This countdown is far overdue, pushed back only because I assumed its audience would be pretty limited. But, in a ho-hum month of music, I need to gush a little.
Kis-My-Ft2 is not only my favorite of the many Johnny’s Entertainment groups, but also my favorite J-pop idol group. For my money, they boast the most consistent discography of their peers, including a ton of fantastic highlights.
Even by Johnny’s standards, Kis-My-Ft2 don’t fit the typical idol mold in either looks or demeanor, but that’s what makes them interesting. They’ve succeeded thanks to their rock solid catalog of music and sheer force of personality.
At over forty “title tracks” (or, more accurately, tracks with music videos), there were plenty of excellent songs I had to leave off my list. Special honorable mentions must go to Luv Sick, Another Future, Red Fruit, Tonight, Sha La La Summertime, and many more.
- Apologies in advance for the disparate video links — and video qualities. That’s what happens when agencies don’t let their music live on the internet. If a video is not available via youtube, click the image to watch it on a variety of other sites (bilibili, facebook, daum, etc).
10. Ai No Beat (2012)
Released in both a dance and rock version (plus a mix of the two), Ai No Beat is satisfying no matter how you arrange it. I prefer the dance version, which offers a slick, propulsive beat that draws the best from the song’s glossy melody.
9. Unmei Girl (2013)
Unmei Girl sees the group tackling a classic, guitar-led power pop sound to invigorating effect. It’s an incredibly catchy, bubbly melody that plays to their amiable strengths.
8. My Resistance (A Certain Thing) (2013)
At first listen, My Resistance might feel a bit throwaway when placed alongside the group’s bigger-sounding tracks. But halfway through, the song blossoms into a rousing post-chorus refrain that adds an incredibly optimistic energy.
7. Perfect World (2014)
A more subdued entry in Kis-My-Ft2’s discography, Perfect World thrives on its prominent use of vocal layering and cascading melody. It’s home to one of their most stunning choruses, at once accessible and ornate.
6. Everybody Go (2011)
One of the most memorable Johnny’s debuts of the past decade, the anthemic Everybody Go sums up Kis-My-Ft2’s appeal in a nutshell, offering “you can do it!” energy fused to an impossibly huge chorus.
5. Shake It Up (2012)
Arriving just as this kind of bouncy EDM was in style, Shake It Up is among the group’s most instant offerings. Its electro riff is addictive, powered by the guys’ goofy charisma.
4. Explode (2017)
Johnny’s acts are often positioned as faux-badass tribes of warriors, and Explode embraces the innate ridiculousness of that. Opening with a slow, dramatic build, the track lives up to its title as the chorus literally erupts with power.
3. We Never Give Up! (2011)
We Never Give Up hits so many of my late-80’s power pop foundations. It might as well have been ripped straight from the 1986 Transformers soundtrack, which was a formative musical experience for me as a child. Whether that’s praise or ridicule will depend on your personal taste, but it’s near impossible to resist that killer, anthemic melody or blistering guitar solo. From its propulsive energy to the deliciously overwrought backing vocals, We Never Give Up is as motivating as its fist-clenched title.
2. Yes! I Scream (2016)
This is pure sunshine in a bottle. Seriously, one of the most joyous pop songs of the past few years. With this sensation comes a heavy dose of cheese, but that’s sort of the point. The exclamation point in Yes! I Scream is no mistake. Its music video depicts a Munchkin City-esque parade, every bit as stuffed and colorful as the song itself. But amidst all this bombast, you’ll find a killer, shout-from-the-rafters pop melody that feels universally inviting.
1. Gravity (2016)
Gravity is Johnny’s J-pop perfection, breathlessly paced and wonderfully structured. It’s also edgy enough to appeal to those who find this style a little too “guilty pleasure” for their liking. My heart skips a beat as soon as the song launches into its gargantuan synth-and-vocals riff, but it’s the soaring, two-part chorus that really seals the deal. The arrangement doesn’t pull any punches, generating a constant sense of build that culminates in a flawlessly placed power note that brings us to Gravity’s invigorating climax.
I heard some of their songs years ago, they are cool👌❤️
Given the difficulty of full access to releases, my desire to be more involved in the J-industry has been severely stunted. That said, I still managed to fanboi a few girl groups, but nothing XY; I know.. ..shocking, right?
Interestingly, my choices were fairly diverse. From rock-edge, to ethereal, to candy pop, to J-crush. Here’s a few groups that I would totally stand outside their company, in the garbage, while it’s raining cats and dogs, just to scream out their names in the same manner as Park Sooyoung’s (Joy from RV) cacophonous gatecrasher.
Here’s an incomplete list:
Tokyo Girls’ Style
FLOWER as part of E-Girls with HAPPINESS & DREAM
…and of course, the many iterations of the Akihabara girls.
A reference or four:
Shishido Kavka “Miss. Miss Me”:
Tokyo Girls’ Style “Limited Addition”:
FLOWER “Forget-Me-Not” (1st song > 0:00 to 4:47):
FEMM “The Real Thing”:
DERP! Sorry, Nick, I meant to only paste text links.
Thank you for this public service. These are essentially unbuyable in the US, so it is so nice to have a guide.
10 “Ai No Beat” reminds me of old school Kpop of that 2012 era. It sounds like Infinite covering ZEA covering a Big Bang song.
9 That is the finest skating routine since SPEED “What U”, and before that, Gene Kelly.
8 “My Resistance” Ooh change the key! That is what you hear in the post chorus refrain, then, change back! Nicely done.
7 “Perfect World” And here, time change! The first lines of the chorus drop into half time. This sounds like a classic happy clappy summer fan service song.
6 “Everybody go” More roller skates! This one sounds very Jpop with a heavy mid’00s TVXQ guitar instumental influence. Then the chorus kicks in and it is Starlight Express does jpop complete at 3:20 with trumpet fanfare! And you know it is Jpop because the song still goes for a full minute after that.
5 “Shake it up”. Basic jpop. Video looks like T-ara. Does not improve on the Cars.
4 “Explode” not only unbuyable, also unlistenable in your link (my computer safety guards block the flash player) Youtube has a 45 sec sample, and it looks like it could feature my favorite pack of jpop wolves. Then another 45 sec sample of another video autoplayed, and they are dressed like pirates on a what looks like an Italian rooftop, all chained together. That one looked interesting too.
3 “We Never Give Up” my mind doesn’t go to the 80’s, maybe 90’s kid movie soundtrack – I never saw Transformers. 80’s movie soundtracks were insanely strong and varied. Tina Turner. Phil Collins x3. Berlin. And that is just 1985 or so. Actually my mind goes to Super Junior happy clappy songs of the same approximate year that they still play at every Super Show. “Miracle”, “Fly”. Ooh, and more roller skates! They will never give up those roller skates, will they? Good for them!
2 “Yes I Scream” also unwatchable (flash player). There is a top of the pops style version on youtube under v=5AFuhOh3G64 if it is the same song. Meh for me. Sounds like jpop hi nrg song dropping in an Avicii break.
1 “Gravity” ah yes, this is a Nick song. It isn’t that different in “propulsive energy” from Infinite “The Chaser”. It isn’t my song, but good for you.
Of these ten, I am going to say that 8 “My Resistance” is my favorite. I am a sucker for a well done key change.
Yep, that’s the wrong Scream song. I Scream Night is a b-side on the same album. I like it too, but it’s much more generic. Very Avicii, as you pointed out.
I can’t find another full version of the Yes I Scream mv streaming online, but here’s a twitter vid of half of the song for those who can’t watch the other link:
Here’s another link to the Explode mv: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=446094499624997
And for those interested in buying these albums/singles, might I suggest Zenmarket.jp? It’s a proxy service where you can purchase music (and other things) via Japan. You can pick up a lot of Johnny’s Entertainment music for a good deal if you shop using yahoo auctions or buy used from amazon.co.jp. That’s how I do it when there’s J-pop I need to buy.
Hah, the song itself is fun, but the video is funner. Its like Willy Wonka does a carnevale parade through main street Disney. I can only imagine filming it. In my minds eye it is an oval shaped stage set and they are marching round and round and round, but in reality it probably is a straight line 50 feet long, and they just all back up after every 20 seconds of music.
Which is even funniest to imagine all of that backing up, and backing up again, and backing up again, and backing up again, and …
I have watched the “making of” video and you are 100% correct on your second guess. Lots of backing up!
You can’t fully appreciate Kis-My-Ft2 unless you watch their variety (which is impossible to find with subtitles unless you know the right people…)
Semi-related. Back in the early 00’s, this song dropped in my lap from a mix tape an old friend sent me, who had in turn gotten in from somewhere who knows where. I shared it on with my colleagues with whom I was working on an away assignment. We had it playing on repeat in the office. We had no idea what song, where (Ok, Japanese?), who, when, why, how.
Then I get an email from one of them.
THIS IS IT! Holy cow, how did you find it, old friend?
And so now, I am paying it forward. You are welcome.
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Awesome song. It’s one of those songs that’s 8 minutes long, but leaves you with a “What,? it’s over already?” feeling afterwards. There’s so much history locked in our heads, isn’t there? There should be away for our brains to be uploaded to the cloud before our souls are uploaded to the heavens.
It reminds me of some of the great remixes I’d been exposed to decades ago. I’m not referring to mash-ups (where two songs are inter-mingled), more.. ..DJ mixes; where heavy electronic music carries most of the load. In today’s K-Pop scene, TAK best describes what I’m saying.
Here’s one of my faves as an example, Daniella – Ride (Bastien Laval Remix):
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I’m actually a bit surprised that not even Freeze or Break the Chains made it into this list…
My criteria for this list required that the songs had music videos. Otherwise, Freeze would’ve been right there near the top!