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Year in Review 2015: I can't think of any witty subtitle this year.

So, at the end of this year which has seen me blog basically nothing, I somehow have decided to create a year in review to encapsulate everything.

Obviously, living in Japan means rather than being able to sit and review things I'm usually out doing things, so that's counted against me this year. So to has the fact that I think I've only actually listened to one non-idol album released this year. Not good.

So, to get this underway...

Biggest Twat of 2015

So, this year, being inundated in the underground as much as I am, it's gonna have to be someone in that field. I'll give it to Seiji. If you haven't heard, Alice Project's manager/producer/whatever got embroiled in many, many scandals. Disturbing scandals. It came to light that Steam Girls member Karen's death last September was probably suicide. There were claims of members being forced into sexual service, plus the obvious fact that many were being paid very little.

Many members quit in light of these scandals, and the man himself has disappeared since. Kamen Joshi went from getting a ridiculously high selling single to all but disappearing from the mainstream in the space of months. Many of their long-time fans quit. In light of this I'm not surprised Alice is on a downward spiral. I was kind of tempted to go to Nanaka's birthday just out of nostalgia, but I didn't. It seems like flogging a dead horse.

Alice Project is dead. It's just not stopped moving yet.

Best Music Video of 2015



Bowen Staines. Need I say more? Everything the man touches is magic.

Best Photobook of 2015

Never honestly thought I'd do this.








It's like they hired a professional photographer for a change. Only taken them 11 photobooks.

Biggest Disappointment of 2015

Honestly, Lolisyn. It was all going so well, then in the space of maybe one month it all went shit. At the one-man show in May, they performed so many new songs that no one knew what to do. They were also completely different in style. I tried getting behind it. I failed. Since then I've seen Lolisyn maybe twice. The first time they failed at going to France. The second time they had 7 fans. Since then they've been to America, but now they've announced that second gen is leaving. I can only hope they go onto something better.


Longest Short PV of 2015



Mugen Regina are an adult, actressy kind of idol group. Their music is also pretty much on the metal end of the spectrum, and sometimes they like going rather proggy in their direction. I think I'd like it more if it weren't just 5 riffs repeated in different orders for the 12 minute duration of the song, but the short version PV is 9 minutes long which I think is slightly non sequitur.


Best 80s Throwback PV of 2015



KOTO is fun. I keep meaning to review her album and I just... can't. I know I'll give it a bad rating. I love it but I'll give it a bad rating. Dammit. Her dancing so fun.


Best Genre Crash of Idols in 2015



Now, metal in idols is big now. We can all see that. The whole Kawaii Metal thing has exploded what with the mainstream press attention lavished upon Babymetal, and some other groups have been getting some exposure recently (more on that later), but... Doom Metal? Really? nIo were always kind of on the cutting edge, helping to introduce crazier ideas into other idol groups (including stage crashing at times). But they're from Ishikawa, which despite the new Shinkansen isn't exactly the best location you'd think for idols. Being a subgroup of Oyayubi Princess is also kind of weird. Either way, I kind of dig the song. Channels Pentagram like hell. I love some old Doom.


Most Morbid PV of 2015



Well, cannibalism. Yay.


Most Manly Man In An Idol Group of 2015


Rei would kill Ladybeard in a fight. That's actually a deathmatch I want to see. Also Rei's growls are better. 

Most Fruitless Way To Raise Your Wage



They've already taken you to NYC and LA to film the PV, don't push your luck.

Still a better gimmick than Death Rabbits though. And their songs are better.

Biggest CD Release of 2015


Yes, that is a CD in an LP sleeve. No, I don't know why.


Best Picture of Dani Filth Looking Like A Spanner of 2015



Best Baseball Batting Instruction Video of 2015



Aaaaaah, MONTERO!

Best Ronnie James Dio Impersonation of 2015




Holy fuck, Maina. You got some pipes.

Also mad props for the Bathtime parody.

Most Accessible Idol Group of 2015




I mean in terms of being open, friendly and normal, not the music, which is pretty damn challenging if you just listen to idol pop. I dunno if anyone has heard of Necronomidol, but they're pretty chill. They do many shows with punk and metal bands, their members are all pretty nuts (Sari wears corpsepaint, Hotaru doesn't wear shoes often, Karen is often doing more wotagei than dancing), and their manager is an American with a huge beard. That certainly makes participating in their lives and buppan a hell of a lot easier if you speak no Japanese. They also have basically the most liberal "rules" in the idol world. There's no love ban rule, they're not really banned from doing anything that's not outright illegal. Also at buppan you can basically talk to them until the queue gets big enough for Ricky to bother moving you. Chekis are also ridiculously cheap at 500 yen. Honestly, even though I have groups I like musically more, Necronomidol are definitely always worth sticking around for or going early for if they're on. Or going at midnight, as I did at the weekend. Dammit.

Most Metal Album Artwork of 2015

  

Necronomidol's artwork is always amazing too. Though this is a single rather than an album.
 

Easiest Song To Thundersnake To of 2015

Thundersnake being the wotagei move.



That chorus is just made for it. Also well done ANGERME for finally unleashing your inner anger.


Best Ankle Breaking Dance Move of 2015



I'm surprised and awed that none were hospitalised.

Most Amazingly Non-Sucky English in an Idol Song of 2015



I'm surprised. It actually sounds like English instead of Engrish. Let's leave aside the multiple problems with trying to fit English lyrics into a Japanese melody and just appreciate the effort they made.

Worst Idol Experience of 2015

Has to be Angerme. Went to their release event for the above single, waited in the rain to see a pretty shit performance, then for the handshakes had to go through a ridiculous amount of security, all for 0.002 seconds of interaction. My first H!P experience in Japan, and probably my last. Even 9nine don't fuck over fans that much.

Biggest Idol Surprise of 2015

That Hiroro and Cha-pon from 9nine still remember my name, despite going nearly a year without seeing them, and then a good 6 months. As for Umika... well. She was mildly less frigid than the Antarctic.

Most Experimental AKB Song in a Long Assed Time of 2015



Team 8 are cute. But this has some crazy guitars, weird synths, strange vocal melodies and everything. I'm actually even nearly finding myself liking it.

Most Epic Song of 2015
Most Psychedelic Video of 2015



Oh, Ebichuu. I love this song. I love this video. And it's all for a biscuit commercial. Why can't they be this good at doing their own stuff?


Most Photogenic Idol Group of 2015



Maboroshi Karen GeNE. Only two of their four members but I've not taken pictures of the other two. But these two are really good. Kanami (top one) is tiny and she has a really fun way of acting at both buppan and during photoshoots. She's just chill. Yumino (bottom) is the leader and she's really down-to-earth and easy to talk to. Also she's really good at getting exactly the right pose at exactly the right time, which means I get many more usable photos from much less time.


Top 5 Idol Albums of 2015

As I've not listened to much outside idol music this year, I'm just doing idol albums for a change. And there have been some good ones. Also, despite me loving the Guso Drop disc, it's only got 6 tracks and the length is firmly in EP territory so I'm disqualifying it from the running. If I hadn't it'd be second.


5. Passpo - Beef or Chicken?


When you just really need a happy, cheerful slice of decent to good pop-rock, Passpo deliver. They follow the same kind of formula as usual, but spice it up with some more harder numbers, including American thrash inspired stuff (Not in Theory, Fake), some slower ballad rock that turns into punk (向日葵), actual upbeat pop (Shiny Road), an experimental in mixing dance beats and heavy guitars (High Tension Emotion), and kinda folky funky something (Fairy Tale). Some of the guitar solos are also pretty good. The girls all blend into each other as usual. I've honestly never had any interest in learning who the members of Passpo are. Still, the album is a good little ride. 7.8

4. Passcode - All is Vanity



I've already reviewed this so you can't be too surprised. They impressed me at TIF and I've not seen them since. But the album was a highly toxic, brutal journey through the realms of EDM, Punk, Thrash, and Digital Hardcore. Honestly not much to complain about except what I've previously mentioned. They replaced one of their members. I'm not sure which one. I'm not sure it really matters. Oh well. Still, worth a listen. 8.2

3. Fruitpochette - The Crest of Evil


That is one sexy cover. Fruitpochette released their debut album this year and basically eliminated 90% of their "core" and focused entirely on metal, which was to the good. This album punches hard, but backs it up with good instrumentals, good vocals, and decent production. The style is pretty consistent throughout, but there are some standout moments, notably the entire song of Paradox which is basically guitar sex. There are some more experimental moments that play with synths and acoustic guitars. All around good album. 8.8

2. Hauptharmonie - Hauptharmonie


Hauptharmonie confuse me. Their songs are basically divided into three categories. 1) Post-rock which has some kind of indie sensibilities. 2) Dark, classy adult songs, most of which are ballads. 3) Ska. The third one is the one that originally got me into them but that this album takes all of these diverse styles, presents them alongside each other and still somehow manages to come out with a coherent album is amazing. It starts off in the indie rock/post-rock mode, with some really good songs. Then we move onto a brief ska interlude with Tempting 10 Attempts of Temperance. I love ska. Then we go into dark adult mode for a song, before returning to post-rock with Ictus of Sun, another gorgeous little song. The next two songs fuse the two genres, before we get Bou, the most dirty little seedy song ever. It just oozes sex. The guitars and bass intertwine with piano and the vocals to produce something that sends shivers up your spine. We continue in the kind of adult rock kind of mode for a few more songs, then hit Nikolaus Knopp Platz, a ska-tinged ode to the Japanese cluster in Dusseldorf where their producer used to live. After this we have the slightly more straightforward ska Discovery Kataisi, which is sexy as a really sexy thing. Then, Caterwaul. It screams, it wails, it's ska metal and jazz all together and I love it. After reaching climax it's like the warm glow aftermath with Her Herb's Harvest, and it all ends in glorious lesbianism with Love Likes a Mille-Feuille. Great album. 9.1

1. 2& - Live Idol Artist


It had to happen. 2015 was the year that an idol album finally did what no other idol album had ever done. It made me give it a ten. Seriously, this album has no filler, no wasted seconds, no extraneous shit, no bad moments. This is basically a little diamond that's not been polished to oblivion. It has rough edges, but they add to its charm rather than detract from it. The whole album is beautiful, and with Saki releasing her first new song in nearly a year in February, I'm looking forward very much to where she goes from here. 10


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