I never thought I'd say this: AKB48 was the most influential music act of the decade.

Wait, hear me out.

The world of J-pop saw the 2010s begin a little early, on Oct. 21, 2009, to be precise. That's when AKB48 released its first chart-topping single, "River." I'd like to argue that the J-pop decade ended early, too. This year, in fact. Not just with the death of music mogul Johnny Kitagawa in July, but on March 14 when AKB48 announced that, for the first time in 10 years, it wouldn't be holding its annual Senbatsu General Election, which decides which members of the group get the most time in the spotlight.