Japanese pop music, or J-pop as it is more commonly known, has been around for decades and has seen its fair share of hits.
But what are the absolute best, most classic J-pop songs of all time?
This question was challenging, so we enlisted the help of a true expert: our intern.
Who claims to know everything there is to know about Japanese pop music (and he’s only been listening to it for a few weeks).
After “hours” of careful deliberation and some very heated debates, we finally narrowed it down to the top 100 J-pop hits of all time.
So without further ado, here are the best J-pop songs of all time, according to our intern (in no particular order).
Top 50 J-Pop Hits Of All Time
You can also find and listen to most of them in our playlist on Spotify and watch the music videos on YouTube.
CANDY CANDY – Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
“CANDY CANDY” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is the J-pop singer’s second single from her debut album Pamyu Pamyu Revolution.
It sings about a girl who has a sweet tooth and wants to have a complete fill of candies in her pockets.
I Love… – Official HIGE Dandism
“I Love…” is a track from the Japanese pop band Official HIGE Dandism’s album Editorial.
The song peaked at number 5 on the Oricon Singles Chart.
Road to Resistance – BABYMETAL
BABYMETAL’s “Road to Resistance” is part of the re-releasing of the JPop kawaii metal band’s album Babymetal in February 2015.
The official music video of the song uploaded on YouTube has already gained over 31 million views as of writing.
Ultra Soul – B’z
B’z’s “Ultra Soul” is the Japanese rock duo’s 31st single.
“Ultra Soul” was featured in the 2001 FINA World Aquatics Championships.
The song was also used as the entrance theme of the Japanese professional wrestler Masayuki Naruse during his stretch in the New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Polyrhythm – Perfume
Perfume’s “Polyrhythm” is the J-pop idol trio’s second single from their second album Game.
The song appears in several Japanese arcade music games, including Pop’n Music and Dance Dance Revolution.
“Polyrhythm” also appeared in the Pixar film Cars 2 in 2011.
LOVE Machine – Morning Musume
Morning Musume’s “LOVE Machine” is the J-pop girl idol group’s seventh single.
The song was a massive hit upon its release in 1999, selling over a million copies.
Among its accolades is featured in the Japanese rhythm game series Just Dance Wii U.
“LOVE Machine” was also remade by Western and Southeast Asian bands, including Scott Murphy of Allister and the South Korean girl group After School.
PONPONPON – Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s “PONPONPON” is a popular song with a dance choreography in Just Dance Unlimited.
Kokoro Odoru – nobodyknows+
“Kokoro Odoru” is one of nobodyknows+ hit singles since the Japanese hip-hop band’s debut in 2003.
The song served as the second ending theme of the anime series Gundam Force.
It was also included in the rhythm video game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan by Nintendo DS.
Mayonaka no Door / Stay With Me – Miki Matsubara
“Mayonaka no Door / Stay With Me” is Miki Matsubara’s debut single, released in November 1979.
The song became popular again 41 years later after being used in an Internet trend on TikTok.
SAKURA – Ikimonogakari
“SAKURA” is the trio Ikimonogakari’s debut single.
Upon its release in 2006, the song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.
Heavy Rotation – AKB48
AKB48’s “Heavy Rotation” is the JPop girl idol group’s 17th single, released on the 18th of August, 2010.
The song was such a massive hit in karaoke bars and topped the JOYSOUND chart for 43 straight weeks!
I see… – Nogizaka46
Nogizaka46’s “I see…” is a coupling song from the girl group’s 25th single, Shiawase no Hogosyoku.
The 4th Generation members of Nogizaka46 perform it.
THE FIRST TAKE – DISH//
“THE FIRST TAKE” is DISH//’s 10th digital single, first performed on the group’s Youtube channel.
The music video became one of the most viewed videos on DISH//’s Youtube channel, even surpassing LiSA’ performance of her song “Gurenge.”
On A Cherry Blossom Night – Aimyon
“On A Cherry Blossom Night” is a song recorded by the J-pop singer Aimyon, digitally released through Warner Music Japan and Unborde in February 2021.
The song was used as the theme song of the Japanese reality show Koi to Okami ni wa Damasarenai.
Kaikai Kitan – EVE
“Kaikai Kitan” by EVE is famous as OP for the anime series Jujutsu Kaisen, a song full of energy!
orion – Kenshi Yonezu
“orion” by Kenshi Yonezu is the second ending song played in the anime series March Comes in Like a Lion.
Kyouran Hey Kids!! – THE ORAL CIGARETTES
“Kyouran Hey Kids!!” by THE ORAL CIGARETTES is the opening theme in the anime Noragami Aragoto.
Monster – YOASOBI
“Monster” by YOASOBI is a song you can listen to in the anime Beastars.
unravel – TK
“unravel” by TK of Ling tosite Sigure is the opening theme from the popular anime series Tokyo Ghoul.
夜に駆ける – YOASOBI
“Yoru ni Kakeru” by YOASOBI is a Japanese song that won MTV Video Music Awards Japan in 2020, then the Space Shower Music Awards in 2021.
Renegades – ONE OK ROCK
“Renegades” by ONE OK ROCK is the main theme for the live action film Rurouni Kenshin: The Final.
Ed Sheeran is one of the songwriters alongside Takahiro Moriuchi and Masato Hayakawa of Coldrain.
Gurenge – LiSA
“Gurenge” by LiSA is the OP theme from the popular anime series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
RAIN – SEKAI NO OWARI
“RAIN” is SEKAI NO OWARI’s 11th major single, released in July 2017.
The song is used as the theme song of the anime movie Mary and the Witch’s Flower.
Inferno – MRS GREEN APPLE
“Inferno” by Mrs. GREEN APPLE is the opening theme for the first season of the anime series Fire Force.
Koi Suru Fortune Cookie – AKB48
“Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” is the lead track from AKB48’s 32nd single of the same title.
In 2014, the song was one of the songs listed on Just Dance Wii U, a famous Japanese rhythm game series.
missing you – Kana Nishino
“missing you” is a B-side of Kana Nishino’s single album Motto…
Kana Nishino was involved in writing the lyrics of the song.
Tank! – SEATBELTS
“Tank!” is a song performed by the SEATBELTS for the anime series Cowboy Bebop.
The song is described as a big band jazz track that expresses themes of the old 60s spy genre.
GLORY – SPYAIR
“GLORY” is SPYAIR’s second digital single, released in October 2014.
One More Time, One More Chance – Masayoshi Yamazaki
“One More Time, One More Chance” is Masayoshi Yamazaki’s single released by the Polydor Japan label in January 1997.
The song was used as the ending theme song of the popular anime film 5 Centimeters Per Second.
Hikarunara – Goose House
“Hikarunara” is the third single of the Japanese music group Goose House.
The song was used as the opening theme of the anime series Your Lie in April.
Sparkle – RADWIMPS
“Sparkle” by RADWIMPS is one of the four theme songs of the anime film Kimi no Na Wa / Your Name.
It is from the Japanese rock band’s eighth studio album, released solely as the soundtrack for the film in 2016.
Silhouette – KANA-BOON
KANA-BOON’s “Silhouette” is the rock band’s fifth major-label single, peaking at number 11 on the Oricon chart after its release in November 2014.
The song was used as the sixteenth opening of the popular anime series Naruto: Shippuden played from episodes 380 to 405.
Uchiagehanabi – Daoko / Kenshi Yonezu
“Uchiagehanabi,” or “launching fireworks” in Japanese, is a collaboration song by Daoko and Kenshi Yonezu.
It’s the theme song for the anime film Fireworks.
The song sat at the top of Billboard Japan Hot Animation for 25 consecutive weeks.
Usseewa – Ado
“Usseewa” by Ado is the Japanese singer’s debut single.
The song’s lyrics criticize the so-called “common sense” paraded by society.
It then became popular among youth and was recognized as the “2021 Youth Anthem.”
homura – LiSA
“homura” is LiSA’s seventeenth single released by Sony Music Japan and Sacra Music in October 2020.
The song is the theme song of one of the most awaited anime films of 2020, the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.
It won the top Japanese singer the grand prize at the 2020 Japan Record Awards.
Choo Choo TRAIN – exile
”Choo Choo TRAIN” is exile’s 10th single released in a CD-only edition in November 2003.
The song is the ending theme song of the Japanese comedy program Uchimura Produce.
Evolution – Ayumi Hamasaki
“Evolution” is a song by the JPop artist Ayumi Hamasaki.
The singer’s eighth single ranked number one on the Oricon Singles Chart.
Ready Steady Go – L’Arc-en-Ciel
L’Arc-en-Ciel’s “Ready Steady Go” is the band’s 23rd single, released in February 2004.
The song was featured as the second opening song of the top anime series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
First Love – Utada Hikaru
Utada Hikaru’s “First Love” is the singer’s third Japanese language single, released in April 1999.
In a survey conducted by Oricon in 2009, asking several Japanese what song they would want to hear when they get their heart broken, “First Love” was included in their top 10.
The song was used as the theme song for the 1999 Japanese TV drama Majo no Joken.
Can You Celebrate? – Namie Amuro
Namie Amuro’s “Can You Celebrate” is the Japanese singer’s seventh solo single under the label Avex Trax.
The song is hailed as the best-selling single by a solo female artist in the Japanese music scene, selling over 2 million copies since its release in 1997.
Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana – SMAP
“Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana / The One and Only Flower in the World” is a song by SMAP released in 2003.
The single sold over 2 million copies, making it the third best-selling single throughout the history of Oricon.
Also, in 2003, when CD sales declined, the song was one of the only two singles that sold over a million copies.
Lemon – Kenshi Yonezu
“Lemon” is Kenshi Yonezu’s 10th single released through Sony Music Japan in March 2018.
The song was used as the theme song of the Japanese TV drama Unnatural.
LOVE LOVE LOVE – DREAMS COME TRUE
DREAMS COME TRUE’s “LOVE LOVE LOVE” is a song released for the J-pop band’s eighth studio album Love Unlimited.
The song ranked tenth on the best-selling Japanese single of all-time list, making it the most successful single of DREAMS COME TRUE since its debut in 1988.
Robinson – Spitz
The song “Robinson” is responsible for Spitz’s prominence almost a decade after the rock band’s debut in 1987.
“Robinson” is part of Spitz’ fifth album, Hachimitsu, released in 1995.
Citrus – Da-ICE
Da-ICE’s “Citrus” is the J-pop boy band’s 21st single, released in November 2020.
The song was used as the theme song of the Japanese drama series Gokushufudou.
Grandeur – SnowMan
“Grandeur” is a song performed by the JPop boy band SnowMan.
The song is the 13th opening theme of the hit anime series Black Clover.
The Rage Beat – KINYA
“The Rage Beat” is a song recorded by KINYA for the anime adaptation of the 1996 manga series Gravitation.
Rainy Days Never Stays – The Brilliant Green
The Brilliant Green’s “Rainy Days Never Stays” is the rock band’s 13th single released in 2002.
The song ranked number 14 on the Oricon Singles Chart.
Oblivious – Kalafina
“Oblivious” is the debut single of the J-pop vocal group Kalafina.
The song, along with two other tracks, was used as the theme song for the first three installments of the Japanese movie Kara no Kyoukai.
Nigatsu no Heitai – the cabs
“Nigatsu no Heitai” is a song recorded by the J-pop match rock band the cabs.
It is from the band’s EP first action released in 2011.
So there you have it, our list of the top 50 J-pop hits of all time.
We hope you enjoyed it (or at least found it mildly amusing).
Be sure to let us know some of your favorite J-pop songs on Discord!