99% of the time an anime’s opening song (OP) is in Japanese, 99.9% of the time it’s a song by a Japanese artist. But every so often, in that rare 0.1% of times, there comes a song by a Western artist—usually an already popular song—that gets used as an anime OP. This list celebrates the best anime OP’s by Western artists, songs that are very distinctly not Japanese. As with most of my music related lists, OP songs shorter than 1 minute 30 seconds are ineligible, also suffice to say Japanese artists who sing in English are not included—that’s a list for another day. However unlike previous music lists I’ve taken into consideration how well the visuals match the song, because otherwise I’d just be reviewing Western music… and that doesn’t really make much sense does it? With that squared away let’s countdown the 10 Top Western Songs used as OP’s in Anime!
“The Light Before We Land” by Delgados from Gunslinger Girl
Like some weird amalgam of a James Bond opening credits sequence and an early Beatles song. It’s kind of quiet, kind of cute but wholly unique. I like it!
“Sore Feet Song” by Ally Kerr from Mushishi
This song is so effortlessly beautiful, but it’s also a bit annoying? Like put at least a bit of effort into your opening visuals?! That’s kind of harsh isn’t it?
“Alone Again” by Gilbert O’Sullivan from Maison Ikkoku
This ranks amongst the most unexpected anime openings of all time, and yet… it totally works. There’s something immediately endearing about the whole product—song and visuals—even though it’s probably the least interesting song on the list… if we’re viewing things from my tastes of course.
“We Were Lovers” by Jean-Jacques Burnel from Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
Is this song sung by British pop-band Pulp? No? Could have fooled me because it sounds exactly like lead singer Jarvis Cocker…
“The One” by Backstreet Boys from Hanada Shonen-shi
At first I wasn’t sure what to think, the visuals didn’t really match with the slick image of the Backstreet Boys music, but by the time the chorus kicked in I was sold. I don’t know anything about this show but I kind of want to now, even though visually I can tell it’s not my kind of show.
“Falling Down” by Oasis from Eden of the East
Love or hate ‘em, Oasis’ moody vocal warbling are at least well suited to the visuals of this opening. It’s hauntingly memorable and very evocative.
“In This Life” by Delta Goodrem from Deltora Quest
As an Australian, I have heard this song way too many times and my opinions about the singer are best left unsaid but I don’t know… something about hearing this song attached to anime visuals just really really worked for me. Also, I’ll admit it… it’s a pretty song. Leave it to anime to make me say something positive about Delta Goodrem…
“Shiver” by Lucy Rose from Mushishi 2
Gosh darn this is gorgeous song but the minimalistic visuals are a bit of negative. Still, it’s hard to fault something that just sounds this damn good!
“Duvet” by Boa from Serial Experiments Lain
This is the most 90’s thing I’ve seen in my life. Just… just watch the video, if you didn’t grow up in the 90’s here’s your crash course!
“One Reason” by Fade from Deadman Wonderland
Anyone else getting flashbacks to their emo phase? The reason this song is an honourable mention rather than featuring in the Top 10 is that despite the fact they are a band that formed in New York City and have an American vocalist they are technically a Japanese/American band who were signed to a Japanese record label. So half eligible, half not, still a great opening though.
“Girls On Film” by Duran Duran from Speed Grapher
Here’s the problem… we’re dealing with one of my favourite bands here, so obviously my opinion on this song is going to be positively skewed toward it. But even looking at it objectively, any anime that had the balls to put this gaudy, tawdry 80’s banger at the start of every episode is to be respected. Also it’s worth noting that it’s only the theme song in Japan, they couldn’t get the rights for the song internationally so instead it’s some mediocre, lyric-free sound-alike.
And there it is the 10 best Western OP’s for Anime. Recognise some of the songs, or think you know better ones? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading (and listening) all the way to the end! Coming up next is the 10 best Western ED’s for Anime and trust me when I say that’s a much more ~interesting~ list!
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