topazera: Aiba Masaki with his hands pressed to his lips in extreme excitement (嵐: Aiba Masaki's face is stuck in :D!)
[personal profile] topazera
Hey f-list! How are you? Is 2013 treating you well so far? This first week has been fine for me but fingers crossed I don't have a black cat cross my path or get attacked by a turkey (more likely, they have been chasing the mailman) and jinx the whole thing. :) Guess what though? I'm not quite done with 2012. LOL, okay, I thought of doing an end of the year Idols I Have Loved music post since about December 8th but I just haven't gotten things together until now. SO, if everyone isn't over reminiscing yet, here's my contribution!

The criteria for who I was going to discuss in this post was basically: only if I've followed more than one release and actively kept up with their performances, they're in. I like a looooooot of people casually but this post was going to get out of control if I just blabbed about everyone I've had a whirlwind romance with this year. :P These artists were people I, unexpectedly or not, knew and felt a lot about this year!

Since we live in a) the tumblr era and b) the policed YouTube era, I've included both celebratory gifs for each artist (epilepsy warning... in fact, seeing them all together, I really think I should have just used pictures. A LITTLE INTENSE.) and uploaded files if you want to follow along! Sorry if the files are kind of big, I originally made them to make gifs off of and thought why not share. ♥ All files with more than one part need to be joined and then the ending changed from .psd to .mp4. All files of Korean artists (except for one), were originally encoded by Gallade and reencoded to mp4 by me. All files are 720p, with one exception at 450p. :)

Click the spoiler to find out if you are interested in the people represented in the post (or don't and be surprised). Also, there are spoilers for one Kouhaku performance in this post, click for which one: Arashi, Kanjani8, Hey! Say! JUMP, Perfume, f(x), Miss A, Gain, Jokwon, Seo In Guk! Contains spoilers for Kanjani8's Kouhaku performance, if you haven't seen it yet!

Idols I Have Loved
Favorites of 2012
by artist


Favorite PV: Wild at Heart
Favorite Performance: Music Station 2012.05.04 - Face Down
Favorite B-side/Album song: Welcome to our party
Most Listened to Song: Face Down

Sighhhhhhh~~~ Arashi and I had a good year. ♥♥ Is there any way a year that contained both Wild at Heart and Face Down could be anything else? ♥ I was really happy that Arashi got to do a lot different things: Wild at Heart was a goofy, glittery, cuddlepile, Face Down was DANCE DANCE BE BADASS and Your Eyes was pretty ballad where you can stand in one place and sing. Popcorn was an album I fell for fast and hard and I'm still going strong listening to it. And even with all this, this year will probably be most remembered as the year of Arafes! WHICH WAS TRULY LIKE THE CLOUDS WERE PARTED AND A HAND EXTENDED TO LIFT US INTO THE HEAVENS!! WE NOW HAVE GIMMICK GAME AND TOKEI JIKAKE NO UMBRELLA PERFORMANCES ON DVD. I'm seriously going to be lighting incense every year on December 26th now, in an offering few around me will understand. XD

I picked this performance of Face Down… because there was really no other choice. It is the alpha and the omega. If I had to pick my jam of this year, Face Down was it. And I just don't think any subsequent performance can touch this one, that so sweepingly and completely caught my heart. Sometimes knowing someone is fighting injury makes things a little painful to watch but here, it just makes sense. Oh, of course, that's why Nino is owning us even more than usual and stealing this Ohno-drama song from its rightful owner. :DDD I swear, out of the nineteen moments that I selected as my favorite to maybe gif (19!!), Nino had a solid four when everyone else was lucky to have one. Fucking Nino. XD

I've already written a lot about Popcorn and I think the brilliance of the Wild at Heart PV is pretty self-evident! I have trouble talking about Arashi because I feel like I just live in these trenches day and day out but if anyone wants to chat, I would be happy to~~

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 292.2 MB change name ✒ 20120504 Msta - Arashi - Face Down.mp4


Favorite PV: Aoppana
Favorite Performance: Kouhaku Uta Gassen 2012.12.31 - Naniwa Iroha Bushi + Musekinin Hero
B-side/Album song: Merry Go Round
Most Listened to Song: Ai Deshita

Picking from this year's Eito material was by far the hardest decisions! I thought all their releases this year were both really solid and really different, so it's impossible to measure them against each other. It made me so happy to see the Eito Rangers debut! But then I love band songs so Ai Deshita was a winner! But then I also horn sections and ska influences so I adored Aoppana! And then do I even count Crouton… seriously, I was washed away into Kanjani8 love for a whole day and made no choices. ♥♥

B-sides, ugh, forget it! I think Kanjani8 has the most consistently wonderful b-sides of any group I follow. There are so many times I listen to them and think "Why didn't they save this song for an a-side!! I want them to perform on music show, gosh!!" I seriously love five out of seven (not counting the Eight Ranger theme. XD …Or Crouton.) of the b-sides this year. In the end I picked Merry Go Round because I think it's really fresh and clear, it really caught my ears and I found myself reaching for it more than others. I think it does a great job featuring different voices and harmonies. I really love Ryo's voice and the Yasu background "Merry Go Round~" and the harmonies during the chorus are just so good. EITO. ♥

For performance… it was a really hard choice but eventually I had follow my heart and pick Kouhaku. :) Even though it was the very last hours of the year. XD This performance simultaneously made me so happy, just grinning from ear-to-ear, and also really emotional. For them to be standing on the stage of Kouhaku, so obviously over the moon to be there, and to put in a performance that just radiated warmth and lit up the venue… I was just so proud to be their fan. ♥ I haven't been made teary-eyed by Naniwa Iroha Bushi in a long time but it totally got to me to see it performed with, like, fancy costumes and back-up dancers on such a prestigious stage! It's impossible to take off my fangirl blinders but I did think it was a stand out performance even at Kouhaku. :) So it really shouldn't be seen as a slight to this year material that in the end I picked something else to represent the year, this just felt like a summit of so many years of work. ♥ Kouhaku was really a great tie-breaker for every performance of ER and Ai Deshita on Music Station, to drop in some honorable mentions. :)

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 300.7 MB change name ✒ 20121231 Kouhaku - Kanjani8 - Naniwa irohabushi + Musekinin HERO.mp4

Hey! Say! JUMP

Favorite PV: N/A (There was only one XD)
Favorite Performance: Shounen Club 2012.02.03 - Super Delicate
Honorable Mention: Music Station Super Live 2011.12.23 - Over
B-side/Album song: N/A (not into them enough to listen to b-sides)
Most Listened to Song: Beat Line

This was the first year I was into Hey! Say! JUMP and for a long while, it was begrudgingly. XD Ahaha, HSJ is all the things I told myself I didn't have a need for: YOUNG PEOPLE and A MILLION MEMBERS. But really, I should have known better. XD What wound up hooking me was a) that honorable mention performance at the end of last year, that I caught by chance and then got super into and watched a million times (Chinen's stupid backflip, this is a little your fault!!) and b) they are at least all over eighteen now. :D I'm really liking them as a dance-based Johnnies group, the songs I've been into have been: Over, Super Delicate and Beat Line. Basically if they keep calling back to that path sometimes, I'm going to be all over it. ♥

I picked this performance because getting into HSJ really taught me that you can leave it to Shounen Club to get things right for true fans of a song. XD I haaaaaate when they cut off the ending or make them speed it up or don't use the right camera angle for moves that are supposed to be viewed from the front and… honestly there are just a lot of pitfalls that other music shows fall into. XD This one is just THE performance of Super Delicate… see, this is why it was a little embarrassing to admit at first: I like HSJ enough to have all these opinions now. I HAVE STRONG OPINIONS. I think I'm finally growing past my OH NO, I HONESTLY AM INTO HEY SAY JUMP puberty. :D :D

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 261.9 MB change name ✒ 20120203 Shounen Club - Hey! Say! JUMP - Super Delicate.mp4
Honorable Mention || MF: [001] 138.3 MB change name ✒ 20111223 MSSL - Hey! Say! JUMP - OVER.mp4


Favorite PV: Spring of Life
Favorite Performance: SUMMER SONIC 2012 2012.09.21 - Spending all my time
B-side/Album song: Communication
Most Listened to Song: Spending all my time

Perfume was EXQUISITE this year, in my book. Seriously, deciding between Spring of Life and Spending all my time was difficult because they granted two of flawless concepts, Perfume-as-robots-who-fall-in-love and Perfume-as-rogue-telekinetics. Really, what more needs to be said! We had a year with both those things! I think in the end I loved Spring of Life's concept most of all but got more obsessed with Spending all my time as a song/performance. Also, I wasn't sure if I should count it as a b-side, but Hurly Burly was ALSO amazing?? Just: KUDOS, PERFUME, KUDOS! ♥

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 249.6 MB change name ✒ 20120921 SUMMER SONIC 2012 - Perfume - Spending all my time + Polyrhythm.mp4

Miss A

Favorite PV: Touch
Favorite Performance: Music Bank 2012.10.26 - I Don't Need a Man
B-side/Album song: Over U
Most Listened to Song: I Don't Need a Man

I have to give props to JYP to giving Miss A two very different projects this year! I really hope they keep trying different things with them, the members are so talented and they could do a lot. Of course, Miss A handled both the refined, eerie sexiness of Touch and fun, splashiness of I Don't Need a Man with aplomb. I think the real standout aspects of these singles were: the choreography of Touch and energy of I Don't Need a Man. I loooooove the slightly monstrous quality of Touch, I only wish they played with the zombie-ish aspect even more! I feel like they could have made something SUPER with the PV. And then in I Don't Need a Man, you could just see they were having such a great time performing it. I think Jia and Min's rap part needs a particular shout-out, ugh, SO GOOD. I'm not sure what the state of girl group music was in Korea, but this seemed like such an early 90s throwback to me and that is DELIGHTFUL. For some reason, I actually didn't get very into I Don't Need a Man when it came out but when I first started reviewing for this project and gave it another listen, I got hooked.

In the end, I decided to go with I Don't Need a Man over Touch, I can't say whether that's because it's fresh in my memory or actually the standout of the year! I selected this particular performance because they just seemed SO happy and having SO much fun. Also, Fei and Min's hair are the most flawless versions of their I Don't Need a Man styling and they are all wearing ties. Sighhhhhhh~~~

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 222.6MB change name ✒ Gallade_121026 Music Bank - Miss A - I Don't Need a Man.mp4


Favorite PV: Technically N/A but-- Electric Shock XD
Favorite Performance: Mnet M!Countdown 120614 - Electric Shock
B-side/Album song: Beautiful Stranger
Most Listened to Song: Beautiful Stranger

f(x) meanwhile went a different way than Miss A: they released one song this year that was SO THEM. Seriously, it fit their concept so perfectly and just reveled in the neon and studs that is at the heart of f(x). Electric Shock is so seriously catchy and the choreography is so energetic and fun, I could watch this one endlessly. In fact, the album earned the distinction of the first kpop release I bought a copy of, so that should speak to how much I loved it. ♥ I'm really happy with the way this one showcased their voices: of course Luna's as always but there was also a delightful amount of Amber's singing voice!

That performance was selected for being a sweet spot of styling, staging and energy. :) (I tend to skip Jet when I watch but when I tried to cut it from the file, it wasn't happy so you get it! But I'm going to just talk about Electric Shock!) I know we already saw these outfits in the PV but I love them. Basically we get three whole sets of prominently displayed LEGS, which includes Luna and Krystal in shorts (♥♥) and Sulli wearing what would have been a dream outfit for me in high school (I totally had items in my closet that could have been put together into that sort of combination. XDXD), and then Vic in leggings (which are almost as good, they are hot leggings) and then while not one of my favorite Amber outfits, there are bare arms. Everyone's hair is also SUPER GOOD at the same time, especially of note are Vic's bangs with the low-lights in them because that was the best. :) (LMAO, I feel like I'm commenting about superficialities too much but when they perform the song so well so many times, it really comes down to styling!) I also really like the lighting of this one, as this song really suits a shift to dark lighting and lasers during the chorus. And the gifs showcase both of the key points I looked for when picking the best performance: how well can you see the Krystal part in the beginning and did they include shots of the couple dancing in the middle. MY PRIORITIES. :D

This whole single is also really good, I've listened to the whole thing straight through a lot which isn't how I listen to things most of the time. I have to give a special shout-out to Beautiful Stranger because when I checked my iTunes, it had definitely overtaken Electric Shock as my most listened to song this year. I reeeeeally like that one. ♥

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 361.3 MB change name ✒ Gallade_120614 Mnet M!Countdown - f(x) - Jet + Electric Shock.mp4


Favorite PV: Technically N/A but-- Bloom
Favorite Performance: Music Bank 2012.10.05 - Tinkerbell + Bloom
B-side/Album song: Tinkerbell
Most Listened to Song: Bloom

I've looooooved Gain for about a year and a half now thanks to We Got Married but Talk about S was the first solo release I was around for and it was everything I could have hoped it to be. ♥ The album teaser for Tinkerbell inspired much keysmashing when it first hit and would have inspired my Halloween costume, had Halloween not been cancelled in my part of the world due to Hurricane Sandy. XD Every single creative decision on this album was on point. I adored that the main track Bloom was labeled as 19+ because it pushed ladies owning their sexuality and deciding to have sex for the first time and oh yeah, Gain is putting her hand down her pants on camera. :D :D Gain is just cool and you can tell that she really loves her projects and believes in them and she's just really good at what she does. I love her. ♥

I picked this particular performance because while all of her performances are pretty much perfect and I could wholeheartedly recommend watching a whole lot of them, it was just too hard for any other to beat this first one (in the pink sweater ♥) in my heart. ♥ Plus you get a bonus performance of Tinkerbell here!

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 252.6 MB change name ✒ 20121005 Music Bank - Gain - Bloom.mp4

Jo Kwon

Favorite PV: N/A
Favorite Performance: Inkigayo 2012.07.01 - Animal
B-side/Album song: Something 'Bout You
Most Listened to Song: Animal

Kwonnnnnnnnieeee!!! ♥ I don't even know, guys, my affection for Jo Kwon is a little ridiculous. :D When I first met Jo Kwon, I didn't think I was going to love him, I thought he was a bit much but slowly he spread like a glittery lichen across my brain and I too was felled. :DD Things that used to seem over-the-top are just now everyday Kwonnie to me. This is a very roundabout way of saying: when I heard Jo Kwon was getting a solo debut (OMG YES, BABY!) and dancing in eight-inch Jeffrey Campbell heels (GET INTO MY EYES) and releasing two copies of his album, one where he has mint green hair and you get a 3D poster and another with an androgynous photobook based on said heels (SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!)… I flipped.

For me, the great with about Jo Kwon is that he does nothing by halves. Everything about this release was SO him and I think it overall worked super well! Both the track and the performances for Animal were amaaaazing and you could see they just really were what he wanted to do most right now! While I think it's definitely true that were totally Gaga-influenced and that he wasn't dancing up to his level due to the heels… that doesn't actually take away from the end result for me? It was creative and pushing what male artists do anywhere and just… snaps for you, Kwon-ah! :DDD I also think his album was really solid musically, I listened to it a lot last summer. There were great dance tracks (Animal, Awesome Girl, Lipstick, Wingardium Leviosa) that I bopped around town but he also got to do a little of everything! Who's Loving You Now was all pop-anthem, Something 'Bout You was such a great, simmering rocker, Heaven was a really beautiful duet that showcased his voice and Just a Kiss is some awesomely pronounced English by a non-English speaking artist! I really would like it if 2AM would head into a Something 'Bout You direction for upcoming singles, I love that mid-tempo, growly rawness and it's different enough from dance music that I think it wouldn't be stepping on 2PM's toes.

This performance of Animal had been selected as my favorite for a long time because I think it was the perfect mid-point in the process. In the first one, I think Kwonnie isn't quite sure on his feet yet, a little nervous probably. And then in later ones, he's a thing to behold but I think he's a little too good in those heels, the extra kicks and stuff sometimes pull him off beat. But here it's the perfect balance! Plus that gold plumage outfit is my favorite one. ♥

Performance || MF: [001] [002] 257.7 MB change name ✒ Gallade_120701 SBS Inkigayo - JoKwon - Animal.mp4

Seo In Guk

Favorite PV: All for You (with Jung Eunji for Answer Me 1997)
Favorite Performance: MBC Show Champion 2012.04.17 - Tease Me
Honorable Mention: Mnet M!Countdown 2012.09.06 - All For You (with Jung Eunji)
B-side/Album song: Time Machine
Most Listened to Song: Shake It Up

Definitely the most unexpected entry on the list, I've only known been listening/watching his stuff for about… five weeks now. :D (And honestly... I fell for Eunji first and probably harder, but she is surrounded by girl-group members so I haven't delved into the music side yet.) However considering the amount of material I've just consumed, I'm counting him. I first saw Seo In Guk as stoic, pining teenager Yoon Yoon Je in one of my favorite dramas of the year, Answer Me 1997. While watching, I honestly had no idea he was a singer at all. If you had asked me to guess, I would have said he was solely an actor! So it took a while for my brain to acclimate to the fact he actually entered showbiz by winning Korea's first big singing competition, Superstar K, in 2009 and that's what he's primarily known for! Some facts about Seo In Guk in found important in realigning my thinking:
1. Dude has a really lovely voice! I think my favorite stuff is actually his most recent, which is a good sign. I love the mellow, R&B direction he went in for his Perfect Fit album and I've probably listened to the song Tease Me the second most after the adorable and super catchy dance track Shake It, released last year. And honestly, his duets with Eunji for Answer Me 1997 were maybe the best use of his voice. They made me think the pair of them should be automatically cast as the singing voices for every new Disney movie that come to Korea and needs to dub the romantic leads. They were DREAMY. So yes, Seo In Guk really is in the post because I seriously dig his music. Top three tracks: 1. Shake It, 2. Tease Me, 3. Calling You.
2. He is completely not his character! He is not Yoon Yoon Je at all! :D I know this should seem obvious but it's emotionally, it's not! Especially when you use Eunji as a counterpoint: she really resembles Sung Shi won of Answer Me 1997. ♥ While Seo In guk… is actually this grinning, goofy puppy of a person with an adorable tendency to spit out these unpolished answers whenever he's interviewed. That leads us to the third point…
3. Seo In Guk is not an idol! I actually have found it super interesting to get into someone who is not only outside the idol system but actually an idol reject. He turned to reality program Superstar K after he got rejected from JYP, not the only once but twice. The first time because he was too heavy-set for them (unhappy face) and the next time because he had messed up his voice due to developing bulimia after his first audition. Wow, an actual example in the media of how crushing the body-obsessed culture of kpop can be! SEO IN GUK. ♥ And the guy is still facing stigma now, both for being a cable television star (two of the major networks still have him blacklisted, apparently, which limits his promotion :() AND for being perceived as an overnight success who didn't throughly pay his dues through the idol system. After learning his backstory, I just really respect the guy and he's such a sweetheart and I just really want to support him as well as I can from here. :)

Oh yes, the reason I chose this performance was because the backing track is really low here and I thought it was actually really great, to just rely completely on his voice. It might not serve the song as a whole as well, if you haven't heard it, but as a newfound fan I liked it. :)

Performance || MF: [001] 68.6 MB change name ✒ 20120417 M!Countdown - Seo In Guk - Tease Me.mp4
Honorable Mention || MF: [001] 153.7 MB change name ✒ Gallade_120906 Mnet M!Countdown - EunJi & Seo InGuk - All For You.mkv

Other Favorites of the Year:

Favorite Songs from Dramas
1. Hikari e - Miwa (Rich Man Poor Woman theme)
2. Confession - Deli Spice (from Answer Me 1997)
3. Itchin' on a Photograph - Grouplove (from Sprout)

Favorite Variety Shows
1. Himitsu no Arashi-chan
2. VSA
3. Shin Domoto Kyoudai

(...yes, I wrote this just to express how much I still LOVE HnA and am SUPER SAD it will be gone!! Also I want to talk about Shin Domoto Kyoudai but how. How to express the majesty. XD)

New Discoveries of the Year
1. Hey! Say! Jump
2. Jung Eunji
3. Seo In Guk

Most Thrilling Releases of the Year
1. Arafes (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!al;sdkp'd;lf)
2. Eight Ranger movie
3. Popcorn

Okay, I think that's all the decision-making I can handle! I'd love to hear about what were your favorites this year in the comments, if you have anything you want to gush over! Favorite songs or favorite performances or people who had a good year. ♥
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