Well, 2018 has come to a close and it’s been a rather eventful year in the world of Japanese idols. On one hand, we had some great debuts, fun overseas performances, and memorable songs. On the other hand, I can’t think of a year that has had as many high profile graduations and breakups as 2018. There were some graduations last year that hit me really hard, but let’s try to focus on the positive! I love making lists and listen to a ridiculous amount of idol music, so keep reading for my top fifty Japanese idol songs of 2018.
Disclaimer: This is obviously just my opinion and I’m sure there’s some great stuff out there that I missed. I’m also only including female idol groups, because, well, that’s what Yes Tiger focuses on. I love to listen to new music, though, so feel free to comment or tweet me your top songs of 2018!
Also, just for your information, the links to buy the songs on CDJapan and Amazon Japan are affiliate links. If you want to help support Yes Tiger and are interested in buying some idol singles and/or albums, please consider clicking them to help us out.
Let’s get started!
50. Teen’s☆Heaven – T.N.S.E~Train Never Stop Eternally
Teen’s Heaven is a unit that was formed from members of usa☆usa shoujo club that all happened to be teenagers who “wanted to take you to heaven”. That sounds a bit creepy, yeah, but fear not: Teen’s Heaven is a wholesome group that takes their singing and dancing seriously and their years of experience in the idol industry show in their abilities. Two of the members are technically still teenagers (19), but one of them is already into her twenties. Even though the name may no longer be entirely accurate, I’m happy they’re still around to release great songs like T.N.S.E. It’s a got a great funky, retro sound that reminds me of groups like Philosophy no Dance, Especia, Negicco, and Vanilla Beans. I’m especially impressed with the vocals. There aren’t a lot of small, underground groups that sound this polished and I think Teen’s Heaven definitely deserves more recognition.
Buy T.N.S.E~Train Never Stop Eternally (Single):
49. KissBeeWEST – RE:GAME
I know a little bit about KissBee, but I can’t really say I know anything about their Osaka based branch, KissBeeWEST. KissBee seems to tend to go for cute, poppy songs, but I had a feeling this song would be a bit different when I saw PassCode’s sound producer was involved. My intuition was correct: it basically sounds like a really good PassCode song minus the screamed vocals. I’ve never been a fan of PassCode’s harsher vocals, but always liked the EDM side of their songs, so RE:GAME is perfect for me. If you’re a fan of PassCode, I definitely encourage you to give this one a shot, but even if you’re not really into them, you could end up loving it like I did. RE:GAME was one of the most well done idol songs of 2018, it just lacked the emotional impact that some of the songs that will be higher on the list had on me.
48. Tsubaki Factory – Konya Dake Ukaretakatta
Our first Hello! Project entry at #48 is Tsubaki Factory’s summer themed bop, “Konya Dake Ukaretakatta”. It definitely sounds like a H!P song, particularly in the chorus, but the distorted vocals at the beginning and throughout the song give it a more unique and memorable feel. While it might not stray too far from the “H!P mold” aside from that, it’s powerful, catchy, well-sung, and a lot of fun.
Buy Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai/Junjou cm/Konya Dake Ukaretakatta (Single):
CDJapan: Type A Regular Type B Regular Type C Regular Type A Limited Type B Limited Type C Limited Type SP Limited
Amazon Japan: Type A Regular Type B Regular Type C Regular Type A Limited Type B Limited Type C Limited Type SP Limited
47. Beboga! – Natsu no Eien Girl
Beboga! was definitely one of the breakups that hit me the hardest in 2018. I wasn’t their number one fan or anything, but I had come to enjoy their music recently, loved watching Perorin and Cocoa perform live, and hoped to meet the two members again after talking to them briefly in 2017. It’s sad to see them go, but “Natsu no Eien Girl” was a great send-off song that’s equal parts fun and emotional. While Rika and Shinobu seem to have disappeared for now, all hope is not lost: Cocoa is working as an idol staff member (I assume for DEARSTAGE), Arisa is doing events/performing with DEARSTAGE, and Perorin, of course, is a member of Dempagumi.inc. Natsu no Eien Girl was great, but there was a Beboga! song in 2018 that I liked even more. I wonder what it could be?
46. QUEENS – ROCKSTEADY
QUEENS is easily one of the best idol groups to debut in 2018. They already have quite a bit of a following and it’s not hard to tell why. The group was built around ex-PiiiiiiiN member EMIRY, who helped management search for the perfect girls to add so that their group would be full of both dance and vocal prowess. The intense search paid off and I think they’re definitely more talented and mature than your average idol group. ROCKSTEADY is an incredibly solid debut that makes you want to get up and dance and I think it’ll please most fans of rock idols out there.
45. Tsubaki Factory – Teion Yakedo
Technically, this song got a digital release in December 2017, but since it wasn’t physically released until 2018, I’m still counting it. I didn’t think Tsubaki Factory’s 2018 was quite as strong as their 2017, but they still had a really great year. I mean, this is my second song of theirs on this list after all! Boring winter ballads seem to be popular in J-Pop, so I appreciate that Tsubaki Factory was able to spice it up a bit with a more up-tempo song while still keeping the sad winter feel. For some reason, Teion Yakedo always reminds me of the Idolmaster song “Me ga Au Toki”, so uhh…I guess check this song out if you’re an iM@S fan?
Buy Teion Yakedo/Shunrenka/I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~ (Single):
CDJapan: Regular Type A Regular Type B Regular Type C Limited Type A Limited Type B Limited Type C Limited Type SP
Amazon Japan: Regular Type A Regular Type B Regular Type C Limited Type A Limited Type B Limited Type C Limited Type SP
44. TOKYO Kissa – Tonight Tonight
From what I know about TOKYO Kissa, they used to be a larger group, but half the group graduated and they went on a several month hiatus. I didn’t think they’d be back, but I’m glad I was wrong! “Tonight Tonight” shows that even with only three girls, they can shine brightly and do some pretty cool things. TOKYO Kissa’s a pretty underground group, so both the song and video have a bit of a budget feel to them, but I love the video game inspired instrumentals and find the song to be really charming. I wasn’t paying attention to TOKYO Kissa before, but I am now and I’m looking forward to see what they release in the future.
43. E TICKET PRODUCTION – Hanabi feat. Summer Rocket
Yoshikazu Kuwashima is a man of many talents. He’s written light novels and scenarios for visual novels, but he also was the original producer of RHYMEBERRY under the name E TICKET PRODUCTION and now does collaboration songs with idols from many different groups. I’ve been really impressed by all of E TICKET PRODUCTION’s songs this year and honestly, you should check them all out, but my favorite was Hanabi, a song that features the summer themed idol group Summer Rocket. As you’d imagine, even in this collaboration, they kept with the summer theme and Hanabi managed to be both my favorite idol rap song of 2018 and one of my favorite summer songs of 2018. If you like RHYMEBERRY, idol rap, or summer songs that feel a bit retro, give Hanabi a listen!
42. Oyasumi Hologram – ghost rider
Oyasumi Hologram is a group that I’ve heard good things about for a while, but I didn’t really give them the attention they deserved until it was announced they were coming to America. After the announcement, I did a deep dive into the group, including an introduction post, a Neuromancer call guide, and even an interview with the group themselves! If you’re not a fan of traditional, cutesy idols and want a group that feels a bit more “real”, Oyasumi Hologram might be the group for you. They released quite a bit of music in 2018 and out of all of it, ghost rider was my favorite. It’s peaceful and relaxing without being boring and shows off the girls’ voices very nicely. As you might expect, it’s the perfect song for a night drive or walk and a good entry point into the group’s discography.
Buy ghost rider (Digital Download):
41. GANG PARADE – RATESHOW
The first of many (spoiler alert) WACK songs on this year’s list is GANG PARADE’s “RATESHOW”, the B-side off their latest single “CAN’T STOP”. I’ve seen the GANG PARADE hype for years, but I’ve never really understood it. I think comes down to the fact that I absolutely loved the group back when they were a two member unit called Pla2me and I couldn’t get past the fact that the group as I knew it was gone. I still wish that Pla2me could have lasted longer and released more songs, however, in 2018 I learned to see that GANG PARADE as it is now is pretty awesome in its own right. RATESHOW is easily one of this year’s best B-sides and an incredibly fun and unique song that not a lot of groups could pull off. Sorry for overlooking GANG PARADE for so long, guys! I’m hoping I’ll be even more impressed by them this year.
Stay tuned for part 2! What do you think of the list so far? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!