Give it a few more years and I'm sure it'll become more common. My area is small, with not much reason to institute data caps, but they added one to our plan in the last year. It's bullshit, since caps only exist due to poor infrastructure and ISPs wanted to milk customers for more money, but I have no other options if I want cable in my area.
wemibelec90's forum posts
This year of JPOP was a big one for me. While I had started dabbling in the genre last year, my exposure had been painfully limited. This is obvious from my last year’s top 10, missing out on great artists like Capsule and Charisma.com and picking a number of questionable songs as my favorites just because I didn’t have a great deal to choose from. This year, I resolved to do better. I broadened my sources for discovering new music, listening to dozens of songs each week just to get a better sense of the genre and which artists I like. Obviously, I’m still going to miss out on things due to the sheer number of releases. Still, I felt like I was exposed to some fantastic new artists and really learned a lot about JPOP this year. Unfortunately, this also had the adverse effect of giving me a lot more songs to pull from, making this list quite difficult to craft. I actually had a pretty hard time choosing these songs--well, at least the ones below the top 5. It was a great year with a lot of varying styles, and I’m sad I can’t feature more of them on my list.
This was also the year I started up my JPOP appreciation thread here on Giant Bomb. Each week, I post a few more songs with the intent of fostering discussion and hopefully creating some new fans of the genre. While it doesn’t have a huge following, I know I’ve inspired at least one person--which is more than enough for me. I’ll continue to add songs every week in 2015 and encourage anyone who stumbles across it to do the same. There’s a lot to love about JPOP, and it would please me greatly to see more people exposed to it. It’s a genre that’s brought me a lot of joy, particularly these top picks of the year. I hope these songs entice some of you to explore the genre in greater detail--you won’t regret it.
Make sure to let me know what you think of my list! Or share some of the JPOP songs you really enjoyed this year!
10 - Dance All Night - E-Girls
I can’t really explain why I like Dance All Night so much. It’s from a large girl group, which I usually hate. The composition is a bit repetitive and doesn’t really do anything to stand out. The vocals aren’t bad but aren’t memorable either. Aside from a few segments--such as the “hand dancing” part--the video is more style than substance. Even with all these negatives, I just really like this song on a pure enjoyment level. I love the way it sounds, a lively pounding rhythm that I find helplessly addictive. Its musical style, sounding like a combination of late-90s Latino pop and early-2000s Europop, just fills my body with dopamine every time I hear it. I also enjoy just how atypical it is for a JPOP song, feeling very Western in its sound and video. This may be the song I’ve heard the most this year, counting the numerous times I’ve blasted it while doing something else. There are other songs I could have put in this spot, more competent or unique ones, but I felt that would have been dishonest. While I doubt anything from E-Girls will ever appear on a list of mine again, Dance All Night is clearly one of my favorite songs this year.
9. Catharsis - Ecosystem
Catharsis was my first big surprise of the year, shocking me with its emotional energy and excellent video. The frontwoman of the group has such a singular look, adorable and mysterious, yet reminding me of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love the main riff of the song, a pleasant and catchy throughline. The rest of the composition is easygoing, staying in the background while also supporting the vocals. The flow of the vocals is first-rate, coming out with a speedy intensity but still remaining easy to understand. There’s even more power in the chorus--it almost sounds like the words are forcing their way out of her mouth in a desperate escape. The video is great too, either being impressively set up and filmed or a good digital trickery that made me believe it was real. There are skillful little touches throughout the video as well, such as the little breaths that pop out of her mouth after a verse or the in-world characters representing what she is singing. The end is the best of all: a wrenching vocal finish, the abrupt silencing of the instrumentation, and a final cathartic release as the words literally tumble from her mouth. It’s crazy to think Catharsis ended up so low on my list, but it’s just been that kind of year in JPOP.
8. Matatabi Step - Passepied
Man, Passepied is great. They are a very unique group that does something unlike any other group I’ve heard. Matatabi Step is my favorite song of theirs from this year. It has a psychedelic sound that reminds me of trance music, albeit with a lot more aggression. The purely instrumental parts of the song are particularly unreal, with an intense energy that makes turning it off impossible. Each instrument plays its part well, particularly the tragically underused bass riff that is almost missed in the background of the song. The vocals are where this song breaks for most people: you can either handle the high-pitched sound of the singer’s voice or you can’t. Not only can I handle it, I think it’s fantastic. I love the way it sounds, an alluring style that fits this song so perfectly well that I couldn’t imagine any other voice fitting it. The video is excellent too, with some terrific style and beautiful usage of neon. I can’t wait to see what Passepied has in store for us next.
Also from Passepied: Yes/No
7. Yume no Hajima Rin Rin - Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
While Kyary released a few of her more traditional songs this year(such as Kira Kira Killer), Yume no Hajima Rin Rin was the one that stuck with me the most. Instead of intensity and insanity, this song instead focuses on a simple beat and a touching theme. The beat is probably my favorite part; even though it is very basic, I find it extremely pleasant to listen to. It just has this easy sound to it I love, an addictive rhythm to the beat, and subtly great instrumentation. The lyrics are lovably simple, enough so that I can understand a good deal of them, but have a lot of meaning to them. It talks about growing up and moving on, reflected in the video as Kyary passes the torch from her past selves--complete with costumes from prior videos--to her present self. I think it’s telling that many people thought she was giving up music when this video originally released. All in all, Yume no Hajima Rin RIn is one of my favorite Kyary songs--even if I like it for entirely different reasons than the rest of her work.
6. Sakura Apparition - Dempagumi.inc
I love Dempagumi.inc so damn much. Their proclivity for intense music and overbearing adorableness is almost too much for to bear at times, but I can’t help going back for more. Sakura Apparition is a perfect example of why I have such a fondness and fascination for the group. The song has an intense Oriental sound, mixing the usual insanity found in “dempa” music. It’s catchy and exciting and a lot of fun. The vocals are typical for the group, with each girl sounding very unique on their own (which I love) and the combined harmonizing having an almost hypnotic effect on me: once I start a song of theirs, I can’t stop until it’s done. The chorus is high-energy brilliance, assaulting my ears with adorable sounds and images and putting a dopey grin on my face. I really enjoy the video as well, with its flashy colors, constant camera movement, and silly props and costumes. The girls are as adorable as ever, reminding me why I’m such a big fan of cute things in the first place. Sakura Apparition is just a solid Dempagumi.inc song--that’s all I need.
5. Drop Pop Candy - Reol and Giga
First, a bit of backstory on these artists. Reol and Giga both work on vocaloid music, creating songs for modules like Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka. Much of their music is sung by vocaloids, but they occasionally do their own versions of their songs as well. Drop Pop Candy is one of these songs, a creation originally for Luka and Miku but sang MUCH better by Reol and Giga. It has an excellent reverb-heavy sound to its composition, giving the song a rhythm that adds a lot of energy to the song: I have to tap my foot or nod my head every time I hear it. The vocals are skillful, bouncing back and forth in a fun way that I really enjoy. Where this song really shines, however, is in the chorus. Reol takes the stage and blows me away with her gorgeously auto-tuned voice, pounding my ears with her intense vocals. My favorite part of the song comes near the end: a verse that ends in the words “blue moon” that is so breathtakingly pure and beautiful that I can’t help but smile. In a year with fewer amazing songs, Drop Pop Candy would have been Top 3 easily. Still, I’m content to give Reol and Giga my #5 spot.
Also from Reol: no title
4. Iinaduke Blue - Charisma.com
While the remainder of Charisma.com’s 2014 album is a supreme disappointment, Iinaduke Blue is still a fantastic fucking song from top-to-bottom. As you might expect (if you’re a fan of the duo), there’s a some excellent composition to be found here and skillful rapping to back it up. The chorus is catchy and fun, especially when heard alongside the video featuring Tempura Kidz dancing along in the background. Where this song really shines, however, is in the verses. Holy fuck are these verses amazing. The first one is astonishing in its delivery, flowing with the beat perfectly before ending in an intense finish that sends me reeling every time I hear it. The second doesn’t have the same punch but still features some excellent vocal flow and great beats that easily keep pace. This song has catapulted to the top of my favorite Charisma.com songs list; sadly, this makes the uninspired nature of many of the other songs on the album quite disappointing. Still, Iinaduke Blue is a sensational song in its own right, well worth the #4 slot.
3. Black Ganger - Aki Akane
NOTE: Sadly, this song does not appear in its entirety online--at least not anywhere I can find. This teaser is the best I can do. It at least gives a decent sense of the greatness of the song, but I still wish I had something more.
Aki Akane is a relatively unheard-of artist, mostly covering songs in the past as an “utaite” artist on Asian video-sharing site NicoNico. This year, she put out her first original album. It’s packed with mind-blowing composition, excellent lyrics, and a variety of styles that makes the album absolutely worth checking out (on iTunes). Black Ganger is easily my favorite song of the album, featuring a masterful composition that I could listen to forever. In particular, the beat is fantastically intense, pounding in your ears without relenting until the end of the song. The chorus is particularly memorable, featuring the echoing and almost hauntingly autotuned lyrics of Aki. It’s a passionate performance, one that has to be heard to understand just how good it is. Some of her other songs from Square may be a bit more diverse and technically competent, but the sheer energy and intensity of Black Ganger makes it my personal favorite. It’s quite obvious why it leads the album, a musical punch to the gut to get your attention and hold it there for the remainder of the album.
Also from Aki Akane: Kakkurau
2. Whiplash - FEMM
FEMM (which stands for Far East Mention Mannequins, oddly enough) is the best debut group of the year. A duo, this group uses excellent beats, English lyrics, and doll-like choreography and behaviors to create a style that is entirely their own. I caught one of their first videos and found it enjoyable, if a little odd. I never would have thought that my interest in them would continue to grow. Week after week, however, the group kept putting out more videos, with multiple memorable ones to obsess over. They saved the best for last, however, with Whiplash. This is easily the most impressive video I’ve seen all year. It’s gorgeously shot, utilizing various camera angles/tricks and some first-class choreography to create something unbelievably striking and memorable. I was in shock throughout my first viewing of it, unable to believe that this group--which had put out good, but not great, videos before--created something so fantastic. The song is just as astonishing, featuring a beat that only gets better as the song proceeds: particularly the little breakdown section near the end. When you add in the synthetic-sounding voices on top spouting rapid-fire English nonsense, it’s a song that I feel angry at for being so good. As soon as it’s over, I want to hear it again. I have FEMM’s first album on repeat and am eagerly waiting for whatever 2015 brings from them. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch the video for Whiplash again. Damn.
1. 3355411 - Yasuha Kominami
NOTE: This is just a (mostly complete, but still not full) teaser for the whole video of this song. If you want to hear the rest, and I suggest that you do, please follow this link for a non-Youtube version.
This was the biggest surprise for me all year. Yasuha Kominami is very much an indie Japanese artist, putting out albums for years that likely don’t sell a great deal of copies. Not a lot of people seem to know about her. I’m here to tell you that you should know about her. This artist combines exceptional instrumentation and powerfully emotional vocals into something that is unforgettable. Music doesn’t usually have a strong emotional impact on me, instead just being something I enjoy listening to for fun or something to have playing while I’m doing something else. With 3355411, however, I think I’ve found the first JPOP song that is actually important to me on a personal level. Something about Yasuha’s voice resounds with me in a deeply affecting way. Whenever she breaks into the chorus, and shouts her lines with such intensity that her voice nearly breaks from the force, I feel chills run down my spine. Just when I think it can’t get any better, the final thirty seconds of the song prove me wrong. A slower pre-chorus verse drips with emotion and power and leads into an even more intense chorus that leaves me speechless. I am absolutely, entirely, head-over-heels in love with Yasuha’s voice because of this EP. While Toshi Densetsu Club is breathtaking in its entirety, 3355411 has become one of my favorite songs in my twenty-four years of life. Out of nowhere, this practically unheard-of artist has become one of my favorites. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I stumbled across her.
Also from Yasuha Kominami: Dream Box
Another year in KPOP has come and gone, leaving us with some fantastic songs. As of this moment, I kinda feel like 2014 was a bit lacking compared to 2013. Maybe this is just due to my widespread exposure to the genre last year, which made it stand out so fondly in my mind, but I didn’t really have a hard time coming up with this year’s list. There were one or two of the lower spots I went back and forth on, sure, but most of the list was fully formed when I sat down to make the decisions. Still, I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy all the songs on this list and then some. It was a fun year with a multitude of great debuts, interesting trends, and only a few disappointing releases (Girl’s Day, I’m looking at you in particular). I feel very strongly about each and every entry on this list, and I hope some of them are enjoyable for you as well.
Also, a reminder that Giant Bomb has an excellent thread that stays up-to-date with all the best KPOP releases from week to week. If you're looking to get into the genre, be sure to check it out. There are pages and pages of great songs to keep you busy in the lull here at the beginning of the year.
Make sure to let me know what you think! Or share some of the KPOP songs you really enjoyed this year!
10. Yum Yum Yum - Lip Service
Boy, is this song stupid. Yum Yum Yum didn’t really agree with me at first. It had flat production, sounded annoying, and didn’t stand out in any particular way. Still, I found myself listening to it again and again, eventually coming to love it for what it does have to offer. The composition sounds amateurish, but it manages to work in this case. That chorus is undeniably catchy, sticking in my head for hours. The rapping is quite good as well, with the verses featuring a feverish ferocity. Even though the video seems to be lacking in budget, Lip Service more than makes up for it with their style and energy. Their mixture of silliness and attitude is endearingly fun, making for a video I always enjoy watching. Yum Yum Yum is a stupid, stupid song, but I can’t help myself--I’m in love.
9. So Wonderful - Ladies’ Code
Sadly, this will likely be the one and only time Ladies’ Code appears on my list. Earlier this year, a severe car crash killed one member instantly, inflicted fatal wounds on another, and put the rest of the group in the hospital for months. This tragedy likely marks the end of a very promising group with some fantastic songs, this year’s So Wonderful chief among them. I won’t lie to you, or myself, and say that this event didn’t play into my choice in a slight way--but I also believe that this song is worth being on the list on its own merits. The composition is packed with horns, a commonality in KPOP but used superbly here. It weaves together with and around the vocals in a way that is just fun to listen to. I enjoy groups where the various members sound distinctive, a quality that Ladies’ Code demonstrates here. Even the little touches, like the male samples used throughout, are excellent. The video is also pretty, utilizing some fun (if commonly used) concepts to tell its story. So Wonderful will be in my playlists for quite some time; I just wish it didn’t remind me of what might have been.
8. Uh-ee - Crayon Pop
I really love Crayon Pop. They have this excellent mix of adorableness, their own brand of swagger, and lovable oddity that makes them a lot of fun. Uh-ee is a fantastic song, mixing things up from past releases while also staying true to their original style. Just one listen is enough to tell any fan that the song is undeniably Crayon Pop, featuring that distinctive sound mixed with a terrific trot beat. This composition suits the vocals amazingly well, allowing for a rising/falling rhythm that is addictive from beginning to end. I really enjoy the chorus, which is as catchy and memorable as ever, and the small nod to past songs at the end. The video is ridiculous but in the best way; new outfits that are somehow more bizarre than last year’s, probably the world’s weirdest nightclub, and a hilariously energetic bald guy dancing in the back ground. Uh-ee is goofy and fun and always enjoyable to listen to.
7. Rain on Me - Cho Hyung Woo
Welcome to my obligatory acoustic guitar song for the year: Rain on Me. It starts slowly with just the vocalist singing sans-instruments, giving a nice prelude for what’s to come. Then the instruments kick in, making a excellent yet simple composition where every instrument is plainly present and important to the overall sound. The vocals pick up in speed to match the pace, building to a crescendo during the song’s chorus. Every time this chorus starts, I can’t help but smile like a moron, lost in the gorgeous vocals and superb instrumentation. My favorite part of the song, however, is probably the solo at around the 3-minute mark: it’s paired with a vocal freestyle that is stunning. I also LOVE the way it ends, the sound of rain falling outside as the instruments taper off into silence. Rain on Me is a beautiful song featuring one of my favorite instruments.
6. Sugar Free - TARA
Sugar Free’s best moments are in its first thirty seconds. It starts with a sharp bit of electronic composition, leading into a build that promises wonderful things. And it delivers. The beat that follows is one of the best of the year, with a GREAT dirty sound that I can’t get enough of. After first hearing this song, I immediately thought, “Fuck yes, I’m on board. Show me what you’ve got, Sugar Free.” Sadly, that delicious beat gets toned down for the remainder of the song, stealing away what could have made it MUCH higher on this list. All hope isn’t lost, however, as the rest of the song is still quite good--once you get over being bummed. The verses are tight, if not lost a bit in the loud composition. I really like the chorus as well, with a sound like a mix between a dance song chorus and your traditional KPOP chorus. Finally, the video has some vibrant colors and style, but there’s a bit too much going on with the seizure-inducing lights and constant cuts. Sugar Free is a loud, electronic-esque song, something I’d love to hear more of in traditional KPOP.
5. It’s You - Neon Bunny
Now for an “actual” electronic song. Neon Bunny is an artist who has been around for a few years, but I just discovered her this year. It’s You is a exceptional example of her work, packed with a style that one can only call her very own. It features an amazing dream-like sound throughout, transporting me to another world every time it begins. There’s some great use of vibrato as well, wobbling through my ears in an acoustically pleasant way. Her vocals are ethereal and haunting, while the beat underneath takes a very deliberate pace that slowly leads you through the song. The chorus brings some subtle intensity, layering a detailed beat and beautiful lyrics in a masterful way. It’s You is one of those songs I can put on, close my eyes, and feel like I’m being transported to the artist’s world through the clarity of the music’s vision.
Not from Neon Bunny, but similarly great: Falling (original version) - Spacecowboy
4. Mamma Mia - KARA
Like several other songs in KPOP this year, Mamma Mia has an unmistakably 80s sound and style. The overuse of trebley synth lines and drum machines may sound out of place in a Korean pop song, but it works to great effect here, mostly due to the strength of the composition. I love how it sounds: the intense synth lines, punchy drums, the bits of keyboard hiding underneath. The vocals are no slouch either. Verses do a good job of mixing things up throughout the song, keeping it interesting and fresh. The chorus is undeniably my favorite part, brimming with energy and using terrific repetition and bits of English to craft one of those songs I can’t help but sing along to. The video suits the song perfectly, bright and flashy and somehow evocative of the style in its own way. If we’re going to go back to the 80s, Mamma Mia is how it should be done.
3. Dracula - f(x)
While the title song from f(x)’s Red Light didn’t grab me in the way that it seemed to grab everyone else, I absolutely love Dracula. This is one of the best-composed songs of the entire year (on an album filled with great composition). Whoever worked on it is a master, weaving a sound that has an expert beat, excellent flow, wonderful usage of effects, and some fun samples. It all comes together in a way that just works so damn perfectly. The vocal work throughout the song is dazzling, with some beautiful harmonizing that elevates the song to another level entirely. The final chorus section is unbelievable, somehow managing to add in even more intensity to an already vicious song. During the last thirty seconds, I almost forget to breathe, sucking in air and hitting the replay button as soon as it’s over. This is the second year in a row that f(x) has put out one of the best KPOP albums of the year, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2015--especially if any of it sounds like Dracula.
2. O.K. - Strawberry Milk
Strawberry Milk is the new sub-unit of Crayon Pop, featuring twins Choa and Way as the stars. O.K. is their debut song...and it is my catchiest song of 2014. While the verses are good, the real star of the show here is the chorus. It is astoundingly, fantastically, annoyingly catchy, and I cannot get enough of it. This song has burrowed its way into my mind, popping into my thoughts on a regular basis. I find myself humming/singing it multiple times a day before I catch myself and stop...just to go listen to it again later because I can’t help myself. The remarkably simple chorus, easily the most addictive part of the song, is just SO DAMN GOOD, enough so that I can listen to it again and again (and again and again) and never grow tired of the happy sound. The video is also addictive and painfully adorable in a way that is dangerous for a recovering cuteness addict such as myself. Some of the moments in this video--such as when each girl flips up the top layer of her dress to reveal her name on the back of her bloomers, complete with adorable butt shake--nearly overload my body’s ability to handle the cuteness. It’s been far too long since I’ve had an adorable group to obsess over, and I can’t wait to see what’s next from Strawberry Milk. For now, I’ll keep driving myself happily nuts with O.K.
1. Catallena - Orange Caramel
Catallena was my most played KPOP song since it came out in March--I’m not surprised it ended up as my #1. This song has that unique Orange Caramel style you can’t find anywhere else. The composition is a lot of fun, utilizing a solid beat and a lot of small touches like whistles and claps that are almost unnoticeable but still add a lot. I really appreciate how this song doesn’t have a typical song structure, with verses and choruses that are alternating and about the same length. The verses are quite short here but enjoyable, using a more throaty style that sounds tremendous. The chorus takes up the majority of the song; thankfully, it’s the best part of the song. They utilize some excellent vocalizing that flows with the beat and has a silly energy that is remarkably catchy. I wish I could explain it better, but I just can’t manage to find the words--it’s just one of those songs that sounds so damn pleasant to my ears. I really love the video as well, going all-out with its sushi theme through detailed costuming, set design, and props. Even though I really enjoyed My Copycat and Abing Abing, two other Orange Caramel releases from 2014, Catallena is the clear winner in my book: a remarkable song with a sensational video.
Talk about a huge step down. It makes more sense for his style of writing/reporting, sure, but I don't feel a lot of incentive to keep following him at this point. Hopefully, he brings some class to an otherwise classless site.
I know this is a strange thing to take away from a long (and well-written!) blog post, but that theater was really selling Juicy Fruit as a concession? What kind of theater sells gum as a concession?
I don't know for sure, but I'd guess Persona 4. I've played through it multiple times, with each playthrough taking dozens of hours even after skipping bunches of dialogue. Easily 200+ hours, which I'm sure surpasses anything but WoW in my time spent totals.
I don't think I've been inspired to buy anything. The closest thing to this for me would be Patrick and (especially) Drew upselling NaissancE in a way that makes me really want to finally get around to playing it, even though it's been on my radar for awhile. Good thing it's on sale!
He's fun. He could certainly use a bit more practice both speaking and appearing on camera, as he's the most awkward in those positions by far, but he seems to have some good editing and on-the-fly livestream shenanigan chops. I'm intrigued to see him take on something a bit more long-form in terms of editing, something like Drew's travelogue to Iceland. I wonder if he can hang with Vinny and Drew in those regards.