With such a busy slate of K-pop releases, I don’t always have a chance to rave about some of my favorite J-pop. This week, I’ll be giving an overview of some of my favorite acts and songs. Hopefully you’ll find a new obsession to add to your playlist!
Why I Love AAA (and you should too)
They feel like a super group — like The Avengers or Justice League of J-pop. There’s something for everybody in AAA and the fact that all members have embarked on solo careers makes their universe large and varied. They’re a template for other modern co-ed groups like lol and Genic, but there’s a reason they’ve become the most iconic.
Due to the length of their career, AAA’s music has been through many eras and iterations. I’m most smitten with their Tetsuya Komuro produced work (2011’s Buzz Communication is one of my favorite J-pop albums ever), and those tracks are going to be heavily represented in my top five. But, their are plenty of highlights to be found anywhere in their discography.
Solo careers, you say?
Yep! Being a fan of AAA can be as much about the solo tracks as the group work. In a similar way to Korea’s Bigbang, each member has their own musical style and preferences and has developed a solo discography that stands on its own. Because of this, I’m going to countdown my top five solo AAA tracks rather than focus on b-sides.
My Top Five Singles
5. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai (2015)
The group is well-known for their ballads, and this is the most achingly dramatic of them all.
4. Makenai Kokoro (2010)
If those opening power chords don’t make you feel like you can conquer the world, I’m not sure if anthemic J-pop is for you.
3. Party It Up (2013)
This may be AAA at their most generic EDM floor-filling best, but dang if the song isn’t solid as a rock.
2. Dream After Dream (2010)
A total stunner! It’s actually my most-played AAA song by a fair margin thanks to its relentless propulsion and ridiculously perfect chorus.
1. Aitai Riyuu (2010)
Despite Dream After Dream receiving more plays in my collection, I can’t overlook Aitai Riyuu‘s obvious genius. This feels like a J-pop standard, breathlessly encapsulating AAA’s charm and power. It’s overwrought in the best possible way with a melody to die for.
My Top Five Solos
(In the interest of variety, I’m limiting this list to two songs from each member. Otherwise it may have become five Nissy songs!)
5. Snatchaway (Sky-Hi) (2018)
A blast of high-energy funk wrapped in Sky-Hi’s fast-paced rap and compelling tone. (full review)
4. I’m Your Owner (Shuta Sueyoshi) (2018)
A sleek bit of club-ready electropop with an icy synth riff that absolutely slays.
3. Double Down (Sky-Hi) (2016)
This has always felt like Sky-Hi’s most ambitious moment. It’s a percussive beast, climaxing in a go-for-broke chorus.
2. Never Stop (Nissy) (2015)
This is one of my perennial summer favorites. It’s effortlessly joyful, gliding on rhythm guitar and blasts of euphoric brass. I adore every second.
1. The Eternal Live (Nissy) (2017)
When I try to encapsulate Nissy’s number one charm, it has to be his sense of showmanship. The Eternal Live wraps this skill in a banging funk package, unleashing his charisma full-force. (full review)