Today is J-pop day on The Bias List and I’m counting down my eighty favorite songs of the year!
Now that you’ve had a chance to check out songs 80 to 11, it’s time for the best of the best — my absolute favorite J-pop tracks of 2022. This year, it’s a great blend of familiar faces and some new names.
10. Snow Man – Orange Kiss
I happen to have a sweet tooth for pop music, and Orange Kiss was the most sugary offering from Snow Man in 2022. It’s a fizzy J-pop idol track through and through. It may not be extraordinarily unique or boundary-pushing, but sometimes you just want the classics delivered with plenty of excitement and panache. I played this one to death over the summer. (full review)
9. One Love One Heart – Now Or Never
This is the kind of song that sneaks up on you. At first, it might not seem like much. But, once you hit its explosive finale you realize the journey it’s taken you on. There’s a lovely sense of tension between the big, choral hook and the quieter, more hypnotic moments during the verses. Then, we have that brilliant post-chorus instrumental riff that intensifies to close the track in rousing fashion.
8. Superfly – Dynamite
Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how vital a killer vocal performance can be. Shiho Ochi absolutely shreds on Dynamite, meeting the intensity of the blistering instrumental with her explosive delivery. Just listen to that moment halfway through when the brass intensifies and she transports us to another dimension with her effortless vocal ascent. It’s hard not to get goosebumps.
7. One Love One Heart – Glory Daze
This was only released a few weeks ago, but it was love at first listen. One Love One Heart have already carved out an exciting niche for themselves, fusing idol theatrics with ballsy rock energy. This song plays like some demented glee club and I am absolutely here for that. The chorus hits like a sledgehammer and the music video is all sorts of Total Eclipse Of The Heart weirdness.
6. Miyavi – Strike It Out
Miyavi practically has a reserved seat in my top ten. His music is just so passionate and exciting. Strike It Out is effusive and intense, its emotion seared into every note. It’s an instant energy-lifter that will make you feel like you’re ready to conquer the world. It’s the anthem of anthems, really. (full review)
5. JO1 – Move The Soul
JO1 delivered the Born To Be Wild sequel we deserved with Move The Soul. This bombastic funk pop sound is so perfectly matched to their skills and I selfishly want them to record nothing but this style for the rest of their career. That chorus feels like such a big moment, underlined by the stickiest of grooves. (full review)
4. Naniwa Danshi – The Answer
Naniwa Danshi are known for their bright, sparkly pop music. But, I was thrilled when they tried on this darker sound. “Dark” in Johnny’s terms often means symphonic instrumentation and bounding, propulsive hooks. It’s a style I absolutely love, and it’s wonderful to hear a younger group keep it alive. The Answer‘s immense chorus is pure catnip for my pop music sensibilities. (full review)
3. Fantastics – Summer Bike
Summer Bike has had a ridiculously long life on my playlist. It may be because I simply adore this group, but the song itself manages to be super addicting without ever resorting to obvious hooks. Its undulating synth production makes for a mighty through-line, over which the guys deliver a series of smooth melodies that have such a natural ebb and flow. It’s hypnotic. (full review)
2. Ado – New Genesis
I mean, this is just immense, isn’t it? A deserved smash in Japan, New Genesis ties Ado’s powerful vocal to an ultra-dramatic production powered by resounding percussion and shimmers of synth accents. There’s such wonderful movement within this track as it grows toward its gargantuan chorus. I remember being bowled over the first time I heard it. That sense of excitement still lingers months later. (full review)
1. Sexy Zone – Forever Gold
Sexy Zone return to the top of my countdown after 2020’s Run. Honestly, they made a clean sweep this year. They released my favorite J-pop single, my favorite J-pop album (The Highlight) and my favorite J-pop b-side (Desideria). Forever Gold‘s splashy 80’s synth stabs and ebullient melodies were practically designed for me, crafted by one of my favorite producers Christofer Erixon (he also worked on Kis-My-Ft2’s Gravity!).
I recommend playing this loud in the car on a summer’s day. Of course, you’ll need the full version (dang YouTube edits!), especially for its fantastic second verse. Forever Gold is pure, giddy happiness fused to a pop song, and that’s a sensation I’ve always treasured. In 2022, I played no J-pop track more than this one. (full review)