THTFHQ AWARDS 2021: Album of the Year

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Outstanding albums, first full-length albums, long-awaited comebacks, surprising changes in sound, complete resets to their careers. These are your 10 Albums of the Year.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

From December 27, 2021, until January 10, 2022, over 2500 of our readers voted at THTFHQ AWARDS 2021.

Nominees were shortlisted by The Hand That Feeds HQ and a winner emerged, however, in the interest of fairness – and want to put the spotlight on other male seiyuu that also had a fantastic 2021 -, this feature includes the top 10 in the voting, with only #1 being ranked.

To avoid petty fights between fans and disrespect towards seiyuu and their fans, no votes are disclosed in any of the written features covering THTFHQ AWARDS 2021.

If you want to check the abridged version of the complete results of this year’s edition, those were unveiled on episode 78 of SEIYUU LOUNGE, our weekly podcast all about male seiyuu music and 2D groups.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBB2tLgQFSY

Without further ado, these are the albums that made it to the top 10.

#1 GRANRODEO “Bokutachi no Gunzou”

GRANRODEO Bokutachi no Gunzou

Give some love to GRANRODEO’s “Bokutachi no Gunzou” because that is your Album of the Year! And what an album this one is!

I’ve talked plenty of times about “Bokutachi no Gunzou” and how brilliant of a concept album it is. Actually, if you want to hear me diving deeper into its story and why it is such a fantastic album, I welcome you to check episode 63.

Following the story of the modern strange cowboy from their school days until their death is absolutely brutal.

What starts as an innocent rock album ends up being a devastating, heartbreaking rollercoaster of emotions as you go through the simple days in school, face important decisions, experience regret, love, loss, and, ultimately, bid goodbye to everyone.

When I say that this album is nearly flawless, I mean it.

The story that KISHOW crafted for us is beyond anything he had done before and I feel like this approach to storytelling was the perfect thing to breathe yet again new life to GRANRODEO’s music.

At the same time, e-ZUKA absolutely blew it out of the park with compositions that speak to the listener.

You’ll find yourself crying by the time the album wraps up. The story is gripping and the compositions were perfect to put the listener as a spectator in that story.

For these – and I believe many more – reasons, GRANRODEO’s “Bokutachi no Gunzou” is your Album of the Year at THTFHQ AWARDS 2021.

From this point on, the albums mentioned are not ranked (the order in which they appear below doesn’t correspond to the place they ranked in the final voting):

Yuma Uchida “Equal”

Yuma Uchida regular edition

A collection of high-quality songs creates wonderful stories to dive into and soundscapes in which you can lose yourself.

This is Yuma Uchida’s sophomore album “Equal”.

For fans of Yuma Uchida’s R&B pop sound, this album is an absolute treat. There are plenty of R&B songs to bask in, enjoy the good vibes, vibe to the groovy basslines, and appreciate the quality on the vocal end with outstanding performances by Uchida.

From “HORIZON” to “Equal” there are noticeable changes in the vocal performances and overall sound.

As a sign of Yuma Uchida maturing as an artist, there’s a lot of funk going on, especially in comparison with his 1st album, which went more in line with dance-pop.

This change alone was enough to give a mature vibe to his performances and Uchida more than delivered a set of elegant performances to match.

“Equal” is filled with highlights.

As always, the album starts with an acappella song in which Yuma Uchida performs all parts within a group. That continues to be an impressing thing coming from him, further showcasing his versatility and massive vocal range.

Between oldies and new tracks, “Equal” showcases two different sides to Yuma Uchida, the solo artist. 2 sides that although different, are equally important, adding a certain “it” factor to him as a solo artist.

Gakuto Kajiwara “Dokoka no Kimi ni”

CD + Blu-ray

Gakuto Kajiwara had a bold and pretty entertaining 2021.

He released his 1st mini-album “Dokoka no kimi ni” and according to fans, set the bar really high for any upcoming entries in his repertoire with his warm brand of pop-rock music.

[THIS PART WILL BE UPDATED AS SOON AS I REVIEW THIS ALBUM, TBA]

Toshiki Masuda “origin”

Toshiki Masuda origin regular edition

Toshiki Masuda had a near-flawless outing with his second full-length album “origin”.

Consistency was key in making the world that Masuda wanted to create – exploring his guitar rock roots – come to life.

“origin” dives deep into Toshiki Masuda’s passion for rock music, bringing to the forefront powerful tunes nodding at all those influences while also keeping it interesting and emotional at all times.

It has several highlights, with “ordinary” standing out as the best song in the album, a song that explores a funky sound and in which fans will find Masuda performing on a higher key than usual.

“Asu wa kitto”, the resident emotional ballad will render you to tears thanks to its gentle instrumental, the hopeful message in the lyrics, and Masuda’s tender, smooth vocals.

But there’s also “Mousou merry-go-round” and “Koe ni naranai Koe”, songs in which you will find Masuda in his purest state as a solo artist. You can tell he’s having fun performing those shredding rock tunes and that excitement and passion carry over to the other – equally good – songs in “origin”.

“origin” is a massive improvement to Toshiki Masuda’s sound and easily one of the highlights of 2021.

Makoto Furukawa “ROOM Of No Name”

Makoto Furukawa ROOM Of No Name
Regular

An unshackled Makoto Furukawa took over the spotlight in “ROOM Of No Name” and what everyone got was a refreshing display of technique and charisma by the talented singer-songwriter.

Instead of a full-out jazz mini-album, Furukawa challenged himself with music genres he’s never performed before as a solo artist. And that’s how you have, a sexy jazz-meets-disco song, a full-on jazz track, R&B ballad, emo-rock, and a shredding rock tune.

“Forsaken kiss” is incredibly elegant, mixing all the right things in disco, funk, and jazz to create one of hell of an intoxicating song. This is Furukawa’s first sexy loungy tune and it is an absolute banger. And give credit where it is due because he performed the full song in English to cater to his international fans.

There’s much more within this mini-album from Furukawa’s trademark jazz sound in “Hai Glass” to a surprising appearance of R&B in “Yurikago to Clover” and even emo-rock in “Yuunagi o tsurete” or shredding, high-octane rock in “Craving”.

At its core, the whole album has the theme “desire” and the concept of “room” being explored in completely different ways.

With “ROOM Of No Name”, Furukawa showcased his control, technique, and versatility as a singer, delivering unique – some unexpected – performances.

Koutaro Nishiyama “Laundry”

Koutaro Nishiyama is that seiyuu artist that I feel is extremely underrated. He’s crafty in his performances, going for melodic, whisper voice for his unique brand of citypop and nu-disco.

Koutaro Nishiyama’s sophomore mini-album “Laundry” is a vast improvement from “CITY“, and it was already a stellar mini-album, to begin with.

Something I deeply appreciate in his music – and it is something that is only done by him among male seiyuu artists – is how loungy his sound is. You can lose yourself in those chill instrumentals, melancholic atmospheric synths, or just in the good, danceable vibes brought in by the funky guitars and groovy basslines.

And in this album that is no exception.

The bass and guitar work in this mini-album is off the charts. It is fun, groovy, and extremely funky, capturing memories of a past some many have never lived, fleshing those out, and taking everyone for a nostalgic ride painted by neon lights.

“Laundry” has a collection of classy, dreamy tunes that have a loungy danceable sound and crafty performances by Koutaro Nishiyama that, once again, shows that he knows exactly what he is doing, making his unique singing tone and skillset as a singer shine.

Takuya Eguchi “EGUISM”

Takuya Eguchi EGUISM

Takuya Eguchi made a strong solo debut with “EGUISM”, a mini-album that spreads good vibes through a blend of pop and rock that suits his vocals.

Primarily a pop-rock album “EGUISM” is filled with plenty of mindless fun moments, with “Good Unite Infinity” being a fantastic example of that.

But there are as well peppy pop-rock tunes made to put a smile on the face of his fans as well as chill music and contrasting fast-paced rock tunes.

The music alone is enough to let you know the mini-album is all about sharing good vibes.

“EGUISM” is a strong debut mini-album although one in which Takuya Eguchi played extremely safe on the performance side.

Daiki Yamashita “hear me?”

Daiki Yamashita "hear me"

This was one of the most surprising releases in 2021, mostly because Daiki Yamashita finally decided to make a solo debut after years of the fans wishing he’d do that.

hear me?” is all about its versatile sound, blending rock with hip-hop, pop, and electronica. With such an eclectic release, it was safe to say that the focus was on showcasing Daiki Yamashita as a singer that can tackle anything.

However, without a set music genre or a concept going on, some of the ideas in this mini-album have a mixed execution.

One thing that will, for sure, make you wonder is how the mini-album wraps up: with a fade-in.

Usually, you wrap up a CD with fade-out so the choice for a fade-in left the question in the air: is this the first entry and there’s a new “chapter” on the horizon?

For sure it sounds like it.

All in all, “hear me?” is a solid debut release however one that was far from showing how mindblowing Daiki Yamashita is as a singer.

Regular

The talented singer-songwriter released a new full-length album “.Link”. He enlisted the help of friends in the seiyuu industry – Subaru Kimura and Kana Hanazawa – and gave them the freedom to write lyrics for him.

The result was, according to fans, extremely interesting and Toshiyuki Toyonaga made sure to impress even in songs that only required simplicity.

[THIS PART WILL BE UPDATED AS SOON AS I REVIEW THIS ALBUM, TBA]

SparQlew “Daybreak”

SparQlew-Daybreak

What does a change in concept do for a group?

For SparQlew it meant shifting from peppy pop music – that certainly was enjoyable to some – into nu-disco-inspired sound with a mature, masculine vibe about them – that has attracted a whole lot of people to their music.

And while this change could have also been “generic”, the group was all about having a unique, engaging sound among seiyuu units, getting a tad bit closer to what you’d call “idol” music.

For me, SparQlew changing concepts finally made it so that I got to properly enjoy their music and be completely addicted to their sound and performances – regardless of group or solo songs.

Daybreak” is a fantastic album, the best in SparQlew’s repertoire and a release I believe has opened the doors for the group to get massively popular (here’s to hoping this concept remains with the group for future releases).

The leading track “Dance in the Twilight” is a fantastic song, having a really groovy sound at its core while embracing a laidback, hip-hop-inspired beat and featuring some of the most technical performances the group has delivered so far.

And when you get to the solo tracks, you’ll come across a lot of talent. From the emotional lyricists Takuto Yoshinaga, Shoya Chiba, and Yuto Uemura to the charismatic performance by Yuya Hozumi and Shun Horie’s haunting song + jaw-dropping performance, this mini-album has everything.


Thank you to everyone that voted and spread the word about THTFHQ AWARDS 2021!

Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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