Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Top 20 AKB48 Songs

If there's one thing I think 90% of the blogsphere can agree on, it's that AKB48 has been getting some really unimpressive music lately.

They've come a long way all right.

We all know it, even if some of us are more okay with it than others. Suzukake Nanchara is in my opinion just further evidence of how abysmally bland AKB48's music has grown over the past two years. The only really interesting song AKB48's released this year is Koisuru Fortune Cookie, and if that's the most interesting song you've got, that's... pretty depressing. I like KFC but nowhere near as much as some of the other AKS releases this year. So Long! and Sayonara Crawl are insultingly unoriginal, and I can barely remember the sound of Heart Electric. There's just nothing outstanding AKB48's released this year. I honestly don't know what's up with them. I mean, all their sister groups are still getting good, interesting songs. Hell, even Nogizaka46 has been getting better music than AKB48! So what up with AKB48 getting the short end of the musical stick? Is it sheer laziness that they're at the top of the idol industry so there's no point in putting effort into their music? Has Aki-P lost his creative inspiration with AKB48 instead taking more interest in SKE48, NMB48 and all the other sister groups? I don't know, and I probably will never know.

My personal theory is that Aki-P doesn't want to risk alienating the millions of fans of AKB48 and potentially hurting their sales, so he's just writing the safest, most vanilla-sounding songs he can whip up for them. I almost wish I'd started blogging earlier so I'd have had the chance to review some of the more iconic and interesting songs from AKB48. But nope, I get to rehash the same opinion for every PV I review by AKB48: it's bland and boring and I'll probably never listen to it again. Gosh, it would have been so much fun to review the PV for Beginner or the PV for Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou... If I didn't like the members in the Senbatsu so much, I probably wouldn't be anywhere near as invested in AKB48 as I am now. And I'll probably stay that way until every single member I like has graduated... which might take awhile. Still, that doesn't take away the fact that their current music is completely boring.

But... they weren't always this way. There was a time when AKB48 actually had interesting, original music on their singles. Well, as original as idol music can get. There was a time when they dared to sing about taboo topics, release edgy music videos, and simply push the concept of being an idol as in as many directions as possible. Today, they're still an idol group, but I think the AKB48 of the past is very different from the one today, in both the members and the music. I also think change is essential to the growth of a group, but I personally don't like the changes AKB48 has been through. I used to get really excited for what AKB48 would release next; now it's just dull expectation of whatever single on their schedule is next. But you guys probably already know more than you want to know about my feelings toward AKB48. It's weird; when I started the Wonderland, I was a really big fan of them but now... not so much.

I think with all the bland songs AKB48's been releasing lately, I tend to forget that they have released good songs. In fact, they have some really good songs. Even some great songs! And those great songs were what got me into AKB48, not the stuff they're releasing now. For that reason, I think I need to talk about my favorite AKB48 songs. I just feel bad for writing so much negativity about AKB48, and I think something positive will help balance that out. Even then I don't know if I'm doing this because AKB48 deserves it or because I need a reminder that AKB48 deserves my attention for a reason.  Nonetheless, these twenty songs are my personal favorites to listen to, the ones that I never grow tired of. It's mostly A-sides and B-sides, although I do have one stage song on there. I guess I just want to prove to myself that somewhere in me is a reason why I got into AKB48, and these songs are why. So I do this not so much out of love of AKB48's music but out of desperation for a chance to talk about some of the better songs of their discography. With that, I give you... my top 20 AKB48 songs. Let's jam.

20. Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara


How fitting that after one of my tirades about AKB48's blandness, the first song on this list is... a bland song! Bear with me guys, I do have actual reasons for liking this song. Yes, Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara is bland. It's absolutely bland. But despite its blandness, there is something very endearing about it. The guy who composed Suzukake Nanchara also composed Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara, and I can definitely see the similarities. But I think with Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara, it's not quite as irritatingly generic as Suzukake Nanchara was. It's just a very happy, idol-y song that's not trying to break boundaries or try new sounds. Every once in awhile, I'm okay with a song like this. Only every once in awhile though; the last thing I need is a reputation that I'm opening up my heart to the bland side of AKB48's music! Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara is just a rare case when I actually enjoy a more generic-style song. I can't explain why; I think it may be because Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara makes me feel really content when I listen to it. Like I can calm down and chill and just listen to some happy idols sing for a few minutes. There's not much I can really say about Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara musically; I do like the acoustic guitar in it, even if it's not frequently featured. Other than that, this is just a simple but endearing song.

19. Dear My Teacher


I am actually not a huge fan of Sakura no Hanabiratachi. It's not a bad song, just a little dull and slow. Dear my teacher on the other hand is a much more vivacious song! And it's probably one of the oldest songs in AKB48's discography. In my opinion, it's aged pretty well! When I first listened to Dear my teacher, the title was what caught my eye. I was curious to see if the lyrics were related to this title at all, and if Dear my teacher was what I thought it was going to be about. Is it about teacher-student romance? Kind of... I'm not sure if Dear my teacher is about a relationship between a teacher and student or if it's a metaphorical description of the romance between a boy and girl. Either way, lyrically it's mostly a series of fairly clean double entendres that can be taken at face value or not. Dear my teacher is kind of like the tamer Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru. There's nothing that explicit about it other than a few sketchy lyrics. Even this was written as a bawdy song, I still like Dear my teacher a lot. It's so damn catchy. The chorus is at least. I blame the English lyrics. When I think of AKB48 songs with an older, more retro feel, my mind always goes to Dear my teacher. It's got that retro, 1980s idol flair to it, without sounding completely dated either. With interesting lyrics and a catchy hook, Dear my teacher is definitely one of my favorite older AKB48 songs!

18. Pioneer


This is a stage song, so unfortunately, I don't have any album/single art for it. But of the juggernaut that is AKB48's stage discography, I felt that I had to include Pioneer on this list. Admittedly, I haven't waded very far into the sea of stage songs, but of the few I have listened to, Pioneer is my favorite. And... yes, I admit I only found out about this song by watching AKB0048. And for the record, that anime was actually pretty decent for something only created as a tie-in to AKB48. Pioneer is a Team A song, which probably explains why it's so awesome. It's funny, when I first read the title for Pioneer, I thought of Little House on the Prairie. It actually makes sense when you read the lyrics, with "pioneer" being a metaphor for starting out. Even then, Pioneer is still a really great song. It's kind of got the same feel as Beginner, but maybe not quite as intense and serious-sounding. Not that it isn't an edgy song though! Pioneer is still very serious but kind of in the same way certain anime songs are serious. I can see why Pioneer was used in AKB0048! I think Pioneer has such great energy and momentum; it's like battle music! My favorite part is the guitar used in this song, particularly during the instrumental bridge. Songs like Pioneer make me realize that I really need to check out more of AKB48's stage songs. I'm sure there are some even better stage songs I haven't listened to!

17. Majisuka Rock n' Roll


Let the record state that I watched all of season one of Majisuka Gakuen! The acting was wooden, the plot was cheese, Matsui Rena was the most entertaining thing about the entire show, and yet it was still a highly enjoyable series. I guess part of the appeal was seeing all these squeaky clean idols in AKB48 playing all these rough, strange, quirky characters. Or maybe it was the awesome theme song that opened every episode. Majisuka Rock n' Roll is just about a rock n' roll as the title lets on. As I've stated before, I like rock music as much as I like pop music. And no, Majisuka Rock n' Roll is not hardcore rock; it's more of the fun kind of rock! Which is completely okay with me; I can bob my head to this song (not headbang, that's too hardcore). From Acchan's badass (and also kind of corny) opening dialogue to the catchy chorus, Majisuka Rock n' Roll is like nonstop, chaotic fun for three minutes and thirty-seven seconds. As a theme song, it set the campy mood for Majisuka Gakuen while still being a genuinely good song. It's just a song that sticks in your head really easily, especially the chorus of it. I may have forgotten most of the plot of Majisuka Gakuen, but I think I'll always remember the awesome theme song that started every episode. Majisuka Rock n' Roll was awesome then, and it's still awesome now.

16. River


This song just makes me feel like I can do anything! Whether it be finish a paper, drive to the grocery store, fight period cramps, anything! River is another one of AKB48's more iconic songs; it was even the first A-side of theirs to top the charts! Personally, I like that River was their first #1. I think that's what it rightfully deserves to be! You could argue that River was also the first "fall" song they released, you know the dark, edgy song that always correlates with the fall season? That or Beginner. Take your pick! I do like Beginner better, but River is still a really good song. It does take a few listens to get used to though. The military-style chanting in the beginning of the song kind of put me off at first. But when the actual music started, I began to really get into this song! What I love about River is that it's such an inspirational song. I'm always kind of iffy on who well AKB48 handles their "don't give up" songs, but River is one of their best. It's like I can feel my heart racing with the desire to try hard and never give up when I play this song. The emotion is so high in the song, with the chorus being kind of like the peak. And I think River really balances a tone of seriousness and hope very nicely. Even before I read the lyrics to River, I could feel what the song was trying to convey solely through the sound and the vocals. That's a powerful song.

15. Alive


You know it's funny how every song on Chance no Juban was great except for Chance no Juban itself. Like Alive! Why couldn't that have been the Janken song? Well, we all know why, but I can still dream! Besides, then I wouldn't get to see all the lovely members of Team K stage a jailbreak! Ah yes, Team K back when Akimoto Sayaka was captain, Itano Tomomi hadn't graduated, and Minegishi Minami wasn't in Team B. Truly beautiful times. I think one of my favorite parts of Alive is the PV for it which is about all the girls of Team K breaking out of jail. It's cooler than I'm making it sound. And they wear these stylish prison outfits and Akimoto Sayaka is perpetually wonderful and badass and just take my word for it, the PV is awesome. And so is the song! I feel like Team K always gets very hit-or-miss B-sides, but luckily, Alive is pretty strong. It's another rock song, or about as rock as an idol group can get. It's kind of in the same vein as Pioneer, but maybe a little bit darker and grittier. I honestly don't have that much to say about Alive other than the fact that it's a heart-pumping song that really shows off the more badass side of Team K. The best part about Alive is definitely the PV, but it helps that the PV's accompanied by such a strong song. Together, both the song and PV make for a real breakout song! Get it? Breakout? Eh heh heh... puns...

14. Sugar Rush


This is actually the most recent song on the list! I know, it's from last year. But that should give you an idea of just how utterly lackluster AKB48's music has been this year! Anyways, you all probably remember this as the song written for Wreck-It Ralph! You know, the song that plays in the arcade game aptly titled Sugar Rush! I have to tell you, a big part of Sugar Rush's appeal for me was getting to hear it so clearly in the movie theater. For the first and probably only time, I got to hear an AKB48 song blasting on the highest quality speakers in surround sound, and it was such a... well, a rush! And then when it played over the credits, I was practically over the moon. Had Sugar Rush been a bad song, I might not have had such an enthusiastic reaction; luckily, Sugar Rush is awesome. It lives up to its name, being burst of sugary-sweetness and pixie stick levels of energy. What I also love about Sugar Rush is that it's a pretty easy song to sing along to, mainly thanks to the English chorus. The girls of AKB48 may not be th best singers of English, but Nia can sing the chorus to Sugar Rush easily! And it gets stuck in your head so easily, but in a really good way. This is the kind of music that I wish AKB48 was more into lately. Sugar Rush had such a fun and uptempo sound, and it actually sounded like the producers were trying to make a good song. Sing it with me guys! S-U-G-A-R jump into your racing car- okay, I'll stop.

13. Tobenai Agehachou


Ah, the first Undergirls song. And the first AKB48 B-side to get a PV! Pretty cool in my opinion. And I think Tobenai Agehachou was a perfect debut song for Undergirls. Not only was it a great song alone, it was also a great contrast for the jubilant and happy Iiwake Maybe. Although I like Iiwake Maybe a lot, I still like Tobenai Agehachou just a little bit better, not solely because it's serious song. It's a good serious song. Tobenai Agehachou is such a moody song you'd swear Aki-p was brooding in the corner when he wrote it. I think the vocals really bring out the tone that this song is trying to convey, along with the lyrics. I feel like there's this undertone of desperation to the song, especially when I look at the lyrics. Tobenai Agehachou is about loving someone and comparing that love to a swallowtail butterfly. I know, strange metaphor is strange, but it kind of works in the song. What I like about Tobenai Agehachou is that there's this increase in the energy and the speed, like the singers are getting more and more frantic as the song nears the end. The more I think about it, Tobenai Agehachou is a rather creepy song, but not like Bellring Shoujo Heart creepy! It's more of an undertone of creepiness combined with longing and maybe a dash of obsession. What the song was meant to be, Tobenai Agehachou is still a great song!

12. Namida Uri no Shoujo


Another oldie, but another one of my favorites. Namida Uri no Shoujo is the B-side to Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou. While it may not be as good as the A-side, Namida Uri no Shoujo still stands as a great song. Which is not an easy feat when you're going up against Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou. Like many early AKB48 songs, Namida Uri no Shoujo has this retro sound to it, like something you'd hear from the late 70s or early 80s. Think Pink Lady. The most interesting part about Namida Uri no Shoujo are the lyrics. The song kind of delves into several different ideas ranging from consumerism to monotony to even suicide at one part. But everything is handled pretty well, even if these themes aren't gone into much detail. Still, I'd check out a translation of Namida Uri no Shoujo, because the lyrics are still very fascinating. Arrangement-wise, this song is pretty neat in that regard too. Namida Uri no Shoujo has a talk/rap bit in the bridge, which borders on just a little disturbing considering the lyrical content, but in a weird way, it kind of works. I think it's one of the few times when I actually like the talking/rapping in an idol song. Other than that Namida Uri no Shoujo, is a strange blend of melancholic and upbeat making for a very interesting song. I'd give it a listen if you have the time to do so!

11. Sakura no Ki ni Narou


I did list this as one of my favorite ballads, so it would naturally coincide as one of my favorite AKB48 songs! As I've stated before, I'm always a little iffy on ballads. When done poorly, they drag and sound completely uninspired. When done well though... it's beautiful. For me, Sakura no Ki ni Narou falls into that latter category. I said before that this was the song that convinced me to start looking further into AKB48 beyond the fanservice PV that is Heavy Rotation. So had Sakura no Ki ni Narou not been released, I may never have gotten into AKB48. Of course, considering the quality of their current music, I wouldn't exactly be missing out on much. Okay, okay, I'm writing positively about AKB48, positively! Sakura no Ki ni Narou is a song that relies on a buildup, and it is a slow one. Acchan's shaky, soft vocals open the song, and note by note the song gets louder, more expressive, until the third verse right before the key change of the final chorus. I think it's ballad that has such emotion, even if the lyrics are a little abstract. And I also have a soft spot for pretty piano songs... Don't even get me started on the PV for Sakura no Ki ni Narou. It's really sad. I won't give away any details in case you haven't watched it, but I cried the first time I saw it, and that was before I even knew who was who in AKB48. For these reasons, Sakura no Ki ni Narou holds a soft spot in my heart, and without it, I may never have discovered all these other great AKB48 songs!

10. Flying Get


Flying Ghetto! Two years later and that joke still never grows old with me... I think Flying Get is my favorite Senbatsu song, not only because it's a great song but also because of the kickass PV! I think the PV perfectly exemplifies the "battle" idea of the Senbatsu election, and showcases it in a very stylized and action-packed manner. I loved the battle between Acchan and Yuko. And I love the overall theme and the giant fight between the girls of AKB48 and the generic mooks! Speaking of fights, I could totally fight ninjas to this song. Sure, I'd have to find some ninjas to fight first, but still! What's so great about Flying Get is that it's such a fun song. It's like the song you'd listen to when you want to go on an adventure! Not that I've ever had the chance to go on an adventure... Anyways, this is still a really fun, upbeat song that just gets my blood pumping. The beat is really fast-paced and energetic, with the highest point of Flying Get being the catchy chorus. And even then the rest of the song is great; there's such spirit and energy to it! What I also like about Flying Get is that it never takes itself too seriously. Same goes for the PV. In a way, Flying Get is kind of a cheesy song but cheesy in the most entertaining, kickass kind of way! It's songs like Flying Get that really make me wish that Acchan was still in AKB48. But oh well, the past is the past.

9. Aitakatta


This song is practically iconic within AKB48. You know, the song that pops in someone's mind when they hear the name AKB48. And for good reason too: it's great! One of the first songs ever released by AKB48, Every time I listen to Aitakatta, I always feel kind of nostalgic. I'm not sure if it's because Aitakatta is a genuinely nostalgic-sounding song or just because it's such a classic AKB48 song from a time when they were such a different idol group. I think it may be the latter. I always think of the beach when I listen to Aitakatta, and I'm not sure why. It just sounds like a song I'd listen to while vacationing on the beach! And the PV does take place in a beach-y location... Anyways, Aitakatta is such a sweet, enthusiastic song. The girls singing the song just sound so happy and excited. I can't help but feel happy and excited with them! Aitakatta is also a really catchy song, probably the catchiest song on this list (well Sugar Rush comes pretty close too). But I don't mind getting Aitakatta stuck in my head because it's such a cheerful song, but not annoying so. I can see why it became such an iconic AKB48 song; I'll bet it got stuck in everyone's heads, and that's why everyone remembers it so well! I love Aitakatta not only because it's such an irresistibly charming song, but also because it's a testament to the older days of AKB48.

8. Kurumi to Dialogue


More evidence of the B-sides on Chance no Juban being better than the song itself. Except for Love Jump. I can't remember how that song sounds, just that it left zero impression with me. Fortunately, Kurumi no Dialogue is far from forgettable! It makes sense because hey, it's a Team A song! How is it they always get the most interesting songs? Kurumi to Dialogue is very strange song both musically and lyrically. The lyrics talk about a walnut cracking and I think it may be a metaphor for temptation, but I honestly have no idea. The song itself has this very odd, quirky arrangement. The vocals are very clipped and staccato, like the girls sang this while walking on eggshells. Even the music video for Kurumi to Dialogue makes no sense! But I think the overall weirdness of Kurumi to Dialogue is what makes it such a cool song to listen to. I am a person fond of the stranger things in life; why else do you think I like BiS? I think that's why I like Kurumi to Dialogue so much. It's a very unique song in AKB48's discography. I can't really peg down the general sound of Kurumi to Dialogue, let alone compare it to another AKB48 song either. Kurumi to Dialogue is just an AKB48 song that exists in its own plane of music away from all the other AKB48 songs. For that reason, I think Kurumi to Dialogue is a great song that always leaves an impression on me.

7. Virgin love


I admit, after listening to Seifuku no Jama wo Suru then reading the title of its B-side, I was convinced Virgin love was going even raunchier than the A-side. While this song does talk about virginity, it's not terribly explicit. I have to admit, I like the lyrics to Virgin love! Virgin love is about sex, but it's more the implied kind of sex. It's told from the perspective of a girl with a reputation of being a... well, a harlot. The reality is though, she has never experienced physical love, although she expresses a strong desire for it before she grows old and "left behind." I think Virgin love is a very relatable song for many teenage girls, and not just because it's about sex. Virgin love is a song that also delves into societal values, and the pressure felt from trying to live up to those values. Although I'm not exactly crazy about sex, the lyrics of Virgin love feel very real, which is kind of awkward when you take into account a 57-year old man wrote them. Beyond the lyrics, musically Virgin love is also a very fun song to listen to. It has kind of this retro, 1960s beach party sound to it; it's a pretty distinct sound for AKB48. And the way the girls sing is very flirty, almost tongue-in-cheek at certain parts. Something about the way they elongate certain words, and their repetition of the title is just very entertaining. Maybe not as controversial as Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, Virgin love is in its own right still a very fun, slightly-risque song that I love jamming to.

6. Oogoe Diamond


You may as well call this the Jurina Song because that's basically what is is. It sure ain't Suzukake Nanchara!  Other than Jurina's age at the time, her center position is what Oogoe Diamond is remembered for. That and the spike in sales that would eventually grow to AKB48 reaching the success they have now. Whether that's because of Jurina's center position or not is debatable, but I still love Oogoe Diamond. In fact, I love all the songs in the post-Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008 and pre-Sakura no Shiori era. I don't know why; there's just something about all the songs in this period of time that are fun. I think this was when AKB48 was the most idol-y, while still releasing music that stood out from all the other idol-y idol groups. Oogoe Diamond is a contagiously happy song, and I really love the arrangement for it. There's something so earnest and genuine about this song; the way the girls sing it just really gets the lyrics across so well. I always get this feeling of carefree happiness permeating from my earbuds every time I plug this song in. And then somehow through some kind of witchcraft, Oogoe Diamond always lifts my spirits, even just by a little bit. I love my serious songs because they make me feel serious. The best happy songs in my opinion are the ones that make you happy. The ones that put a smile on your face, even for only a few minutes, because there's something unidentifiable that makes you feel such happiness. For me, that is why Oogoe Diamond is a great song.

5. Korekara Wonderland


Hey, did you guys know that this is the unofficial theme song of the Wonderland? Did you know that the Wonderland even had a theme song? When I was thinking of a name for the Wonderland, I may or may not have had this song in mind... If Sakura no Ki ni Narou was the song that convinced me that AKB48 was an idol group worth checking out, Korekara Wonderland solidified that they were an idol group worth checking out. When Everyday Kachuusha came out, I basically skipped the A-side and just listened to Korekara Wonderland all day. And thus, my interest in AKB48 fully blossomed! How do I express the love for this song in a mere paragraph... Of the many "retro" themed idol songs I have listened to, Korekara Wonderland is in my opinion the best. It captures the funky, brass-fueled funk of the 1970s while still not sounding dated. Korekara Wonderland is a fun song, the kind of song that I want to get up and dance to every time it starts playing. This song deserves to be played in a giant hall, on a dance floor with everyone getting down to it, the music pumping from giant speakers. Oh, that would be bliss. Seriously, this is a song that is so swinging and good-natured and catchy and this is what I wish Koisuru Fortune Cookie could have been. I think the vocal arrangement is perfect, the lyrics are perfect, the arrangement is perfect, this is just epitome of a fun song.

4. Beginner


Beginner really exemplified the "serious" fall song AKB48 releases every year. The problem is... Beginner was too good. All the other fall songs after Beginner just don't have the same punch or impact that Beginner leaves every time I listen to it. This is a song that gives me goosebumps. It's that good. And thankfully, mostly everyone agrees with me. I want to fight zombies to this song, I want to battle intergalactic forces to this song, Beginner makes me want to do things. I think Beginner is a song that perfectly balances both harshness and encouragement. The first half of Beginner is so severe-sounding, and the lyrics convey this sense of bleakness and loss. But then after the second chorus there is this wonderful switch into inspiring people to stand up and fight, no matter what obstacles you face. AKB48 has released dozens of songs about doing your best and not giving up and all the jazz, but in my opinion, Beginner is the one that leaves the strongest impact. The deliverance of the lyrics is so intense, and the instrumental is too. And the PV for this song is amazing too, probably one of my favorite idol PVs. And I mean the original PV, not the crappily spliced version on AKB48's Youtube channel. The high-tech violence of Beginner perfectly captures the exact mood the song is trying to convey in that its both hopeless and hopeful. I never grow tired of Beginner, and I think it's going to remain AKB48's best serious song for a long time.

3. Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru


The infamous song about underage sex! Or is it? The lyrics are actually kind of vague when you really look at them; I mean, they are about sex, but it's more the PV that implies the "underage" part of it. Either way, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru is one of the more controversial songs of AKB48's discography. Personally though, I wish they'd release more stuff like this. It'd be more interesting than what they're releasing now. I'd be lying if I didn't say the controversy surrounding this song didn't draw me in at least a little bit. Back when I first really listened to Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, I was still very new to idols. So to see this idol group singing about sex in a very open manner was both shocking and fascinating at the same time. In the end, fascination won me over, and Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru quickly grew to be one of my favorite AKB48 songs, not just for the taboo lyrics. This is a sultry song, filled with seductive "Ah" noises that SDN48 wished they could deliver so effortlessly. And of course, the lyrics help add to this innocent sultriness of Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru. I actually really like the lyrics to this song; I think they really describe sexual frustration from a high school girl's point of view really well. And surprise, teenage sexual frustration isn't all G-rated rainbows and butterflies! Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru was an idol song portrayed in a different light, a stark contrast to the innocent, generic love so many idols sing about, and in doing that, it stands out so much more.

2. 10nen Zakura


Sakura no Hanabiratachi may be AKB48's iconic sakura song, but in my opinion, 10nen Zakura is their best sakura song. This song captures all the emotions of the sakura song including the concept of growing up, graduation, the future, and how tumultuous and frightening it all can be sometimes. And yet it's such a beautifully jubilant song, with the energy of an SKE48 song. Like Oogoe Diamond, the way the girls sing 10nen Zakura just sounds so genuine. Like they got what the lyrics were talking about. As happy as 10nen Zakura sounds, there's still this... sadness about it. Not the sadness of Sakura no Ki ni Narou, a more nostalgic sadness. You know, that realization that every single second in time is fleeting and that you'll never be able to capture it again. So it's best to hang onto those moments of happiness and sadness and never forget them, even when 10 years have gone by. That was the vibe I always got from 10nen Zakura, and I'm not sure if it's more my own interpretation or the theme Aki-P intended when he penned this song. Maybe it's because I'm graduating in just a few months, but I always get a little wistful when I listen to 10nen Zakura. I guess because it makes me reflect on my own time in school and my uncertainty toward the future. And thinking about it while listening to 10nen Zakura makes me both smile and cry at the same time. This is a poignant song delivered with bombastic energy and heart, and I absolutely love it.

1. Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou


I'm not sure where to start with why I love this song. Mainly because Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou is not just my favorite AKB48 song, it is my favorite idol song. And there are so many different reasons why this is my favorite idol song. Keibetsu Shiteita is not a happy song. And it isn't meant to be either. I will admit, this is a rather depressing song to be my favorite idol song ever. But I do have my reasons! Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou is a song that delves into the link between bullying and suicide, capturing all the pain and anguish of both experiencing and witnessing it in four minutes and eighteen seconds. A big part of why this is my favorite AKB48 is the subject matter and how well it's handled. Bullying is really heavy subject matter, and the way Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou approaches it is extremely sad and extremely cutting. But the song doesn't glamorize bullying either, but merely displays various facets of it. It doesn't shy away from the sadness of bullying and how it can push people to suicide either. The lyrics make Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou such an incredibly sad, but hard-hitting song, and personally, as someone who has experienced bullying, I can relate to that. And the sad thing is, I'm certain a lot of other people can too. Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou is a song that is heavy in emotion and subject matter, but I think that's what makes it such a great song. It pulls no punches, and the deliverance is spot on in both the music and the lyrics. That is why Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou is my favorite AKB48 song. And I wouldn't put this song any lower than #1.

Wow. I think... in a weird way, doing this list has helped me finally realize why I don't like AKB48's current music that much. Do you know why all these songs are on my list? Because when I listened to each of these twenty songs, I felt something from them. Whether it was the happy-go-lucky party feeling of Korekara Wonderland, the melancholic nostalgia of 10nen Zakura, the pounding intensity of River, the surging happiness of Oogoe Diamond, all of these AKB48 songs invoked some kind of emotion from me. And isn't that what music is supposed to do? Sure, I can critique the instrumental complexity or the vocal quality of a song, but at the end of the day, a song doesn't have to have any of that if it makes me feel something. AKB48's current music? I don't feel anything toward it. I don't feel a rush of hope when I play Heart Electric or the sense of hyperactive happiness when I listen to Eien Pressure or wistful longing when So Long! plays through my speakers. I have no emotional connection to the music. I just listen to it, review it, and wonder if their next song will be any good. This routine has grown downright robotic. And for that reason, I've grown bored with AKB48. I know that they can do better; the songs on this list are evidence of that! I know they can get beautiful, heart-wrenching songs that make so many different emotions surge from inside me. I just don't know where that's gone.

So here's what I want for Christmas: I want to feel something in an AKB48 song again. I don't want these bland, uninspired songs that sound like rehashes of better AKB48 songs. Make me feel something other than the crushing realization that AKB48 is too famous to dare try something with any heart in it again.

22 comments:

  1. It's odd, because I agree totally with some of your favourites (pioneer, beginner, oogoe diamond) but then you actually list some of my least favourites as well! (10nen sakura, tobenai agehachou, dear my teacher...)
    However, I'm going to check out the ones on this list that I didn't know so thanks for the recommendations! ^^
    Also... I remember you not liking ponytail to shushu... But it's tied with beginner for my favourite lol. I just find it rewinds me a few years to carefree summers and makes me feel really happy and chilled~~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's quite reassuring! Things would be quite boring if everyone shared the same favorite and least favorite AKB48 songs! Do you have any other favorites besides Pioneer, Beginner, and Oogoe Diamond? Some that aren't on the list?

      Actually, I think Ponytail to Shushu is a decent song! Not as good as Everyday Kachuusha in my opinion, but still an all right song. I like listening to it on the beach!

      Delete
  2. I would first start by saying I fully share your sentiment that AKB48's songs have become pretty, well, "sheety" of late. Perhaps since 2012 - it's all gone downhill pretty quick since then.

    Funnily enough you mention you haven't listened to many stage songs, when in fact, a lot of the pre-2008 songs you list up there WERE originally performed as stage songs, before later being put out as singles in their own right. To summarise:

    Dear my Teacher - A1
    Pioneer - A6 (you noted this)
    Namida uri no Shoujo - A3
    Aitakatta - A2
    Virgin Love - K2/B1
    Oogoe Diamond - A5
    Seifuku ga jama wo suru - A3/A4
    Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou - A4

    As for favourites, I have so many favourites. These mostly date back to pre-2010, which also seems to be your favourites, and also encompass most of the stages that have been released to date (stages really dried up after they got popular circa 2010)

    Out of all the ones I like, the below stand out a lot to me...
    From Team A: Nageki no Figure, Bird, Junai no Crescendo, Only Today
    From Team K: Blue Rose, Saishuu Bell ga Naru, End Roll
    From Team B: Shonichi, Temodemo no Namida, Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, I think mid-2012, around the time Acchan graduated was when AKB48 started going downhill.

      Were they all stage songs!? That is so cool! So I guess in a weird way I HAVE listened to more stage songs than I though! I noticed all these songs were released on singles 2009 and before. Does AKB48 release any current stage songs on singles? Like I know Team B Oshi got a PV because of requests but... anything else? I wish more stage songs would get official releases on singles, because there are some really good ones.

      It's a pity stages are nowhere near as interesting as they used to be. I guess with increasing demand outside of stages and more emphasis on the Senbatsu, AKB48 just... didn't give much more time into them.

      Thanks for the recommendations! I'll definitely check all those out!

      Delete
    2. First of all happy new year!

      Excepting Baby x3, all singles released in 2008 and prior were basically lifted off stages. I wasn't a fan back then but looking back it would seem things really started to kick off in 2008 with Oogoe's release - the majority of songs in 2009 and subsequent are basically single release songs only and didn't previously appear as part of a stage (Hikoukigumo & Shonichi being the two stage songs released as B-sides in 2009).

      So in short, no, they don't release stage songs on singles anymore. Partially that is because there have been no more new stages since 2010, but the sales numbers tell the true story - they simply weren't popular as singles either. These songs simply didn't sell.

      I think the PV request one was a bit of a one-off. Certainly it has nothing to do with it being a stage song that it got a request.

      They'll never release the old songs now as single releases.

      As for stages being less interesting, well, I think the (limited ones that have been out since '10) have been decent. Not legendary like some of the older ones, but decent in their own right. There's too many new single releases to worry about to put time into a stage.

      The generic-ness of the new releases would never pass off as a stage song. The stages are all about showing off various aspects of the girls themselves and of the team it represents - the singles are just there to keep fans happy/sell handshakes (whoops).

      A good example of this is Nogizaka46's latest release, Barrette. Sold an absolute truckload, mainly driven by strong handshake sales. But it wasn't as well received by the fanbase, despite it probably being musically the closest to a pre-2009 song that's been released by a 48/46G in the past four years.

      Delete
  3. Loved this list. A lot of them i knew already, some I did not care to see it and some i did not know about it and this list made me want to try again and get to know them... love your perspective about it as well...

    *SPOILER*

    It is interesting to me that you have not made the correlation of kurumi to dialogue with losing the virginity...
    if you watch it again i think the pv will make more sense now and i like that video a lot...
    i think it is brilliant how they put this into words all the angst about it how it is a secret the adolescent keep from their parents, all about the morals of society, how they want it and even the phrase they put for Acchan that she needs love to do it... and the red heart liquid that breaks in the end...

    END SPOILER

    Anyway, I do have a suggestion: if you get the time why don't you review the pvs you like the most even though they are old by now... i do not think that it needs to be new to be reviewed and lots of ppl discover jpop later and want to read a review even to encourage them...Just show us in details what you liked the most and interesting things you see in them...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm happy you loved it! What are you favorites that aren't on the list? Any good stage songs?

      As for Kurumi to Dialogue... oh... OH. IT MAKES SENSE. I'm not surprised someone else had to point that out for me; I practically need neon lights to recognize double entendres. But thanks for telling me! That only makes the song ten times more interesting!

      And that's a really good idea. There are a lot of older AKB48 PVs and songs I'd like to review... If I start my Time Capsule Reviews again, I just might incorporate some older AKB48 music video into it... Thanks for the suggestion!

      Delete
    2. sorry for the late reply...
      I am a sucker for lists and reviews.
      when i love a song, a pv or when i want to discover something new and just do not want to try at random, i search for lists to know what other people think as well and the comments that comes with it.

      Songs that i like and is not on your list:

      Tsundere - Team A 5stage
      I like this song because it describes this kind of personality (cold outside and warm in the inside), reminds me of anime and i love the live performance....

      Kinjirareta Futari - stage song
      About forbidden love of two girls... I liked because of two concerts: one when Acchan sings with Yuko and the other one they made it funny with Majisuka Gakuen characters Acchan sings with Daruma(i guess that's her name). For this is better to see the performances...

      Namida Surprise
      I reminds me when the whole class gave me a present and a card (they did not blindfolded me)

      Omoide no Hotondo
      atsumina pair... when they sang this song they cried every time (if not most of the time). and is about friendship and parting...

      109
      from the play AKB made: Kagekidan Infinity... I just like it...

      Graduation songs: Yume no Kawa, Namida no Sei ja nai and Saigo no Door.
      Love songs about goodbyes and their PVs
      Out of these I like the Saigo no Door the best... I like the beat...

      Temodemo no namida
      Again, Atsumina pair...

      People seems to like Birds, Blue Rose and mushi no Ballad... haven't made up my mind about these songs

      Delete
    3. oh, by the way i'm glad to help with the double entendres...
      it is just that i really like the pv and the song kurumi to dialogue...

      again i like when a pv is brilliant or tells a good story or is daring...

      Delete
    4. Thanks for all the suggestions!

      I really like Tsundere and 109! I also listened to Blue Rose, Mushi no Ballad, and Bird! They're all really cool songs too! I have actually heard Namida Surprise; it isn't my favorite AKB48 song, but I still think it's pretty fun! I've also heard several of the graduation songs; they're pretty, but probably not my favorites. I really like Saigo no Door though! Again, thanks for the recommendations!

      Delete
  4. I totally agree with you. To me, AKB hit their peak with Flying Get and if you can't go up, then you'll going down. There were good songs to me after Flying get (like Manatsu no Sounds good) but with Give Me Five the end started.

    Then, important members graduated (some of them where forgotten before leaving, to me the more important members were the first 3 gens that were in AKB between River and Flying Get, with some additions like Jurina, Paruru, Sayaka Yamamoto, etc) I thought that when Acchan, Yuko and Takamina graduated the group would die, and it's happening. Awfully, some of the unique character members are being replaced with boring members. So, boring members and boring music, they are not going to disappear but to start to fade.

    BTW i also agree that they lost the spirit reflected in some songs you mentioned, and my favourite single era were between Bingo and Flying get, with one or two exceptions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Flying Get sounds about the right time when AKB48 hit their peak. Acchan was still in the group, their songs were selling millions, and the music was actually decent! And then from there... things just went downhill.

      I feel like all the important members are dropping like flies, especially in this past year. Yuko, Mariko, Tomochin... AKB48's still got popular members, but who knows how long they're going to last. And none of the new members have the same foothold as the older, more established members.

      I have no idea what happened to the spirit in AKB48 songs, but I think it disappeared along with Maeda Atsuko and every popular graduated member of AKB48.

      Delete
  5. Beginner wasn't really a good song to me because I was only watching the strange and stupid dance version on the official AKB48 YouTube account. But when I read on your post that it wasn't the real version, I watched the real video and totally fell in love with it. It's so epic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeeaahhh the Youtube version gives off a terrible impression of Beginner. I'm glad you found the real version! It's SO much better!

      Delete
  6. Where is Heavy Rotation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...I like that song. Just not as much as the other songs on this list.

      Delete
  7. I like Kimi No Koto Ga Suki Dakara AKB48 and JKT48 version.Thank you for recommends

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I haven't listened to the JKT48 version; I just might now!

      Delete
  8. l love your top 20. Without this, I would never had known my favorite songs of today (Dear My Teacher, Kurumi To Dialogue, Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou, etc). These songs have almost changed my life! So thank you very much :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!! I'm glad you found some favorite songs!

      Delete
  9. I loved keibetsu shiteita aijou so much! actually i loved every suicidal songs hehe. The lyrics, the rythm, the mv makes me played the mv almost everyday.

    But tbh i hated 10nen zakura. the rythm is just ugly for me hehe. All other songs that listed in this list are my favs too, except some that i have never hear and 10nen zakura.

    Anyway, thanks for the list! your posts are great as always. keep posting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou is an incredible song. Very powerful lyrics and the music video goes perfectly with it.

      10nen Zakura took a few listens to grow on me, but I kind of like how aggressively happy it is. If you get the chance, listen to some of the other songs! They're good (at least in my opinion they are...).

      Thank you for commenting! I'll do my best!

      Delete