News has slowly inched their way to the very top of my J-Pop bias list, releasing brilliant pop song after brilliant pop song. They’ve been active for an incredible thirteen years now, first as a nine-member group, then as a six-piece and finally as the very strong four-member configuration they are today. Throughout it all, their music has only improved, even if their commercial power may have dwindled a bit. There are many great songs that were bumped just outside this list, and a two total favorites (Barefoot Cinderella Boy & Full Swing) that I deemed ineligible based on the fact that they were part of a double a-side without a music video.
10. Summer Time (2008)
One of the most straightforward pop tracks the group has released, sun-kissed by a bright, bubbly melody and classic boyband sentiment.
9. Sakura Girl (さくらガール) (2010)
A swirling springtime ode that marks one of News’ most mature melodies. Rarely has melancholic yearning sounded so catchy.
8. Four Musketeers (Yonjuushi 四銃士) (2015)
Playing off of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the guys deliver a rousing, theater-school mini-drama that perfectly matches their unique sound with symphonic bombast. (full review)
7. The Red, Burning Sun (紅く燃ゆる太陽) (2004)
New’s earliest output tended to follow a similar, high-energy retro dance template, but no song is stronger than the synth-driven Red, Burning Sun. It may not be as instantly recognizable as Yell or Teppen, but its rapid fire hooks pack a memorable punch.
6. Fighting Man (2010)
Blasting forward with an edgier, syncopated energy than their past work, Fighting Man offered a glimpse into what News would later transform into. That mile-a-minute chorus is incredibly addictive.
5. Weeeek (2007)
One of their most recognizable singles, walloping listeners with its enormous stadium chant of a chorus. And don’t mistake those extra “e’s” for a typo!
4. Chumu Chumu (チュムチュム) (2015)
There’s no reason that a Bollywood pastiche performed by a jpop group should work this well. Chumu Chumu is silly, for sure, and completely aware of its own ridiculousness, but even if you strip away the track’s considerable Indian influences, the chorus remains one of the catchiest moments of their career.
3. Kaguya (2015)
Powered by its sledgehammer, 80’s-indebted beat, the powerful Kaguya offers much more meat on its bones than first appears. The accompanying paper-umbrella dance is gimmicky (and refreshingly gender-bending), but the strength of the song lies in its intense forward drive.
2. Chankapana (チャンカパーナ) (2012)
After a long hiatus, News reconfigured as a four-piece and delivered this transformative comeback. Taking cues from disco, Chankapana presents an unwavering tribute to the fans who had stuck by them for so long. In the process, it also gifts us with one of their best, most inclusively sing-along choruses.
1. World Quest (2012)
World Quest is actually one of News’ lowest performing releases, though you wouldn’t be able to tell when listening to the sheer jubilation of its explosive chorus. An anthem to end all anthems, the song takes full advantage of the guys’ powerful vocals, belting it out in a sky-high, ever surging melody. It’s far from their most experimental single, but you just can’t fault a pop song this big.