As with many groups within the Johnny’s umbrella that unabashedly love, I couldn’t really write much about Kis-My-Ft2 due their music being basically inaccessible for many. Something that has recently been undone due to most of their videography being added to Youtube. A move that has made this particular fan, and I assume many many others, very happy.
And as such, to celebrate such an occasion, I’ve compiled a list of my top 15 (top 10 is just too hard man) singles by Kisumai (that’s what I’ll be calling them from now on). Unfortunately, some of my favourite songs by them are not eligible since b-sides are still almost impossible to actively find (unless I upload the mp3) so only songs that have music videos will be eligible for this.
WARNING: HIGH LEVELS OF CHEESE AND OVER THE TOP MUSIC AFTER THIS POINT. IF YOU HAVE A NATURAL AVERSION TO SUCH TRACKS, PLEASE PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Sha La La Summer time
Ai no Beat
15. My Resistance (A Certain Thing) (2013)
A more stripped back effort when compared to their other efforts from the era, My Resistance harnesses a more emotive melody that absolutely soars during its dramatic, theatrical chorus. The fizzy post chorus and climactic key change are the icing on the cake.
14. Explode (2017)
A thundering beast of a track, Explode sees Kisumai at their, as the title suggests, most explosive , experimenting with tempo shifts that don’t always work but ensure that the final product maintains a sense of thrilling grandiosity. It’s just a volley of highlights with a double time finale to die for.
13. Kimi, Boku. (2018)
Buoyed by a majestic melody that can brighten even the deepest, darkest crevices of my soul, Kimi, Boku. is your quintessential Japanese boy band ballad filtered Kisumai’s personality rich lens. The result is not something that will be for everyone but it’s 100% for me.
12. Shake It Up (2012)
Riffing off the bouncy EDM craze of its time, Shake It Up remains one of the groups most catchy efforts, sprinkling a maddeningly catchy central hook reminiscent of NSYNC*’s Tearin up My Heart over a bouncy electro pop backbone that only works to heighten the groups goofy and irresistibly fun performance.
11. Luv Bias (2021)
I’ll always love these kind of emotive J-pop ballads and Luv Bias is one of the strongest in recent memory. Much of that is thanks to its outstanding chorus, which ebbs and flows in an incredibly satisfying way that heightens both the emotive and melodic nature of the song. Which is great since the chorus just keeps going and going and going.
10. HUG & WALK (2019)
Basically a continuation of 2012’s Shake It Up, Hug & Walk takes the glitchy electro-pop influence of the early 2010’s and elevates it to near euphoric levels with a thrilling instrumental drop that transforms a potentially generic offering into an incredibly fun and goofy piece of pop. And no, I’m not even going try and figure out what the title means.
9. Fear (2021)
A thrilling maturation of their sound and probably their most approachable single, Fear‘s rock influenced backing and emotive vocal melodies came together to deliver a surprisingly evocative listening experience. It’s incredibly unique, lyrically and visually resonating with the kind of dark, choking feeling that many felt during the second year of the pandemic.
8. Inori (2011)
Bringing together dramatic monologues and a killer guitar riff, Inori casts a spell on the listener with a dramatic melody and equally passionate performance. It’s hook is absolutely gorgeous, pulsing with an unrivalled sense of pathos that makes perfect use of its extended arrangement to deliver an absolute knockout that never feels boring during its 5+ minute runtime. It’s a shame however that the music video cuts the final minute, which is easily one of my favourite endings to a Kisumai track.
7. Akai Kajitsu (Red Fruit) (2017)
Another example of the kind of larger than life theatrical dance track that Kisumai do so well, Red Fruit is bolstered by a majestic centrepiece that resounds like a choir of hundreds. It’s not the most complex of tracks but when taken as a whole, it’s hard not to be utterly charmed by this absolute anthem. The music video is pretty cool too!
6. We Never Give Up (2011)
Incredibly cheesy and incredibly for me, We Never Give Up is an 80’s power pop infused fever dream, bolstered by some searing guitar work and an anthemic chorus for the ages. It wears its influences on its sleeve, unafraid to go all out with an arrangement that aims for the stars and gets there with ease. It’s the definition of a fist pumping song, one that would work perfectly as the soundtrack to some long lost 80’s action flick.
5. Edge of Days (2019)
Home to what might be my favourite chorus in their entire discography, Edge of Days fills its connective tissue with some harder edged guitar led verses before the utterly transcendent chorus soars in with an thrilling sense of majesty. It’s goosebump inducing in the best ways, somehow managing to combine emotions such as hope, melancholia and triumph into one flawless centrepiece that will have you coming back for more. The boys haven’t come back to this sound since but in a way, that’s what makes Edge of Days a little bit more special.
4. Yes! I Scream
A buoyant blast of carnivalesque pop that lives up to its exclamatory title, Yes! I Scream is one of the most joyous and colourful songs that Kisumai and J-pop as a whole have to offer. It’s increasingly melodic, unflagging in its intentions to entertain and just popping off at each and every melodic turn. The chorus, in classic Kisumai style is theatrical and grand, growing into a rallying cry to the heavens that perfectly captures the celebratory energy created by its bouncy verses.
3. Everybody Go
Kisumai’s official introduction to the J-pop world and one of my favourite debut songs of all time, Everybody Go is an absolute blast from start to finish. It’s a perfect encapsulation of what makes Kisumai such an entertaining and engaging group, acting as the perfect playground for their many personalities to flourish without forgetting the importance of a killer melody. Its chorus is a stunner, building upon that “you can do it energy!” that I love so much and framing it around a pulsing electronic beat that’s only improved by those gorgeous synth accents.
2. Tonight (2017)
The absolute zenith of Kisumai’s rock opera endeavours, Tonight is everything I want in a song and more. It’s completely unhinged, oblivious to the idea of restraint and instead powered by an invigorating rock guitar dominated arrangement that gives us the most gripping opening few seconds to any Kisumai song ever. Couple that with a cheesy yet incredibly assured performance and it goes a long way in selling this incredibly over the top concept. The chorus however is where everything ascends into pure, undiluted majesty. It’s INTENSE in every sense of the word, powering forward on a chanted melody that hits every single one of my weak spots and a thrilling double time beat that ups the energy of a track that already sounds as though it’s moving at a 100. Tonight floors me on every listen and is a song that I still can’t believe exists in the way it does.
1. Gravity (2016)
An utterly legendary song and one that easily slots itself as one of my favourite J-pop songs of all time, Gravity is a force of nature, bringing together the EDM sounds that characterised some of the groups earlier efforts with a thrilling melody and explosive arrangement that makes each and every second of this musical triumph feel like a larger than life moment. Yes it’s over the top. Yes it’s cheesy. Yes it hits like a sledgehammer from start to finish without catching a breath. But when you have a performance this convicted, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for its charms. From the verses that harnesses a constant sense of acceleration and never fail to give me an adrenaline rush to the force of nature that is its chorus, Gravity is pure perfection in idea and execution. And just like with any great over the top banger, Gravity climaxes in a goosebump inducing high note that leads us into an ADDITIONAL melodic refrain to cap off a track that just keeps on giving.