Best Japanese Songs of the Decade
Musicians & Bands

Best Japanese Songs of the Decade (2010’s)

We have reached the end of another decade! The past 10 years has been an interesting transition for music. In the West, Auto-Tune music died, Justin Bieber became cool (at least for short period), Bruno Mars made funk music funky again, then we were introduced to Billie Eilish…

Say what you will about her, but she has a strong following. But I digress, let’s talk about some of the Best Japanese Songs of the Decade (2010’s)!

At Enjoy Life Music, we also love Japanese and Korean Music. Today we are focusing on the Best Japanese Songs of the Decade. It’s difficult to narrow thousands of songs, so this list isn’t a top 10. It’s a list of the songs that have stuck with me over the years. So let’s get started! Here is my list of the Best Japanese Songs of the Decade!

Disclaimer: This is my personal list! If I didn’t mention your favorite song, let’s remain civilized and discuss in the comment section.

Best Female Idol Songs

1. Heavy Rotation「ヘビーローテション」 – AKB48

If we are talking about some of the best Female Idol Songs of the decade, then we have to mention AKB48. The song is catchy as hell, although the lyrics make little to no sense. Even weirder was the promotion of underage girls have pillow fights in lingerie. To be fair, it didn’t bother me considering I was just a teenager when AKB48 debuted. Looking at now as an adult, I can understand the creepy factor. Regardless of what you think of the music video, whenever this song came on, it was guaranteed to make you feel good and sing along. I can’t count how many times my friends and I jammed out to this song a Karaoke.

2. Influencer 「インフレンサー」– Nogizaki46

ABK48 may have revived the Idol industry, but Nogizaki46 quickly took over their spotlight in the latter half of the decade. Unlike AKB48, their songs are more ambitious with the choreography. Granted, it’s not on the level of girl group FLOWER, but an effort was put forward. For Influencer, Nogizaki46 had help from one of Japanese most famous dance cheorgraphy, Seishiro. He wanted to create a dance that felt fast paced, while giving off a harsh movement. Let’s be honest, when judging idol songs, their singing isn’t the appeal point. The goal is to create a catchy tune. Nogizaki succeeds with this by implementing the use of word“la la la”. It’s brilliant when you think about it; Since it’s a simple word, people focus more on the melody rather than the lyrics, making it easy to remember.

3. Konnanimo「こんなにも」 – Dream

Dream went through numerous member changes, since their debut in 2000. This is because Dream is a sub-unit of idol group E-girls. but I will only focus on the song. こんなにも(Konnnanimo), sound beautify with the girls singing in a soft but strong voice. Konnanimo has a relaxing melody, but very sad lyrics. Unfortunately, Dream was phased out in 2017, but at least we got this song as a result.

4. Let Go Again – FLOWER

Did you know Let Go Again, is a “remake” of Rapper, M-Flo’s original “Let Go”? The core melody is the same as the original, but the lyrics and speed have changed, along with some heavy bass added in the background. It gives off an R&B vibe, making it a chill song for listening. FLOWER is also known for their high-quality videography and choreography, however, they definitely missed the mark on that aspect. Videography is gorgeous but the choreography doesn’t match the flow of the song at all. I’m unsure if it was done on purpose, but it wasn’t for the best. Regardless if the bizarre MV, it’s a dope song.

Best Rock Songs

1. The Beginning – ONE OK ROCK

The first time I heard this band, I was confused. They were singing in Japanese but their sound had an alternative rock sound. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy American Rock, but hearing it in Japanese music threw me off. The more I listened to the more I began to enjoy. It makes sense that ONE OK ROCK’s music has an American vibe, considering Takahiro, the vocalist, main influences came from bands such as Green Day, and Linkin Park.

2. Hunting For Your Dreams – Galernyrus

As the title suggests, this song is all about Hunting for your Dreams. The metallic guitar, loud drums, and powerful vocals have made this my go-to workout song. Even if you’re not a fan of metal, this is a wonderful pump-up song.

3. Arpeggio 「アルペジオ」– [ALEXANDROS]

[ALEXANDROS}, formerly known as [Champagne], has had a lot of hit songs this decade. I love how the song starts slow and gradually picks up speed for the chorus. The beginning is slow, this could be a comparison if the first low note being played. The chorus is fast, which could be a direct comparison to the highest note played in an arpeggio. Of course, the real reason the title is being used is to symbolize the ups and downs of life. Which is clearly expressed in the lyrics:

Original Japanese Lyrics

誰の真似でもない「あなた」がいるなら
Dare no mane de mo nai anata” ga iru nara

笑われても、嫌われても
Warawarete mo, kirawarete mo

染まらないよ
Somaranai yo

偽って群れるぐらいなら
Itsuwatte mureru gurai nara

気ままに1人でいりゃいいよ、いりゃいいよ
Kimama ni 1 nin de irya ii yo, irya ii yo

嘘偽らずに
Uso itsuwarazu ni 

We’re going up and down, you know
We’re going up and down, you know
Say NO to the world
Say NO to the world

English Translation

If there’s a part of you that isn’t anyone’s copy

Then even if you’re laughed at, or hated
It won’t leave a stain

If you have to fake it to fit in

Then you should just be selfish, and be alone

Without lying or faking

4. Shunkan Sentimental「瞬間センチメンタル」– SCANDAL

SCANDAL has gone through many stylist changes with Shunkan Sentimental being one of their first songs to be released in the beginning of the decade. When they debuted SCANDAL’s sound was geared towards rock and they doubled-down on that with Shunkan Sentimental. What gives this song a fun rock sound are the drums! Till this day, I consider this period to be their highest point for for rock. Over time, they transitioned to pop rock, then to pop. Fortunately, in recent years SCANDAL has found a good balance between rock and pop with songs such as Masterpiece.

Best Pop Songs

1. NijiIro 虹色 – Ayaka

If you want to feel good, then NijiIro is the one greatest pick me up song I’ve ever heard. It’s a simple uplifting song that encourages you to keep your head up and overcome adversity. On top of that, the music video is color, cute, and fun. 

2. Chikai「誓い」 – Utada Hikaru

I’m very biased when it comes to Utada Hikaru. She is my favorite Japanese singer of all time and could write an article solely on her. With that being said, I chose Chikai, because it’s a unique flow of rhythm. As for the message of the song, it’s very sweet. Simply talking about being with the person she loves.  I’ll also give it bonus points for being used in one of my favorite game series “Kingdom Hearts”.

3. Flash – Perfume

Techno Pop had always fluctuated in popularity, but even with that Perfume has always managed to remain relevant, with the catchy and poppy beats. Their combination of techno beats, vocal effects make you wanna dance. I will admit, the lyrics are as shallow as a puddle, but when you listen to Perfume, you’re not expecting a life-changing message.

Best Rap Songs

1. Forever Young – AK-69 feat. UVERworld

Ak-69 is basically the Japanese Eminem. Not only does he rap about deep messages, he also has fun silly meaningless songs. In the case of Forever Young, the beat is cool and the message is inspiring. The best comparison I can make is Eminem’s, “Lose Yourself”. You will notice some parallels between that song if you listen closely. For example, there is a line that goes like:

Original Japanese Lyrics

胸の奥底 初期衝動

見て見ぬフリ No, No

夢追い笑われ 傷だらけでギラつくMy way

English Translation

Deep within my heart, my first intention

Act like I didn’t see anything, no, no, no

Got laughed at for chasing after my dream, I’m full of scars but I’m gonna do it my way

And did I mention it’s a collaboration with UVERworld? Making this song a mixture of rap and light rock elements. Takuya’s voice is amazing as always.

1. By your Side – Wise feat. Kana Nishino

I love it when pop singers collab with Rappers. Honestly, if I wasn’t a fan of Kana Nishino, then I wouldn’t have discovered Wise. The best thing about this song is the lyrics. The lyrics are incredibly cheesy and cliche, but the passion that you feel from both singers sells the song.

2. #Slaysian – Banana Lemon

This is my guilty pleasure song of the year. These girls go HARD and the beat sounds badass. I’ll be honest, I can’t catch everything they are saying, but the lyrics that are included in the music video are…lively. Also, the video is super trippy. It’s like they took every video effect from iMovie and put it in this video. If you are trying to go party, this is a great song to get pumped up. On top of that, if you are Asian, the song is kind of empowering, in a “gangsta” way.

Best Anime Songs

1. Crossing Field– LiSA (Sword Art Online)

Say what you want about Sword Art Online, but this an amazing song. This was also the song that put LiSA on the map. One of the things I love about this song is the drums. The drums push the intensity of the song. The only song that gives me this much excitement while listening to drums is Rising Hope. LiSA’s voice is high, but powerful. Try imagining someone speaking with an anime voice, but with a husky/ gravely undertone. Her distinct voice and singing style makes it’s easy to identify any of her song.

2. Genkai Toppa X Survivor – Kiyoshi Hiwaka (Dragon Ball Super)

The Dragon Ball series is known for its epic fights and power music. Genaki Toppa X Survivor takes everything people love about Dragon Ball and stuffs it into one song. It’s exciting, invigorating, and makes you want to work out and become a Super Saiyan. This high tension excitement comes from the eccentric Kiyoshi Hikawa! It’s interesting to hear him sing a “pop” style song considering his roots are from Enka. However, if you listen closely you can still hear the elements of an Enka singer in his voice with the “vibrating” resonance in his notes.

3. Brave Shine – Aimer (Fate/Stay Night)

If you were to only listen to the melody of Brave Shine, you could mistake it for an American song. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s fun listening to Japanese singers with a Western sound. I hate to make comparisons, but Brave Shine sounds similar to any Evanescence song with it has a hard/goth rock sound. Aimer’s deep, husky voice is what makes this song (or any of her songs) so enticing.

4. Core Pride – UVERworld (Blue Exorcist)

Once again, this is a personal bias, but UVERworld is one, my favorite rock bands. For me, this is the best song they produced this decade! They start off with a a fast barrage of quick drum beats, then end the intro with a sexy Saxophone. After that the going into Takuya’s mini rap. This is literraly within the first 30 seconds of the song. From that point it only gets better. Plus, I’m a sucker for any rock song that incorporates a saxophone in their song.

5. ZEN ZEN ZENSE – RADWIMPS (Your Name)

Even if you aren’t an anime fan, you’ve probably heard this song somewhere considering how popularity of the movie 君の名 (Kimi no Na) – Your Name. It’s a fast-paced song, talking about the person’s love for their significant other.

Conclusion

There you have it! These are my personal favorite songs of the decade. There are a lot of songs that I love, but I found myself listening to these songs the most. What are your favorite Japanese songs of the decade? Leave a comment and so we can discuss it.

Enjoy Life!!

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