The Top 50 J-Pop Songs of 2023: 50-31

Today is J-pop day on The Bias List! I’m dropping fifty of my favorite songs from 2023 in one day. You may want to check out the honorable mentions first, but if you’re looking to dive into the proper countdown at once, you’ve found the right spot! Here are songs 50 to 31, presented with brief commentary.

SONGS 50-31
SONGS 30-11
SONGS 10-1


50. Sakurazaka46 – Cool

This song is aptly named, as its rapid-fire phrasing and chugging guitar epitomizes a sense of prickly coolness. The video is also extraordinarily captivating.

49. Official HIGE DANdism – White Noise

My favorite Higedan track of the year arrived all the way back in January. White Noise is the group at their most upbeat and affirming, highlighted by those spiraling strings in the verses.

48. One Love One Heart – Yell For You

One Love One Heart were a staple in last year’s countdown. This year was quieter for them, but even an offhand OST track like this stands out thanks to its engaging energy and big pop chorus. (full review)

47. Sean Oshima – Imagine

Sean Oshima harnesses 80’s power pop influences for this exciting burst of energy. It’s got one of those soaring choruses that just lodges itself in my brain.

46. The Last Rockstars – The Last Rockstars

The Last Rockstars bring the theatrical drama I’ve always loved in J-pop, confident in their over-the-top image and admirable legacy. This is a showcase for all that pomp and circumstance.

45. Psychic Fever – Baku Baku

Sidestepping their usual hip-hop and embracing more melodic territory, Psychic Fever hit the jackpot with the addictive Baku Baku. That harmonized chorus is pure perfection.

44. Nogizaka46 – Monopoly

Released only weeks ago (which means it still has time to grow!), Monopoly closed out an incredible year for Nogizaka46. I’m absolutely obsessed with the synth accents that ornament each chorus.

43. &TEAM – Dropkick

Overly processed vocals aside, it’s hard to deny the potency of this bombastic 80’s throwback. From the punchy synths to the megawatt chorus, Dropkick has my name written all over it. (full review)

42. Generations – Beautiful Liar

My favorite song from LDH’s newest Battle Of Tokyo series, Generations’ Beautiful Liar pulls from trance elements to create a driving beast of a dance track. (full review)

41. Meik – Body To Body

A cover of a 1983 Tomoko Aran track, Meik’s version of Body To Body retains the general vibe of the original but adds her compelling vocals to the mix. This is excellent 80’s nostalgia. (full review)

40. One Love One Heart – Kajouhonnou

The almost cabaret-like Kajouhonnou takes full advantage of One Love One Heart’s theatricality and vocal firepower. Its talons sunk in more and more as the year went on, fueled by excellent live performances.

39. INI – Hana

An understated pop mid-tempo, Hana finally took advantage of INI’s vocalists. However, it’s the dreamy atmosphere and gorgeous synth lines that seal the deal. (full review)

38. &TEAM – Firework

How on earth did I rate this in the low-8’s when it was first released? Firework is everything &TEAM (and by extension, a HYBE boy group) should be. Catchy, upbeat and wafting along an airy sense of timelessness. (full review)

37. Queen Bee – Mephisto

Queen Bee’s Avu-chan is one of the most compelling figures in J-pop, and for Mephisto she goes full-on idol with a dark twist. The macabre strings and crushing chorus only fuel the drama. (Beware of the jarring audio distortion during the first chorus in this mv, though!)

36. Sakurazaka46 – Start Over!

Start Over was Sakurazaka’s most stirring 2023 single, and that’s saying something! Driven by chunky bass guitar and a veritable symphony of theatrical instrumentation, it’s pure catharsis. (full review)

35. Sekai No Owari – Turquoise

From its bagpipe opening to the lilting chorus, Turquoise stands as one of the summer’s most pleasant songs. It’s a testament to the power of a great melody and superb performance.

34. Snow Man – W

Snow Man had another strong year, and W‘s heavy rock riffs gave them an edgy makeover that proved incredibly addictive. We’ll call it the sonic sequel to 2020’s Stories. (full review)

33. Hiromitsu Kitayama – RANSHIN

I was heartbroken when Hiromitsu Kitayama left Kis-My-Ft2, but if that move means he gets to indulge his inner rock star I can’t complain too much! RANSHIN is an excellent debut, performed with gusto. (full review)

32. Ryugujo – RONDO

RONDO marked the conclusion of Year 0, Class 0, the fantastic series that spawned Ryugujo. Its full resonance becomes clearer the more familiar you are with the group, but even as an outsider there’s no denying the song’s raw power of expression.

31. Bullet Train (Chotokkyu) – Call My Name

Bullet Train have been absent from this countdown for a bit, but they stormed back with a new configuration and the impossibly peppy Call My Name. This is sunshine in a bottle — particularly that bounding, brass-kissed chorus.


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