So a few weeks ago I had the poll for best H!P single of the year. Well the results are in. This year there were 79 votes. A bit lower than other years but even so it’s enough to give a good general consensus. So what song is going to join the previous winners of Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke by Morning Musume, One・Two・Three / The Matenrou Show by Morning Musume, Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! by Morning Musume, Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game by Morning Musume and Shouganai Yume Oibito by err…Morning Musume? Well one thing’s for sure this year there will be a different winner. Yes this year it will be Morning Musume ’14. >.> So the results…
Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe – Morning Musume ’14 29.11% (23 votes)
I miss you – C-ute 13.92% (11 votes)
Shabadabadoo~ – Michishige Sayumi 7.59% (6 votes)
What is LOVE? – Morning Musume ’14 6.33% (5 votes)
TIKI BUN – Morning Musume ’14 5.06% (4 votes)
Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni – Berryz Kobo 5.06% (4 votes)
Mikaeri Bijin – Morning Musume ’14 3.8% (3 votes)
Romance wo Katatte – Berryz Kobo 3.8% (3 votes)
Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa – Morning Musume ’14 2.53% (2 votes)
Love take it all – C-ute 2.53% (2 votes)
Eighteen Emotion – S/mileage 2.53% (2 votes)
Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS – Juice=Juice 2.53% (2 votes)
Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa – Hello! Pro Kenshuusei 2.53% (2 votes)
Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai – Morning Musume ’14 1.27% (1 votes)
Password is 0 – Morning Musume ’14 1.27% (1 votes)
1-oku 3-senman Sou Diet Oukoku – Berryz Kobo 1.27% (1 votes)
Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita – C-ute 1.27% (1 votes)
The Power – C-ute 1.27% (1 votes)
Kanashiki Heaven (Single Version) – C-ute 1.27% (1 votes)
THE FUTURE – C-ute 1.27% (1 votes)
Mystery Night! – S/mileage 1.27% (1 votes)
Aa Susukino – S/mileage 1.27% (1 votes)
Dream Last Train – Triplet 1% (1 votes)
So Momusu were first yet again with Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe getting twice as many votes as C-ute’s I Miss You which in turn had pretty much twice as many votes as Sayumi’s Shabadabadoo in third place. Sayumi with a solo song in third? I guess only in a graduation year. Well Momusu dominated the top five although C-ute managed to muscle in. Getting another second place to go with 2011’s Kiss me Aishiteru and 2010’s Dance de Bakoon! (S/mileage were third both those years. This year their highest ranked single was joint tenth). Berryz also got in there with Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni sharing joint fifth with Momusu’s Tiki Bun.
But as usual I like to be contrary. So now for my own personal top
ten eleven. See? Eleven. Contrary!
11. Mystery Night – S/mileage
It’s not often in recent years that S/mileage have even been in consideration but once this past year, just once, they came out with something that made me forget just how much the second gen (minus Takeuchi) suck. An electro-pop song with classical sounding bits. Like crossing Morning Musume’s recent singles with elements of C-ute’s Aitai x3 and I Miss You. With H!P even groups you have no interest in can still come out with the odd good song and this was the case here. Sadly I don’t expect it to happen again anytime soon and that angers me. (badoomtish) Yet since it was so close to my top ten I wanted to mention it here.
10. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no Kiss – Juice=Juice
Who doesn’t love a good Spanish guitar rhythm? Now where did I put my castanets?
9. Shabadabadoo – Michishige Sayumi
Sayu’s solo song from her last ever Momusu single (sniff) and it’s a fitting enough way to say goodbye. Her Betty Boo voice fits this Betty Boo song and her personality with all it’s playfulness matches up too. Okay the music could be beefed up a bit (maybe with a proper band) but then everything being electronic suits Sayu’s voice. xD
8. Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe – Morning Musume ’14
In amongst all the similar sounding Musume singles this year was this one that sounds similar. Err…but it has a piano in it. And for that and for the vocals it is quite beautiful.
7. The Power – C-ute
This one was a grower. At first it reminded me of a Berryz Kobo cast-off but after listening to it several times it did grow on me. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite type of music and it’s certainly not up there with C-ute’s best singles but it’s still worth listening to. Besides it’s good to have different styles. It would sound pretty good on C-ute’s inevitable Best Of 2 (or whatever). An album that would show admirable diversity and on which this song would be a pleasant Indian inspired diversion.
6. Love Take It All – C-ute
A straight-forward but nevertheless stompingly good pop song. When it comes to my love C-ute can certainly take as much as they want.
5. Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai – Morning Musume ’14
Momusu’s electro-pop era continued strongly in 2014. I think with Sayu’s graduation now is a perfect time to change direction as there’s a danger their singles are all starting to sound a bit samey. However they still came out with some good stuff this year. Not as fresh anymore as Wakuteka Take A Chance and One Two Three were but still good songs. This song was the official cheering song (or somesuch) for the Winter Olympics (or somesuch. It all seems so long ago already. In fact soon even Momusu’s name will sound so last year. Where does the time go?) Anyway it’s a good single!
4. Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa – Hello! Pro Kenshuusei
This year had a departure from H!P that was just so disappointing. No not Sayu as that was expected and she had a damn good innings but instead Tanabe Nanami. A Kenshuusei member that had been there so many years that she remembers when the trainees were called Eggs and she joined when she was so young she wasn’t far off having been laid by her mother. Still as I rock back and forth whimpering I try to remind myself that at least there’s still the lovely Hamaura Ayano. At least for now. But with her being overlooked for both the new S/mileage and Momusu gens and the pointless restart of Country Musume who knows for how much longer she’ll stick around? But ignoring all that at least we had a great double A-side single this year. Ten Made Nobore I haven’t included in the top ten as it was also released with Juice=Juice the previous year but this track is my favourite of the two anyway. It’s so adorably cute and upbeat that you can’t help but be won over. Now does anyone know where I can buy tickets to the land of Belly Buttons? Is there a train there? Boat?
3. Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa – Morning Musume ’14
On the one hand Momusu’s music makes me feel like I’ve been swallowing plastic. Be doop ze doop zippy zip zip zippy dippy. Ah I remember when music was made with several instruments. But then I’m starting to feel like an old grandad. >< Nevertheless this song – with it’s strange verses that sound like the words are tripping over themselves in an effort to fit into the music followed by the chorus that immediately sinks into your head, demands squatters rights and refuses to budge – is a song that you can’t help liking. In some ways Momusu are starting to sound very samey and a bit soulless and yet still they manage to win me over with a song that is a bit odd and messy and yet that becomes it’s strong point. It’s charm point even (to go back to a saying seemingly last used about ten years ago). Well that’s idol music for you. Always managing to win me over in so many different and unexpected ways.
2. Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita – C-ute
I found choosing the number one song really difficult this time. Two songs clearly stood out for me over all the rest. I flip-flopped several times in the end before finally making my decision. This song would have made a worthy number one. It’s about as perfect as this type of song could be. When a song catches your attention from first listen and makes you immediately want to listen to it again you know it’s good. When you are still listening to that song nine months later it’s clear it’s not just good, it’s great. This has been my most listened to song of 2014 (benefitting over the number one choice as it was released so much earlier). It’s perfect C-ute and has yet another great pv to back it up. What more could you want?
1. I Miss You – C-ute
This song draws on the kind of classical music inspiration Aitai Aitai Aitai Na used but pushes it through the whole song rather than just a dance break. It’s also got overlapping lyrics that were probably a nightmare for H!P’s Hello! Station subtitling staff-member but a pleasure for us listeners. C-ute continue to be given songs that stand out as somehow more mature and stronger than the stuff other groups get. I think it may be because the five members are just such a strong and close-knit unit that when they get a song it becomes imbued with some sort of essence of C-ute. Other, bigger groups struggle to overcome the number of idols they have. Too many idols spoil the pop. Woth C-ute you can pair members up or spread out solo parts while still keeping a unifying sound. But I’m just thinking aloud. Trying to find out the secret of C-ute’s alchemy. Their essence. Ultimately what I’m trying to say is C-ute always give such a good impression and their singles almost always hit the bullseye. This song made me want to listen to it again and again upon first hearing it. It’s also backed up with yet another entertaining, interesting and well thought-out pv. A fitting number one. Unusually for my choice of number one it also did well in the poll.
With Maimi leading Hello! Project into 2015 I hope C-ute can continue going from strength to strength. They had another year where their output was full of quality. I hope their sales can stay healthy and maybe even increase a bit to a level more deserving of them. To me they are the guaranteed quality act in H!P. Totally deserving of the top two spots.
2015 should be interesting for H!P though. With Berryz shuffling off this mortal coil…well okay going on hiatus, with Momusu now having a new leader in Thingummy and with S/mileage now angering people I’m sure the stage is set for the triumphant return of Country Musume. Well possibly. It’s a year where things will look different though that’s for sure. Here’s to the next year!