Title: Last Summer
Artist: Kato Miliyah (加藤ミリヤ)
Kato Miliyah debuted to warm reception in 2005 and has since released a ton of singles and albums. She has done pretty well and has had a few decent hits and is well-known for her fashion sense. Last Summer was released as her sixth single and is her first of five entries on my list. Last Summer lives up to its name with its upbeat flare and carefree nature. I really enjoy this song because of this as well as how catchy it is. I do feel the arrangement is a bit generic at times, but the melody certainly makes up for it. Kato also has a nice and unique voice that gives the song that extra punch. Just a fun listen!
Title: Kiss Me Aishiteru (Kiss me 愛してる; Kiss Me, I Love You)
Genre: Pop / Dance
While Berryz Koubou was the first of the H!P Kids to debut, it took some time before the rest of them were able to make theirs. °C-ute originally consisted of eight members back in 2006, but they have since dwindled down to a solid five members. °C-ute’s style is a bit more mainstream than Berryz, at least from what I heard. Kiss Me Aishiteru is a good example of this as it is a pulsing dance / pop tune that doesn’t really have any of Tsunku’s usual randomness. It’s a slick tune and one of the strongest in H!P. It’s surprisingly catchy and does a good job of showing off the vocals of all the members. This was released as the group’s 20th single and is also their only entry on my list.
Title: Senkou (閃光; Glint)
Artist: Van Tomiko (伴都美子)
Genre: Pop / Rock
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Do As Infinity, but I did enjoy some of their songs. I also really enjoyed some of the music that came out by lead singer, Van Tomiko, during her solo stint. Van’s second single, Senkou, is an excellent pop/rock tune that is both depressing, but gorgeous. Van’s husky vocals really help bring the song alive and I think her voice takes it from a somewhat generic sound to something a bit more emotional. The song itself is quite gorgeous and I especially love the opening piano line that plays and continues throughout the rest of the song. It gives the song a sadness to it. This was Van’s second solo single and is also her first of two songs featured on the list.
Title: Oh My God! (オーマイガー!)
Genre: Bubblegum Pop
NMB48 is one of my favourites from the AKB world. Their earlier music was especially charming and it helped that my oshimen, Watanabe Miyuki, comes from this group. Oh My God! is pretty standard idol flare to be honest. It’s something you could hear from any of the groups that are related to this group. This only reason why I put it so high is because it is just a solid idol song. It’s cute, but has a charming chorus to it. It’s rather uplifting sounding and I especially enjoy that opening part of the chorus. It’s a bit generic in terms of sound, but it’s a cute song to listen to and one of my favourites from them. This is the first of three songs on the list by NMB48 and their second single.
Title: Kanshou (感傷; Sentiment)
Artist: Ueto Aya (上戸彩)
One of the first artists I discovered when I got into J-Pop was actress Ueto Aya. Her voice is actually pretty nice sounding and she has some solid pop songs. Kanshou was released as Ueto’s fifth single and is her first of two entries on my list. It’s a pretty straightforward pop song. I think it is a good example of the type of music from the early 2000s in Japan. To be honest, there are times where it is a tad generic, but what makes it so great is the stellar melody. I really love how it works with the acoustic driven musical arrangement. Ueto Aya also sounds good here, albeit a bit empty sounding. Still a great song.
In Korea, 4minute have released several high-energy, addictive tracks. In Japan, they released a few good tunes as well. FIRST is probably my favourite of their Japanese releases. It’s one of their brighter upbeat tunes with the funky beats and more staccato sound. Like the majority of 4minute’s singles, the song is insanely catchy and has a great melody. I do find the verses stronger and more interesting than the more generic pop chorus, but everything is a lot of fun regardless of that. The girls also sound pretty good here, although I did wish they gave Hyuna a rap verse or something. At the same time, I guess it was good that they toned down her dominance in songs for this one. This was released as their third single and is their only entry on my list.
Title: 1000 Mankai no Kiss (1000万回のキス; Ten Million Kisses)
Artist: Kuraki Mai (倉木麻衣)
As I mentioned before, I really love Mai.K’s music although there are some times where I wish the music would be tweaked a bit. 1000 Mankai no Kiss is an example of where the execution of the song is actually quite good. The song starts off in an almost ballad-like feel, but begins to gain steam by the second verse, where it turns into a gorgeous midtempo number. My favourite part of the song is definitely the prechorus as the melody is just gorgeous. The chorus is nice and actually sounds really good in the later parts of the song due to the stronger accompaniment. However, there are times where the whole song does sound a bit oldschool. With that said, it is like a more contemporary version of an older GIZA sound. This was Mai.K’s 35th single and her second of nine entries.