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The year in music so far has been filled with comeback albums that “hype” their way to the top. After the Twitter hashtags subside, though, such artists also seem to leave the minds of the public. (Is anyone still talking about David Bowie? Justin Timberlake? … Daft Punk?) The fast-paced industry of buzz can overwhelm a music fan if he or she isn’t constantly glued to a laptop, but come on — you gotta leave the house sometime!

In Japan it has been a year of Momoiro Clover Z on the charts, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in the ads and Hatsune Miku at the opera. However, The Japan Times’ music writers have sifted through the bulk of a mountain of hype from the first half of this year and tell us about the releases they won’t soon forget.

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