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Year In Review 2011 Part 3: Other Idols, Final and Awards

As I don't know whether or not I'll have a computer over the new year, I've decided to try to condense everything into one post. This might be difficult or it might not. As I stated at the end of the previous post, the "other idols" bit will be much curtailed anyway due to me not having the time or inclination to bother doing an in depth review on things I've a) not heard properly so can't form an objective option, b) heard and disliked, or c) decided to give an award to anyway. As such, the other idols section will basically consist of short writeups only, before I go into the awards and get controversial.

Nice Girl Project

I've been disappointed with NGP this year. Not only have Canary Club left and gone back to Spacecraft (goodbye Mana...), The Possible have released nothing of note (a few abysmal gravure DVDs and one pointless minialbum with solo versions of old songs). This is annoying. Luckily, they have appeared quite a lot on Tsuntube and seem to be helping out in Tsunku's new Akiba Idol Training Café thing, so maybe not all dead yet. Also seems they'll be releasing a new Indies single or something soon.

But yes, all in all quite a bad year. I confess myself disappointed.

Momoiro Clover Z

A rather successful year by non-AKB idol standards has seen Momoclo not only carve out their own little niche in the market, but also start a small scale assault on popular culture. Their singles are now selling roughly the same as Momusu (if you average out Momusu's single sales this year you get 45817 rounded up, while Momoclo's first proper single since Akari left sold 44252, which is more than both of Momusu's singles that weren't Aichan's last), and they seem to be making a quirky little mark on TV shows. Plus their album was full of win.

Looking forward to seeing how they progress (or regress) in 2012.

Passpo

Wow, I'm finally writing something about them other than excuses as to why I've not reviewed their album.

Passpo have had quite frankly a stunning year. Before May I'd never heard of them. Then suddenly they were the first female group to hit #1 on the oricon weekly charts on their debut. NMB later did the same, and sold more than five times as many singles in doing so, but the record had been set and my interest piqued. I grabbed their Indies album, which I found to be rather good. Then I procrastinated and never reviewed it. Then they released their second single, which came third (which isn't surprising when AKB and a Johnny's group release on the same day). How much of their sales are down to the fact that they release 11 versions of singles, I don't know. I'd need one of the Capitalist Thinker wota to analyse that, as a Music Lover I can't be bothered. But still, they seem to be selling at similar levels to Momoclo, and their new album (which I'll touch on later) surprised me.

Again, looking forward to 2012.

Super☆GiRLS

Super Girls are now probably the pre-eminent non-AKB idols, selling 49k of their last single in one week. That said, I still don't find them particularly endearing.

 Sakura Gakuin

Cute, young and awesome, they sell virtually nothing but make up for it with win.

Kikkawa Yuu

Debuted.



Right then, onto the good bit.

Biggest OMGWTFBBQ Moment of 2011

Shinozaki Ai can sing rather well. All this time I assumed she was merely a mobile platform for her remarkably buoyant mammaries, and now suddenly she's singing. In AeLL.Surprised the hell out of me, and impressed me too. Well done, O Bathykolpian Goddess.

Biggest What Is This I Don't Even Moment of 2011



Need I say more?

 Best Photobook of 2011


Watanabe Mayu - "Mayuyu"














Phwoar. Eh.

Worst Singles of 2011

Well... can't be helped.

3. S/mileage - Tachiagirl




This is horrible. Only good bit is really in the prechorus when there's a C-ute-esque melody, but the weakness of the singers just makes it horrible. Really shit.

2. S/mileage - Shortcut



See a pattern emerging? Mid-8 and verse have a microscopic amount of worth, but in regards to the verse, it's again scuppered by the inability of two of them to sing.

1. S/mileage - Koi ni Booing Buu!



If only that had been a guitar riff instead of a weedy keyboard riff. The guitar is the only thing this song has going for it. The music is terrible, the vocal melodies are terrible, the bass is weedy and shit... If guitar noises and the solo are the only worthy things in an idol song you know it's really shit.

Congratulations S/mileage for getting all three places...

Worst Music Video of 2011

See above.

Worst Song of 2011The Entirety of Human Existence



The fact that people get paid for writing this kind of shit makes me want to hang myself.

Biggest Letdown of 2011

Honestly, I'm torn. On the one hand, Buono took everything that I liked about them, ripped it to shreds and then took a shit on the remains. On the other, 9nine had a downward spiral so steep it's hard to figure out what the hell Sony are on. Every single they released this year has been shit. I'll give them a tie.

Best PV of 2011

Was torn again. SKE had some good ones this year (hooray Akagumi), but in the end this just topped them all by being beautiful.




Looking forward to Alcest's new album next week, should be an early contender for next year's best album.


Best "Did They Really Do That?" PV of 2011


Lulz.

Best "You Just Broke My Fucking Mind" PV of 2011



Oh salyu. Blame Henkka for introducing me to it.

Best "Aww They're So Cute I Just Want To Stick Them In An Asylum" PV of 2011


Lulz Momoclo why you so psycho?

Biggest "Oh Why Couldn't This Have Been More Epic" of 2011

ChthoniC, long one of my favourite bands, released the final album in their Souls Reposed trilogy this year. After giving 9.6/10 to Seediq Bale and 9.4/10 to Mirror of Retribution, I was looking forward to Takasago Army. The first single from the album was Takao, which was awesome.

Indeed, the first 3 songs of the album were so strong it was heading for amazingness. Possibly even higher than Seediq Bale. Then the other seven songs happened.

While not bad songs, they just didn't grab me enough. One song in particular was shit though (Root Regeneration). Just some Pgaku flutes and some guy talking in what sounded like the Rakata language from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. In the end it managed a measly 7.1/10. I was disappoint. Hopefully next time they become more used to the whole "composing Taiwanese folk then metallising" thing.

Best Idol Songs of 2011

3. C-ute - Midnight Temptation



Live version is so hot. Plus solo is still fucking epic.

2. Momoiro Clover Z - Kimi no Ato



One of the sexiest ballads ever. From our resident idol psychopaths, no less...

1. Super GiRLS - NIJIIRO Namida...



Another sexy ballad. With another sexy solo.

Best Idol Singles of 2011

3. SKE48 - Pareo ha Emerald

Because bikinis, high tempo music and awesomesauce.

2. Momoiro Clover Z - Roudou Sanka


Ian Parton and Ootsuki Kenji doing the a-side, the aforementioned Santasan as the Bside, and an Akirastar composed JpopMetal Cside. What the hell's not to like?

1. AKB48 - Kaze ha Fuiteru


A-side was awesome, Bside was awesome, both Csides were awesome. All in all full of winningness and other awesomes.

Best TV Show of 2011

Bimyo~. Too many lulz.

Worst Album of 2011

Partenza.


Top 10 Albums of 2011

10. Old Silver Key - Tales of Wanderings
A side project of Neige from Alcest and the Ukrainian Black Metal band Drudkh, what we have here is basically an album that sounds similar to Drudkh's Handful of Stars album, with a heavy dose of Alcest added for good measure. On the other hand, it's nowhere near as good as Alcest's Écailles de Lune from last year. Firstly because, whilst Roman Saenko and company are proficient on their instruments, they seem slightly too unused to the more polished shoegaze sound that's needed. As a result, sometimes the instruments sound too muddy, the drums are mixed pretty poorly, and some of the panning is weird. There's occasionally two guitars and the bass sitting in the middle of the headphones, while another guitar is all the way on the left-hand side, but with nothing to counterbalance it on the right. Also, Neige is singing in English here, and it just doesn't work as well as French for expressing the effervescent nature of the music. Still, all told, it's a nice little album.

7.6/10

Standout Tracks: November Night's Insomnia, Star Catcher, Burnt Letters

9. Korpiklaani - Ukon Wacka
Korpiklaani are my base measurement rod for the more fun end of metal. I can rely on them to release a decent-to-good album full of silliness and drinking songs every 12-18 months, and if it makes it on my year-end list then it's been a pretty weak year for metal. Such is the case this year. Ukon Wacka is pretty much the same album as Karkelo, just this year they sing about Tequila instead of Vodka. They also cover a Motorhead song, another band renowned for releasing the same album all the time. Still, the songs are fun, good, epic for drinking to and Jonne still makes me laugh whenever he joiks. The slower, Moonsorrow-esque tracks this time around are quite awesome.

7.7/10

Standout Tracks: Louhen Yhdeksäs Poika, Ukon Wacka, Surma

8. Burzum - Fallen
Varg disturbs me how he can make music so grim yet so beautiful. This album marks the second since he got out of prison, and it's not too bad. His screaming vocals are still weird, but at least they aren't as bad as his "heavy breathing" on the re-recording album From The Depths Of Darkness. He also attempts clean vocals, not as bad as I was thinking they would be. Some wonderfully grim riffs in places though.

7.8/10

Standout tracks: Jeg Faller, Vanvidd, Budstikken

7. Passpo - Check-In
Well, not bad to land on my Top Ten on their maiden voyage... (see what I did there? lulz) Anyway, their new album has both Shoujo Hikou (the debut #1) and Vivi Natsu on it, both quite decent songs. The style is, similar to their Indies album, pop rock. Which of course, goes down well for me. The songs themselves are well-composed, and the girls aren't bad singers, so this is quite a good album. A lot of the tracks are quite pacey too, so yea. All in all, they're looking like they'll almost certainly take off in 2012.

8.1/10

Standout Tracks: Hello, Material Girl, Starting Over

6. Galneryus - Phoenix Rising
Since Yama-B left Galneryus I pretty much left them alone, as I didn't think Ono was as good a vocalist, and the style on Resurrection sounded a bit naff. Luckily I decided to give Phoenix Rising a go, and straight from the off it makes me think "wtf", with a growling Syu taking lead vocal duties on The Rising, and the music sounding more like Bal-Sagoth than Galneryus. From Tear Off Your Chain onwards though, it's back to service as normal, with Syu and Yuhki shredding the shit out of everything, and Ono not doing too bad on vocals. Overall, the ballads and proper Galneryus speed metal are all there, plus The Rising, a load of slightly more epic songs and even a balls-to-the-wall rock-out number in Bash Out makes this one of the more experimental Galneryus albums. All in all, not too shoddy.

8.2/10

Standout Tracks: Spirit of Steel, The Wind Blows, Bash Out, The Time Has Come

5. Alestorm - Back Through Time
I'm so getting lynched for this, but yes, I enjoy Alestorm. The new album takes what they set out to achieve, mixes it with in-jokes, drinking songs and Dimmu Borgir to make a surprisingly strong and even more surprisingly coherent offering. There are your standard Alestorm songs, but also the rather thrashier Shipwrecked, the latest cool ballad Scraping The Barrel, drinking songs Buckfast Powersmash (which even quotes the Chuckle Brothers themetune) and Rum, and the frankly epic closer Death Throes of the Terrorsquid (which does go all Dimmu by the end). Not to mention the lulzy covers of I Am A Cider Drinker (by The Wurzels) and You Are A Pirate (by Lazytown). Good fun.

8.3/10

Standout Tracks: Back Through Time, Scraping The Barrel, Death Throes of the Terrorsquid

4. Momoiro Clover Z - Battle and Romance
Why yes, our little psychos. Ridiculously strong album, featuring especially epic songs, especially silly songs, and especially exuberant songs. Can't really say much more than I did in my review from earlier this year, so I'll just leave you with that rather amusing album cover to look at.

8.7/10

Standout Tracks: Wani to Shampoo, Pinky Jones, Kimi no Ato, Momoclo no Nippon Banzai!

3. C-ute - Chou Wonderful 6
Again, one I reviewed earlier. Tsunku showing that he is still capable of writing decent songs, when he feels like it. Also that he can hire some epic guitarists. Again, read the review.

9/10

Standout Tracks: Midnight Temptation, Lululululu..., Aitai Lonely Christmas.

2. Opeth - Heritage
This album was a surprise. I was expecting an amazing progressive death metal album, along the same lines as 2007's epic Watershed but a bit further out there. What I got was one of Akerfeldt's Italian 70s Prog LPs instead. Nonetheless, it's an extremely good piece of 70s Italian Prog Rock. This is basically a period drama. Just an album instead of a drama. I can just imagine Akerfeldt and company rocking up to the studio in a 70s Ford Capri wearing knitted sweaters and sporting sideburns and handlebar moustaches. It sounds like it was recorded on an 8track, with completely analogue setups. The amp sound is a valve amp with some serious bass. The songwriting is awesome too. The Devil's Orchard is a masterpiece of 70s prog, Slither sounds like Motorhead after nicking Tony Iommi's guitar. The keyboards, which are central, are played well, and all 70s sounds. Hammond, Moog, Mellotron, Flutes, shit, they even got Mendez to play an upright bass. This just is 70s, and it doesn't feel any less natural for it.

9.1/10

Standout Tracks: The Devil's Orchard, Slither, Famine

1. For All We Know - For All We Know
For All We Know is the sideproject of a Dutch guitarist called Ruud Jolie, better known for his time in the hardly metal at all anymore band Within Temptation. This album, luckily, sounds nothing like WT have done for the past ten years, and instead we get a rather wonderful prog metal album. Featuring Kristoffer Gildenlöw on bass, Léo Margarit on drums (both have been in Pain of Salvation), the ever-amazing Wudstik on vocals, some Dutch guys on keyboards and loads of guest vocalists (including Daniel Gildenlöw, Damian Wilson and Sharon den Adel), the lineup is pretty damn good. The music is all by Jolie, with the exception of the first track, which Wudstik wrote. All the songs are pretty damn good, the musicianship is of high quality throughout, and Wudstik has levelled up since he first crossed into prog/metal on Ayreon's 01011001 in 2008. It's amazing to me how a rapper can be such an amazing prog vocalist, but oh well. I'll just keep being stunned. Overall, it's a brilliant album, and I'm looking forward to hearing Jolie do more prog stuff in the future, and for Wudstik to do anything at all in any genre.

9.5/10

Standout Tracks: All of them.

So yea, that's it for this year. Next year has some interesting stuff ahead (Mayuyu and Wasamin solo singles, SKE lesbianism, etc), so I look forward to writing about it.

Pozdrav,
Krv

3 comments:

  1. Very nice! I can't believe I forgot Opeth had a new album :( Le sad.

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  2. Boo! You know nothing! Merely saying that Kikka-sama debuted! Still I have to agree that the s/mileage singles you chose for worst aren't easy to argue against, well actually, almost any AKB48 single would get my vote :p

    Regarding NGP, I agree it is extremely annoying how they have done fuck all, also their fabclub is closing which suggests they aren't even bothered about their paying hardcore wota. fortunately sometime in March The Possible have a new full-length album, and the previews for the singles that serve as promo are all excellent.

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  3. Just a few quick notes.

    - Judging from the previews, Watanabe's PB doesn't seem half-assed at all (sorry, had to)
    - It's interesting how I absolutely feel you're one of the H!P fans I identify musically with the most, and yet, we have all these fun discrepancies even in our taste in H!P -- for example how we feel about Buono!, and now I see you put Tachiagaaru in your suckiest singles top 3 (it'd have to be in my top 3 of H!P's BEST this year!). I'm sure there's plenty of more that I'm forgetting about now.
    - Really happy to hear you like Salyu. She very quickly rose to the top of my recent faves. Love her. She has a new album coming out in Feb, by the way.
    - Fallen was cool beans. And even after my "I hate idol music" or whatever it was, I have to admit: Battle and Romance was really cool beans, too.
    - Remind me to give Chou Wonderful 6 another chance.
    - Heritage, on the other hand, I thought fucking sucked. I can't believe how huge of a disappointment that album turned out to be for me. I'm not even from the camp going "OPETH GRAOWLZ YEAAAAHH ROCK BALLS!!" (I loved Damnation), but that album was just so shit-boring to me... as much as it hurts me to say that since they're my all time fave band and all.

    Hmm. This year was kinda a letdown for me musically. At least Foo Fighters put out "Wasting Light".

    ReplyDelete