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A Year In Review Part 3: ○○○48

So, the Aki-P family. This year has seen them transcend the definition of idol and become a public sensation. AKB, the focal point, has decimated just about everyone except Johnny's and EXILE in terms of sales, and even then they're still winning, just not quite decimating.

The review will be, however, everything with a PV and any stage songs I particularly like from this year. As AKB don't do "albums" per se, just stage CDs, I can't really review them as commercially available albums. Likewise, the re-release of SETLIST and Kamikyokutachi are best ofs, not really albums in any sense of the word, so they ain't getting reviewed either.

Due to the sheer amount of subgroups, I'm putting them at the end, after I've reviewed the ***48 groups.

Right then, let's start with "those lot".




AKB48

Since RIVER basically destroyed the charts last October, AKB have been in rapid ascent. 5 singles (each with 3 or more PVs...), all selling in excess of 350k.

I'll start with singles.

Firstly, Sakura no Shiori. A beautiful song, really.



The use of choirs and call and response is frankly pulled off well. Definitely not something you'd expect to see doing well on the chart, let alone getting No1. The music is minimal and lacks energy, but with 50 people chanting over the top it didn't really need it. In fact, if it had, probably would have been so overboard it'd be bad. Unless of course it was epic power metal or something. I'm imagining Blind Guardian with 50 people... Hmm, come to think of it, Hansi probably uses more vocal tracks than that anyway. Harmonies are good. The PV is lacklustre. They look nice in their kimono/hakama things, but the dance bits are shit. Would be better just following them around the locations.

8/10

Majisuka Rock 'n' Roll



This is a fun song. Nice and rockish, upbeat, good companion piece to the drama. Complete opposite of Sakura, which is nice, shows they're willing to switch things up a bit. Acchan's intro and outro annoy me with the megaphone sound and brief but shitty Engrish. PV is cool, decent intro to the setting, and the costumes for the drama were frankly awesome. Maybe I like violent girls... Nachu steals every damn moment she's in it, being as random and funny as she is. Only thing missing is a damn loud "ATSU-NEE!" which is probably the sole reason for them doing Majijo Teppen Blues, but more on that later.

8/10

Enkyori Poster



Team PB's Cside, featuring Kashiwagi Yuki, Miyazawa Sae, Miyazaki Miho, Oota Aika, Nito Moeno, Takajo Aki and Maeda Ami. Some of my favourites in there, so my expectations are high. It's a damn happy song, in that it makes even me smile sometimes. Singing isn't that great, but then, that's not really the point. PV is cute and let's them show off their magazine fashion shoot poses, which is the point considering PB stands for Playboy (as opposed to YJ which was Young Jump). Sae, Akicha and Myao certainly manage to catch the attention in the PV. All in all, not bad.

7/10

Choose Me!

Team YJ's song, featuring Kasai Tomomi, Kitahara Rie, Nakagawa Haruka, Minegishi Minami, Sashihara Rino, Kuramochi Asuka and Kikuchi Ayaka. As I mentioned before, this is for Young Jump, IIRC, so is it similar to PB's in style?



Um, no. Music sounds something like some 80s glam metal band would do if they melded with Duran Duran or Soft Cell or something else 80s with major levels of cheesy synths. Not bad, but certainly interesting. PV is cool. The random dance in school uniforms on a beach is cute. Chorus is damn catchy. I like the way the PV's been shot, with a blue filter or something to make it look "cold". Miichan's tears at the end look delicious. Overall it's catchy and interesting enough to get a decent rating.

6/10

Ponytail to Chouchou



The name of this song is annoying. Engrish is bad, but mangled French? Songwise it's not bad. Not great either, to be honest, but happy enough and with enough melody to not suck. The PV is cute and amusing, especially all the suggested nudity. Fourth wall breakage is epic by Miichan, Yuko and Akicha. Bikinis are, of course, appreciated. Headbanging Yuko is lulz. Final chorus buildup is actually pretty awesome.

6/10

Nusumareta Kuchibiru



More beach, more bikinis. This song is pretty shit though. Boring, lacks anything to draw one in. Maachan wearing an apron while the rest wear bikinis is pretty annoying. Has a random "chorus keychange" that reminds me of Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, but without any of the awesomeness. Really don't have anything good to say about this song.

3/10

Boku no YELL



Not a bad song. Sort of a happyballad. Instrumentation isn't too bad, except the fucking synth bass. Vocal melodies are actually interesting. PV is cute, football is quite amusing to have them do. Lyrics are slightly odd. All about "doing your best" yet in the PV they lose anyway. Great fun. Not half bad though.

6/10

Majijo Teppen Blues



Now, this song is weird. But I love it. It's less a song and more a "watch the damn drama" thing, but it's still amusing. Miichan's crazy rocking out in the beginning of the PV to Majisuka is funny as hell. Team Hormone are epic as ever. The PV gives time to just about everyone in the drama, which is cool. And Nachu gets an "ATSU-NEE!" Dance is interesting. Song is actually quite rocking and awesome. Ghost!Takamina is lol. Random talking is lol. Guitar solo is epic too. Miichan tears at the end are yay.

9/10


Heavy Rotation



Um, well, where to start? I guess I'll focus on the song first because I'd probably have to fap in the middle if watching the PV too. It's a good song. The call and response is quite nice, the music is quite awesome. Vocal melodies are good. Can't resist anymore. PV is phwaor, lingerie yay, makeup not so yay, random playing around with each other yay, dance is lol, they all seem to be enjoying themselves. Matsui-bath is yay. The bit with Tomochin looking up naughtily with something on her face is yay. Refrain isn't as good as it could have been. Overall though, very yay.

9/10

Namida no See-saw Game



Now this is a weird song. Really old Motown feel to the vid. Song is pretty typical pop, but it's upbeat and quite fun. Nothing really special though, bassline is a bit bland. Instrumentation is slightly thin on the ground. On the other hand, the ensemble vocals really work well.

6/10

Yasai Sisters



No. Just no. Shit song.

3/10

Lucky Seven



Well, slightly better. Plus yay pirates. Sae's tan is cool. Song isn't very good. Pretty bogstandard pop. Upbeat, but without interesting structures or anything. Even the solo sucks.

4/10

Beginner



So, where everything hit the fan. Haven't linked the "uncut" vid, but that's what I'll be reviewing. Because, let's face it, it just isn't the same without Acchan spilling blood everywhere and screaming. Song is different as hell, and interesting for it. Almost dark electro, which I hate to admit that I keep getting into (Naka Riisa's random Zebra Queen from Takashi Miike's Zebraman 2 had some majorly awesome dark electro songs), so I love this. Real PV is edgy as fuck, which I also love. Headless, armless, squashed, killed in many ways and fuck yea. Plus Acchan's screams are enough to make any real sadist a bit hard.

9/10

Boku Dake no Value



This song is quite good. Upbeat, with interesting melodies and beat, and manages to draw me in a hell of a lot better than the Bsides on the last single. The video is quite awesome. Bit long, but then, it's narrative. Couldn't find it on any proper video sites, because AKB keep pulling everything down but not uploading them to their own channel, which is annoying. Chorus is nice, second verse is same as the first, so point loss slightly for not mixing it up with some pauses. Refrain is a nice buildup. Overall, a good song.

8/10

Kimi ni Tsuite



Can't even find the PV for this one, except on Chinese and Korean sites, which I understand none of thus can't figure out how to embed. This is, frankly, boring as fuck. Sounds like the shittest songs on Momusu's 11. Thus, Gabrielle or Toni Braxton ripoffs. Really boring slow pop. Does fucking nothing for me. Just bores the hell out of me. Unfortunately, this does try. So I'll give it something.

2/10

Nakeru Basho



Better. Vocals are stronger, ballads are good. Chorus is cool, all the vocalists pull it off well. I like this a hell of a lot better than that MINT thing before this. Refrain is cool, buildup to final chorus is even better. Ensemble vocals going well again.

7/10

Chance no Junban



This is a really cool idea, getting some of the backing girls some much needed screentime. The song isn't too bad either. No, the problem is the PV. They spent so much of the budget on the individual team PVs (Team K especially) that this is basically shoestring budget. Whatever it cost to hire the studio, do the costumes, hire a horse and edit the damn thing. Otherwise, the song is cool, Ucchi is cute as hell. Mocchi and Akicha also stand out. Luckily Acchan's in the back and not trying to hog attention like usual. Vocally nothing special, musically decent, if not brilliant. Been compared to Ponytail, which is a fair enough comparison. Refrain isn't bad. Overall, good step into spotlight for some of them.

8/10

Yoyaku Shita Christmas



Another Christmas song. Unfortunately, this isn't quite as good as C-ute's. Music wise it's a bit... bland. Slight guitar twiddling is about the most interesting thing that's present. Vocally it's a bit normal. Chorus is strong, but otherwise it's pretty dull. Quote of Jingle Bells annoys the fuck out of me. Guitar solo isn't great. PV is boring, pretty Christmas-y, obviously, but dull.

6/10

Kurumi to Dialogue



This PV is fucking weird. Almost a spiritual successor to Beginner in terms of being "out there". Unfortunately the song is nowhere in the same league. Some odd RnB styled nonsense. Would liek some melody plz. Vocally filtered to all shit. Acoustic guitar solo ain't bad. Highlight is Mariko's !!! But I like the fact that the PV is so open to interpretation.

Song: 5/10
PV: 10/10

ALIVE



Now those outfits are sexy. Song is quite awesome. Going on the rock side and it's good. PV budget definitely got blown on this. It has explosions. And blood. I'm happy. Sayaka and Yuko look ready to kill. Moeno giving the finger = yay. Faceplant is lol. Riffs are cool, solos are cool, vocals are good. What's not to like? Even the dance is sexy. Miichan + black eyeliner, mascara and lipstick = supergoth?

10/10

Love Jump



Mayu's basically being a nutter this entire video.

Song isn't that great. Typical Team B song really, happy, idolish, and nothing much else going for it except everyone being cute. Doesn't have any good points, or bad points. Except the bass is real, but does fucking nothing. Refrain is just bland. Oh well. Can't have everything.

5/10

So, that's the end of the AKB PVs. Took me best part of 3.5 hours. So, stage songs that impressed me...

A6: Itoshisa no Accel



Takamina doing a damn good job on this song. Not to mention she looks hot with a sword, even if it is just a pole. Solo is cool.

9/10

A6: Pioneer



Metal /,,/ Vocally good, musically strong, pianos add something nice. Powerful as all hell, shame the sound quality on vid is pretty weak. Chorus is a good ensemble vocal performance. Riffs are proper metal. Refrain has some crazy shit happening. Sounds like a few SymphX keyboard wanks. Guitar solo is fucking godly. End chorus is awesome. Outro is cool. This song is pure sex.

10/10

K6: UHHOUHHOHO



Punk? Fuck me, this song is cool. Not to mention the title, which reminds me highly of kusomiso shiro and Yaranaika. Musically it's pretty damn punk, guitar wise. Shame about the riffs, they aren't so punk. Prechorus is staccato but cool. Chorus is lol, but strong. Second verse is nicely different from first in terms of how it's played. Makes it more fun. Refrain is lol. Not quite sure about the random synths and guitar solo. Still, fun song.

9/10

B5: Yuuki no Hammer



This is just cool as hell and random. Starts off sounding like Turisas or something, then like Yaranaika. Music is cool, nice rock base, and miner hats XD Hammers too. Guitar solo is cool. Overall, probably second coolest start to a B stage. Nothing beats Idol no Yoake though.

8/10

B5: Honest Man



Pretty rock for Team B this time around. I like the rhythm in the verse. The riffs are quite cool. Team B's vocals maybe don't fit, but still cool. Chorus is nice and uplifting. Structure is interesting. Refrain is happy and pretty good. Solo ain't bad.

8/10

B5: Team B Oshi



Another introduction song, but damn this song has energy. Doesn't really have a style, it's all over the place at the same time, but it's cool as an intro song. The little bits of randomness are insane and awesome. The refrain is mental. Uses such weird keys it's odd. Constant (slow) blastbeats keep the tension high as hell. It's just so energetic. Fuck red bull.

10/10

Finally, AKB is done.

SKE48

Not doing Stages for SKE because I've not heard any, so this time only anything with a PV.

Aozora Kataomoi



Quality is shit on SKE Channel. Song is happy upbeat pop. Jurina is pretty good at singing. Rena not so much. Still can't decide who I like more. Yagami might pass them both when I'm not paying attention. Not a bad song, but not good either. Pretty bland considering some of the stuff AKB do. It's almost like a "play it safe" song.

5/10

Bungee Sengen



Better, this should have been the Aside. Bass is doing something. Still shit sound quality. If they don't want people to pirate they should upload in nice quality, if not stupidly HQ. But yea, this is a fun song. Less annoying than Aozora. PV is cute. Guitars are working well alongside the crazy popness of it.

6/10

Gomen ne, Summer



Yay, beach. Yay, better song again. Vocally still not brilliant, but musically they're improving the tracks they're getting, seemingly. Chorus is nice. Guitar solo has some serious shred in it, wasn't expecting that. Overall, quite an improvement.

8/10

Shoujo ha Manatsu ni Nani wo Suru?



Yay narrative PV. Yay boredom? Song is interesting. Sounds like old AKB, or even more like 80s idol music. Really odd. But interesting. Can hear a hint of Misirlou in the guitars. Vocal melodies are a bit boring as hell. Solo's okay, then suddenly goes mental and I get hard.

6/10

Hazumisaki



More narrative. Yay. Song is odd. Very happy summer song, but none of them can sing. PV is cute as hell though. Song does get a bit repetitive and boring. Unfortunately can only give it...

5/10

Pinocchio Gun



Cool song, nice bass. Chanting vocals are cool. Rapping isn't bad. Refrain is lol. PV is cute.

7/10

1! 2! 3! 4! Yoroshiku!



Odd song. How many backing dancers do they need? Bass is good. Other instrumentation is a bit bland. Jurina's monologues are a bit odd. Rena's fit a bit nicer. Chorus isn't that powerful. Doesn't quite grab me as much as I think it's supposed to. Would prefer a more diverse set of instruments. That synth is just annoying. Refrain with 1234 in however many languages is cool.

7/10

Two Roses



The next in the fucking weird PVs from the 48s. But seriously awesomely weird. Again, shame the song isn't as good. It's not a bad song, just not as cool as the PV. Autotune is quite annoying. Those shoulderpads... Screaming! Collarbones. Bodypaint...

Song: 5/10
PV: 10/10

Cosmos no Kioku



Back to happy songs. And synth bass. Oh well, I'll just sit and seethe. PV's cute, but what else to expect? Dual guitars are pretty awesome, I must say. Bubbles. Overall, not a bad song, I guess.

7/10

Seishun ha Hazukashii



Wtf. Beginning annoys me. The melody's different though. Dunno if I like or not. Confusing. Shouting annoys me. Music ain't great. Chorus is just happy again. Gets a bit overbearing. They need to switch it up a bit more. I may not have liked Two Roses, but it was a nice change of pace. The lack of singing ability is quite annoying.

5/10

So, SKE48, over.

SDN48

So, the old folk's home. And sexytiem. In one. Not a nice mental image. Anyway. No stages again.

GAGAGA



Very clubbish. Lacks power though. Plenty of silly noises, but no power. Needs power to be a club hit. Can't dance to something if it doesn't get your heart pumping. Bassline is shit. Vocals are nothing special. PV is probably sexy if you like old women. I don't.

4/10

Kodoku na Runner



Now this has power. And beat, and bass. And energy. Fuck me, energy. Vocals are better. This could be a club hit. And I like it. Acoustic guitars fit in nicely at beginning of second verse. Synths aren't as "oh look, I'm here" as they actually do something that contributes to the music. Lyrics aren't bad either. Guitar solo is 80s as hell and I love it.

8/10

Eros no Trigger



Bit slower, seemingly. Still got that dance beat, but again less power. Need to turn bass up to 11 then it gets interesting. But that drowns out the melody. Nachu looks better with brown hair. Lacks too much energy. If I'm gonna listen to dance music I need energy. This doesn't have it. One in three so far. Need something on the next one... Melodically this is pleasant though.

6/10

Sado he Wataru



Another slower one. Dance again. Needs power. Verse is rubbish. Nothing but bass and thin melody with the vocals. Some of the synths are painful. Need to be paid to listen to this.

3/10

OJS48

lol, old men 48.

Shinkokyuu



It's enka. I don't mind enka, but this is lol. Reminds me of Tsunku's joke about making ENK48. Even for enka this isn't very good. Probably why it sold terribly. Plus old men have no sex appeal unless they're Sean Connery.

5/10

kk, onto subgroups and solos now.

Oku Manami

Maachan, my sometimes oshimen. She's really a good singer. This year she did a solo single that absolutely no one seems to know about.

Katatsumari



That's an OPV, but can't link to just a song. It's a slow number, about a snail. It's a bit odd, but her voice is awesome enough to get over the relative normality of the song. It's not bad, sort of, old folk. If it had a decent drumbeat it'd be awesome, but as is...

7/10

no3b

The "supergroup"? Bugger if I know, I still think Persona's better. Two singles this year:

Lie



Vocally, they're damn good. Unfortunately this song is a bit of a dud. Bassline isn't bad, but the other synths on top are just layered horribly, and then just drowned by bad mixing. PV is pretty bad. Some kind of dance battle. Envy the guy who got Miichan's crotch in his face.

4/10

Kimi Shika



This is nicer. Some dance stuff and some decent synths, and some major key. Pretty bland though. Doesn't really draw me in, nor does it repel me. It's another one of those songs that merely exists for the sake of existing. It doesn't really have a great deal of worth. Guitar solo is a bit meh.

6/10

Watarirouka Hashiritai

So, the Team B subgroup peoples.

AkKanbe Bashi



Buggered if I can find the PV for this. Sounds like a kid's song, which annoys me. Musically simplistic, melodically simplistic, this song is pissing me off. When it speeds up it improves slightly, but not enough. Yea, I think it's fair to say I hate this song.

1/10

Seishun no Flag



Better. Has a decent vocal melody. Not great though, but definitely an improvement. Getting tired so reviews will keep getting shorter. Oh well. Melody and actual music give this one a much improved rating.

6/10

Gyu



Again back to shit. Bassline is predictable and boring. Music is simplistic again. At least this time it has a vocal melody. I think this group are fucking shit. Shame Mayu and Lovetan are sullying themselves with it.

3/10

Natto Angels Z

Resurrection?

Natto Man



Nattou is horrid. Dunno why they're promoting it. Intro is interesting, then turns into something that sounds like a shit version of Dance Man. Verse is bad. Chorus is bad. Really not good. Can AKB side projects do nothing right?

3/10

Queen & Elizabeth

Random name. Bet it took ages to think of them to insert an &.

Love Wars



Ah, much better. There's power in this. And fun, and a sense of mischievousness. Riffs are good, vocal melodies are good. Shit, even the drum beats are good. Oddly as hell, the Tomomi's voices fit this. Even though Kasai sounds like she's on helium most of the time. Solo is interesting, as is the "breakdown" that happens on the rhythm section halfway though. PV is cool. Breaking the usual "interspersed" PVs which mix a group/band with images from a TV show, with them walking through the middle of a fight. Acoustic edit is cool too.

9/10

Team Dragon from AKB48

Long ass name for a Dragonball group...

Kokoro no Hane



Not the best song ever, but interesting. Doesn't have enough punch though. Bassline is decent. Vocal melodies aren't much, but suffice. For some reason I don't mind it though. Manages to merge into something half decent despite the bad elements that form it. PV is odd. They seem to take some speed though, which is quite lulz. Or maybe it was acid. They start flying afterwards, so that's a pretty damn strong hallucination they're having.

7/10

French Kiss

And finally...

Zutto Mae Kara



Ending for an anime, so naturally it's quite good. Riffs are okay, if a bit slow. Vocals are cool. Melodies aren't great but work. Bass is all over the place but works. Mocchi and Akicha are cute. Yuki's not bad either... Chorus is pretty uplifting in a melancholy way. This song works on me. Might just be my mood. Overall, I like it though.

8/10

And thus ends.

So, all that's left now is maybe a bit more idols (9nine's Crossover), and then year end lists and "everything" reviews. So expect metal, prog, weirdness and randomness. best ofs, worst ofs, and "things that have annoyed the fuck out of me."

Hopefully should do it before the year actually finishes.

And no, I'm not doing Momoclo or TGS or Sakugaku or anyone else who appeared this year, because I haven't listened to them and thus wouldn't want to judge them too harshly and then get into them later.

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