Japanese Music Favorites 2014

I created tons of playlists and loaded them down with tons of music. That’s me. It may be hard to believe, but I am going through and pulling out my absolute favorites from 2014. That’s a lot of music to sift through and sometimes I find myself wondering how some songs ended up on a playlist to begin with while other times I wondered why I ranked a song so poorly at first.

So here we are. I’ve gone through all of my Japanese songs. Considering the majority of my playlists are made up of mostly Korean music it seems, it was pretty easy going through all Japanese songs. Now, there is still quite a bit of music here, but that’s mainly because I tried to take the top picks in different genres. The full playlist is below. If you click the artist’s name it will take you to the video. Clicking the song title will take you to where you can support the artist and purchase the song if you like it.

Best Collaboration

  1. Instinct x WEAVER
    Light” and “Time Will Find a Way

Yes, there is only one in this category. Oh, I know I had more collaborations in my playlists for Japanese artists, but this has to be my favorite and while I liked the others, I couldn’t say I really loved them enough to say I liked them enough to share. I loved both collaboration songs by Instinct x WEAVER.

Best Instrumentals

  1. Schroeder-Headz – “Blue Bird
  2. AKIHIDE – “Rain Man

There are tons of great instrumentals in dramas. But, you may or may not have noticed that I didn’t watch a whole lot of dramas last year in any category, so I really can’t recall any awesome ones. Sad day. That being said, I discovered some awesome non-drama related instrumental tracks. Schroeder-Headz’ “Blue Bird” is a magically beautiful song and Breakerz guitarist AKIHIDE has been doing lots of instrumental tracks. “Rain Main” is the one that really stood out to me. It’s sooo awesome!

Best Foreign Artists in Japan

  1. Code-V – “Never Say Never”; “Never Ending Story
  2. Yoon Hak from Choshinsei – 「キミのすべてを愛していたよ
  3. J-Min – “Sorry
  4. U-KISS – “Sweetie
  5. Mayday – “Do You Ever Shine?”
  6. EDEN – 「言葉にできないけど
  7. Chris Hart – “I Love You
  8. LEDApple – “Who Are You
  9. D-Lite (aka Daesung from Big Bang) – “Shut Up

Yes, most of this list consists of Korean artists who promote in Japan, i.e. Code-V, Yoon Hak, J-Min, U-KISS, EDEN, LEDApple, and D-Lite. Mayday is a Taiwanese band who is actively promoting in Japan and Chris Hart is actually a native of San Francisco. I really do prefer having artists promote new material versus translated material. I think the only exception on this list is “Who Are You” as LEDApple released a Korean and Japanese version of the song simultaneously.

Code-V does more promotions in Japan than Korea. It’s a bit of a shame since they do have awesome vocals and skills (which actually gives you the meaning behind their name the V stands for vocals). I just love everything by Mayday and their crossover seems to be working for them. I really wish I could have found the full song from Korean trio band EDEN, but no such luck. And I am happy Yoon Hak is back from his mandatory military service. His comeback single and full album are both great.

Best Female Solo Artists

  1. Ueno Yuuka – “Dear My Hero
  2. Takanashi Mariane – 「ねぇ、もぉ二度と会えない
  3. Che’Nelle – “Happiness
  4. Chihiro – “Reset
  5. Amuro Namie – “Tsuki
  6. Gille – “Try Again
  7. Yamazaki Aoi – 「ふたりで歩けば
  8. Irihi Akane – 「エルピスの涙

For some reason when it comes to music, I have a tendency to liking female solo artists over girl groups. Go figure. Ueno just has a marvelous voice and her song was really addictive. That being said, it was really hard trying to narrow down my top songs by female solo artists.

Best Male Solo Artists

  1. Urata Naoya from AAA – “to you
  2. Hirai Dai – 「The Light ~青い空~
  3. Shokichi from EXILE – “The One
  4. Hata Motohiro – 「ひまわりの約束 弾き語り

Picking out male solo artists actually ended up being hard and in the end, I only chose four. There were three members of EXILE promoting solo songs, but I really loved Shokichi’s song the most. And as much as I love Nissy from AAA, Urata’s song “to you” was just amazing and blew Nissy’s solo songs out of the water.

Best Female Groups

  1. Flower – 「秋風のアンサー
  2. Dream – 「ダーリン
  3. e-girls –  “Mr. Snowman

Okay, this technically only counts as one female group. I believe that Flower and Dream are actually all part of e-girls. Oh well. These girls have amazing vocals and awesome songs. The Exile Tribe really is full of lots of talented people.

Best Male Groups

  1. Deep – 「雪しずり」; “Just the Way You Are
  2. Da-iCE – “TOKIi”; 「ハッシュ ハッシュ
  3. Generations from Exile Tribe – “Never Let You Go
  4. EXILE – “New Horizon

I have more knowledge of Korean idol groups. Actually, most of the male groups I know in Japan and like can’t be accessed on YouTube. Drat. And that is actually where I find a lot of my new music. There were some other great groups out there, but these four topped my list. And look at that, two from the EXILE family. I probably could have included more. Sandaime J Soul Brothers are really good, too. Deep is awesome for ballads. They really are. and Da-iCE was really busy last year. I think they dropped four singles. They are a great, young group.

Best Co-Ed Group

  1. AAA – 「風に薫る夏の記憶

Obviously there are more co-ed groups than just AAA, but they remain my favorite. I don’t think I had too many co-ed dance/idol groups at all, so they win by default. I really love this song of theirs.

Best Duos

  1. USAGI – 「USAGI~不昧なストーリー~」; 「夏の終わり
  2. Honey L Days – 「君色デイズ
  3. Yuzu – 「ひだまり

USAGI debuted this year. I bought all of their singles. Enough said. Yuzu is another awesome duo as is Honey L Days. I don’t think any of these groups has done any songs I don’t like.

Best Trio

  1. Berry Goodman (ベリーグッドマン) – 「コンパス」; “Good Time”; “Walkin'”

I fell in love with them and bought both their albums they released this year. Listening to this trio just does really make me happy. I think that’s a great quality for a group to have, don’t you?

Best Bands (non rock/visual kei)

  1. Every Little Thing – “Start
  2. WEAVER – 「こっちを向いてよ
  3. Chicago Poodle – 「泣いたらええ

I was struggling where to put these three. Should I just throw them in a band category with my jrock and visual kei bands? Nah. These are great bands, but not necessarily of the rock variety per se. Anytime WEAVER releases anything, I’m happy and I loved discovering Chicago Poodle and Every Little Thing.

Best Rock Bands/Artists

  1. Matenrou Opera – “Orb”; “Dracula”
  2. Lamp in Terren – 「ランデヴー
  3. The Kiddie – “1414287356
  4. Hello Sleepwalkers – “Ray of Sunlight
  5. Shishida Kavka – 「Miss.ミスミー
  6. SuG – “Missing
  7. Neverland – “Missing Memory
  8. Royz – “Revelation
  9. cinema staff – “Theme of Us
  10. The Turtles Japan – “It’s Alright!
  11. My First Story – 「虚言NEUROSE
  12. NoGoD – “Follow

What can I say? I like rock. There were some really awesome songs and as you can tell by the number of songs and artists, it was really hard to choose and limit myself. I thought about including Alice Nine and D=OUT, but found I favored the songs here a bit more than theirs, so they weren’t included this time even though they did have excellent songs. Some of the songs listed here are debut songs. Pretty awesome, aren’t they?

Best English Songs by Japanese Artists

  1. NOA (大阪 NOA) – 3days of April (and a whole lot more)
  2. Loka – “Eden
  3. T.C Speaker – “Walking Shadow
  4. moumoon – “BF

Honestly…you can’t always understand what they are singing, but still, I love these songs the weird lyrics at times and all. One of the songs by NOA is in Japanese, but I didn’t feel like moving it.

Best Albums of 2014

  • Yoon Hak from Choshinsei (Supernova) Starting Over
  • Berry Goodman Sing Sing Sing
  • NOA 3Days of April / Sekai no Owari to Yoake Mae
  • USAGI Hello / USAGI ~Fumai na Story ~
  • Alice Nine Supernova

I actually bought a few albums this year. There was some really good ones. So much music, so little time and money.


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