Official Power Rankings of Every Yakuza Karaoke Song
I have ranked every karaoke song in the Yakuza series, taking into account both the minigame and full-length versions, if available. Only ranking the mainline games, only the newest versions of each game. I'm also including the songs from Haruka's chapters in 5 because I feel like it, it's my list, and you're not my dad. (All the songs from Y:LAD are rated based on the Japanese versions). The ratings here are only relative to one another and it should be said that even the worst songs on this list are much better than anything you should expect from original video game songs written for a minigame.
No major plot events will be spoiled here, but if you want to know literally nothing about the games you haven't played then you should probably avoid this list.
Baka Mitai (Kiryu)
This one took a while to grow on me when I first started the series. Part of it is the extremely over-the-top transformation scene in the game, with Kiryu staring longingly at the orphanage he grew up in. There's not much of a story there so at this point it seems like a song that's sentimental because they needed one.
With all this time to grow on me though, I've become quite the fan of this song (both full-length and minigame versions). As a full song it has enough dynamism to it to carry it the full five minutes. I was a little salty when it became a meme because I do genuinely think it's a well-written song, but if more people get the chance to appreciate it I can't be too broken up about it.
Gratuitous amounts of English here - light-hearted song, feels like a welcome addition to the songs and I enjoy the minigame version, but the full-length version begins to overstay its welcome a bit. That drum blast leading into the chorus is an excellent touch, though, and adds a lot to the experience.
Like a Butterfly
For all the time I spent in karaoke in YK2, I think I played this so little you could probably count it on one hand. Yakuza's in-house Lacuna Coil song.
Pride from Despair
I know this is a crowd favorite but I was never that into it. It's high energy, competently sung, Majima's got some classic interjections, but it just didn't land with me. It mostly just makes me want to play Iji Sakura 2000 instead.
Very obviously a generic-brand version of Wink's "Sabishii Nettaigyo," except I think it's genuinely better than the real thing. I like the higher tempo on the vocals, and the chorus has a lot more punch to it. Wink's original is definitely a lot moodier, but no matter how long it's been since I listened to the Yakuza version, it always feels a little off whenever I check out the original. The biggest thing I would change about the karaoke version is probably that weird, chugging post-chorus that I'm not too big a fan of, despite it segueing nicely into a breakdown in the full-length track.
Rouge of Love
Doing a combined review for this one - I think this is a pretty strong song overall and when it hits the chorus god DAMN does it take off. Haruki's version of this song is much better than Hibiki's (extremely flat) version, but to be fair the "interjections" on this song are so fucking fun and listening to Majima lose his goddamn mind in the background is well worth listening to the version with worse vocals. (or you could get the bar staff to do a top-notch job too)
As a song? I'm a fan, it fits well with the 80s cheese of the other songs in 0 and I like this version much better than those in later games.
A perfect choice for this point in the series - feels a lot like something a young Kiryu would sing and the English intermixed into the chorus is ridiculously fun. As a song it's a bit hammy and that makes it perfect for the minigame but aside from being catchy, it's not going to turn any heads for people who haven't played the game. If you have played it though, it literally always holds up and the high energy doesn't wear out, whether you're listening to the in-game version or the full-length version.
A fucking blast for everyone who plays it - a goofy-ass song for a man who (for those starting with 0) does not seem that goofy yet. As a song with no visual accompaniment, it's brought down a bit because of its cheesy, goofy singing from Majima. It's not a bad song, but I'm not going to recommend it as a song to someone without any additional context.
This one's alright - I can see others liking this one best, but everything here just slightly fails to hook me. Each part of the song is competently done but isn't really attention-grabbing enough, nor is the transformation scene for either character performing it particularly engaging (although Yuki's is a little better given our existing attachment to her).
As Long As You're Happy
I feel like the rating on this from person-to-person is going to vary wildly based on how much people enjoy seeing Majima express some emotion. While I'm a bit of a sucker for it, the song itself isn't something I'm too big on. The frantic vocals are decently fun in karaoke form, but I don't think I'm huge into playing and replaying this one.
The longest actual karaoke song in the series, only unlockable after beating the last game in the Kiryu saga. For this reason, I absolutely cannot remove it from its sentimental context - I can tell you that I would think it's a solid song regardless, but cruising in (with these lyrics) as the absolute final karaoke song for Kiryu after everything that's happened really gets me, man. It feels like the pure moment of simple joy Kiryu deserves after 27 in-game years of non-stop bullshit and watching people close to him get hurt.
happy sobbing in the club to video game music
Today is a Diamond
Straight out of the Hey Ya! School for "oh god, that's actually really fucking dark". Catchy all the way through, especially the part where Kiryu gets some cheery backup to sing the most grim lyrics. Both the minigame version of this song and the full-length use the space available to them extraordinarily well, without feeling too cramped or bloated.
Fork in the Road
Again, a well-written song. I think this one takes some time to build up steam but I kinda respect it for that - once you hit the chorus (and thus the cinematic) I think you have something really special. If a friend of mine put this on the radio I wouldn't really question it, but I also wouldn't ask for the name so I could listen to it later.
Brand New Stage
It's written like an actual, full song instead of a 90-second minigame snippet, but that doesn't change the fact that it sounds like the intro theme for an anime I'm not gonna watch.
Other than the chorus, this song mostly feels like they forgot to finish it. Honestly they should've just stuck with the Otometal version for pure comedic value because I'm not really feeling the "real" version of this song either.
Machine Gun Kiss
Because it first appears in 4, I'm putting it here even though the mastering is wet dog ass in 4. Kiryu's version of this song is great and while the lyrics are very "8th grade badass" and it's a relatively generic rock song, the whole thing is catchy and works extremely well with Kiryu's voice. It's way over-the-top and so convinced that it's cool as hell that I can't really help but believe it - every time it hits the chorus it picks up some excellent momentum and those keys that almost blend into the background really carry the whole experience. Love this song to death, as cheesy as it is. No joke, this was my second most played song on Spotify in 2020 (lmao).
Another song where Hana sings the best version. Unfortunately there's not a lot she can do with this one as the song is fundamentally boring. Nothing about it is particularly offensive, but if I wasn't paying active attention you could loop any ten seconds of this song in the background and stop it after 3 minutes and I would just assume the song had played normally.
Pure Love in Kamurocho
Fuck yeah, now we're cooking with gas. I've been making this list by adding the songs from each game in chronological order so I'm fucking pumped getting to the duet, baby.
Kiryu and Maya make this sound like just another karaoke song, but Akiyama and Hana both knock their parts out of the fucking park. They sing it like they believe it. The full-length version is just as good if not better, as the song has more room to breathe and build naturally towards those choruses. A simple song, but a great one.
GET to the Top!
Not really feeling this. There's like a million people who can sing this and none of them are capable of making the verses sound like anything other than a royalty-free track. Best part of the whole song is the end when Akiyama pops off a little on the interjections.
So Much More
Overused a lot during the side jobs and during the story, but doing this in the concert setting kinda fuckin bangs - its the first time I was really convinced about Haruka as an idol. Her voice actually works pretty well for this and the song just takes off when it hits that first chorus and never touches the ground again. I wouldn't really listen to this without playing the game (partially because it's already been beaten into my brain from the storyline) but like I said, playing it in that concert setting is so good that I came to genuinely like the song for its energy.
Definitely the most annoying of the Haruka songs, especially with the button noises on. The verses are actually fine, but boy do I hate this chorus and post-chorus. I'm not like, blinded by rage or anything, but that doesn't mean I can form the words to explain why I hate it.
Because I Have You
It's better than a lot of the karaoke songs because the length gives it a lot of room to breathe, but it doesn't really do anything with that. I mean, it's an idol song so it's not really supposed to be musically ambitious or anything, but this one doesn't really grab my attention. Apathy/10
Despite Nao's near-constant vibrato being potentially annoying to some, I think that and her stronger voice fit the song a little better than the other possible singers. It's a bit overindulgent for my tastes and again, I would never listen to it on my own, but I don't think it's a bad song. Overall? Respectable.
Saturday Night Lover (I'm not typing the star)
This song is...bizarre? I think all the little weird elements make it a lot of fun: the really funky breakdown, Kiryu just, like, rapping in the background? The extremely dramatic wording of the translated lyrics. Mika's version is by far the best, but while it's fun to do in the minigame I would literally never once listen to this song in real life.
Where Has Your Touch Gone?
A bit of a strange one here, I feel like the song has potential but I don't feel like any of the available singers really do it justice. I especially love the transition into the dream-like hook. Perhaps a singer with a deeper voice might do a little better? I dig the instrumental though, always gets me bobbing my head even if I'm not really listening.
I really shouldn't like this as much as I do because it's not really that strong as a song, but Rin goes so fucking hard on that chorus that I just cannot resist smiling. I understand if people might think her voice is a bit abrasive, but I love the force behind it. Infectious enthusiasm or something.
I Wanna Change Myself
Eh. Haruka's really high-pitched, almost vocaloid-like voice doesn't do this song any favors. The real highlight of playing this in game is getting to hear Kiryu go absolutely APESHIT for Haruka... it's actually really touching?
Enka just really isn't my thing, and while Kiryu puts in a respectable performance here (and in every game where he belts this one out) I just am not really feeling it. I feel like the length of the minigame version works against it, giving it less time to build to the climax that it deserves and feeling a bit hollower for it.
Tonight -restart from this night-
Nothin' but tears, fellas.
It's a bit overly sweet, which is part of why it works, especially after beating this game. I think the minigame version is the perfect length, but if you want more, I think they build on it perfectly with the full-length version.
Otometal MY LIFE
I love watching people as they play this shit for the first time. Goofy version of a song I'm not too big on already, actually adds to the charm a bit. Not even going to bother rating a full-length version, if one exists. Sure, it's fun, it's silly, Haruka chirping out this song while Kiryu fucking SCREAMS in the background.
EURO de x3 SHINE
Meh, not really doing it for me. It's not atrocious but there's no real draw here for me - even the vocals here start to suck the charisma out. It's fine when it's only minigame length, god help you if you listen to the 4 minute version.
Moment de la Petite Sirène
Another version of a song we've already heard (Heartbreak Mermaid this time) that had a little too much removed for its minimalist remix. The melody is nice, but I feel like that's more a testament to the strength of the original (and the real-life song it was based on) more than anything this particular remix has done.
Iji Sakura 2000
An absolutely bonkers song with an equally bonkers transformation scene. I think the Ishin version is probably better, but we're not rating that here - instead we got this chunky version of the same song. The chorus whips ass and works extremely well for Kiryu's voice, but I do think the in-game version benefits from its brevity - the full-length release feels just a smidge too long.
Baka Mitai (Kiryu)
Just wayyyy too stripped-down to really appreciate here. The layered sound of the standard version adds so much to the experience of the song and this one just puts me to sleep well before the minigame version is over.
The Future I Dreamed Of
Cheesy as hell and I love it. Ichiban belts this out a little too forcefully and a little too earnestly and I think it absolutely works for him. I kinda took this game to task over the characters in my review for it, but goddamn if this isn't a shining example of how to use this minigame to express character, I don't know what is. Is it my favorite song of the karaoke in 7? No, it's not, but I think it works very well to show who Ichiban is and it's still pretty good. The minigame version is hurt a little by the reduced length, but the full-length version makes up for it.
Probably one of the more unique karaoke songs in the series, and I think that adds a lot of value tbh. The chugging verses don't pique my interest but I am very interested in the chorus in a way that I can't say for sure if I like? But I can definitely say I don't dislike it.
This is not normally my kind of song, but the energy in the chorus is infectious and Saeko sings it well. Despite the fact that all the English versions are weak, I think they did this one especially dirty.