooth ease. Thus the atmosphere of the song comes through strongly. The chorus takes a slightly different turn as there is more of a cute feeling to it, which is a little disappointing since there is a certain emotional aspect to the verses that would have pushed for a great chorus. As usual, the pure instrumental section features the guitar coming in to spice up the music. Even though the chorus could have been better, Over The Rainbow is still a great song that finds its place on Buono! 2.

ゴール is the final song on the album. The song begins with a rock filled instrumental and the vocals seem a little out of place with such an aggressive quality to the music. Luckily, the music lets up a little bit and becomes lighter, better supporting the girls’ vocals. The chorus picks up the energy and happiness that would be appropriate for an H!P closing album song. Following is a little pure instrumental section and it sounds like the music is breaking almost and despite being a little weird, it’s absolutely addictive and probably the best part of the entire song. This song is a pretty good closing number. It wasn’t the most interesting song on the album but certain moments of instrumentation really made the song shine.

Album Ranking: A –

Buono! really surprised me with this album and you should all give them the chance to do it to you too. Don’t be fooled by the similar sounding instrumentals of the single tracks, the album offers quite a selection of interesting sounds. 消失点 -Vanishing Point- is one of the album highlights since it proves that the girls can hadnle slow numbers and communicate emotion well. Early Bird and キラキラ are also memorable numbers and keep the girls niche. It’s definitely a solid album and might come as a surprise to others.

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Buono! – co•no•mi•chi [6th Single]

January 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm (Buono!) (, )

cono

Buono!’s 6th single, entitled co•no•mi•chi, was released on 01.21.09. The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime series Shugo Chara!

co•no•mi•chi is a catchy pop number that will make the listener smile. The song begins with the chorus. There is a very pretty and cute pop instrumental that supports the girls’ voices nicely and establishes a clear atmosphere for the listener. Then a few rock influences work their way in before the first verse starts. On the verses, there is more of a mellow feeling and the instrumentation remains interesting enough to keep the listener. They are actually stronger than the chorus because they have more of a mature feeling, which is not something that usually comes through Buono!’s music. The pure instrumental section puts those rock tints to the forefront and make for a great dance section. Overall, co•no•mi•chi is probably the girls’ strongest song to date and definitely one to listen to.

The B-side of the single is 無敵の∞Power. This song is more of Buono!’s usual style, going with the cute and happy atmosphere. It’s an okay track and it was expected that this sound would take over the B-side but it would have been nice to hear something new.

In order to promote the single, a PV for co•no•mi•chi was made. Fitting with the title of the song, the girls are seeing walking along a road through different places (the jungle, the arctic, England, etc.). The main road is just a street road in the middle of nowhere, which they dance on. This video may not be the most interesting but it does fit with the title of the song.

Single Ranking: B +

Buono!’s new single was a pleasant surprise. The A-side had more of a mature vibe than usual, which really suited the girls’ vocals well. Even though the B-side was a pretty generic, the single still had a good overall package. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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[Part Four] Oricon Year Top Singles

December 9, 2008 at 5:10 pm (AAA, Aira Mitsuki, alan, Amuro Namie, Angela Aki, Aoyama Thelma, Arashi, ayaka, Berryz Koubou, BoA, BONNIE PINK, Buono!, C-ute, Crystal Kay, Fukui Mai, GIRL NEXT DOOR, Hamasaki Ayumi, Hey! Say! JUMP, Hirahara Ayaka, Ishida Yuko, Ito Yuna, Jyongri, KAT-TUN, Kawashima Ai, KinKi Kids, Kitahara Aiko, Kobukuro, Koda Kumi, Kuraki Mai, Leah Dizon, MEG, MilkyWay, Misia, Morning Musume, Nakashima Mika, NEWS, Otsuka Ai, Perfume, Shibasaki Kou, Shiraishi Kikyo, SMAP, Suzuki Ami, Tackey & Tsubasa, Takasugi Satomi, Tanimura Nana, Tegomasu, Tohoshinki, TOKIO, Utada Hikaru, V6) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

mnsb2

Well there have been a lot of singles out this year. Some of them have been amazing and have made me fall in love with certain artists while others made me feel very disappointed. Which single took the number one spot? How many Johnny’s singles and H!P singles made the countdown? You’ll have to continue to find out.

mnsb1Hey! Say! JUMP has definitely impressed me this year, much more than I thought they would. I can’t even describe just how great their music has been but I’ll try anyway. The group’s fourth single, 真夜中のシャドーボーイ, wins title of “Single of Oricon Year 2008.” If there is one thing that these guys know how to do it, it’s make an upbeat single that makes the listener take notice. 真夜中のシャドーボーイ uses Spanish and Arabian themes to push their instrumentation over everyone elses. Except for Kei, Keito and Ryutaro, everybody has a real turn to shine. Yamada, Daiki, Nakajima and Chinen all have this center role (Yamada having the actual center role) since this song was used to promote their new drama Scrap Teacher so it was nice to see different people getting the time to shine. Everything about the song was perfect. With the constant repetition of the word “チェリー,” the listener is taken to another world. These boys really pull off the mature sound strongly and Chinen’s voice sounds different on this song than the others ones. Daiki, Nakajima, Yabu and Takaki all sound great too. With the multitude of live performances the song has gotten, the guys have looked hot and they sing the song with such confidence. It’s an amazing single that reigns above all the others so they should be very proud to have “Single of the Year.”

It was very hard to choose a first place winner and this single was so close to taking the top spot. Second place though kumitaboocddvdis something to be proud of too though and the runner up for “Single of the Year” goes to Koda Kumi with TABOO. After the controversy, Kumi went for a more conservative approach with MOON. However there’s something magical about Kumi when she does the sexy thing. She exutes confidence and it really makes for an enjoyable time when you can get up and move with Kuu. TABOO is the sexy anthem of 2008 as Kumi provides smooth vocals that lay over the hot instrumental. The verses are what make this song so addictive, particularly the last lines when she sings “drive away.” Kumi uses a certain cleverness with these lyrics using various metaphors to describe secret love and they come across to the listener perfectly. Plus I’m sure this single has given many others faith that Kumi will always have that sexiness in her because people have been worried that it’s been declining. Always is a nice compliment to the A-side even though it’s pretty forgettable. TABOO is the hot dance track that Kumi delivered and is just too good to pass up. Even the PV for the song was perfect. They really made sure this would be a strong single from all angles. This song single-handedly has me assured that TRICK will not be an album to forget.

cantstopthediscocddvdThird place was also really close to nabbing that top spot. The moment I heard the title track, I was instantly addicted and I knew the album that would soon follow would be amazing. That is why third place goes to Suzuki Ami with can’t stop the DISCO. It’s no secret that Ami and Nakata make a dream team because every single they release together just shines. I loved ONE but the moment I heard can’t stop the DISCO, I fell in love with the team. I first heard the chorus when it was used for the Mister Donuts CM and couldn’t get enough of it. But then when I heard the verses…I was blown away.  Ami really pulls off the cool vibe here and she’s given me one of the most addictive lines of 2008: me to me no kakehiki (love tactics). I can’t get enough of this song and it’s definitely one of the highlights of Supreme Show. Even the B-sides were amazing: climb up to the top and SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A Mix) were extremely strong numbers that helpe make this one cohesive single from start to finish (and that includes having each song have perfect transition into the next).

In case it wasn’t clear already, Hey! Say! JUMP has put out some fantastic music this year. So does it really come as a yssurprise that they have two singles in the top 5 best singles of 2008? I didn’t think so. Hey! Say! JUMP takes fourth place as well for their 3rd single, Your Seed / 冒険ライダー. It was with this single that I officially became a fan of these guys. Your Seed is the first time they really brought a mature song and the difference from Dreams come true shocked me. Everyone sounded great on this song and the rap section is absolutely infectious. I still haven’t found out who is doing that but the first person that came to mind was Nakajima. Was it actually him? Probably not but ya never know. It’s hard to really put my love for this song into words so let’s just say everything about this song was perfect. Not one thing could have made it any better. 冒険ライダー also had a kind of mature sound while having that fun-loving breezy atmosphere that just makes you wanna smile. I particularly like the chorus when all the boys come together and harmonize so perfectly. Also Yabu shines on his few solo lines before the final chorus so good job to him. So it’s the single that made me a Hey! Say! JUMP fan and one of the best releases of the entire year! The boys are on fire!!!

singles5Johnny’s Entertainment was definitely on a roll at the beginning of the year. NEWS’s first single of the year, 太陽のナミダ, comes in fifth place of Single of the Year. The title track uses Spanish and Arabian influences to really make the instrumentation addictive. Everybody sounded great on the song and personally, Massu’s voice stood out a little more than everyone else’s. Nonetheless, everyone sounded fantastic and their vocals really were smooth over the instrumental. バンビーナ and Lady Spider were also amazing, really catching my ear. It was actually Lady Spider that made me a real fan of NEWS because it just really sparkled in my eyes. It’s so catchy and one that could have been an A-side. バンビーナ really shows the sexy side of the boys. The lyrics have that dirty edge to them and they might even make you blush. Tegoshi can friggin sing and if you had any doubts about it, listen to バンビーナ. They did a magnificent job on this single and it’s certainly not one to pass up. As an overall package, it’s their strongest single to date so give it a listen if you haven’t already and fall in love with these boys like I did.

Suzuki Ami and Nakata really are the dream team. can’t stop the DISCO was amazing as was this year’s 6th best single, amisuzukionecddvdONE. The moment I heard ONE, I was addicted and I began following Ami thereafter. The song features a more aggressive instrumental with some perfect vocals from Ami to give it that extra flavor. When the song first opens, we are treated to the best part of the entire song: キラキラの the one. This one line makes the song fantastic but the rest of the song nicely follows this section. The chorus also stands out with the English phrases like “I love music and this world” and “I love your smile.” It’s absolutely perfect in every way so it’s the perfect way to introduce the formal come together of Ami and Nakata. Originally the B-side, A token of love, did not really impress me but after giving it some time, I fell in love with it. A token of love also features that aggressive sound that supports Ami so perfectly. I really like that last line of the chorus, the title of the song, because she says it with such edge and sleekness that it sticks in your head. Plus that ending instrumental sequence is fantastic, really standing out to the listener. Overall, this is definitely one of the strongest singles of the year, without question. It shows Ami’s cool side and is the perfect product of the dream team.

singles7alan has had a smash year with her Element Project. Each single repesented one of the 5 Godai elements and the best one to emerge of the five: 空唄. The title track is a beautiful upbeat song in which alan claims she can fly away. I think because this is the real upbeat number chosen to be an A-side, it stands out from all the other singles she has released. It really portrays the element of the sky well and lets the listener believe what she is singing. If you want even more amazingness, then turn to the B-side, My Stage. This is definitely alan’s most cheery and infectious song because the instrumentation is so light and heavenly, prompting the listener to just smile while listening. Honestly, I think I would have preferred My Stage to be the A-side since it’s a real standout in alan’s discography. I hope that she’ll be doing a similar song to this on her album…whenever that will be coming out. It shows the versatility of alan as an artist and proves that she can do music closer to mainstream music while still having that special touch that only alan can bring.

Perfume also had a strong year, releasing various singles that showed Perfume’s quirky and fun nature. However they singles8really stood out when they released Baby cruising love / マカロニ. They’re really the best examples of electrpop ballads as the instrumentation is strong and the girls’ voices suit them perfectly. Baby cruising love was nice because it still had traces of that unforgettable Nakata aggressiveness. However the real star of the single and the reason it placed so high on this chart was because of マカロニ. It is the prime example of how to slow down an electropop song and still maintain the quality. There is such a relaxing and natural atmosphere about this song that when I listen to it, I can just smile and drift off into another world. And having an emotional connection with a song just makes it all the better, which is why this is Perume’s best song to date. It was released at the end of the winter and I can see that there are some wintery traces hidden in the instrumentation. I’m hoping that the girls will bring another strong song like this for their next album, which looks to be strong looking at the singles released thus far. Good lucks girls and I hope the future brings you luck!

24If you want the best winter song released this year then you definitely have to look at 24 Xmas Time by Kuraki Mai. I was blown away when I first heard the song because there is something so natural and fun about this song that I can’t help but love. The song kind of goes back to her older style with songs like Love, Day After Tomorrow, which is always a good thing because I adore that song. Okay, let’s be truthful, the song isn’t that wintery or Christmas-like but that’s okay because it’s just a fantastic song. The verses are what make it so addictive and those moments where the instrumentation changes to set up Mai for a strong line (such as my favorite line in the whole song which translates to “kyou mo, watashi wa sekushii.” The B-side was nice, although a little generic but it compliments the whole wintery theme of the single nicely. I can’t believe Mai put out such a great single after a few that were questionable. I’m already anticipating her new album, touch Me!, because of this one song.

I love Tanimura Nana. She’s talented; she’s fun and she’s ready to go! Her 10th single, If I’m not the one / SEXY singles10SENORITA, featured two different songs that show off two different sides to her. If I’m not the one is a very beautiful ballad with Nana lamenting that she needs to know if she can’t be her admired’s one and only. She really portrays her emotions strongly and it keeps the listener focused and sympathetic towards her. However the star song on this single is SEXY SENORITA, a fun song that shows off Nana’s sexy and playful side. Her vocals here are strong and the chorus stands out proudly. She portrays attitude and sass, which is perfect for making the listener believe her. I really like the English phrases such as “call me, call me” and “crazy crazy.” I’m still waiting for an album to be released from her since I know I’m going to love it but she’s going to school (she’s attending one of the most prestigious law schools in Japan so go Nana!) so I can’t blame her. I just want any piece of news of a new release soon and it better be an album. Congratulations Nana for being such a threat with your fourth single, If I’m not the one / SEXY SENORITA, which rounds out our top 10.

11. Misia – Catch The Rainbow [Digital Release]

12. Morning Musume – ペッパー警部

13. Leah Dizon – Love Paradox

14. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 II

15. alan – 風の手紙

16. Perfume – Dream Fighter

17. Tohoshinki – 呪文  -Mirotic-

18. Arashi – One Love

19. Morning Musume – リゾナント ブルー

20. Ito Yuna – miss you

21. Koda Kumi – anytime

22. Perfume – love the world

23. Tanimura Nana – JUNGLE DANCE

24. V6 – 蝶

25. Kinki Kids – Secret Code

26. NEWS – SUMMER TIME

27. Leah Dizon – Vanilla

28. Aira Mitsuki – チャイナ・ディスコティカ

29. Berryz Koubou – 行け 行け モンキーダンス

30. alan – 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~

31. MEG – HEART

32. AAA – MIRAGE

33. Ishida Yuko – Changes

34. Hey! Say! JUMP – Dreams come true

35. Tohoshinki – Runaway / My Girlfriend

36. Tohoshinki – If…?! / Rainy Night

37. Tohoshinki – Purple Line

38. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION / Stay Gold

39. Tegomass – アイアイ傘

40. Takasugi Satomi – ありがとう

41. Ito Yuna – 恋は groovy x2

42. BONNIE PINK – Ring A Bell

43. Shiraishi Kikyo – again

44. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK

45. Shimatani Hitomi – 泣きたいなら

46. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと

48. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~

49. Amuro Namie – 60s70s80s

50. Berryz Koubou – MADAYADE

51. Nakashima Mika – ORION

52. Crystal Kay – 涙のさきに

53. Jyongri – Winter Love Story

54. C-ute – 涙の色

55. Kuraki Mai – 夢が咲く春 / You and Music and Dream

56. Arashi – Step and Go

57. Arashi – Beautiful days

58. V6 – LIGHT IN YOUR HEART / Swing!

59. AAA – MUSIC!!! / ZERO

60. Aoyama Thelma – 守りたいもの

61. Koda Kumi – MOON

62. NEWS – Happy Birthday

63. Kitahara Aiko – その笑顔よ 永遠に

64. Shibasaki Kou – よくある話~喪服の女編~

65. Milky Way –  タンタンターン!

66. Kuraki Mai – 一秒ごとに Love for you

67. C-ute – FOREVER LOVE

68. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星

69. Aira Mitsuki – ロボットハニー

70. ayaka – おかえり

71. Utada Hikaru – Prisoner of Love

72. Shimatani Hitomi – WAKE YOU UP / 雨の日には 雨の中を 風の日には 風の中を / Marvelous

73. Hirahara Ayaka – 孤独の向こう

74. Milky Way – アナタボシ

75. alan – 恵みの雨

76. BoA – be with you.

77. BoA – VIVID

78. Fukui Mai – アイのうた

79. V6 – VIBES

80. Hirahara Ayaka – さよなら 私の夏

81. EXILE – LAST CHRISTMAS

82. Tohoshinki – Close to you / Crazy Life

83. Nishino Kana – Style

84. Arashi – truth / 風の向こうへ

85. KAT-TUN – White Xmas

86. GIRL NEXT DOOR – Drive away / 幸福の条件

87. GIRL NEXT DOOR – 偶然の確率

88. TOKIO – 雨傘 / あきれるくらい 僕らは願おう

89. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you / 千年恋歌

90. SMAP – そのまま / White Message

91. Angela Aki – 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ

92.Tackey & Tsubasa – 恋詩-コイウタ / PROGRESS

93. AAA – BEYOND~カラダノカナタ

94. Kawashima Ai – カケラ / Flag

95. SMAP – この瞬間, きっと夢じゃない

96. EXILE – The Birthday ~Ti Amo~

97. Buono! – ガチンコでいこう!

98. Berryz Koubou – ジンギスカン

99. Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

100. Buono! – ロッタラ ロッタラ 

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[Part One] From The Girls Of H!P

December 6, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Berryz Koubou, Buono!, C-ute, MilkyWay, Morning Musume) (, , , , , )

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Well it’s been another year of ups and downs, hits and misses from the girls of H!P. We’ve had albums, singles and DVD releases and there has been some amazing music to come out. So which group reigned the queens of H!P? Well just take a look at the picture above.

hip2This year, Morning Musume wins the title of “Queens of H!P.” They’ve released two singles and one cover album, standing out above all the rest. Both リゾナント ブルー and ペッパー警部 are addictive tracks that show that cool mature side of the girls, which always makes for good moments. Even though these singles did not garner particularly strong sales, they definitely deserved them since these two singles are some of the best the girls have ever released. Their recently released cover album featured some fantastic songs such as 渚のシンドバッド, どうにもとまらない, 居酒屋 and UFO. These songs really made this album stand out and Pink Lady should be proud as the girls definitely did them proud. I was hoping that the girls would release an original studio album but I suppose we’ll have to wait next year for that. This year has been good to MoMoSu in terms of PVs. Each video nicely showed off the girls’ mature side and featured some awesome dancing. I can’t even anticipate what we’ll be getting next year but I hope there continues to be strong videos. I’ve really enjoyed Reina Tanaka, who officially takes the spot as my favorite Morning Musume girl. She was the looks, the voice and the personality, all of which really make her a star. I look forward to seeing her grow even more as a person in this group. But it wouldn’t be the same without all of these girls and all of them come together to form the amazingness that is Morning Musume. They are definitely the stars of the year and I can’t even anticipate what they will bring in 2009!

The runners-up for “Queens of H!P” are without a doubt, C-ute! These girls released four fantastic singles and one c-utealbum. The three singles released after the album were all fantastic: 涙の色 (which took on a Spanish twist), 江戸の手毬唄 II (which took on the sweet and fun sound, emerging as the group’s best single) and FOREVER LOVE (which featured a mature rock sound). Their A-sides continue to prove that C-ute is a very talented group of girls who can definitely take on different styles with ease. Although their B-sides are a little similar in that they go for the cute traditional H!P sound, they’re not going to be on the album so it’s okay. So why don’t they get title of “Queens of H!P?” The album wasn’t as strong as hoped for. With all the mature songs they’ve been doing, I was hoping that the album would be in a similar vain but sadly I was wrong. Hopefully the girls’ next one (which is set for a January release) will feature that sound that made me fall for them in the first place. The album is packed with fantastic singles and the title makes me think we’ll be getting one strong album so I hope I’m right. As for PVs, this group has had some strong ones but what it all boils down to is that these girls can dance. Each video (涙の色 and FOREVER LOVE in particular) showed off these girls’ dancing skills. Hopefully next year will feature even more strong dancing from C-ute to match some strong songs.

bzThird in line is Berryz Koubou. Well they had some amazingly catchy songs this year such as 行け 行け モンキーダンス, HAPPY! stand up, REAL LOVE, MADAYADE and  フラれパターン, which made me pay attention to these girls. I think that if you’re looking for a fun and happy group to listen to, Berryz Koubou is it. And perhaps that’s why they didn’t take the crown this year. These girls have more of a young and happy image rather than putting out those strong mature numbers that make me stand up and really see diversity. However I can say that their album this year was stronger than C-ute’s so perhaps next year, they will pull ahead for the title. Berryz Koubou’s videos…well they’re…fun. They weren’t as engaging as videos from MoMoSu or C-ute but they did show off the girls’ personality, which is always a good thing. When these girls really dig deep to bring those mature songs, they shine so I’m hoping that their next release features this kind of style. They don’t have anything set to be released in 2009 yet (while other groups do) but I’m guessing that we’ll be hearing official word from Tsunku in no time at all. I think it’s nice that these girls are having kind of a different sound than the other groups at H!P but at the same time, I hope to see a little more variety and mature music coming from them in 2009. However I suppose that request should be aimed at Tsunku rather than the girls so Tsunku, make everyone see the true power of Berryz Koubou!

Fourth place goes to Milky Way. Why you ask? Well to be honest, it’s pretty much based off of ガムシャララ (the B-side of the girlsmilky_way_002‘ second single). This song is extremely addictive and definitely should have been given A-side privileges. The girls’ other songs have been enjoyable too but none so like ガムシャララ. アナタボシ did a nice job of bringing Irish sounds into the mix, which definitely stands out from the rest of the H!P music this year and タンタンターン! is a very enjoyable song with a more relaxing feeling. Well there really isn’t much to say about these girls since they debuted this year and only released two singles. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them in the future and I really do hope the other two girls get a little more attention because as of now, Koharu has been getting all the spotlight. Okay, she is the leader but that doesn’t mean everyone can get a fair part. It honestly feels Koharu featuring the other two girls, when it should be all three girls together. Nonetheless, I look forward to what they will be bringing in the future and I hope it will be as awesomeness as ガムシャララ.

buonoFinally we come to fifth place with Buono! Truthfully, the music the girls have been putting is a little too similar for my tastes. All their singles are related to the anime series Shugo Chara! so maybe they should stray away from that in order to have more variety to their music. If you’re looking for that cute traditional H!P sound, then these girls are your ticket. It’s kind of a shame because these girls do have some nice voices but it gets really annoying to feel like once you’ve heard one of their songs, you’re listening to their discography. If Tsunku is reading this, then I’m asking you to give these girls some more variety. One thing that I can about these girls is that they are active. In the course of the year, they’ve released 5 singles and an album, which I believe makes them the group which was released the most this year from H!P. Had this been Morning Musume of C-ute, I would have been even more excited. Let’s hope we get some diversity in 2009 from these girls.

Oh H!P, you’ve been good to us this year, particularly with Morning Musume and C-ute. It’s no surprise that Morning Musume won the title “Queens of H!P” since they put out two fantastic singles (three overall) as well as a strong cover album. I’m very much anticipating their new single, which is set to be released the last week of January. C-ute and Berryz Koubou also did well this year and had thir albums been stronger, they would have been closer to that title (especially C-ute who was really close). Milky Way and Buono! did okay but hopefully they’ll show to me their real skills in 2009. This has been all from the girls of H!P in 2008! Let’s look forward to an even stronger year in 2009!

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Buono! – ロッタラ ロッタラ [5th Single]

November 11, 2008 at 11:55 pm (Buono!) (, )

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Buono!’s 5th single, entitled ロッタラ ロッタラ , was released on 11.12.08. The title track was used as the first ending theme for the anime Shugo Chara!! Doki.

ロッタラ ロッタラ is a fun song that makes the listener want to smile. The song starts off with a very catchy instrumental that evokes a cool and fun atmosphere. Once the first verse comes in, the girls’ vocals go perfectly with the rock-tinted music and it’s very cute when they sing the title of the song in the background. The chorus is nice although it definitely could have been stronger had their been an instrumental change or the girls’ vocals showed more power. The pure instrumental section really does stand out as the rock edge is spotlighted when the guitar is given a powerful solo. ロッタラ ロッタラ  is actually really catchy even though the chorus falls a little flat.

マイラブ is the single’s B-side. Strangely enough, this song has the more aggresive instrumental that should have made for an addictive song but the overall quality is a bit lackluster. The girls’ vocals aren’t particularly strong and the music just loses its edge when they are singing. At least the pure instrumental section has a little more flavor but not much. It’s not a great song and it’s not a very good addition to the single.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ロッタラ ロッタラ was made. The video is absolutely horrible, just featuring the girls in a room dancing. It doesn’t even come across as being cute, just strange.

Single Ranking: B

While ロッタラ ロッタラ is a nice and catchy song, マイラブ is pretty boring. The A-side carries the single nicely though and deserves a listen.

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Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! [3rd Single]

September 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm (Buono!) (, )

Buono!’s 3rd single, entitled Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!, was 05.14.08. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! was used as the third ending theme for the anime series Shugo Chara! while the B-side was used as the second theme for the same anime.

Kiss! Kiss! KIss! is an upbeat happy song. The song starts off with a very pretty upbeat rock instrumental that gives a very hopeful and happy feeling and then the first verse starts. The vocals have a certain cuteness to them that just works with the music and the carefree spirit found in the song’s atmosphere. The chorus is nice as the girls sing a little higher and the instrumentation becomes a little more involved than from the verses. On the second verse, the music takes on a different sound with a traditional feeling. Even the harmonica comes out to play with the girls’ voices. It comes back out on the pure instrumental section and it’s just so interesting and memorable that the listener just falls in love with this part of the song before the hook comes back in.

みんなだいすき, serves as the single’s B-side. The song opens with a catchy and sweet poppish instrumental with rock tints to make it stand out. On the first verse, the girls’ vocals move very well with the music and there’s still thta happy element to the song that catches the listener’s ear. The chorus is a little lacking but it’s cute, which is what they were going for. Sections of pure instrumentation are this song’s strongest points and allow the listener moments of sheer bliss. Overall it’s a step down from the A-side but it’s a nice song.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! was made. The video is pretty simple and cute, featuring the girls as schoolgirls just having fun in the classroom and the halls. It’s certainly colorful and pretty so it’s a nice watch every now and then.

Single Ranking: B +

Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! and みんなだいすき both take on slight rock tints in order to create interesting instrumentals for the listener to enjoy. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! is the stronger song as the girls’ voices as well as the interesting presence of the instrumentation create an atmosphere that is addictive. The girls’ first single of the year ended on a pretty good note.

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Buono! – ガチンコでいこう! [4th Single]

September 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm (Buono!) (, )

Buono!’s 4th single, entitled ガチンコでいこう!, was released on 08.20.08. The title track was used as the fourth ending theme for the anime series Shugo Chara!

ガチンコでいこう! is a song quite similar to previous single A-side, Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Opening the song is an upbeat poppish instrumental with rock tints, quite similar to Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! The first verse comes in and the vocals are nice, going with the instrumentation nicely and when the music takes backhand to the girls’ voices, then it’s really enjoyable. The chorus is a little lacking as it doesn’t have that certain spark that Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! and there’s no harmonica to stand out in the instrumentation. There is a certain out-of-this-world quality that comes through the pure instrumental section and it’s a very nice touch. This song is nice but it feels like a watered down version of their last single.

れでぃぱんさぁ is a much stronger song. The song starts off with a more upbeat and sleek instrumental that instantly catches the listener’s ear. On the first verses, the girls sound fantastic here, suiting the more mature sound of the song perfectly. The certain rapidity with which they sing the lyrics really works in the song’s favor and makes it stand out. The chorus is a bit of a let down after such strong verses and had the instrumentation had a little more variety for that section, it would have standed out more. The pure instrumental section is wonderful as the guitar comes out to play strongly. This song definitely should have been the A-side because it’s so much mature and catchy.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ガチンコでいこう! was made. The video features the girls just hanging around doing things such as stacking blocks and throwing darts as well as a dance section worth checking out. It’s not a great video but it matches the happy atmosphere of the song.

Single Ranking: B

Buono!’s fourth single is nice although the A-side from this single sounds like a re-hashed version of Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Had the A-side been れでぃぱんさぁ, the listener could have fallen in love with this single more easily.

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