A time-honored tradition in the Yakuza games is taking time out to revel in some karaoke. Admittedly, the UI for the karaoke system is not always great, but the songs themselves are truly fantastic. Generally serving as music that fits the time period the game is set in, there are also songs that come back over and over as fan-favorite hits.
But which songs are going to stand out as the absolute best, must-experience tracks in all of Yakuza?
All Yakuza karaoke songs are great, but which are the best?
As with all lists of this nature, it’s entirely subjective, and this could certainly vary wildly between other fans of the series. Some of the songs have multiple versions, and those will be specified with which version of the song was chosen.
In Yakuza’s karaoke system, players select a song, and complete a rhythm game using the face buttons of the controller. In some games, the tempos change, making them harder, but it is often a relaxing, easy system to play.
That is, unless the player is trying to 100% all of the songs, which is an entirely different matter. These songs can also serve as emotional tools for the characters that sing them, giving some insight to the character as a whole.
Top karaoke songs in Yakuza
- Like a Butterfly (Saki Akai)
- Get to the Top! (Haruka Sawamura)
- Heartbreak Mermaid (Ayaka Tomoda)
- The Future I Dreamed Of (Ichiban Kasuga)
- Judgement -Shinpan- (Kazuma Kiryu)
- Rouge of Love (Kaguya)
- Iji Sakura 2000 (Kazuma Kiryu)
- 24-Hour Cinderella (Majima Goro)
- Baka Mitai (Kazuma Kiryu)
- Machine Gun Kiss (Koichi Adachi)
10) Like a Butterfly (Saki Akai)
Sung by Saki Akai, Riona Ichijo, AIKA, Kirara Asuka, and Eri Kamataki, Like a Butterfly has been in several of the games in the franchise. No matter which female lead takes the vocals, Kazuma Kiryu or Ichiban Kasuga perform the rap part of the song.
A song seemingly about being born again, it references a butterfly without wings being a moth in a flame. The theme of the song expresses that despite things feeling grim and like it's too late to change, they can take to the sky and fly anyway. It’s a song that feels a bit mournful but offers a little hope at the same time.
9) Get to the Top! (Haruka Sawamura)
The best version of Get to the Top! was definitely performed by Haruka Sawamura in Yakuza. An upbeat, peppy Jpop track, it’s fitting that Haruka Sawamura is the voice behind it, as her gameplay was focused around being an idol and doing awesome street dancing.
Though the future looks bleak just doing the same thing all the time, it doesn’t stop the singer of this Yakuza track. She sings like she's going to restart everything, push all the past trauma away, and look forward to a brighter tomorrow. It’s a lovely song and might be even more memorable from Majima singing it in Yakuza Dead Souls.
8) Heartbreak Mermaid (Ayaka Tomoda)
Appearing in Yakuza 0, Heartbreak Mermaid is an 80s-style pop track sung by Ayaka Tomoda and Chika Arimura in the game. There’s a remixed version in Yakuza Kiwami, but it is not quite as moving. This particular song is often found on the writer’s Spotify playlists and often a must-play in streams.
It’s a terribly sad song that feels like it’s about a couple breaking up and the girl being lonely and sad. A pair of lovers once connected, she’s come to terms with her pager never again lighting up with a message from the man she loved. It’s a song of tragedy, but it has a catchy, unstoppable beat.
7) The Future I Dreamed Of (Ichiban Kasuga)
Ichiban’s first song in the Yakuza franchise is short but powerful. It is also the first song in the entire series the writer hit 100% on in the first try. It perfectly fits Ichiban’s character, wanting to be a hero and never giving up despite things going wrong or not going his way.
A lover of RPGs, Dragon Quest in particular, Ichiban wants to be a hero people can rely on. Through his song The Future I Dreamed Of, he expresses how no matter what, he won’t run away, he’ll continue to level up and get stronger, and will inspire others to be heroes with him.
6) Judgement -Shinpan- (Kazuma Kiryu)
At the beginning of Yakuza 0, Kiryu goes and hangs out with Nishikiyama, heading to a karaoke bar. This is where the karaoke system is introduced, and players have a choice between two songs. One is a sad drinking song Baka Mitai, and the other is an upbeat track, Judgement.
In Yakuza 0, Nishikiyama and Kiryu can both take the lead, and whoever doesn’t will sing backup. It’s a song about breaking the law, doing things their way, and not bowing down to what society expects of them. They’re going live life their way and not be anyone’s “Yes man”. It’s a hype-filled 80s power ballad and is among the best Yakuza songs of all time.
5) Rouge of Love (Kaguya ver.)
Performed by a variety of female singers, Rouge of Love appeared in both Yakuza 5 and Yakuza 0. Although all versions of the song are excellent, Kaguya’s version may be the most fascinating since it has Saejima Taiga singing backup. At first, the writer thought the title of the song had a typo, because “Rogue of Love” makes more sense. That was before they learned the lyrics of the song.
The track is about a woman who is painted up, her cosmetics and makeup hiding who she really is. It’s about a woman who others see as a doll, and she’s over the emotion called “love”. It’s such a fascinating, deep song for an 80s-style love song.
4) Iji Sakura 2000 (Kazuma Kiryu)
Originally appearing in Yakuza Ishin, this song received a remix in Yakuza Kiwami, being called Iji Sakura 2000 (instead of just Iji Sakura). The song is pretty short, and at first, it can seem to have a sort of downer note to it.
The early part of the song is about someone who has neither money nor status and has accepted their fate. That fate is to just work and toil away, hoping for riches and fame until the day they die. It’s hard, bone-breaking work, but they do it anyway because they hope for something better down the line.
But then it changes things up, saying that through the mud and blood, cherry trees will eventually sprout, offering some hope. The video for the song also features Kiryu in prison, working in a prison field, knowing he’ll eventually get free.
3) 24-Hour Cinderella (Majima Goro)
Only appearing in Yakuza 0, 24-Hour Cinderella is a genuinely unique song sung by Majima. In the early going of Yakuza 0, Majima is a cold, ruthless man who will go to any lengths to get back into the Shimano family. It’s such a fascinating turn to see this upbeat love song come from such a character.
It’s about an unbreakable bond of love between a man and woman and is very much like a fairy tale, talking about finding a glass slipper for his princess. He does ultimately fall in love, making this song quite fitting. Also, the track has a ridiculous, over the top 1980s video to go with it.
2) Baka Mitai (Kazuma Kiryu)
Baka Mitai (loosely translates to “I’ve been a fool”) is a staple song for the Yakuza franchise. Nearly every important male protagonist has had a turn on the mic for this song. Kazuma Kiryu, Shun Akiyama, Taiga Saejima, and Yu Nanba have all sung it. Yakuza Kiwami also has a remix, Bakamitai -sorrow-.
A sad drinking song, Baka Mitai talks about a couple who have both hurt each other, and despite the couple breaking up, the singer is still very much in love. It’s an incredibly powerful song, as reflected in its lyrics:
“I love you is something you never say. Couldn't get it out, always just pulled away. So then why, please won't you tell me why you could find the words to say goodbye”
What’s interesting about the song is despite it being sung by male characters, the story within the lyrics is from a woman's perspective, talking about an ex fiance/husband. It’s ambiguity and sadness make it a must-listen.
1) Machine Gun Kiss (Koichi Adachi)
Though a few characters have sung Machine Gun Kiss through the years, none are as powerful as the version sung by Koichi Adachi in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. A trend has certainly developed on this list though. This, like many of the songs before it, is ultimately a love song. As far as the franchise's songs go, it’s easily one of the most moving and powerful.
It’s a song about a man confessing his love to a woman, and as long as they’re together, they can do anything, and he’ll never let her go. The two of them can come together and flee their circumstances. No matter where they go, everything will be all right, because they have each other.
The best part about these songs is the emotions they draw out of the player and reveal about the characters themselves. Each of the various love songs in the game have a different tone, different meaning, a different emotion. While there are so many songs to pick from, Machine Gun Kiss is a classic and absolutely needs to be played in any game it appears in.
Yakuza as a franchise features a wide variety of songs in each game, and while many of them did not make this short list, they are all worth giving a listen to. Many of them can be found on Spotify or YouTube. Even without playing the games, these songs are worth listening to.