X-Japan is perhaps the best band you’ve never heard of. Formed in 1982, the band went on to pioneer the Visual-Kei movement, Japan’s equivariant of Glam. Plagued by member suicides, being brainwashed by a cult, and many more unfortunate events, X-Japan are still active today and playing to audiences all over the world, including Coachella in 2018. Here’s a fun fact, Michael Jackson began wearing a wrist brace after seeing Yoshiki (Pianist/Drummer) wear one due to pain in his wrists, Michael Jackson thought it was a fashion accessory.
Gene Simmons once described the band saying that if they “were born in American and sang in English, they might be the biggest band in the world.” If that’s not a good enough reason to give them a listen, I don’t know what is.
Here are the top 10 best X-Japan songs of all time.
10. Sadistic Desire – Vanishing Vision (1988)
This is a song for anyone that loves 80s metal music. First appearing on their debut album, Vanishing Vision, the track was later re-recorded and featured on their X-Singles compilation album. Sadistic Desire is a fantastic rock out song with a solo that is very reminiscent of bands such as Iron Maiden. When I’m driving and listening to X, this is usually a song that is in rotation.
9. Standing Sex – Non-Album Single (1991)
Standing Sex just screams 80s hair/glam metal and that isn’t a bad thing at all. It is raw, it is gritty, and is about sex. This song would fit right at home on the Sunset Strip.
8. Week End – Blue Blood (1989)
Week End has become a key part of any X-Japan live set, and is another example of a well written hard rock song. The song also features one of my favourite solo sections of any X-Japan song.
7. Say Anything – Jealousy (1991)
A true ballad in every sense of the word, Say Anything is a beautiful love song featuring incredible piano and vocal performances by Yoshiki and Toshi. Despite some of the lyrics being a bit dark, I could see this being the first dance at a wedding song.
6. Rusty Nail – Dahlia (1996)
Rusty Nail has become a trademark opener for X-Japan due to its synthesizer intro. This is a rock music at its finest and what better way to get hyped for the start of a live show than hearing this song.
5. Kurenai – Blue Blood (1989)
Another staple of X-Japan’s live set, if the band is performing live on TV there is a good chance this will be either the sole song they play, or it will be in the set. This song has become synonymous with the band, and even people that don’t actively listen to the band usually know of this song.
4. Silent Jealousy – Jealousy (1991)
Hearing the piano intro, which is a beautiful piece of music in its own right, the last thing you’d expect from the song is for it to go into a blistering fast neo-classical metal song, but this is X-Japan so it shouldn’t be surprising. Released in 1991, the song hasn’t been played live as much as it perhaps should of, falling to the waste side when the band changed their name from X to X-Japan.
3. Endless Rain – Blue Blood (1989)
Perhaps X-Japan’s best known ballad, Endless Rain has remained a staple of any X-Japan set since its original release over 30 years, including being the final song that the band ever performed together before they disbanded at the end of 1997. Following this, HIDE sadly passed away 5 months later, giving us our last look at one of Japan’s biggest bands together.
2. X – Blue Blood (1989)
Usually used as a set closer to introduce the band, X is fast rock music at its finest, with fantastic dual solos by HIDE and PATA. Watch any live video of this song to see tens of thousands of screaming fans chant X along with the rest of the band, it is a sight to see.
1. Art Of Life – Art Of Life (1993)
Art Of Life, in my opinion, is a 29-minute masterpiece and a song that I would easily use my word count limit discussing if I was to do it in full. Released as the only track on the album of the same name, Art Of Life is split into three sections, each lasting around 10 minutes each. The song details the struggle that Yoshiki (Pianist, Drummer, Main songwriter) dealt with after losing his father to suicide at a young age. We get to hear the pain Yoshiki was/is in, followed by the onset of depression which made him question whether he wanted to continue living, before accepting that death is a part of life and learning to see the beauty in the world, even within the darkness.
It is a truly beautiful song and, in my opinion, the greatest piece of music ever composed. If you only listen to one X-Japan song in your life, although you’d be missing out a lot if you didn’t check out the rest of their discography, make it this song.