As the end of winter draws ever closer I find it appropriate to rank my favorite ballads of 2009. I was finding it hard to classify what makes these songs so great. I decided to cut my word count in half and just let the songs speak for themselves. So put on your Snuggie ™, make some tea, grab a box of tissues and enjoy some absolutely lovely songs.
10. Aoyama Thelma – Wasurenai yo
I won’t lie: this is probably the most generic track on the list, but it is great nonetheless. I find that it’s the kind of generic that is a wonderful example of the quality of songs that go beyond the tropes they’re fashioned out of.
09. Moumoon – Aoitsuki to Ambivalence na Ai
The song grabs hold of you with its chilling intro and doesn’t let go till it reaches the heart wrenching finale. I really enjoy when song lyrics are realistic with love, and this song exemplifies this beautifully.
08. SUPERFLY – best of my life
This song evokes such a vulnerability that I can honestly say hasn’t been present in any of SUPERFLY’s previous tracks. I adore the progression in the track; it slowly builds upon itself adding a new element to the mix at the perfect moments to keep the listener interested. The lyrics are relatable and beautiful in their simplicity.
07. EXILE – Futatsu no Kuchibiru
Say what you will about EXILE, the 14 member monstrosity of a boy band; they can still pull it out for a fantastic ballad that, while not breaking any new ground, stands above the rest for its polish and finesse. “Futatsu no Kuchibiru” is overall a great ballad with just enough of an urban flare added via a strong underlying beat to keep it interesting.
06. alan – Kuon no Kawa
It feels as if this song sweeps you off your feet and it takes you on a journey. The orchestration is rich, and epic in a way that is not over the top or out of place. Alan’s vocals are unique and she uses her trademark wail in perfect moderation.
05. KREVA – Shunkan speechless
I know pretty isn’t usually the word that one applies to a rap artist, but KREVA really knows what he’s doing as evident by this pleasant and laid back track with a sweet chorus. It gets bonus points for being one of the more original tracks on the list.
04. JUJU feat. Jay’ed – Ashita ga Kuru Nara
What a fantastic mingling of voices! These two were born to collaborate. The transitions are seamless, the verses are subtle and the chorus is powerful
03. BoA – Eien
Finally something fresh was released from an artist who had been grinding a stone of mediocrity the past few years. “Eien” wasn’t groundbreaking in its composition, but in its excellent execution. It’s hard to believe this track was only released last February as it already feels like a classic.
02. Nakashima Mika – No Answer
Who knew Nakashima Mika’s best track last year would be a B-side? This is one of the most pleasant songs I have ever heard. Whenever it comes on I am enraptured by its aural excellence.
01. Onitsuka Chihiro – Kaerimichi wo Nakushite
I don’t hear this song, I feel it. Every chord resonates through my body, every syllable cuts to the bone. I feel the loneliness, the uncertainty, the fear; when this nearly seven minute cathartic opus is finished you are drained, changed, and strangely enough, want to come back for more.
Close but no cigar:
Hamasaki Ayumi – BALLAD
A surprisingly rich ballad from the queen of J-pop with a PV that is superb in its simplicity and unpredictability.
Ayaka – Minna Sora no Shita <Piano ver.>
This song is a love letter to her fans. It’s beautiful and the “don’t give up” message has never felt as bittersweet. (Original version used in video below)
DOUBLE & Shota Shimizu – Oyasumi no Kiss wo
I really love this song, but I knew that JUJU & Jay’ed deserve the spot more. This track is definitely one of the smoothest slow jams to come out last year.