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10 Ways to Improve Your Japanese with Karaoke

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6. Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE — R.Y.U.S.E.I.

EXILE TRIBE is a Japanese male super unit, formed by all the members associated with the dance group of the same name. Their look includes tanned skin and gelled up air; their sound is pop with r&b influences. This track has consistently been around the top of the karaoke charts since 2014, and its party atmosphere is perfect to warm the singing session up. The lyrics are heavily centered around the "meteor" of the title, so use them to brush up your astronomic terminology!

Key Word: 流星群 (Ryuseigun = meteor shower)

5. L'Arc-en-Ciel — Ready Steady Go

Hyde, vocalist and frontman of Laruku (as Japanese fans call them), is constantly voted one of the hottest men in Japan. However, this band is also super-famous because of its catchy rock tunes. L'Arc-en-Ciel's career has been so long that it’s difficult to pinpoint only one interesting song, but “Ready Steady Go” can tick off all the boxes on our list: a mix of English and Japanese lyrics to make memorizing easier, a catchy rhythm, and useful vocabulary!

Key Word: 標的 (hyoteki = target)

4. Sekai no Owari — RPG

This band went from concerts with 15 attendees in 2007 to a three-day show with 60.000 paying customers in 2013, flying up the karaoke charts on the way. Some of their tracks might be too challenging for someone who's still learning Japanese due to the mix of rap, electronica and fast lyrics. "RPG," however, is a good track to start your learning journey: the lyrics are quite simple and filled with interesting words related to friendship. Additionally, the official video features English subtitles, so you really have no excuse to avoid singing this!

Key Word: 澄み渡る (sumiwataru = to be perfectly clear, i.e. the sky)

3. Golden Bomber — Memeshikute

This visual kei air band (yes, aside from the vocalist, no one is doing anything) burst into the scene with this track, jumping to the top positions of both the karaoke and CD/digital sales charts. The key success elements were a catchy melody, a funny music video and entertaining lyrics telling the story of a young man disappointed by love, lamenting his "unmanly" emotions. While you might have some difficulty keeping up with the quickest parts of the song, you can still dance along to the video to entertain your karaoke peers!

Key Word: 女々しくて (memeshikute = effeminate, effeminately)

2. Luna Sea — Rosier

Back in the '90s, Luna Sea was one of the most famous visual kei bands in Japan, climbing onstage with outrageous hair and costumes. Nowadays they've toned down their style, but they still keep on filling up big venues, and their songs have joined the ranks of the karaoke evergreens. "Rosier" is catchy, but its lyrics include less common vocabulary, making it the perfect song for those who want something more challenging.

Key Word: 花弁 (hanabira = flower petal)

1. Supercell — Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari

This song has been in the karaoke rankings for years now, but it’s only recommended for more advanced learners: if there were a JLPT of karaoke, this song would be a solid N2 with its fast lyrics. While it may take a while for you to be able to sing it, the peculiarity of this track is that the lyrics tell a story of teenage bittersweet love, so try to think what comes next!

Key Word: 無邪気 (mujaki = innocence)

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