Pop has been the go-to music genre for many seiyuu making their solo debuts in this decade. Accessible, easy-listening, radio friendly, a sound fit as an insert song in anime and a great way to garner popularity are just some of the perks of releasing music in this genre.
We’ve mentioned on a previous entry in the Decade in Review series that it was thanks to Utapri – otome game turned major 2D pop music franchise -, that companies got to be more daring and bet on 2D music projects (however now companies call every project as “mixed media” just in case it gets popular and decide to step into anime, game territory, etc). Pop has been huge among seiyuu fans since 2011.
Solo artists and 2D projects have had different takes on the pop genre. Most follow the current trends in a way to make their projects sound “in” for the new generations, others revisit oldschool pop, add it a flair of hip-hop, R&B, electronica to try to have an edge on the competition. In the end, when artists keep pushing themselves to improve and create a unique sound for themselves we, fans, tend to get some pretty good gems to listen to.
Here are the Best Pop songs of the Decade, organized chronologically, as chosen by our team.
Mamoru Miyano “BODY ROCK”
When writing the draft to this article, this was the first song that came to our mind: BODY ROCK. Now a classic of Miyano’s, BODY ROCK represented a massive change in his career back in 2010 when the song was released as part of the album, WONDER.
Miyano was maturing as an artist and performer and that was noticeable as we listened to the album. R&B was taking the backseat while provoking pop songs with addictive urban beats and edgy guitar riffs gave way for mesmerizing performances. BODY ROCK is not a fast paced pop song – although there have been, over the years, more than its fair share of live arrangements that have made it more uptempo -, but it has always packed a whole lot of energy in it. This is a song that finds its way quite frequently on the live setlists for Miyano’s shows and it is not for nostalgia. This song is a banger.
From rebels to royals, D.A.T has undergone several changes of sound and looks since their debut in 2012 but truth is, there has never been a more electrifying seiyuu duo than them.
Powerful electronic pop songs, fast paced rap and fancy dance moves impressed a lot of people at the time, as Daisuke Ono and Takayuki Kondo gave their all to sound and look unique in an industry that was starting to be populated by seiyuu units. D.A.T‘s debut song, VS, is one of the most addictive and exciting pop tunes released in this decade. A note: watch the music video because it still looks cool after all these years.
Style five “SPLASH FREE”
Even if back in 2013 you were not in the slightest into Free!, truth is that you might have encountered Style Five‘s SPLASH FREE and had it on your playlist as a guilty pleasure.
Style Five (Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Daisuke Hirakawa, Tsubasa Yonaga and Mamoru Miyano) made waves with SPLASH FREE, song that does not even sound as old as it actually is. The addictive synths, the summery vibe that fits the song and the season in which it first aired were some of the most exciting elements in it. Add to it fresh and high quality vocals and this ensemble dazzled everyone. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of other releases of theirs but SPLASH FREE remains in the memory of many and is one of the most iconic songs of the decade.
QUARTET NIGHT “Poison KISS”
And if we talk about memorable songs as well as best pop songs in the decade, this song is a must. We were in 2013 and Utapri was back with its second anime season. The craze around the franchise was in a peek moment and fans could not believe what they would eventually get in that season.
QUARTET NIGHT introduced themselves in the most mesmerizing way a “rival/veteran” group in a music anime has ever managed to do. As soon as Poison KISS debuted in the anime, everyone was going bonkers on social media. But the craze around Utapri and the new craze – that eventually led to QUARTET NIGHT become the most successful 2D unit in the early 10s -, was not a product of sheer luck. It was the perfect timing, the perfect instrumental for that time and the best lineup one could imagine at that time.
Poison KISS is one of the best pop songs to grace music anime. Groovy, provocative and mature, it was the complete opposite of what fans found in the franchise’s main group, STARISH. Although the group ended up being more successful with other songs, this is the track that will never get out of our head.
If there is a seiyuu unit that has showcased the most improvement since their debut is Trignal.
The trio, consisting of Ryohei Kimura, Takuya Eguchi and Tsubasa Yonaga, made their debut in 2013 but it was only in 2015 that they changed their sound and visuals to fit a mature concept. One Step Forward featured what is one of the best tracks in their repertoire and one of our favorite pop songs of the decade, we’re talking about Mission.
Mission changed the panorama for this talented trio, shifting from bubbly pop music to a darker and cleaner synth oriented pop sound with a lot of flair on the vocal end.
w. hatano “You Only Live Once”
Wataru Hatano is an interesting solo artist with an odd solo career despite his insane singing talent. Debuted in 2011, he has managed to have a solo career with no major highlights and has never risen and sustained fame as some of his peers, now popular solo artists, have managed.
He’s managed to have a comfortable and consistent career exploring rock music with touches of pop here and there but, ironically, it was his stint with electronica that made him experience a brief rise of popularity.
Under a different artist name – w.hatano – Hatano released You Only Live Once, pumping electro-pop tune that was featured as the ending theme for the hit sports anime, Yuri!!! on Ice back in 2016. The song’s high energy instrumental and simplistic performance were more than enough to make it an instant hit among domestic and overseas fans. To this day, it is impossible to not feel energized after listening to this song.
B-PROJECT “S kyuu paradise”
In 2017, B-PROJECT experienced a boom in popularity much thanks to the release of the two compilation albums S Kyuu Paradise (Black / White).
The title track – same in both releases – hit us with a power and flair that we were not expecting from a franchise that was lacking consistency up until that point.
S Kyuu Paradise features a pulsing instrumental with fancy bits of percussion and an explosive, big synth-driven chorus that will refuse to get out of your head. This is a textbook pop song with short verses and even shorter and impactful choruses that works to perfection to create this ear-worm of a song.
Growth 魔法のキズナ (Mahou no Kizuna)
Growth are a group incredibly hard to fit in a modern category. The group performs baroque pop for the most part, focused on the lyrical quality of their performances while performing on top of mysterious, adventurous and magical soundscapes. They have been consistently releasing unique music for which there is no competition available. Add to this a lineup with a one-of-a-kind chemistry, quality and impressive range of vocals plus a crafty composer behind them, and this group are in a league of their own.
In 2017, thanks to TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION, Growth got to shine once again, this time with a song that would completely set them apart from all other 2D units. Mahou no Kizuna steered so far away from the typical pop tune with its adventurous soundscape and the urgent and lyrical vocals. To this date we still gets chills whenever we get to the crescendo in the outro. Their impactful performance earns them a spot in this feature.
TRIGGER “DAYBREAK INTERLUDE”
TRIGGER put their name in the history of seiyuu/2D units with the release of REGALITY (1st album by a 2D unit to ever get #1 on Oricon Weekly Album chart).
Among the various hit songs included in this release is one of the best pop songs released in this decade, DAYBREAK INTERLUDE. Even without context behind the release – that fans of the smartphone game are well aware -, it is impossible to not be touched by the emotional performance by Wataru Hatano, Soma Saito and Takuya Sato.
For those with context behind DAYBREAK INTERLUDE, there is even more to this song. It was a statement at the time of the release tying up with a crucial part of the game’s story. Now it stands as a song that marked the end of an era and a start of new journey. With composition by the legendary composer Tetsuya Komuro, DAYBREAK INTERLUDE is an electrifying song with fast paced verses and an explosive chorus that still puts us on the edge of our seat. The pacing is urgent, the lyrics are emotionally charged yet simple. By the time the last chorus kicks in and the vocals seem as though they are cries for help, the emotional ad-libs paint a desperate yet hopeful picture and chills run down our spine. If we’re talking about best pop songs of the decade this song must be in the conversation.
La Veritta “BEAT IN LOVE”
This was a tough choice for us as RayGlanZ and even JUST 4 U released great songs that we would have liked to feature here. La Veritta won their spot on this feature duo to how impeccability the group worked on the vocal end and how memorable their songs managed to be.
Particularly, it was BEAT IN LOVE that marked us the most and, in our books, is an outstanding pop song with one of the most explosive and classy choruses we can encounter in pop music (among seiyuu and 2D projects).
Yuma Uchida “ERROR”
We wrap up this feature with what we consider to be the best pop song of 2019, Yuma Uchida‘s ERROR.
This is one of those songs that almost instantly manages to grab the listener’s attention. The loungy R&B vibe mixed with minimalistic electronica elements and a slight tropical vibe (present in the atmospheric and washy synths) create a dreamy, summery soundscape that we do not want to escape from. Add to this song Uchida‘s sweet vocals that, more than ever are shining when performing R&B song, and we have a winner formula. 2019’s pop song of the year and one of the best pop songs of the decade.
Organized by release date, here are the Best Pop songs of the Decade (2010-2019):
- 2010| Mamoru Miyano “BODY ROCK”
- 2012| D.A.T – V.S
- 2013| Style five “SPLASH FREE”
- 2013| QUARTET NIGHT “Poison Kiss”
- 2015| Trignal “Mission”
- 2016| w.hatano “You Only Live Once”
- 2017| B-PROJECT “S kyuu paradise”
- 2017| Growth 魔法のキズナ
- 2017| TRIGGER “DAYBREAK INTERLUDE”
- 2018| La Veritta “BEAT IN LOVE”
- 2019| Yuma Uchida “ERROR”