Best Countdown ~Year of the Phoenix~
Welcome to the annual countdown of the year 2010. This year has had its hit and misses, and plenty of things have happened that have both shocked and awed us. I looked at the past countdown reviews and the titles have somewhat bored me. After an eventful year in both my life and music, I’ve titled this year’s countdown: Best Countdown ~Year of the Phoenix~. But why Year of the Phoenix you ask? Well, a phoenix is a symbol of rebirth, of resilience. Certainly things may have gone bad at first for some, but in the end, they rose again. I won’t name any artist, but it’s easy enough to figure out which ones. And with that, let the countdown begin!
First we’ll discuss the best singles of the year. Unlike previous years, it will not be based on a certain category. Realistically, it’s a bit too much work and I don’t have all that much time, nor do I want to spend all that time. Let’s face it; whenever someone reviews something, they’re going to be a bit biased. I’m still going to be biased, it’s impossible not to, but I won’t rank the singles. I will just list what I feel were the best singles, and give some explanations.
I never really thought I’d ever enjoy AI, but I did. This single was probably the best collaboration single of the year. You had both Miliyah and Snoop Dogg, you can’t really beat that. I loved how both songs gave off a strong R&B vibe mixed with a little Hip-Hop. The songs were catchy and just amazing, from the synth filled beats to the powerful vocals. Both songs were hot, and easily some of the top songs of the year.
Diamond / Over the clouds – alan
I don’t think any of us would’ve imagined that alan would release songs like this. Well, maybe, if you consider Diamond to be M, then she’d be the next Ayu, but that’s still going on between Kana and her, so yeah…. Anyway, Diamond was a mesmerizing ballad, great classical as well as modern elements; it turned out to be pretty damn amazing and lovely, it’s still awesome to believe that the melody was taken from one of her instrumentals on her second album. As for Over the clouds, GREATEST SONG FROM ALAN!!! Kinda dark, yet mystical and exciting. Great use of a vocoder for some parts, and just fantastic overall. Extremely catchy and fast paced, electronic/synth driven, and it has some great string parts.
Yura Yura / Gimme Gimme♥ – BENI
Easily one of the best double A-Sides, Beni proves she’s back yet again. Yura Yura is an up-beat pop sensation with a sweet melody and lovely vocals. Gimme Gimme♥ is more of a cutesy pop song, but it’s just as enjoyable. The chorus is infectious and there’s just something about her vocals that make it incredible. It was a fantastic final single prior to her album Lovebox.
Journey ~Kimi to Futari de~ – Crystal Kay
I was seriously amazed when I first heard this song. There aren’t all that many incredible R&B songs, but this was one of them. The PV was so sad, but the song is so beautiful and touching. It’s a wonderful love song that’s catchy catchy, and that features some great R&B beats as well as synth riffs. As for the B-Side, pure magic. It’s pretty sad, made me cry a bit, but I love. Talk about an incredible English song, great piano chords and an incredible beat, not to mention inspiring lyrics and powerful vocals.
if – Kana Nishino
The instant I heard this song, I knew it would be one of my favorites. Not only was if used as the theme song for the 4th Naruto Shippuden Movie, but the song itself is just amazing. It’s a superb ballad, great vocals, a catchy melody, and a powerful chorus. Everything about this song is catchy, and it’s just that good. The B-Sides were good too, one was a lovely R&B ballad, the other was a hip-hop infused synth song; both were catchy as well. Best single to date.
LOVE is. E.p – MiChi
I didn’t care for the final two tracks on the single, but because the first two were so good, I had to include it. The title track is a fast paced synth infused track that’s one of the most infectious tracks I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a typical MiChi song, and that’s exactly why it’s incredible and on this list. YEAH YEAH YEAH!!! is also on this list. It’s just as up-tempo as the previous track. There’s just something about it though that makes it so good. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just sounds so euphoric. It has a lot going for it though, plenty of synth riffs as well as guitar riffs etc. Both songs are just stellar, nuff said.
TOXIC – Nana Tanimura
Although I didn’t review this single, it belongs on the list of top singles. The title track TOXIC is one sexy song. There are some great vocals, not to mention that “American” R&B/urban feel. The song is pretty damn catchy as well. A little bland at time, nonetheless, still awesome. I personally loved CIRCUS WORLD more though. Although it is shorter, it’s a hell of a lot more infectious, not to mention even fiercer. It’s more urban and the beats are even catchier. The chorus kicks ass too, infectious is just once way to describe it. If only this song were longer, I enjoyed it that much.
GLORIA – YUI
GLORIA from YUI, need I really explain more? She might be slipping with her albums, but her singles still rock and this was no exception. Energetic and catchy, this song is just what the doctor ordered. Even Muffler was good, a nice change of venue, compared to her usual rock songs. Quite peaceful and relaxing. Her acoustic rendition of the previous single was good too. What’s not to love about this single?
Sign – FLOW
Even I was surprised that I chose this single, since I rarely ever feature any boy bands on this site, mostly because I find them to be just plain obnoxious, or because they lack talent. But I had to include FLOW. The title track was used as the 6th opening for Naruto Shippuden, I actually remember seeing it being used too, I felt kinda special. But beside that, the title track was a catchy rock song, energetic and edgy. The B-Side was rather ordinary, still nice though. The special song featured on the limited edition single was just incredible. It featured all of their songs that’ve been used in Naruto, a nice mix that was long, but epic.
Break It / Get Myself Back – Namie Amuro
I was hesitant to include this single, but I felt that it was truly better than some of the other singles. Anyway, the first A-Side has grown on me a lot more. It’s not nearly as annoying as before, it still could be a bit better, but it’s still pretty catchy IMO. I still love all of the urban elements and great vocals. And I still adore the second B-Side. The ballad is one of her bests, since Baby Don’t Cry. All of the synth riffs and piano chords really made the song stand out. Her vocals were incredible too, fit very well with the strings. If only it wasn’t her only single of the year.
And now time for the BEST albums. No specific order as it gets hard to put them in order. The albums this year as just that, albums. It doesn’t matter if it’s a compilation album, a studio album, or a special concept album. I did this mostly because it was so hard to pick 10 really good albums, this year in music hasn’t been all that incredible *cough* BoA *cough*.
So these are the top 10 albums of the year, no specific order. Theses albums include all albums, not just studio albums. Slim pickings this year somehow.
to LOVE – Kana Nishino
Easily my favorite studio album of the year, and that’s saying something. I remembered when Kana first debuted and I knew she was going to do well, but not even I could imagine that her sophomore studio album was going to do as well as it did. This studio album not only reached no. 1 on the charts, but it managed to reach no. 3 on the yearly charts, being beaten only by Arashi’s studio album, as well as a compilation album. This album featured some incredible singles that had some R&B flavor, as well as some synth riffs. It also had some up-beat energetic tracks, as well as your emotion ballads. There’s a track on here that everyone can enjoy, the album is that good. On a side note, she keeps looking more and more like Ayu every day, and has someone noticed those lips o.O Angelina Jolie anyone????
UTADA HIKARU SINGLE COLLECTION VOL. 2 – Utada Hikaru
It shouldn’t shock anyone that this album is up here. This is her first Japanese release in over two and a half years, physical release that is. This album not only features her hits beginning in 2004 to 2008, which is a lot more than most people would think, but it also featured 5 new brand tracks. The singles were classics and even the new track were amazing. It’s pretty much the best thing that could’ve happened considering Hikki is going on a hiatus. We’ll miss her a lot, but these new tracks will have to hold us over until then.
Love songs – Ayumi Hamasaki
So it’s not her best album, that’s for sure, but it is a vast improvement from her previous album, and it can hold its own compared to her previous albums. That being said, I actually enjoyed it. The title track was a breath of fresh air, what surprised me the most were her vocals, she’s changed a lot since 2006 (that’s when I first started listening to her). Most of the songs had a slight rock flare to them, which was enjoyable, and she kept it nice and classy, great use of strings. She experimented a bit with some darker synth, like Last Angel. She even had some ethereal songs like Thank U. The album features some great songs, as well as the her 48th, 49th, and 50th singles.
Spin The Music – Crystal Kay
What would a list be without CK’s studio album? Spin The Music is a wonderful R&B infused album that is just incredible. It has some of her best singles to date, Journey ~Kimi to Futari de~ and After Love -First Boyfriend- feat.KANAME(CHEMISTRY). It has some fiercer, some electronic driven songs like Konya wa No.1, as well as heavenly ballads, such as Time of Love. There were even some nice up-beat tracks as well. There’s something for everyone to enjoy on this album. My personal favorites were the up-tempo tracks. It’s got a great flow to it, and the music is just awesome.
STAR – Mika Nakashima
So despite there only being really two or three new tracks on the album, or maybe even one, this album is still on the list. You have some classical, synth infused tracks, as well as traditional ballads, not to mention the quirky songs (not my favorite, but some may enjoy them). The jazzy songs were enjoyable, as were the songs that utilized synth. She even demonstrated how good her English is, with Memory, which featured notable producer DAISHI DANCE. There are so many genres on this album that it’s impossible not to find a song that you’ll like.
HEAVEN – Miliyah Kato
This was the first album from Miliyah that had come out since I started listening to her, and I must admit that I was impressed. It featured some of her typical R&B tracks that she’s known for, as well as her up-tempo dance oriented songs, and her ballads. Some songs even had a hint of Hip-Hop and rock to them, giving some songs a little extra flare. This album really lets Miliyah show off her vocal talent, as well as express herself even more. The songs were phenomenal, especially the songs infused with some synth riffs! Just a great album overall, well deserving, and easily on this list.
Universe – Koda Kumi
As it turns out, Kuu’s first week sales can get lower, just look at her latest studio album. I thought this was the low point, turns out it’s not, which is a good thing I suppose. This album contained some of her fiercest tracks to date, including both ECSTASY and UNIVERSE. There are also some enjoyable ballads, some classical and some synth infused, all of them are just beautiful. She even sang some rock songs, I was surprised she decided to try some new things out. There were also some up-beat songs, as well as typical cutesy songs. My personal favorites were the FIERCE ones, basically very infectious tracks.
FUTURE KISS – Mai Kuraki
I was a bit too lazy to attempt to review this album, but it still goes up on the list. The title track was pretty amazing IMO, had a relaxing feel to it, despite so much going on. It was truly a hot mess with so much stuff! Worth a listen or 10. The album was mostly filled with R&B tracks, along with the occasional ballad. A few of the songs were even used as theme songs for the anime Meitantei Conan, a personal favorite series of mine. There were even some rock elements that were present in some songs. The album has some gems on it, so give it a shot. My favorites were FUTURE KISS, I scream!, and I promise.
Request – JUJU
So what surprised me the most about this album was the fact that not only did it do really well on the charts, two weeks at no. 1, but the fact that it outsold all of her studio albums, AND has sold more than all of them combined. Not quite sure what that says about her as an artist, but at least her covers sell a ton. This album features some of the best covers up to date, most with a little jazz infusion that allows for a soothing sound. My personal favorite cover was her rendition of Hikki’s First Love; the jazz arrangement was just perfect for this song. Or incredible covers include WILL, Suki, and Don’t wanna cry.
Lovebox – BENI
Definitely her best album of 2010, Lovebox was an instant hit for me; it even debuted at no. 1 on the Oricon Charts, that’s a first for Beni. This album had it all, hot singles, and killer album tracks. Her intro was just perfect, and all of the songs were just awesome. As usual, you had your up-beat tracks such as Yura Yura and Girl’s Night feat.JAMOSA. There were some ballads as well, like Sign and Message. And some brand new fierce tracks. The album had great flow and Beni’s vocals were just flawless. Too bad her latest album wasn’t nearly as good.
Now for a little section I call Best Others. This section comprises of songs that really didn’t belong in a section, but were really good and deserved to be mentioned.
littlestar – May J.
This was featured on House Nation 3rd Anniversary and it was the BEST song on the album. So far it’s only been featured on this album, but a Japanese version was released one of her singles. The song is sung entirely in English and is quite heart wrenching, but it’s a beautiful song, and infectious as well; I love dance songs on House Nation albums!
forever feat. Blanc. – Q;indivi+
This was featured on the album ACACIA; which was released by the creative Q;indivi+, the + basically means it features some artists. This song is your typical Q;indivi dance song sung in English, but it feature’s MONKEY MAJIK’s Blanc. The song is incredible, the moving piano chords, the up-tempo synth music, and crisp vocals all create a euphoric song. This is one of my personal favorite songs of the year.
Only holy – Miliyah Kato
This song was released on one of Miliyah’s DVD’s, being the lone track, as well as the only new one. It’s very Christmas-y and lovely. Heavy on the synth and powerful vocals, this wintery ballad is just what the doctor ordered; on a side note, great use of percussion, as well as bells.
make.believe – Genki Rockets
So as it turns out, this song hasn’t been released in the traditional sense, if I remember correctly, it was something that involved a game, or PS3. Point is, it had no official release and therefore goes in this category. As usual, typical Genki Rocket’s song, sung in English, great dance beats, as well as synth infused music, and flawless lyrics with a positive message.
Living In The Castle – Phoenix 2:00AM feat. Ami Suzuki
So Ami didn’t release any new material single or album wise, anything original through those, but she released a new song via a House Nation album. It’s your typical dance song, very dance friendly, great beats. Kinda reminds me of eurobeat in some strange way, tons of electronic distortions and such. And it’s pretty damn infectious, awesome song, if only there was a PV for it or something!