How About The Stand-Outs
On a lighter note, there have been a few stand-out groups this year. Tsubaki Factory are, understandably, one of them. Delivering consistent sounds and visuals, the Hello! Project group has been on-form all throughout 2017, proving their worth to the fans, and showing off their strengths that very few Western fans expected to see from them. Not only have they been incredible, but their releases are all great, attracting many fans, and changing a lot of opinions regarding their quality and necessity to Hello! Project.
Honestly, Tsubaki Factory have been absolute stars this year. I’m glad they’re proving their worth to those who doubted them.
Of course, another stand-out for me has been – of course – Houkago Princess. I adore this group so much, there is very little that could sway how I feel about them, though I very nearly did lose my respect for them. 2017 has certainly been a year of ups-and-downs for me regarding HouPri, but, my love is still going strong, and I think the group is getting better with each release. And, despite their return to the Indies scene – their contract with Universal Music ended this September – the group is still bringing their A-game, and letting us know that they’re going nowhere. Good!
Juice=Juice have also shown me that they’re a true stand-out for the year, completely changing my opinion about them after I experienced their live performance in London. I had my doubts about this group, and felt they were going stale until the addition of the new members, but seeing them live has made me realise just how good a performance unit these girls are. They’re incredible, and I look forward to watching them grow as a 7-nin unit in 2018, and I anticipate my love for them rising. Hopefully, 2018 will be a great year for these girls.
=LOVE have also been amazing this year. I won’t lie, I had my doubts about them. Being a Sashihara Rino produced group, I thought for sure that they would be a AKB carbon-copy cash-grab, however, this group has proven me wrong. Though they are still a cash-grab (most likely), they’re actually a very fun, cute group, and I genuinely love their music and the direction they are going in. Hopefully, 2018 is promising for the girls, and I’d like to see =LOVE produce more fun music, as well as see myself loving them even more. Fingers crossed.
In terms of solo Idols, the one I have been loving most has to be Sakurako Ohara. Her voice is simply beautiful, and I have been enjoying her releases throughout the year, always keeping my eye out for anything new. Though her music can feel quite similar at times, the emotion and beauty and her vocals just captivate me, and I can’t help but adore her as a singer. Hopefully, 2018 sees me venturing into more of her music. She is just delightful, and music to my ears. (You can slap me for that terrible phrase, thanks.)
Oh, and how could I forget BOYS AND MEN? I can already see that I’m falling for this group, they’re so cheeky and fun, and I think that they will finally provide me with the boyish, eye-candy videos I need from my Idol selection. I haven’t enjoyed a full-blown boy group this much since Sexy Zone, so to finally find a male group that actually interests me, is a good thing.
Then There’s The Music
Music wise, I have had a lot of fun with 2017. Though I haven’t listen to as much as I did in 2016, I still made the time to listen to a good deal of tracks that were released over the course of the year, and found a few gems along the way. The most notable tracks would have to include those produced by the likes of Hello! Project, as well as anything by Sakurako Ohara. Once again, Houkago Princess were also core favourites, but that’s pretty typical of my tastes at this point.
It’s the return to enjoying Hello! Project and its groups that stands out to me, however, because I held such disdain for enjoying what they did back in 2016. There is no denying that as a whole, H!P is getting better at producing decent music, and I’m glad that they’re finally taking a chance at new sounds and different composers. It really is helping the groups, and overall, the quality of each units sound is steadily improving.
So yeah, I liked enough, and much like last year, here are a few videos and songs that stood out to me this year. Enjoy.