The Best J-Pop Albums of All Time

Best J-Pop Albums

1. Utada Hikaru – Deep River

Deep River is the third studio album (fourth overall) released by American singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada, released on June 19, 2002. It sold just over 2.35 million copies in its first week of release, charting at number one on the weekly, monthly and yearly Oricon charts. Deep River is ranked as Japan’s fifth-highest album in debut sales, and eighth in the all-time album sales in Japan.

The final track, “Hikari”, would be her first single to reach number one on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart three times, and the Japanese version of the theme song for Square Enix’s RPG video game, Kingdom Hearts. The English version, “Simple and Clean”, (released on her “Colors” single), also accompanied promotion of Kingdom Hearts in overseas versions. The album was cited by many fans and critics as Utada’s most acclaimed work, as well as achieving the Triple Crown at the 17th Golden Disc Awards in Japan.

According to the IFPI, the album is listed at number 18 on the Top 50 Global Best Selling Albums for 2002.

All songs were arranged by Kei Kawano and Hikaru Utada.

2. Triangle (Perfume album)

Triangle (officially published and stylized as the symbol ⊿, pronounced Triangle (トライアングル, Toraianguru) is the title of the second original studio album (third overall) of Japanese girl group Perfume. Triangle was officially announced at Perfume’s Disco!Disco!Disco! concert, and was released on July 8, 2009 as a CD-only version and limited edition CD+DVD version, which featured promotional music videos and live performances.

Triangle was released seven weeks after Yasutaka Nakata’s effort with Meg, Beautiful. Despite selling lower than their first original album, Game, Triangle was certified platinum by RIAJ for selling over 250,000 copies.

The first track, “Take off” is a less than one minute instrumental. It plays the role as the introduction of the whole album and leads to the second song, “love the world, the seventh major single. “Dream Fighter” is the eighth major single. The next song “edge (⊿-mix)” is the b-side song from the single “love the world”. This mix is over eight minutes and a little longer than the extended mix in the single. “NIGHT FLIGHT” is an 80’s technopop-like song, which features a chopper bass. It was used in ads for Morinaga Milk’s Pino Airlines campaign. Like the concept of the ads, the lyrics compare love with airplane flying. “Kiss and Music” is an R&B and hip hop influenced song. “Zero Gravity” is an electronic house song which features an electric piano. “I Still Love U” is an 80’s Japanese idol R&B-pop-like song. It received an exclusive video, available on the limited edition DVD. “The best thing” is the ninth track of the album which was described as Yasutaka Nakata’s (producer of Perfume) signature sound with arpeggios and a house track. “Speed of Sound” is a Latin trance-house-like song which has few words (similar to Meg’s song Make Love). “One Room Disco” is the ninth major single. The finale is “Negai (Album-mix)”. The song originally was a low-tempo ballad song in the b-side of “Dream Fighter”, but in the album, the song features more strings, and is arranged to be more orchestral.

The exclusive promotional video for “I Still Love U” features Perfume dressed in white against a white background, singing to the camera entirely in a one-shot, profile-height video. The video features a very low depth of field, significantly blurring anything too close to the foreground or background. As they sit down for the final minute or so of the video, the girls start to break down laughing from pain as they receive foot massages off screen; all of them try hard to, and eventually regain, their composure. Their laughter can be heard as the screen cuts to black.

The B-side track of “One Room Disco” (“23:30”) was not included in this album.

3. Utada Hikaru – Fantôme

Fantôme is the sixth Japanese studio album (ninth overall) by Japanese-American singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada. Although Utada announced an indefinite hiatus from the public eye in August 2010, she continued writing and composing material with her father, Utada Teruzane, and long-term collaborator, Miyake Akira.[citation needed] Musically, Fantôme contains a collection of tracks that utilizes acoustic and stripped-down instrumentations, alongside influences of pop, electronic, and R&B music. The lyrical content delves into themes of grief, sadness, love, and death—mostly influenced by the death of her mother, her second marriage, and the birth of her son in 2015.[citation needed]

Commercially, Fantôme experienced success in Japan, reaching number one on the weekly Oricon Albums Chart with sales of over 253,000 units, becoming her eighth consecutive number-one album in the country. It additionally topped the US World Albums chart and has sold over a million copies worldwide. It won various awards, including Album of the Year at the Japan Record Awards and the Grand Prix prize at the CD Shop Awards. The singles “Sakura Nagashi”, “Hanataba o Kimi ni”, and “Manatsu no Tōriame” were released prior to the album’s announcement, while “Michi” and “Nijikan Dake no Vacance” were dropped shortly before its release.

4. Momoko Kikuchi – Adventure

[Album] SixTONES – Koe Download MP3

5. Utada Hikaru – Ultra Blue

Ultra Blue (stylized as ULTRA BLUE) is the fourth Japanese studio album (sixth overall) by Hikaru Utada, released in 2006. It debuted at number one on the Oricon daily, weekly and monthly charts and sold 500,317 copies in its first six days of sales. Ultra Blue had sold more than one million copies worldwide and almost four million digital single tracks and ringtones as of July 13, 2006 according to EMI.

Ultra Blue was also a strong online digital seller. After two months of digital downloads, Ultra Blue remained in the top ten album downloads on Japan’s largest online music store, iTunes Japan. This album also became the fourth most downloaded album on iTunes Japan of the year and won an “Album of the Year” title at the 2007 Nihon Golden Disk Awards. On July 30, 2007, EMI Group released its Annual Report for 2007, and in it reported that Utada’s album Ultra Blue had sold 1.3 million units worldwide, making it EMI Music’s 10th-best selling album of 2006. Despite its success in terms of promotions, Ultra Blue is Utada’s least commercially successful Japanese album to date in terms of physical sales, until it was surpassed by Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol. 2 in 2010. Utada went on a nationwide Japan tour called Utada United 2006 to support the album.

6. Akina Nakamori – 不思議 Fushigi

Fushigi (不思議, lit. “Mystery” or “Secret”), often translated as Strange or Mysterious, is the ninth studio album by Japanese singer Akina Nakamori, released on August 11, 1986 through Warner Pioneer.

In February and March 1986 was announced the name of the album along with early track set list. Originally, it was supposed to include promotional single Fin along with its b-side track (they were later released in the mini compilation album CD87). Some tracks had names which were later used in the other studio albums (Akai Mystery in album Cruise and Fire Starter in album Stock). Album track Fushigi was later re-recorded in the mini album Wonder.

In May, inside the single Gypsy Queen was included inquiry letter with the information about the planned release of album in the early July,however due to production issues, the release was postponed on August.

The final official track list was published in June, from previously list only three tracks remained finished during that time: Okibi, Glass no Kokoro, Marionette and Teenage Blue. In 1988, these four tracks were re-recorded and included in the mini album Wonder as well with the difference of clearer vocals and change in arrangements. It’s unknown, whenever demo-tape tracks Aoi Twilight Rain and Akage no Sandora, which were included in the earlier track set list, were renamed or completely taken out from the list.

It’s Nakamori’s first self-produced album.[1] It is something of a concept album in that every track features distorted vocals of some kind (many unsuspecting members of the Japanese public at first thought this to be an unintentional mis-recording).


8. Girls’ Generation – Girls’ Generation

Girls’ Generation (Korean: 소녀시대; RR: Sonyeo Sidae), also known as SNSD, is a South Korean girl group formed by SM Entertainment. The group is composed of eight members: Taeyeon, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona, and Seohyun. Originally a nine-piece ensemble, Jessica departed from the group in September 2014. Among the prominent South Korean figures and most popular K-pop groups worldwide, Girls’ Generation has earned numerous accolades and the honorific nickname “The Nation’s Girl Group” in their home country.

Girls’ Generation debuted on August 5, 2007, with the single “Into the New World” from their eponymous Korean album. The group rose to fame in 2009 with the single “Gee”, which claimed the top spot on KBS’s Music Bank for a record-breaking nine consecutive weeks and was Melon’s most popular song of the 2000s decade. The group cemented their popularity in Asia with follow-up singles “Genie”, “Oh!”, and “Run Devil Run”, which were released between mid-2009 and early 2010. Their second Korean studio album, Oh! (2010), won the Golden Disc award for Album of the Year (Disk Daesang), making the group the first and only female act to win the Album Daesang.

Girls’ Generation ventured into the Japanese music scene in 2011 with their eponymous Japanese album, which became the first album by a non-Japanese girl group to be certified million by the RIAJ. The group’s third Korean studio album, The Boys, was the best-selling album of 2011 in South Korea. An English version of the single “The Boys” was released in an attempt to expand the group’s endeavor to the global music scene. The group’s fourth Korean studio album, I Got a Boy (2013), was supported by the title track, which won Video of the Year at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards. Girls’ Generation continued to build upon their popularity with their fifth and sixth Korean studio albums, Lion Heart (2015) and Holiday Night (2017). Following a five-year hiatus to focus on their individual careers, they returned with their seventh Korean studio album Forever 1 (2022).

The group’s signature musical styles are characterized as electropop and bubblegum pop, though their sound has varied widely, incorporating various genres including hip hop, R&B, and EDM. In 2017, Billboard honoured Girls’ Generation as the “Top K-pop Girl Group of the Past Decade”. They are the first Asian girl group to achieve five music videos with over 100 million views on YouTube with “Gee”, “I Got a Boy”, “The Boys”, “Mr. Taxi”, and “Oh!”. In Japan, they became the first non-Japanese girl group to have three number-one albums on the Oricon Albums Chart, and their three Japanese concert tours attracted a record-breaking 550,000 spectators.

9. First Love (Hikaru Utada album)

First Love is the debut Japanese-language studio album (second overall) by Japanese-American recording artist Hikaru Utada, released on March 10, 1999, by Toshiba-EMI.

An R&B and dance-pop album, First Love centres on the theme of love and relationships. Songs like “Automatic” and “First Love” are prime examples of these themes. A 2014 re-issue of the album was released simultaneously, featuring a bonus live DVD and the special edition featured two additional discs. Critics’ opinions of the album were generally favourable, praising Utada’s song writing and vocal delivery. In its first week of release, the album entered the Oricon Albums Chart at number one with over two million units sold. Since its release, First Love remains the highest selling Japanese album. It has sold over eleven million units worldwide.

Utada promoted the album by releasing four singles: “Automatic”, “Time Will Tell”, “Movin’ on Without You” and “First Love”, all which were accompanied by a short music video. She performed several tracks from the album on several television appearances in 1998 and 1999, and have performed songs on her Utada: In the Flesh 2010 and Wild Life tours. “Automatic”, “Time Will Tell” and First Love are her best-selling singles and album respectively.

10. Utada Hikaru – Heart Station

Heart Station is the seventh studio and fifth Japanese-language album by Japanese–American recording artist Hikaru Utada. It was released on March 19, 2008 by EMI Music in Japan, and globally on March 26, 2008. It is Utada’s eighth consecutive studio album to be fully written and produced by her, with the help of her father Teruzane Utada and long-time collaborator Miyake Akira through the production. Recorded between 2006 and 2008, it was worked on whilst she was recording her ninth studio and second English-language studio album, This Is the One (2009). With the album artwork photographed by Japanese photographer Mitsuo, Heart Station was released in two formats: a physical CD, and as a digital download.

Upon its release, Heart Station received very positive reviews from most music critics. Many of them commended the production and song writing, alongside Utada’s musical direction and vocal performance. However, minor criticism was aimed towards the lack of innovation and surprise-value of the album’s material. Commercially, the album was a success in Japan; it peaked at number one on the Oricon Albums Chart, and was ranked the fifth best-selling studio album of 2008. With over one million sales as of June 2011, it is ranked amongst the highest selling albums in Japan of all time.

Seven singles were released from this album; “Flavor of Life”, “Beautiful World”, and “Prisoner of Love” sold over one million units, while “Flavor of Life” is ranked as one of the best selling singles of all time. She performed several songs from Heart Station on various Japanese television shows, including Music Station, Music Fighter, amongst others. Since its release, Heart Station has broken records and has been awarded some accolades.

Best J-Pop Albums of All Time Full List