2009 In Review, Part I: The Year in J-Pop

Let’s just make this clear before we start: I do not use Photoshop, and there will be no nifty visuals in this post, or the other year-in-review list I’m going to post. If this is what you’re looking for, then please feel free to look elsewhere.

Now, let’s begin, shall we?

Best Overall Single


This is what we pay you for, Ayu.
Despite the facts that neither song on this single is my favorite A-side off of NEXT LEVEL – that honor would go to “GREEN” –  and that the aforementioned album was definitely not my favorite of the year, Rule / Sparkle was certainly the strongest collection of songs that Ayu released in the entire year: Two really great A-sides and some kick-ass remixes. Haters can take a seat, ’cause the Empress is here to stay.

Honorable Mentions

Namie Amuro – WILD / Dr.

Yamashita Tomohisa – Loveless

Kana Nishino – Dear… / MAYBE

Best A-Side


The reason I don’t review Perfume’s music here in this blog is because I typically don’t have much of a critical opinion concerning their releases. Instead, I merely enjoy. The thing about ワンルーム・ディスコ (or One Room Disco, for those can’t read katakana) that I enjoyed so much more thoroughly than I normally do is its light yet complex melody, and sweet, unembellished vocals. It’s a song that takes great effort to dislike – clearly, more effort than I could ever manage. Plus, could they be any cuter?

Honorable Mentions

Yuna Ito – trust you

Jejung & Yuchun – COLORS ~Melody and Harmony~

YUI – again

Best B-Side


It’s not often that I prefer the B-side on a Yuna Ito single over the A-side, but when I do, it’s a fairly big deal. Happy Days, the lovely and uplifting A-side off of Yuna’s latest single Let it Go, has the potential to become one of her best upbeat songs to date. Here’s to hoping it shows up on Yuna’s next album!

Honorable Mentions

HIMEKA – Sayonara Solitaire

Miho Fukuhara – Cry No More

Younha – Okurisobireta Kotoba

Best Debut


French-Canadian anime singer. What else is there to say? Oh, I know what else: SHE’S AN AMAZING SINGER, YOU GUYS. And her Japanese, though not perfect, is really remarkable for a foreign singer of non-Asian descent. The dream she had and the hard work she’s put in are something you just don’t come across every day, in J-Pop or elsewhere. Long story short, give her a listen.

Honorable Mentions

Big Bang

BENI (not counting her stuff with avex, lol)

…aaaaand, drum roll please!

Best Album


Does this surprise anyone? Well, it shouldn’t. As the only album that has earned almost universal praise, Namie Amuro’s PAST < FUTURE is easily the J-Pop album of the year because it has more excellent tracks than Ayu’s NEXT LEVEL can shake a stick at. WILD, Dr., COPY THAT, LOVE GAME, Defend Love, FAST CAR, and I could go on. So if the past is truly lesser than the future, it’s exciting to think what Namie is going to do to top this one. Personally? Can’t wait.

Honorable Mentions

Kumi Koda – TRICK

Tohoshinki – The Secret Code

BENI – BITTER & SWEET

~

And so, my J-Pop choices for the year 2009. Have something to say about them? Leave a comment!
Stay tuned for Part II: K-Pop!

6 thoughts on “2009 In Review, Part I: The Year in J-Pop

  1. I’m really quite surprised that BENI’s album is on there.
    I’m not going to complain about Yamapi’s single being on there – personally, I thought his voice ruined a lot of the good songs (which totally should have gone to Tegomass imo, but w/e) – however I thought Loveless was just okay.
    But I’m glad that I’m not the only one who liked the remixes of Rule😄

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  3. Ya. I’m suprised BITTER&SWEET was on here too. YAY FOR AYU THOUGH!

    Phew! I’m glad I’m not the only one who liked Happy Days.

  4. @both: Hmm, I’d say that me choosing which album I felt deserved to be on this list was pretty much my opinion.

    @aikorin: Lol to be honest, I’m really not much of a Johnny’s fan and never have been, but Loveless (the whole single) ended up far exceeding my initial expectations. I can’t really comment on your Tegomass statement since I’ve never heard any of their songs. xD;;

    @Ashen Twilight: Pffft. I love that song. Haters be hatin’ but I thought it was fierce.

  5. I agree with a lot of your choices… Rule/Sparkle was definitely one of the top singles this year.

    And I liked happy days too =]

  6. pastw<~!!

    I liked Loveless with his vocals and glad to see Kana Nishino up there, but personally I liked her song 'Motto' better.

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