For anime based bands, μ and Aqours have got one heck of a discography between them, with only IdolMaster being able to hold a candle to Love Live’s success. With such a variety of songs, spanning from poppy idol tunes, to ballads, dance, and even metal, they’ve go all the bases covered, and so it’s no wonder the fanbase is so large for both groups. But of course some songs will always be more memorable, beautiful, or epic than the rest, and that’s what we’re looking at today.
We’ve put together a list of what we think are overall the best that Love Live has to offer from their catalogue of tunes. We’ve tried to focus on songs featured in the show itself as they are for the most part the closest ones to people’s hearts, as well as the most meaningful performances of both groups. So take a look below for our thoughts on the top 10 Love Live songs.
10. Love Wing Bell (Love Live! Season One, Episode 5)
Despite being a key part of Rin’s character development, Love Wing Bell often does not get the credit it deserves. Struggling to show her feminine side, as well as having the pressure of group lead put on her, we discover that Rin is not as strong and cheery as she seems on the outside. But along come the rest of the band with butler outfits and a wedding dress in hand to let Rin know that she’s cuter than she knows, and can sure as hell lead the group on stage. Outside of the anime, this also lead to an explosion in Rin’s popularity, not that she wasn’t already a popular girl.
The song takes Rin, who had long been fairly neglected in the series, and puts her as the main vocalist, which is a refreshing change in itself. Along with the wedding outfits, we also hear wedding bells, strings, and in particular harps during the break of the song, giving the song a real wedding feel to accompany the performance. The track is overall quite simple, but does a really good job of representing Rin’s feelings of finally being able to accept herself.
9. START:DASH!! (Love Live! Season 1, Episodes 3 & 13)
The very first performance of what would later become μ, START:DASH!! receives two includes throughout the series: one with Honoka, Umi, and Kotori, and one with all nine members of the band. The first performance is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the show, with only a small number of students turning up to watch the three girls perform. This is also the beginning of μ’s formation though, as Hanayo is one of the excited audience members. The second performance essentially resolves the lack of an audience in the first, with the band now playing to a filled auditorium.
Along with SUNNY DAY SONG, START:DASH!! is one of the only performances in the series to use a full length song, although it is altered slightly. As you would expect, START:DASH!! talks about the girls starting off their journey to become idols, which holds true in both performances. When only performed by Honoka, Umi, and Kotori, the song has a particular charm as we get to hear each girl sing solo during the otherwise fairly quiet verses.
8. Bokura wa Ima no Naka de (Love Live! Season 1, Episodes 1-13)
The opening for Love Live’s first season, what could be a more iconic song for the series than Bokura wa Ima no Naka de. Although it introduces every episode to us for a whole series, it’s not until the end of the second season that μ actually performs the song as an encore for what they thought would be their last performance at the Love Live finals. Hearing the song start in that episode had that same feeling as when someone mentions a movie’s title during the movie, they were finally performing the first song we saw them singing together.
Bokura wa Ima no Naka de is designed to be a crowd pleaser, featuring everything from violins, to loud drums, and a short guitar solo. The girls always sing in groups during the song, with a heavy focus on backing vocals, creating a sense of togetherness for the group, and also giving a spectacular performance without us needing to know the voices of each girl very well, ideal for the series’ opening.
7. Aishiteru Banzai! (Love Live! Season 1, Episode 1 & Love Live! Season 2, Episode 13)
Aishiteru Banzai! features in the original Love Live series twice, both times with only a piano accompaniment, demonstrating how strong the song is with its lyrics alone. It’s first appearance is in the first episode, performed by Maki alone with her piano, and with Honoka listening in. There’s a certain irony to this as although the performance is very beautiful, given Maki’s isolation the lyrics don’t hold the same meaning as they do later in the show. The second performance is at the end of the second season at the third year’s graduation, by a teary eyed μ, and is one of the most heartfelt, if low-key, performances in the series.
Although the single itself features more instruments, the performances in the series really demonstrate the ability of μ to hold their own as vocalists with little accompaniment. The song itself speaks about moving on from what they’ve achieved and accepting the present, which is an important step given how the girls were struggling with the thoughts of μ breaking-up. Moreso it talks about how even though they’re moving on, they still love each other very much.
6. Aozora Jumping Heart (Love Live! Sunshine!!, Episodes 1-13)
The opening to Love Live Sunshine, Aozora Jumping Heart is a worthy competitor for Love Live’s previous two openings. For many, this will be the first time that they heard Aqours perform together, and as the successors of μ, the pressure couldn’t be higher to at least match their senior’s set standard. It’s safe to say that they did a great job though, with this hype generator of a track.
Much like Bokura wa Ima no Naka de, Aozora Jumping Heart includes no solos, and focuses on having all the girls singing together, which makes it both very loud and powerful, helped by the “Woo!”s throughout. They’re excited to be there, and they’re making sure that you are too. Although we don’t hear the distinctive voices of each girl because of this, we do get to see the difference in vocals between μ and Aqours, which is just as important, it not more.
5. Donna Toki mo Zutto (Love Live! Season 2, Episodes 2-8, 10-11)
The ending for Love Live season two, hearing those first few notes at the end of an episode was always an “ohh s***s going down” moment. Although never performed by the group in the main series, Donna Toki mo Zutto’s ending performance, with all the girls swaying and singing in line, is a reminder of the group’s togetherness, as well as a callback to their roots, practicing together on that rooftop. We also get the opportunity to hear the song performed by different group members in each ending which keeps it feeling fresh each week.
Donna Toki mo Zutto has a really nice build up at the start, with a surprisingly fast beat, that almost gives one the feeling of running alongside Honoka. The highlight of the song is the cheer of “Ganbarou yo!” from all the girls, with the whole song providing a strong feeling of pressing forward and trying your best. Interestingly the feather scene at the end is referenced in the new season, where Chika catches a white feather at the train station.
4. Wonderful Rush (None (μ’s 5th Single))
Wonderful Rush is one of μ’s best known singles to not actually make an appearance in the show itself. Despite that though, the song has it’s own full length PV with excellent choreography and some lovely blue and white outfits. The Love Live School Idol Movie actually references the video at the start as the girls are getting ready to fly to New York, with Kotori pointing out that she’s brought her pillow with her which she forgets in the Wonderful Rush PV, and is the reason they almost miss their flight.
The “Dan-dan Kokoro” build up at the start of the song is debatably one of the most recognisable song intros in μ’s discography, with the lyrics both starting and ending the song on a high note. The bridge after the second chorus is also very memorable, with Maki hitting an absurdly high note, as well as Nico having a small talking (shouting) section, before the chorus of “Hi hi super jump”s comes in. Wonderful Rush is certainly, in a musical sense, one of μ’s most interesting songs.
3. SUNNY DAY SONG (Love Live! The School Idol Movie)
μ’s second to last performance, SUNNY DAY SONG features near the end of the School Idol Movie, and along with START:DASH!! is one of the only songs throughout the series to be performed in it’s uncut, full length form. Labelled as the “anthem” for all school idols, the performance features a crowd of other girls performing alongside μ, as well as showing the members teaching the other idols how to sing, dance, and make costumes. The performance signifies μ passing the torch of Love Live on to all the new school idols, now that their time in the spotlight is drawing to a close.
Given that this song comes near the end of μ’s career, it’s nice to hear something so insanely upbeat and happy, with an amusingly literal title. The lyrics speak to both the other idols and to μ themselves, about how the group are happy having achieved their dream, as well as how this is a new beginning that they should step forward into smiling. It’s this kind of send off that acts as inspiration for groups like Aqours to step up.
2. Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare (Love Live! Sunshine!!, Episode 11)
Aqours’ big break, Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare is their chosen song for the Love Live qualifiers, and one of the most touching performances of the series. After dealing with both Riko’s absence and You’s worries over her friendship with Chika, their performance is so much sweeter and heartfelt than if it were just another song on an album. With the choreography even themed around their missing member, although she’s away the group feels more together than ever.
Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare features solo piano sections at both the beginning and end, a reference to the group’s absent pianist, as well as adding a classy touch to an otherwise fast-paced j-pop song. With them down to eight members, the girls pair up for vocal sections, which makes a change from the usual solos or groups of three, as well as allowing all the girls to get a chance to sing whilst keeping the uncluttered, clear nature of the song intact.
1. Snow halation (Love Live! Season 2, Episode 9)
One of μ’s most well known songs, even outside the fandom, Snow halation’s performance in the series also shows off some of the girl’s most well known outfits, which even have their own series of figures. It’s also the group’s first attempt at a love song, something which they struggle with a lot due to none of them having experience in love. They manage to overcome this though by writing it together, making it also the first song that they wrote together as a group.
Snow halation is among μ’s slower, more relaxing songs, stepping away from the hectic, j-pop idol group tunes that make up the majority of their works. Despite this however, it doesn’t lose the uplifting feeling that comes with all of μ’s best hits, which is probably helped by the overall wintery feel that comes with the snow theme and use of bells throughout. The song was actually released, along with a PV, much earlier than it’s appearance in the series, with the anime version essentially providing a new, updated version of the performance.
Being the first group, μ have a lot of memorable and emotional performances already stacked up, so it can be hard for Aqours to compare in this, their beginning. Hopefully as Aqours grows and gets more new seasons we’ll be able to look at all they’ve achieved in the same way we look at μ now. With that said though, music is incredibly subjective, and with two bands and so many songs to choose from, we’re sure you all have Love Live top tens of your own.
Leading on from that, what are your top ten Love Live songs? Maybe you like some of the classics here like Snow halation and Wonderful Rush, or you’re into some of the newer Aqours hits like MIRAI TICKET or Step! ZERO to ONE. Personally I rate Cutie Panther(Metal-Panther Mix). Whatever you prefer, be sure to let us know in the comments below!