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A Year In Review 2012, Part 1: Idols

So, this year I'm being slightly lazy. Also slightly unfair to you, the reader, as I'm going to make you trawl through all my year review on all idol groups in just one post, whereas in previous years I've kept it all separated into nice little easy to consume and ignore posts. However, this year I've decided that my approach of yesteryear is no longer even possible. How could it be, with an ever expanding number of idols that demand my attention, all of which having PVs and songs and personalities and catchphrases and so on to keep up with? Indeed, my excess had to reach its end at some point. This year, for example, the 48 family post would have been especially ridiculous had I kept the previous format. AKB alone had 20 PVs from singles, then an extra 3 for old songs and I don't know how many for Team Surprise, but I think it was 12. SKE had 12 (IIRC), NMB had 16, HKT had 1. By this point we're already at 64 and that's without any subunits or soloists. I think everything needs to end and at this point, merely attempting to come to terms with the sheer number of PVs resulted in my mind breaking.

So, as a result, you will see a slimlined version of my previous posts. I will take each group, and give my opinion on which has been their best song, their worst song, and best and worst PVs. With some of the bigger groups I'll also probably say which is their best standout moment or something. This saves me time and effort, which is good. After that I'll do another post of my usual tirade of weird and wonderful awards. So, into the fiery pit we descend once more...

WARNING: Embedded video heavy.



HELLO!PROJECT

Morning Musume.

Best Song:


Need I really say anything? Accordions, violins, a really fucking weird mode, and Reina doing a good job of leading a song. Honestly this reminds me a lot of Ali Project. Actually, of a particular Ali Project song. Obviously instrumentation is completely different, but the usage of weird modes and really crazy accidentals and resolutions turns me the fuck on. Masaki and Kudou are also not bad additions. In general, I love this shit.

Worst Song:


Yea, I went there. Much as autotunedubstepMusume isn't my cup of tea... this is shit. No other words for it. I sort of see what Tsunku was trying. Actually, no, I take that back. At the back of my mind I have a vague sense of there being some meaning behind it, but I doubt even a trained psychologist could figure out what the fuck this is about. Nothing flows, every element just seems to impede every other element. Like those hiccoughs in the verse. Why the fuck did Tsunku think putting those in was a good idea? I have no clue.

Best PV:


I'll admit, this isn't a particularly good PV. However, it's better than the others Momusu have released this year in a few ways. One, the prison shots. Two, they seem to have put a lot more effort into the CG backgrounds for this one. Three: the song doesn't actually suck that badly, despite the vocoding and autotunes.

Worst PV:


I apologise profusely to you, the reader, for subjecting you to this twice. While it was difficult to pick a "best" PV, due to them all being relatively shit, picking the worst was never in doubt. While the others suffered from cheap budgets, overabundant sparkles and no locations whatsoever, this is the only one that reminds me of an incredible quote from a book I really like. In it, a character is deciding how to dress. In explaining his eventual choice to dress incredibly outrageously, he sums it up thus: "There are three kinds of dress clothing. The kind that offends the wearer, the kind that offends the viewers, and the kind that offends everybody. I'm going for the third type. Fair is fair." I cannot imagine anybody being enthused when presented with a chicken suit to wear. I can't imagine anyone with a mental age higher than three being enthused when presented with a PV to watch with people wearing chicken suits in it. On one hand, the PV does actually try to do something outside the norm (of danceshot/closeups interspersed, anyway), by showing some projection movement between picture frames and whatnot. I imagine, in a year that Dempagumi.inc hadn't released a much better attempt at achieving this effect, Momusu might have even won some mild praise for it. Assuming, of course, they didn't have the chicken suits. And if the song didn't suck so much.

Most Random Guitar Solo:


Random techno heavy song randomly gets actually quite listenable solo in the middle of it. Not bad...

Standout Moment:

Really no question about it.



You know, just destroy Avex's dance group heirs with insanity and complete irreverence. For the hell of it. Bonus points for Yuko.

Review:

So, my overriding problem with Momusu this year has, actually, nothing to do with the actual members. Since Gaki and Aika left it's been pretty well balanced. There's been no single member I've not liked, and I do plan to eventually get around to finding out more about Sato Masaki, probably the only one I've actually overlooked. By this point, I'm fairly certain I'm not going to regret labelling Ayumi as my first oshi in the group since Jun's departure (and only third overall). I think, under Sayu's leadership, the new members have flourished (as opposed to new members under Aichan, where they got shaded out by her spotlight and inability to be at all interesting, whereupon everyone else withered. Case in point: Jun and Lin, who tried their best to break the mould and have some fun with Nakai and co. but were shot down by seniors because Lin yobisute'd Nakai). Honestly, this, more than anything, makes me so fucking glad Aichan is gone. She could dance and sing, yes. No denying that. But if boringness was a terminal disease, she wouldn't have lived long enough to join the group.

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent again. My overriding problem with Momusu this year is all to do with management and Tsunku. Their sales have increased. Well done, have a cookie. Now continue to increase sales while, I don't know, maybe trying harder to get more exposure on TV. I mean, seriously, what's the point in H!P having a TV show which is so shit people go out of their way to avoid it? Not to mention it has Aika in a prominent role. Didn't she die already? On the other hand, if they continue to get slots on Nakai's Kurobara and whatever, and maybe make another TV drama starring members that isn't a really weird maths-based rip-off of Majisuka, they might convince me they actually are trying to put up a fight. This is, after all, the Idol Warring States Period.

But yea, biggest problem this year is definitely Tsunku. Not only has his Momusu output been subpar, the autotune really has to stop. It's doing my head in. I don't know how I can find the idols good but hate the music. Not happened to me before, really. Even with AKB it's more a "like the idols, becoming perpetually bored by the music." It's soporific, but it doesn't garner unrelenting hatred.

Of course, this only refers to singles. There were actually some decent tracks on the album, plus of course that sexy motherfucking B-side.

Grade: Members: A, Tsunku: F, Upfront: D.

Berryz Koubou

Best Song:


Because Tsunku had nothing to do with the music. Oh, plus the music's actually quite fucked up and interesting. Yay.

Worst Song:


Damn, this thing is a horrific piece of shit. Melodically weak, rhymically weak. Plus autotune all over the fucking place. Please, someone, kill this before it's too late.

Best PV:


z0mg an outdoor location, idol interaction and extras. Is this really H!P? Still, that blonde girl with crazy fucking pigtails and looking like the old Playstation alien girl standing behind Berryz makes this PV.

Worst PV:


This had the potential to be a decent PV. They have locations (in a H!P vid, shock), they have a song which isn't too insipid... and then they have jerky and horrifically scarring camerawork, makeup applied by either three-year old girls or 60-year old transvestites, and did I mention Risako? No? Good. I want to keep my mind intact.

Review: 

Honestly, what the hell has gone wrong with Berryz this year? The only good song they had wasn't written by Tsunku, they seem to have found better success in the Thai market than Japan, and what the fuck is their new PV for Want all about? Looks like an advert for Asian Hookers, not a H!P Kids PV.

Grade: F

°C-ute

Best Song:

Actually a draw, for a change.


The harmonies and chord progressions in this song are amazing. Amazing enough to make it so fucking epic that it's all the way up here. Honestly, there is nothing bad about this song at all. So much so I don't even mind that three of the girls do nothing but dance. But hell, this is C-ute, not like that's anything new...



Really, this song is amazing. Mix of dance beats, metal guitar, good vocal melodies and chord progressions, and then the absolutely fucking amazing random epic progressive metal chord progression in the mid-8.

Worst Song:


I've said before, this song title is possibly the best case of irony I've ever seen in my life. It's a fucking mess. And shit.

Best PV:


Kimichari had about three million PVs, but the main one was pretty effective. If only for the impassioned cries on messageboards about "z0mg Airi's holding hands with that boy they've obviously been fucking for the past three years, she's pregnant and is going to quit!!!11!11!1one!1!1!eleven!111!!1!!!!jeden!1!"

Worst PV:


Because unfortunately those things on the Best Album don't count. This PV isn't too bad. Indeed, none of C-ute's were terrible this year. This just has way too much white and horrible split-screening. On the other hand, epic choir bit and guitar solo help.

Review:

Honestly, C-ute have had quite a good year. Only two singles, but both of them didn't suck terribly badly. The album was nowhere near as good as Chou Wonderful, but shit, what is? Also, Airi, Chisa and Maimi are still good singers, they're all still good dancers, and Mai has finally grown into her head and developed quite a longcat-esque physique. The cutest PB is also remarkably good.

Grade: B+

S/mileage

Best Song:


It's not amazing. But it's better than all the rest put together and then some.

Worst Song:

All of the rest of them.

Not reviewing PVs because honestly I can't sit through all that shit without wanting to punch something.

Review:

I hate S/mileage. Any questions?

Grade: U

Mano Erina

Best Song:


Some interesting stuff going on in it. Nothing amazing but it doesn't suck nearly as badly as the stuff from years past.

Worst Song:

Can't decide. I don't want to find and listen to her album just to decide worst song, nor can I find the Bsides on youtube. So screw it.

Best PV:


Conceptual, slightly weird and generally cool.

Worst PV:


Yea, boring. Leave the mass-dances for SKE.

Review:
I'm glad she's leaving. Not because I hate her, but because I'm honestly just so "meh" about her I hope she can go elsewhere and do something worthwhile. Like, you know, playing piano again.

Grade: C

Kikkawa Yuu

So, not precisely H!P, but who cares.

Best Song:


Random win and awesome anime-esque rock+dance track.

Worst Song:
Ari no Mama no I Love You. Can't find a video, ostensibly because it sucks so much even Youtube can't tolerate its failure.

Best PV:


So much random little things all over the place looks like it could have been a Kyary video.

Worst PV:


So much pink.

Review:

So, not a bad year for Kikka, travelling all over the damn place and making fans. She's won me over slightly with her album, though her two singles weren't particularly amazing and the whole idea of the Vocalist album confuses me somewhat, still, not a bad year.

Grade: B

Buono!

Best Song:


Those harmonies, that organ, that sexy guitar work... Oh yea.

Worst Song:


Really it's not even that bad. It's just not as good as the rest.

Best PV:


Dawwwwww so cute and random and lulz and then lol France.

Worst PV:


Just for the lack of variety it has.

Review:

Much improved on last year, though to be fair they could have released nothing at all and it'd have been an improvement on last year. However, it was actually all good. No songs released this year got less than 6/10, which is good. On the other hand, they still need more songs.

Also, France was epic and hard to believe that that was actually this year. Damn time flies.

Grade: C

Not doing the Satoyama shit because I like my mind calm and not wanting to punch my speakers. Thus, H!P stuff is at an end.

Overall Grade: C

○○○48

AKB48

Best Song:
Itsuka Mita Umi no Soko. Like I'm gonna be able to find a video for an AKB album track. Anyway, this song is easily the best on 1830m that isn't from last year. Decent chord progressions, decent vocal melodies, along with some good pace and power.

Worst Song:


No, seriously, why would you ever let Mariko sing anything?

Best PV:


Idols kicking the shit out of each other. What's not to like?

Worst PV:


How dull.

Best TV Show:
AKBとXX, for still being decently good.

Worst TV Show:
Gachigase. Does anyone actually still watch this shit?

Review:

Honestly, this has been a weird year. While it's been a complete rehash (again) of last year and the year before releases wise, and while none of the singles have been particularly decent, they're obviously still over as fuck (to use a pro-wrestling term) with people who buy their shit. It's also been a year of marked change. The amount of brief scandals and randomness has caused in recent weeks no fewer than three 2nd gen girls to announce their graduations, finally taking 2nd gen down from its perch as the biggest gen still active. I think now it's 9th, which just goes to show. Maeda leaving is, of course, noteworthy, as well as a case of "finally". They may sell less now, but at least it makes for better TV shows where she doesn't have to sit there and look bored in. Still, I'm hoping that all this 新世代エース bullshit ends soon. Dunno how they can call Jurina a next generation ace when she's been at the front of SKE for nearly 5 years now, and Mayu when she's been at the front of AKB since she debuted. And the term is being applied to ever stranger girls, saw one article with SKE's Kinchan labelled as such. Where does it end? Still, for all the turnaround of old members and entrance of new members, too little progress has been made.

Grade: D.

SKE48

This is actually probably irresponsible of me, but for the purpose of this post I'm classing KII's third stage as a 2012 release, as that's when the album came out, even though the stage began being performed last October. That's because SKE have had hardly any songs out this year.

Best Song:


The best song from KII's third stage, and what a song. Wonderful little glissando slides on the synths, wonderful guitar leads and strong vocals keep this a level higher than anything else SKE have done lately.

Worst Song:


Really can't find any interest in this song. At all. It's trying to be cutesy but the music is just so boring and the vocals so helium-y.

Best PV:


Was there ever gonna be any question about this? Sort of took the whole idea from Akagumi's crazy as fuck Dareka no Sei ni ha Shinai, got rid of the goth makeup and ramped up the lesbianism. Also, Jurina such a player...

Worst PV:


Wow, a festival *yawn*.

Review:

So, this year SKE have only released three singles (in comparison to AKB's 5billion and NMB's 4). In general, they're keeping mostly to their "standard", in which the A-side is an energetic, frenetic dance number; the Akagumi song is pretty dark in tone with a PV to match, often artsy or grim in some way; Shirogumi have generic happy-pop with PV's full of lomo colours where white is pink or pale blue instead of actually being white; and the other song is just dull. On the other hand, their sales are gradually stabilising. Kataomoi's on the verge of 600k, with Aishiteraburu and Kiss Datte Hidarikiki not far behind, so I guess they're not facing AKB's imminent decline just yet.

TV show wise, SKE have been lacklustre. Sekai Seifuku Joshi started out with such a marvellous premise: have SKE challenge people from around the world at random games. Unfortunately that stopped, whether due to the fact that SKE were getting their asses handed to them by a bunch of uppity gaijin or the fact that the ready supply of gaijin just ran out, I don't know. Either way, from there it descended into utter shit, apart from when they called some of the more amusing foreigners back for a few shows. That Spanish guy with the sombrero and guitar = fucking awesome. Magical Radio 2, on the other hand, was much better than Magical Radio 1. Due to a combination of much improved budget, more Kanon, less Jurina and Rena and Yuria's delightful wackyness, all drawn together by Yagami "I'M SO FUCKING METAL I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY AND ALL HUMANITY DOWN TO EACH RESIDUAL EMBRYO" Kumi, we got a show that was actually amusing more than 60% of the time. Not bad considering the two "comedians" supporting them in the show are absolutely insufferable.

Grade: B+

NMB48

Best Song:


Oh yea, hints of Misrlou and surf rock, cajke and Mexican ska all at once. Not to mention the title. At all...

Worst Song:


So horribly catchy, it's not even funny. PV on the other hand, is funny.

Best PV:


Just random as all hell but amusing at the same time.

Worst PV:


Because boring. Though I suppose fans of costuming would love it. Also incredibly whiter than anything blonde guys who fancy themselves bagging an idol for a lover.

Best TV Show:

Gotta be Geinin. Docking48 is just too much focus on the comedians, and Challenge48 aside it's boring as fuck. Geinin, on the other hand, was hilarious, from Jo's ultimate grin to Milky's epic boke, plus Maachun's random pervy jokes. And that's even before Hitomin and Kimoshita showed up (which was where it went all the way up to eleven... and then kept going). Really, this was probably the best idol show of the year. You must watch it.

Best Moment:

Gotta be Kimoshita getting kicked into a shower to wash all the fake blood off her before recording her senbatsu election video, after which she just doesn't give a shit and tells people to vote for Mayuyu.

Review:

NMB have had a good year. Though Sayanee's not quite as interesting as she was (the castle impressions having fallen on the wayside), Milky has been holding them afloat with her complete mess of a fake personality. But that's why I like her. Added to that, Jo left, which was a bit of a loss (though apparently she plans to rejoin once she's got into a decent highschool), but the gradual rise to prominence of Kimoshita, Hitomin and Yabushita is a good thing. Yagura's not a bad choice to centre team M now Jo's gone, and the rest of the members are as delightfully insane as ever.

Music-wise, again much of the same. Odd-numbered singles are quirky, bizarre singles that range from disco to ska-cajke-surf rock, even-numbered singles are upbeat happy pop.

Addition of Yui just means one more person stealing the spotlight from more deserving members. Not saying Yui isn't a hard worker (by all accounts she's one of the hardest working in AKB), but this loaning thing makes no sense to me. For Jurina and Milky to go to AKB is one thing, for one they're both senbatsu anyway so they fit in. For Ishida Anna, Kotani Riho, Yui and Rie, it just smacks of "wtf is going on?"

Oh well, just another thing in the 48 family to be puzzled by.

Grade: A-

HKT48

So, no, they've not released anything this year (except one PV which exists just as much to say "fuck you Tsunku, we pulled a fast one on you" than actually likely being representative of HKT's final sound), yet I feel compelled to add them. This year they've actually impressed me. Sasshi's scandal pre-empted her move into the group, but with the transfers of other members and Lovetan's transfer, I can assume that it was either already going to happen that way, or that they just made Sasshi into the one transferring instead of say, Ooya (who's from Fukuoka anyway. So is Mariko, but I doubt they'd throw away that valuable a resource). They also had a bunch of scandals, none of which mattered in the slightest (though I suppose the reaction of the management was a bit weird. NMB scandals = slap on the wrist, all voted back in, pretty much. HKT scandal: everyone fired, including the one who wasn't involved but let it slip to management.) However, they have broken through into the sea of the masses of AKB with some very prominent standouts.

First among them is, of course, psycho nutcase Murashige. Takamina referred to her on AKBingo last week as the "younger version of me". That's not to say Anya has any leadership skills whatsoever, just a matter of fact comment that they both find themselves hilarious but their jokes almost always bomb. Though to be fair, I find myself laughing at Murashige more than at Takamina. She lost her comic foil in the scandals (Komori Yui, Anya's bitsized chewtoy, basically, was the one who reported it to the management and got fired anyway, by accounts I've read), but seems to have just fallen back on being outrageous. And stealing Sasshi's old shtick, she now molests everyone and calls it Murashigessment. She even does it to Lovetan and gets away with it.

Secondly I'd be amiss in not mentioning Sakura, the girl who wants to eat your soul and watch the world burn who cannot react to anything, either pain or bad smells (see Hakata Hyakkaten episode 1 and AKBingo 121212 for evidence). She's into AKB Senbatsu by ostensibly being the most popular HKT member that isn't an AKB reject. She's also incredibly cute, and Yukirin's blatant clone (reactions aside, they must have forgotten to switch on that particular gene). They come from the same place, look pretty damn similar, and Yukirin picked Sakura as her oshi on Hyakkaten. Yep, definite clone.

Thirdly, apparent centre-failure Kodama Haruka. Contrary to popular tidings, I actually quite like her. She's certainly less boring than Maeda Atsuko. In actual fact, her demeanour and voice sort of reminds me of a young Ishikawa Rika. With shorter hair and a lisp, but still. She's cute, and I hope that after the failure of being pushed into the centre when she wasn't ready for it fades she becomes properly popular in her own right.

Finally, a word on the troll centre, Tashima Meru, from the 2nd gen. She's in the centre for their first song, Hatsukoi Butterfly, for reasons that I can only think of as being a massive "you suck" to Tsunku, who turned her down twice, IIRC, for Momusu. She also seems pretty cool though, so hopefully the centre-hate that Harupii got won't strike her down.

Anyway, a grade based only on their appearances: A

Subunits and Solos

Honestly I can't be bothered to do them all. Nothing has really stood out that much. Wasamin's debut single was good:



Especially with that guitar behind it.

Mayu's Hikaru Monotachi had a delightfully insane PV.

No Name's single and AKB0048 in general introduced me to Karen, who's awesome.

And that's about it really. It's like this year they just didn't give a fuck about Subunits and just let everyone have solo debuts.

Other Idols:

Again, not really bothered to go through everything. So I'm just going to do awards for best of everything that isn't going to be in the awards posts. Also, because I've now spent the better part of four days working on this post, I really need to hurry up and finish it because otherwise I'll never do the awards or the Beats roundtable.

Best Song:


This song is fucking amazing. I did a little ode to it in my review of their album, but fucking hell. That 80s-ness. That hook. That everything. It's like everything I could hope for in pop-rock. Or 80s-pop. Or anything really. It's just so win.

Best Single:
 
Damn, Hyadain strikes again with his awesomeness, backed by Marty Friedman's delectable shred and a 100-piece choir. Oh hellz yea.

 Best "Did Avex Really Release A Sigh Tribute?":
Can't say I'm a TGS fan, but holy fuck this thing is pure win. Whoever wrote it was blatantly channelling Kawashima Mirai. If their singles sounded like this on a consistent basis I'd be hooked.  

Best Thrash Metal Idol Song:
You know shit's getting real when some kids from Sendai release a better thrash song than Metallica have managed in more than 30 years.  

Best wtf kind of crazy motherfucking thing is this moment of the year:
Oh Ebichuu you so fucking mental. Calling out Sasshi for "getting scared and running away to Hakata" also = rofl.  

Best Holy Shit This Is Actually Metal:
What more to say? Except, SU-METAL FTW!

Best Naked PV:
 
Haha, and it's not BiS. Shocking. Still, The Possible's first single in forever. And not half bad at that.

Anyway, that's all I can be bothered with for this post. Join me again soon where I've some actual awards to dish out and a bunch of albums to forcibly try to convert you to.

Pozdrav.

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