Don’t be put off by Sexy Zone’s cringy name. It’s basically become a self-parody by now, anyway. Their music holds a unique place within the Johnny’s Entertainment pantheon, going through dramatic shifts in sound. They took a few years to find their footing (if I ever have to hear Lady Diamond again, it’ll be too soon), but the guys have recently reinvented their sound in very compelling fashion.
Here are my ten favorite Sexy Zone singles, though there are plenty of standouts that didn’t quite make the list.
10. 24/7 (2016)
Augmenting the group’s punchy, anthemic sound with a killer guitar line, 24/7 is a rousing, get-out-of-your-seat singalong that packs a surprising punch. Its chorus just keeps going (and going…).
9. Rock Tha Town (2017)
A good old-fashioned splash of brass-kissed funk, Rock Tha Town is one of the group’s most ebullient party tracks, drawing on a classic groove and sing-along chorus to deliver an incredibly sunny package.
8. Bare-Faced Kiss (Suppin Kiss) (2018)
Suppin Kiss nails a certain retro synth sound. It bounds out of the gate with a brilliant instrumental before cruising into a rhythmic chorus. But, nothing beats that effusive, synth-powered chorus.
(Unfortunately, the song’s full mv is nowhere to be found online. Spoiler: they’re washing a car and dancing.)
7. Far East Dance (Kyokutou DANCE) (2020)
A gritty, guitar-fueled slab of dance rock, Far East Dance takes advantage of Sexy Zone’s newfound musical maturity to craft a larger-than-life anthem that sounds undeniably cool even as it embraces the group’s inherent theatricality. (full review)
6. Maware Miracle (2015)
I’ve always been partial to the synth-pop fluff of Maware Miracle. It’s a cheesy little song, but that chorus harnesses one of the very best melodies of their career. It’s pure bubblegum bliss.
5. Honey Honey (2019)
Honey Honey is an irresistible throwback to unfiltered, unpretentious pop music. Its candy-coated hooks go for the jugular, cruising along celebratory brass and a synth-fueled groove.
4. Unforgettable Flower (Wasurerarenai Hana) (2018)
This was a real turning point for Sexy Zone, reinventing them as purveyors of slinky 80’s soul-pop. The melodies here are incredible, as the track unveils a series of beguiling refrains – each strong enough to function as a chorus. The funky, textured instrumental is even better. (full review)
3. Kirin Child (Kirin no Ko) (2015)
Bounding along a guitar-strumming, synth-sprinkled instrumental, Child perfectly blends ornate flourishes with crisp production and streamlined pop songwriting. Its rousing chorus is ravishing in its melodic construction, coming across as both anthemic and affecting.
2. Sexy Zone (2011)
I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t cheesy as hell. It relishes in its own over-the-top camp. And yet, it is the enduring Sexy Zone classic. It’s clear that these tweens should not have been singing about sexy zones at their age, nor should anyone be forced to perform on the music video’s weird floating castle set, holding roses in front of their mics.
However, Sexy Zone is an incredible disco pastiche – the most convincing re-creation of YMCA-era pop that you’re likely to hear. Ignore the questionable visuals and lyrics, turn up the song to maximum volume, and succumb to this thrilling disco inferno.
1. Run (2020)
Run is a perfect pop song, powering forward on undiluted energy. It’s the sleekest and most assured the group has ever sounded, and builds toward a life-affirming chorus that harnesses all of their music’s best instincts. And given the fact that Sexy Zone are about to enter their tenth year since debut, Run is a thrilling testament to group longevity. Some things just get better and better with age. (full review)