Grading the Top 10 Songs in … JAPAN!

1. Nogizaka46, “Girls Rule”

Nogizaka46 is a girl group created to be the rivals of popular 90-member supergroup AKB48. It has a TV variety show called Where Is Nogizaka? and a radio program named “Nogizaka46no.” Here they are performing new hit single “Girls Rule” with cheerleaders during the halftime show at the Pearl Bowl, the big spring game in Japan’s corporate-sponsored league for American football, the X League.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “I like akb48 better” — Abrianadimplepeace

2. VAMPS, “Ahead”

VAMPS is the musical union of Hyde (formerly of L’Arc-en-Ciel) and K.A.Z. (Oblivion Dust). “AHEAD,” whose lyrics are in English and Japanese, sounds like ’90s alternative rock with a pinch of nu-metal and a sprinkling of hair metal.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “I think this song is good but I agree VAMPS is pretty generic and I think they sound too American influenced. I really miss his music during his solo music from 2003-2005, had a lot of touch and magic in those works. The songs like Hello, Horizon, Season’s Call, and … had it’s original sound unlike his work with VAMPS.” — RedVIII

3. Hey! Say! JUMP, “Come on a My House”

Hey! Say! JUMP! (JUMP! stands for Johnny’s Ultra Music Power, in reference to their talent agency, Johnny & Associates) is a boy band that sometimes splits up into subgroups Hey! Say! BEST (Boys Excellent Select Team) and Hey! Say! 7. Their song “Magic Power” was the theme for the Japanese dub of The Smurfs, for which two of the group’s members did voices. This is not a cover of the Rosemary Clooney song “Come On-A My House.”

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “So cool guys” — Natsumibutterflyswim

4. Takahiro, “One Thousand and One Seconds”

Takahiro Tasaki is a member of boy band EXILE, and this is his debut solo single. I love videos about being a loner in a crowded city!

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “sounds like a good song I just wish I could understand what its the song about lol” — CinthiaChavez

5. NMB48, “Bokura no Eureka”

NMB48 is a Namba-based sister group to AKB48 with several subteams: Team N, Team BII, Team Kenkyusei, and Team M. Three of NMB48′s members also hold simultaneous positions in ABK48. If that’s not complicated enough, this single came out in four editions: Type A, B, C, and Theater Edition, each of which had different content and a lottery ticket. All I have to say about this video is SPRINGGGGGGGGGG BREAAAAAAAAAAAAAK!

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “Another great song from NMB” — DarkOne

6. S/mileage, “Yattaruchan”

S/mileage is a girl group of teen idols, dressed here like flight attendants on Barbie Air. They are part of the Hello! Project, which encompasses Morning Musume and its subgroups as well as various spinoffs and one-shots. “Yattaruchan” means something semi-equivalent to “GO FOR IT!” and this song definitely makes me want to shotgun Pixy Stix while running on a treadmill.

Grade: A-

Best YouTube Comment: “meimi’s hair really fits her now they should use this for her more :33″ — meichan111

7. EXILE, “Flower Song”

Turns out Exile is more like a man band. The Japanese chart is full of man bands; the 11th song on this chart is the Backstreet Boys’ new single, and there’s a New Kids on the Block single slightly further down. I do love a good man band jam.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “ATSUSHI — <3" — EXILE11015

8. SPYAIR, “Status Quo Distraction”

SPYAIR is a rock group from Nagoya that sounds like the Fueled By Ramen bands that were big a few years ago. But hey, who didn’t like that one Fall Out Boy song? Trends come and go but pop-punk is forever.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “I’m in love with this song…” — LadyVaipraFallent

9. Mariya Takeuchi, “Dear Angie”

Takeuchi is a singer-songwriter whose biggest hit, “Mysterious Peach Pie,” should still be covered by Lana Del Rey. “Dear Angie” is her latest single and it reminds me of Electric Light Orchestra.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “:-) very much” – YaqiWang

10. AAA, “Love Is in the Air”

AAA stands for “Attack All Around,” a mixed-gender pop group with five dudes and two females. They reminds me of the late ’90s wholesome-themed UK pop group S Club 7. That tire swing looks fun as hell.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “love the song” — TeenClown

Filed Under: Grading the Charts

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert