Posted by: Leek | January 13, 2010

VOCALOID 2009 Music Awards

I’m not going to lie to you guys. I HATED the year 2009 in about every respect. But if there was one thing that didn’t fail to impress it had to be the 2009 VOCALOID season. With a handful of new composers and the continuation of old all releasing a onslaught of music, it was hard for there to be little success.

This will probably less complex then the long since pass LLAMAs but finding the best hurts a lot less.

To get to the point, I had a fun time choosing what I thought was the cream of the crop really. Of course there’s always that totally subjective part of you that wants to step up but I believe this was, at the same time, a very definable year. Frankly it seemed like a big year for a lot of good acquaintances. But with that, the show will go on.

Note: With each song I mention I’ll try and list where you can download it if it’s still up for free. A lot may have been taken down by now with frequent artist releases but if I include a purchase it will be likely through KarenT via Piapro. I can’t stress enough that you buy and download it from one of the available locations even for an electronic copy (if you can and want to buy a hard release somewhere then be my guest). It will likely cost you below a dollar and supporting these artists (and my friends in many cases) is vital. Spread the love!

Song of The Year

I start with Song of the Year without hesitation really. No need to do special awards so early and producers themselves are possibly more important to me. In reality though, song of the year was quite a deliberation to some extent. I had to think hard of a true definition as well as setting some restriction. But I believe I was able to find a good choice really that I believe anybody could argue against.

Runner Up: ロミオとシンデレラ / Romeo to Cinderella

ロミオとシンデレラ

Producer: doriko
Downloadable: Yes
Purchasable: Yes

Some of you might be thinking that this is robbery. I’d almost want to agree with you if my choice for number one wasn’t so easy. doriko is no stranger to popularity in my eyes and came off a rather amazing first album release earlier in the year. Nonetheless, this release got an amazing amount of hype and not without reason.

I have to admit that doriko always had a somewhat definable style. With a fairly mellow feel and obvious knack for ballads, Romeo and Cinderella hit me like a brick to the back of the head. When I first heard it I couldn’t for the like of me compare it to any of doriko’s previous releases. And in the end, like I had any complaint about that fact.

I believe the common comment when it came out was that people wanted to terribly compare it to ryo’s World is Mine from the previous year. It’s not a terrible comparison (and like you wouldn’t want to be compared to one of ryo’s releases) but more or less a bit of a stretch of the mind. And in the end it’s arguable now which one has gotten more attention (especially from an early release standpoint).

But simply getting to the song, Romeo and Cinderella really is a favorite. From tone, to lyrics, to instrumentation, to vocal training, all of it fits rather perfectly into a nice package. If nothing else, the attitude of it is more then enough to draw you in a bit. With all the touches and finesse the song comes out with, it truly has constantly earned it’s place on both the standard Nico rankings as well as the monthly rankings.

Of course there’s no better way to get my point across then telling you to give it a listen.

Winner: Just Be Friends

Just Be Friends

Producer: Dixie Flatline
Downloadable: Yes
Purchasable: Yes

I’m going to immediately digress for a moment here so bear with me. Back after his release of Gemini, I had my eye on Dixie Flatline. Gemini got quite a bit of attention and not without reason, Dixie Flatline was different. And that’s just what I had to tell him. It was more or less a simple comment to him, something more or less saying “You have something different, keep going.” sort or encouragement. I stand by what I said as there really is no one to this day that I can put side by side with Dixie Flatline. I would say Shakespeare comes close but only to an extent as telling their music apart is not too difficult.

When Just Be Friends came out, it was a shocker. Not only because of my own amazement with it but when it’s popularity exploded. It climbed rankings faster then I would have imagined and stuck itself up there. And at that point I could only contact Dixie Flatline to congratulate him. It had been that one song that I believe every Producer should get that just get the proper attention and puts them on the top of the world.

Just Be Friends probably doesn’t seem like anything that fantastic. It’s certainly nothing new to music but it’s just something that is, in some form of the definition, perfect. It may be because of that it’s hard to hate. The song certainly has it’s charm and it’s not hard to see with the attention it received.

As I said before, the song really is nothing special. There are no amazing instrumentals aside from a classic pop feel that you just can’t resist. It’s what Dixie Flatline does best and it certainly comes through in JBF. Alongside this, we have the story that it tells. As opposed to the possible narrow feel of Romeo and Cinderella’s lyrics, JBF can appeal to about anybody. It has lyrics you would expect to hear, it tells a story that people enjoy hearing. And it’s really in that way that it’s sets itself up for that perfect definition. The song is really just structured to well to make it appealing, catchy, and practical.

So why do I consider JBF song of the year with so many other great choices? Like I said before, it’s practical. Whereas I could see the certain appeal flaws in other choices, JBF is something I could hear myself listening to on the radio. It has the appeal and the flavor but at the same time is just so great in it’s simplicity. There is a lot of muddle in what’s great music but I can hold nothing against a simple song that manages to do what it does so well.

So I have to extend my congratulations to Dixie Flatline again. Just Be Friends was really an amazing release and I can only hope to see more of him in 2010.

Music Pick-Up

Since I have no other credible awards to hand out musically, all I can do is give credit where credit is due according to my own tastes. This won’t be anything specific but just songs that I believe deserve a pat on the back.

Song Pick-Up: 炉心融解 / Roshin Yuukai

Meltdown

Producer: iroha (sasaki)
Downloadable: Yes
Purchasable: No

Roshin Yuukai was released late December but it sure set the tone for 2009 VOCALOID music releases. It painted the number one spot on the rankings for quite awhile after the year had passed and kept it’s hype throughout the year. Because of this, I have it in me to call it more of the 2009 year rather then 2008.

Now I won’t lie in either year I couldn’t give Roshin Yuukai song of the year either way but I do believe it deserves proper recognition. An amazing song in it’s own right, it has the right feel and the right sound but really really just falls short of it’s competition. With fierce competition from ryo in 2008 and the two contenders for the top spot this year, I just can’t truly hand it an award other then special recognition. If I did one then it would easily earn a three spot in either year though with relative ease.

That aside Roshin Yuukai is what I would define as the epitome of what a VOCALOID song is. A great piece of music on it’s own, it’s also somehow built for the software. I have yet to hear any vocal version of the song that I can really hold against the original just because it’s built for the robotic and voice training that comes with the software. Without that, I believe it does lose a lot of charm. Not to say I don’t respect the vocal interpretations but to me it’s just not the same song without Rin’s voice.

The release really is something and has on it’s own managed to gain quite a following. When a song can create a whole new image for a character then it reinforces the fame of the song rather well. Roshin Yuukai will certainly stand the test of time and it’s place in history I believe earns it this special mention.

Song Pick-Up: ダブルラリアット / Double Lariat

Double Lariat

Producer: アゴアニキP / Ago Aniki P
Downloadable: Yes
Purchasable: Yes

After Yokkora Sex, it was hard not to pay attention to Ago Aniki and his gift for creating a certain kind of music. Perhaps that’s why Double Lariat did/didn’t come too out of left field. The song was something else and brought an interesting character and attention to poor Luka. But all that aside, it wasn’t long before I realized how great the song was.

First, it’s hard to ignore the PV for Double Lariat. After Ago Aniki’s experimenting with Yokkora Sex, it was hard to imagine he would ignore the use of Nico’s video system. And topping his last efforts by a longshot, Double Lariat is just as much a visual treat as it is a musical one. It may be hard to notice what exactly does make it special aside from the occasion strange occurrence in the background. But when pausing begins to reveal a plethora of more Easter Eggs, you realize the work Ago Aniki put into the entire thing. Because of that it’s hard not to talk about the PV.

Getting to the song itself, Double Lariat is a simple musical treat. With a rather dominant guitar line and nothing much more, the song is a nice slice of simplicity. But this has always been the nature of Ago Aniki in a way, where the instrumental is far from complicated but just enjoyable with how simple it is.

The real thing that gets me with Double Lariat will always be the lyrics. Possibly strange at first glance, the song quickly became my favorite thing to listen to for motivation. It’s hard to imagine something so goofy telling such a good story but it really just turns out just like that. I think it’s the reason I love Ago Aniki so much. There’s always this strange element to everything but it’s not complete madness. Double Lariat is certainly a prime example of this as a song simply about spinning somehow manages to tell a cute story that can cheer you up a bit when you’re down.

Double Lariat was a good treat of 2009 and it’s encouragement earned it a nice place in my heart. So really all there is to do is keep spinning.

Song Pick-Up くるみ☆ぽんちお / Kurumi☆Ponchio

Kurumi Ponchio

Producer: まだ仔 / Madako
Downloadable: Karaoke Only (pass: ponchio)
Purchasable: Don’t we all wish

Kurumi Ponchio was something of a heart stopper for everyone. I believe we’ve had a fair share of odd songs in the VOCALOID community and many that have been along this line. Much along the line of Azuma’s H appy Fruit! from earlier in the year, Kurumi Ponchio probably takes it a few leaps and bounds farther.

I should probably get shot for giving this any kind of special award but it was too funny to pass up. About every VOCALOID producer had to have a good laugh at it and Madako did a pretty good job of throwing about everyone off (I know very few who didn’t enjoy seeing it).

From a music standpoint can I really say anything? Well it’s definitely got the chaos view working for it. Actually it’s really just nothing I can compliment aside from serving the purpose it wants to achieve. Not that I’m saying it’s bad but it’s nothing I’m going to go crazy over (and the instrumental is far from anything you’ll care about). Everyone knows Madako only provided the karaoke so he could have the likes of Nanahira and non performing it (seriously, I don’t doubt it for a second). And Nico became a better place all because of it.

Really though, I just wish to give Kurumi Ponchio it’s credit for being that goofy release. It’s stupid, it’s wrong on every level, but that’s about all it was meant to achieve. If you can’t enjoy it you’re just being a hardass.

Producer of the Year

Really a hard one to hand out in my eyes. With so many factors it account like release amount, popularity, other activity in the community, and other small details, it’s something I can almost not hand out. At the same time, there’s no way I could avoid giving someone the credit they deserve for what they did.

Runner Up: ハチ / Hachi
Website: Yes
Number of Releases: 9
Release Pick: 結ンデ開イテ羅刹ト骸 / Musun de Hiraite Rasetsu to Mukuro

Hachi is one hell of a newcomer to the Vocaloid Producer scene this year but I’ll be damned if he hasn’t earned himself some credit. With a jaw dropping amount of releases and all with a good amount of views, he has more then earned himself at least Runner Up. I really would have given him the top spot but it’s hard with who his competition was.

All this aside for a moment, Hachi is what a lot would have called a breath of fresh air. He’s someone with a very distinct style and each release is not necessarily near the previous. At first I can’t say I took too well to him but after seeing how varied he could be, I warmed up to him quite a bit.

I also can’t get past the fact that Musun de Hiraite Rasetsu to Mukuro got an amazing amount of popularity and the frequency it showed up on rankings for awhile almost became irritating. A unique song indeed, Hachi brought something new to the community and kept it up with more and more releases all while keeping a wonderfully high quality on everything (from music to PV).

For his sheer amount of hard work and the fact he really has no complete other on the Vocaloid Producer scene, I consider Hachi as the perfect candidate for producer of the year.

Winner: ラマーズP / Lamaze P
Website: Hardly
Number of Releases: Too many within his definitions
Release Pick: ピー少女 fullver. / Piishoujo

The man himself and like I could give him anything but the award. Lamaze P is just one of those people you meet and you could never hate. The guy is just too darn lovable and his goofball approach to about everything has earned him an incredible fanbase. When I first decided to cross paths it was one of those people in my life that I didn’t want to believe at first. He’s certainly one of a kind and I don’t know a better person to contact when I’m in a bad mood.

Music wise, I can’t say much for Lamaze in terms of credible value. His music is “unique” and that’s about all I could say. In reality, it’s just that he’s the perfect definition of a producer to me. He’s not just there to make music but there to entertain, to add to the community. And that’s just what he does. Lamaze’s approach to things is really just something else and with it he creates music that just can’t be beaten. Whether it go from catchy, to strange, to disturbing, Lamaze always has it covered. I feel last year he might have been overshadowed a bit (well some of his creations anyway) but I believe in 2009, he really settled into what he wanted to do and did it damn right.

I also have to recognize the fact that Lamaze released a great album via Exit Tunes. I jumped on it’s release in a heartbeat and it was a great release with all the goofiness you would want packed onto one CD. Along with extended versions of certain songs, he provided new ones that weren’t just his goofy standard. In the end, the release was a good deviation of both sides of the guy. You don’t get too much goofy and what is on there as actual music is well put together yet has that same style he does so well.

At the same time, Lamaze has done well to hit all areas of the community. Aside from a flow of music, he’s kept active with his artwork and also working with other composers. Combining his personal releases, covers of his music, and working with other artists, Lamaze really didn’t take it as a lazy year.

Everything taken into account, Lamaze P earns himself the title of Producer of the Year from me. Just as a side note, I still have my curiosities about his relationship with Nanahira though. I’d honestly see it is as a perfect couple.

Producer Pick-Up

I really want to use this section to boost up some new faces I ran into that I believe deserve some credit. This is less based on the same standards as the actual Producer of the year and more on just who I ran into who I believe I will see more of and who I want to see more of at that.

Producer Pick-Up: もちーべP / Mochiibe P
Website: Yes
Number of Releases: Give or take 8
Release Pick: トカレフと少女 / Tokarev to Shoujo

Mochiibe P is probably my personal favorite producer of the year to be honest. After hearing him early in the year, I was sold on his music from that point on. Aside from a good sense of what to write, it’s got a distinct attitude that I haven’t got from anyone else (Tokarev to Shoujo exemplifies this).

What could really be said about Mochiibe is his heavy use of guitar and the great writing behind it. Whereas I find that there are a lot of different great producers out there that can write a great guitar line, Mochiibe keeps his style very distinct. At least you’ll be able to recognize him soon enough once you’ve heard his music.

Along with that, he also had a decent number of releases for one year. While not all of them got raging attention, what did definitely deserved it and I only wish that some of them had gotten more attention. Really though, I’m hoping to see a big hit this year that can land Mochiibe in the bigger pool.

Producer Pick-Up: samfree
Website: Yes
Number of Releases: 11
Release Pick: Gravity=Reality
Bonus: どういうことなの…

Going from a new artist to old, I really give samfree credit this year. I’ve always loved him but this year he really kicked it into full gear. Alongside a ton of releases, he also played around a lot and began doing more of his singing (which is highly entertaining). His version of magnet alongside cosMo made me cry tears just because seeing two of my favorite producers pulling something like that was all too rewarding.

But really I do love samfree just for the music he does. Nothing too over the top and it always gets a good amount of attention whenever he releases something. This year I especially enjoyed the fact that he kept up his usual pattern and worked with all the different voices. I believe he always does a good justice to each of the individual voice traits with his music.

Possibly the biggest step he took this year though came with the establishing of his new homepage. It really was a good thing to see and it’s certainly a long way from the goofy homepage he was on before. In all he’s an example of a producer who has gone a long way but at the same time is still really close with all of us. There’s been no distance drawn really and with some of his uploads singing, the relationship has become somewhat less formal.

I believe all these large leaps and bounds forward are why I needed to give him a special mention. Having been around so long, samfree is a good example of a producer still working hard, all while keeping quality and effort in his work. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that the community will be seeing a lot of him in 2010.

Summary

Like I said before, 2009 was a huge year for the VOCALOID community. Honestly it was probably the biggest year so far in a lot of respects. Alongside the growth of CD releases, growth of older producers, and success of the new, we’ve really had a good time and a lot to enjoy.

So what lies ahead? All I can do is hope that the community continues to move forward and encourage new producers to step forward. At the same time I’d love to see some of the old continue to come back as I feel a lot had gone missing over the course of the 2009 year.

Music wise I look forward to what lies ahead. If 2010 is anything like this year has been in terms of selection then I’ll be overjoyed. But after the huge releases of 2009, it’s hard to expect so much. But now that we’re entering into a third full year of music, it says a lot for where this community started and where it’s come to.

To sum it up. 2009 was a great year if you were in the VOCALOID community. I for one loved being a part of it and look forward to meeting some new producers all while waiting for that new big hit.

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