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Musical Best Of

As I started visiting more musicals over the past two years, I thought it would be fun to write a Musical Best Of. Musicals I visited so far are listed here. In this post I will only talk about non-Takarazuka musicals as I’ll be giving Takarazuka its own post later.

Tanz der VampireTop 3 favourite musicals
01. Elisabeth. Forever my favourite musical. It’s perfection. I particularly liked the German version I saw, but all of them were brilliant.
02. Tanz der Vampire. Great music, and the musical is funny and touching at the same time.
03. Wicked. Love the story and the music, but especially the decors and costumes!

Most seen musicals
01. Tanz der Vampire. Seen the Antwerp production once, and the German production three times (Stuttgart twice and Berlin once, with a completely different cast every time).
02. Elisabeth. I’ve seen three different productions in three different countries in three different languages: Antwerp in 2009, Tokyo in 2010 and Cologne in 2011. And I am planning to see it many more times..!
03. Wicked and Soldaat van Oranje. I’ve seen two different productions of Wicked in London and the Netherlands, and went to Soldaat van Oranje twice.

Musical disappointment: Rocky over the Rainbow. From what I had heard about this Rocky Horror/Wizard of Oz crossover musical was that it was most of all very funny. Unfortunately, on the day I went to see it there was a snowstorm going on and all traffic and public transport was delayed. Thus, no more than about 30-40 people managed to get to the theatre and it seemed the cast also wasn’t into it at all. A few weeks ago I saw an amateur performance of the same concept, a mix between Rocky Horror and Chicago, and it was infinitely funnier and better performed!

Soldaat van OranjeUnexpectedly Impressive musical: Soldaat van Oranje (‘Soldier of Orange’). This Dutch musical is based on the book (and movie) with the same title. The story is very touching, but more than that: The technique they’ve used for this musical is incredible. The stage was especially designed for this musical, in an old airplane hangar. The stage is circular, and the round block the audience sits turns to reveal different parts of the stage. Also, there is a sea and a beach, with actual sand and water. The actors ride around on old motorbikes, and at the end of the musical the doors of the hangar open and they involve the outside in the musical with a real Dakota airplane! At first I was afraid all of these special effects would be overdoing it, but it worked really well and was very impressive.

Top 3 best music
01. Elisabeth. I can’t stop listening to the music of this musical, in any language.
02. Romeo & Juliette, and I can’t decide if I like the French or… the Russian! version better.
03. Tanz der Vampire.

Top 3 best actors/actresses
01. Annemieke van Dam as Elisabeth in the German production. That voice, that acting! I was really very pleasantly surprised by her, she was a perfect Elisabeth.
02. Yamaguchi Yuichiro. I unfortunately have never seen him in real life, although I had the chance (and now regret I didn’t take it). But this man’s voice is amazing. I love him in Elisabeth, Phantom of the Opera, Tanz der Vampire.. everything. His acting style is very particular, inspired by kabuki and may therefore appear a bit stiff, but amazing nonetheless.
03. Willemijn Verkaik in the Dutch production of Wicked. Love her as Elphaba!

Best of 2011

I’m a bit late with this year’s Best of. It is extremely difficult to make the 2011 list, since for whatever reason music had a lower priority in the past year and I didn’t listen to as much… And I also didn’t really keep up with the music industry.

Top 3 bands/artists of 2011
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel. Activity! Need I say more?
02. Within Temptation. New album with an interesting concept, and a tour.
03. … I really can’t think of a #3.

Top 5 albums of 2011
01. Yuzuki Reon – Yozora ni nemuru made. I know this is cheating since this is a single and not an album, but I love Chie and this is her solo debut as a music artist, so I couldn’t be happier!
02. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving. I was seriously impressed with this album. They clearly have been experimenting and it worked out great.
03. SID – dead stock. It was great to hear something new from SID. Not my favourite work of theirs ever, but it’s still a fun album.
04. Bløf – Alles Blijft Anders. Love this one.
05. Anouk – To Get Her Together.

Top 3 performances of 2011
01. Yellow Fried Chickenz. I never thought I’d say this, because I have never been a fan of Gackt, but I haven’t had this much fun during a concert in a long time!
02. L’Arc~en~Ciel. I attended their New Year’s concert, so I literally opened 2011 with their music. The concert was amazing, but at the same time a bit of a disappointment (it wasn’t what was promised to the fans) so therefore they’re not number 1…
03. Within Temptation. Great concert, great effects, great hall (excellent acoustics), and I can go on and on.

Best newly (re)discovered band/artist of 2011: Hanson. I still haven’t listened to a lot by them though. But my friend took me to their concert in Amsterdam, and although I hadn’t heard any of their music I had a great time! Very few bands can do this, I think.

Biggest disappointment of 2011: The fact that the L’Arc~en~Ciel concert was not what had been promised to the fans (not 4 hours, and not that special). It was still a great concert, but since I traveled to Japan especially for this concert it was a bit of a bummer…

Artist top 10 of 2011 according to last.fm: (Since 90% were musical artists, I left those out. So only non-musical bands & artists)
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel
02. Within Temptation
03. D’ERLANGER
04. DIR EN GREY
05. B’z
06. ムック
07. HYDE
08. Nightwish
09. シド
10. BUG

Best of 2010

I had a difficult time putting together the list for 2010… I guess the main reason is that somewhere during 2010 my interests shifted from music to musicals. I still listened to a lot of music and visited a ton of concerts, but my focus wasn’t on it entirely. Anyway, I’m keeping musical stuff out of this list, just saying.

Top 3 bands of 2010
01. D’ERLANGER because of their awesome lives and their activities. And they came out with a new CD.
02. B’z. I listened to their music quite a lot this year, and their two concerts in the Fukuoka Dome and Tokyo Dome that I got to see where pretty awesome.
03. VAMPS. I loved them this year, but I also really disliked them at times too… Still, I saw them 5 times within one week haha.

Top 5 albums of 2010
01. MUCC – Karma. Really liked this release, even though it got quite some resistance from fans.
02. Ken – The Party. Ken is awesome as ever. I know it’s just a mini-album but I just had to put it on here.
03. Amy MacDonald – A Curious Thing. Love Amy MacDonald. Her second album is just as good as her first album and didn’t disappoint me!
04. Super Junior – Bonamama. Bonamama is a particularly addictive song.
05. BUG – red trip xtc. The fact that this album made it into my list this year says a lot… I like it okay…ish. I’m a big BUG fan, no scrap that, I’m a big Kyo fan, but this album wasn’t as great as some of their other albums.

Top 3 performances of 2010
01. D’ERLANGER. Both their concerts in Fukuoka were awesome ♥ I had a great time. The setlists were fun, I loved the hall in Fukuoka (yay Drum halls!), we all know Fukuoka fans are great… And to top it off I caught a guitar pick at both shows.
02. B’z. Had a lot of fun at their Fukuoka concert! The atmosphere was really great too, and so was the show. Tokyo was so-so though.
03. Bløf. Very very fun gig in Haarlem.

Best newly (re)discovered band/artist of 2010: I guess Lady Gaga. I knew about her before 2010, obviously, and I won’t say she was the best artist necessarily, but I really enjoy her music a lot. Her songs also the theme music in Nagasaki among our group of exchange students.

Biggest disappointment of 2010: Not being in Nagasaki anymore when acid android and Ken finally came over to Fukuoka for concerts :'(

Artist top 10 of 2010 according to last.fm: (just can’t leave musical artists out here, sorry)
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel
02. シド
03. D’ERLANGER
04. ムック
05. Lady Gaga
06. B’z
07. Plastic Tree
07. 宝塚歌劇団雪組
09. Musical van Vlaanderen
10. Bug

Best of 2009

With New Year’s being only 15 minutes away where I am (Japan), here’s my Best of 2009!

Top 3 bands of 2009
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel. They released their Live in Paris dvd this year, and all their solo projects were very active and amazing as well!
02. D’erlanger. New album, and from what I have heard their show in the NHK Hall in Tokyo in November was amazing too (and is probably gonna be made into a dvd if I got this right!)
03. MUCC. Lots of activity overseas, as well as a new album, as well as being just plain amazing lately!

Top 5 albums of 2009
This was seriously difficult. I know throughout the year I felt there wasn’t enough new music released by artists I like, but looking back there was plenty. Very good stuff too! That’s why I decided to not make this a top 3 like in previous years, but instead a top 5.
01. Ken – In Physical. When this was just released I had doubts about it, but it grew on me and now I absolutely absolutely love it.
02. D’erlanger – D’ERLANGER. This was one of the albums I was really looking forward to from the moment I heard about the release. I wasn’t disappointed. It has a bit of a different vibe from D’erlanger’s previous two albums but I’m in love with this album.
03. シド – hikari. I was very disappionted in the previous two albums, play and Sentimental Macchiato, so for the first time I decided to not pre-order this new album when it came out. Until a friend said this album was great, I didn’t listen to it either. But it ended up being amazing, exactly what I like to hear from シド!
04. Vamps – Vamps. Only 4th place for Vamps this time. I definitely like their album, the only reason it’s only 4th place is because I like places 1 to 3 just a little better.
05. B’z – Magic. In all honesty, this album was once again the same style as Monster and Action and not all that unique. But looking at it seperately I think it’s a great album and I really enjoy it!

Top 3 performances of 2009
01. This is cheating because it’s an event, but… Jack in the Box 2009! A lot of my favourite artists together on one event, the session bands… everything was just perfect. I loved all the performances (minus Zoro, don’t care about them), and especially seeing Ken live was a lot of fun.
02. VAMPS on September 5th. I had an arena ticket for this show, and in the Budokan you can simply rock out more when you’ve got an arena ticket, so that helped a lot. The show was kick-ass!
03. BUG on September 25th. They had shows on two consecutive days, and during the first day they played songs mostly from the first half of their discography. On the second day, the 25th, they played songs from the latter half of their discography and because I really love that part of their discography I was very very happy! Amazing setlist, amazing atmosphere, great show!

Best newly (re)discovered band/artist of 2009:
01. BUG
02. heidi.
03. Da endorphine

Biggest disappointment of 2009: None really. Maybe the fact that not so many (interesting) artists came to the Netherlands (when I was there), or the fact that I’m now living in Nagasaki which is far away from all the good concerts haha.

Looking forward to in 2010: L’Arc~en~Ciel solo projects. Looks like all of them are going to be active with concerts (and possible releases) and I want to catch as many of them as possible! Also, right now I’m really looking forward to the two D’ERLANGER concerts I will be attending in February in Fukuoka.

Artist top 10 of 2009 according to last.fm:
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel
02. D’ERLANGER
03. HYDE
04. ギルガメッシュ
05. VAMPS
06. Dir en grey
07. B’z
08. BUG
09. Ken
10. シド

Best of 2008

Top 3 bands of 2008
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel. They’ve released some cool singles this year and they had their TOUR 2008 L’7 ~Trans ASIA via PARIS~ tour (major bonus points there).
02. D’erlanger. Their new album the price of being a rose is loneliness is awesome, they did a tour in Japan (which I attended two concerts of) and released a new DVD.
03. VAMPS. I always find it difficult to pick a third place, but I chose them because they are considered an “new and upcoming” (lol) band. They released a single and had a huge tour (that I attended two concerts of). Good year for them!

Top 3 albums of 2008
01. D’erlanger – the price of being a rose is loneliness. Awesome album. I loved Lazzaro but this album is even better!
02. 雅-miyavi- – 雅~This Iz The Japanese Kabuki Rock~. I am not too interested in him, I just occasionally like his works, but this album was absolutely brilliant.
03. ムック – 志恩. Simply a good album, even though I don’t care for MUCC a whole lot.

Top 3 performances of 2008
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel in Paris. Their first concert in Europe and it was amazing. They played really well, interacted with the audience, played lots of awesome songs and the atmosphere was great. Everything about this concert was just perfect.
02. D’erlanger in Tokyo. Maybe not the most amazing concerts ever, but really good. Rock music as it should be.
03. Within Temptation in Haarlem. They manage to make something different and amazing out of every show, and they did this again during their Theater Tour.

Best newly discovered band/artist of 2008:
01. Amy Macdonald
02. Monoral
03. lynch.

Biggest disappointment of 2008: Dir en grey, again. With Uroboros they’ve scattered my last bit of hope of them ever releasing something decent anymore.

New category! Biggest failure of 2008: X Japan, without doubt. Theyir blunders with the overseas concerts are unbelievable.

Looking forward to in 2009: Activity from L’Arc~en~Ciel (at least they said they’ll be releasing stuff), new releases and activity from their solo projects… Many more interesting releases from other artists, hopefully some interesting shows in the Netherlands…

Artist top 10 of 2008 according to last.fm
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel
02. D’erlanger
03. シド
04. Hyde
05. Plastic Tree
06. Dir en grey
07. ギルガメッシュ
08. ムック
09. B’z
10. Anouk

Best of 2007

Top 3 bands of 2007
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel. Obviously I’m quite biased since they’re my absolute favourite band, but even so this was a really interesting year for them. They had their Mata Heart ni Hi o Tsukero tour and released a lot of items, including a great new album. Great year for them!
02. シド. I haven’t really followed them through the year, but they released a bunch of stuff and were featured in magazines a lot.
03. B’z. Actually, it was too difficult to pick a 3rd artist, so that’s why I choose them.

Top 3 albums of 2007
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel – KISS. Fucking great album! I don’t have words for it. Every song is amazing, and the album is really well put together. Best album of 2007, and possibly my favourite album of all times (so far)? We’ll see.
02. B’z – Action. I like B’z, but I can admit that at times they get quite repetitive. However, this album is really good!
03. the GazettE – Stacked Rubbish. I never thought I’d mention this album here, but there we go. There have been plenty more good albums, but for a band that I’m not even into, I really love this album. It’s good!

Top 3 performances of 2007
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel in Obihiro. It was just perfect in every aspect!
02. Plastic Tree in Amstelveen. A lot of bands performed well this year, but their performance really touched me somehow.
03. Girugämesh in Cologne. I barely knew them, but the show was really good and it’s been a while since I’ve been headbanging like that. Great!

Best newly discovered band/artist of 2007:
01. girugämesh
02. レミオロメン
03. David Sylvian

Biggest disappointment of 2007: Dir en grey. I still think The marrow of a bone is a piece of crap and their concert in the Netherlands wasn’t so great either -because- they mostly played crap from the latest album. Such a pity, because musically they are really good and live they are quite good too, but it’s just that album. What a waste.

Looking forward to in 2008: Hopefully seeing HYDE and B’z live, the new シド album, new L’Arc~en~Ciel releases… I can go on and on and on!

Last but not least, 2007 last.fm stats:
Artist top 10 of 2007 (from the reset on September 20th til December 30th)
01. L’Arc~en~Ciel
02. Plastic Tree
03. D’erlanger
04. B’z
05. Hyde
06. 슈퍼주니어
07. シド
08. Dir en grey
09. Silver Ash
10. Glay
Other artists that are not in the top10 but that I did listen to a lot (in the car, on my stereo, on my iPod when it wouldn’t scrobble, etc.):
Penicillin, Die in cries, 雅-miyavi-, Hikaru Utada, Bløf, Zi:Kill, Tetsu69, David Sylvian, レミオロメン

Best of 2006

Best album: An Cafe – Magnya Carta
Seriously fun album. Halfway this year I suddenly got really sick of all the dark/emo stuff and got really into An Cafe (mainly thanks to YAGAI DE NYAPPY in Tokyo). This album is just so much fun to listen to, and you can also clearly notice that their music is growing and getting better. This was, together with SID’s “play” album, one of the few releases I was -really- looking forward to this year.

Best live performance: DIR EN GREY – Inward Scream tour start 8/1
This concert was so absolutely amazing. No words can describe it. To begin with, it was already tons better than the concerts I went to in Europe. They played better, and the atmosphere was so much nicer. And it felt really special to hear all the new songs before they were released. This was definitely the best concert of 2006.

Goosebump moment: (Again) DIR EN GREY – Inward Scream tour start 8/1

Surprisingly good live performance: Both Dir en grey shows in Japan. Being used to their ‘crappy’ shows in Europe… This was much better!

Worst live performance: N/A

Surprising event: D’ERLANGER getting back together after 17 years..!

Best song: B’z – Monster
My Japanese host family is completely obsessed with B’z. So after I stayed there in the summer of 2005 I started to show more interest in B’z. This year I got really into them. “Monster” is just a seriously amazing song. I can’t wait til I can buy the album!

Best newly discovered band/artist: An Cafe, Panic Channel, D, LM.C
I didn’t actually discover An Cafe or Panic Channel, but I did ‘rediscover’ them. I’m also glad I discovered D. With all the crappy indies bands around lately, it was really great to hear some proper music. And LM.C is just awesome!

Four bands/artists that also deserved to be mentioned (in random order): Sid, Hyde, MIYAVI

2006 album top 10:
1. An Cafe – Magnya Carta
2. SID – play
3. B’z – Monster
4. Miyavi – MYV*POPS
5. Hyde – FAITH
6. Anna Tsuchiya – strip me?
7. Onmyouza – Inyo-Shugyoku
8. Weird Al Yankovic – Straight Outta Lynwood
9. Merry – Peepshow
10. Gazette – NIL