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30 Best J-Pop Songs of All Time

July 5, 2023
j-pop songs

Are you looking for the best J-Pop songs of all time?

J-Pop, which is the name adopted for the genre of Japanese popular music, originated in Japan in the early nineties, with roots in traditional sixties pop-rock.

Largely inspired by the Beatles, the genre is sung in Japanese but features a unique pronunciation that is alike to English.

Whether you understand the language or not, you’re bound to enjoy the upbeat genre!

We hope you find something that you enjoy in this article, which includes the thirty best J-Pop songs of all time.

1. “Oblivious” by Kalafina

The Japanese girl group Kalafina released “Oblivious” as their debut single in 2008.

A part of the album Seventh Heaven, the hit reached number eight in the Oricon Weekly Singles chart in Japan and sold nearly forty thousand copies.

The track has since been used extensively in popular Japanese media, including as a theme song for the first three films in the Kara no Kyoukai (The Garden of Sinners) movie franchise.

2. “PONPONPON” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

“PONPONPON” is Japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s debut single, released in 2011 as the lead single on her EP Moshi Moshi Harajuku and the studio album Pamyu Pamyu Revolution.

With influences from Kawaii and Decora, the viral hit was released in twenty-three countries on iTunes and sold over one million digital copies.

Selling over two hundred and fifty thousand copies in Japan and landing on three charts, it also reached number fifteen on the Billboard World Digitial Songs chart in the United States and helped to popularise J-Pop in English-speaking countries.

3. “Usseewa” by Ado

Japanese singer Ado released her debut single “Usseewa” in 2020 on her debut studio album Kyōgen.

The song discusses her anger with society and is known for its powerful delivery.

Nicknamed ‘the 2021 youth anthem’, the track soared to number one on the Japan Hot 100 and landed at number seven on the year-end Japan Hot 100 chart.

4. “Candy Candy” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

“Candy Candy” is the second single on Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s debut studio album Pamyu Pamyu Revolution, released in 2012.

It soared to number one on the Japan Billboard Top Airplay chart, as well as reaching the top ten in seven other Japanese charts.

The music video became a viral hit and is known to be the epitome of anime/manga.

5. “Ultra Soul” by B’z

The Japanese rock duo B’z released their thirty-first single “Ultra Soul” in 2001 on their album Green.

The J-Pop hit has been featured in many games and entertainment media, including the arcade drumming game Taiko no Tatsujin 2.

It soared to popularity as many of its songs did at the time, selling over eight hundred thousand physical copies in Japan and being awarded double Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

6. “Road of Resistance” by Babymetal

“Road of Resistance” is the lead single on Babymetal’s self-titled studio album as well as their 2015 album Metal Resistance.

The track became one of the Kawaii metal band’s biggest worldwide hits, reaching number twenty-two on the United States Billboard World Digital Songs chart and being praised by Preston Phro of RocketNews24 for its “fun, over-the-top feel”.

7. “Love Machine” by Morning Musume

Something would be amiss if Morning Musume weren’t on this list!

The Japanese girl group is the second best-selling group to ever hit the Oricon charts, and “Love Machine helped them to achieve this.

The track was released in 1999 on their studio album 3rd-Love Paradise and is their seventh single.

It sold over one and a half million copies in Japan and reached number one in the country, becoming their best-selling single of all time.

8. “Polyrhythm” by Perfume

“Polyrhythm” was released by the pop girl group Perfume on their studio album Game, as well as on their compilation album Love the World.

The hit reached number seven on the Oricon charts in Japan, as well as number thirty-nine in the Japan Hot 100.

It reached sales of over one hundred thousand units in the country as well as one hundred thousand digital downloads, receiving a Gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

9. “Mayonaka no Door (Stay with Me)” by Miki Matsubara

“Mayonaka no Door (Stay with Me)”, which is “Midnight’s Door (Stay with Me)” in English, is the debut single of Japanese singer Miki Matsubara.

It was released in 1979 on her debut studio album Pocket Park, but the song achieved more success forty-one years later.

Matsabura recorded the hit when she was just nineteen years old and appealed to the English-speaking audience by using the phrase ‘stay with me’.

It was very popular in Japan, reaching number twenty-eight on the Oricon Singles Chart.

10. “Heavy Rotation” by AKB48

The Japanese idol group AKB48 released their seventeenth single “Heavy Rotation” in 2010 on their studio album Koko ni Ita Koto.

The J-pop classic became a huge karaoke hit and was eventually covered by numerous other pop groups around the world.

The track hit number one on the Japan Hot 100, the Oricon Daily Singles Chart, the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, and the RIAJ Digital Track Chart weekly Top 100.

It sold millions of digital copies and nearly nine hundred thousand physical copies and was thus certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

11. “Sakura” by Ikimono-gakari

“Sakura” is the debut single of the Japanese pop trio Ikimono-gakari, released in 2006 on their debut studio album Sakura Saku Machi Monogatari. 

The single was one of their most successful of all time, sitting in the weekly Oricon chart for thirty-one weeks and peaking at number seventeen.

It also made its way onto the yearly Oricon chart and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan for sales and digital downloads of over one million units.

12. “I see…” by Nogizaka46

The fourth generation of Nogizaka46 released “I see…” as a coupling song and B-Side to Shiawase no Hogosyoku, their twenty-fifth single. 

The fourth generation members Endo Sakura, Kaki Haruka, Kakehashi Sayaka, Kanagawa Saya, Kitagawa Yuri, Shibata Yuna, Seimiya Rei, Tamura Mayu, Tsutsui Ayame, Hayakawa Seira, and Yakubo Mio allowed the song to rise to fame!

13. “Kaikai Kitan” by Eve

“Kaikai Kitan” is a single by the Japanese singer Eve, released on her 2020 extended play Kaikai Kitan/Ao no Waltz.

It gained most of its fame after being used as the first opening theme tune for Jujutsu Kaisen, an anime television series.

It was nominated in 2021 for the Best Opening Sequence Award at the 5th Crunchyroll Anime Awards and peaked at number seven on the Japan Hot 100.

The video has even been viewed over one hundred million times on YouTube!

14. “Homura” by LiSA

“Homura” is LiSA’s seventeenth single, released in 2020 on the studio album Lander.

It is well known as the theme song to the 2020 film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.

The same year it won the Grand Prize at the 62nd Japan Record Awards and topped the Japan Hot 100 as well as the Japan Oricon chart.

It was subsequently awarded Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan after amassing over one hundred million streams.

15. “On a Cherry Blossom Night” by Aimyon

Japanese singer Aimyon released “On a Cherry Blossom Night” in 2021 on her studio album Falling into Your Eyes Record.

It rose to prominence after becoming the theme song to the Japanese reality television show Koi to Ōkami ni wa Damasarenai.

It reached number eight on the Weekly Oricon chart, number thirteen on the weekly Japan Hot 100, and ended up on the Japan Hot 100 year-end chart at number seventy-three.

It was also awarded platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan after selling one million copies!

16. “Kaibutsu” by Yoasobi

“Kaibutsu”, “Monster” in English, is a J-pop hit by the duo Yoasobi, released on their second extended play The Book 2 in 2021.

As of 2022 it had been streamed three hundred million times in Japan and reached number one in the country.

The hit won four awards at the 2022 Japan Gold Disc Award ceremony in the categories of Song of the Year by Download (Japan), Best 5 Songs by Download, Song of the Year by Streaming (Japan), and Best 5 Songs by Streaming.

17. “Orion” by Kenshi Yonezu

“Orion” is Japanese singer Kenshi Yonezu’s sixth single, released in early 2017 as the lead single on his studio album Bootleg.

The J-pop hit peaked at number three on the Japanese Oricon Weekly Singles chart.

It grew in popularity when it was used as one of the ending theme songs for the popular anime movie March Comes in Like a Lion. 

18. “Kyoran Hey Kids!!” by THE ORAL CIGARETTES

THE ORAL CIGARETTES released their fourth single “Kyoran Hey Kids!!” in 2015 on their studio album Fixion.

As with many other J-pop hits, it was used as the opening theme for Noragami Aragoto, an anime show.

It soared to number nineteen on the weekly Japan Oricon Singles chart and became popular in the United States after being streamed hundreds of thousands of times.

19. “Yoru Ni Kakeru” by Yoasobi

“Yoru Ni Kakeru”, in English “Racing into the Night”, is Japanese duo Yoasobi’s debut single.

It was released in 2019 as their debut extended play The Book, and describes the personification of death.

The track won four awards:

Hot 100 of the Year at the 2020 Billboard Japan Music Awards, Song of the Year at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards Japan, Song of the Year at the 2021 Space Shower Music Awards, and the Silver Prize at the 2023 JASRAC Awards.

(The JASRAC Awards are a ceremony given by the Japanese Society for the Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers).

20. “Unravel” by TK

Tōru “TK” Kitajima, who goes by TK, released his debut single as a solo artist in 2014 on his studio album Fantastic Magic.

“Unravel” is now the opening theme song for the incredibly popular anime series Tokyo Ghoul.

The singer, who is a member of the group Ling Tosite Sigure, has released many J-pop hits, but “Unravel” proved one of the most popular.

It shot to number six on the Japan Hot 100 and number nine on the Oricon Japan Weekly Singles chart.

It has amassed over two hundred and fifty thousand streams in Japan and has since been awarded Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

21. “Gurenge” by LiSA

“Gurenge” is a J-pop song by the Japanese pop singer LiSA, released on her fifth studio album Leo-Nine in 2019.

It is the opening theme song of the anime Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

It won three awards; Best Theme Song at the 2019 Newtype Anime Awards, Best 5 Songs by Download at the 34th Japan Gold Disc Awards (2020), and the Domestic Works award at the 39th JASRAC Awards (2021).

It reached the top of the Japan Billboard Hot Animation chart, as well as landing at number seven on the United States Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart.

The song has been streamed over one hundred million times in Japan.

22. “Renegades” by One Ok Rock

The Japanese rock group One Ok Rock released “Renegades” in 2020 on the studio album Luxury Disease and on the soundtrack for Rurouni Kenshin Saishūshō: The Final, a Japanese film for which it is the main theme.

The J-pop hit soared to number one on the Oricon Japan Digital Singles chart, number four on the Japan Billboard Hot 100, and number twenty-five on the United States Billboard Alternative Digital Song Sales chart.

It has been streamed over one hundred million times in Japan and was subsequently awarded Platinum certification by the Recording INdustary Association of Japan.

23. “RAIN” by SEKAI NO OWARI

“RAIN” is a J-pop song by the Japanese band SEKAI NO OWARI, provided as the theme song for the anime feature film Mary and the Witch’s Flower.

It was released in 2017 as the second track on their studio album Lip.

24. “Inferno” by Mrs. GREEN APPLE

The Japanese rock trio Mrs. GREEN APPLE released “Inferno” in 2017 as their third digital single on the studio album Attitude.

It was used as the opening theme song to the anime Fire Force.

The anime television show shot to popularity, making “Inferno” a global hit, particularly in the United States where it received thousands of streams.

25. “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” by AKB48

AKB48 released the 2013 J-pop single “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” as their thirty-second single that appears on their studio album Tsugi no Ashiato.

It has been covered many times and has several different versions.

The Japanese version won four awards; the Excellent Work Award at the 55th Japan Record Awards, Hot 100 of the Year at the 2013 Billboard Japan Music Awards, the Gold Award at the 2015 JASRAC Awards, and the Silver Award the following year.

It charted at number one on the weekly Japan Hot 100, the monthly Oricon chart, and the year-end Billboard Japan Hot 100.

It sold over one million physical copies, as well as receiving one million digital downloads.

26. “Hikaru Nara” by Goose House

“Hikaru Nara” is the third single by Goose House, a Japanese pop-rock band.

It was released in 2014 on the studio album Milk and was used as the opening theme for the anime film Your Lie in April. 

The track peaked at number eleven on the Japan Oricon Weekly Singles chart, staying there for several weeks. 

27. “Choo Choo TRAIN” by EXILE

EXILE released their tenth single “Choo Choo TRAIN” in 2003 on their studio album EXILE ENTERTAINMENT.

It shot to fame after being used as the theme song to the anime film Uchimura Produce.

28. “One More Time, One More Chance” by Masayoshi Yamazaki

“One More Time, One More Chance” was released by the Japanese singer Masayoshi Yamazaki on his studio album Home in 1997.

It stayed on the Japan Oricon weekly Singles chart for twenty-four weeks, peaking at number eighteen 

It became the theme song for the anime  The Moon and a Cabbage, which the singer starred in.

It later also became the ending theme tune for the film 5 Centimeters Per Second.

29. “Evolution” by Ayumi Hamasaki

“Evolution” is the second single from Japanese lyricist Ayumi Hamasaki’s fourth studio album I Am….

Released in 2001, the hit topped the Oricon Daily Singles Chart, and the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, staying in the latter for seventeen weeks.

It sold one million copies and was thus awarded Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

30. “Silhouette” by Kana-Boon

The Japanese rock band Kana-Boon released “Silhouette” in 2014 as their fifth label single on their studio album Time.

It soared to popularity after being used as the opening theme tune to the world-renowned anime show  Naruto: Shippuden.

It reached number two on the Billboard Japan Hot Animation chart, number nine n the Billboard Japan Hot 100, and number eleven on the Japan Oricon Weekly Singles Chart.

Best J-Pop Songs of All Time – Final Thoughts

This article consisted of the thirty best J-Pop songs of all time, which each helped the rise of Japanese popular music into the mainstream.

J-Pop is listened to around the world thanks to these hit songs and is continuing to increase in popularity exponentially.

We hope you found something to add to your playlist, and have enjoyed exploring the J-Pop genre.

You may also like: Best Japanese Rock Bands

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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