Primary purpose in writing this post? So I won’t forget these songs in the future when I’m looking for upbeat tunes.
I’ve been listening to Japanese music since I was in elementary, mostly because of anime, so don’t be surprised to see that this list is 90% anime OST.
Never Give Up! by Sonar Pocket
It’s the opening theme for the Digimon Xros Wars. You don’t have to have watched the show to appreciate the upbeat music. I like listening to this song when I feel stressed, down, or I need some exercise.
Hands Up by Kota Shinzato
This one is from the show One Piece. I first heard it when I was at the Mugiwara Store in a mall in Osaka. This played on the speakers while I was browsing some One Piece merchandise, and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. The LSS was real. This is another song I usually play when I’m headed to work early in the morning. It just gives me that, “Let’s have a great day today!” vibe.
Zen Zen Zense by Radwimps
Of course, I can’t NOT include this beauty from the movie Your Name. I heard the song and liked it before I actually saw the movie. (I saw it for the first time this year. Yes, I know, I have no shame.) It has great guitar and drums, and it’s just an all-around fun song to listen to. I also like listening to this when I’m on the train somewhere on a short trip.
Heart Signal by Wataru Hatano
I saw the first few episodes of Hitorijime My Hero and fell in love with the opening song. I’m not quite sure about the show, but I have heard some good stuff about it. Either way, this pop song has a very nice beat.
Inferno by Mrs. Green Apple (this cover is by Nate Wants to Battle)
Yes, this is from another anime called Fire Force. I haven’t actually watched it yet, but because of the Youtube rabbit hole, I found the English version of Inferno by NateWantstoBattle. I liked this version so much that even when I heard the original by Mrs. Green Apple, this is the one I listen to more.
I think because the translated English lyrics here sounds soooo good (like yes, the message of the song is already good, but this particular English translation sounds amazing). “We’ll light the sky with our inferno. We’ll keep marching right until our fire’s burning out.” Ah, sounds like an anthem for the weary and downtrodden. Also, the singer sounds super legit.
Romanticism by Mrs. Green Apple
Well, lookie here, it’s not from an anime! It’s a feel-good song with a music video of people dancing wacky steps. I first learned about this song from my students.
Kessen Spirit by ChiCo with Honeyworks
This is the first ending song of the fourth season of Haikyuu! I love this anime and manga honestly. I first read the manga after I had finished Kuroko no Basuke and wallowing in book-hangover. Back then, I didn’t find the artwork very appealing but I loved the story, and now, it’s one of the most loved sports anime out there.
Anyway, this song fits the fourth season because it has that teamwork/team spirit vibe. The chorus throughout the song also makes this soundtrack perfect for when you need some cheering to face your day.
Love to Know by Last Idol
At least I think that’s what the song title is. I could only find one MV of it on Youtube, and it’s all in Japanese, so I’m not sure. Anyway, I heard it first while eating lunch at a Wendy’s First Kitchen restaurant. There was a picture of the girl group on the paper placement they put on the tray, so I looked them up because the song was so cheery and cute.
Dive to World by Cherry Blossom
This one is from an old-ish anime, Katekyo Hitman Reborn. It was one of my favorite anime shows back then. Still is, though. The LSS was also strong in this one back then. It has a very enjoyable beat and is perfect as the background music to a bunch of kids fighting against older mafia people with some superpowers.
Yuzurenai Negai by Naomi Tamura
Most people will know this simply as the Magic Knight Rayearth opening…. That’s also how I know it as. I just did the research for its actual song title a second ago. Apparently, it means something like “unyielding wish” according to Google. Anyway, I don’t think I need to explain much about this. It’s a classic. The lead guitar is just fabulous.
Fighting Dreamers by FLOW
Of course, another modern classic is Naruto, and therefore we can’t mention J-pop playlist without at least one song from this anime. I loved this song since I first heard it all those years ago in high school. Ugh, I feel so old writing this. Fun song, fun times.
The Hero! by JAM Project
One Punch Man came bursting into the anime scene with an earth-shattering cast of characters and a rock and roll opening theme. Although season 2’s opening theme is also pretty good, this one is just on a different level. It has that Power Rangers morphin’ time, Jetman, Ultraman, Shaider, Kamen Rider undertone mixed with screamo rock. It’s beautiful.
Guren no Yumiya by Linked Horizon
Of course, of course, we can’t exclude the first and most popular OST from Attack on Titan. It was a surprising, heart-stopping anime with equally adrenaline-rushing soundtrack. My favorite is the second one, Jiyuu no Tsubasa because it sounds like an anthem, the Survey Corp’s anthem to be exact. In any case, the first OP really embodies the frustration and determination of baby Eren, back when he was driven by the furious desire to kill all Titans.
Coolest by Customi Z
This is from the really weird, crazy, and funny anime Sakamoto Desu Ga. I swear, that show is from a different planet. It’s fun, though, and this opening theme tells you why this show is hilarious. Sakamoto is definitely the coolest, to the point of absurdity. I love it!
Awesome upbeat songs that are not Japanese
If I Was Your Girlfriend by Mondays ft. Lucy
I was looking for fan-made videos of this show called Guardian (Zhen Hun), when I stumbled on one that used this song. And I became obsessed. The song makes me want to dance and sing like no one’s watching. When I’m walking down the street listening to this song or at home, I feel like busting a move.
The Guardian show isn’t that good, story-wise and CG-wise. But the main characters were just amazing, and their actors were perfect. Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan forever.
Can’t Believe It by Younha
It’s from a Korean drama called Personal Taste starring Lee Minho and Son Yejin. The drama as okay, kinda so-so, but the OST is cute and pop-y.
Baby Only You by NCT U
This is another Korean drama OST, this time from a period dramedy called The Tale of Nokdu. The main character is a guy pretending to be a widow so that he can get into a women-only village. It has something to do with his quest to find who he really is or something. Sorry for butchering the summary but I haven’t seen the drama though it’s on my list.
New Girl by Reggie ‘N’ Bollie
Just listen to it. It’s fun, upbeat, and totally dance-worthy. I first heard this song from a Zumba video a few years ago. Haven’t forgotten it ever since.
Life Is a Fairtytale by Tiffany Giardina
This is from a Barbie movie called A Fashion Fairtyale. I haven’t seen the movie yet either, but I saw the music video and the song just made me feel happy and energetic.
*Most of these songs are on Spotify (or you can get them by Youtube Music subscription though I don’t have the latter so I can’t say for sure how it goes).