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Year in Review 2011 Part 2: ○○○48

So, after battling illness for the entirety of the past week I'm not at a particularly good level of mood or wordcount. However, today I've had a battle with Richard Branson and tried my hand on the stockmarket with Splen so I'm raring to go.

Now, the biggest problem with reviewing everything the 48s have released this year is twofold.
On one hand, there have been 72 promo videos (by my count) released by them this year.
On the other, most of them are not on Youtube, except as snippets.
So, I'm left with a dilemma. Do I link the snippet videos for those that do not appear in full, and assume that everyone reading this has heard every song, or do I link in from Tudou and have everyone complain that the videos take 2.5 hours to load?

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure yet.

I'll decide as I'm writing up the stuff that the first group has actually achieved this year.

I'm gonna exclude SDN because 1) I excluded Dream Momusu, 2) I'm lazy, 3) I can't stand any of their songs this year anyway.
Also exluding Baby Gamba because I can't find a full video where the two AKB girls actually appear.
This takes me down to under 60 vids, which is slightly easier.

So, firstly...




AKB48

Obviously. This year will go down as possibly the most successful year in idol music history, due solely to the fact that no other group in Japan, male or female, can claim to have taken the top five places in the year-end chart, let alone selling over a million for each of them. They've taken apart all opposition, and even had a period near the end of the year where an AKB-related group released a single every week except one (which was marked by an Arashi single, meaning that I guess Aki-P has a deal in place with Johnny's that he won't release on the same day as Arashi because it'll make Johnny's look bad).

On the other hand, this year has been a complete copy/paste of last year.

To run through:

Sakura/Graduation Single: February 2010 - Sakura no Shiori; February 2011 - Sakura no Ki ni Narou
Hair Accessory/Voting Ticket Single: May 2010 - Ponytail to Shushu; May 2011 - Everyday Kachuusha
Senbatsu Election Single: August 2010 - Heavy Rotation; August 2011 - Flying Get
Cool/Dance Single: October 2010 - Beginner; October 2011 - Kaze ha Fuiteiru
Janken Single: December 2010 - Chance no Junban; December 2011 - Ue Kara Mariko

Also, no new AKB stages, unless you count the new addition of Team 4 (also known as glorified kenkyuusei, no matter how much I like them), who're doing a cover stage anyway.

Regarding Team 4, it would be a lot easier to accept that they were actually a part of the "real" AKB now if AkiP actually gave any of them some single A-side time. But, with their highest placed girl in the election currently suspended for suspected underaged prostitution and drinking (though due back in January), and their second highest place girl in the election having the looks, brain-size and mass-appeal of a six year old, it's hard to think of a likely candidate. Paruru still looks too loli, Haruu is a bit too manly, Ranran's probably likely to destroy the place, and Shiori's busy with Uni. The others really don't appeal to me so yea.

In other happenings this year, my favourite, Maachan, graduated. I still haven't found a new oshi in AKB itself. Currently, a ferocious battle of strip-twister is taking place in my brain involving Mayuyu, Nacchan, Harugon, Lovetan, Wasamin, Paruru, Lemon, Amina and Suuchan to decide for me. The result may be announced at some point when I stop fapping.

Regarding fap material, Mayuyu's PB. Delicious it was.

TV shows and dramas have been everywhere this year. Majisuka was more lulz than the first season, mostly because of the lack of Maeda "I Can't Be Fucked" Atsuko. The Sakura drama was shit though, even if the Maachan "I've had plenty of abortions" line did make me lol too much. The Sae/Mayuyu lezzing was not good enough. AKBingo has become a bit stale, relying too much on the same segments over and over again. On one hand, Muchaburi Dodgeball will always make me laugh. On the other, I still want to kill that fashionista queen. Burger Shop battles also suck. AKBeginner was an interesting segment though, if only for Lemon and her steel head. Shukan, Ariyoshi and Naruhodo are as variable in quality as ever, though AKBtoXX was pretty good for a while when they had the three teams facing off against each other. Nemousu specials are always good, but the main series usually sucks. Don't know why. Bimyo~ is full of more win than anything else this year.

Anyway, to the PV reviews:

Sakura no Ki ni Narou



So, the Sakura song. It's a soft, slow ballad. As ballads go it's not bad, but it has the same problem as Sakura no Shiori. It gets dull. Also, due to Sakura no Shiori featuring so many more voices, some good call and response, and harmonies, I can't rate this anywhere near as high. The PV has some interesting production values and a story and Jurina as a tree or something. Not entirely sure. 5/10

Guuzen no Juujiro

So, after trying to no avail to get Tudou to let me actually embed the bloody thing, I'll just link. Also it's horribly low quality. I expect all the Tudou ones to be at least this bad, if not worse. Anyway, this song is cute. Horribly generic, but cute. There are a few points where it picks up, the prechorus is pretty cool, and the palm-muted guitar in the buildup chorus, but other than that it is just an average song. PV is also cute, has Non at the front (with Yokoyama "I Can't Be Fucked" Yui), and also has Maachan, Lovetan, Harugon, Churi and Kuumin. Yet despite it being filled with people I like, the song's still pretty meh. 5/10

Kiss Made 100 Mile

Last year I really hated the Mint song. This year it's completely different in tone, feel and just about everything else too. Quite an upbeat song, it gets points for that. However, it loses points for being unimaginative, vocally poor and musically weak. Not to mention what they're wearing in the PV. It's like they looked at Moeno and Sakiko and thought, "damn, they're ugly... let's make them worse." Maeda "I Can't Be Fucked" Atsuko looks most normal, but she has a giant flower on her head, and Haachan doesn't look too bad. But this is just disturbing. 4/10


Area K

So, the final song of the original Diva before they became a weird shit thing. From their costumes I was expecting cock rock or at least metal. Instead I get weird dance-y Jpop with a fatter Japanese version of Nick Barker (with corpsepaint too) randomly standing around. Song does nothing for me. PV does even less for me. Ends up a right clusterfuck. 3/10

Dareka no Tame ni ~What can I do for someone?~



The AKB downloadable support single for the Earthquake is the same song from the 3rd Team A stage. On the other hand it is one hell of a win song. The PV is formed of clips from them doing supporting things for the earthquake, and suchlike. That guitar riff is still as win and 80s as hell. The call and response heard here and there is win. Solo is cool. All in all, win. Plus it helped raise quite a lot of money for charity, so all good. 10/10

Everyday, Kachuusha



This PV is basically "let's redo every single PV we've ever done. In 7 minutes." The song is okay, not amazingly stunning but has enough hooks and major-key-ness to draw one in and keep you occupied for a while (as if the bikinis in the PV weren't doing that already). This single had the highest number of girls in senbatsu ever (unless you count Sakura no Shiori, which was basically a "let's use everyone!" love fest. Also the first single for NMB appearances. Lots of firsts for this single, and it's not too bad. 7/10

Korekara Wonderland

Just a warning that from now I'm drinking so if I become more rambling and incoherent, that's why. Another fucked up PV. Old school motown style song. Pulls it off better than last year's similar effort, Namida no Seesaw Game. Quite colourful. Interesting enough song structure, quite fun beat and odd enough concept. 7/10

Yankee Soul

Theme song for this year's Majisuka is nowhere near as cool as last year's. But one cannot have anything, and as a song in its own right it does fit in slightly better with the songs that precede it on this single than Majisuka Rock'n'Roll did on Sakura no Shiori. The PV is basically a super-extended version of the Majisuka season 2 opening credits. Songwise it doesn't do a lot for me. It's an okay-ish song but no fireworks. 5/10

Hito no Chikara

The undergirls song. On a Cside. Disappointing. I like the bassline, the song is midpaced and lacks any gaudy frills, but it's cute enough. Chorus is uplifting and good, which is pretty impressive for an unassuming song. Solo is weak though. PV is okay. Lack of negative things to say means pretty short review. 8/10

Flying Get



The senbatsu election single. This song had like seven different PVs, one which hit more than twenty minutes, so it's pretty bloated. Hence I'm only posting the dance version. Easier. Plus, all the PVs sucked anyway. Not that anything could appease me after Heavy Rotation last year. Martial art film parody would only have worked if they'd hired Zhang Yimou to direct it or something. A few surprising results. Yuko eventually lost by some margin to Maeda "I Can't Be Fucked" Atsuko, Yukirin came third, Tomochin dropped out of the top 7, Sasshi came 9th, and Amina came 18th yet again and was completely ignored yet again. Now to the song... Boring. The song isn't particularly good. There are a few bits, but the bassline and chord progression suck. Vocal melodies aren't particularly good (annoying as for a change Sayaka and Yuka are in an a-side, meaning there are at least double the usual amount of people who can sing), but the solo is pretty cool. Still, lacking. 6/10

Dakishimechaikenai

So, from a high budget, overblown yet shit PV, to a cheap, tidy and silly one made much cooler by the fact that it was done in one continuous shot. Song isn't bad either. Bassline is interesting. Song is cuter than usual for undergirls, which is odd and impressive. Another song where I don't have enough to say, so I'll just say that there are quite a lot of SKE girls that aren't Kuumin in it... 8/10

Seishun to Kizukanai Mama



Yes, this video will probably be taken down in a few days, but oh well. Majisuka ending theme. Another ballad. Some Beatles influence in the background, but only quietly. Vocal melodies are okay. Chorus is awesome. This is way better than Sakura no Ki ni Narou as a ballad. Solo is awesome as hell, and this is easily the best so far from AKB in this list. 9/10

Ice no Kuchizuke




So, the AKB tribute to their fake member. The song as a whole isn't amazing, but the chorus changes things up nicely and does a good job as it is. Shame the rest is so meh. Video on the other hand is very cute, giving gifts to each other in a chain brought on by Fake-chan's kindness or something. In any case, glad Eguchi Aimi is properly deceased now. 5/10

Kaze ha Fuiteiru



Again, going with the dance version as the proper video is fucked up beyond any sense of measure. Giant hairy snaggletooth Diglett what? Anyway, the song. Oddly for this year, it's fucking amazing. Let me say that again. This song is fucking amazing. The chord progression for most of the song is based on the 50s progression, that giant sexy beast of a chord progression that goes I V vi IV. Just Kaze takes it, burns it, and makes it vi IV I V instead, which, because it has a different and minor key signature, should be written as I VI III VII. Which is cool. Vocal melodies are also good. Really epic. 10/10

Kimi no Senaka

Yet another cute Undergirls song. And this one is the best yet. Plus Suuchan/Lovetan joint centre is full of yay. But anyway, song. Cute, vocal melodies are good, the chord progs don't suck, and the whole thing is good. Only thing that might improve it is an extra 20-30bpm of speed. Solo is good. Bit after the solo is cute and reminds me of the old Hello Morning themesong. Buildup chorus also win. 9/10

Vamos

Baragumi undergirls, and this certainly has pace. Nacchan as a boy = hot. Not sure how they managed to get a load of celebrities famous for stupid things in the PV, but I guess that's Japan. I'm liking the song, though the PV is pretty shit (aside from Nacchan). Again though, lack of bad things to say. 8/10

Gondola Lift

Yurigumi undergirls with a ballad. Quite a drop between singles for Asuka, Sayaka, Yuka, Amina and Umeda. From top 22 to second Cside. Still, gives this song the required vocal strength (Amina aside) to back up it's ballad credentials, which are already quite stacked. The song is slow, but packs a nice little punch in the chorus, which is one of the better ballad choruses I've heard in a while. Piano solo is much awesomes. Video is nice too. 9/10

Uekara Mariko

 Alas, this time a frontgirl won the Janken tournament. Shocking. The original plan was to release the Theatre Cside, Hashire Penguin as the Aside, but with Mariko as front and centre, plus Sayaka, Umeda, and Nyan being rather over 20, they decided to give it to Team 4 instead and write a new Aside. So it's rushed. And it shows. On the other hand the PV actually got a budget this year, which is awesome. On the other hand, once you see the Csides you might prefer they got the budget again. The random music in the PV before the single comes in is better than the single. On the plus side (for Mariko) the song does feature lots of young girls (in accordances with Mariko's tastes) so she does look like she's in her element. Even if she can't sing, can't dance, hardly ever turns up to stage shows, etc. Still, not amazing. Few good points, chorus has a decent hook. Solo's decent, if not amazing. Mid8 is an interesting break, if too short. Buildup chorus doesn't use quite enough stop/start stuff. But still, due to the lack of a certain member who can't be fucked for the first time ever, I'd give this song at least 6/10

Noel no Yoru

20 people in a Bside... overkill. On the other hand, it might provide a clue as to the identities of some of the senbatsu for the start of next year, in which case I'm glad Lovetan and Suuchan made it in. Songwise, Christmas songs almost always suck. This isn't really an exception. Simple melodies, simple background music. The mid-8 is about the only bit worth a damn, and that's over too soon. 4/10

Rinjin ha Kizutsukanai

So, this year the Aside got the PV budget, leaving the Csides to deal with various oddities. With Team A, they've got an idea at least. An idea which could have been absolutely epic, but isn't. Instead, it's just good. Still, that's better than what's coming next. The song for Team A this year is of a better standard than last year, on the other hand the PV isn't quite as good. The Prechorus and Chorus are pretty good, considering the minimal instrumentation. The vocals are just about thick enough to dodge that bullet. Mid8 has an interesting pattern that keeps ascending in tone chromatically, achieving a nice effect. 7/10

Zerosum Taiyou

Team K's PV shows us that, despite them getting the budget last year with the awesome song and video of Alive, this year they got shafted. Basically a glorified dance shot, starts off pretty dark, then turns into a "let's all be Takarazuka and dress as ladyboys!" clusterfuck. The song isn't quite so bad as I feared, but it's still not amazing. Not a patch on Alive. Solo is pretty win though.  6/10

Yobisute Fantasy

Team B's PV gets the Heavy Rotation director, Ninagawa Mika. As such, it's bright. Other than that, it also has a concept, though it's odd. The B song this year is better than last year. That pedobear looking thing is disturbing. The cosine-wave syncopated bass is also annoying. Don't get the whole names near the end bit either. Still, doesn't suck too badly. 6/10

So, that's it for AKB. Thank fuck.

They also released an album which I reviewed here so that I wouldn't have to do it all over again.

SKE48

So, time for the slightly younger sisters of AKB. Considering how young some of the sister groups are getting now it's disturbing. Anyway, few things before we get down to the monotony of more song reviews.

My oshimen. Kimoto Kanon. Last year I said I was wavering between Jurina and Rena, and that Kuumin was sneaking up on them. This year it's been more Kanon flying high, Rena jittering a bit, Kuumin climbing some more, Jurina falling, Churi climbing, Yuria climbing, Shawako climbing... actually, come to think of it, just about everyone save Jurina, Rena and Oya Masana have climbed at least a bit. Possibly due to the fact that this year I've been exposed to them an awful lot more, but also just because Jurina now is established and Rena didn't spill enough blood in Majisuka. Which is another reason why Non is now top, come to think of it. The moment she stabbed Rena she won my allegiance.

Speaking of TV shows though, SKE have had rather a lot this year. Some of the better ones have been:

  • Itte Koi 48 - Especially a lulzy episode where various girls got trapped in a room with a massive python. Or on a boat with a rat snake. Ah, the lulz that generated.
  • Sekai Seifuku Joshi - SKE vs. The World. One country at a time. Currently on a massive losing streak, and SKE's token half-foreigner tried defecting to her other homeland.
  • Magical Radio will end soon but was getting pretty boring anyway.
  • Mousou Deka from earlier this year was insane. But funny.
So yes, SKE picking it up on the TV front.

KII got their first original stage this year, called Ramune no Nomikata. Some of the songs are okay, some aren't.

PV tiem:

Banzai Venus

I think AkiP's instructions to the composers of SKE singles this year have been similar to George Lucas when directing movies. His commands are but two. "Faster" and "more intense". This philosophy pretty much sums up this year's A-sides. Following the same formula as 1,2,3,4 Yoroshiku from last year, and pumping it up a bit, we get Banzai. Plus, of course, half of Nagoya in the music video. Couple the relatively speedy pace with a chorus hook that's more major key than just about anything ever and the choreography that can make you sweat just by watching them do it, you end up with a song that's bursting with a lot of energy. Musically it's not amazing, solo is meh, vocal melodies are okay but nothing special. The energy though, makes this song. 8/10

Sotsugyoushiki no Wasuremono

So, the first of this year's Jurina-lead Shirogumi songs. This one is pretty bland. Nothing really stands out about the song or video. The whole video runs like an extended trailer for a pretty rubish B-movie. The song is way too cutesy for some particular members (Neesan and SKE's resident man, Nakanishi). Just not feeling it. 5/10

Dareka no Sei ni ha Shinai

Better straight from the off, just by having a wet Rena. Also, Goth Yukiko ftw. Song also has a nice bassline and a nice guitar riff. This'll go down as SKE's first "challenging" PV, a bolder step into a slightly more realistic world. Some nice semi-philosophical/emo ramblings if you can be bothered to read the text in the video. Vocal melodies are good. Guitar solo is cool. All in all, pretty good song and video. Looking forward to the challenging themes continuing. 8/10

Pareo ha Emerald

Faster and more intense, part two. Plus swimsuits. And this is the fastest bpm of all, nearly twenty faster than Banzai, and thirty more than Yoroshiku. Needless to say, it's probably just as well they weren't wearing much while dancing this, considering it was filmed in Hawaii. In hot temperatures. May have got just a little sweaty otherwise. On the other hand, they didn't manage to get the entire population of Hawaii as backing dancers. Shame. Anyway, riff-wise this song has some good ones. Much better than Banzai's lack of much musical interest. Brass band does hearken to AKB swimsuit singles, but doesn't detract too much. Guitar solo is pretty damn win if short. Overall though, I like it. 9/10

Tokimeki no Ashiato

Another boring generic happy midpaced pop song from Shirogumi. They must have thought "shit, we need to be edgy" in the PV, but halfassed it. Mary pulls her skirt up, by about a millimetre. Jurina cuts off a small lock of hair. It's not enough to save this song from being shit. Bassline is about the only thing going for it. 3/10

Papa ha Kirai

Part two of Akagumi's emo series. On the other hand, the video director had a bit of an idea and tried to implement it passingly well. The song makes some good use of Spanish guitars and interesting beats. Chorus doesn't have a hook though. Vocal melodies are uninspired. Still, H!P should take note. This is how to create a no budget/dance/faceshot/slowmo PV that doesn't look tacky. On the other hand, it doesn't take Freud to interpret that this PV is basically about "lost innocence", or rather, broken hymens. Not to mention the lyrics about not being held to the rules of society. As a result, it'll go down as part two in SKE's edgy vids. 7/10

Oki Doki

The name of this song is disturbing. I was expecting it to do a Pareo, level up stupidly and suddenly come out with 200bpm or something. But I guessed they realised that pushing it past 175bpm would probably result in some girls dying due to the dance being too quick. So they slowed it back down to Banzai levels. The chorus vocal melodies are good, but background music has some really weird and bizarre things in it that annoy me. The verse has the best background music (chromatic riff), but an annoying vocal melody. Prechorus is forgettable. Mid8 is forgettable. Overall, it's okay, but nothing special. 6/10

Bazooka Hou Hassha!

What? A good PV from Shirogumi? Colour me shocked. Cosplay is cute. Song is also a step up from their previous efforts. Bassline is good again, but this time the vocal melodies work, the accents work. Syncopated bouncing in the chorus is interesting choice, but it works, especially with the bass slapping away like that. Again, this song is happy as hell, but it's nowhere akin to boring. Mid-8 has an interesting build up, but the main bit is a bit boring until the vocals kick in. The melodies there are good. Buildup chorus breaks things up nicely and pushes the melody up to the top. All good. 9/10

Hohoemi no Positive Thinking

I was expecting another challenging PV from Akagumi, what I got instead was a good song and a non-challenging non-artsy PV (unless shots of them going barefoot through mud counts as arty). The guitars in the verse have a good melody and chord prog, vocal melodies are quite simplistic but effective. The chorus vocal melody is particularly uplifting. Prechorus is good. Their Engrish is funny, sounds like "Positive Singing". Mid8 has a good chord progression. Buildup chorus is the most sparse and awesome I've heard in a while. Also has some Strawberry Fields Forever Flutes. Quietly. Overall I like this. 8/10

So, that's it for SKE. I do think I've looking forward to the new single, Kataomoi Finally, which comes out in January. Takes Akagumi's challenging themes and is like, "let's put it on the A-side!" So we're gonna have a Jurina/Rena/Churi love triangle, a Non/Kuumin kiss scene, and other quite possibly wonderful themes of lesbianism, bullying, suicide and of course, unrequited love. SKE's Keibetsu? Time will tell.

NMB48

So we now come to the group that if you run up behind them and yell "Bang!" they will fall over and pretend to be dead. Because people from Osaka are funny like that.

NMB has not only debuted this year, but also had the most scandals. Now that's some impressive achievement right there. Considering how much the paparazzi must stalk AKB, they only had two which led to any action against the girls. NMB have had at least five. Good going girls, I'm proud of you.

Anyway, choosing a favourite in NMB is hard. Not only because they all think they're comedians, but also because some of them look so weird that they can be cute or sexy depending on the picture (most notably the two original frontgirls, Sayanee and Milky, before Milky became embroiled in one of the scandals). On one hand, Milky is almost always cuter than Sayanee in normal videos and pictures. On the other hand, Sayanee is always sexier in those same styles. Yet when Sayanee takes blogpictures, she suddenly levels up to some ridiculously high plateau where none can reach her. Likewise, Milky, when she's not being dense, can come over as insanely sexy. In the end though, Sayanee wins because she can play guitar.

Anyway, PV tiem.

Zetsumetsu Kurokami Shoujo

This is an interesting idea for a debut single, and it worked well. Playing up the whole "Japaneseness" thing, the video features them doing traditional Japanese things. That's about it really. The song is okay. The bassline is good, reminds me of some old Momusu songs that Dance Man did. The vocal melodies aren't good though. The rest of the instrumentation also isn't amazing. The guitar solo is weird and cool though. 6/10

Boku ga Maketa Natsu

That NMB took the Shirogumi and Akagumi names from SKE is disturbing. Considering it's Osaka, I'd have thought アホ組 and ボケ組 would have been more appropriate, but I digress. What we have here is a good, upbeat song with good riffs. The vocal melodies are cute, but not amazing. Quite predictable. The video starts off like it's going to be an SKE Shirogumi style PV with even less budget. Then Sayanee's shirt gets so wet it's seethrough so I stop caring. Guitar solo is okay. Video does seem to be an excuse to have a few girls get wet. And for Nana to get her top off. 7/10

Mattemashita, Shingaki

Akagumi's song. Quite far from SKE's Akagumi, this sounds more like a Watarirouka Hashiritai song. As that would entail, it's major key, vocally weak, melodically weak, and just generally annoying. Solo is possibly one of the worst I've ever heard. Horrid. 2/10

Oh My God!

So, after a song celebrating Japaneseness, we get this. Sounds like an SKE ripoff. The piano instrumental version over the movie-PV is good though. So is the string quartet. As an SKE ripoff it's not bad, but it would have been interesting if they'd continued in the same direction as Zetsumetsu until they perfected it. This is just a bit of a cop out. I mean, it's not a bad song. The dynamic between the guitars and piano is cool, and the vocal melodies aren't bad (even if they did sound better as a piano right hand in the instrumental). The solo is long as hell and has some interesting bits. The video is a bit silly, but oh well. For what it is, this song is good. For what it could have been, it's lacking. It's hard to rate because of that, but I'll go for living with what it is. As such, 7/10

Kesshou

WTF GIANT PEDOBUNNY. Anyway, that aside, the acoustic guitar in this song is nice. The vocal melodies suck though. Not feeling it, the song or the video. Mid-8 has another thing that sounds like it wants to be a solo, but sucks. 3/10

Hoshokushatachi Yo

This PV runs like a dodgy Yakuza-run brothel. The music on the other hand is a good period piece of lounge music. Bassline is good, brass is good, vocal melodies are good. Lends quite a dark feel to it, as if the video wasn't doing that enough already. 7/10

So, all for NMB. AS I said before, not doing SDN as they're a load of old women and I can't be bothered. Thus, we come to the subunits. Finally.

no3b

 Straight to reviews, no time to dawdle.

Answer

This song is nice. Riffs are good, the girls show off their vocal talents well. Beat is good. Vocal melodies are good. Video is weird, but funny and interesting. Weird as hell seeing Takamina with long, straight hair. And without a giant bow. 7/10

Kuchibiru Furezu...

 Edgy no3b? Win. Song is good too, riffs and vocal melodies (and harmonies even) working well together and making a pleasing sound. Fast tempo is winning. Chorus in general is memorable and win. The PV is pretty hilarious, with them trashing stuff and acting like rockstars. Which is also funny. The little guitar accents placed here and there in this song are good if you listen out for them. Long solo is long and good. I does like this a lot. 9/10

Pedicure Day

For a song about pedicures there's not enough feet. Anyway, the guitar riffs are decent again, but the song has levelled down in pace. I like the weird guitar chords in the verse. Vocals are at the same level as always for no3b. Prechorus has some pretty growly powerchords. Second verse beginning is quite interesting, but all the good bits are simply too fleeting. Their worst this year, but still decent. 6/10

Watarirouka Hashiritai 7

Warota occupy a bizarre space in my brain. On the one hand, five of them are still battling it out in my brain's strip-twister game for favourite in AKB. On the other hand, I hate their music. It's bland, uninspired, insipid trash written for children. Possibly written by children too, considering I was writing more complex and original melodies, hooks and lyrics by the time I was nine.

Valentine Kiss

Pony Canyon must be really vicious litigators. Can't find this PV anywhere, not even "lol@copyright" Tudou. So you'll have to settle for a studio performance. This song's a cover. The Sayuri/Onyanko version is better, but the best version has to be Lucky Star's version. Just for pre-scandal Hirano Aya doing wotagei. Anyway, bassline is boring and shit, instrumentation doesn't do a lot. Vocal melodies are shit. Vocal power is pretty lacking (still can't understand why the hell Wasamin is in Warota7, she can sing). 3/10

Hetappi Wink

Forgive the shit video quality, but it's a PV at least. Also, this song is better than their usual stuff. Almost sounds like Not Yet. The verse is shit, but the main part/chorus is good. Post-chorus is cute. Dunno why they can't do this more often, managing to get cuteness and some standard of songwriting (even a minimal one) in together. Mid-8 is decent. 6/10

Kibou Sanmyaku



Gonna be gone in a few days most likely but oh well. This is basically a disco song. Completely out of character. I can imagine Boney M singing it. It's not amazing, but the fact that it's not overly cutesy, silly, and actually has musical value means I need to give it a mark. 6/10

French Kiss

Another 3-girl unit, they're probably the subunit that impressed me most last year. So how about this one?

If



The intro to this song is awesome. The main riff manages to screw it up a bit, but the verse goes back to awesome again. Chorus is good too. Nothing really bad to say, all three are decent enough singers to do the material justice. The vocal melodies aren't bad. Solo is nice. Overall, good stuff. 8/10

Kakkowarui I Love You



And for a complete change in style... From those guitars I was expecting a lot heavier, but it's only really the verse which has any decent heaviness. Chorus is cute though, and decent pace doesn't hurt it at all. Vocal melodies aren't quite as good this time, but work. Hoped that was building into a massive dance-y synth solo but it trolled me hard. Shame, would have been epic. Still, decent. 6/10

Kimi nara Daijoubu



These riffs are cool, the verse has an awesome dynamic with the piano, the pace is decent, and in general I'm loving this song by 30 seconds in. Then we get to the chorus and it's a letdown. Hook is weak, the bass doesn't pound enough, and their voices seem to have levelled down. Disappointing. Would be better if they kept singing in the lower registers, suits all of them better. So, split between liking and not liking. As such, 5/10

Saisho no Mail

This song has a few redeeming points, but as a whole it's not particularly amazing. Riffs aren't good, vocal melodies are pretty meh. At least they aren't trying to sing too high pitched this time, but that's about all I can say. Solo might have been good, but I'm buggered if I can hear it over the drama PV voices. Bloody thing. 4/10

Candle no Shin

So, a French Kiss minus Akicha PV. Frankenstein?  Harmonies are good. Don't get the male backing dancers. Harmonies aside song isn't very good. Melodies are okay, backing music is shit. Overall it's pretty terrible. 2/10

Not Yet

So, this year was marked by the debut of a few new units. This one featuring Yuko, Sasshi, Rie and Yokoyama "I Can't Be Fucked" Yui.

Shuumatsu Not Yet 

Do ignore the fact that it's mirrored. The song isn't terribly good. In fact, it's pretty boring. Bass is doing something, but everything else is pretty boring. Vocal melodies are horrible. Chorus has a horrendously non-catchy hook. Mid8 is pretty boring too. Overall it's not memorable or good. 3/10

Naminori Kakigoori

A hook straight from the start? Much better. Lead riff is also good. Verse has a good vocal melody and decent instrumentation, both rhythm guitar and accents. Chorus is just cool. Just before the mid8 it breaks out into the coolest chord progression ever again (I VI III VII if you've forgotten) and then the mid8 is a nice false-buildup, then it dies down again in the buildup chorus, and then final chorus. All quite win actually. 8/10

Peraperaperao

This has a weird title. But again, straight away with a hook from the start, looks like the composers learned their lesson from Shuumatsu. The lead guitar is good again, the rhythm guitars in the verse are good. On the other hand, this is pretty much stylistically copy/pasted from Naminori. Solo is okay but there's not really a great deal to say about this that I didn't say about Naminori anyway. 7/10

DiVA

My thoughts on this are summed up quite easily.

Gogo AkiP trolling.

They've added some new members, who aren't affiliated with AKB, so I have no idea where the fuck this is going. All I care about is getting Sayaka, Umeda and Yuka out of there, they're too good to be tarred with this shit.

Tsuki no Uragawa



Mirrored but who gives a fuck. Sounds like a mess.  Instrumentation is minimal, vocal melodies are pretty horrible, which is disturbing considering this group has AKB's best singer plus two of the other good ones. Guitar accents are okay. Chorus is completely unmemorable. Guitar solo is long yet still manages to be rubbish. Pretty naff. 4/10

Cry

The guitar riffs in this song are pretty cool. The bass VST though is worse even than the horrid piece of shit that Tokyo Girls Style use. Tremolo picking the chord progression's bass notes on guitar in the verse is interesting, but the bass is just horrible. Vocal melodies aren't too bad, so this is at least slightly better than Tsuki no Uragawa, but the bass. Chorus at least has a hook. Solo is a lot better this time around, despite being shorter. 6/10

Sukeban Girls

Oh yea. Sukeban Deka Pachinko Game unit, had two songs released digitally and the two PVs as one vid too. Featuring Oshima Yuko, KasAIDS Tomomi and Matsui Rena.

Tsupparu Riyuu/Tomo yo Yoake ni Machiawaseyou

Tsuppara's guitar riffs are pretty cool, vocal melodies aren't amazing but oh well. Mid 8 is pretty cool, solo is good in regards to flow and technical ability, but listenability is weak. Still, decent enough song. 6/10
Tomo yo is like a drama ending theme from the 80s. This time the vocal melodies are good but most of the instrumentation sucks. The piano spamming hitting that chord in the chorus is cool though. Still, not great. 5/10

Itano Tomomi

So, some more soloists appeared this year, slightly further up the pecking order from previous soloists too. Firstly was Tomochin, former lord and master of the moeblobs, until turning into... whatever it is that she is now. She can still pull off moe stuff sometimes, just not when autotuned and covered in more makeup than a dirt-cheap 40 year old LA hooker.

Dear J

That sawtooth riff is actually quite good. Just the autotune is painful. This would actually be a good dance-y song if they'd let someone who can sing without the aid of autotune sing it. Even Sashihara made it sound better. Still, as a piece of music I like it. Just a shame autotune exists. FUCK YOU CHER! FUCK YOU T-PAIN! 7/10

Fui ni

This is worse. The sales were also pretty terrible after Dear J, so I guess it didn't go down well. Bassline is pretty insistent and annoying, vocal melodies are boring (plus autotuned), though there are a few places where the melody line caught me out. The piano bit in the verse is nice, but this just doesn't flow particularly well. 4/10


Maeda "I Can't Be Fucked" Atsuko

So, at long last we reach the apparent pinnacle of AKB stuff. "Apparent" because I've never understood her popularity. Having said that, I'm usually at a loss to explain the popularity of frontgirls anyway. Shit, just look at Takahashi Ai. To me, Maeda comes across as a dense person who never looks like she particularly gives a shit. Or she's a poorly programmed robot. On the rare occasion she does show emotion it's a cheesy grin and then within minutes she's usually lapsed back into stupor again. Why anyone puts her in dramas I don't know. Maybe someone should give her a magic potion. But anyway, I digress, let me review her single so I can get this bloody post out of the way.

Flower

The way she says 大丈夫 just before the song starts reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Japanese adverts. Anyway, song. She's not the best singer (or particularly good at all). On the other hand they have given her a pretty decent ballad to work with. Shame about that bass. Vocal melodies are good, chord progression is decent. Not too many accents, but oh well. Just glad they didn't dose her up with autotune too.  7/10


So, that's it for the 48s. Overall, even though they had stupidly high sales, due to it being a bit of a copy/paste of last year, I'll only give them a grade B+.

Next year looks fun though.

Anyway, changed my mind about the Part 3 Indie Idols post, now I'm just going to pick and choose stuff which I liked, because I'm running out of time before the new year, and I can't be bothered to go through and do everything, considering how long this blogpost has taken me (something in excess of 20 hours and nearly 7000 words now). If all goes to plan I'll start that post tomorrow and finish up on Tuesday, then I have the rest of the week to do the final and award post.

So yes. Later.

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