Beat Addiction: Top 10 Songs from Aikatsu Stars!

Over its two seasons, Aikatsu Stars! followed up the original generation of Aikatsu! by giving fans some amazing music provided by its in-house idol group, AIKATSU☆STARS!. While we didn’t get as many songs as its predecessor had, Aikatsu Stars! focussed on quality with a wealth of absolute bangers. It was a tough task, but I’ve come up with a list of my ten favourite tracks from the series.

10 – One Step

Artist: Kana・Sena・Miki from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: Autumn Collection (2016)
Song Type: Pop
Use: Image song for unit SKY-GIRL (Kisaragi Tsubasa, Kasumi Yozora & Kasumi Mahiru)

One Step is a lot more measured than a lot of other pop style songs in the Aikatsu franchise. These types of songs like to get a bit wild and have fun with different sounds and effects. One Step avoids these and focuses on being a dancy, electronic pop song. It’s a very positive track, having a strong theme of hope towards achieving your dreams. I like how the chorus is charged with emotion, with the “Te wa hanasanaide!” line (roughly meaning “I won’t let go of your hand”) resonating particularly strongly. The thinking that as long as you have people there who support and believe in you, you can do anything is very striking.

With a great sound and a strong message this certainly deserves its spot in the top ten.

9 – キミをロックオン

Romaji: Kimi wo Rokku On
English: Lock On You

Artist: Nanase・Rie from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: Winter Collection (2017)
Song Type: Cool
Use: Theme song of in-universe drama “Aikatsu! Detective”

Kimi wo Lock On, as it’s easier to say and read, is one of the drama based songs in the franchise, this time propping up the “Aikatsu! Detective” TV show. I often really like the drama songs as the compositions generally follow the theme really well, and this one has an air of sneakiness and mystery about it to reflect the investigation. You might think it would be a slower track then, but the chorus hurtles action at your face instead as we get into the chase.

Admittedly, this one used to be a lot lower on my list of favourite tracks. It was the live version that brought it to my attention as the choreography is just spot on. The theme of the song is really incorporated into the dance; almost like they are acting out the song on stage. You even get the other members of AIKATSU☆STARS! on stage in black cloaks to play the villains, with Nanase and Rie pretending to chase them around. I loved the performance so much that it made me play the actual song more and got me thinking “this is actually really good”. It’s one of those tracks where it is so unmistakably Aikatsu – you just wouldn’t get a similar sounding song from any other idol group.

8 – Forever Dream

Artist: Risa
Release: Fantastic Ocean
Song Type: Sexy
Use: Image song for Elza Forte

Out of the two main songs for Elza (with the other being The only sun light), this is the one I prefer. It has similar themes to One Step, but rather than being about getting support from your friends, this one is about believing in yourself and by putting in hard work you can achieve your dreams.

Aizawa Risa (from Dempagumi Inc.) provides the vocals here and I really appreciate her strong, mature voice. A lot of Dempagumi’s music is cutesy and moe, so it’s refreshing to hear her sing in a realistic and beautiful style. As a sexy song, there’s distinctly a dance vibe to this but it features some beautiful piano work in the verses and bridges – it’s a simple melody but combined with the rest of the instrumentation conveys a lot of power in a different way than the assault that is The only sun light.

Such an enticing and inspiring song, and one that definitely deserves its place in my top ten.

7 – TSU−BO-MI 〜鮮やかな未来へ〜

Romaji: TSU−BO-MI ~Azayakana Mirai e~
English: TSU−BO-MI ~To The Vivid Future~

Artist: Miho・Kana from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: Winter Collection (2017)
Song Type: Sexy
Use: Image song for Kasumi Mahiru and Kasumi Yozora

Continuing the theme of being enticing and alluring, we have TSU−BO-MI ~Azayakana Mirai e~. Originally debuting in one of the episodes running up to the Christmas and holiday season, it’s a very wintery and dreamlike song that is both enchanting and stylish. It uses a lot of bells and chimes to do this, instruments that you typically associate with Christmas songs, but mixed in with a dance beat makes them feel really different.

This song is also important story-wise as it’s one of the marker points for the rivalry, friendship and sisterhood between the Kasumi sisters, Mahiru and Yozora. Throughout the show there’s a point of the two of them battling it out and trying to out-do each other, but taking this into the S4 selection with Mahiru when it debuted as a song for Yozora was a genius move.

Definitely one of the strongest sexy type songs, it perhaps shows off the style’s allure and mystique the best.

6 – MUSIC of DREAM!!!

Artist: Sena・Rie・Miki・Kana from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: MUSIC of DREAM!!! / Mori no Hikari no Pirouette
Song Type: Cute
Use: Opening 5, Image song for Nijino Yume

MUSIC of DREAM!!! is a powerful song that’s full of emotion and works really well for the opening to the anime’s final quarter. It’s a little slow to build at first, but once you get into the first chorus it really takes off and only gets better as it goes along.

It took me awhile to get into this song when watching the show, as the shorter version struggles with the pacing. This has a lot to do with how the song reflects Yume’s journey from her initial start line to the top of the idol world, which is a really great idea that puts a lot of emotional weight into it. It still gets me tearing up even though the show finished months ago and this is a testament to both the story in the show and the quality of the music in it.

There are two versions of this track, with a solo version featuring just Sena for Yume’s main song in the second half. Sena’s voice is pretty distinctive as she has a very nasal singing style, yet when paired with the stronger singers of Rie and Kana in the four-member version they overshadow her a bit, so the solo version is great for bringing her out to the fore. Both versions are really good though and I couldn’t choose one over the other.

5 – 荒野の奇跡

Romaji: Kouya no Kiseki
English: The Wasteland’s Miracle

Artist: Nanase from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: Fantastic Ocean (2017)
Song Type: Cool
Use: Image song for Shirogane Lily

The gothic tracks are usually among the best ones in any given Aikatsu! Series and Stars sees no exception. The original series became known for mixing a lot of electronic instruments in with the genre-conventional harpsichord. The gothic music in Stars moves away from this and focuses on producing a more neoclassical sound with proper instruments like piano, strings and guitars, but still retains that pop feel by accentuating the drum part on the track.

Both Dreaming Bird and Kouya no Kiseki are great, but I prefer the latter thanks to its fast-paced lyrical sections that really make it stand out. The intro especially gives it a more mysterious and fantastical feeling to the more typical Dreaming Bird. Nanase continually proves she’s one of the best singers in the group as this song throws a lot at her to deal with. Her voice has excellent clarity and she holds the longer notes really well; and her overall pitch really fits the genre well.

Kouya no Kiseki is a great addition to the franchise’s range of gothic pop songs then, and definitely one of my favourites.

4 – 1, 2, Sing for You!

Artist: Sena・Rie・Miki・Kana from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: 1, 2, Sing for You! / So Beautiful Story / Star Jet! (2016)
Song Type: Cool
Use: Opening 2, Image song for Sakuraba Rola

1, 2, Sing for You! is a track really rocks its heart out with the blare of electric guitars and some solid drum work. This track is Rola’s main song and it just really fits her rock image and “going my way” personality. It’s also really energetic and carries through a lot of excitement. This makes it work great as an opening; there were few other times that made me think “Oh here we go! It’s Aikatsu! Time!” than hearing this play in the intro.

It’s interesting how they handle the rock type songs in Stars, with them being themed around fusion of both British and American culture. There’s a lot of British elements in the costumes like Union flags and such, but the stage setups are typically more American, with a stadium and a school bus for 1, 2, Sing for You! and an oval racing theme for Dancing Days. I think it’s cool how they reference the main nations that really built the core facets of rock music and the staff have either really done their research or are rock fans themselves (or even both!)

Either way, this is an amazing song and one that has a really wide appeal. Even if you’re not into idol music this is definitely worth a shot.

3 – Start Line!

Artist: Sena・Rie from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: Start Line! / episode Solo (2016)
Song Type: Cute
Use: Opening 1, Image song for Shiratori Hime

With its sweet and melodious verses and powerful and heartfelt chorus, Start Line! Lights my heart up every time I hear it. It’s quintessentially Aikatsu!, setting up its main themes of believing in tour dreams and never giving up right from the first episode. I love the way the delivery is structured in this, with each verse slowly building and building until you get this massive crescendo in the chorus as it blasts in with “Yume  wa miru mono janai”. The passion coming from the vocals is clear as day and the song’s emotional beats really hit you.

There are two versions of this track, with Ruka providing vocals for Hime’s version. While it’s her signature track and is used for a lot of her big moments, it’s like a secondary main theme for the series after Aikatsu Step! as it fits a lot of the main cast. Yume in particular is tied to this one and she shares it as a central theme with Hime until she gets MUSIC of DREAM!!! in the second season.

It is certainly one of the best tracks from the show and if you want a good place to start this might be it, funnily enough!

2 – Bon Bon Voyage!

Artist: Risa/Miho from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: STARDOM! / Bon Bon Voyage! (2017)
Song Type: Pop
Use: Ending 3, Image song for Venus Ark

Bon Bon Voyage! fits its title really well as it’s a song that conveys the excitement of going on a trip in the summer. It’s a very energetic track that has a very distinct melody that flows well through it. It’s all done with synth instruments, but they work to deliver a great sound that’s very pop and very easy to get into. I really like the clapping section later on – when I saw this at the group’s live performance in Nagoya in 2017 this had everyone clapping away and I was really surprised at how engaged the audience was. In fact, I really associate this song with that trip as having this ending matched up perfectly for when I went, so it’s kind of special to me.

The vocal performance is great though and Risa and Miho work well together; with Risa’s warm, mature voice melding in with Miho’s. I don’t think Miho sounds quite as good as she did when she was singing for Kurebayashi Juri in the original series, but that’s more down to how well the singer’s voice suits their character. Kirara’s voice is a lot higher and more of a ‘moe voice’ so this forces Miho to match. It still sounds fine but it’s just not as natural as she could be. This is the slight disadvantage of using different people for speaking and singing roles.

Still, this is definitely one of my favourites out of the entire franchise and is just great to listen to.

1 – episode Solo

Artist: Ruka・Nanase・Kana・Miho from AIKATSU☆STARS!
Release: Start Line! / episode Solo (2016)
Song Type: Cool
Use: Ending 1, Image song for S4

Here it is. My number one favourite track from Aikatsu Stars! and quite possibly the entire franchise. episode Solo is an electronic dance track that captured me with its sound from the very first episode; it’s light enough to remain an idol song but it has this distinct wubby, dubstep-like edge to it that really makes it stand out. Composer Kakeru Ishihama worked on the Aikatsu! franchise for some time and shows he knows what the franchise is about by composing a song that works well with the lyrics and fits the premise of the entire show. It’s all about entering the stage and putting your nervousness behind you, chucking it all in and making the greatest performance.

It’s so good to listen to, however when you see this being performed live you’ll notice that the choreography is a weak point, being very disjointed and not fitting well with the song. The dance is far too static and lacking in energy when it needs to be a lot more dynamic. It’s slightly bewildering they can whack out something amazing with Tutu Ballerina then come to this a year or two later and completely botch it when Tutu Ballerina isn’t too far off episode Solo in terms of style.

With there being two generations of S4 in the show, there’s two versions of this track, one for each generation. The second version features Sena, Miki and Kana for Yume, Ako, and Mahiru and Yuzu respectively. I don’t like this version as much as Sena and Miki’s higher voices hurt the balance of the track. It’s supposed to be cool and mature, but their cute voices feel out of place amongst the snyth. The singer that really shines here is Kana, who incredibly puts on two different styles to reflect that she’s playing two characters. The delivery of Mahiru’s lines is simply incredible as they fit so well with the music.

The original is definitely best though as it’s clear that the music and vocals were built around each other. The balance between Ruka, Nanase, Kana and Miho is harmonious and they fit together so well compared to putting Kana with Sena and Miki. It’s just the nature of the style of song it is – you need natural voices to match the pitch of the synth and the cutesy moe stuff just isn’t going to cut it.

And so, that’s episode Solo – a courageous and energetic pop song with all four of its original singers in harmony. It’s inspiring and energising and a song that sets the bar for everything that the franchise has or will produce. Simply stunning.