Summer 2005: My Top Ten

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

I’m still formulating a response to crs’s questions about criticism and Jpop, but in the meanwhile lemme answer another post she wrote yesterday: here’s my own Top 10 Summer songs list. As always, if people don’t like this list or think they have something better – share it. It’s all love!

10. Berryz Koubo – "21 ji no Made Cinderella". I’m absolutely head over heels for Berryz right now, so there was no way they couldn’t be on here. I’m still torn about the outfits they wore, but the song itself is fun and grows on you upon repeated listenings. Well, it grew on me, at least. (But so did Momoko.) The refrains of "Shindera-love" and "yoroshiku" are too fun to let go, and the girls are adorable even if they look like dayglo ragamuffins. 7-nin Berryz will be even better, of course.

9. W – "Miss Love Tantei". The first excellent W single since "Robokiss" at the end of last year, with an inventive PV that shows Tsujikago both maturing and maintaining their madcap personae. The song marks a step forward musically, throwing out the cutesier impulses of Minimoni andthe first year of W for something with a stronger beat and even a bit of rapping. Hopefully, they’ll remain on this path for future releases.

8. Matsuura Aya – "Ki ga tsukeba anata". The return of an upbeat, happy Ayaya! But instead of the zaniness of her earlier PVs, we have her… drinking a lot of iced tea. It makes me think of that Seinfeld episode where they’re asking each other for Snapple. It’d be nice to see Ayaya let go and do something crazy again, but for now this is a welcome break from all those dreary ballads. And I love the "Daisuke!" at the end…

7. Hinoi Team – "King Kong". This is just so wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong… The song just creeps into your brain and batters away any sense of dignity or common sense. The lyrics are inane and also vaguely obscene. The PV provides a faux tropical paradise where beautiful teenage girls can wear dresses made of flowers or dance para para by a natural fountain. And yet, fun and stupid is a hallmark of summer and this song manages to be both without being self-conscious about it. Though truth be known, Hinoi Team could be yodeling and wearing sack cloths and I’d still watch their PV way too often for my own god.

6. Tommy Heavenly6 – "Ready". Ahh… A great rock song with a PV that makes a twisted joke of rock star decadence. The song itself just kicks absolute ass, driving forward at a breakneck speed with sweet-voiced abandon, while the PV is hilarious in showing an out-of-control Tommy driving the help crazy with her window-smashing, rollerskating antics.

5. dream – "Kono Natsu ga Owaru Maeni”. This song appeared on a mini-album called Natsuiro, and this song has a strong rock feel with a rather involved storyline for the PV. And what day did it come out again…? July twenty-something, right…?

4. Amuro Namie – "WoWa". crs included "Want Me, Want Me" – and that song rocked my world, too. But "WoWa" is slinkier and funnier and stranger. For me, at least, that counts for a lot. Even if I really, really don’t like the Pink Panther anymore.

3. SweetS – "Mienai Tsubasa". I won’t say anything more about SweetS spending a whole week on Oahu and I didn’t know about it at the time. Instead, I’ll point out that this single marked the third phase of SweetS’ career: they’re at just about the average age when Speed debuted and now carrying themselves like the longtime Jpop idol pros they’ve become. The song is sweeping, majestic, and if a tad formulaic, saved by the powerful lead vocals of Aya and Haruna. As for the PV, I can now watch the girls at Iolani and Ala Moana and walking down Kalakaua without wailing in pain and suffering. Well, not too much, at least.

2. Otsuka Ai – "Smily". I called this the best PV of the summer, and it is. It’s fun, feel-good, and shimmers with sun-soaked decadence. The song matches it, of course, and even has a positive message we should all heed. Something about doing a chicken dance whenever the mood strikes you, I think.

1. Viyuden – "Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari". It took a while to grow on me, but once it did, it stuck with me. Not as summery as "Smily" – if anything, the PV seems set in early Spring – but it’ll probably be in the top two or three Jpop songs of the year for me, vying against dream’s "Soyokaze no Shirabe" for top position. The silly clock-movement dance was mitigated by Miyoshi Erika’s sexier shimmies, and the song’s unusual structure and shifting tempo actually make it catchier and easier to get into.

I know, I know… It’s a remarkably parochial list: five Avex, four Hello! Project, and a Brilliant Green. That said, I know what I like and I’m not going to apologize for it. There were some interesting omissions: nothing particularly grabbed me from Morning Musume, Koda Kumi, or Paradise Go!! Go!! this summer; absolutely nothing was released this summer by Halcali or Melon Kinenbi, which is a shame. And of course, I still mourn the loss of Zone.

Still, this wasn’t a bad summer for Jpop, and a year-end roundup is full of promise, judging by the selections for this season.

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5 Responses to “Summer 2005: My Top Ten”
  1. Alice says:

    I have to agree with this list for the most part, at least for all of the songs that I’ve heard on it (more than half). I’m glad you came around on the Viyuden single, I think it’s the best of their five so far and an amazing piece of music. Same with W’s Miss Love Tantei. I liked Smily’s video, but the song didn’t do much for me. I don’t know if you checked out the Tommy February6 album she released, but I think it’s AMAZING and love all of the tracks (my favorite is probably ‘lost my pieces’, a new song).

    …But I totally can’t get into Berryz Koubou. I think this is the reason I’ll never be a true fangirl and a sign that my interest in Hello! Project is just a passing phase, they’re too young for me. It’s like when the 2005 shuffles were on Utaban and Takaaki said how the girls in Sexy Otonojan were too young to be sexy. To me, I like these groups, this music because I find it fun and upbeat, but I don’t think I value youth the same way you and other fans do. The group being young isn’t a virtue for me, this is probably why I never got into SweetS either, and I mean I still get freaked out when I think that Ayaya is only 19 years old. At least this means I won’t turn out to be a lecherous old salaryman or office lady fan jumping around at concerts to be made fun of by Rika someday….

  2. Alice says:

    On an unrelated note this summer saw the breakup of Do As Infinity, which I still am bummed out about. -_-

  3. Japonaliya says:

    Tommy Feb6 @ #6 !!!
    Ha, Ha, My friend just informed me that I won the lottery for the Tommy February6 “Blythe” doll, lottery which I entered in August when I was in Tokyo (I gave my friend’s local Tokyo address) He just got the doll a while ago, and I just sent him payment! Kawase Tomoko ga dai suki desu ne! and…shes 30 and LEGAL! I still think the best rock song in the last few years is “Hey My Friend” even tho some say it’s a rip…..

  4. Hi Alice:

    Viyuden’s “Aijisai” took a long time to grow on me, but when it did it made a permanent mark.

    As for not getting into the younger bands, it’s certainly a matter of taste. I doubt I’ll ever be one of those screaming salaryman types, though. More likely I’ll be all alone in a closet in front of my elaborate Momoko shrine, making sculptures of her with moldy macaroni salad.

    Hi Japonaliya:

    Congrats on the Tommy prize! The Tommy Heavenly6 at #6 didn’t even occur to me till you pointed it out, by the way.

  5. japonaliya says:

    “More likely I’ll be all alone in a closet in front of my elaborate Momoko shrine, making sculptures of her with moldy macaroni salad.”

    My first “petite amour’ was Miyabi, but I don’t like what she/they did to her hair. It was a nice copper color, now its up, or just “plain Jane” (she still is cute tho)
    However, I ALWAYS liked Momoko…she seems to be the real leader of BK. She is up front most of the time, and so bubbly that I sometimes think she will float up off the stage…She is my favorite berry overall…
    After viewing the Berryz 2005 concert DVD my new “love” is Risako. I just LOVE her new hair style, the teased, layered look….
    Ah, to transverse the many, many years, and be in middle school again (Berryz school)…who’s desk would I most want to sit behind?? Of course, Taunku has all of them locked up behind some “firewall” and has them all to himself…the perv…