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 Visual Kei – Top 10 in 2019.
ヌリエ (nurié) – モノローグ (Monologue)
A band that only recently kicked off activities mid-year, but is already going strong. I fell in love with this group almost immediately. I actually featured them in one of my monthly round-ups around their debut date! While their appearances are much more street-style visual kei, their roots are strong as all the members were in bands before joining nurié. This maturity shows in their sound, much less harsh vocals, and more attention paid to lyrics and composition. They have a very distinct brand of visual kei, and I am seriously digging it.
It helps that they have already started 2020 strong. Now it’s a waiting game to see if they appear on next year’s list as well! I’ll be keeping my ears tuned towards them, so I hope you will too!
Rumbless – 終雪 (Last Snow)
Another track that shows a more mature, less harsh vocal-based style of Visual Kei. It has the two additional bonus points of being seasonlly appropriate, and fitting with my Visual Kei Wonders. Was it intentional? Absolutely not! (lol)
Rumbless, is actually nearly brand new to the scene, since only the vocalist Roku, has prior (known) band experiance. Don’t let that be a deterrent though; they are crazy talented. They have some amazing seamless shifts in “Last Snow” that really show their prowess. The mood changes, and composition are flawless. I was genuinely surprised by this group, since both “catastrophe” and “Last Snow” made it on my radar for the end of the year. “Last Snow” just barely won since it’s admittedly more fresh in my mind.
The Guzmania – shadow dance, under the moonlight
A band that I started listening to just simply because Chobi, the bassist, is the former bassist of DIV. I will never look down on myself for following members of groups to new bands, because damn it leads to some interesting places!
The Guzmania, was a band that originally I didn’t really feel was VKei. The visuals are much more scaled back then other groups that debuted this year, and Tokiha’s vocals are non-standard for the genre. There’s an interesting post to be made about their vocalist, but I’m saving that for next year. They managed to take me off guard, and win me over in a few regards. Their first release was a mini-album and it’s gotten a lot of play time from me.
SHiSHi – かまちょ。(Kamichio)
Did the newbies take over the scene?? Of course not, but it certainly feels like it when SHiSHi is the fourth new band on my list. This trend of following bandmen from band to band is working out really well for me this year. Reno formerly of スタア区。 is the vocalist for this group and hey; they’re kicking ass too!
SHiSHi is bringing back kira-kira kei, one song at a time. From the literal upbeat beats, bright stage outfits, and poppy lyrics that you would think an idol group would be singing this track. I mean, until you really listen in and maybe see a few kanji your recognize. Honestly, it’s bridging a gap somewhere in my musical tastes that I didn’t know needed bridging. Again, they too are hitting 2020 with a bang.
シェルミィ(Shellmy) – 大人になったら死にたい (When I become an adult, I want to die)
Shellmy~ A group that’s finally not brand-new to the scene. Thank goodness we didn’t completely hand over 2019 to the new bands! (Not that it would have been terrible)
Shellmy managed to curate a song that I rather proudly could read all the kanji for! Only to realize what a depressing title it was, and then I was left with mixed feelings. Again, this song isn’t for everyone but this song came at the right time for me. It’s oddly catchy, and there’s no gaps in delivery. Hyo, normally just on vocals, stepped up and even played guitar for this one! Just a solid track delivered by an amazing group.
彩冷える(Ayabie) – ミルク (Milk)
I couldn’t not feature Ayabie. They were a staple in Visual Kei for ages, only to go on hiatus back in 2012. Absolutely everyone pretty much said that Ayabie as we knew them were finished and would never comeback. 2019 was the year of miracles, since both DuelJewel and Ayabie remerged and with that Visual Kei was saved.
Maybe, that last part is a bit much but I remember crying a bit when I saw the news of their return. I was never a huge fan of Ayabie, but their songs always held a place in my heart. Aoi honestly has one of the best voices potentially ever, and “Milk” while a strange name was the perfect track to showcase that. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the band kills it even just in this snippet, but there’s something special about Aoi’s vocals on this track. I’m so happy they’re back, and on time to do their 15th anniversary tour!
アクメ (ACME) – 放課後の飼育 (After School Rearing)
Ahahaha, ACME. Need I say more? They were on the list last year. I tend to talk about them a lot. My original list didn’t have an ACME track on it though. It didn’t even have Dir en Grey either, and that would just be my Visual Kei world in literal disorder! Can’t have that going on at the end of the year.
So I went through ACME’s discography this year, and while it wasn’t weak, it wasn’t full of bops that came to mind right away. They’ve had a strong showing with four singles this year. However, none of them quite had that appeal of a “Senkou” or “Zesshou Ouka” for me. So I went with “Houkago no Ikku” because it actually took me some time to really understand and appreciate the track. The English translation probably is questionable at best, but the message of the song is strong enough for it to make this list. Also it totally slaps live too.
the Raid -殺したくなるほど誰かを愛した事はありますか？(Have You Ever Loved Someone Enough to Want to Kill Them?) or 殺し愛 (Killing Love)
Another returner from last year! I genuinely might have to choke out the members of the Raid for this one though. This title is way the hell too long
(Seriously did they take notes from Fall Out Boy or something??), although it was another one I read and understood immediately. I almost nearly broke my phone hiding the title from my co-workers. So I might actually understand this feeling of the Raid’s!
For having such an aggressive title; it’s actually a rather relaxing song. No harsh vocals, but the lyrics really strike some solid chords with me. Sena not only sang them, but wrote them as well. Impressing me even further was that bo_ya did the composing, and how it came together. It really doesn’t feel like a Visual Kei song! Still, it really sends surprisingly pleasent shivers down my spine.
As an additional fun fact the couple in this video are a famous Youtube/Vlogger couple in Japan? They’re mentioned in the credits, as well as the comments like crazy.
キズ (Kizu) -黒い雨 (Black Rain)
Kizu is another up and coming artist that really impressed me this year. I might poke fun at their fans for their hype, but with this track they weren’t wrong.
I would love to join the hype train for Kizu, but about the best I can do just tell you to listen to them. It’s a complete 180, from their earlier releases in 2019 just proving the group can do a lot more then just dark and heavy tracks. It’s composed incredibly well, and the mixing is just right. It feels a bit of an homage to maybe L’Arc~en~Ciel? GLAY? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the comparison is there I swear. I won’t call “Black Rain” inspirational, but it certainly shows a new side to the group.
ユナイト(UNiTE.) – シトラス (Citrus)
UNiTE has been full of surprises this year. They recently branched off into having their own Youtube channel, and posting furitsuke videos on it. UNiTE is also a group known for having an alter-ego group, Kuro UNiTE, which got their MV’s posted for the first time on Youtube too!
I wanted to of course, focus on the music released this year. “Citrus” is a song that helps the winter seem a little less long. While not out-right pop, it’s a welcome blast of color into the rather repetitive at times Visual Kei scene, especially with those excellant guitar solos. They’re a group that’s been around forever, and their unique perspective on genre is always welcome in my world.
With that, this year’s Visual Kei list is complete! As always let me know what tracks were your favorites, and what ones I missed! With that I’ll see you next year!