The Best Anisongs of 2019
The Best Anisongs of 2019
“Gurenge” (Demon Slayer)
This was not an easy pick, as I thought there were several good theme songs in 2019 but none that clearly stood above the others. (I am also excluding insert songs here, as otherwise this award would come down to which Carole & Tuesday performance I like best on a given day.) I ultimately settled on the high-charting opener for Demon Slayer (it was the third highest-ranked anisong on Billboard Japan's yearly ranking) because it's a fantastic song by LiSA which suits the attitude of the series well. Also seriously considered was LiSA's more melancholic “unlasting,” which serves as the closer for Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld; “Kawaki no Ameku” by Minami, which served as the opener for Domestic Girlfriend (and featured some neat visual gimmicks if you watched closely); and “Mashiro” by Sumire Morohoshi, the uplifting opener for Ascendance of a Bookworm, which is my runner-up pick.
Best Song: ‘Inferno’ (Promare)
There are a ton of great songs in Promare, the soundtrack and score are practically cast members of their own, and MVPs in that right. Picking just one song is hard, but I guess if I really had to choose, it'd be this one. It's an anthemic number that embodies the overarching spirit of Promare as a whole movie, an encouraging number that you find yourself unable to resist singing along with. Or just breaking out into when you're having a particularly good time. And it's got an instrumental version that makes a killer theme song for the movie. It does what a good song like this should: Remind me of all the great feelings I got from the movie itself just by listening to it.
“The Loneliest Girl” (Carole & Tuesday)
Rather than picking an opening or ending song this year, I picked a song from an episode. I found the anime Carole & Tuesday full of toe-tapping songs that are just as essential to the series as the characters themselves. The meaning behind the lyrics of “The Loneliest Girl” give additional weight to the burgeoning relationship between the titular characters early on in the duo's formation. The melody is haunting, simultaneously simple and harmonious. Carole's and Tuesday's enchanting singing voices add to melancholic quality of the song, made more beautiful when the two voices come together like two lonely souls feeling each other's pain.
"Stand By Me" (Sarazanmai)
This is the ED of the year. It's just the perfect capstone to every episode of Sarazanmai, with lyrics and instrumentation full of the desperate longing for connection that defines the anime. Also, the hook is immediate and unforgettable. You're hearing it in your head right now. Maybe you've already started singing it to yourself (I certainly have since I started writing this paragraph). Ikuhara's been consistently meticulous in his music choices, so it's good to see that hasn't let up. And as a side note, I refuse to believe that, for a show so concerned about probing other people's buttholes, the choice to go with a band called “The Peggles” wasn't deliberate.
Hiroyuki Sawano is the pre-eminent anime music composer of our time, the guy who brought us the musical scores of Attack on Titan, Kabaneri, Kill la Kill, and Thunerbolt Fantasy. He's got a signature talent for catchy orchestration with soaring vocals, a talent that shines bright in "Inferno," aided by the vocal stylings of frequent collaborators Benjamin Anderson and mpi. The song is infectiously sing-a-longable, such that it bookends the movie, is used a third time in the climactic battle scene, and yet somehow doesn't feel overused. Here's one song that makes me gripe about the Japanese music business, because you can't go to Amazon or Bandcamp or Apple Music and buy this song. How the hell do they expect me to sing along with this in my car?!
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