Best Of 2010: Japanese Music

January 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Posted in ~Special | 6 Comments
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Japan had a handful of amazing albums and some fantastic new artists made their debut in 2010. Most of the artists that I listen to released singles and albums so I was happy about that. The biggest surprise was definitely Utada Hikaru’s announcement that she would go on hiatus for a few years which left me pretty bummed out. Luckily, she decided to leave with a bang and released a best album.

Best Discoveries


I’m so glad I decided to look into ICONIQ. I saw her name when I was browsing some forums and was intrigued. I clicked on the preview for Crystal Girl and I knew I was going to love her first album. The preview for BYE NOW! was also addicting with its light summer feel. Her shaved head was shocking because I’ve never seen a J-Pop artist with that look so it really made her stand out. Her album, Change Myself, was impressive and her following mini-album, Light Ahead, had some interesting tunes. She’s easily the best new artist to grace the J-Pop scene.


With JASMINE’s colour themed singles and all the praise she was getting I decided to check out what all the fuss was about. Good thing I did because JASMINE is the best R&B singer in Japan at the moment. Not only can she do outstanding R&B music but she even touched on some electropop with L.I.P.S. which is one of the best tracks on her debut album, GOLD, and she had a gospel inspired ballad, Dreamin’. Even though there are tons of R&B artists, JASMINE brings something different to it that sets her apart from everyone else.


I was led to moumoon by Rie fu’s fifth album, at Rie sessions, because of her collaboration with YUKA, the vocalist from moumoon, on her song Don’t Worry. I saw that they had released a new mini-album, Refrain, and I loved the covers so I decided to check out the album. YUKA’s voice is gorgeous and I love her range. In some songs she sings with a vibrant cute voice while in others she sings in a deep voice that’s so soothing. Their entire discography is amazing and you can expect to see reviews for them in the future.

Best Cover

moumoon – Refrain

The covers for Refrain are absolutely beautiful. The makeup and the colours are all perfect and YUKA looks lovely. The only reason I decided the listen to moumoon was because of these gorgeous covers and what a surprise it was to see that the music was just as beautiful as the covers. The use of pink, green and blue are stunning and have a lovely effect on the water. This is pure eye candy.

Runner Up: immi – Spiral

Best Single

MiChi – Love is.

MiChi’s had some strong releases in 2010 with the fabulous All about the Girls ~Iijanka Party People~/Together again and WoNdeR WomaN singles. She managed to sneak in another awesome single right before the new year, Love is. The four songs featured on the single are electropop bliss. This is MiChi’s best single and her cover of PRETTY FLY (FOR A WHITE GUY) is one of her better covers. I’ve never heard the original but I love its rock/electronic sound. She hasn’t done any wrong yet and constantly releases A+ material. I’m definitely looking forward to her next album.

Runner-up: Namie Amuro – Break It/Get Myself Back

Best Video

Utada Hikaru – Goodbye Happiness

Utada’s final video before her hiatus is an adorable imitation of youtube videos and is the first time she’s directed a video. Utada looks great and she references some of her old videos like Automatic and traveling. The Automatic parody is cute and she looks like she’s having a good time in the video. Her dancing and her Kuma outfit with the disco ball are hilarious. While the video is pretty cheerful, the written message at the end, “I love you,” is kind of sad. The end of the video, when it shows other related videos just like youtube does, is so awesome. This is a bittersweet video because she’s going to be on hiatus for a few years but it’s a nice farewell treat for her fans.

Runner-up: ICONIQ – Crystal Girl

Best Mini-Album

moumoon – Refrain

In 2010, moumoon released two mini-albums, Refrain and SPARK. Both are incredible but I chose Refrain because it was the first release by them that I listened to. Like I said in the previous category, YUKA has a lovely voice that’s expressive and she can hit some really beautiful notes. The music on this album has a sweet and uplifting vibe that can easily cheer you up when you’re feeling down. Aoi Tsuki to Ambivalence na Ai is one of the best ballads of the year and it’s YUKA’s most impressive vocal performance on Refrain. It’s a sad song and a complete contrast to the rest of the album.

Runner-up: moumoon – SPARK

Best Album

Utada Hikaru – Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL. 2

Even though this is a compilation I’ve decided to put it under this category. This album is a collection of Utada’s singles from ULTRA BLUE to HEART STATION, which are her two strongest Japanese albums, plus five brand new songs. I became a fan before the first single for ULTRA BLUE was released so this collection brings back a lot of memories. It’s basically an album of fan favourites because the majority of her singles are considered her best songs. The first disc also contains Beautiful World -PLANiTb Acoustica Mix- which changes the original to an organic acoustic song that is simply divine. PLANiTb mixes always tend to be full of win so this wasn’t really a surprise. What I was looking forward to the most was the second disc. I don’t want to give too much away because I plan to review it but I was very happy with the songs. Even Hymne à l’amour ~Ai no Anthem~, which I was torn with at first, grew on me when I listened to the five songs together.

Runner-up: JASMINE – GOLD

Best Artist

Utada Hikaru

Utada was just full of surprises in 2010. She had her first international tour, In The Flesh, for her second English album, This Is The One. She announced a hiatus from music for a few years and even had a final concert in Japan, WILD LIFE, which was broadcasted live on USTREAM for everyone to see and both these concerts were phenomenal. She performed songs live for the first time during the WILD LIFE concert like BLUE, Take 5 and Niji-iro BASU and it was great to finally see them live. It’s depressing that one of the best Japanese singers and my favourite singer is going on hiatus but I hope everything goes well for her. I’ll be waiting for her comeback, whenever that may be, and I can’t wait to see if there will be any change in her music.

Runner-up: JASMINE

There were so many great Japanese releases in 2010 and I wasn’t even able to mention them all. Anna Tsuchiya, BENI, Angela Aki, immi, school food punishment and Rie fu all released great albums. I finally listened to Ayumi Hamasaki’s new album, Love songs, and I’m surprised that I’m enjoying it. Overall, 2010 had a lot more albums that I enjoyed than 2009 did.



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  1. Nice! I haven’t listened to MiChi since her third single and I am in love with “Love is.”! I’ll have to start listening to her again! Ah, Hikki! Sad to see her go, but at least she left us fans a gift. The PV for “Goodbye Happiness” had me cracking up!

    • Have you heard All about the Girls ~Iijanka Party People~? That’s one of her best songs. It’s so sad that Utada’s going on hiatus but she signed a new deal so at least we know she’s coming back!

  2. My knowledge of Jpop is limited and apart from Kpop crossover artists, there are only a handful of Jpop singers I listen to. But in 2010, I really enjoyed listening to ICONIQ, BENI, JASMINE and Utada. Apart from having a different sound to Kpop, I like that there a lot of strong solo artists, especially female, in Jpop.

    Am looking forward to new music from Daichi Miura, Shota Shimizu and Thelma Aoyama in 2011 (as you can see, my taste is heavily skewed to RnB style music ^^)

    • ICONIQ, BENI, JASMINE and Utada released great albums last year! I wish Kpop had more solo female artists. I think there’s only three that I listen to compared to the large amount of female Jpop singers I listen to. I’ve actually never heard Daichi Miura and Shota Shimizu music but I have heard some of Thelma Aoyama’s and it was alright. Maybe I’ll check out her new stuff when it comes out this year :).

  3. i really like this site…we need referrencies like this to know newest n best japan song

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