English language songs you can sing at an anime con or event and around your normie friends!
Karaoke is one activity I miss doing from the pre-pandemic era. I LOVE karaoke. I can't sing worth a damn, but I do it anyway because it's fun, and I love listening and singing along to music. I have playlists for everything. So, it's about time I cobble together a playlist for when, if ever, I am able to sing anywhere again, especially at an anime convention.
The first (and only) time that I've ever sung karaoke for fun at an anime convention is Anime Expo 2019, and I struggled quickly thinking of songs that I can sing in English then. Well, I'm eliminating that problem now.
Here is a list of anime-related songs that you can sing in English at karaoke, and bonus, you can sing most of these songs hanging out with your normie friends anywhere.
Paradise Kiss (2005, dir. Osamu Kobayashi)
Paradise Kiss is a 5-volume manga series written and drawn by Ai Yazawa, the same mangaka behind the musical manga-turned anime Nana. Paradise Kiss is a coming-of-age story following a beautiful but arrogant high-school senior who is forever changed when she meets a group of aspiring fashion students. Romance and drama ensue. The anime is short at 12 episodes and was licensed in English by the long-defunct Geneon Entertainment.
I've read the manga but haven't watched the show. I wish I had just so I can hear the ending theme song "Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand. The punk song plays as stylized versions of the main cast dances. The dancing is broken up by flashing parodies of magazine covers (including a shout-out to Zipper magazine in which Paradise Kiss was serialized) and fabulous car chases. Check it out:
Samurai Champloo (2004, Dir. Shinichirō Watanabe)
Samurai Champloo is an original historical adventure anime created and directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, the same mind behind Cowboy Bebop. The anime was adapted into a two-volume manga and was published in English by Tokyopop. The story follows a waitress who saves an unruly outlaw and a sophisticated ronin from capture and capital punishment. As payment for her good deed, she enlists the two men to help her search for a man, a "samurai who smells of sunflowers." Epic action, underscored by a hip-hop soundtrack from Shinji "Tsutchie" Tsuchida of Shakkazombie, Fat Jon, Nujabes, and Force of Nature, ensues.
I loved this show and fondly remember its nightly run on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The rap-infused "San Francisco" by Midicronica was an awesome note to end the series on, and who can forget the ending theme "Shiki No Uta" by MINMI? However, those are in Japanese and are not the easiest to sing as they are very fast-paced songs. However, you can rap the opening theme "Battlecry" by Nujabes feat. Shing02. "Battlecry" is one of the best openings anime has to offer. Fight me.
Speed Grapher (2005, dir. Kunihisa Sugishima)
Speed Grapher is a mature-rated supernatural thriller following a photojournalist who saves a teenage girl from a fetish club. The show is an anime original clocking in at 24 episodes, and it has been adapted to a 3-volume manga, which was licensed in English by Tokyopop. On the Funimation home video release, we're deprived of hearing the opening theme song "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran because music licenses are expensive. To be fair, the opening animation doesn't make full use of the song outside of the opening shutter sound, and that's a shame. The song is very appropriate for the show. Even so, Duran Duran is still better than the bland copyright-free instrumental track Funimation went with instead. I sang "Girls on Film" during regular, non-competitive karaoke at Anime Expo 2019, and honestly, 80s pop and new wave tunes are the sort of stuff I sing at karaoke in general. When it comes to Duran Duran, I'm partial to "The Reflex" but "Girls on Film" is fun too.
Yuri!!! On Ice (2016, dir. Sayo Yamamoto)
Yuri!!! On Ice is one of my favorite shows and my #1 favorite sports-infused BL show. So, it was among the first series I thought of when I put this list together. For the uninitiated, Yuri!!! On Ice is an original slice-of-life, sports anime about a 23-year-old professional skater deciding what to do with his life post-college after losing a big tournament. Drama and lots of skating ensue.
Besides being #relatable with depictions of anxiety and post-grad life and breaking Crunchyroll, both the website and the first-ever The Anime Awards, Yuri!!! On Ice has a fantastic opening. The opening theme "History Maker" by Dean Fujioka is played over watercolor depictions of the main leads Yuri, Victor, and Yurio ice skating in sync. If you're a nervous singer or crave audience participation, choose this tune at karaoke, and everyone will join you. No one, especially a fan, can resist this upbeat, fun, and beautiful tune!
Serial Experiments Lain (1998, dir. Ryūtarō Nakamura)
It's present day, present time and yet Serial Experiments Lain is still relevant despite its age. Adored as a cult classic, Serial Experiments Lain is an original anime created by Yasuyuki Ueda, who is also credited as Producer of Hellsing (2001, 2016), Ergo Proxy (2006), and Daganronpa: The Animation (2013). The anime is directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura, who also directed Kino's Journey (2003, one of my faves!) and Ghost Hound (2007). So, very talented people on staff.
The story follows Lain Iwakura, a young girl living in suburban Japan, and her relation to the world's version of the internet called "Wired." Serial Experiments Lain is a trippy anime that explores "philosophical topics like reality, identity, and communication." Honestly, I'm more familiar with the DVD menu which I heard on repeat than I am with the show. I tried getting into the show, and I just can't. The theme song, original soundtrack (OST), and slow methodical pace of the anime have lulled me to sleep more times than I care to admit. The OST is relaxing AF, and you can thank Reichi Nakaido, of the Japanese rock band RC Succession, for it.
I need you to understand here that I love the opening theme song "Duvet" by the English rock group Bôa, not to be confused with Korean pop singer BoA. Thankfully, I don't have to know Japanese or be intimately familiar with the show to enjoy the theme song "Duvet." "Duvet" is an acoustic, folksy song and gives me The Cranberries "Linger" vibes. In any case, that voice, that song is best heard on the crappiest VHS tape ya got of Serial Experiments Lain.
It's Closing Time. Time for you to go out and sing to your heart's content! So, what will you be singing at karaoke? (Or, anywhere really. I'll be singing at home for a good while yet.)
I had so much to say about the songs I found that I split this post into two. Part 2 will be coming out later. Follow (and tweet at) me via @ThatMangaHunter for updates!
Stay safe out there!