Friday, December 28, 2012

Nia's Best (and Worst) of 2012! - A Year-End Megapost

Well, my wonderland of madness and Japanese idol music has endured a year of releases, some good, some bad and the rest somewhere in-between! 2012 has definitely been a crazy year buy hey, at least the world didn't end! That way we can see what the year 2013 has to hold for us! It's so weird to be doing another one of these posts... I guess I just didn't really think I'd last long enough to do another year-end post. But I have and I intend to make this one of the best damn year-end posts because I believe in delivering the best to you lovely readers that have help motivated me to keep this blog going! So last year, I just did my top 5 favorite songs of the year (with some honorable mentions) and my top 5 least favorite songs (with some dishonorable mentions). That was it. How dull is that!? To be fair, I was just starting out and had no idea what this blog would evolve into. Now that I have an idea of what I write about, how I write, etc. I decided I wanted to do more than just list some songs I liked and some I disliked and be done with it! Hence I have made a series of categories in two different groups: music and PV. In these two groups are songs I loved, songs I hated, PVs I loved, PVs I hated, and a plethora of other random categories. I admit, it's quite different from a Top 10 list but I realized I didn't want to talk about a few songs with large paragraphs, I wanted to talk about a lot of stuff in little chunks of text! So while my descriptions are shorter than usual, there's a lot to read! Over the past year I have compiled a list of songs and PVs that I find to fit X category or Y category. I was originally going to pick a "winner" for each category but when it came down to choosing, I just couldn't decide! Will you agree with all of my opinions? Maybe. Will you disagree with all of them? Probably. But you'll never know unless you read the results!

So without further stalling, let us dive into the Nia's Best and Worst of 2012!

Best Overall Singles:

Aitai Aitai Aitai na: C-ute - It was only after I put Kanashiki Heaven on my top 20 songs of 2012 on Selective Hearing that I realized how much I enjoyed the Aitai Aitai Aitai an single as a whole. The A-side is fiercely energetic and Kanashiki Heaven has the amazing vocals of Airi and Chissa. While Saikou Music was the least serious of the songs, it was still fun to listen to! I think this single showed off C-ute's strong points very nicely and I'm happy it sold so well!
The Airline Trilogy: Passpo - I couldn't decide which of the three "Airline Trilogy" singles I was going to put on here since they're all amazing so I decided "Hell, it's my blog! I make the rules so all three will be one nomination!" I really enjoyed the distinct style each of these three singles had like the rocking sound of Next flight to the summer pop-punk Natsuzora Hanabi to the Halloween rock of Wing! It's a great collection of different styles of music!
Electric Boy: Kara - I kind of wish I had reviewed this single because I did find it to be surprisingly enjoyable! I don't really follow K-pop but I do look at Kara's J-pop activities every now and then and I like Electric Boy because it sounds very much like J-pop! That's what I always liked about Kara; how easily their music adapted to J-pop! Orion is also a very pretty ballad to balance the hyper-energetic A-side and Pandora is... pretty awesome! I don't listen to K-pop much but I really like the sound of Pandora!
Kataomoi Finally: SKE48 - SKE48 really started the year off with quite the bang with Kataomoi Finally. The A-side is darker than what the happy-go-lucky sister group of AKB48 dabbles in and I think they succeeded well with a darker song. The B-sides are both nice and different in their respective ways with the Akagumi song being a melancholicaly upbeat song and the Shirogumi song brought a nicely generic but still nice B-side to contrast the other two dark B-sides. Overall, an amazing single from SKE48!
Kibou ni Tsuite: No Name - Being one of the three animes I have ever watched, AKB0048 revolves around idols and idol music in a dystopian future. And apparently dystopian futures have pretty damn good music! Kibou ni Tsuite, the A-side, is led by the seiyuus of the anime and it's a really beautifully powerful song that's very uplifting to listen to. The B-sides are nice too! Yume wa Nandomo Umare Kawaru is very soft and pretty with a simple instrumental and while Niji no Ressha is a bit generic, it's not the worst thing I've ever heard!
Road to Budokan 2012 ~Bad Flower~: Tokyo Girls' Style - I'm very happy that TGS took a brief hiatus from their activity to train some more with Avex because the single they bounced back with very clearly showed how much the girls had improved. Bad Flower is such a dark and hard-sounding song for the group and Discord followed in that same direction with a little electorpop infused into it! Lolita Strawberry in Summer was probably my least favorite track of the single but it was still a decent cover!
Spring of Life: Perfume - Oh come on, this wouldn't be a year-end post on Nia's Wonderland without Perfume in the list! And if it is, call the authorities because I've most likely been kidnapped and replaced with an evil twin. Anyways, Spring of Life marked the transfer from Tokuma to UMJ for the techno trio, allowing them to spring back to life with an extremely enthusiastic and youthful sounding song, brimming with energy and an adorably catchy B-side!

Best A-sides:

cha cha Sing: Berryz Koubou - Okay, this song further proves that Berryz Koubou needs to cover more foreign songs. First Dchinghis Khan and now this cover a Thai song, it's a really well-done cover! What I love most about this A-side is that despite being a cover it also sounds like a Berryz song with the group's own little style spun into it! For that not only does the song succeed as a cover but it succeeds as a really catchy, fun and unique cover for the group!
Chou Happy Song: Berikyuu - Best. Idea. EVER! I love the idea of combining two songs to make one song and that's executed perfectly in the combining of Berryz Koubou's Because Happiness and C-ute's Shiawase no Tochuu. Each song apart is already good but when fusioned together, we get Chou Happy Song and it is an absolute delight to listen to. I always love hearing the H!P Kids singing together and this song showcases the groups together perfectly!
Kataomoi Finally: SKE48 - Whoa, since when did SKE48 get so serious? All right, I know in the past they've had a few dark B-sides with the Akagumi sub-unit but Kataomoi Finally was the first A-side to have a more serious tone for the usually genki and energetic group. And it works really well! Kataomoi Finally isn't 100% gloom and doom and it still has a slightly upbeat and energetic sound to it! But you can hear the darker and more desperate emotion the song's trying to convey too and it sounds amazing.
Koi no Tenki Yohou: Weather Girls - Oh my oh my oh my gosh, I love this song! To this day I can't really pinpoint exactly why I love this song; it's very generic and not really the type of song someone like me would develop such a strong love for. But there's just something about the cuteness and sweetness and doesn't make it overly saccharine or annoying. Koi no Tenki Yohou has the energy of someone on crack and the sweetness of a lollipop and I absolutely love it!
Magical Lip Kiss: Naaboudoufu@nana - This A-side really grew on me from the time I review it until now as I'm writing this list. When I first listened to it, I enjoyed Magical Lip Kiss but it wasn't like I really loved it so much I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about it saying how much I love it. Needless to say, this electropop song has really grown on me for its 90s-esque dance style and using electropop in a way that it works! It's a fun and catchy song by an idol I hope to hear more from!
Next flight: Passpo - I admit will musically I like Wing a teensy bit better, if it weren't for Next flight I probably would have never become a fan of Passpo. For that, it gets brownie points and a spot among my favorite A-sides of 2012! Next flight's style is that of LA metal and while it's definitely not metal, this song still rocks! With the use of some great rock instruments, Passpo is like Scandal with stewardess uniforms for this song. And somehow that totally makes for a great song!
PPCC: BiS - I'm so happy that Brand-new Idol Society kept their rock/alternative music style even when joining a major label! It's quite the relief to know that they'll keep pumping out awesome songs such as PPCC. Yes, I'm kind of a huge fan of this song for many reasons such as great vocals, a kickass chorus, that alternative sound that a lot of BiS songs have... it's a fun song to listen to and you don't hear songs like this from idols a lot. Then again, it's BiS so that's not surprising!
Wakuteka Take a Chance: Morning Musume - I sure am happy that Tsunku took a chance and starting dabbling in electropop for Morning Musume and Hello! Project! This song and Help me!! really show how when you use the electro style in a good and memorable way, you can have some very interesting songs! I actually think electropop works better for Wakuteka than One Two Three; the instrumental feels less all over the place along with the vocals! It's a great electropop song and very catchy too!
Spring of Life: Perfume - Listening to this song makes me spring of speed up with the Perfume girls! Yes, although the other A-side of the year from my favorite techno trio is notoriously not in my favor, I absolutely adore Spring of Life! It has so much life and energy in it from the vocals the upbeat instrumental! The best part of the instrumental is in the bridge between the second and last chorus, where the music gets serious then it gets happy and bright! SoL is yet another great A-side from Perfume!

Best B-sides:

Discord: Tokyo Girls' Style - I was heavily anticipating how this B-side would sound and fortunately for me, TGS' B-side for Road to Budokan ~2012~ was everything I'd hoped it would be! It had the same dark underlying sound that Bad Flower, the lead track, had while still standing apart as its own original single! I loved the electronics fused into it along with the hard-rock sound the song had!
Everything by Akagumi: SKE48 - I honestly couldn't pick which B-side I wanted to nominate for SKE48's Akagumi group because I really liked all of them. Koe ga Kasureru Kurai was a melancholicaly rock-influenced song with a sad chorus, Nante Ginga wa Arui wo Darou was hauntingly beautiful to listen to, and Tori wa Aoi Sora no Hate wo Shranai was sweet in a distant sounding way. Quite a lovely collection of B-sides for the normally genki SKE48!
Hurly Burly: Perfume - Sing it with me guys! Halle-Halle-Berry!!! Oh man, I love this song so much it's probably not healthy. The other B-side on Spending all my time, this and Point completely overshadow that A-side. Hurly Burly is one of the peppiest songs in Perfume's discography, the kind where you want to get up and dance like a spazz! I love the bouncy instrumentals, the catchy chorus, and all the energy packed into this song! It's the Chocolate Disco of 2012 for me!
Kanashiki Heaven: C-ute - Aitai Aitai Aitai na was a pretty good A-side but I actually found myself loving its B-side even more! However, I don't think I'd want it to be the A-side because then everyone would be complaining about the poor line distribution... Personally, I love having Chissa and Airi lead the song because their strong voices are what make the song sound so good, along with their great harmonizing! I also love the use of acoustic guitars in this song... this is just a great B-side!
Kanashiki Koi no Melody: Morning Musume - Thank god PyokoPyoko Ultra had a really kickass B-side to save it! This B-side has the tone a lot of Emo Musume songs did but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad song! It's really a quite good song and I personally think it should have been the A-side over its feathered atrocity. And I like hearing this style from the newbs of Momusu who weren't around during the Emo era. It's a pretty song that outshines the A-side in my opinion!
Loving you too much: Berryz Koubou - If this is what happens when Berryz covers foreign songs, then can they please cover more foreign songs? Both cha cha Sing and Loving you too much are really well-done covers of Thai songs that have a cool Thai sound to them. This song also stands out on its own and it's a really enjoyable B-side to compliment the A-side! If it weren't for my absolute loathing of Yurushite Nyan then I would have nominated cha cha Sing for Best Overall Single!
Renai Higai Todoke: NMB48 - Most of NMB48's B-sides pretty much don't stand out to me and this one was one of those songs that didn't interest me at first. But then that chorus kept creeping into my head and before I knew it, I found myself really enjoying it! The sounds incredibly... mischievous, especially when you hit the chorus and the girl's voice just bounce around from speaker to speaker! It makes for a cool effect and this is one catchy song! 
Show Fight!: AKB48 - Even to this day I'm still asking myself why the hell this wasn't the A-side instead of Gingham Check. It's flipping awesome and it could totally fit as a Senbatsu song! It kind of reminds me of Flying Get with just a little more energy and a slightly different tone. The best part is the chorus where the song gets really catchy but overall it's a really cool, badass, and fun B-side that should have totally been the A-side! Stupid Gingham Check...
Stargazer: Masuda Yuka - This B-side totally blew the already pretty awesome Lost the way out of the water! I'd always known Masuda Yuka was a good singer because hey, she's in freaking DiVA but it wasn't until this song I realized just how powerful her voice is. Combined with an equally powerful instrumental, the best word I can give this song is epic. Like, really epic.

Worst A-sides: 

Eien Pressure: AKB48 - Trust me, I had a slot reserved for the Janken single on this list before the Janken tournament had even happened. You might say that I was jumping to conclusions but prefer I call it preparing for the worst! Eien Pressure is just as bland and lifeless as I expected it to be but I guess part of me still hoped that it would surprise me and turn out to be really awesome. Then again, if they couldn't make an interesting song with Mariko as center, they sure as hell couldn't with Paruru as center.
Gingham Check: AKB48 - What makes this A-side particularly bad in my eyes, is that it isn't just some run-of-the mill AKB48 single. It's the Senbatsu single, the one single of the year I expect lots of time and effort put into it. Instead I get a bland song about a fabric I can't stand that completely wastes all the potential it had with Yuko center. The song is more vanilla than French Kiss; I'll stick with Heavy Rotation, thank you very much.
Next My Self: Mano Erina - Oh, Mano, why couldn't you have just released Song for the Date and graduated with a bang? I think I'm pretty much the only person in the wotasphere that does not like this song and thinks it's way too bland. Even as a bland song, I can't like it because it's the last thing I'll hear from Mano the idol. However, I ripped this song harder than a cat rips an expensive feather pillow in my review of it so look at that for a better idea of why I don't like this song.
PyokoPyoko Ultra: Morning Musume - There's a fine line between endearingly cute and annoyingly cute when it comes to idol songs. Unfortunately, PyokoPyoko Ultra falls into the latter category. Even without the god-awful costumes, this song was far too cute and annoying for my tastes. The girls themselves sounded unenthusiastic in this song and it was a terrible introduction for the 10th Generation.
Spending all my time: Perfume - You know what hurts? When a group you love dearly releases a song you don't like. Even Perfume isn't immune to releasing songs that I don't like and unfortunately, Spending all my time is one of them. I find the song too reminiscent of Western music, repetitive, and lacking any of the charm that I love about Perfume's music. It was polarizing song for the fandom and I fell on the side that was disappointed at this song's lack of originality.
The Matenrou Show: Morning Musume - A-side? This was an A-side!? This has got to be one of the most under-promoted A-sides I've ever seen! I guess UFA realized it was a sucky song too and decided to heap all the promotion on One Two Three to make up for the boring RiDOS-Reina show this song is! My problem with this song is it's that overused disco-schtick we've heard a billion times before combined with the vocals of my favorite singer in Morning Musume ever. The italicized bit was in massive sarcasm quotes.

Worst B-sides:

Do Re Mi Fa Onchi: AKB48 - I had such high hopes for this song. The chorus sounded so powerful and emotional but unfortunately the rest of the song was all over the place! Parts of it were annoying, bland, weird, generic, I honestly don't know what tone this song was going for. Maybe it was going for everything! In the end, I was so much more disappointed with this song than I wanted to be.
Eien Yori Tsuzuku You ni: AKB48 - My unofficial nickname for this B-side is The Lemongrab Song thanks to the incredibly lemon-y PV. Funny how that nickname hasn't caught on. This song also hasn't caught on me either and it's just as bland as Eien Pressure. Actually... I think it's blander than Eien Pressure! At least that song had a catchy hook! I can't remember anything about this song other than lemons. Stupid lemons.
Mousou Girlfriend: NMB48 - You know... it probably didn't help that I watched this song alongside the most disturbingly awkward feline PV I've laid eyes on. It was like the cute version of transmitting rabies. But I digress; even without the PV, I'm not terribly fond of this song. I wouldn't say it's bland (even though it's pretty generic) but the best word I can think for it is... annoying. Really annoying.
Yurushite Nyan!: Momoko's Evil Twin Momochi - I really don't think I can describe my hatred for this song in words. There is only a small amount of songs that can cause me to truly go berserk. But I would honestly rather listen to any of those songs over this one. I don't like annoying things. I also don't enjoy forced cuteness being shoved down my throat. Yurushite Nyan has both. And for that I hate it so much.

Blandest Songs:

All of Nogizaka46's discography - Well... Seifuku no Mannequin is an exception. I originally had all three of their current singles in this category until I realized Nogizaka46 is such a giant vortex of blandness that I can't remember any of their vanilla discography. Guruguru Curtain was a lackluster debut, Oide Shampoo was a lackluster follow up, and I've already forgotten Hashire Bicycle. What group am I talking about again anyways???
Gingham Check: AKB48 - The Ue Kara Mariko of 2012 for me, only I can't decide which one's blander. The thing is, they both essentially have the same style. Bland, forgettable verses, equally bland chorus that is somehow really catchy and both sound like they could be album filler. The only thing that gives this song any color is the PV and I've never listened to the song again other than when I'm watching it with the PV. Still, at least the PV did keep me entertained unlike the song itself...
Soredemo Suki da yo: Sashihara Rino - Oh yay, another "IDOL DESU~" song. I don't know why but I tend to really hate songs in the vein of Sasshi's debut song and I can't put my finger on why. It is the overall kawaii-ness of it? Or perhaps the coldly calculated gestures and gimmick-y dance moves centered around a blandly catchy song with even blander lyrics. I don't know or care; I just really can't stand this song.
The Matenrou Show: Morning Musume - The most under promoted A-side I've laid eyes on, The Matenrou Show is the same usual disco-style song but without the fun of Morning Musume's other disco-style songs. It lacks energy, inspiration, creativity, a decent PV, and most importantly good vocals. Everyone sounds bored out of their mind and listening to it makes me bored out of my mind.
Tsuioku: Tokyo Girls' Style - This song just goes to show that ballads can either be the most beautiful thing you've ever heard or the most boring thing you've ever heard. Unfortunately for TGS, Tsuioku pales in comparison to songs like Bad Flower and Limited Addiction. Although the vocals are top-notch as always, the song is forgettable along with the PV.

Catchiest Songs:

Candy Candy: Kyarypamyupamyu - I think I could put every Kyarypamyupamyu song in this list but of the song she released this year, Candy Candy is definitely the catchiest. The sheer category of music she sings in is known for its incredible catchiness. This song probably sticks in my head because it has incredibly simple and nonsensical English lyrics that are repeated in the chorus. That simple, but repetitive tune is what makes this song catchy for better or worse.
Cha Cha Sing: Berryz Koubou - You know, if this song were stuck in my head all day, I think I would be completely okay with that. Actually, this song was stuck in my head the week I heard it and I loved it the whole way. I really can't emphasize how much I love this cover and part of that is because it's catchy in such a positive way. The parts that are really catchy build up a lot of energy to the song and even typing about this makes me hum "Chacharararachararacharachacha~!"
Communication: Perfume - The bad thing about this song is I don't know all the words to it so whenever it comes on my iPod I sing it like "Communication da-da-da-da-da kokoro wa da-da-da-da" You get what I mean. The cutesy tune of Communication is what makes it so catchy. This song is on the level of cute you'd see in a Kyarypamyupamyu song and while I do think that this super cute sound doesn't work as well for Perfume over other styles, I still can't get this song out of my head.
Hurly Burly: Perfume - Oh my god, I love this song so much. When I first heard the CM for it, the only part I knew was the chorus but I hummed that incredibly catchy chorus like crazy. Do you know how long I had to hum just the chorus since the whole song wasn't out yet? Four months. Four months of humming "HURLY BURLY BURLY!!! Fushigi no TASTY!!! HURLY BURLY BURLY!!! Hajikeru FEELING!!!" But for the record that chorus was totally amazing and the rest of the song was equally catchy!
One Two Three: Morning Musume - One of the biggest appeals that the A-side of Momusu's 50th single had was just how catchy it is. It's one of the reasons why I like listening to the song! There are so very many parts of this song that get stuck in my head depending on the time of day such as the chorus or the opening instrumental and sometimes even Riho's transformation into RiDOS just after the bridge (much to my anguish). One Two Three's catchiness is one of the reasons it's such a memorable song!
Sugar Rush: AKB48 - Man, first Polyrhythm was used for Cars 2 and now an AKB48 song gets made for a movie from Disney I actually enjoyed! One of the many great things about Wreck-It Ralph is the soundtrack and the fact that I got to hear in the movie theater on extremely loud speakers "S-U-G-A-R Jumping into your racing car! Say Sugar Rush! Sugar Rush!!!" How cool is that!? Needless to say the Engrish chorus has been stuck in my head for ages along with the rest of this sugar rush of a song!

Cutest Songs:

Candy Candy: Kyarypamyupamyu - Okay, selecting which Kyarypamyupamyu song is the cutest is like selecting which shade of gray is the grayest. I could put pretty much all of Kyary's songs in this list but I chose Candy Candy because I feel like it's one step above her normal cuteness and for the fact that the English lyrics are incredibly sweet. As an English-speaking person, the word choices and Engrish only add to the cuteness of this song, along with Kyary's sugary-sweet techno-edited voice.
Communication: Perfume - I was shocked at how adorable this sounded when I first heard it. I'd been a expecting a more... techno-y song based off the title but Nakata tricked me again. I need to get "Never judge a song by its title" into my head already... Anyways, this is probably the most adorable sounding song Perfume's released in 2012 and I think that's mainly because of the vocals and the arrangement of the song. The chorus has a very cute and catchy bouncing tune to it and the girls' voices are edited to sound cuter than usual!
Kanojo ni Naritai!!!: Hello! Project Kenshuusei - You know what this song reminds me of? Uchouten Love on crack. Now in 2011, Uchouten Love was my favorite A-side of the year so another song just like it is right up my alley. This one's ten times cuter and ten times more bouncy with a little more electropop in this song than Uchouten Love. It's not to Morning Musume levels of electropop but it's definitely there. Still, the voices of the Eggs are what make this song adorable and I love it!
Magical Lip Kiss: Naaboudoufu@nana - This song is probably the least cutest on the list of cute songs but I feel like it still earned a spot in this category! A major component in the cuteness factor of the song is Nana's voice and the electro editing done to it. There's also an array of different sounds in the instrumentals that just add to the cuteness I feel is in this song. Magical Lip Kiss runs in the same direction of music as cute electropop and it works really well in that category.
Otona Jelly Beans: Watanabe Mayu - Is this really a surprise? The idol who fronts Warota 7, a unit best-known for its insanely high levels of cuteness, is naturally going to have a cute song! All three solo singles she released this year were incredibly cute but this one's definitely the cutest and highly befitting for such a Fantastic Creeper as herself! Otona Jelly Beans is the cutest of the cute with high-pitched vocals, a sweet tune and just overall cuteness!
Shounen yo Tsuke da yo: Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 - Quite honestly, I could put everything Warota 7 has released this year (which isn't much compared to last year). So it's just this song but it definitely fits the huge category of cute songs done by Watarirouka Hashiritai 7! I swear, they get cuter and more sugary sweet every time I turn around... It's probably because the squeaky vocals reak of cuteness but a cute composition also helps!

Worst Uses of Autotune:

Cat's Eye: Cat's Eye 7 - I'm still scratching my head at why in the hell there is so much gratuitous Autotune in this song. I think the song might have even sounded better without all the Autotune heaped up on it! This song fails because you can clearly hear where the Autotune is and instead of blending with the song it stands out like an ugly stain on an otherwise decent song. The girls in this stage sub-unit have great voices and this song feels like an attempt to cash in on the electropop trend.
One Two Three: Morning Musume - I've been somewhat okay with the electropop direction Momusu has latched onto along with the Autotune that comes with it. But One Two Three's Autotune was all over the place. Then again, it was also the first song of its era to experiment with Autotune but that doesn't mean it gets a a free pass from me. The worst part is when Riho's screechy ad-libbing so Autotuned in the final chorus that she sounds like GLaDOS. For that, One Two Three makes the list of the worst uses of Autotune this year.
UZA: AKB48 - You know, I can't think of any other reason that Aki-P wanted to use Autotune other than him sitting at his desk and having this sudden epiphany that Autotune made everything sound cool. So he decided to then layer it on in Uza! This song didn't really need Autotune and I think they wanted to use it for stylistic reason but it just didn't work. Not even a little bit. I almost wish I could have a comparison between this Uza and an Autotune-less Uza.
Koko Kara Hajimarunda!: Kikkawa Yuu - I think this was one of the few Autotuned songs in which I had a really big problem with its use of Autotune. Or maybe I'm just miffed that of all the idols that could be Autotuned to hell why did they pick the one that doesn't need it at all? I love Kikkawa Yuu for her great voice and to hear it laced with Autotune is a style I don't think works well for her. I'm hoping maybe in 2013, her producers will let up on it but I doubt they will.

Best PVs: 

Bloom: Ga In - Oh hi, random K-pop artist! I feel like I always have one K-pop PV every year that I actually like a lot and I found out about Bloom via all the controversy surrounding it. Out of curiosity I looked up the PV and I actually really like the song and I think the PV is beautiful. It's been criticized for having direct visuals and allusions to sex but I think this PV took the concept of sex and didn't try to glorify it but simply presented it as something beautiful and joyful!
Gingham Check: AKB48 - I was more than ready to slam this PV the same way I did the bland song but then Joseph Kahn discovered my weakness: cheesy B-movies. This PV is filled with shout-outs and homages to B-movies from the Japanese horror movies to Godzilla-esque monsters to cheesy cop-romance stories to cheesy captions sprinkled all throughout the PV. With a great budget and a fun concept, this PV saves Gingham Check from being a Gingham Disaster.
Hikaru Monotachi: Watanabe Mayu - What a better way to showcase Mayuyu's CG Girl persona than to make a PV based around the concept of a fake idol? I felt so sorry for Mayuyu in this PV but I think this PV really shows the double standards in idol music such as how fans will accept certain things and not others (i.e. being too artificial or plastic). Through the clever use of screen-shots from video networking websites, this PV draws a lot of well-done parallels to the real idol world.
Kataomoi Finally: SKE48 - I really appreciate that the director of this PV took the concept of schoolgirl lesbians and didn't turn it into an oversexualized PV that appealed to fetishes. Instead, homosexuality is very seriously portrayed and the relationships in the PV feel rough and complicated despite only being shown through a music video. I could watch a movie based around the idea in this PV because the idea is pulled off so well and so seriously.
Manatsu no Sounds good!: AKB48 - The theme of an old generation dying out and the replacement of a new generation leading to the end of a legacy couldn't fit AKB48 better at the time this was released. Maeda Atsuko's last PV as center showed her dying out and ascending to heaven with a bunch of other old generation girls and the new girls coming in. I've always liked to think this PV symbolizes the inevitable death of AKB48 and their ascension with other legacy idols into "idol heaven."
PPCC: BiS - Finally a PV I actually like from BiS! As much as I love this unconventional idol group's music, their PVs haven't ever really jazzed me until PPCC. I probably love PPCC because it features physical violence but it's also an awesome PV because of its clever way of skewing the typical idol summer PV! It's well shot and even though the concept is a little odd (but it's BiS, what did you expect?) PPCC is immensely entertaining to watch!
Song for the Date: Mano Erina - I've always thought that the release of this PV was a very eerie foreshadowing to the H!P soloist's graduation announcement that came shortly after the release of this single. This PV shows the contrast between the idol-like and innocent White Mano Erina and the more mature Dark Mano Erina and also what happens when there's a struggle between these two personas. In the end, Dark Mano vanquishes Light Mano, much like the real Mano will upon graduating.
Spring of Life: Perfume - Light. Up. Dresses. Need I say anything else!? Yes, with a stellar dance shot with luminously amazing costumes, Spring of Life is another great PV from Perfume with a nice dash of symbolism to it! It's fun watching the girls play androids that slowly become human and develop human characteristics only to have all that be shut down by the simple act of pulling a plug. It's a sad PV but also very beautiful and joyous at times.

Best B-side PVs:

HA!: NMB48 - Wow, NMB48 is sure fond of their crime PVs! This one involves the mafia- I mean, the Yakuza! Oh well, one way or another this was a fun PV to look both visually and from a storyline point. The dance shot is awesome with really great costumes and a cool backdrop! The story itself is simple but entertaining and it's fun to watch the girls get tangled up in the crime scene, such as Milky smart-mouthing her captors. It's a fun PV with a better concept than Eien Pressure!
Koe ga Kasureru Kurai: SKE48 - Who would have ever thought you could feel sorry for a group of canned drinks? With the clever use of personification, the girls of SKE48 were literally turned into "flavors of the month" as drinks in a vending machine, with poor Matsui Rena being the lone discarded soft drink. It's incredibly sad to see Rena standing all alone in the rain because no one wants to drink her... that sounded less weird in my head.
Renai Higai Todoke: NMB48 - There's nothing like a good old whodunit type of PV to keep me entertained and this is why NMB48's PV is so much fun for me! All the girls have been accused of a crime but which one did it? Was it Nana with the lead pipe in the conservatory? Milky with the revolver in the library? It's up to you as Nancy Drew to place the clues together and solve the crime! The mystery is what makes this such a fun and entertaining PV and I love watching it!
Show Fight!: AKB48 - There's just something about girls beating the crap out of each other that must seem really awesome to me... That's pretty much the only concept of Show fight! You might even call it AKB48 Fight Club! But we can't talk about that. There isn't much to this PV other than the copious loads of physical violence but in that way it's strangely entertaining to see the normally sweet and adorable idols of the 48 family kick and punch each other!
Kodoku na Hoshizora: AKB48 - Oh my god, I am such a sucker for visually appealing PVs and Kodoku na Hoshizora is beautiful. The sets are so beautifully elaborate and I love the styling done for all the girls in the PV. The kimonos look absolutely stunning on them and I really love the pacing of the PV. It matches with the slow and wistful tone of the song and watching the PV feels like going back in time to a period in history... or like some surreal alternate history timeline!

Worst PVs:

Ikuji Nashi Masquerade: Sashihara Rino and some other people - Good lord, I really like this song but this has got to be on of the most sloppily done PVs I've seen from an idol franchise with so much money! Not only did Sasshi get shafted out of AKB48 this year, she got shafted in her own solo PV! That's not my only complaint; the real kicker is the girls that are blocking her can't even dance!
Lolita Strawberry in Summer: Tokyo Girls' Style - Look, animation has always been an amazing and compelling art to me. And with animation, it can either be really good, really bad, or somewhere in between. The animation for this song is what makes it such a terrible PV for me. It's bad CGI that's animated very sloppily (and for some reason the girls have panty shots? The hell?) and the animated girls have their feet firmly planted in the Uncanny Valley. Why couldn't you have just used the real girls instead, Avex?
Oide Shampoo: Nogizaka46 - I will say, of all the horrid NogiaFail PVs that have been released this year, this is the only one where upon seeing it, I put my head in my hands and screamed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, AKI-P!?" This PV was criticized for an inappropriate dance and it is a really childish and stupid dance; maybe wotas do have standards. To me, this was Nogizaka46 at the lowest of the group's already low standing. Rival group my ass. Team Rocket is more of a rival than they are!
PyokoPyoko Ultra: Morning Musume - I have a low tolerance for cute things. I have a low tolerance for whimsical things. And I have an even lower tolerance for whimsically cute things. Oh yeah, you guys totally knew this PV was going to be on this list, right? Like many other bloggers, I am not a fan of my Momusu girls being turned into singing dancing Big Bird clones. The PV was cute in the most childishly annoying way possible and I simply cannot stand it. But that's not the worst PV from H!P this year...
Yurushite Nyan!: Tsugunaga Momoko - Oh no, the title of worst PV from Hello! Project this year and probably my least favorite PV of 2012 goes to Yurushite fucking Nyan. I fucking hate this song and I fucking hate this PV so much that I have to use the f bomb three times whilst writing its description. The PV is cheap even for H!P, so cheap some Youtube idol was able to remake the PV! Combined with my hatred for this song and the Momochi character... I just wanna throw this PV in a lake.

Blandest PVs:

Aitai Aitai Aitai na: C-ute - Okay the dance in this: awesome. Everything else: eh... I can't remember. Besides the very well-done dance in this song, the rest of the PV mainly consists of C-ute staring at things in various places then leaving for no apparent reason, much like the girls of Berryz Koubou did in their Heroine ni Narou ka! PV. Not that those shots aren't pretty but they're not very interesting to look at and I much prefer the dance shot over these individual shots!
Cabbage Hakusho: Peaberry - Well, Peaberry is a unit consisting of Wada Ayaka and Sayashi Riho aka Bland and Blander... what else did I expect? As you can see, I had low expectations for anything memorable coming from this little duo and the Cabbage Hakusho PV definitely wasn't anything unexpected... I will say this is one of those PVs that's pretty but in a very bland and forgettable way much like a fancy cupcake that has a taste you can't even remember!
Guruguru Curtain: Nogizaka46 - Of all the Nogizaka46 PVs released this year the only one that was awful in a way that I couldn't even make fun of it was the "rival" group's debut PV, Guruguru Curtain. Unlike Oide Shampoo with its weird dance or Hashire! Bicycle with its god-awful costuming, this PV had nothing interesting about it and matched the blandness of the song. The costumes were bland, the set was bland, the concept was bland, watching this PV is like eating cardboard.
Tsuioku: Tokyo Girls' Style - I admit, this was a pretty PV but god, it was dull. I think that's probably because the tone of the song is a ballad and a very slow one at that. It feels like everything that's happening in the PV is happening in slow motion and I get bored with watching the PV very quickly. Again, it's a pretty PV but much like Cabbage Hakusho it's a very bland and dull PV. There wasn't even a cool dance to distract me! Thank god Bad Flower came out after this...

Weirdest PVs:

Candy Candy: Kyarypamyupamyu - First of all, I think the onion was my favorite character in this whole PV. And I don't even like onions! It's pretty expected that Kyary's PVs are going to be weird but knowing that doesn't make them any less weird! I admit, this toned it down compared to Tsukema Tsukeru but Candy Candy was still pretty eclectic! You had a male Kyary clone in a mask, numbered backup dancers, a singing onion and Kyary being... well, Kyary!
Everything by Momoiro Clover Z - For a group like MomoClo, I mean weird in the most affection way possible. One of the things that I respect about MomoClo is how much they try to set themselves apart from other idol groups and one of the ways they do so is through their weird but entertaining PVs. Each of their PVs this year had a weird but awesome concepts (like the space pirates for Mugen no Ai) and as strange as those PVs were, they're also memorable and a lot of fun to watch!
Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku: C-ute - Okay, this might seem weird at first but let me elaborate! The one reason I find Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku's PV to be weird is because of the lighting in the close-up and dance shot and also the weirdness of the dance itself. Compared to the realistic looking drama scenes with Airi the close-up and dance shot look very surreal, like something out a dream and also very out of place in the PV.
Oide Shampoo: Nogizaka46 - Okay, did a group of kids direct this PV? That's the only reason I can think to have the members of Nogizaka46 partake in some weird butt-humping dance. And then came the bridge where they all lifted their skirts up and danced around in their underwear for god-knows-why. I just... what the hell were these directors/choreographers thinking? I mean, I really wanna know who in their right mind thought this could possibly be a good idea!
Tsukema Tsukeru: Kyarypamyupamyu - Well... it's Kyary, what do you expect? Compared to PonPonPon, this PV is actually pretty tame but that doesn't mean it still isn't out there. Most of the weirdness comes from the costuming and the scenery, particularly the two backup dancers dressed as lions. Kyary herself is all dolled up to look as eccentrically weird as possible and the background of the PV looks like some Lewis Carroll version of Candyland.

Coolest PVs:

Bad Flower: Tokyo Girls' Style - Oh TGS, it's nice to know that after all this time you still haven't lost your coolness! The young but mature Avex idol group went with a darker look than their last PV and the result was Bad Flower! While much visually simpler than a PV like Limited Addiction, the scenes that are in Bad Flower are dark and neat to look at such as the cool dance shot to the cards of the TGS girls. Overall another cool PV from the cool Avex idol group!
Fashion Monster: Kyarypamyupamyu - As someone who loves Halloween, a PV that goes all the way with a Halloween theme is highly in my favor. Although this PV definitely isn't "weird" in the usual Kyary style, visually it is a blast to look at. The characters the singer dances around with are done up to look like Halloween monsters and I can always get lost in looking at the intricate set! It's a spookily elegant PV that was one of the many awesome Halloween PVs this year!
Next Flight: PASSPO - Who would have thought a group of girls in pink stewardess uniforms could ever be cool? PASSPO does the impossible and combines the adorable and the awesome with kickass dance moves, a hard-rock band, and a simple but grungy backdrop of airplanes. It probably also helps that the producers got some hardcore looking guys who are actually in bands to be the background players.
PPCC: BiS - Naturally another BiS single is nominated, this one being their debut single. Taking the average idol summer PV, the Brand-new Idol Society rejected the fanservice-y bikinis and innocent beach scenes in favor of school swimsuits, a dark, cloudy atmosphere, and a showdown between idols and thugs. With the blood and violence, BiS has once again created a standout PV that reeks of coolness.
Rock you!: Tokyo Girls' Style - What time is it? Adventure Time with Tokyo Girls' Style! I have no idea where the girls were supposed to be traveling to in this PV but the journey was cool to look at! I love looking at the outdoor gritty scenery to this PV and the variety of different places the girls head to! The dance shot is also pretty cool! But the best part of this PV is most definitely when the girls blow up a giant rock, showing that friendship can destroy ANYTHING!!! MWAHAHA!!!
UZA: AKB48 - Of course, this is going to be a cool PV considering AKB48's fall single is always their dark/cool single but oh my god this PV is awesome. First of all, it's a Halloween PV which already gives it coolness points. Second, that Halloween concept is explored in its entirety and much like Gingham Check, we get a variety of different images like Yukirin as a Jack in the Box, Jurina as a sexy magician, Yuko and Milky as dainty dancers, and so many other cool ideas on screen!

Most Seizure-Inducing PVs

ASH: BiS - What else do you expect from the unconventional idol group on the block? As much as I adore this song, I have a hard time watching the PV simply because of the number of special effects used in it. You have a lot of bright flashing strobes of light constantly being shown in the PV and after awhile it's very difficult to look at, especially if you watch this PV in the dark! Of course, the high-paced nature of the PV does fit with the song even if the high-pacing is seizure-inducing...
Idol is Dead: BiS - No, not the amazing album, I'm talking about the PV of the title song that I have said I dislike. This PV reminds me a lot of Idol in the sense that both the songs are metal and both feature heavily punk/gothic vibes although at least Idol didn't have a bajillion bad effects flying around at every other shot! There are bad color changes, shaky cam shots, brief shots of stuff that I think was meant to be just shock value, this PV has variety in the worst way possible!
Kunekune Bravo!: Naaboudoufu@nana - Bright colors and me do not match up very well. Kunekune Bravo has copious amounts of bright colors via green-screen. I actually think I payed more attention to the background than Nana herself in this PV only because of the ridiculously bright colors and images hurting my eyes so much! And the background was constantly changing to different colors and images; it's like a rainbow exploded and the aftermath fell into this PV!
Mugen no Ai: Momoiro Clover Z - Well, something I can always say about MomoClo's PVs is that they always match the seizure-inducing level that their songs set for them! I've paid my respects to MomoClo on numerous occasions but oh my god, does this PV hurt my eyes. Much like the other PVs on this list it features a multitude of things jumping out all at the same time for you attention. For me, the PV reaches its craziest point whenever it shows the space pirates biking through rainbow space. Yeah.
One Two Three: Morning Musume - Oh, UFP, how in the hell could you possibly think that piling a bunch of gaudy sparkles and other special effects on top of an already cheap set could possibly make this PV look like there was effort put into it? This PV hurt my eyes by combining not only bright and shiny effects constantly but also switching back to different shots and close-ups at an alarmingly fast pace. I didn't title my PV review of this "One Two Three Give Me a Seizure!" for nothing!
Wakuteka Take a chance: Morning Musume - And the trend of layering sparkly special effects on top of a cheap PV continued in Momusu's follow-up to their big 50th single! I will say Wakuteka Take a chance toned it down a little bit but not much. There are still a bunch of unnecessary effects and this time you have bright and ugly costumes matched up with them! The shot switches are also a little bit slower but overall this PV was just as special effect-heavy as One Two Three.

Cheapest PVs:

Chotto Matte Kudasai!: S/mileage - You know, I almost thought about putting all of S/mileage's PVs from 2012 on here but I'm a better person than that. So I just put half of them under this category! Yeah, Chotto Matte's PV is not only painfully simple and cheap but also a rip-off of the set from Milky Way's Anataboshi. That probably miffs more people than others but this PV pulls all the signature UFP special effects that sing "We're not using our budget on youuuuu!!!~"
Dot Bikini: S/mileage - The cheapness of Dot Bikini is one of the many reasons why I dislike S/mileage's shitty summer PV. I can tell the directors tried to put some creative effort into it but MS Paint effects are not the way to go if you're trying not to look like you have the budget of a middle school science fair project. They couldn't even muster enough money to film this summer PV at a beach opting for a depressingly indoor location with a flimsy attempt to make it look summer-y.
Eien Pressure: AKB48 - I'm not sure if this PV was meant to be cheap in an intentionally endearing way or if the producers used so much money on Gingham Check and Uza's PVs that they ran out for the last single of the year. Either way, this PV has some really low-budget effects that wouldn't be out of place in an old eighties movie and not to mention the dance shot itself is unimpressive. I think if the concept had been explored with a bigger budget it would have been better but the end result is a cheap mess.
Get You: BiS Dorothy Little Happy - I admit, even though this PV is pretty cheap, it also works with what it has. The group collaboration only features one barren set but the directors had the girls inflicting physical violence on each other on that simple set! The interactions between two extremely different idol groups is what makes this PV interesting even though it's pretty obvious that Avex wasn't putting much budget into the unusual collaboration.
Give Me Five!: AKB48 - Okay, the storyline is sweet (albeit cliche) in the long version of this PV but said long version is over thirty minutes long. I don't have that kind of time to review such a long PV! So the short, condensed version was what I looked at and it definitely felt like one of the cheaper PVs from the richest idol group in Japan right now. I think it was because the main set reminds me of my high school gym and my high school has as much money as the directors for Hello! Project's PVs do.
Koko Kara Hajimarunda!: Kikkawa Yuu - Is it ironic that I think the MMD version of this PV is more elaborate than the one with the real Kikka in it? Kikkawa Yuu's PVs were already pretty low-budget (save Hapirapi ~Sunrise~ but that song sucked) but KKH's PV was really low budget. The special effects were scarce and looked a little cheesy at times and the plain white background was boring to look at. There was a lack of variety and I think that stems from the cheapness of the PV.
One Two Three: Morning Musume - I think I'm still seeing spots from all the blinding sparkles and effects piled on to this PV. I know UFP isn't exactly known for their extravagant budgets but would it have killed you to give just a little bit more money to create a memorable PV for Momusu's 50th single? Honestly, I think Wakuteka Take a Chance had more budget than this did! The set was cheap, the close-ups were cheap, and the sparkles really didn't help.
Renai Hunter: Morning Musume - I admit despite the minimalistic white set and simple close-up the cheapness of Renai Hunter isn't quite as glaring as One Two Three's PV. The only shots that stand out as looking really cheap are the magazine shots with the cheesy fonts. I think if they'd been done differently (aka with more budget and effort) then they would have looked better but they didn't. Even so, the PV is centered around the glorious Niigaki Risa! I can forgive it for cheapness!

Best Summer PVs:

Manatsu no Sounds good!: AKB48 - Who would have ever thought that summer PV by AKB48, the most idol-y of all the idol groups on the market right now, would be filled with death and hardcore violence? Admittedly, this PV would have been better without the gratuitous bikini dance shot but the darker and grittier scenes are where the PV shines. It was a great way to show the transition from an old AKB48 with Acchan to a new one without her and I enjoyed it very much.
Nagiichi: NMB48 - Although I admit I don't find the first part terribly interesting what with all the gratuitous fanservice, the second half of this PV is a lot of fun to watch! You get a really nice variety of fun activities the girls of NMB48 do over their summer and I found it more enjoyable to watch the girls just messing around and having fun. Idols are supposed to be relatable and having fun over the summer is something I can definitely relate to!
PPCC: BiS - Well, I suppose to the naked eye this could be seen as a very loose interpretation of the standard summer PV for idols but what else do you expect from the most unconventional idol group on the market right now? The plain school swimsuits and the dark setting on a dock made for a very cool and clever subversion of the typical summer idol PV. Is the PV going to appeal to everything? Hell no, but when have BiS' PVs ever done so in the first place?

Worst Summer PVs: 

Aishiterabu!: SKE48 - Okay, I will say the fact that the dance shot was filmed in the middle of the freaking ocean is pretty awesome but other than that... I can't really think of anything else I like about this PV. The rest of it feels less like a summer PV and more like a... something else that has nothing to do with summer. Like a spring PV! I'm not saying you have to have the girls prance around in bikinis but I just think this PV would have been more interesting with more summer-y stuff in it!
Dot Bikini: S/mileage - I didn't even have the heart to do a review of Dot Bikini. It hurts to watch this PV and not just because it's a really shitty excuse for a summer PV; it's the lowest point that S/mileage has had in an already low year. Due to UFP's fantastic lack of distributing a budget, this PV doesn't even take place on the beach or the pool or anything. The directors tried to compensate by making summer props but in the end the cheapness shows. Please never do another summer song, Hello! Project.

Best Dances:

Aitai Aitai Aitai na: C-ute - Well, considering the group we're dealing with is C-ute, having a good dance is pretty much a given for them... with the exception of Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku. But we'll talk about that dance in a minute. Anyways, Aitai Aitai Aitai na is a pretty cool dance with a lot of variety, even a part where the girls literally go on the floor! Not to mention you have Nakky boob-grabbing Maimi! There's really quite a lot of cool moves to see in this dance!
Everything by Fairies - Look, I don't really follow Fairies but even I can acknowledge that they have some pretty damn awesome dancing. From what I know of, the girls in the group have been training for a long time with Avex so it's only natural that they'd have some pretty good skills. The group itself is centered around dancing so the one thing I can really appreciate about Fairies are there very intense dances. They're very high-level and the girls in the group are very talented!
Fore Fore ~Forest for Rest~: DIY - One word: legs. Five pairs of glorious, glorious legs. I honestly think this unit was formed for the sole purpose to showcase the glorious legs of four leggiest girls in Hello! Project and Chinami. But seriously, this is a great dance and not just because of the copious amount of legs in the dance! It's a very pretty dance and it has this sort of... perky bounce to it! The girls do a great job of doing the dance to, even Haruna who's dancing is... meh. But here, it's good!
Next Flight: Passpo - The dance in this PV is one of the many things that attracted me to Passpo. The kickass pink stewardess costumes also helped and those outfits look really cool when they were dancing! There was a lot of moving in the dancing, mainly jumping! Lots of jumping! But who doesn't love jumping? I love jumping and the girls of Passpo are jumping with style! This dance is a perfect blend of hardcore and graceful, matching the cool tone of the song and PV!
One Two Three: Morning Musume - I actually think I like the dance shot of One Two Three over the shitty sparklefest that is the actual PV. This dance is a huge step-up from Renai Hunter with fast-paced choreography and a bunch of different moves and formations throughout! It looks like a very challenging dance but the girls of Morning Musume executed it very well!
Spending all my time: Perfume - Ugh, Mikiko, why did you have to choreograph such an awesome dance to such a lackluster song!? Perfume had some pretty cool dances this year and Spending all my time definitely had the prettiest and most intricate dance. The dance is very beautiful to look at with a variety of different hand motions that make the dance much more complex than you'd think. Each girl has separate motions and when put together this dance is beautiful.
Spring of Life: Perfume - Part of this dance's appeal is the use of the light-up dresses in the lives; I mean come on, how can you beat light-up dresses!? Even without them, this dance is still another amazing dance from Perfume. But honestly, I don't think Perfume's ever really had a "bad" dance per say save for their old idol-y stuff and a little bit of their indies material. But Spring to Life is bursting with the same joy and happiness that the song has and I love the energy in this dance!
UZA: AKB48 - Now this was a pretty badass dance for AKB48! Normally the group's dances aren't really that intense but Uza really had the girls in the PV step it up. The main standouts were definitely Yuko and Jurina as a fantastic W center (hoping to see more of that in the future). This entire dance was just awesome to look at thanks the sheer effort put in by the girls to make it look as hardcore as possible. This dance must have been exhausting to do but it looks great!
Wakuteka Take a chance: Morning Musume - It's nice to know that despite having PVs with way too many special effects, Momusu is starting to get good dances again! Wakuteka Take a chance follows in the same route of awesomeness that One Two Three has with a bunch of different formations and variety in the dance. It's a cool dance to watch and everyone does a great job dancing in it! Help me!! also has a pretty awesome dance but we'll talk about that in 2013!

Worst Dances:

Dot Bikini: S/mileage - Poor S/mileage. Dancing has not been their strongest feature this year and the worst of it can be seen in Dot Bikini. The biggest problem with this dance is that it's really, really awkward. Everything looks very stiff and awkward from the leg flapping to the robot arms to the jerky hip shaking in the main chorus. Part of me thinks that S/mileage was replaced with malfunctioning robots for the dance in this PV!
Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku - Yeah, I'm not really sure why UFP thought it was a good idea to include a dance to a slow-tempo ballad. C-ute always excels when it comes to dancing but making them slow down their cool and fast moves for a slow song like this just doesn't work. This PV just has a bunch of really weird dance moves like Nakky miming picking stuff up off the floor, checking imaginary watches, it feels like an interpretative dance!
Ikuji Nashi Masquerade: Sashihara Rino and some other people - Wow, I didn't know management hated Sasshi so much now that they can't even give her good backup dancers (or up-front dancers in this case). Their dancing is so lifeless and devoid any emotion. No energy, no life... it makes me depressed just thinking about it. That and the entire dance looks like it's done in slow motion; hell, I dance like an penguin on LSD and I could do this dance.
Oide Shampoo: Nogizaka46 - Okay, I know idols are all about making sexy and/or innocent dance moves but what the hell does this category fall into? Are the girls hugging each other in a really awkward and suggestive way or is something about to go down I probably don't want to watch? From the butt-sex poses to the immature lifting of their skirts to reveal equally immature pantaloons, I'm not sure what this dance was attempting to convey.
Renai Hunter: Morning Musume - I love this song but what in the hell was going on with the dance? It's like the choreographers wanted to do a robot concept but then halfway through they wanted to do something else and the end result is just... weird. In fact, I think the parts of the dance are a little too robotic and it feels like I'm watching some weird sci-fi futuristic exercise tape. There are some parts that flow smoother but overall, this is not one of the strongest dances from Momusu.

Best Showcases of a Group in a PV

Aitai Aitai Aitai na: C-ute - Now I find it hard to believe that there was ever a time where C-ute had the worst line distribution in all of Hello! Project. It probably helps that their group size went from eight to five but still! Aitai Aitai Aitai na shows C-ute doing what C-ute does best: dancing. Despite the rest of the PV's blandness, the dance is where the girls shine and you can really tell they're in their element.
cha cha Sing: Berryz Koubou - I always love seeing the Berryz girls interact with each other because they have great chemistry and that shows a lot in cha cha Sing! This PV plays to the best strengths of Berryz: their personalities and the interactions they have with each other! You can tell that all the girls are having a lot of fun in this PV and they all do a great job of playing off the actions of each other!
Chou Happy Song: Berrikyuu - How come it took Tsunku seven years to realize that putting the H!P Kids all in one giant PV was a brilliant idea? Okay, the idea was poorly executed with Amazuppai Haru ni Sakura Saku but in this PV, it's perfect! I love Chou Happy Song and I love the PV with it because you get to see the H!P Kids, all grown up now, interacting with each other under one set and one song!
Gingham Check: AKB48 - It's funny because usually the latter half of the Senbatsu gets shafted in the Senbatsu PV. I will say, although Yuko, Mayuyu, and Yukirin got more screen time, everyone stood out because they were all distinct characters. Jurina, Tomochin, Mariko and Sae were the robber gang, Takamina and Umechan were fairies, Rena and Kitarie were ghosts, part of what makes this PV so much fun is seeing everyone in these weird and fun roles!

Worst Showcases of a Group in a PV

Eien Pressure: AKB48 - Well, since Aki-P appears to be highly enthusiastic about pushing Paruru as the next Acchan, this PV is pretty much centered around Paruru, Mariko and Kimoto Kanon with everyone else in the Senbatsu being... somewhere in the PV. I mean seriously, everyone else got like five seconds of screen time compared to these three! They probably got more moments in the full-length PV but I don't care enough about Eien Pressure to bother watching that version.
Renai Hunter: Morning Musume - Well, considering this is a PV that is pretty much centered around Gaki, I wasn't terribly surprised to see that everyone else got shafted in the Renai Hunter PV. But hey, on the upside this would be the Best Showcase of Gaki in a PV! Still, the only people that really got focus in this PV were the girls who had solos and since there were like eight girls who didn't get solos... you do the math and figure out how many girls got shafted.

Best Costumes

Bad Flower: Tokyo Girls' Style - These costumes really look the best when they're in motion. The skirts are made of this fabric and it flows just everywhere when the girls dance, giving off this very eerily beautiful look to their costumes! 318 x 480
cha cha Sing: Berryz Koubou - I honestly have no idea if this is an accurate representation of your average Thai outfit but I still find these costumes to be gorgeous! The girls look like exotic princesses!
One Two Three: Morning Musume - What's that? Costumes that actually look good on every single member in Morning Musume? I love these costumes; I love the use of the lace, the colors, the accessories, everything looks so stylish and eye-catching!
Spring of Life: Perfume - Light-up outfits. It sounds ridiculous but leave it to Perfume to make it look like the coolest thing ever. I love the technology put into these outfits and they really light up the members of the group!
UZA: AKB48 - I know these costumes are pretty much Resonant Blue -2012 Edition- but I don't care because they still look great! I've always thought the gritty uniform look was badass and I love the unkempt coolness radiating off these outfits!

Worst Costumes

Eien Yori Tsuzuku You ni: AKB48 - Lemongrab! How can you not think of Lemongrab when you see these costumes!? Nonetheless the condition of these costumes is... UNACCEPTABLE!!!
Kitagawa Kenji: NMB48 - Leave it to NMB48 to show you that yes, too much a cute thing does exist. The cuteness overload on all the costumes was enough to make my teeth rot at the sight of them.
Koi no Tenki Yohou: Weather Girls - Despite my love for the song, I have nothing but bewilderment as to who decided that it would be a good idea to dress up these girls as strippers from Candy Land.
Mousou Girlfriend: NMB48 - And to think I almost forgot these! Maybe because I've blocked them out of my head. Yeah, the oversexualized fluffy cat costumes did not appeal to me. Not that they were supposed to...
PyokoPyoko Ultra: Morning Musume - It's no surprise that one of the many things I hate about this song is the god-awful chick costumes the girls wear. UFP, the members were 12-25 years old not 2-5 years old.
Samui ne: S/mileage - If I was cold, then why the hell would I wear these skimpy Sailor Moon rip-off costumes? I don't know what I hate most about these costumes but I think it's probably those gaudy tails attached to the skirts.
Wakuteka Take a Chance: Morning Musume - And I thought the PyokoPyoko costumes were bad! At least they had a clear concept! These costumes look like decorated grocery bags from Party City!

Best Overall Improvement as an Artist: Mano Erina

I really think 2012 was the most successful year for Mano Erina as a soloist... 2011 showed promise of Mano growing as an artist but this year it felt like she really grew! When I look at Mano's PVs from when she first started out as a soloist and the ones from this year, I can tell how much she's grown and changed over time. Her voice got better, her songs had more emotion, even the PVs were some of the best this year. Song for the Date is my favorite PV from Hello! Project this year and one of my favorite PVs of 2012 and the song is also really, really great. Doki Doki Baby and Tasogare Kousaten were both vibrant and amazing A-sides that nicely contrasted with each other and each song got a fun and pretty PV! And even though I dislike Next My Self it's not a terrible song and the PV is a pretty sweet and heartwarming sendoff for H!P's soloist. She's really grown up and matured into more of an adult and less of an idol. Maybe that's why she wants to graduate; so she can move on with her life and become an adult finally. I just wish she wasn't leaving when her music was getting so good! Oh well, as much as I don't want Mano to graduate, I guess it's kind of nice that she gets to go out with a bang rather than a fizzle. So long, Mano. We'll miss you and your magical piano.

Best Debut: BiS

All right, so technically speaking Brand-new Idol Society has been around for about 2 years now but that was when they were still independent. Not to mention that member lineup is vastly different than it is today! The group has lost two girls and gained three over time and they had just picked up Mitchel and Wacky before signing on with a major label. And not just any major label: Avex, the label with a bajillion other idol groups! Yes, signing on with a label whose darkest idol group was Tokyo Girls' Style seemed like a bit of a risky move for such an audacious idol group that tries so hard to be different and I was skeptical as to how the major label would effect the group's image and music. The group's debut single was PPCC and that did a great job of showing that the BiS we all know and love isn't going anywhere. PPCC has all the weirdness and anti-idol vibes that the group's indie songs and PVs had and it's a hell of a fun time watching the PV! The release of an album titled Idol is Dead solidified the group's willingness to stay in the dark direction they'd had in their indies days and the Idol is Dead album was a brilliant collection of different songs and styles that truly showed that BiS debuting was the best decision ever.

Most Lackluster Debut: Nogizaka46

You know what's always interesting? Conflict! Conflict provides friction between two opposing forces and when done right, it can be the most addictive and compelling thing to watch! A great source of conflict is rivals. From the get-go, rivals are in conflict so the idea of AKB48, the biggest idol group in the J-pop industry right now, having a rival group is the coolest idea ever! How awesome would it be to have another group just like them but yet at the same time so different rise up to challenge their position as the top idol group? In came Nogizaka46 and I was interested to see what direction this "rival group" would take up against AKB48? Would they be darker and edgier? Hotter and sexier? More energetic and audacious? When the Guruguru Curtain PV came out, Nogizaka46 proved to be none of those things. Instead of being a cool and badass rival, Nogizaka46 has become my least favorite group with bland songs, shitty costuming and even shittier PVs. Some rivals these girls turned out to be... I wouldn't be so mad if it hadn't been so strongly emphasized that this group was meant to be the ultimate rivals of AKB48. You were the chosen one, Nogizaka46! The chosen one! The failure of this group as rivals ultimately proves that you cannot create your own rivals and expect them to provide conflict.

Saddest Graduation: Maeda Atsuko

...I miss Acchan. When her graduation was first announced, I wasn't hit that hard. I was shocked but personally I didn't take it that hard. She wasn't my favorite member of AKB48 even though I did like her as front and I think she was a good center for the group. I liked Acchan because the fame she had never seemed to go to her head; she always seemed like a very humble, shy and sweet girl who just happened to be the face of the biggest girl group in Japan. As her graduation got closer and closer, the weight of her graduation began to dawn on me and then Yume no Kawa came out and I just... that was when realized I was going to miss her. I was going to miss her apathetic face she had when she was performing, her main role in PVs, her friendly rivalry with Oshima Yuko, her position as center... Yeah, she wasn't my favorite member of AKB48 but I liked her and I feel like over time I've come to like her even more. She was a good center and I always relish the centers of idol groups that I actually like. It never felt like Acchan was soaking up the spotlight leaving everyone else little to nothing; she was just in it and everyone else was surrounding her. AKB48 will never be the same without her and I miss that sameness even though I knew she'd have to graduate eventually. I just didn't want it to be so soon.

Best Concert: Perfume JPN Tour Bukodan

Well, it's Perfume, what else did you expect? One of the many things I adore about Perfume is their concerts; if I could pick one artist I wanted to see live, I'd pick Perfume in a heartbeat. Watching Perfume live looks like the most engaging, mind-bending, amazing concert and I'm saying that as someone who's only seen them through a computer screen. But when I do watch their concerts on my computer screens... it's like being sucked into a different world. The girls of Perfume know how to draw in someone with their intricate choreography, visually stunning special effects, amazing song and their sweet personalities during MCs. Watching a Perfume concert is an experience and the JPN Tour has just as much spice as all their other concerts. The Budokan concert was broadcast and it showed the new album songs from their JPN album being performed along with the rest of the concert. It had everything I love about Perfume concerts from great choreography to really cool special effects (the JPN Special was so cool) and you even got to hear the girls sing live with songs like My Color and Kokoro no Sports! I also liked that this concert just felt more relaxed than their Tokyo Dome concert. With Tokyo Dome, everything felt very tense and for good reason; the Tokyo Dome was a place the girls dreamed of performing and naturally they didn't want to mess up at their dream concert! At the JPN concert, the girls looked confident and relaxed and they delivered another smashing live!

Best Chemistry in a Group: Berrikyuu

I'm so happy this group got an awesome song compared to the detestable Amazuppai Haru ni Sakura Saku from 2011. The Chou Happy Song PV was a good PV not because of the set or the effects or the concept but because of the interaction between the Hello! Project Kids. The idea of getting Berryz Koubou and C-ute back together after years of performing apart as separate groups seemed like an idea that should have happened already! Gone are the days of them being the newbs of Hello! Project; you can tell how comfortable these girls are performing in songs and PVs and how much they've all grown over time. These girls have been together for over 10 years now and obviously they've developed some pretty complex relationships with each other. I'm sure it hasn't always been easy for Berryz and C-ute but seeing them together in a group is so refreshing to watch. There's never a moment where they all look awkward together thanks to all the time they've spent around each other! Chou Happy Song showed how the H!P Kids are no longer kids but H!P Women. Of course, that isn't quite as marketable, so they still get tagged with the H!P Kids label. Still, it's great seeing them all together in one PV and I hope to see more from Berrikyuu in 2013!

Most Surprisingly Awesome Single: One Two Three/The Matenrou Show - Morning Musume

I wasn't really knowing what to expect from Morning Musume with their 50th single. Gaki had just graduated and taken with her the last shred of vocal talent within the group. I secretly feared that we were going to get another mess along the lines of PyokoPyoko Ultra only with ostriches or something. Least of all was I expecting electropop... so when One Two Three turned out to be right in the vein of electropop I was very pleasantly surprised! The song is catchy and very upbeat and fun to listen to with my only gripe being the poor use of Autotune! And that isn't the only song on here that was fun to listen to! The 9th Gen song showed off the great vocals of Mizuki and Kanon and the 10th Gen. song was peppy in the most crack-tastic and fun way possible! I love the energy of that song and it showed me that Masaki was capable of actually sounding decent and that Haruka's a great singer too! And then there's the 6th Gen. duet which is also pretty cool to listen to as well! The only song I didn't like on this single was The Matenrou Show but everything else? It was a nice variety of different songs and I think it was a great idea to have each generation get their own respective song! One Two Three started the electropop era for Morning Musume and personally I'm pretty happy with Robo Musume!

Most Disappointing Single: Spending all my time - Perfume

I... I don't even know how to describe my reaction when I first heard Spending all my time. It was kind of like when you get ready to go swimming at the beach and you put on your cutest bikini and some sunscreen and find some cool shades. You grab all your beach stuff and you head down towards the beach, ready to get a tan and go swimming. And then when you get their, that beach has been drained of all water and been closed off due to being contaminated by radiation. I hold Perfume to such a high level when it comes to their music quality and I've just come over time to expect their music to be amazing so when it isn't amazing... it's a shock to me. This little pit of disappointment burrows into my stomach and it just grows over time. I was so excited to hear Spending all my time and to have my expectations fall so short in such a bad way... it felt awful. It's always inevitable that I can't like everything released by Perfume but man, when I do dislike something it's just such a sucker punch. The other B-sides are immensely enjoyable but to think that SAMT was chosen over Hurly Burly and Point as the A-side is extremely disappointing to me. Then again, the irony is those two were more promoted than SAMT... still. I'm not fond of Spending all my time as a song and I think it'll be a long time before it can grow on me.

Best Album: Idol Is Dead - BiS

Oh my god, Brand-new Idol Society is awesome. I hadn't realized it until I'd heard this album. I wouldn't even categorize Idol is Dead as an album by an idol group, just five women in disguise pretending to be an idol group so they could pick up a label and release really-freaking-awesome music. I was really blown away by the musical diversity in this album and just how far it was from typical idol music. There were only hints of pop music in general on this album and you had such a wide variety of song styles. You had metal songs like Idol is Dead and Idol, the beautiful hitoribochi ballad, the synth-crazy Ash, the wildly energetic Chelsea and so many other tracks that each stood out on its own. It was experimental and loud and audacious and dared to set itself apart from other idol albums in the most epic and perfect way possible. I really don't know how BiS is going to top themselves in 2013 because Idol is Dead is right up there with Perfume's GAME and I get the feeling that I'm going to be listening to this album for a very long time. BiS, I don't know if idol is dead but if so, you guys totally killed them with this amazing album.

Memetic Video of the Year: Gangnam Style

You know -puts on hipster glasses- I saw this video when it only had 15 million views. It's, like, so mainstream now it's not even funny. I mean, who the hell gets a billion views on Youtube any way? That's just totally selling out, so uncool. I don't review or even listen to K-pop but Gangnam Style was hard to escape this year considering it was playing on American radio stations. I know that there are a multitude of K-pop artists trying to break it into the American market right now and personally I find it kind of hilarious that the breakout video is from a guy named PSY who wasn't even trying to pander to America. But we loved it; I enjoy this song a lot and I have a lot friends who enjoy it too. Hell, we even did the dance during rehearsal one day! Do you have any idea how weird it is to have friends dancing to a genre of music you'd always thought would remain obscure save for niche fans? I know K-pop does have more of an American following than J-pop but either way, having a K-pop song become the song of 2012 is completely and totally surreal to me. How am I supposed to explain this to my kids when I'm an adult? "Oh yeah, the song we jammed to in 2012 was a social commentary that featured a horse dance! Kind of like the Macarena only Korean!"

Most Underused/Under-promoted Member of a Group: Suzuki Kanon

Oh, Zukki. 2011 was not a good year for Suzuki Kanon but 2012 was even worse. Not only did Zukki get shoved to the back even more for singles up on the Internet, she started receiving a lot of hate for being "chubby." It didn't help that the costumers started putting her in increasingly unflattering outfits and hairstyles such as the god-awful ponytail in One Two Three and the hideous dress from Wakuteka Take a chance. The sad thing is, Zukki has a really good voice; it's a little rough around the edges but she has a lot of potential to hone and develop her singing ability. She needs practice but at her core she has a deep and powerful voice and if trained right, that voice can sound really, really amazing. You know something? I honestly think that if she was a little bit skinnier, management might give her a better push. It's superficial but I really think UFP would but they barely invest in her, giving her a far less amount of opportunities over her fellow members. It makes me sad to think that she has so many people who hated her solely based off the way she looks too. I hope that in the next few years, Zukki will pull an A-chan and drop the weight and become really super hot like Ogawa Makoto did after leaving MM. Okay, I don't want Zukki to leave Momusu but you get what I'm talking about, right?

Fastest Ascension to the Front: Sashihara Rino

2012 was going to be Sashihara Rino's year. The idol's come a long way since her humble beginnings in AKB48. Back when the first Senbatsu election was held, Sasshi was placed in Undergirls and stayed there for a few more singles after that. She bounced back into Senbatsu for Heavy Rotation and held a constant spot in the regular Senbatsu after that but never having anywhere near as much spotlight as front girls like Oshima Yuko, Watanabe Mayu, Shinoda Mariko and Takahashi Minami. But she did have a fanbase and I kind of liked her for her wota personality and that really funny wota dance she did too! As 2012 went by, we began seeing more and more of Sasshi in singles; she even made the Selection 6 for the Give Me Five! B-side. She also placed higher in the Senbatsu Election for Flying Get and 2012's Senbatsu had her jump from #9 to #4. And then it was announced that Sasshi was going to have a debut as a soloist and even though I dislike her debut song, Soredemo Suki da yo sold very well on the Oricon, showing just how popular Sasshi had gotten. I think that there was a strong possibility that Sashihara Rino was going to become the next center of AKB48. Notice the use of was and not is. Because in 2012 something else happened to Sashihara Rino...

Most Interesting Scandal: Sashihara Rino's transfer to HKT48

...and all that potential for being the next ace of AKB48 was pulled out from underneath Sasshi's feet like a rug. Around the time after the 4th Senbatsu election an alleged boyfriend of Sasshi ratted her out to the press, submitting leaked pictures of her in a less than desirable position for an idol. Seeing as the number 1 rule in the idol world is absolutely no dating, Sasshi was punished for it. I admit, at the time I was mildly shocked by the scandal but I dismissed as something from the rumor mill that the AKB48 agency would ignore. Sasshi was becoming a popular front girl, it would be easy to sweep this under the rug and dismiss the dating accusations as false. So when it was announced that Sasshi would be transferring to HKT48 as punishment, I was completely and totally shocked. I really didn't think that they would punish Sasshi so harshly on the base grounds of rumors that may or may not have been true. Nevertheless, the transfer wrecked any chances for Sasshi to be the new center of AKB48 after Maeda Atsuko's graduation and she hasn't had the same attention or pushing ever since. She's still in AKB48 singles but nowhere near as promoted as she used to be and for her solo single she got saddled with three other girls whose names I don't even know. Sashihara Rino's fall from grace was hard and ugly and it makes me sad that the situation ended up like this for her. Maybe 2013 will be a better year for Sasshi.

Idol of the Year: Watanabe Mayu

This was totally Watanabe Mayu's year. I swear, everything just went right for the Fantastic Creeper herself and she's been shaping up to becoming possibly the new center of AKB48. The first hint we had of her becoming next center of AKB48 was her role in the Manatsu no Sounds good! PV where she took Acchan's place as the dance center and played a pivotal role in rescuing Acchan. Ever since then, I've been seeing more and more of Mayuyu's odd but adorable personality and I've been loving every minute of it! Personally, 2012 was the year that Mayuyu really grew on me, maybe because I wrote about her so much... that and her Creeper Smile. I swear, it's like that smile has a mind of its own and it wants to control me and make me one of Mayuyu's fans! Yeah, it was probably that Creeper Smile that endeared Mayuyu to me. Lucky for me, this was also the year that the already-popular Mayuyu started becoming even more popular! She placed #2 in the 4th Senbatsu elections and she released three very successful solo singles! Synchro Tokimeki did well on the charts along with Otona Jelly Beans and Hikaru Monotachi! Thanks to her high spot in the Senbatsu, she got a lot of attention in the Gingham Check PV along with Uza! I hope that in 2013, her push continues and we see even more of that Creeper Smile on screen!

Group of the Year: Morning Musume

I had a hard time deciding which group was the most successful in 2012. Would it be SKE48, with their increase in sales? Passpo for getting my attention? BiS for a successful major debut? Perfume for... well, I don't know because it's Perfume? In the end, I decided to be cliched and go with Morning Musume because I really do think 2012 was a much better year for them than 2011 simply because they changed. Momusu finally found a style this year and whether you like it or not, I think that style's worked well for them. Electropop has worked well for them so far and I've enjoyed One Two Three, Wakuteka Take a chance, and Help me!! This year was also the year that UFP decided to step up promotion on the group, releasing more songs and more editions of CDs. The group reached numbers that they hadn't reached in years for their singles sales and even though the means of getting those numbers may feel a little shady, numbers are numbers. 2012 also saw the addition of Oda Sakura, the sole 11th Generation member, and I'm hoping that with her being added and Reina graduating, we might get a better, less dominated vocal lineup. Whatever happens, I'm happy that Morning Musume finally managed to break out of their rut and I wish all the best for them in 2013.

THERE. I really hope you guys enjoyed my not-so-little megapost because it took me months to compile all this together. I'm not even exaggerating, I have literally been working my ass off to finish this for months... but it was totally worth it. I don't know if I'll do this again next year because of the sheer time and effort it took to finish this but... it was fun! I loved making the categories and picking out songs and PVs to fit each one! It was hard work elaborating on all those categories but also really fun! So what would you guys have picked? Feel free to comment while I go collapse onto the couch from the exhaustion of writing this!