Music in Review, 2011

So, what did I spend 2011 listening to? As it turns out, quite a lot. This is the first year that I’ve had a portable music player capable of holding (nearly) my entire music collection, and I have a habit of listening to everything on shuffle. That said, a few things managed to stand out. My “top 10” in reverse order, from my listening statistics:

Tied for 8th place

Xbox 360 Game "Steins; Gate" Intro Theme "Sky Kuraddo no Kansokusha" / Kanako Ito


The opening theme song from the Xbox 360 Steins;Gate game, this song was actually released back in 2009. Since I watched the Chaos;Head anime, I’ve been a fan of いとうかなこ, and this is my favourite song of hers from the Steins;Gate series.

"Macross Frontier The Movie 1st: The False Songstress" Insert Song: Pink Monsoon / Sheryl Nome starring May'n

starring May’npink monsoon

Despite never having watched any of the Macross anime series, I have heard the music for it. This is helped along by Macross Frontier having music composed by 菅野よう子 (one of my favourite composers), including this powerful song which was used as the character’s debut single within the movie.

TV Anime Blassreiter New Outro Theme: A Wish For The Stars / Kanako Ito


The second song by いとうかなこ that made my top 10 list, this one’s a little unusual. It’s the b-side to the single “A Wish For The Stars”, itself a very good song—but this is one of those b-sides that is amazingly awesome yet destined to disappear into the mists of time.

binaria – sonido


binaria, the group featuring やなぎなぎ, Annabel, and yoshihisa nagao, is an independent group with a particular soft style and harmonizing vocals. They have a lot of good songs, and this one in particular rose to the top for me this year.

A Best 2 -White- / Ayumi Hamasaki


One of the few people on this list who is a legitimate “big” pop star in Japan. I didn’t do anything in particular to pick this song out, like I did with some of the others on this list—it just naturally rose up the ranks on its own merits as a good song.

Tied for 6th place

TV Anime "Yoku Wakaru Gendai Maho" Intro Theme: programing for non-fiction / Natsuko Aso

Programming for non-fiction

From a single released prior to her bigger breakout songs, this served as the opening theme to the not-widely-acclaimed anime series よくわかる現代魔法 (“Modern Magic Made Simple”). I prefer it to her more recent works, with its softer electronic style that makes better use of her voice.

Primary – Rotate


I seem to remember this one from last year—just goes to show that good songs never die, right? Although yuiko has come out with several new songs and albums since this one was released way back in 2007, Discolor—with its simple pop-rock style and strong musical hook—has consistently remained one of my favourite songs. And to think I originally got it on a whim…

Tied for 4th place



With vocals by Tsubaki and a really catchy beat, leaving this song on repeat a few times was surely responsible for propelling this song near the top of my list, as it was released almost exactly one year ago. A Touhou arrange song, although as the years go by it sometimes gets harder and harder to tell where the “Touhou” is in them… but never mind, it’s a fun song.

Fuwafuwa / Yui Makino


In her first single after switching labels to Epic Records, her producers apparently wanted to try something different from the soft and slow songs that 牧野由依 had become known for. As a result, this song is catchy and up-beat and shows a side of 牧野由依 that we hadn’t seen before. Also, a sweet piano intro.

In 3rd place

binaria second mini album: forma


I’ve never been quite sure how to describe the style of binaria’s songs, but this one fits in with them as being just as… whatever it is… as the rest of them. A very minimal arrangement allows the vocal harmonization between やなぎなぎ and Annabel to be the star of the song.

Tied for 1st place

It almost feels like cheating a bit, with two first-place songs; but based on my listening habits, that’s exactly what I have right now. Let’s take a look at what we have:

EastNewSound – Felsic Mirage


Like PiPiPiPARU, this is another song with an addictive, catchy beat and vocals by Tsubaki. It’s the older of the two EastNewSound songs that made this list, which both share a few similarities—including arrange by crouka. But when comparing two great songs one usually comes out on top, and this year, this was the song that I listened to slightly more often.

IOSYS – 東方銀晶天獄

IOSYSstar river

Come to think of it, this song actually appeared in the same spot on this list last year, having been released back in March, 2010. Somehow it has managed to retain that #1 spot over an entire year on the strengths of its arrangement, including an awesome piano melody and strong vocals. At the end of last year, IOSYS actually released an updated version STAR RIVER (D.watt alternative), but it didn’t make a dent in the listings—the lyrics were translated into English, and the vocalist wasn’t as strong in that language, not to mention that it lost the piano intro!

The last word

Yes, I know there are 12 songs in my “top 10”. But it really didn’t seem right to arbitrarily exclude two of the songs from the #8 spot.

Anyways, I guess that’s really a summary of what music I liked this year. Of course, I listened to a lot of music over the course of the year, and most of it—by far—was nowhere near this list. The spread was actually pretty small! My #1 tracks were only listened to a total of 19 times, while the #8 tracks only played 9 times. Which is really a side-effect of playing a lot of music on shuffle; I hear most songs just occasionally, unless I actively seek them out.

I do seem to be rather partial to female Japanese vocalists, though…


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