Billboard Japan and TikTok joined forces on Monday (Jan. 11) to host LIVE BEACON 2021, a virtual concert showcasing some of J-pop’s future stars.
After first collaborating in June last year for the “MusicCrossAid” special live stream, Billboard Japan and TikTok launched the NEXT FIRE weekly program that focuses on a different breaking act each month. The LIVE BEACON 2021 concert featured seven young artists -- Tani Yuuki, Mosawo, Hirame, Eito, Yama, Rinne, and Yuuri -- that graced the Billboard Japan charts and buzzed on the short video platform during 2020, who will likely go on to expand their reach even further this year.
Kicking off the event was singer-songwriter Tani Yuuki, who opened his set with “Myra,” his heartfelt love song featuring the familiar piano phrase and soothing vocals. The 22-year-old artist then picked up a guitar and played arpeggios while introducing his next song, “Hyakkiyako,” explaining before performing the cleverly worded, melodious number that the song’s message was to encourage listeners to discover their own individualities.
Up next on the roster was Mosawo, a male singer-songwriter whose romantic songs from a female point of view have captured the hearts of young listeners. He performed his hit “Kirakira” backed by a band, a rare sight in itself, as his music videos are animated and his performance videos only show his hands playing acoustic guitar. He also performed “Gyutto,” and wrapped up the intimate set with a sweet wintery track called “Fuyu No Present.”
Singer-songwriter Hirame opened her stage with “Kidoku-mushi” (“Ignoring a text”), a song she wrote based on an exchange with fans who sought relationship advice. Providing background info and what to focus on before performing each track, she performed a couple of fan favorites and premiered a new song called “Love.” Before launching into her viral hit “Pocket Kara Kyun Desu!” -- which coined the phrase “kyun desu” used by teenaged girls all over Japan -- she told viewers, “Right now I’m in a place where I didn’t imagine I’d be six months ago,” and thanked them for their support.
Next on stage was Eito, one of the biggest breakout artists from last year, and whose poignant ballad “Kousui” (“Perfume”) became a massive hit on TikTok and landed him his first No. 1 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100. Known for his laid-back, amiable manner, he sauntered onstage while cracking jokes. “My contract says I have to sing sitting down,” he shared, poking fun at his famous music video for the viral hit, which he sang with a new arrangement. The rising 23-year-old star went on to perform songs off his debut studio album Sukkarakan, including a number about family based on his childhood experience (“Happy Ni Nareyo”) and the first track on the project called “Boku Wa Baka.”
Following Eito was the elusive singer Yama, whose identity is cloaked in mystery. Taking the stage in their trademark white hoodie and half-mask, yama wowed viewers with their versatile, genderless vocals over jazzy arrangements of familiar tracks. The electrifying set included their latest single “Blue Monday” and a first- ever performance of “Tart,” and closed with an expressive rendition of the hit song “Haru Wo Tsugeru,” gripping the audience at the start with solid a capella vocals.
Another breakout star from 2020, rapper Rinne, delivered a string of tracks accompanied by a DJ, including “Boy,” “Yoake No Uta,” and his latest offering, “Metronome Town.” The nominee for the 2020 Japan Record Award for New Artist of the Year also delighted viewers with a chill performance of “Snow Jam,” the song that made him famous.
Throughout his set, the 23-year-old artist encouraged his young fans to “challenge themselves to do something at least once” and to not give up chasing their dreams, even though life has its share of setbacks and unpleasantness, especially now during a raging pandemic.
The final act of the evening was Yuuri, whose latest hit song “Dryflower” continues to hover near the top of various J-pop charts. After opening his set with an impressive rendition of “Peter Pan,” he warmed the hearts of viewers with a tender anecdote involving his younger sister -- “I’ll be a singer that won’t embarrass her,” he shared -- before launching into his viral indie ballad “Kakurenbo” (“Hide-and-seek”).
he former busker also included his new song “Infinity” (the ending theme of the anime series SK8 the Infinity) and treated fans to a previously-unreleased number called “Kachofugetsu.” He wrapped up the event with an inspiring performance of “Dryflower.”
The livestream from Billboard Live Tokyo kicked off at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, logging 14,815 concurrent viewers at its peak and 434,209 total views over the course of the evening. Throughout the event, artists from outside Japan -- including Conan Gray, Surfaces, Shawn Mendes, Stray Kids, Salem Ilese, Gnash, and Mamamoo -- dropped by to comment and share live performances. LIVE BEACON 2021 was hosted by Maki Okazoe and comedian Kogaken.