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Powered by Streaming: Official HIGE DANdism's Rise on Japan Chart Explained

Official HIGE DANdism
Courtesy of Billboard Japan

Official HIGE DANdism

Japanese piano-pop band Official HIGE DANdism is dominating the Billboard Japan charts. The four-man band's second single, "Pretender," released in May 2019, has been charting in the Billboard Japan Hot 100 top 10 for 23 consecutive weeks.

Streaming is the driving force behind the song's top-10 streak, as the song has led this metric of the chart's methodology for the longest-running 21 weeks straight. "Pretender" has also repeatedly entered Apple Music's Top 100: Global list, attesting to its current standing as a streaming favorite.

Since debuting from a major label in April 2018, Official HIGE DANdism -- aka "HIGEDAN" for short -- has released a string of hit songs infused with R&B and soul influences. After their first single, "No Doubt," entered the streaming top 10, their second, "Pretender," led the list for the first time, and the song sailed past 100 million total streams on the chart dated Sept. 30 (week of Sept. 16 to 22).

Only three other songs have surpassed 100 million streams in Japan since the streaming chart's inception in October 2017 -- Aimyon's "Marigold," DAOKO x Kenshi Yonezu's "Uchiage Hanabi," and Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" -- and "Pretender" reached the milestone the fastest, at 23 weeks.

"Pretender" has lifted the pop rockers' other songs into the upper ranks of the streaming chart. On the week "Pretender" reached 100 million streams, HIGEDAN had 11 songs charting on the streaming top 100, with streams totaling 21,835,778 times that week. This is the most weekly streams for any act to date in Japan. For reference, total streams for all songs in the top 100 that week were 96,995,400 times -- meaning about one-fourth of all streams belonged to the band.

Courtesy of Billboard Japan
Most Weekly Streams in Japan Top 10 (Sept. 25, 2017 to Sept. 22, 2019) Total streams of all songs by an act charting on the weekly streaming top 100.

When exactly did the band start gaining streaming momentum? In order to analyze HIGEDAN's meteoric rise, let's look at a graph of streaming figures for each song below:

Courtesy of Billboard Japan
Streaming Figures for Official HIGE DANdism's Catalog. (Tracks that have charted on the weekly streaming top 100 counted only.)

The graph shows that the April 2019 release of "Pretender" launched the streaming of the band's back catalog. The hits of their two previous releases, "No Doubt" and "Stand By You," had expanded the band's fanbase, building up hype for "the next HIGEDAN song," and the band kept the momentum going by making live appearances on the long-running popular music program Music Station and other shows in succession. 

"Pretender" was also featured as the theme of a star-studded Japanese movie called The Confidence Man JP, and the band helped promote it by performing in related events, catching the attention of more new listeners along the way.

The physical release of "Shukumei" at the end of July launched four more songs into the streaming chart for the first time. The breakout hit of "Pretender" had also resulted in fans digging into the band's past catalog, and this phenomenon was further encouraged by the new summer hit being used as the theme of the annual national high school baseball championships broadcast.

The common denominator of when HIGEDAN's streaming skyrocketed is that the band always provided a topic of conversation when it released a new single. The songs reached a wide audience through their association with high-profile tie-ins, as the band consistently performed at music festivals and events.

This multifaceted approach led to listeners consuming HIGEDAN's catalog on streaming services that provide easy access to music. Needless to say, the quality of their songs and their solid concert performances kept these new fans coming for more, shooting the band's songs into the streaming chart and keeping them afloat in the upper ranks of the Japan Hot 100.

Official HIGE DANdism released its highly anticipated first major-label album, Traveler, on Oct. 9, continuing its ascent as one of the biggest breakout J-pop acts in recent years.