Exciting, heart-wrenching, alluring or solemn. Songs that connected with listeners right from the start. These are the best songs from 2023.
The time of the year has arrived in which I struggle to fit 10 songs – out of over 40 – in the top 10 best ones of the year.
For this feature, I’ll cover the 5 best songs by 2D groups and the 5 best songs by male seiyuu artists released in 2023.
This is just a snapshot of the quality we got in 2023. For more songs – equally amazing – I invite you to check the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this article including 47 songs that stood out for their quality, unique tone, good vibes, and most of all, the outstanding performances by seiyuu.
As always, have into attention that this is a highly subjective article as I will be talking about the songs that impressed me or that I enjoyed the most in 2023.
How did I choose the songs for this feature?
- Quality of the vocals, first and foremost
- Quality of the instrumentals (how well they convey a story, how unique they are – which is to say, not sounding like anything else out there – and how intricate they may be)
- The best entries in the CDs they belong to
- Overall enjoyment listening to the songs for the first time but also after reviewing them
It is worth mentioning that the songs in this article are not ranked.
Depending on my mood, there are songs I enjoy more than others but, by the end of the day, these are the ones I consistently have returned to ever since I came across them or review them.
Best songs by Male Seiyuu Artists
Kent Ito “AMBER”
“AMBER” is co-composed by Kent Ito and Zakbee and features lyrics by Kent Ito. Let me tell you, this song is a delight to listen to.
Citypop takes over the soundscape, bringing sweet acoustic guitar riffs, dreamy rhodes piano melodies, and painting everything around you in neon lights as the sun sets.
Nostalgia, care, and passion are intertwined in this tune, gently taking you by hand through this jaw-droppingly beautiful soundscape. In a way, listening to this song I couldn’t help but feel like there was extra care to make the listener feel special in the intimate setting that was crafted for this tune.
There is something about Kent Ito’s music that brings me back more frequently than I expected and that is how stylish his music sounds. He fully embraced citypop music, went all out with a mature approach, and delivered sweet songs that have a feel-good vibe that makes you return to them time and time again.
I know for sure that I’ve had this song on repeat for quite a while and as 2023 wraps up, “AMBER” is, undoubtedly, one of the best songs released by male seiyuu artists.
Yuma Uchida “Hope”
“Hope” is one of those surprises, bringing to the spotlight: HARDROCK with hints of hardcore.
Yes, Yuma Uchida released a hardcore song. And it is good. It sounds legit, which may come as a surprise coming from an artist – up until now – who was known for R&B pop music and the occasional pop-rock tune.
This is a massive turn of events and for me, the song that takes the crown as the best Yuma Uchida song in “Y” and easily one of the most refreshing songs in his repertoire.
And this is not me saying this because I love rock especially melodic hardcore rock.
It is because Yuma Uchida completely embodied the concept and delivered a natural performance that suited his voice, fit the narrative, and had an unreal power.
I was not expecting this and, as such, this song arrives as the biggest surprise of the year for me.
If someone told me “Yeah, Yuma Uchida is going to release a hardcore rock song”, I would have said, “Interesting but it doesn’t seem like his fans will appreciate it”.
Well, color me surprised.
Yuma Uchida tested his limits and showed that there’s much, much more to him as a performer. He’s not just amazing with R&B pop, ballads, or pop-rock. He’s also an absolute machine when it comes to heavy rock, in this case, melodic hardcore. And it looks like most of his fans enjoyed this song.
As far as good surprises go in 2023, Yuma Uchida’s “Hope” is one of the biggest and most amazing.
I would love to see him continuously challenging himself while evolving as an artist. The occasional heavy rock tune would be a treat and I’ll say it again, it suits Yuma Uchida like a glove. Gotta love how his gentle vibe actually fits with such a heavy rock subgenre.
Shouta Aoi “8th HEAVEN”
“8th HEAVEN” is in a league of its own. This is a song that really capitalizes on the fact that Shouta Aoi has an angelic voice.
The soundscape is dreamy, I love the unexpected R&B twist, showing yet against the versatility that Aoi has – and making me wish he would perform R&B music with more frequency.
Downtempo and with R&B influences, the song has a shuffle-like beat, sweet acoustic guitars panned to each side of your headphones, and beautiful backing vocals.
This song feels like a dream. As soon as it kicks off, it is unbelievable how beautiful and ethereal the soundscape is while Shouta Aoi delivers a performance with a hint of raspiness in the mix.
This song is a unique experience that deserves to be listened to with headphones and eyes closed. It feels otherworldly and honestly, I am all in for it.
This is, easily, one of the best songs of the year and one of Shouta Aoi’s most beautiful performances to date.
Tetsuya Kakihara “Best wishes”
“Best Wishes” goes all out on the summer vibes, bringing atmospheric synths and piano accents to create a beautiful and wide soundscape.
This song is a big reason why I say that pop music can be done right, sounds mature, fun, and addictive.
In the past couple of years, Tetsuya Kakihara has improved a lot his singing and with it, his sound also matured and got tweaked to a point in which he sounds amazing.
In “Waratte ite…” album released by Kakihara during the summer, you will find close to its end the song “Best wishes”.
Even with all the changes Kakihara has made to his sound, this song still arrives as a big surprise in tone and sound.
This is a fun, summer-themed song that as soon after the intro kicks in, the instrumental closes that soundscape and gets close to you, keeping a tight beat as funky guitar riffs and punchy bassline lead the way.
This is a groovy song through and through, all while keeping things simple and interesting.
I love the vocal direction in the chorus, matching the synth stabs while sounding so groovy.
The mix between a tip-toeing singing style and the clean, legato Kakihara style in the verses is also something that made me repeat this song more than once just to take in just how simple yet amazing those little details are.
“Best wishes” is easily the highlight of this mini-album and one of the best songs released in 2023.
Mamoru Miyano “Quiet Explosion”
It is a rare sighting having Mamoru Miyano experimenting with his sound. However, in 2023, fans got to see and hear the unique things that Miyano can do when he blends orchestral music with rock and hip-hop music.
“Quiet Explosion” arrived with a bang, completely overshadowing most of the songs released in April 2023.
The beat is tight, the synths aren’t overbearing and the song is robust and serious enough, straying away from Miyano’s usual laidback or sweet vibe. It almost feels like returning to the “NEW ORDER” era but if it had been given a mature, instead of a sexy, vibe.
It is more grounded yet as powerful or more than “NEW ORDER”. And I love this a whole lot, especially because this time around, those high notes that were auto-tuned in “NEW ORDER” are clean, clear, and natural high notes in “Quiet Explosion”.
This goes to show that Miyano doesn’t need fancy tricks to sound good.
And what Miyano pulled off on the vocal end is a delight as well. If his experimenting with his sound is rare, then he’s changing his singing style or challenging himself on the vocal end with new things is even rarer.
His R&B singing style is easily among the best I’ve heard by a seiyuu artist. And in this song, he paired it up with his rock style of singing. So you get a melodic yet powerful performance made in quite a unique tone – as you will notice in the chorus.
Power with self-control leads up to a stellar performance in “Quiet Explosion”.
Best songs by 2D groups and bands
Sir Vanity “Toumei na Watashi”
Sir Vanity performed acid jazz with a hint of citypop. This is something I didn’t expect to write or say in 2023 but yet here we are.
“Toumei na Watashi” is perfect on all fronts. The soundscape is dreamy and warm while, at the same time, the vocals and the whole composition give off stylish vibes.
Not only that but in “Toumei na watashi”, the voice mix in the chorus is ridiculously good.
Yoshiki Nakajima taps into his tenor range and brings out his head voice high notes and falsetto while, at the same time, Yuichiro Umehara goes low on his vocal range, tapping into bass vocal range territory to create a mesmerizing contrast in the chorus. It is stylish, well done, and yet again puts the spotlight on both vocals.
Their vocals harmonizing, the clarity in both and that elegant rhodes piano and funky guitar and punchy bassline combo made it, easily, one of the best songs released in 2023 and also one of my favorites.
Trignal “Tashikani bokura wa”
“Tashikani bokura wa” is, single-handedly, Trignal’s best song released to date.
It is unreal how mature and stylish it sounds not to mention that the vocals are in perfect harmony with each other as well as with the instrumental.
This is what happens when a song is perfectly tailored to the vocals of a group, you get a banger.
And when a group grows and matures, this is the stylish sound you should get. I was surprised with the group going for downtempo space disco for this song but it was the perfect addition.
Riku Nanase (CV: Kensho Ono) & Tenn Kujo (CV: Soma Saito) “Incomplete Ruler”
“Incomplete Ruler” is, oddly enough, a perfect song featuring a memorable performance by two outstanding singers.
This is a unique performance as duets are rare in the IDOLiSH7 franchise and especially the characters teamed up for this performance had never gotten the opportunity to take the stage by themselves.
“Incomplete Ruler” arrives with a dreamy atmosphere of muffled piano melodies and longing guitar riffs before leaving the stage open for the vocals to shine.
You can tell this song is gentle from that point on.
The bridge provides an awesome chance to hear both the harmonies between Kensho Ono and Soma Saito as well as their canons and Ad-lib riffing in the background.
This is a performance with a lot of heart and emotion going on and when that outro kicks in with their long notes, the choir behind, and the heightening of the tension in the instrumental, you won’t help but feel incredibly invested in this track.
You will feel drawn into this song and that outro may even end up making you feel goosebumps all over you.
For sure I felt those when the outro kicked in.
But another reason this song clicked with me was how brilliantly the composition was made. The song kicks off in a way that only solitude can be felt.
The piano is the only element there to guide vocals but as the story progresses in the lyrics and the voices come together – thus, the feelings – the instrumental changes dynamics and introduces more elements.
As the song wraps up and those feelings are there in the open for all to see and hear the instrumental is beautifully rich. This is storytelling through music and I absolutely love it.
Storytelling-wise, this song is a marvel. And when it comes to the vocals I was expecting an emotional performance but nothing as technical and as impressive as what Riku (CV: Kensho Ono) and Tenn (CV: Soma Saito) delivered in this performance.
GYROAXIA “ALL MY PARTS”
GYROAXIA took the summer by storm for me with a massive release of “ALL MY PARTS“.
This digital single is exactly the perfect direction for GYROAXIA, the follow-up that I have been waiting for to “Freestyle“, a song that shows the band’s maturity and picks up perfectly from where they left things off in that massive EP.
Melodic and aggressive, GYROAXIA’s “ALL MY PARTS” is a rock anthem that will make you shout and sing along to the powerful lyrics – fully in English -whilst experiencing goosebumps all over you.
This song is what rock music is all about. Powerful messages and sound.
“Regret” is one of the highlights in Anthos*’s repertoire. And yes, it is one of the best songs released in 2023.
This year, Anthos* kept on bringing surprises to the table, with all members challenging themselves in the THINK OF ME CD series.
In “Regret”, the soundscape is ethereal but not as wide as the previous tracks.
This time around, everything is kept close to the listener, with the instrumental sounding tighter in comparison. The bassline cranked, contrasting with a jaunty piano melody and bassy synth stabs. As far as the instrumental goes, it was already sound insanely well.
But what made me instantly say this is the best song in this CD are the performances.
There are so many crazy and unexpected things going on on the vocal end.
The rapping duo went for a mix of singing and rapping in their parts, sounding much more melodic than usual. Shunichi Toki and Shun Horie were in complete control of the high notes, leading the way for the group that performed the chorus completely in falsetto.
And speaking of falsetto, have you paid close attention to Seiichiro Yamashita’s solo long falsetto part in the outro?
That part is a thing of beauty (and a delightful surprise coming from Yamashita). I found myself wanting, no, needing to listen to that part and the entire song again and again.
There are so many layers and intricate vocal details that you won’t catch with just one listen. And honestly, why would you stop at just one listen to this massive tune?
I know for sure that this song was on repeat for me since I reviewed it.
You can find all these songs and more in a massive Spotify playlist including over 40 songs that impressed in 2023. Hope you enjoy it!
Which were your favorite songs released in 2023 by male seiyuu or 2D groups? Share those in the comments!
You can find all the content in this feature on episode 177 of SEIYUU LOUNGE, The Hand That Feeds HQ’s official weekly podcast in video format.
If you prefer content on the go, you can also find the content in this feature in the sound-only version of SEIYUU LOUNGE.
You can find the podcast on the following platforms