Once again, it’s heading to the end of the year, end of the decade actually, so you know what that means; another Top Ten Picks set of lists! I am continuing last year’s tradition into the new year. No set order, just the nifty music I’ve come across for the year.
I caution that this is not a ‘best’ list, just songs that were released this year that I wanted to share. For one reason or another, these artists and songs ended up with more staying power then the rest. Thus landing them on this list. Here’s hoping you find some new music for your own end of the year party!
Without further ado, here’s my top ten picks for JPop – Female Artists in 2019.
Colorpointe (カラーポワント） – Witch Hunting Night
This is a group that I actually talked about way back in the beginnings of my blog. I went to see them live at Anime Matsuri. Well, things have changed since then. The group went through several dramatic line-up changes and now are currently a trio compromised of; Hink (vocal and lyricist), Ari (vocal), and Suu (lead dancer). This year was impressive for them. They released their most recent album “Choosy Museum Dictonary”, crowd funded and starred in a musical too!
Colorpointe since their inception have always done creative and interesting things with their music. “Witch Hunting Night” continues that tradition. It’s whimsical piece, that allows you to truly be in a fantasy even if it’s just for one song. I had to give my girls their well-deserved slot. Next year, I’ll get on it and finally cover them correctly!!
Flower – 紅のドレス(Crimson Dress)
I am already crying. As viewers of my blog already know, Flower, one of the most dynamic and stunning performance groups disbanded suddenly in September. After having released their album “F” earlier this year, having gone on tour, things seemed to finally be picking up again for the group. It devastated me that this group is no longer together.
Refocusing on the song, “Crimson Dress” was a song I knew from the beginning would be on this list. It’s not just because of my obvious bias towards Flower, but the song is really all that. Flower is a group that thrives on ballads, and the smooth compositions that, let’s be real, no other group was daring to do. Washio Reina delivered the song all by herself, in one of the most stunning and beautiful performances she’s ever given. The fine details in composition, complimenting Reina but also giving enough of an arrangement to allow a powerful performance to emerge. It’s simply brilliant.
I may still be lamenting this loss, but thank you Flower for giving us one of the most beautiful parting gifts of all. (Also, because I am shameless don’t forget to check out “F” written and composed by Reina.)
Happiness – Chao Chao
Sister group to Flower, is Happiness but don’t compare them ladies and gents. Happiness stands on their own with their own delivery and image. Another group I was blessed to see live, and to boot this was their second release this year!
“Chao Chao”, is a track a I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high on. I was admittedly a bit underwhelmed with “Power Girls”. However, I have never been so quick to hit replay and rewatch so regularly. It has all the hard hitting elements that make Happiness a true joy. The quick line exchanges between vocalists Kawamoto Ruri, and Fujii Karen are on point, the lyrics are filled with smooth and playful lines, and in range to give a sultry edge to the track. Of course, following is that Happiness shows everyone the girls can be just as sharp in their dance moves, and do it in heels. They killed it with this track!
FAKY – ANTIDOTE
Now, my dark horse group and song. FAKY has been doing some major re-working since last year’s member changes. I went a very long time worried that they would never be coming out with new material…. However, again lucky me, seeing them live I finally got wind of “GIRLS GOTTA LIVE” which was lit live, because duh, it’s live I ultimately wasn’t sure how I felt about.
However, it kick started a three month release schedule, so I hoped that their would be something a little closer to speed for me. In came “ANTIDOTE”, which I was rather unimpressed with at first. Until I realized how often I was replaying it on Spotify. And how often I was humming parts of it while cooking, at work; you get my drift. The track grew on me! Currently, it stands as one of their better tracks of their new discography, as they continue to push and play with both their image and sound. FAKY’s been keeping me on my toes this year.
倖田來未 (Koda Kumi) – STRIP
It’s queen Kuu ladies and gents; can we expect anything less from the ever boundary pushing soloist? Of course we can! It’s Koda Kumi! When has she ever backed down from doing things that push the Japanese public around. Coupled with her re:CORD, album release, back to back MV content, a tour, and so much more! She’s been busy!
“STRIP” is the club anthem I didn’t know I needed. With it’s stripped back composition, and obvious sexual tone; it’s brilliant. I am being serious I genuinely love this song, please check it out in full on Spotify. Koda Kumi is so much more diverse in lyrical quality, but sometimes you just need a party track that gets it all started. “STRIP” is that track.
BananaLemon – #Slayasian
(WARNING!!! STRONG GLITCH/FLASH USEAGE IN THIS VIDEO!!!)
Again, the world needs to get over all the culture-vulture groups that pop up and start checking out the groups that are the real deal. Get it on people and start listing to BananaLemon! They are one of the few groups that have appeared on this list two years in a row!
“#Slayasian”, is a slick track that pokes at the traditional ideas of what it means to be asian, and how BananaLemon in challenging that with their members. At 2:12 in length, it’s a bite-size track that doesn’t give in for a second. From the excellant composition, theme, and their ability to naturally homage to prior releases of their, it’s a knock out track. This song was also their debut of new member, Lety. These girls have been busy, keep the momentum up and start listening!
predia – NAKED
(WARNING: For real not, NSFW.)
If you thought Queen Kuu was going to be the most obvious with her title; ya’ll were wrong. Predia is a group that I adore for many reasons. The first is that the group is actually composed of members in their late twenties and earlier thirties, showing that talent doesn’t have a shelf-life of youth. Vocally, the girls are stacked with the odds in their favor. Lastly of course, is that these women aren’t afraid to get sexy, be sexual, and it’s not some false empowerment.
“NAKED”, much like aforementioned “STRIP”; it’s overtly sexual and that’s what makes it great. As a fellow woman, this song makes me want to dance and sing along. I had to remind myself NOT to sing this at karaoke, not because I didn’t know the words, but because my friends could probably not handle that. It’s a playful track, well put together, and delivered in a manner that inspires confidence, not comparison. It’s another great track to get your blood pumping… for various reasons of course.
悲撃のヒロイン症候群 (Higeki no Heronine Syndrome) – Calling…
You knew an alt-idol track was coming. Or maybe you didn’t. They dominated my list last year, so it was a bit surprising to me I didn’t have more of them this year. Hiegeki no Heroine Syndrome (HeroSyn) is not only a newcomer to my list, but to the alt-idol world. Seeing that the group only debuted this year. In that short amount of time, they caught my attention and made it on my list.
Originally, I was going to chose their debut song for my pick. But “Calling…” I think gives a better sense of what the group is capable of vocally. All seven members bring something to the table, and while still has the newbie feel, there’s a lot of potential hidden in the track. It’s produced the most interest a new group I’ve had for awhile. I’m very curious what 2020 will bring from them, and we already have a generous hint released….
校庭カメラガールドライ(Koutei Camera Girl Drei)- Changes
Ah, here we are with the alt-idol side of things. Koutei Camera Girl Drei, actually made my list last year as well. I was going to consider them staples in my alt-idol agenda, but alas they too called it quits this year. I was significantly less torn up about their disbandment. Kotei Camera Girl will probably come together with a fourth variation, as Drei is German for three and was the third re-casting of the group.
There’s something truly appealing about the group though. Their rapper has a type of spit fire rap style, that would make any rapper jealous. The balance between the two vocalists, one being lower range and the other much higher, and the rather laid back tone the track is something no one was doing this year. That might be the greatest flaw in this track, as it’s so laid back that it slid under the radar until I saw it in my memos.
To you Koutei Camera Girl Drei; you will be missed for your funky tracks in the alt-idol world.
椎名林檎と宇多田ヒカル (Sheena Ringo and Utada Hikaru) -浪漫と算盤 (The Sun&Moon)
I really don’t think I need to explain this track. It was anticipated to be all that, and it is in fact, all that. Done.
You need more? Fine. Shiina Ringo, and Utada Hikaru probably the two most distinct and talented female solo artists in Japan, joined forces a second time and released “The Sung&Moon”. What’s funny is this song’s MV actually got leaked a day early by someone. It sent all of us in a tizzy, until they re-released it officially again. Aside from that fun fact, I can’t remark too much on perfection, which is what this is. Perfection, plain and simple. It’s got the harmonies, composition, dynamics between two vocalists and their voices, and it’s a stunning semi-jazz piece.
So with all that said (and yes, it was a lot), I will leave you guys here. Stick around for a few more picks, and drop yours down below! I’d love to hear them!