It’s that time of year again, but this time the super condensed version. In past year’s editions I’ve broken my music picks into four separate categories; Jpop male artists, JPop female artists, JRock and Visual Kei. This year, for ease of listening I’ve wrapped them all together, but also because I’ve really cut out a lot of in-between groups. Also just a ton of artists have disbanded or gone on hiatus so… it’s hard to recommend those kinds of groups to people. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I have my bubbles of music, and that really isn’t a bad thing.
I’ve decided this year instead of doing individual songs/singles, that I’m going to recommend albums, that best represent what I’ve been into this past year. Also this is going to be a lot less formal then the old format, and more casual. At least, as casual as I can be on this blog.
As always, there’s no ranking, just some personal stand out’s from my listening patterns this year.
Kicking us off is Visual Kei; I’ve listened to a lot of Visual Kei this year, mostly in the belt of the 90’s artists and albums. A lot of Buck-Tick, and Dir en Grey to be exact. I also have my more modern tried and trues of ACME, and nurié especially in the early first half of the year. I got pretty into DIAURA and Chanty since I attended concerts for both this year too. (They were social distanced and no cheering/screaming allowed, FYI.)
The most obvious choice for me though this year was nurié’s Dear 2020 album. It’s a mix of prior released singles and some new tracks but all together is really cohesive. The flow from track to track and the attention to detail can’t be beat. For sure one of my top albums of this year.
Edit: When I originally drafted this it was before the band was suppose to play their first sold-out one-man live on December 8th. I was very excited for them since it was their first of what I hoped, and continue to hope would be many successes. Tragically on the morning of that day, the band got into a car accident and bassist Yahiro had passed away due to a combination of his injuries and treatment attempting to save his life.
To Yahiro: Thank you for everything. I hope you are at rest, and at peace.
In terms of JRock… I fell off following it as a genre. I have a few of favorites who I’ll always love and support, but no one really wowed me this year. So I’m not going to force something that isn’t there.
However, JPop? Man oh man have there been some interesting developments in that front. So I’m still not quite over a lot of the artists I’ve mentioned previously who have disbanded/are going on hiatus. AAA being the final metaphorical nail in that coffin for me so… I’ll have to deal with that wave of feelings when it comes.
But I have my tried and true’s, pretty much everyone under LDH male or female artists, have impressed me this year. I could honestly do a whole round-up just featuring them, but that would get pretty boring and consist too much of singles. Some other stand out’s being the original JPop queens; Koda Kumi, Ayami Hamasaki, and Utada Hikaru, my now one and only Johnny’s group Snow Man, and my favorites in the JPop/JR&B block like rude-α, SIRUP, and AAAMYYY.
I’ve been surprised mostly by Takano Akira’s offerings. I’m genuinely stunned I didn’t notice him sooner since according to my Youtube history I’ve seen nearly all this music videos. I mean, “Tiny Lady” slapped when it released and continues to slap now. So now, and into the new year I’ll be digging into his discography. Of course, I’d be remiss to not continue to push iScream down your throats. I still love these girls dearly and they’re truly only going to keep going up from here, so get to listening already! Especially since their song “愛だけは….” is simply gorgeous. Then again these are just singles, so they don’t quite fit my theme going here.
In terms of stand out albums SIRUP takes the cake for me. His album cure is just what I needed to get me through some of the harder months. It’s got all the earlier stylings that got me hooked, with a more mature outlook and some stunning collaborations to boot. The must-listen of this little listicle:
So yeah, that’s where I’m at in terms of JMusic this year. I’m firmly in my own little bubble of music, and not venturing out too much lately. Most of you have probably noticed that my JMusic posts have dwindled down to nearly none, if you noticed at all, but trust me I’m still as invested as I’ve always been.
Be sure to drop me some links to those I missed out on this year, preferably some E.P.’s or albums, and singles in a pinch! A summary of your Spotify/Apple Music wrapped if you’re truly desperate to interact? lol Or let me know who you’ve been listening to this year, because I’d love to know in case I do decided to venture out again. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your day, and see you next post!
I’ll be writing up my own annual post on J-pop/J-rock of 2021 sometime over the next few days. Yours is probably more comprehensive than mine will be though – I just didn’t have the chance this year to listen to my usual number of albums.
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I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on this year’s music!
I love indie J-rock: Nothing’s Carved In Stone, Monoeyes, The Hiatus, Scars Borough, Band-Maid, Man With A Mission….more I can’t remember right now. And, yeah, it’s been a tough couple of years, but I am sure normal service will resume shortly! 🙂
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