5. Wakita Monari – I am ONLY

While still unsure of Wakita Monari’s status as an “Idol”, she does seem to play a lot of shows with them so she finds herself a spot on this list. Japanese music is currently observing a revival of 80s sounds, more commonly referred to as “City Pop”, and given Wakita Monari’s prior affiliation with Especia it should come as no surprise that she is involved with the movement. Her debut album “I am ONLY” is the culmination of her first year as a solo artist and what a first year it turned out to be. Anyone yearning for that old Especia sound should know that it is alive and well both on this album and on many other City Pop releases from the past few years. Along with for my money one of the most underrated voices in J-Pop today.

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