Fifteen years have come and gone since Saki Fujita provided her voice to Crypton Future Media who then released Hatsune Miku on the Vocaloid V2 engine. It was hard to imagine then that a virtual pop star with blue-green hair would become a worldwide icon and pop culture phenomenon who swept the music industry by storm.
Today, we’re going back in time to highlight Hatsune Miku’s most noteworthy songs. We’ll only include one song per year, one song per composer, and no songs featuring the other Vocaloid banks. Let’s begin where it all started, in 2007.
2007: “THE END OF HATSUNE MIKU -DEAD END-“, by cosMo
The software was released on August 31st, 2007, so Hatsune Miku only had four months to make any kind of impression before the close of that year. “THE END OF HATSUNE MIKU -DEAD END-” led the small pack because of its fun melody, energetic vibe, and absolutely absurd use of Miku’s voicebank. cosMo quickly pushed Vocaloid to its limits at the time and without question was a leader in establishing Vocaloid as a genre.
2008: “World is Mine”, by ryo (supercell)
Was there any doubting this would be the top pick for 2008? Unavoidable for otakus, covered by countless NicoNico vocalists, and even becoming a short-lived meme on YouTube, “World is Mine” is one of the most famous Hatsune Miku songs ever made. Although “World is Mine” has been overplayed to the point of total annoyance, it’s impossible to deny the popularity the song had or its influence on Vocaloid music producers.
Unlike 2007, there was a small selection of songs that almost made our final cut.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Love is War”, “PoPiPo”, “Black★Rock Shooter”
2009: “Romeo to Cinderella”, by doriko
Okay, this is where things start to get difficult. With many major producers like wowaka and sasakure.UK making their debuts in 2009, the year forced us to make a tough call. However, doriko’s biggest hit with “Romeo to Cinderella” can’t be ignored. Between its harsh lyrics and catchy beat, there’s something about how doriko mixed Miku’s voice that carried a lot of emotion, despite how robotic the voice bank sounded then. Most producers weren’t doing anything like it at the time.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Ura-Omote Rabaazu”, “Nisoku Hokou”, “sPiCa”, “*Hello, Planet”.
2010: “Sweet Devil”, by Hachioji-P
If you know your Vocaloid history, this might seem controversial, but given our own rules, it was a fitting selection. Still, any Vocaloid fan knows “Sweet Devil” by its darker electro-pop beat and hypnotic tone that just pulls the listener in from the minute you press play. It’s a classic.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Rolling Girl”, “Eh? Ah Sou!”, “Himitsu Keisatsu”, “Time Machine”
2011: “Senbonzakura”, by Kurousa-P
Just like with “World is Mine”, there was no competition here. “Senbozakura” became one of the most popular Hatsune Miku songs in Japan, finishing in 7th place on the karaoke popularity charts in 2013. The song was so widespread that just about any NicoNico vocalist has their own cover of it, including piano ballad versions. The song has even been covered by American hip-hop violinist, Lindsey Stirling and was released on the Japanese Edition of her second studio album, Shatter Me, in 2015.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Unhappy Refrain”, “Kagerou Deizu”, “Envy Catwalk”
2012: “Nijigen Doriimu Fiibaa”, by PolyphonicBranch
For whatever reason, 2012 saw the release of a lot of Hatsune Miku songs that were fun, bouncy, high-energy, and well… just happy. PolyphonicBranch had already established themselves, but it wasn’t until the release of their 2012 album, 電脳旅団 -サイバーブリゲイド (Cyber Brigade), when they really appeared on everyone’s radar. The promotional single, “Nijigen Doriimu Fiibaa” was an instant hit, climbing fast into the Vocaloid Hall of Legends and later became a part of the first-ever Magical Mirari setlist, as well as performed on select dates of Lady Gaga’s ARTRAVE Tour in 2014. It was also featured in Project Dvia F 2nd, and at the time, credited as the hardest song of all time to complete on Extreme Mode in the game’s history, given an exclusive difficulty rank of ten red stars.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “ODDS&ENDS”, “39”, “This is happiness and peace of mind committee”
2013: “Rasberry＊Monster”, by HoneyWorks
Unfortunately, during the next several years, VOCALOID suffered a dry spell where if you weren’t already a big-name producer then your songs just weren’t cutting it. However, HoneyWorks was on the rise in popularity and halfway through the year gave us one of their best works, “Rasberry Monster”, which was featured in Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X.
2014: “Streaming Heart”, by DECO*27
Like we said earlier, the mid-2010s was a time when only big-named producers were still churning out a lot of consistent content while others had either gone on hiatus, retired, or moved on to writing for other projects. One such artist you could always count on to deliver a total banger track every year is none other than DECO*27.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Love Trial”, “DECORATOR”
2015: “Hand in Hand”, by kz/livetune
Another happy one. It’s a bit of a cop-out to go with a song that was the theme of Hatsune Miku: Magical Mirai 2015, but “Hand in Hand” has since become a fan favorite that embodies a certain charm and spirit with its theme of togetherness. It’s uplifting every time you hear it.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Blue Star”, “Aisowarai”, “News 39”
2016: “Alien Alien”, by NayutalieN
2016 gave us a lot of songs that ended up hitting hard for fans new and old, particularly “Ghost Rule”. However, “Alien Alien” is the odd one out that climbed in popularity for its quirkiness and uncannily fun atmosphere.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Kire Kyari On”, “Ghost Rule”, “Delusion Sentiment Compensation Federation”
2017: “Unknown Mother-Goose”, by wowaka
Celebrating ten years of Hatsune Miku, wowaka ended a six-year hiatus from Vocaloid with “Unknown Mother-Goose” just for an anniversary compilation album. It has since become unquestionably his most famous song ever released, gathering over 37M views on YouTube alone (more than twice as much as any other song), and still performed annually at Hatsune Miku: Magical Mirai on select dates. It was the very last song wowaka released before his untimely death in 2019 at age 31 due to heart failure in his sleep. Taken from us far too soon, may he rest in peace.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Inochi ni Kirawarete iru.”, “Teo”
2018: “METEOR”, by DIVELA
The theme of Hatsune Miku: Magical Mirari 2018.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Greenlights Serenade”
2019: “Lucky☆Orb”, by emon(Tes.)
When Hatsune Miku began touring outside of Japan it was huge. After her tour with Lady Gaga in 2014, one thing was clear, the West loved Miku and wanted more. Now, Miku Expo is an annual event happening in North America, Mexico, and various countries in Europe and Southeast Asia. “Lucky☆Orb” was the main theme of Miku Expo 2019 held in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Bless Your Breath”, “Failure Girl”
2020: “Because You Were Here”, by PinnochioP
We couldn’t end our list without highlighting a PinocchioP song, and it just felt right to include it here. He’s written songs in a number of genres, (mainly future pop or synth-pop). “You Were Here” was one of his Hatsune Miku songs that stood out because it was different from his typical work. A song about love, acceptance, and gratitude: “Because You Were Here” has a soft spot on our list.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Darling Dance”
2021: “Mao”, by Kairiki bear
Between 2018 and the present day, Kairiki bear really started to grow in popularity. Most of their songs are especially fast-paced and bouncy. But the best way to describe most of their songs is…quirky. Still, they remain ever fun.
Other Noteworthy Songs: “Hatsune Creation Myth”, “Vanpaia”, “God-ish”, “Beat Eater”
2022: “FUTURE EVE”, by sasakure.UK + UKRampage
Closing our list is none other than sasakure.UK. We couldn’t ignore them for the years they’ve been in the works. “FUTURE EVE” was the theme of this year’s Hatsune Miku: Magical Mirai. Celebrating the 10h anniversary of the biggest Hatsune Miku conventions and concert series in Japan, we can’t think of a better song to close out with.
Happy 15th Anniversary, Hatsune Miku! And cheers to fifteen more!