Superman by Wednesday Campanella.
I know I should be seconding nomations now, but in almost every category the ones left I’ve never heard of, or at a minimum have no feelings for. Instead I’d like the mention the main album released by Wednesday Campanella this year (I already mentioned the stand-alone single, Melos, in thes ong category).
Superman took a long time to grow on me. It’s a blur of multiple styles from EDM and Brit-Pop, to Jazz and Rap, all in a J-Pop framing. I now love most of the songs on the record, and wish I’d given it more chances earlier (after a friend with more knowledge of J-pop suggested it to me). The instrumentation and mastering is especially stunning with some pieces heavy on percussion, while others are subtle on piano. Horns, electronic beats, indie electric guitar, traditional japanese instruments, and string sections, all make an appearance while somehow feeling cohesive.
The singles Aladdin and Ikkyu-san are definitely the most popular, however it is the unique sounds of Ghenkis Khan and Ame-no-Uzume which stay with me most.
Ghenkis Khan begins with the sounds of community chanting, only to rest neatly on a calming Dance piano and rap which. The binding thread throughout being the percussion from the start, which keeps the piano melody from getting stale. Ame-no-Uzume is extremely dance-focused, however the sample of the british woman in contrast to KOM_I’s verses is instantly memorable.
I really hope people try out the album, especially if they have otherwise skipped on the oft-misrepresented “J-Pop genre”. I honestly didn’t even know that “J-Pop” included music like this.