Top 50 Idol Music Videos

Well, it's been a while. wu has gone more than a week without posting, quite a drastic change from about fifty in under a month. Henkka's busy translating for benefit of pageviews and glorious profit for nation of monotones, and I haven't seen skald or Delrey around in a while.

So we come to this, the latest of my insanely long, occasionally pointless and soon obsolete lists. This time I’ve chosen to step away from music momentarily and focus on the other side of my formal training. Sort of. I’m a stills photographer, not a cinematographer, but I have a deep-seated affection for the art-form that is the promotional video. That said, I do have a slightly different view than some as to what makes a music video good. To me, a promotional video should be a silent film with the music in the background, a short film no more than a minute or two longer than the length of the song. I also look highly upon abstractions, concepts and PVs that tell a story without the need to resort to dialogue. This sort of disqualifies a lot of later-day AKB48 videos that may otherwise have stood a chance, because they’re no longer really PVs at all, but full-fledged drama episodes. Another thing I disapprove of is ridiculous amounts of post-processing work unless it’s in some way required to gain the needed effect. For example, the ridiculous sparkles in recent Momusu PVs = instant fail.

For a change, there are no draws in the top 50. This happened by accident, which is confusing, considering how many PVs there are in incredibly close proximity to each other in score. In fact, in the 84 PVs I gave scores to, there's only one draw: between AKB's Hitsujikai no Tabi and Momusu Sakuragumi's Sakura Mankai at 66.

I drew in some help for listing the PVs this time. As I had no inclination to watch nearly 1000 PVs to determine the best, I helpfully found a way around it: get other people to do it for me. Sort of. I asked a bunch of people for recommendations and as a general rule got about zero. A few people gave me one or two. Henkka gave me about 30, some of which I deleted. So in the end I had to go through and watch a bunch of stuff. Of course, AKB were the most annoying. Any group that puts out 32 PVs in one year, not counting sister groups, subgroups, soloists or other stuff is really going some to annoy me. Even so, through sheer spam power, AKB have more PVs in this list than any other group. I suppose if you release enough of something you're bound to get a good one eventually. For most groups I accepted that the vast majority of their output was shit, and then carried on thinking so until convinced otherwise, unless I could specifically remember something. Thus, SKE PVs were done entirely from memory, Momusu almost entirely by memory, yet on the other side of the coin I watched some PVs I'd never even heard of before, let alone seen, including a bunch by older groups like Hinoi Team and SweetS. However, none made it to the list so I could have better spent my time elsewhere.

This post will contain possibly a huge amount of "alternative" video sites, because for some reason some idol groups seem to not want to release their music videos online. Also one label which blocks us filthy gaijin from watching entirely. I may devote an entire hate post to them at a later date. So, if you have problems with Yinyuetai, Tudou, Youku or other Chinese video sites, you may not be able to see all of them. But I'm sure there are "resources" at your disposal anyway.

To give you an idea of what I consider to be good PVs, here are some from some non-idols. The music is all over the place in these, so it barely even fits the metalhead label anymore, but oh well. Good PVs are good PVs.

Sólstafir – Fjara (a beautiful PV which presents just the right amount of conceptual imagery, self-contained storyline and scenery porn to please just about everyone. Under my rather strict rankings this time, this is probably the only one here that would get full marks on everything).
Alcest – Autre Temps (a PV showing the ephemerality of humanity whilst contrasting the eternal beauty of nature by use of showing the same couple throughout their lives, while the scenery never changes).
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2U (23 years later and this video still wrenches me by the sheer depth of Sinead's raw emotion).
The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up (still Jonas Åkerlund's masterpiece. The best use of story in a PV probably ever, and then that twist ending).
Johnny Cash – Hurt (it takes something special to even make me consider listening to country. This goes about ten steps further, and melds it to the emotion of a bloke on the edge of death).
Björk – Declare Independence (Honestly I could have picked just about any Björk video, they're all crazy and special in just the right, creepy and mildly insane kind of way. This one has great political overtones to meld with the song).
Sigur Rós – Viðrar vel til loftárása (Words don't even do this justice).
Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy (unfortunately the quality is shit, but it's still genius for its creepiness).
Coldplay – The Scientist (goodbye, my metal cred. This had a great little idea, then turned it backwards. Still effective. Actually, probably more so).
World’s End Girlfriend – Les Enfants du Paradise (interpretive dance on the theme of insanity. It's super effective).

Another one which doesn’t meet my criteria, but still managed to create a storm of controversy and show that the music video is just as powerful a force for protest as short films is M.I.A’s Born Free. It’d be disqualified for being rather longer than the song, but the effect is chilling so it warrants an honourable mention.

In order to restore some metal cred after listing Coldplay and a bunch of other things as far from metal as you can get, here’s the unholy trinity of kvltest grim black metal to restore the balance.

Immortal – Call of the Wintermoon
Immortal – Blashyrk (Mighty Ravendark)
Satyricon – Mother North

So, to the idols! But first, to the explanations of the now expected 7 Arbitrary Rankings, with examples showing a specific attribute on PVs that didn't make the top 50.

  • Technical Skill is something I expect of every PV. This ranking generally focuses on the lighting, the camera-work, exposure and focus and so on. If something fails on this, it generally has no place unless the technical deficiencies are required by the concept. For example, handheld cameras being used to produce gritty realism, even though the camerawork will be jerky and oft unfocused. I'm harsh as hell on this rating, nothing got 100 marks. The highest was 92. AKB48's Ponytail to Shushu provides a massive idea of how a PV with incredibly good technicals should look. Almost everything is metred correctly, the beach scenes are exposed perfectly, the focus is perfect and scenes use fill lighting rather than being cheap and exposing for the foreground and blowing out the background (see: H!P photobooks which are almost always overexposed to the point of idiocy). The non-dance bits used the cheap way instead of exposing for the background and filling in with lights, resulting in some blowout (particularly in the Acchan bike-riding scenes), but it’s still one of the most technically proficient PVs I’ve seen.

  • Conceptual Realisation is ranking the concept itself, if it’s decipherable, and then how well it’s pulled off. Also focus on chronology, continuity and suchlike. I'm also harsh on this, again, no 100s. Highest was 95, achieved by two PVs. Manoeri's Genkimono de Ikou (Director's Cut) shows a good idea of a concept in action. It's a bit silly, but it's got a plot that the viewer can follow throughout (most) of the PV.

  • Visual style focuses on the use of thematic elements, colours (or lack thereof) and special effects (if used) that work together to produce something that sticks in your head. Also considering the use of off-coloured and cross-processed film or the digital equivalent under this, rather than technical. Three PVs attained 100 on this. C-ute's Tokaikko Junjou has quite a nice visual style. Toned-down hues and bright lights along with it being metred for the background mean it’s quite technically competent. However, the concept has some glaring issues. Where are they all walking so determinedly? Why are they sitting down at a Yokohama dock? And why is Maimi being such a bitch to Chisato, stealing her precious baseball and throwing it into the bay, where it miraculously turns into light? Many questions, few answers.

  • Direction considers the overall effect the director had on the filming beyond visual style and conception. Focusing on the character/idols and their expressions, how well the dance/choreography (if present) suits the concept, and editing. Only one PV attained the full 100 marks for this. AKB's Manatsu no Sounds Good had good direction, with cool editing, good performances (shockingly) and a surprisingly decent dance.

  • Song-mood, for lack of a better term, weighs how well the video fits the mood of the song being presented and ostensibly used as background music. Obviously, a crazily colourful and eye-hurtingly bright Ninagawa Mika PV isn’t going to fit a slow ballad. But it would fit bubblegum happy things. Not that she made this list. Again, nothing got 100 on this, because there were usually elements that clashed. The closest got 96. AKB's Uza got good on song mood, because a dark dance track has a dark dance video. Makes sense, in a way.

  • Effectiveness is the first highly arbitrary ranking, because it’s determined by how much the PV affected me personally. For example, if the song is cheerful and happy, does the PV make me feel cheerful and happy? If the song is sad, does it make me feel sad? If it contains a message, how much of that message is conveyed to me? It’s also a rank of how memorable it is, whether or not it’s stuck in my head for a particular reason. Despite it being arbitrary, only one song got 100. The Possible's Nanja Korya!? got quite high on effectiveness, because it's quite easy to remember a PV that prominently features the word "nude", cuts out the music to let the "vocal nude" shine through and also uses the age old tube-top cheat for nakedness.

  • Awesomeness is the second arbitrary one, in that it’s simply how much I like the PV. Four PVs attained 100 in this. I'm not gonna provide an example because obviously, what I think is awesome as a general rule might not be what other people think is awesome.

And so we come to the list. Brace yourselves and hold on to something without sharp edges, as the ride is about to begin.

50. AKB48 - Kurumi to Dialogue

Straight off and we're into weird territory. This Team A PV seems to have a concept, but making it out is pretty difficult. Becoming cool or something. Or choosing between two things which amount to basically the same thing? Who knows, either way, the visuals are pretty cool, especially that glass heart filled with liquid that Acchan breaks. However, despite it scoring high for concept and visuals, the direction really doesn't stand out (they all just look bored, editing isn't particularly complex) and the mood of the song is possibly not the best fit for the video. Still, it obtains a respectable score.


49. Berryz Koubou - Otakebi Boy Wao!

I must admit this is a pretty troll choice. The effects are cheesy, there's nothing really complex about the lighting and the direction isn't amazing. What it does have though is a concept. An incredibly weird one, that seems to consist of them living on a dead world and then Risako giving birth to its reborn version or something, which amuses me greatly. It reminds me a bit of AKB's Kaze wa Fuiteiru, only without the giant fucking Diglett. The song fits in quite well with the lightning and such. Actually, rewatching now pretty much everything Risako does in this PV is hilarious. Some erotic posing and growling combining together to make it really weird. Anyway, much lulz.


48. Tokyo Girls' Style - Rock You!

I've never liked this song mostly because the intro builds up sounding like it's gonna be anthemic rock or something, but then trolls by switching out and becoming TGS' usual funk thing. The PV, on the other hand, provides the earliest entry into this list for the five girls from Avex, based almost entirely on its technicals, which it was joint-second best on in the entire list. The desert scenes are shot so beautifully it's almost hyper-real. It also got respectable scores on concept (they do eventually get somewhere and do something, though the point I'm unsure of), visuals (the dulled hues of the desert scenes, which is a theme present in most TGS videos) and direction. However, the song doesn't fit, and it's mostly forgettable.


47. Kagaku Kyumei Kiko Logica? - Science Girl, Silence Boy

Musically this reminds me of a Canadian band called Faunts. Lots of nice little ambiences. The video is weird and overloads you with scientific formulae and chemical compounds and random stuff, and the three girls in this Sakugaku subunit turn into sprites and generally cause chaos for their sleeping teacher. This got decent points on technical, conceptual, visual and song-mood, but only mediocre on the other three. Nothing really amazing stands out, but it is cute and mildly fun.


46. Morning Musume - Onna ni Sachi Are

At this point I wouldn't be surprised if you started doubting my sanity. Or my ability to do this list. But there is a reason for this, which is basically a bog-standard Momusu danceshot/closeup PV, getting into the top 50. Granted, it was probably mostly unintentional and probably a mistake, but it added something. I don't know how many of you reading remember my Top 50 Idol Metal Songs list from two years ago, but I ranked ONSA in there too. The reasons it got on this list were for mostly the same reason: attitude. The constant mouthing of "baka" at the screen. The overwhelming goldness of it. The costumes that look like the girls were dragged screaming backwards through Gok Wan's wardrobe to find. And then the whole, "meh, we forgot our shoes, let's just dance anyway". It got most of its marks from visual, but that attitude still tells through, all these years later.


45. Momoiro Clover Z - Roudou Sanka

This PV is delightfully barmy, rushing at breakneck pace through all corners of Japanese working society and taking the piss out of them. From road labouring to office work, to getting absolutely drunk in an izakaya, and then the whole tie-around-the-head thing. As a parody, it's about as effective as one could probably manage within Japan without somehow causing grave offence. Scored pretty high on visual just for the sight of Momoclo in random costumes waving placards with slogans on them around. Beautifully madcap.


44. Tanpopo - Motto

One of Henkka's, this got on here because the song is sexy and so is the video, so for a change it got a pretty decent score on Song-mood. It also got decent technicals and visuals, and direction wasn't too bad either. The constantly shifting focus certainly draws the eye in. And, if you're particularly short-sighted, makes you cross-eyed in the bargain, helped along by the retro blue flashes, pauses and the sudden back-and-forth cuts. Still, for something this old it's not bad.


43. Dempagumi Inc. - Tsuyoi Kimochi, Tsuyoi Ai

Dempagumi amuse me solely because of what they are, an idol group of wota. I also read an article that they all used to be shut-ins and they're in their 20s, though I can't find an official source on that. But their music is provided, similar to Momoclo, by a who's who of the Japanese underground, and it seems their videos take a similar vein. This PV was shot entirely normally, and it's a crap PV. Then they took that PV, got a projector, and walked around Shibuya projecting it onto walls, people, boxes, bags, pretty much anything that provides a tonally neutral and generally flat surface, before finishing on one of Shibuya's big screens. It has such a gritty garage-feel to it I have to include it, just for having such a crazy fucking idea. This is what the projection in Momusu's horrendous Pyoko Pyoko Ultra should have been like, not nauseatingly bright little chickens going between boxes. Still, this is fun.


42. Berryz Koubou - Tomodachi wa Tomodachi Nanda

Such a rare thing, a H!P PV with an actual storyline! In this, the concept of friends abandoning Momoko would almost be good enough on its own. Then they come back and make it all better. Shame. Technically and visually it's not particularly amazing, the concept is decent, as is the direction and the song mood. It's certainly the best PV Berryz have ever done, not that that's saying a great deal.


41. NMB48 - Zetsumetsu Kurokami Shoujo

Shockingly, this is the only NMB PV on this list. There were some more in contention, but they missed out for various reasons, so this is the only representative. It's a shame, I think Junjou U19 and Ha! would both have been good entries, had they not required dialogue to work. A true shame. Anyway, Zetsumetsu builds upon the concept of 和, or Japaneseness. It shows the girls, all black-haired in reference to the title, participating in a number of archetypal Japanese activities, such as shoudou (calligraphy), judo, kyuudou (archery), sadou (tea ceremony) and iaidou (sword-drawing). The technicals aren't great, but the concept is cool, and the visuals of classical Japanese art styles is lush, grabbing quite a massively high mark and getting it here.


40. Morning Musume - Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari

As an intro song to Momusu, this is perfect for that era. It got decent technicals and concept, for the whole taking over a train bit and dancing in it. It also had a decently high song-mood, because the music is happy and fun, and so is the video. The direction wasn't amazing, but the switchcuts at the beginning of verses when they transistion from one girl into another worked quite well. Not bad at all.


39. Matsui Sakiko - Tamashii no Idou~Gugutasumin no Theme~

Considering this is a piano video, should it be on a list of idols? Well, it was released whilst Sakiko was in AKB, so I'm counting it as such. It's gloriously creepy, beautifully shot and somehow the creepiness of the song lends itself to the weirdness of the forest and Sakiko's bizarre look (you must admit, for a Japanese person she's incredibly gangly), to which when the end comes and she's coccooned in a spider's web somehow you're not only fully understanding of the circumstances of how she got there, but you feel kind of glad she did, like a harvestman finding home.


38. AKB48 - Dakishimechaikenai

I recommend you turn down your speakers. The first seconds of this PV show why it should be here. Filmed in one continuous take, through numerous costume changes and weirdness, it got pulled off on only the tenth take and still works, despite a few funny bloopers going on throughout, like Reinyan's crown of flowers falling down her face and becoming a necklace instead. Considering one camera and one take, it's surprisingly technically proficient too, not that you could tell from that awful rip I linked which was the only one I could bloody find.


37. Chocolove from AKB48 - Ashita wa Ashita no Kimi ga Umareru

I'll get this out of the way at the start: lol Rinatin. Anyway, from the black and white start up until the gloriously random ending, this PV is shot nicely, and with a specifically chocolate-esque visual style. I wonder why. Anyway, this PV teaches everyone a few incredibly important life lessons: when you get shot you bleed chocolate, and fuck me is it tasty. Yea, that's what I thought too. Still, it's fun.


36. Babymetal - Headbanger!

Headbang! This got great technicals and visuals, mostly for that crazy headbanging Sadako thing, but also for the nice muted tones in Su-metal's room, and the black/white/red dance scene in front of the amps. Grim. Also didn't do too badly on the song-mood, really. Considering you know, a song about headbanging having a PV featuring a surfeit of headbanging. What's not to like?


35. Buono! - My Boy

From true kvlt grim metal to mildly insane industrial pop punk metal. Or something, still can't figure out what the hell genre My Boy is, 4 years after it came out. This got high for concept and visuals, because wearing bright multicoloured clothes in a throne room or something is pretty rad. Also, breaking into a palace to steal cake. Only Buono... Full of crazy moments, mostly Momo's fault. The flower gun, the suit of armour... etc etc. On the other hand, this got pretty bad on the song-mood score, hell, if they're breaking into a palace you need some James Bond music or something, not Devin Townsend on crack writing Jpop.


34. Momoiro Clover Z - Otome Sensou

Momoclo, with laserguns and rocket launchers. And choir club. Also kwkm as a statue. That's just the icing on the cake from this seven minute long extravaganza of rather weird proportions. High on technical and direction, and rather respectable elsewhere, the PV is basically a visual representation of the lyrics. And it's basically as nonsensical as the lyrics too. Good good.


33. The Possible - Family ~Tabidachi no Asa~

Damn I love this song. Still. The PV has a certain mood which tends to oscillate along the same lines as the power of the music, so from the dark room with a single spotlight for the soft acoustic bits, to the full church singing bit in the chorus, it generally keeps itself in line with the music. As such, it got 91 on Song-mood, one of the highest. It also scored respectably on visual, technical and direction. Still, a pretty song and PV.


32. SKE48 - Papa wa Kirai

I don't think there's any question that this entire PV is about losing your virginity. Doesn't take Freud to work that out. Pure white and bright red. From innocent child to worldly woman. Or something, it's difficult to phrase. As it's basically just dances and closeups, with the only concept linked to colour, it shouldn't be this high, but it is. Why? Because the visual starkness between the colours, and the "dyeing" near the end, make the concept of the loss of virginity work visually without, you know, having to show it. So yes. First of many Akagumi PVs.


31. PASSPO - Wing

Hmm, vampire lesbians. In a church, wait, isn't that shit supposed to be anathaema to vampires? Or burn them to death or something? Weird. Anyway, the visuals and technicals on this PV are pretty damn good. I like the leaves. Very nice touch. Direction is also pretty good. On the other hand, I still don't know exactly what is "German Metal" about this song, as they claimed, nor what German Metal has to do with Cradle of Filth-levels of vampires and homoeroticism. Still, I don't mind it that much. Especially when they put on ChthoniC-esque ghost-paint near the end. Oh yes, it's like having 9 versions of Doris at once. At least, I think there's nine...


30. BiS - Idol is Dead

Speaking of holy shit brutal metal, here's BiS fucking shit up. You know, for fun. Bats with nails through them... that's fucking grim. This got good for visuals and direction, because them cuts and crazy pop art things. Also got good on the song-mood, because fuck, it's metal. Sort of. I always found it disappointing that they only slapped Dorothy Little Happy in their joint PV. I wish they'd taken the nail-bats. More blood = more fun.


29. Morning Musume - Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai

Because Sayumi's LSD-trips are fucking insane! This is probably the most creative Momusu PV ever, featuring Art Attack-esque stop motion of people and objects, comic book-esque effects and just insanity all around. Of course, visually it got high, the concept was also pretty good, and the PV matches the happy mood of the song, even if I wish the song were a bit more trippy in line with the video. Still, can't have everything eh.


28. Mano Erina - Song for the Date

I've been outspoken since forever about my general lack of regard for Manoeri, but this PV was certainly the best of the lot, and of course, recent events have made pretty much everyone with a pervy side in the fandom regard her rather more highly, but I digress. This PV is shot decently, has a cool concept of there being a light Manoeri and a Dark Manoeri, and visually it's quite cool too. Direction is also decent. Song isn't her worst, but it doesn't fit the PV particularly well either. Still, I like, certainly more than her 14 previous PVs combined.


27. Matsuura Aya - Ne~e

If the UN Convention on Human Rights prevented people from being exposed to colour warfare, this would probably be among the first things banned. Visually and direction wise it's incredibly good. Technically it's not bad, and song-mood wise it's the second best of the lot with 95. The song is the most sugary-sweet cute thing ever, and the video reflects that perfectly.


26. SKE48 - Hohoemi no Positive Thinking

And another from Akagumi. This song posits that if you're stranded in a fake wood surrounded by taxidermied animals, there'll always be a pond nearby. Not to drink from, no, just to splash around and dance in for no apparent reason. Still, technically good, visually appealing, direction is good, and again the song fits the PV quite well. Or the other way around. Positive and upbeat, in both respects.


25. BiS - My Ixxx

Less grim from them this time, and rather more naked. Sort of. This PV has a glorious use of colour, grabbing it a high visual. Other than that it's also high in awesomeness and respectable on everything else. Of course, they weren't actually naked, flesh coloured knickers and nipless work wonders really. The aesthetic is preserved though through that glorious lomo-style of colouring, along with the random silly colour powder at the end. Still, wonderfully playful and mildly insane PV, with a good backing song.


24. GAM - Melodies

Hands up if you weren't expecting this. Probably no one. Only surprise will be that it's not cracked the top ten, probably. Still, GAM. Still probably the outright sexiest PV in the whole of idoldom. Sexy in a sexual way, not just me describing something inanimate as sexy because it looks pretty. In a way, it's good that SDN48 never made I'm sure or AKB made OshiMeshi into a PV really, because this might have gained some competition. But yes. Legs. Good enough reason really. Oh wait, there's another one at the end. Almost forgot about it.


23. Fujimoto Miki - Boogie Train '03

This be one crazy song. But the visual comic book style is pretty shwing, the song is also pretty shwing, and Mikitty's always pretty shwing. The concept is also pretty cool, just have Mikitty doing the chores. You know in real life she'd never do them, I bet she's given Shouji a collar and leash and makes him do everything. Also wtf Momoko so tiny. Good thing the Kids ain't American, otherwise they'd be scarred for life by Mikitty getting changed in front of them eh. Still, much fun.


22. AKB48 - River (JX Carrera version)

Yep, not the real PV. This PV came about when Nemousu took a group of AKB girls to New York, and they split into two teams with two American music video directors to film original PVs for River. One of them was a Hiphop music video director who did a boring PV. The other one was JX Carrera, who decided "you know, fuck this whole Japan thing, let's get them in African tribal war paint." As he completely ignored the normal choreography, completely ignored the costumes (he stuck them in tube-tops and shorts so they'd look naked), and edited it like a psycho cutting gloriously between face, legs and paint being rubbed on paper, this got one of the highest direction scores going. Also, as the PV which single handledly got me into AKB, and also informed my choice of oshi for much of my first year, it certainly deserves credit.


21. Babymetal - Ijime! Dame! Zettai!

Flaming guitars, post-apocalyptic world, poor metalhead being abused by chavs. Visually and technically this PV gets pretty damn high. The concept isn't amazing, but it is pretty funny seeing the guy from Tyr getting his hair cut. The song mood again fits rather well, the lyrics rail against subculture bullying and that's shown in the video, plus, of course, the general metal aesthetic that shines though. Overall, it's a pretty cool PV.


20. no3b - Kuchibiru Furezu

This is like Onna ni Sachi Are's attitude on crack. Breaking shit, check. Breaking more shit, check. Hell, it's just no3b breaking shit, but it's fun. This is the only PV that got 100 for Direction, through the glorious performances wrought by Takamina, Miichan and Kojiharu, as well as that weird splitscreen effect which actually shows different things going on, much like a PV version of 24. Another thing that did it was the bit during the solo, following items between scenes from different angles and just looking massively awesome. Technically and conceptually it did well, and got a good mark on visual too. All in all, quite a rocking PV really.


19. Tokyo Girls' Style - Unmei

Once again, TGS lead the way in technical, grabbing another high score here. It also got good on direction and visuals, and decent on concept. The concept is weird though, they seem to be fooling around with blokes, leading me at first to think I was gonna get a BiS-esque social deconstruction to work my way through, but then they develop pyrokinesis and I become rather confused, so it lost marks for that. Of course, there's the usual TGS level of background detail and lush sets and costumes and the like, plus the one crowning moment in terms of technicals that comes when Miyu and Mei are standing hugging next to a mirror. First only Mei's face is in focus, then crazy splitcut (or incredibly fast focus adjustment) so that only Miyu's face in the mirror is in focus. Really just pretty in general.


18. W - Robokiss

Couldn't really go an entire post without H!P's all time biggest chaos causers. Technically, this PV is weak. However, the whole masses of robots idea was cool and they pulled it off rather hilariously, so it got good conceptual points. It also got good song-mood points because it's a silly song, fitting to a silly video. Also the visual style was pretty cool, all those pinks clashing with the silver. In a way this video could be a reference to Aibon's career path. Starts out cute but then so many people come inside that it all gets a little out of control. Wait, that was a bad metaphor. Still, oddly fitting.


17. Tokito Ami - Sentimental Generation

I'll be brutally honest, I'd never even heard of this before Henkka recommended it to me. I knew who she was, sort of, because she did some weird bikini song or something with The Possible, but I'd never checked out any of her stuff. What I found was odd. It's basically the daily rush for pudding from the legendary drama My Boss, My Hero, but for yakisobapan instead. And with Ami getting in the way because she can. And then singing. It did well on concept (because it actually predates My Boss, My Hero, I think) and on direction for the fight scenes, as well as respectably just about everywhere else. So it's here, and I may have to check out more of her stuff.


16. Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku - Kindan no Karma

Not even out yet and it makes this list, this is about the limit you can reach when you’re making a PV featuring only closeups and danceshots. By use of intricate and interesting lighting and cameras, they buck the trend. It may be cheap, but it’s better than having nothing going on, like in H!P videos. In fact, as they turn the normal lights off for the UV shots and merely leave the UVs running, it’s actually probably saving money. UV paint and wigs aren’t that expensive. On the other hand, when Momusu spend the budget on cheap and pointless special effects (sparkles? Recreating a city? Why not just, you know, film in the city?) they could probably spend it more efficiently on better directors or lighting rigs. If they insist on using special effects, for the same price as getting sparkles they could probably have Oda transform into Gollum (it shouldn’t be that hard to do, she’s halfway there already), steal Sayu’s ring and have a bunch of intrepid travellers lead by Ishida (shortest has to be Frodo) travel the world to throw it back into the Eye of Masaki. Or something. Iikubo would be Boromir. Riho would be Legolas, Kudou could be Aragorn and Norks can be Gimli. Ikuta is Gandalf. Fukumura Galadriel. Et voila, fabulous PV. Rather off topic, but yes. Scored highly on technical, got 100 marks for visual, and was respectable everywhere else, this is good bang for its buck. I generally ignored the speaking at the beginning because it has absolutely nothing to do with anything. At all. Ever.


15. Tokyo Girls' Style - Limited Addiction

Oddly, this didn't get an amazing technical score. Good, but not amazing. Mostly because of the blown out lights in the dance scene. Still, the visuals are faded and yet stunning, and the song-mood is probably one of the better fits from TGS songs, and the general weirdness of the concept got it up here. I'm not entirely sure why any of the girls are where they are, but it's oddly intriguing. Like Miyu's bath of rose petals. What the hell's that about? Hitomi's lizard is even more confusing. And then the mildly infamous Mei videotape bondage. Not sure what it means, but I'm sure there's a meaning in there somewhere.


14. AKB48 - Show Fight

Is there anything better than idols beating the shit out of each other? If there is I've yet to find it. Conceptually, this is great. Visually it's good too, and it picks up a good score in direction for the editing and fighting. Non's random wire-work in the middle is just hilarious. It also mixes in a load of humour, like Maachun, Nishi and Minarun all knocking each other out at the same time, and in-jokes like Lemon's head being ridiculously hard. The song-mood also got good points, especially when Moeno comes and knocks out Sakiko for being a coward just as the lyrics ask "Are you a fucking chicken?" This is the first song where I can really talk about the effectiveness rating, because THAT glare at the end by Tomu sends shivers down my spine every damn time. Even when I don't see this PV for months, I can still remember her eyes.


13. Watanabe Mayu - Hikaru Monotachi

This song got incredibly high on visuals and song-mood, because Mayuyu keeps going vocaloid in her singing parts and the video follows suit rather... disturbingly. This video plays nicely on the age-old idea that Mayu is a cyborg, and runs with it. It also scored high on technicals and concept, and in general it's pretty damn cool, especially when she randomly turns into an actual vocaloid. The song I honestly don't like much, but I can acknowledge that it fits the theme and purpose of the video far better than a song which might be better but less effective.


12. SKE48 - Two Roses

Man this is crazy. Scoring high on conceptual and visual, this uses colour and theme and makeup to great extent, melded to over the top director meddling by having most of it in slow motion. Technically and song-mood wise it's also decent, and it's most certainly memorable, if only for being batshit insane. Going back to robots and cyborgs though, no-makeup Jurina really doesn't look very human. Always knew there was something suspicious about her. She's blatantly HRP-4C.


11. Tokyo Girls' Style - Sayonara, Arigatou

This song is becoming an institution of these top 50 lists. This PV got 92 on technical, the highest out of any on this list. The 8 points were taken off because there's some overexposure in the sunset scenes, but even so this is shot gloriously, as I expect from TGS PVs now. It really is worth seeking out a HD version because the focus is fucking perfect, which doesn't seem to translate into the 360p version on Youtube. It also got a crazy high song-mood, for being slow paced and beautiful like the song, and the direction, concept and visuals were also good. Unfortunately, it lacked a bit in effectiveness because the song itself is so perfect I sometimes forget it even has a PV. Still, it's beautiful.


10. BiS - Idol

This PV is so fucking grim that the only thing missing is a pig's head. Or a sheep. And a few more crucified people. Wait, I'm thinking of something else... Except BiS are more brutal than Gorgoroth. Yea, fuck you Infernus. This is probably the outright darkest PV on the list. In terms of colouring, anyway, thematically there are certainly darker things to come. But yea, crucifixion, oh yes. This PV was a response to the fans thinking that BiS signing to Avex would make them a shitty, normal idol group. First they released a shitty, happy, generic pop song along with the accompanying shitty, happy, generic pop PV. Then they deleted it and uploaded this instead. Oh yes. Conceptually and visually good, direction decent, the song fits the mood damn well, and it's certainly memorable. Hell, when's the last time you saw idols being crucified? I wish it happened more often.


9. SKE48 - Koe ga Kasureru Kurai

At first I always thought this PV was an explicit reference to the fact that idols are products to be bought and sold, that popularity changes with the seasons and that adaptability is key to the idol world. It turns out I'd missed the beginning and the girls were actually vending machine drinks, but I think my interpretation was still implicit within the video and thus the right one to make. As a concept it's actually quite bold for a leading idol group to make, I mean, I'd expect it from BiS or Dempagumi, but not the sister group of the flagship idol group of the moment. As such, it got 95 for concept, the joint highest of any video. It also has high technicals for the marvellous night-lighting, visuals for the off-toned blue cold filter in winter and the warm yellow filter for summer, and direction, for Rena's good performance. More proof that Akagumi get all the good PVs.


8. Tokyo Girls' Style - Tsuioku

Yet another beautifully shot and technically astounding TGS PV, it also gets high on concept and visuals, the blood makes a nice touch, and direction is also pretty win. Again, it's one that needs to be seen in HD to be believed just how damn technically proficient it is. I think that were TGS's director and cinematographer melded to SKE or BiS' conceptual planners, we'd end up with a PV so fucking good the world would weep. Quite honestly, the TGS technical stats put me in mind of a mildly renowned director/cinematographer combination: Tomas Alfredson and Hoyte van Hoytema. They too are reknowned for their low saturation, incredibly slow and undramatic style, and using massively wide angles for great effect. Watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Let The Right One In and you'll understand what I mean. But yea, the glorious final entry for TGS on this list. It was good while it lasted.


7. Momoiro Clover Z - Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi yo

The theme of this PV at first appears to be the struggle between light and dark within one's soul, with neither really winning and thus resulting in a duality which allows anyone to act in the interests of either good or evil at any point. In a way this just expounds the idea that the whole world is written in shades of grey. No one is good, nor bad, merely looking for purpose, much as the trees in this video stretch out to seek the sunlight. You only do what's needed to grow, no more, no less. Anyway, enough of my quasi-philosophising. This got 100 on visual, because the black/white contrast, glorious outfits and weird effects and dark scenes with flashy rave lights were cool. Technically and conceptually it was good, and the song-mood is also surprisingly awesome. Thus, this high.


6. SKE48 - Kataomoi Finally

Oh look, a non-Akagumi PV. Shocking. Technically this is actually quite weak. Visually it's not amazing. But conceptually, direction wise, song fit wise, effectiveness and awesomeness are all high. Why? Well, schoolgirl lesbians, Jurina being the biggest player in the history of ever, glorious sin and lots of win. Some of the effects are quite spectacular, such as the two cars having a head on crash because Jurina is fondling Rena. Non shooting a firework gun for some odd reason. Jurina getting bitchslapped by both Rena and Churi for being a player. Quite possibly the most memorable PV from SKE ever.


5. SKE48 - Dareka no Sei niwa Shinai

Or so I say, before remembering this. This is basically the hardcore, proto-version of Kataomoi Finally. Many of the same elements, but lower budget and without the lesbianism, but with much more raw angst, abuse, death and general apocalyptic insanity. This has good technicals, great concept, and great visuals, as well as decent direction and a good song-mood, in addition to high ranks in effectiveness and awesomeness, getting it here. Oh, and it's Akagumi, their dominance restored. Really, the emotion in this PV is pretty damn effective, especially Yukiko's.


4. BiS - primal

Primal is experimental. Technically it’s horrific, home-footage mixed with badly shot new footage, but conceptually it’s almost perfect. In showing the members of BiS as kids, in referencing scandals and purikura pictures that leaked, showing Pour Lui smoking, having them all bleeding and sticking cameras down their throats it reinforces one particular point: “We are human.” They may be idols, but first and foremost they are human, along with all the expected ups and downs that come with it.  For that reason alone, this PV is a massive “fuck you” to all the idol fans who expect ridiculous levels of purity from people who are human. They aren’t paragons of virtue. They aren’t genetically altered to remove all trace of “sin.” They’re just like everyone else, prone to mistakes and flawed, just as all humans. One day I wish wotadom as a whole would rise up along with BiS against some of the rules, but that day seems far away.


3. AKB48 - Gondola Lift

This puts me in mind of the Alcest video I linked at the top. Showing one couple, throughout their lives, all the troubles and all the joys, and the unchanging surrounds that come with it. It's also shot beautifully, if slightly too beautifully. Amina looks almost CG. The song fits the PV almost perfectly, getting one of the highest scores on that heading. It also scored highly on technical, concept, visual and direction, plus effectiveness and awesomeness. Really the perfect all around PV.


2. AKB48 - Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou

Technically weak, however it got insanely high on everything else. This is the only PV on the list that got 100 on effectiveness. The whole video is a representation of the lyrics, which rail against bullying. The PV takes it one step further though, by showing Yuko on the edge of the roof ready to jump off. The PV shows classroom and text bullying,  and the aforementioned suicide scene, where Yuko does the polite thing and takes her shoes off so she doesn't track dirt into the afterlife. Apparently that's the way they determine suicide cases in Japan: if they're still wearing shoes then it was probably murder. Still, even despite this, I'm emotionally hardened to everything until almost the last second, where, as one, the members of the group seem to be pushed from behind. In a way it's a completely open and easy-to-make link: even if you're standing on the rooftop on your own, even if you throw yourself off a building, someone pushed you. Maybe not physically, but certainly mentally, you were pushed. It certainly sends a strong message, and it certainly had a strong effect on me.


1. AKB48 - Beginner (True Version)

I don't think there was ever going to be any question about this doing well. Scoring good on technicals, high on concept and visuals, incredibly high on direction, awesomeness and effectiveness, and good on song-mood, this pretty much blows everything else on the list away, as you'll see when I put the score at the bottom. I'm not entirely sure why this was "banned" as it later appeared on the AKB48 PV Bluray set, and it's not that hardcore. Granted, lots of them die. Yes, Kojiharu's head is sliced in half. Yes, Acchan's screaming is hot, and possibly the most worthy addition she ever contributed to AKB. It's also cool seeing member's names on the implements of death, though it seems weird that after Sasshi-square killing Mariko and Miichan-triangle killing Mayuyu, Kojiharu-sphere kills Kojiharu. The dance scenes are decent, but the game scenes are where this excels. The utter lifelessness of the things doing the killing, and the seeming dearth of human emotion in AKB also seems to provide a nice stark look at gaming and the dehumanisation of the human race or something.  The camera cracking at the end is also really cool. Really, the best idol PV I've seen yet.


And that concludes yet another fucking massive list. Doing this list I’ve learned a few things about possibly why many people like songs that I’m not keen on. If they watch them predominantly with the PV, rather than my usual method of listening to (and then reviewing) full albums, then the link between visual and musical stimuli causes affection to increase more. For example, songs I really didn’t care for came high on this list because they do link well with the concept of the PV. On the other hand, songs I really like didn’t even get put onto the list because their PVs just didn’t draw me in, in this case I’m talking mostly about Momoclo. Unlike in music, where insanity is something I love, in PVs unfortunately it has to be done in moderation lest it become a complete clusterfuck, like Mouretsu, Coconatsu, Push or Santa-san. Even so, I’ll probably go on hating some songs and liking some others regardless.

I've also learned that if you release enough of something, you will eventually hit a winner or three. AKB's dominance in the top three places was balanced out by having only 7 in the top 50, another 5 outside the top 50 but on the list, and about 80 PVs that didn't make it. As a percentage, that's actually pretty damn low. I'd say percentage wise, BiS and TGS were the winners here, getting just about under half of their PVs on the list. For those of you expecting Ninagawa Mika dominance, I apologise. As a photographer, I like her visual style, but visual style alone can't get a PV into greatness. She rarely uses concepts, and 300 colours with a few bodies floating in between is a giant disconnect because she seems to forget the entire rule of the golden section. You need to draw the eye from place to place, you can't just juxtapose a riot of colour and expect the human eye to make sense of it in a second before you splitcut to something completely different.

On the other hand, modern H!P is severely lacking, with only 4 H!P PVs from the last 3 years, and a few from 4 years ago. Ebichuu showed that making good PVs on limited budgets can be done, so I hope at some point that H!P's video making improves. C-ute's PVs in general are worse than most of the rest, the only one to even make the list at all was Tokaikko Junjou, which was relegated to an example in the ranking explainations because it came 75th. Even S/mileage had two under consideration, though I later deleted one of them because I hated it too much.

So, anyway, as usual, complaints, death threats and offers for sexual favours in the comments. If you want to see the full list of rankings and scores in each section, here is the xlsx spreadsheet. I do apologise for those running older versions of Excel. For those wanting the full list of 84 songs in the correct order, here is a txt file. I hope you enjoyed and see you next time.

As a final gesture of thanks for making it this far, here's the greatest PV of all time ever.




  1. And of course the biggest thing I noticed was the love for Faunts in my personal favorite idol PV ever. PERFECTION, ALL OF IT!!!

  2. And of course their best song ever in the link. Hell yeah.

  3. if trolly choices make it on list then BiS/DLH's PV should be in there. this must be BiS's most "normal" PV.

  4. @DD: I explained that in the post, saying if only instead of slapping they'd taken along their nail-impaled bats. Might have been worth watching with blood flying all over the place.

    @Mara: Damn, our musical tastes are too similar sometimes :P