Today is J-pop day on The Bias List and I’m counting down my fifty favorite songs of the year! You’ll want to start with the honorable mentions, but this post will cover songs 30 to 11.
30. 7ORDER – Who I Am
An early-2023 highlight, Who I Am delivered the most distilled realization of 7ORDER’s potential. It’s a gorgeous, synth-dripped rocker with an incredible hook. (full review)
29. Snow Man – Dangerholic
Dangerholic is a bundle of personality, and I’d expect nothing less from Snow Man! Its brassy assault hits right from the start, freewheeling through the track with cartoonish glee. (full review)
28. Ryokuoushoku Shakai – Summertime Cinderella
This is how you do a summertime OST! Summertime Cinderella is emotional catharsis wrapped in a bright, propulsive package. It sounds like a drive to the beach with the windows down.
27. Naniwa Danshi – LAI-LA-LA
Naniwa Danshi released only one “edgy” track this year, but it was a banger. This is my preferred mode for the group, even though their usual glittery idol pop is also fun. (full review)
26. Ami Suzuki – I Just Feel Good
The production on I Just Feel Good feels like an out of body experience. I’m not sure any other dance beat in 2023 hit this hard. The climax is absolutely transcendent. Long may this club queen reign!
25. INI – Fanfare
Punchy pop rock turned out to be the perfect fit for INI, as they delivered their best single yet with the rambunctious Fanfare. Its multi-pronged chorus is a total highlight. (full review)
24. Ryugujo – SHORYU (→↓︎＋P)
Ryugujo challenged the norm all year long, and SHORYU‘s confrontational energy and off-kilter production may be their most experimental work yet. The song is at once fascinating and incredibly immersive. (full review)
23. Man With A Mission x Milet – Kizuna no Kiseki
Rock group Man With A Mission and soloist Milet delivered the year’s best collaboration with the pummeling Kizuna no Kiseki. The ferocious chorus (and especially its harmonized finale) is impossibly invigorating.
22. News – A Real Man
News went ahead and stuffed an entire movie musical into a lean pop frame. I admire the ambition alone, but A Real Man‘s resounding melodies elevate the song even further. What a great year for them! (full review)
21. Fantastics – Tell Me
Fantastics tackled a funkier sound with the incredibly rhythmic Tell Me. As always, the song thrives on the personality of the vocals, but that earworm chorus certainly holds its own. (full review)
20. ReLit – “Challenger” Theme
ReLit enter the countdown with what I’d assume to be the most under-known song in my top 50. Challenger Theme is everything I love in grand, theatrical idol pop. It sounds like it’s ripped from some anime pop opera. (full review)
19. The Rampage – No Gravity
The Rampage turned their attention to emotive EDM with the soaring No Gravity. Reserved verses give way to an explosive chorus and a walloping electro climax. (full review)
18. Kis-My-Ft2 – Sweet Melody
Kis-My-Ft2 may not be as musically active as I’d like, but the buoyant funk of Sweet Melody proves they still have plenty of gas left in the tank. Its bounding chorus was one of the year’s biggest joy bombs. (full review)
17. DXTEEN – First Flight
DXTEEN debuted with a serviceable pop track, but truly blew the roof off with their follow-up. First Flight does exactly what its title says, taking off with velocity as it clears a path toward a series of soaring climaxes. This song only grew stronger with time.
16. Aina The End – Red:birthmark
Aina The End’s abrasive tone won’t be for everyone, but there’s no denying the expressive power of Red:birthmark. It’s absolutely riveting from start to finish, climaxing in a series of cathartic howls that will knock you to the ground. (full review)
15. XY – Crazy Love
XY debuted with the full power of Yoshiki’s symphonic hallmark. Crazy Love works as both an emotive ballad and hard-hitting performance piece, showcasing a compelling duality that will be fun to watch flourish in 2024. (full review)
14. Queen Bee – Zero Ichi
Queen Bee continue to deliver the best anime themes the industry has to offer, harnessing the guttural power of Avu-chan’s voice to craft dynamic highlights like Zero Ichi. The song just doesn’t let up. (full review)
13. IMP. – Cruisin’
Sometimes a song’s quirks just win you over. I didn’t think much of Cruisin’ when it first premiered, but its ebullient, silly energy stuck with me for the long run. It’s such a great encapsulation of what this style of upbeat idol pop can be. (full review)
12. Sexy Zone – Purple Rain
Sexy Zone have grown into one of the most consistent acts in J-pop, and they recaptured the strengths of their incredible 2022 output by yet again embracing synthwave for the chugging, ultra-stylish Purple Rain. (full review)
11. Fantastics – Panorama Jet
I put a high premium on songs that uplift me, and Panorama Jet‘s upbeat EDM is pure euphoria. You can practically hear the smiles in the vocal performance as the chorus reaches for the sky. (full review)