Time for part two! I finished this a little later than I anticipated, festive celebrations took over! So whilst I’m here, I hope you all had a wonderful festive period and a very Happy New Year ❤. The 8tracks link is above, like before. I would say this half of the list is definitely much more representative of my actual taste – these are the winners/most repeated tracks for me in 2013!
10. Faye Wong – To Youth (To Youth single, 16 April 2013)
I wasn’t going to include this initially, but I realised how many plays it had racked up in my iTunes. I revisited it in October-ish and fell in love with it all over again: it’s just perfect for the Winter season. After a musical drought Faye Wong returned with – albeit a movie tie-in – To Youth, a beautiful, taut, fleeting ballad. It carries a very heavy, rainy sound which ordinarily I would find cold and somewhat off-putting, but instead here it creates a sincere and inviting atmosphere. Not much else to say here except I love it, and I hope that Faye comes back very very soon. [PV]
9. KAT-TUN // Nakamaru Yuichi – Snowflake (EXPOSE single, 6 February 2013)
Whats this, another KAT-TUN entry? Aha, but with a slight twist this time. Since he started performing them, I have always had a massive soft spot for Nakamaru’s solo songs. They’re usually so sunny and upbeat, and this is absolutely no exception. I don’t know how else to describe this other than “it puts an enormous smile on my face”. Like, seriously. From ear to ear. It makes me feel all happy and warm. Everything about it, from the melody to his vocals to the lyrics are so carefree and loveable. Hands down, probably my favourite KAT-TUN-related release of the year. It still sounds so fresh and lovely to me.
8. Tohoshinki – Catch Me -If you wanna- (Catch Me -If you wanna- single, 16 January 2013)
Ahh, Tohoshinki/DBSK. An old favourite of mine that I only admittedly sometimes keep a wandering eye on. I caught this listening to round-ups of the Oricon chart at the start of the year and was taken by its power and the strength of the guys’ vocals. I then discovered that there was a Korean version released in 2012, and also that I liked this song a lot. As a song I think it’s a pretty perfect pop package. It has so much energy, it’s hard not to want to move a little when you hear it! The choreography is fresh and invigorating, but that’s usual from the group. It’s such a nice change to hear a mainstream pop song that’s so forceful and demanding, I love songs that sound like they’re going to bust out your speakers. [PV]
7. PASSPO – Sakura Komachi (Sakura Komachi single, 13 February 2013)
Idols! I love PASSPO an unbelievable amount, a love which has only grown and flourished in 2013. The group traditionally carry a quite a heavy rock sound, but one that is much more akin to actual heavier rock than tailored ~idol~ rock tunes that just sound like they’ve had an electric guitar thrown over their production at the last minute. So yeah, hooray for strong guitars and shoutable lyrics! I’m noticing all of the songs I found really fun and inspiring this year are filling up the latter half of this list – I guess its the songs that leave the positive emotions are the ones that really stick with you. This song is highly addictive, be warned. [PV]
6. Perfume – 1mm (LEVEL3 album, 2 October 2013)
I’ve already reviewed this album, but my love for 1mm has pretty much continued to intensify. The more I hear it the more I think it’s fantastically arranged. It was hard to love it fully at first because I was so taken with dealing with LEVEL3 as a whole, but when I heard 1mm isolated on shuffles etc. it really shone. It’s quirky, sounds like Perfume matured beautifully, complex. The “Ahh”-ing vocals/merged instrumentation are the highlight for me. The little annunciations on their voices are a pretty touch too. I could die happy with a Perfume album full of songs like this. [PV]
5. Amuro Namie – Stardust In My Eyes (FEEL album, 10 July 2013)
The second Namie offering, and this time it’s the final track from FEEL. I will admit that because it was the last track, I tended to either a) not make it to the end in one sitting or b) accidentally not give it as much attention as the others. Oh, how I regret that decision. This song gives me life. In a point when some personal things for me took a dive for the worst, this song was there. A positive and inspiring beacon, with Namie leading the way. When I listened to it I imagined her smiling her gorgeous smile as she performed it live, and I couldn’t help but smile too. This song is like an addictive antidote to my woes. I just need to hear the excited strings at the start and I start to get chills. I say it so often, but somehow this woman just delivers. And it’s always when I need it most. For a more complete outlook on how I view this song, I advise you to look up “happy” in a thesaurus, and maybe that will scratch the surface.
4. ONE OK ROCK – ONION! (Jinsei×Boku= album, 6 March 2013)
2013 has been a fruitful year for OOR. Truthfully, this album is very strong as a whole. It’s fun, risky, Westernised and creative all rolled into one. This song for me is the high point. It’s a song for jumping about and going mental to, and Taka is singing in Japanese which is something of a rarity on this album. He alternates between singing and sort-of shouting at us, but that just adds to the intensity of the track. The lyrics are fantastic and once again, it’s a song I adore simply for its energy and spirit. It has cheered me up countless times this year.
3. Galileo Galilei – Jonathan (ALARMS album, 9 October 2013)
A fairly late addition to the list, I wasn’t sure if it was going to make it or not. But it crawled faster and faster up the list and essentially became the soundtrack to my late autumn/winter the past few months. The beauty of this track is in its simplicity. It catches you off guard with its surprisingly catchy melody, lyrics you can half-mumble/half-shout, cute synth and guitar instrumentation. It sounds like a dime a dozen J-rock songs when I describe it like this, but there really is something so special about it.
2. CreepHyp – Shakai no Mado (Shakai no Mado single, 6 March 2013)
I’ve already talked briefly about how much I adore this song, but really my love knows no bounds. It gets better every time I listen to it with a fresh perspective, I can’t explain how much the acerbic lyrics make me smile. From the first few seconds of the opening riff I can see the poor lost girl’s face in the PV, and from then on it’s just sheer energy and tearing a large portion of their fanbase apart. My favourite thing about this hands down is the delicious irony: they sing about how their fans moan that they are a changed band due to their newfound fame etc, and that they “aren’t the same”, all the while singing one of the catchiest hooks and hilariously charged diatribes I’ve heard all year. [PV]
1. Sakanaction – Music (Music single, 23 January 2013)
Naturally, the best for last. I didn’t even have to hesitate in choosing this as my track of the year. I knew it after only a few listens. Where to begin with this… the lyrics have moved me to tears on more than one occasion, the music sounds so clean; almost purifying my soul. It also has one of the most rewarding and perfect musical climaxes of recent contemporary Jpop in my opinion. If you don’t get chills when their rousing voices come together at the end after that final wave of synth, I’m not sure much can help you my friend. There’s absolutely nothing I can fault here, it’s 5 minutes of sheer aural pleasure. Thank you for this song, Sakanaction! [PV]
Thank you for reading! Hope to see you in 2014 ❤