[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) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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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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MilkyWay – タンタンターン! [2nd Single]

October 31, 2008 at 5:00 pm (MilkyWay) (, )

Milky Way’s 2nd single, entitled タンタンターン!, was released on 10.29.08. The title track was used as the seventh opening theme for Kirarin Revolution while the B-side was used as the eleventh opening theme for the same anime.

タンタンターン! is a sweet cute number. The song starts off with a twinkling and happy instrumentation that gives off a dreamy and magical feeling for the listener to enjoy. Then the first verse starts and the vocals sound very enjoyable here managing to keep the softness to support the music while giving enough strength to show what these girls can do. The chorus could have been a little stronger had there been a more dramatic instrumental change but it’s still enjoyable, particularly when they sing the title of the song. One of the strongest parts of the entire song is the pure instrumental section, which just sounds so pretty and light-hearted that the listener can’t help but fall in love with it. This title track is quite enjoyable and a step up from their last A-side.

The c/w track is ガムシャララ. Opening the song is part of the chorus and there is a slight mature element to the music and the girls’ vocals that the listener can pick up on right away. On the verses, the girls’ vocals continue to be strong as they hold the last notes of certain words with ease. The music has a slightly dark atmosphere to it and it makes for an interesting compliment to the lightness that the girls’ usually go for. The pure instrumental section is absolutely fantastic as the guitar is spotlighted for the listener to fall in love with. By taking a different sound, ガムシャララ emerges as an immediately addictive song that could have served as the A-side.

In order to promote the single, a PV for タンタンターン! was made. The video is really simple, featuring the girls dancing in the area from the covers. They look cute but there really should have been more going to capture the viewer.

Single Ranking: A

MIlky Way certainly turned things up for their 2nd single. タンタンターン! is a cute song that holds the pretty element so well while ガムシャララ has a slightly darker atmosphere that really stands out to the listener.

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MilkyWay – アナタボシ [Debut Single]

October 31, 2008 at 5:00 pm (MilkyWay) (, )

MilkyWay’s debut single, entitled アナタボシ, was released on 04.30.08. The title track was used as the sixth opening theme for Kirarin Revolution while the c/w was used as the tenth ending theme for the same anime series.

アナタボシ takes on some Irish sounds in order to make it stand out. The song starts off with an upbeat and cute instrumentation fueled by Irish instruments to make a smooth transition into the first verse. The girls’ vocals sound very cute nice here and are a little bit deep, which makes them stand all the more. On the chorus, the instrumentation becomes more energetic and the girls’ vocals give more energy to match.  The song is quite catchy and definitely worth checking out.

サンサン GOGO is this single’s c/w. The song begins with a nice midtempo instrumentation, driven by slight rock tints. On the first verse, the girls’ vocals are great and go quite nicely with the music. The chorus is nice but it could have been stronger because the music was just a little too simple to really make it stand out. Luckily the pure instrumental section made a very strong impression giving off the atmosphere of a cold and deserted world. It’s actually a pretty catchy song and has its strong moments that can be enjoyed.

In order to promote the single, a PV for アナタボシ was made. As usual, the video is nothing to go crazy over but there is a cute atmosphere that matches the song’s atmosphere.

Single Ranking: B +

The Irish sounds of アナタボシ are what made this single really stand out and the B-side was an enjoyable song too, which made the single an enjoyable package.

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