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.