BEST ~Countdown ~ 2008 H

Welcome to the 1st annual BEST ~Countdown~ 2008 H. Like its counterpart BEST ~Countdown~ 2008 G, it’s a compilation of reviews for the most part of all of the singles and albums that have been reviewed. Of course these singles and albums are only from July 1, 2008-December 31, 2008. So without anymore hesitation, let’s begin! *And just a little note, for most of the singles, it’s the title track that’s really important and that’s being reviewed or honored.

BEST Singles:

Best Techno / Electronica

Dream Fighter – Perfume

This has been Perfume’s year without a doubt. After their no. 1 album, they released a single that charted at no. 1 on the charts, making history. As for this single, it’s amazing. I was debating between this single or love the world, but honestly this single here has that stronger techno / electronica sound, the latter was more cutesy pop idol. It’s pretty catchy and features some intense distortions and techno beats that make it infectious. Not to mention that the melody is just plain addicting. That’s why this is the obvious BEST Techno / Electronica single!

Honorable Mentions: Blue Vibration / Kaze no Kioku ~to the end of the world~ – Aimmy

can’t stop the DISCO – Ami Suzuki

Best Love

Romantic – Rie fu

Diverging from her past folk pop music is Rie fu with Romantic. This single is quite different from all of her past works made evident by the distorted strings and the suureal synth lines. As for why it’s the best love single, well I guess the title says about half of it. The other half though comes from the actual lyrics which are very profound and awing. Rie fu’s vocals are also mesmerizing which makes it even better, and the fact that she’s bilingual doesn’t hurt. The English is just as incredible as the Japanese if not better. I’d say that this is one of my top 5 favorites of 08 and the BEST Love single.

Best Rock

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Kane wo Narashite – BONNIE PINK

After 2006 with A Perfect Sky, Bonnie was put back in the lime light. This single is spectacular as far as vocals and instrumentals go, as well as appearances. Anyway, it’s probably the best rock single of 08, well song I should say. It gained more attention being the Japanese version of her own Ring A Bell, as well as the theme song for a popular X-Box 360 game. It features an awesome arrangement along with the guitar, some percussion, and the occasional synth riff. And the lyrics aren’t so bad either.

Honorable Mentions: World End – FLOW

Best Dance

TABOO – Koda Kumi

I’m sure that after MOON, not many people were expecting Kuu to comeback with this sultry perfection. It’s her strongest single to date since BUT / Aishou back in 2007 but it was worth the weight. This song is her first really to feature some terrific techno beats and synth riffs, thus making it her finest dance single. But not only that, the music is so strong and the melody is catchy. It just has that incredible dance vibe. The vocals were sexy and a little naughty. As for the chorus that really made the song, well it was infectious and so so addicting. And honestly, I personally think it’s also the sexiest single of 08, especially after the two PVs released.

Best R&B

ONE – Crystal Kay

Crystal Kay is widely known for singing some great R&B songs, so it’s no surprise that her single ONE is the BEST R&B single. This smooth song is pretty soft and light when it comes to the actual beats and sound, but it’s sweet R&B nonetheless. It’s lightly infused with some snaps and the occasional percussion. The signature instrumental besides the synth riffs are the strings, which are pretty light, giving the song an up-beat feeling. Crystal sounded pretty good in this song too, she displayed some nice vocals. Although it perhaps could have been a little heavier, almost like to Mariah Carey, but I’m content for the moment.

Best Pop

Guuzen no Kakuritsu – GIRL NEXT DOOR

Created to celebrate AVEX’s 20th Anniversary was the band GIRL NEXT DOOR. They debuted back in September with the single Guuzen no Kakuritsu that features pop music. However unlike most of the pop of today, the music of GND is more like the stereotypical pop of the 90s, a throwback essentially. But despite being a throwback, it’s surprisingly good and catchy. The guitar riffs and keyboard chords provide some great music and the arrangement is just amazing. The music is up-beat and pretty catchy, the melody is so memorable. No wonder it’s the BEST Pop single.

Honorable Mentions: Style. – Kana Nishino

Best Ballad

RED CLIFF ~ Shin Sen~ – alan

Although 2007 was good for alan, 2008 has been better. She’s released 5 singles in 5 months, and each has been pretty good. But she was in her element when she released RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~. It’s an epic ballad that’s filled with the regal strings and a variety of oriental instruments. It a song that’s one of her signature songs, and it also put her in the limelight. But besides having an exquisite array of instruments, alan displays just how powerful her vocals are yet again. They’re strong and enduring, perfect for this genre really. And her signature mountain vocals are even featured, which makes it even better. It’s definitely one of the best ballads of 08.

Best Nature

Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ – alan

alan began her 5 Elements Campaign back in July with the earth themed single entitled Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~. This single really allowed her popularity to shoot up, breaking into the top 20. As for why it’s a nature single, well the PV for one and the lyrics. It was also used as the theme song for a special program called SAVE THE FUTURE, which promoted environmental issues. What made this song so special and wonderful was a multitude of things. The children’s vocals in the background and the various instrumentals were part of it. But alan’s vocals really made the song. They were strong and just what the song needed to promote a better environment, and keep nature beautiful. The lyrics go on to mention “a northern aurora, a forest’s whisper, a nostalgic future, and a blue star. ” Pretty nature themed right?

Best Foreign

GREEN / Days – Ayumi Hamasaki

Lately, as in the past three years, Ayumi has been releasing only two singles per year, and that’s physical too. And after her 10th anniversary single Mirrorcle World, she released GREEN / Days. GREEN gained a lot of attention for being used as in a CM for Panasonic and because it was heard back in August. Anyway, I loved this single so much that I had to give it something, and foreign was the best thing. GREEN is about as oriental as you’ll hear from Ayumi, well Chinese for the most part. But the song is incredible and known for it’s extensive use of the Chinese strings and instruments. And the PV was about a showgirl trying to make it big in the 30’s in China.

Best Summer

SUMMER SONG – YUI

YUI is famous for playing the guitar, electric and acoustic, and featuring it in her music. And this summer song does just that. It’s main instrument is the acoustic guitar, which is pretty amazing as far as notes and riffs go. This song is basically about the summer, the fireworks, and the blue sky. I guess the title really gave it away, but it’s pretty obvious that this is a summer single, and the best of 08. Come to think of it, I don’t think there were many summer singles, well many good ones anway *cough* MOON *cough*.

Best Winter

stay with me – Koda Kumi

Kuu’s infamous for her winter ballads as of lately, so it’s no surprise that her single be dubbed the BEST Winter single. This wonderful winter ballad is sensational and perfect for the season. The strings are epic and impressive, the piano solemn and refined. Kuu’s vocals were mind blowing, filled with power and emotion. And one of the things that makes this single even better is the fact that the B-Side was so wintery. Winter Bell was so up-beat and sounded perfect for the holidays with the jingle bells, how much better does it get than that? Well that’s why this is the BEST Winter single of 08!

Best Gothic Lolita

Hades: The bloody rage – Yousei Teikoku

Gothic Lolita covers a range of appearances, but the dark / evil look is probably the most famous. And when I say this cover and the band, that’s the first thing that popped into my mind. I guess looks are pretty important when it comes to gothic lolita, but the sound doesn’t hurt either. In this particular song, the keyboard and guitar are the main instruments, giving the song such an eerie feeling. The organ makes an occasional appearance in this dark tune. It sounds pretty classical and the background vocals make it sound ominous. And as far as looks go, need I say more? The group even released an album entitled GOTHIC LOLITA PROPAGANDA, which might be reviewed.

Best Classical

Suna no Oshiro – Kanon Wakeshima

Kanon made a splash into the world of Japanese music when it was revealed that she would sing the theme song to the anime Vampire Night. Well the single above was used as the ending theme song for the second season, and it’s pretty damn good. Like her previous single, it’s pretty classical featuring her signature instrument, the cello, and the strings. It’s darker compared to her previous single too, in terms of vocals and music. Anyway, the constant strings and cello gives the song a classical feeling that’s a little eerie too. And although it’s a little too short for my taste, it’s an incredible classical single.

Best Debut

PROMiSE – MiChi

Well she might have released an EP, but for now PROMiSE is MiChi’s debut single. The title track was used in a CM for au sports, and she even did a few live performances. As to why this single is the best debut single, well there are a few reasons. First off, she’s bilingual and that means that her English is great, which doesn’t hurt especially when you use English in your songs. The lyrics were rather optimistic and happy, and the meaning was pretty deep. Music wise, the song features some synth lines and techno beats along with some distortions, the keyboard, and guitar; making it sound pretty modern and giving it a dance feel. And finally I loved her vocals, they were so refreshing, so crisp and clear. And it charted pretty well too, she’s off to a great debut.

Best Comeback

Mou Nido to… – BENI

I’m sure most people know BENI as Beni Arashiro. Anyway, her career got off to a fair start, but slowly started to plummet and eventually she left AVEX to go to Universal Music Japan. Her last single AVEX single charted at no. 77, and that was pretty much one of the lowest points in her career, besides having her compilation album chart at no. 166. But over the summer of 08 she was featured in a single that was fairly successful and then finally she released a response single entitled Mou Nido to… It charted at no. 20, much better than 77, so that’s a pretty good comeback. Not only that but she did a live performance, which no doubt helped it. As for the song itself, it’s a typical ballad that sounds incredibly wonderful that features the strings, the piano, and the acoustic guitar. It’s really a step up from her AVEX work in my opinion, and a single worthy of the name BENI. Such an awesome Comeback Single!

Best Anniversary

ONE – Ami Suzuki

Although you could label this as a comeback single, Ami had her’s years ago and she hasn’t fallen from popularity that much. Anyway this single was released to celebrate her 10th Anniversary in the music business. 10 Years is pretty long in my opinion, but I hope she stays for another 10. This single was quite different from her past singles as it wasn’t a collaboration single, and it was produced by Yasutaka Nakata of capsule. That being said, it’s no surprise that the music was heavily techno / synth oriented. There are some amazing beats and distorted sultry vocals. The melody was topnotch and incredibly infectious. I think this single might give Ayu a run for her money.

Honorable Mentions: Kurage, Nagareboshi – Ai Otsuka

BEST Albums:

BEST Pop

GIRL NEXT DOOR – GIRL NEXT DOOR

Despite being so repetitive, GND has released an awesome debut album. It features that stereotypical pop of the 90s that’s nostalgic and just plain awesome. Some of the new songs featured some newer genres for the group, which made it excellent. The music sounds pretty similar except for a select few, but everything worked out for them. I liked how they stuck with the one genre though, much better than a few albums. That being said, it could have been a little better.

BEST Compliation

BEST FICTION – Namie Amuro

In my opinion, this has been the year for Namie. She gets a no. 1 single after 9 years, and then released a compilation album that charted no. 1 at 6 consecutive weeks. I haven’t reviewed this album, but I plan to eventually. Anyway, I won’t go into all the details because I plan to review this and a few select others at the next Countdown GH. This album contained two new tracks that are so addicting, along with her all her hit singles since 2002. It’s the best compilation album of the year because it’s Namie, it’s been years since she’s released one, the singles rock, and the two new hit songs.

BEST ROCK

LOVE LETTER – Ai Otsuka

I’m not sure what kind of artist people would classify Ai as, but for the moment it appears to be rock. Now she still does J-Pop, but for a while she’s been getting deeper into the rock genre, especially with her new album LOVE LETTER. This amazing album featured two title tracks rather than one, making it stick out. This album is filled with a variety of rock tracks, along with the occasional mesmerizing ballad, and abstract song. The rock for some parts is light but it is there nonetheless. Her vocals had some variety to them which made the album even more enjoyable. It’s one of the must-hear albums of 08, even if it is rock oriented.

BEST Awaited

Van. – Van Tomiko

Ever since her debut single back in 2006, people have been waiting for Van’s sophomore studio album. Oddly enough her debut singles and on were placed on this album, seeing as the first featured no singles. Anyway, waiting for two years makes you expect a lot, and this album delivered. It was entirely rock, but more of a fusion of rock, ballad, and the occasional jazz. The singles were just plain amazing, except for one, and the new songs were just exhilerating. I’m pretty sure now though that her solo career has ended for now as DAI has gotten back together.

BEST Contemporary

VOICE – Mika Nakashima

Things have been so hectic with finals next week and lots of stuff going on in school that I haven’t gotten the chance to review VOICE. I plan to review it before January is over, but it might be a while. Mika is known for her adult contemporary songs, and this album follows that same genre. It has some smooth jazz, a dance song, a ballad, an up-beat song, and even grudgy rock. The music is varied, but overall it’s smooth and gentle, very calm for the most part. It’s not really pop, more of a fusion of jazz & ballads than anything really, like back in the old days. It’s something that I think most adults wouldn’t mind listening to.

Best Techno / Electronica

Supreme Show – Ami Suzuki

Ami’s image has changed with AVEX and so has her music. From pop idol to techno goddess with the help of Yasutaka Nakata. Ever since he started producing her, her music has become very techno influenced and features the occasional synth beats and electronic distortions. That’s exactly what this album features, some techo music, synth beats, and awesome distorted vocals! It features the awesome ONE, TEN, and LOVE MAIL, among other hits. She’s also taken on an edgier appearance with this album too, and the photoshopping is amazing.

Fin…

Well that’s BEST ~Countdown~ 2008 H! I hope everyone has enjoyed this super review. This review just contained some of the highlights of the latter part of 2008. I know that there is a lot more, but that will appear on BEST ~Countdown~ 2008 GH, which is a mega review of 2008, and that will include everything. Some parts will be specific, some will just be the best top 10 songs, etc. So I hope this will satisfy you for now.

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Comments
2 Responses to “BEST ~Countdown ~ 2008 H”
  1. blackmager says:

    OMG YES.
    FINALLY.
    Someone that agrees with me that Dream Fighter is Perfumes best right now.

    As for everything else, I haven’t really listened to them.

    But I saw Kanon Wakeshima there, so yes, I agree with that.
    Although I think Still Doll had a more lasting affect on me than Suna No Oshiro did

  2. DarkLaceDollFace says:

    Very good reviews. Yousei Teikoku and Kanon wakeshima are two of my personal favorites. I consider both to be very similar, in that they are both classical, dark and sweet (Loli- ish). Still Doll is probably Kanon’s best song along with Suna No Oshiro, its simply a magnum opus. For YT, I’d probably say Wahreit (If that’s how you spell it) and Schwarzer Sarg. All in all, I haven’t heard a half bad chanson from either of them. Take care, loved the reviews! ❤

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