2016 has come and gone, and with it go the memories of hundreds of releases from various idol and J-pop groups around Japan. In fact, there were so many that we pushed out 643 posts in 2016 to help promote those releases making for one of the busiest years in recent memory.
But, which ones are our top picks of the year? Which releases managed to stand out from all of the others? Here are our top picks of the best Idol and J-pop MVs of 2016!
kame’s Top Idol and J-pop MVs of 2016
Up Up Girls Kakko Kari | Party People Alien
The second Saho Akari belts out those amazing notes you know you’re in for quite the ride. Up Up Girls are amazing in the way they manage to combine a solid EDM sound with a fun set of vocals, making for a unique idol experience.
The complete randomness of the lyrics capture the essence of what makes Japanese music so unique. That combined with the catchy EDM instrumental and the top notch vocals are among some of the reasons why I always look forward to their new music with a smile.
Team Syachihoko | Chérie!
Ballads are a dime a dozen for idols, but once in a while a track with a unique sound comes along that manages to catchy my attention. Team Syachihoko have managed to do just that with Chérie!
The multiple shots of them on the streets is a plus since it gives the song a bit more of a genuine feel while letting us enjoy the multiple confused looks of those passing by. Combined with the multiple outfit changes and the many QR codes they added which revealed extras for fans to enjoy, it all comes together to form a calm song that shows off each member’s vocal talent well.
Morning Musume ’16 | Tokyo to Iu Katasumi
Tokyo to Iu Katasumi blasts you in the ear with a neo-classical intro before thrusting you into a serious of rapid dance moves that help give it a slight hectic tone throughout. That sentence alone sums up how epic this song is and why it’s among my top picks for songs of the year.
Song-wise, the EDM/dubstep touches mix in perfectly with the neo-classical sounds. It’s an interesting combination that often sounds out of place with other groups, but they managed to capture the essence of the sound perfectly.
Combined with the talented vocals of Sato Masaki and Oda Sakura, it managed to fully complete what I think is one of the standout releases of the year.
lyrical school | RUN and RUN
lyrical school are often times an idol group that is overlooked, but they release unique MVs with catchy music. RUN and RUN is one of those, using a unique iPhone concept that crafts a memorable MV with a variety of apps that display the lyrics as the video plays.
The song itself is among the best from the group, combining rap vocals with just the right amount of idol to make an upbeat release. It’s one of those songs that just fills you up with energy, with all of the members having fun and singing throughout.
Musubizm | Mae wo Muke
Musubizm might have just recently debuted, but if their debut release is any indication then we are in for what could be an amazing group. Solid vocals, a catchy instrumental, and a cute story all combine to form one of this year’s best songs.
Yes, it’s a simple song through and through, but it’s that simplicity that gives it its charm. The instrumental is upbeat with every member singing their best as they explore the house in search of the golden onigiri.
It might be simple and somewhat calm in comparison to other releases this year, but Musubizm have managed to show what they are capable of.
PASSPO☆ | Bachelorette wa Owaranai
PASSPO☆ are among the most interesting idol groups, with a rock sound that puts them on the edge of being alternative while still retaining an idol feel. While they have released a variety of memorable songs, Bachelorette wa Owaranai is one that stands out due to its unique concept and fun sound.
It’s hard to nail down rock instrumentals to work with idol vocals, but they managed to find the sweet point with a rather upbeat sound. Visually, the wedding theme is a unique addition while also showing us that Negishi Ai should not be around alcohol and that Masui Mio is the perfect projectile for a cannon.
Niji no Conquistador | Kagirinaku Boken ni Chikai Summer
I’ll be the first to admit that bikini MVs are not my thing. But, Niji no Conquistador are fairly creative with their releases and they managed to create what is easily my favorite summer release.
Visually it’s somewhat of a hit or miss, with the filter being an odd choice since it makes everything too saturated. Despite that, the multiple scenes of the members singing are cute and the setting helps tie in the song perfectly by capturing the essence of what makes summer fun.
Yes, Nemoto Nagi is by far the most eye catching of all of the members because of her figure (the multiple bouncing dance moves help make that clear), but the other shots of the members having fun and enjoying summer are what makes it a standout release.
PassCode | Miss Unlimited
PassCode are among my favorite alternative idols, and with good reason. They manage to combine the right amount of EDM and meld them perfectly with Yuna’s mind melting screams.
The EDM elements are a unique addition that might overpower the song at times, but it’s that harsh electronic sound that makes them a force to be reckoned with in not only the Japanese idol scene, but also the hardcore scene.
BiSH | Honto Honki
BiSH are 2nd to Morning Musume in my books, and that’s saying something. Their punk style takes elements from BiS but adds a touch of spice that only they (mainly Aina) can provide to make a complete package that exudes power through and through.
Ayuni. D makes her debut and she does an amazing job, singing her heart out to help soothe the aching hearts of Hug Mii fans with her sweet vocals. The song’s strong point is the amount of power that bleeds throughout the instrumental, with the rapid drum beats providing the perfect canvas for what is easily this year’s most powerful release.
Visually the scenes of the members running around Tokyo doing whatever they want is the best personification of what this single is. Pure raw non-idol energy at its finest.
Dempagumi.inc | WWDBEST
Dempagumi.inc have a colorful history, with a multitude of random MVs that defy explanation. One of their tracks WWD is among their most popular so releasing a song called WWDBEST is nothing short of a challenge to top that song.
From the calm intro to the typical random assortment of colorful and unique shots of the members singing together, it’s just a wonderful trip into the Dempa world. In typical Dempagumi.inc spirit they manage to add just the right amount of fun shots to make a solid release.
Morning Musume ’16 | Mukidashi de Mukiatte
While it might not have the same epic sound as Tokyo to Iu Katasumi, Mukidashi de Mukiatte was a surprise hit for me. Released a mere week before the single was out, it seemed to be simply another throwaway song at first glance, but boy was I wrong.
The geometric slow-mo visual effects are what makes this MV memorable, but combined with the cool sound of the EDM packed song it manages to make the song a stellar release. In fact, the chorus was stuck in my mind for days after its release with me replaying the song multiple times afterwards because it was just so good.
Bar none, Mukidashi de Mukiatte was one of Morning Musume’s strongest releases this year because of it’s powerful instrumental and vocals.
Unfortunately some songs lacked a certain something to crack in my top 12, but they are still worth highlighting. Here’s a quick list of the MVs that deserve recognition (click on the image or title to go to our posts about them):
Neoclassical perfection at its finest from this talented idol group. C-ute might be going their separate ways in 2017, but they have left their mark in the history of Japanese music with this song being a reminder.
Singing about bullying is hard to do, but DEEP GIRL managed to find a way to do it in their own alternative idol way. Finding a way to add emotion to your song through a vivid spoken story that is seriously heart wrenching is just the makings of a masterpiece.
Hug Mii will always be my favorite member to be part of BiSH, so naturally her last release with the group is one that holds a special place in my heart. Seeing her run down the streets of Tokyo with a pitchfork is a treat, but nothing tops the classic punk sound of this track.
Suzuki Kanon is one of those members that has a personality that is hard to match. Her energy, smile, and personality helped shape her as a solid member of the group, so naturally her last release will continue to have a place in my library for years to come.
It was an incredible year for the idol and J-pop world, with a large amount of unique releases that helped shape and refine the scene. Of course, the top releases for this year are going to be different for each person so feel free to share your picks below for everyone to enjoy.
One thing to note, we focused on those MVs that were available for most overseas fans to enjoy. Yes, this means that some groups were unfortunately left off (AKB48, Keyakizaka46, etc), but in an effort to promote those companies that are open minded to overseas fans we decided to hold strong on that principle.
2017 is going to be an eventful year. Some legacy groups like C-ute might be going their separate ways but new groups will start to rise and share their wonderful music with us to enjoy. As always we plan on covering all of those releases so that you can enjoy the best that Japan has to offer all in one place.
Have an amazing year and as always, stay tuned for whats to come in this promising new year!