Artist: Do As Infinity
Genre: Pop / Rock
TAO is a gorgeous pop/rock ballad, which is definitely something Do As Infinity are great at. It’s quite similar to a few of their other rock tunes, but I do find there is a sentimentality about it. I love how it starts with the piano before slowly adding other instruments. By the time the chorus comes around, it really comes out with that familiar rock sound. The melody is gorgeous and has this soaring quality to it. Van Tomiko sounds great and her voice really adds the emotion needed for the song. This was the group’s 20th single and their second of four entries on the list.
Genre: Dance / Pop
From 2010 to 2013, there used to be a set formula for how many singles AKB48 released, when they were released, and what kind of singles they were. UZA fit into the fall upbeat dance tune category. Probably the group’s most aggressive song to date, UZA is a powerful electropop song. Relying heavily on the strong beat and constant, piercing synths, UZA is a total blast. It’s an exciting listen that really brings variety to the group’s discography and helps showcase a different kind of image. While I wish there were more solos, the blast of autotune and the sliding melody really help to give the song some energy. UZA was released as the group’s 30th single and is their second of seven entries.
Title: Hero☆ (ヒーロー☆)
As a former member of girl group SPEED, hiro was pushed into the spotlight at an early age. By the age of 15, she released her first single and by the time the group disbanded in 2000, she was well on her way with her solo career. Hero☆ is something hiro does best, pop music. While a lot of her music does fall into the “generic J-Pop sound”, she does have some gems. Hero☆ spices things up a bit by bringing a bit of an R&B twist. hiro’s sweet vocals ride along the quick melody and surprisingly, she doesn’t belt it out in this song. The melody is very catchy and does a good job with working around the background vocals to bring a bit of a fullness to the chorus. This was hiro’s 13th single and her first of three entries on the list.
Title: innocent starter
Artist: Mizuki Nana (水樹奈々)
innocent starter was the song that allowed Mizuki Nana to breakthrough. While she had already released numerous singles and was beginning to rise in popularity, innocent starter landed her, her first top ten single. The song is an exciting upbeat pop song with some rock elements in the music. The verses are pretty laid back and help to create a nice build-up to the fast-paced chorus. I love how Mizuki sounds here as her voice has so much control and she easily glides through the notes. The melody is also insanely catchy. This was released as her tenth single and is her third of six entries.
Title: Dreamin’ Away
Dreamin’ Away was released as melody.’s debut single and it started her off on a good track. The majority of melody.’s music has been pretty harmless pop music, which is both good and bad. When it’s good, it’s a solid pop tune, but when it’s bad, it’s bland and lifeless. Luckily, Dreamin’ Away was a pretty good debut. It’s a cute, upbeat pop tune. I love the beat and it works great in the verses where melody. has more power to her voice. The choruses are much lighter with a falsetto arrangement, but I enjoy how it hovers above the beat. It brings an interesting contrast to things. melody.’s voice also fits this perfectly as her sweet tone fits the sweet message. This is her second and two entries (although she does have a collaboration).
Title: Meri Kuri (メリクリ)
At first I was going to include the gorgeous B-side to this single instead, but I’ve really grown to adore this wonderful ballad. Another seasonal holiday tune, here we have something that’s much slower and more dramatic than Kuraki’s. Meri Kuri starts off in a gentle way with the piano, but as it progresses it gains more instruments and finally hits the chorus with full force. I love more dramatic sound with the heavy beat, strings and guitar. The melody is quite beautiful as well and I really enjoy the touches of falsetto that BoA does. It’s fitting of the holiday season, but is just a touching ballad in general. This song was released as BoA’s 15th single and is her third of nine entries.
Title: IT’S IN THE STARS
I think the late 2000’s saw a lot of Japanese artists working around pop songs with a this kind of dance/disco feel to it. IT’S IN THE STARS works well with its strong beat and the touches of synth. I do find the background vocals to be a bit funny just because they are sung in such a choppy way, but for some reason it works with the actually melody. The melody isn’t as catchy as the hook, but it’s quite melodic and Tachibana is able to deliver it well. I think everything blends together well and creates an infectious and great tune. IT’S IN THE STARS is w-inds.’ 18th single and their third of five entries.