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CAT's Top 30 Favorite Songs of 2016!

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Greetings, monochromians and netizens at large! Here are my Top 30 Favorite Songs of 2016! Every year, there are tons of amazing songs released that, while not belonging to my fav. albums of the year, still heavily impact my musical experience. So for once, I wanted to highlight these songs! Unlike my AOTY list, every song here is Japanese. I also chose not to include songs by artists that made my AOTY list.


As I mentioned in my AOTY thread, I usually never bother ranking lists, but I wanted to give it a shot this year for fun. These rankings are super erroneous, though, as I could prefer any of these songs over another on any given day. XD So...yeah, don't read too much into the actual ranks, ahaha.


As always this, list isn't meant to be taken objectively. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to share! And if you're curious about any of the songs, please do check out the short sample clips I've created! :hum:


Shall we begin? :lolita_love:



"UNDYING" by the GazettE

the GazettE's 'Dark Age' has been...same-y to say the least, but "UNDYING" has stood out as one of my favorite songs from this era - probably because it sounds like a mess, with the band trying their hardest to be progressive. It's an enjoyable mess, though, and as usual, it never takes much for Ruki an co. to win me over.



"KEIREN" by qujaku

THE NOVEMBERS have been on a mild decline since 2014's Rhapsody in Beauty, and qujaku are slowly creeping in to capitalize on all of that lost potential. the loud, pummeling art-punk of "KEIREN" is captivating, and I can't wait until this band releases a proper debut!




"matsuo basho" by suiyoubi no campanella

suiyoubi gave me a scare with the release of UMA, wherein the group's characteristic sound was subverted by incorporating several different producers, but they quickly followed up with "matsuo basho", reviving my hopes in the process. As long as Hidefumi remains the sole producer, I doubt they can go wrong.



"2772" by ZA FEEDO

Experimental pop outfit ZA FEEDO has a plethora of talent and potential, but unfortunately, they've yet to truly find their sound. The groovy and soulful "2772", however, is a fantastic indicator of where they should focus their efforts!



"gods" by mothercoat

Sadly, mothercoat released only this single last year, but it's the band doing what they do best. Quirky, upbeat indie-rock that's both buoyant and super infectious!



"gourmet kikou" by fujin club

 Organic pop with bright melodies and crisp, colorful instrumentation = instant love from me! I like to imagine this song as the musical equivalent to a Ghibli movie. It's cozy, endearing, pure, and full of wonder!



"sayanora anata" by ayano kaneko

Young indie singer-songwriter ayano kaneko made an instant fan out of me with this one. "sayonara anata" is the perfect blend of carefree indie-pop and adorably earnest folk-rock.




BLUE ENCOUNT are amongst the kind of major-label rock bands in Japan that I don't typically gravitate towards (stuff like ONE OK ROCK, KANA-BOON, KEYTALK), but I'd be damned if "LAST HERO" isn't one of the most catchy and fun tracks that I've heard in 2016. That and, I blame @benifor bringing my tastes full circle and getting me to appreciate the poppier side of life again. :P 




"Sunshine Freeway" by I love you Orchestra

In spite of their brilliant line-up, I love you Orchestra has yet to truly strike a chord with me, as I found their work a bit too erratic and unfocused, but with "Sunshine Freeway", the band has found a great balance between their spastic tendencies and accessibility; making this a coherent and easily memorable track.



"wither mind" by girugamesh

I'm only familiar with girugamesh's material from about 2013 and on (shout out to @togz for actually getting me to listen to them), so while I can't compare their early works to their recent stuff, I've come to enjoy the synth-laden alt. metal that seems to be characteristic of their final days. "wither mind" sums this sound up perfectly, and it was the highlight of their farewell mini-album for me.



"tabun, kaze." by sakanaction

This is your average sakanaction song: danceable, synth-driven rock with big, sing-a-long choruses - and thankfully, 'average' for sakanacation means that's it's frikkin' great! It's been about 4 years since their last original album, and I'm practically salivating for more!



"short hope" by akai ko-en

As bright and talented as the girls in akai ko-en are, their music has been hit-or-miss in my book - a sentiment that became especially true for me after they went from inventive indie-upstarts to a full blown Jpop band, seemingly overnight. They definitely get things right on "short hope", though, showcasing a kind of hip and smooth, r&b-esque side that I've yet to hear from them. Not to mention, I'm in love with Chiaki I'm in love with Chiaki's vocals! ^_^;;;




I'm still thanking @Hakoniwafor indirectly introducing me to this band, as I most certainly would not have heard it about them otherwise. "voice" is the kind of dark, mournful female-fronted alt-rock that I've been craving since me-al art's third album and the demise of REDЯUM. SOSO released a solid EP last year, but I need MORE!





"Talisman" by Boris

Forbidden Songs, the 2nd disc from Boris's reissue of 2006's Pink, is comprised entirely of unreleased songs, and it could have easily been released as a brand new album on its own. The songs are just that good. "Talisman" is an absolutely crushing stoner-doom number that harkens back to 2002's Heavy Rocks, but is equally apt as an extension of Pink.



"The UNreal" by Silhouette from the Skylit

I've been casually following this band for a few years now, and while they're consistently solid, every now and then, they put out a song that really sticks with me. "The UNreal" is a charging tune done in their usual electro alt-rock fashion, and it's both funky and commanding.



"yotaka" by kiryu

I'm super new to Kiryu, as I've only heard their material from 2015 and on, but they've been one of my favorite VK discoveries of recent times. Admittedly, I wasn't too impressed by their full length last year, but I loved the entire single for "irodori". "yotaka" was the first b-side for this single and its frantic, cacophonous mix of metal, traditional Japanese motifs, and VK melodrama is everything I've come to love about Kiryu!



"kami-iro awase" by binaria

2016 has been a busy year for Annabel. Not only has she continually wowed me with her work in siraph, but she also released a solo EP in addition to cranking out both a single and an album with binaria. I actually consider binaria to be somewhat of an anison supergroup, with both Annabel and the renown Nagi Yanagi on vocals. I like to imagine that they're this generation's Maaya Sakamoto and Akino Arai, respectively. "kami-iro awase" serves as the OP for an anime called "Danganronpa 3", and it's a brilliantly penned track with subtly ingenious instrumentation - very similar to some of school food punishment's material.



"EDGE" by nowisee

Speaking of anison, nowisee (pronounced "noise") is a rather enigmatic audio-visual project that specializes in creating songs with their own, unique animations, so it surprises me that they've yet to actually do a song for anime. They've been highly prolific over the past 2 years, but the recently released "EDGE" has become favorite track from their rapidly expanding catalog. It's an electronically infused pop-rock power-ballad, with graceful verses and a monumental chorus. And yes, I fully accept my inner-weeb. ; )



"Shandy" by TK from ling tosite sigure

TK has been a flat-out disappointment these past few years, so it should come as no surprise that the best song he released last year is actually a re-recording of a classic ling tosite sigure song from 2010 - back when he was at the top of his game. Surprisingly, TK hasn't altered the original too much, and he hasn't watered it down either. Instead, it's a more organic version that faithfully captures the same epic intensity of the original. Hopefully, TK will begin to take a few more cues from his past.



"Mother Fucker" by Limited Express (has gone?)

It's so refreshing to hear these veterans of the Japanese underground still kicking ass after nearly 20 years in the game. Their latest album All Ages was a wild, alt-punk ride that showed the band is still as vital and crazy as ever. "Mother Fucker" stuck with me in particular, but it's emblematic of the entire album:  turbulent drums, chaotic sax, groovy post-punk basslines, erratic riffs, and YUKARI’s ear-piercing vocals!  It’s noisy, it’s bonkers, and it’s a hell of lot of fun!



"F.A.K.E." by lynch.

"Listening to a Lynch album all the way through is like the musical equivalent of living on macaroni for an entire week." said one @Disposable some time ago, ahaha. I'll never forget that line. I agree with him, but I do enjoy lynch. quite a bit. I think it's due to their creative stagnation that I've come to expect at least one major jam from them with each new album. In 2015, it was "EVOKE", and last year gave me "F.A.K.E.". I also have to thank @Flame-Xfor making this song infinitely cooler by using it in his awesome AMV for Gundam IBO. Now I inadvertently associate it as the actual opening theme for that anime, and it's glorious. :P



"lost/stand/alone" by cinema staff

2016 was a great year to be a cinema staff fan. They released a super solid album and an excellent single/EP, both of which showcased their range and continued viability in being both talented rockers and compelling pop songwriters. I thought "lost/stand/alone" was the perfect example of this duality, with its catchy emo riffs, coercive drumming, and Mizuki's bright, soaring vocals. I've yet to hear anyone I've liked better doing this style.



"Youth" by Young Juvenile Youth

Young Juvenile Youth, consisting of vocalist Yuki and producer/beatmaker Jemapur, are fairly new, but they already stand out within the greater Jpop landscape. Not exactly trip-hop, and not exactly electro-pop either, "Youth" sports a sound that I can name no contemporaries for in Japan. It's the kind of sleek, minimal electronic music that you'd sooner expect to hear out of London than Tokyo. The synths in "Youth" are meticulously layered and arranged, and the beat is just chill enough to garner a contemplative head-nod. It's also accessible, but not overtly poppy. This duo definitely has my attention, and I'm curious to see where they go in 2017.



"shirobara no lullaby" by aoi teshima

Aoi Teshima's image has always been a direct reflection of her music. Her songs exude the same level of elegance, class, and modest beauty that she does, and as such, her most recent album Blue library was expectedly lovely. "shirobara no lullaby" was particularly extravagant. It's a stunningly somber, psych-folk song that harkens back to 70's kayōkyoku ballads and even reminds me a bit of Douji Morita. Exquisite!



"I Love You" by Chocolat & Akito

I feel like Chocolat & Akito have gone grossly underrated by the western Jpop fanbase. While most overseas Jpop fans were praising Seiko Oomori for including hints of Shibuya-Kei on her latest album as if she single-handedly revived the genre, Chocolat & Akito -actual vets of the movement- were busy releasing quality music as usual. The married couple's latest venture saw them team up with Californian surf jazz twins The Mattson 2 and the results were lovely. "I love you" was an instant favorite for me, as Chocolat & Akito did a fantastic job of merging their beautiful vocal melodies and their sunny, shibuya-kei flavors with the jazzy psychedelia of The Mattsons.



"Nightseeing" by Klan Aileen

I was instantly mesmerized upon watching the original video for this song, and sold even more on this band after hearing the re-recorded version. They left such a big impression that I'd automatically shoehorned them into a spot on my AOTY list without even hearing the album yet. Sadly, the it didn't turn out the way I'd hoped, but "Nightseeing" has a permanent spot on my playlist. It's a riveting, noisy psychedelic-rock track with killer riffs. Hopefully they do more of this style in the future.




According to some fans, OK BALLADE wasn't PELICAN FANCLUB's strongest release, but it was the first one in which any of their songs were able to leave a significant impact on me. "M.U.T.E" has this surprisingly smooth and groovy, western-indie feel to it. I can't really explain why, but it just feels "right", aha. I may not be as devout a fan of these guys as @fitear1590or @seurong, but "M.U.T.E" has provided me with a fantastic incentive to sign up to the "FANCLUB".



"Tokyo" by ame no parade

ame no parade has been...highly conflicting for me. Kohei has quickly become one of my favorite vocalists, and I enjoy the band's general sound and aesthetic, but my gosh, their songwriting has been incredibly stagnant - especially after going major in 2016. "Tokyo", however, is one of the best songs they've ever written. It takes on their usual format of minimalistic verses, and big pop choruses, but actually manages to be engaging in the process. Not only that, but the song just has a really amazing vibe to it. I think the PV, where Kohei is openly singing and dancing through the streets of Tokyo on what seems to be a beautiful evening, perfectly sums up how this song feels.



"blues" by Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei called it quits last year, as they left us with their final album Sea of Darkness. The album wasn't as gloomy as its title suggests, though. In fact, it was full of the light and airy pop-rock that their career was known for. However, the aptly titled "blues" was the most emotionally poignant moment on the album for me. It's an enthralling track with amped-up instrumentation and a passionate vocal performance from Yuuki Ozaki. In a farewell message from the band, they expressed that they put all of their last thoughts into this album, and in this track, you can literally feel the heartache and sorrow that they've experienced on their road to the end. 



"us" by Aimer

Annnd finally, my number one track! If you've bothered reading this far, then bless you!  


I love Aimer's powerful croon, but she's the type of artist whose music quality depends on who she works with. Her vocals are like a hollow reed through which the intent of the producer flows. She's released some amazing tracks alongside the likes of Yoko Kanno, Hiroyuki Sawano, Androp, and Taka from ONE OK ROCK, but her most stellar work comes from a collaboration with none other than TK from ling tosite - which is ironic considering how I just ragged on him for the declining quality of his own music. In "us", TK employs all of his signature touches, but with Aimer at the helm, his songwriting feels fresh and new, as if the two of them have unlocked an entirely new dimension to their respective sounds. "us" is a beautifully haunting and epic pop-rock song. I can only hope that these two will continue to collab in the future!

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I'm not sure if everyone realized you had two lists this year :D

So honored PELICAN FANCLUB made it on your list! That song is one of the main ones from OK BALLADE to stick with me and I agree, it does have that interesting 'western indie' feel to it.

Other notes:
-Fujin Club's sound and aesthetic is so vibrant; thanks for sharing them earlier this year!
-I was ready to toss Akai Ko-en in the crapper after they butchered Spitz on the compilation last year, but damn, this smooth vibe is actually kinda working!
-digging SOSO BREAK THE WALL's sound!
-yasss, Kiryu! I love that they've become one of your go-to VK bands! Solid choice, for sure.
-I think I lost the gene for yelpy punk stuff like Limited Express (has gone?) over the years (even thoughh I love stuff like Kulu Kulu Garden, Afrirampo, etc.)... Listening to the entire album made me crazy, haha.
-Aoi Teshima sounds dark and beautiful! Really looking forward to checking her out!

Thanks for providing samples for everything!

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