I feel like I listed a lot of songs for March, so I guess there were a bunch of strong releases! These songs will be listed alphabetically by artist, but the ones marked with an * are my favorites. Let’s get started!
Beboga! – Be!
Let me get this out of the way first: some of the vocals in this song do not sound good. Cocoa’s solo at the beginning is terrible (she sounds like she’s doing drunk karaoke) and all of the members sound a bit off in the verses. I honestly don’t know how one of the bigger record labels in Japan was okay with Cocoa’s solo at the beginning, but despite its flaws, Be! is a really fun song. It’s really catchy, high energy, and has a punk sound that you don’t normally hear in idol music. I haven’t seen Be! live, but I imagine it’s fun as heck. I used to think Beboga was a boring group, but with Drama Yori mo Dramatic last year and Be! this year, my opinion has been changed. I’m excited to see what they release next!
BILLIE IDLE© – P.S.R.I.P.
Speaking of punk, BILLIE IDLE’s P.S.R.I.P. also made my list this month. I liked anarchy in the music scene, but I haven’t paid much attention to BILLIE IDLE since then. Apparently I should be paying attention, because P.S.R.I.P. is great. They don’t really sound like idols at all, so if you’re not a fan of cutesy idol vocals, they’re definitely a group to check out. It’s a feel good song to jam out to, the girls sound good, and the P.S.R.I.P. shouts will get stuck in your head.
BiS – WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
DiPROMiSE made my list last month, but I initially wasn’t a big fan of WHOLE LOTTA LOVE. I still like DiPROMiSE better, but I’ve come around and I think WHOLE LOTTA LOVE is pretty good too. It’s not one of my favorite BiS singles by any means, however, BiS always tends to put out great music. It’s higher tempo and has more of a rebellious feel instead of the raw emotion and sadness in DiPROMiSE. Both are worth listening to for sure, but I think DiPROMiSE might be one of my top songs of the year.
Chu-Z – Gonna be alright!
I know I’ve listened to Chu-Z before, but I can’t remember any of their other songs. For that reason, I’m not sure how this compares to their usual stuff, but Gonna be alright! is a very cute dance song with a Western feel to it. There’s quite a bit of English, which makes it easy to sing along to certain parts. It reminds me a lot of some of GEM’s songs, especially SUGAR BABY, so if you’re mourning GEM, maybe look into Chu-Z.
EMPiRE – Black to the dreamlight*
I haven’t listened to EMPiRE’s album yet, but I love the lead track, Black to the dreamlight. While EMPiRE’s didn’t impress me at the beginning, Buttocks beat! beat! was surprisingly good and Black to the dreamlight is one of my favorite songs of the year so far. It’s much more emotional than Buttocks beat! beat! with a very impactful chorus and shows that EMPiRE does well with a wide range of music. If their album has more songs on it that are as good as Black to the dreamlight and Buttocks beat! beat!, they might become my favorite WACK group. Warning: there’s a lot of blood in the music video and it was actually banned on Japanese television, so if you’re really squeamish, you might want to buy the album or listen to it elsewhere.
Hachimitsu Rocket – Hachimitsu Rocket ~Ougon no Shichinin~
Hachimitsu Rocket is Stardust’s newest group to get a major debut and I’m liking them so far. All of the members are in high school and the group says that their debut single is supposed to have a nostalgic, royal, and chaotic feel to it. I’d say that somehow describes it pretty well and Ougon no Shichinin is crazy fun. I really like the rap parts, especially at the end of the song with the members rapping over the chorus. If you’re a Stardust fan or like cute songs with a bit of quirkiness thrown in, I think you’ll like this one.
HKT48 – Buttaoreru Made
I actually like Jabaja, but I think HKT’s song on the single, Buttaoreru Made, is the strongest. It’s very HKT, but I think it’s less cute than a lot of their songs. Buttaoreru Made reminds me a bit of their previous songs Shekirashika! and Idol no Oujya, so if you were a fan of those, you might like it.
Kaqriyo Terror Architect – Hide and Seek*
I’ve heard the alt idol crowd talk about how great Kaqriyo Terror Architect was for a while, but I didn’t get the hype until hearing this song. Actually, their entire Cultural Mixing album that was released this month was pretty good, however, their lead track Hide and Seek is definitely the best. I’m not usually a fan of screamo in songs, but the “Ready or not, here I come” parts are really cool and give me chills. The effects used on the vocals sound great and I like the contrast between their cute vocals and the more aggressive guitar and drums. If you’re an alt idol fan, you’ve probably already heard this, but if not, get to it!
Keyakizaka46 – Mou Mori e Kaerou ka?
I can tell why Glass wo Ware! was chosen as the A-side, since it has a more mainstream sound, but I’m more of a fan of the B-side, Mou Mori e Kaerou ka? Dark songs suit Keyakizaka well and Mou Mori e Kaerou ka? is no exception. It’s one of their slower and sadder songs and I found it really touching. My favorite Keyakizaka songs are Silent Majority and Getsuyoubi no Asa, Skirt wo Kirareta, so I think I show a bit of a pattern here. If you like emo Keyakizaka, you’ll like this. You can listen to it here.
Manekikecha – Atashi no Nokori Zenbu Ageru
I have a weird thing against Manekikecha and I don’t know why. I think it’s one of those things where I kept hearing how great they were from so many people and I didn’t quite get the hype. Or maybe it’s because in some songs, I think they seem a bit like a less interesting ripoff Dempagumi.inc. I’m probably pissing off Manekikecha’s fans right now, but let me say, I’m not sure why I’m not a fan of them because they have some great music. They have some wacky songs and some more emotional ballads. Atashi no Nokori Zenbu Ageru is one of the latter and it’s a beautifully sung song with a very nice message. I think the member with the cutesy voice sounds a bit weird in ballads, but the rest of the members sound pretty good, especially the blonde. You can really feel the emotion in their voices and I’d say it’s definitely one of the best ballads of the year so far.
MONDO GROSSO – Itsuwari no Sympathy*
You might be thinking, “Who’s MONDO GROSSO? Is that some new idol group I haven’t heard of?” Well, he’s a musician, DJ record producer, and composer that works with many different vocalists and in Itsuwari no Sympathy, he works with BiSH’s Aina The End. I haven’t heard too many people talking about the song (most people are talking about how the video prominently features Aina’s….well….rear end), but music video aside, the song is really good. Unlike some collabs, MONDO GROSSO doesnt choose to auto-tune Aina’s voice and she’s really allowed to shine. It’s definitely the best collaboration Aina has been a part of and I love the jazz EDM style. Whenever Aina decides to leave BiSH, I hope she goes solo and continues to do stuff like this.
monogatari – Re:born*
I’m not usually a fan of young groups (monogatari has an average age of 15), but I had to make an exception for monogatari. Their music is just that good! You probably know them as Harajuku Monogatari, but they changed their name to monogatari in one of the dumber recent name changes. Their single MONOGATARI last year ranked #16 in my top 50 songs of 2017 and I think Re:born will rank similarly high this year. monogatari is known for being a group with a high level of performance; besides being pretty, all of the members can dance well and there are some really good singers too. Re:born is a dance heavy EDM track, but it also showcases their vocals in the chorus. It’s honestly so good and I’m amazed at how great the group has been lately.
Moso Calibration – Netsujou ’18
Netsujou ’18 is a track off Moso Calibration’s recently released album, Moso Douchuu Hizakurige -Moso Traveling-. I think the quality of Mocali’s music has sharply declined ever since they signed with Sony, but I still enjoy it. Netsujou ’18 is my favorite song off their new album, even though I don’t think it sounds much like Mocali. I think it has more of a Hello! Project feel to it and maybe sounds like something early Juice=Juice would have done with all the brass and the slightly old school feel. It’s not the album’s lead track and I don’t have any links, but if you’re a fan of Mocali’s newer music or Hello! Project, you should give this a listen on iTunes.
NMB48 – Yokubomono*
Yokubomono is possibly my favorite song of 2018 so far. It’s drawn a lot of comparisons to Keyakizaka46 with the outfits, dance, and darker style, but the lyrical content is more adult and I think it’s easily better than most of their songs. I love the beat, piano, and guitar, and although it’s a bit Sayaka centric, she works very well in darker, cooler songs like Yokubomono. It’s one of the best 48G songs in a long time and even if you’re not a 48G fan, you should give it a listen.
TEARS – storia
I’ve been following TEARS since they started in late 2016 and I probably went to one of their first lives. Anyway, I became a fan of them after hearing this song for the first time. The rest of their songs are a bit generic and their concept is pretty standard idol, but they immediately caught my attention with storia. It’s a really fun and catchy song that’s easy to sing and dance along with and it’s even better live. TEARS has been singing storia since the beginning, but it finally got a single release this month. I’m super excited and hopefully having an actual music video and recorded music will cause international fans to take more interest. By the way, I couldn’t figure out what they were saying in the chorus for a long time. We are S? TRS? Apparently, it’s dearest, which makes a lot more sense. My favorite part of the song is when they go a bit higher at the end, I think it adds to the energy even more.
X21 – Friday Night Party
I think I kind of liked one of X21’s earlier songs, but I’ve usually thought they were fairly generic. They’re certainly pretty, but I thought that’s mostly why people were interested. Well, Friday Night Party isn’t generic, it’s great fun. You might think with a title like Friday Night Party they’d have a club anthem sound, but it’s actually old school American rock and roll. I think Passpo fans will like Friday Night Party, since it sounds a bit similar to some of their songs. Anyway, I think Friday Night Party will put a smile on your face and the “hoshii” and “naritai” parts are especially cute.
That’s it for my song recommendations that I’m going to write about, but here are some other songs released in March that I enjoyed if you’re looking for even more music:
AKB48 – Jabaja
BESTIEM feat. MIRI (RHYMEBERRY) – Hanky Panky Funky Punky!
Happippi – Donchan Sawagi! ~Kishikaisei~
Iketeru Hearts – Rosetta Stone
Ito Respect Gundan – Setsunairo
Keyakizaka46 – Glass wo Ware!
Kobushi Factory – Ashita Tenki ni Naare
Kobushi Factory – Kore Kara da!
Moso Calibration – Maji de Mou Iya
Moso Calibration – Tabi wa Kimizure Yo wa Nasake
Ototoi Friday – Watashi Hotondo Skyfish
ROSARIO CROSS – Dai Dondengaeshi
Task have Fun – Kimi Nanda kara
Zekkyou Suru 60do feat. The Heana Cat – Gokiburi
So, what do you think of my recommendations? Do you like any of the songs I recommended? Did I miss out on some of your favorites! Leave me a comment or send me a tweet and let me know! I’ll be getting out a recommended March PV list in the next few days, so look forward to that!