Billboard Japan has released its 2021 year-end charts, tracking the weeks of Nov. 23, 2020, through Nov. 28, 2021. Solo singer-songwriter Yuuri’s mid-year chart-topper “Dryflower” goes on to rule the year-end tally, while BTS’ BTS, THE BEST is the top album of 2021.
Yuuri’s “Dryflower,” released in October 2020, is a song that continues the story depicted in the 27-year-old artist’s viral hit from 2019 called “Kakurenbo” (“Hide-and-seek”) from the girlfriend’s point of view. The track has become a long-running hit, staying in the top 10 of the Japan Hot 100 since the chart dated Nov. 25, 2020.
“I never imagined it would be No. 1 for the whole year, so I’m genuinely surprised,” the 27-year-old singer/songwriter said during his latest interview with Billboard Japan commemorating the achievement. “It’s a really important song for me, so I’m very happy that it’s reached so many people.”
At No. 2 for the year is BTS’ “Dynamite,” and YOASOBI’s “Yoru ni kakeru” (“Into the Night”) comes in at No. 3. All three songs are digital-only releases, meaning they maintained their enduring popularity through streaming, downloads and video views with no CD sales to count toward their chart performances.
The No. 1 album on the year-end Japan Hot Albums chart is BTS’ BTS, THE BEST. The K-pop superstars’ greatest-hits collection sold 1,022,247 units during the tallying period, and was the only album to sail past a million units this year. The set came in at No. 1 for sales, No. 6 for look-ups (the number of times a CD is ripped to a computer) and No. 7 for downloads.
In an email interview with Billboard Japan, the group commented: “BTS, THE BEST is like a treasure box packed with our memories with ARMY. We’re full of gratitude that you love our songs and that this album has received such an honorable award. It also encourages our future musical activities. If it weren’t for our ARMY, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve such great success. Thank you so much.”
Two new Johnny’s boy bands follow with Snow Man’s Snow Mania S1 coming in at No. 2 and SixTONES’ 1ST coming in at No. 3. Snow Mania S1 hit No. 2 for sales and No. 13 for look-ups, while 1st followed at No. 3 for both metrics.
The No. 1 act of 2021 on Billboard Japan’s Artist 100 tally — compiled from the results of the Japan Hot 100 and Hot Albums charts — is BTS. Their long-running hits “Dynamite,” “Butter” (No. 6 on the year-end chart) and “Permission to Dance” (No. 15), as well as their albums BTS, THE BEST, BE (No. 7 on the year-end chart) and Butter (No. 17), all excelled on the Japan charts this year.
The J-pop duo YOASOBI launched 11 songs into the Japan Hot 100 this year and come in at No. 2 on the year-end Artist 100. Four-man band Official HIGE DANdism follows at No. 3, fueled by its recent hit song “Cry Baby” (No. 13 on the year-end chart) and highly anticipated new studio album Editorial (No. 10).
Continuing from last year, the Japanese music scene in 2021 was marked by a series of hits by breakout artists such as Yuuri and Ado (a teenager whose “Usse-wa” became a social phenomenon). Also, BTS’ phenomenal success on both the U.S. and Japan Billboard charts during the past year has brought attention to the way fandom works. The Japan charts highlight the fact that each artist or act has different types of fans — those attributed to the artist and those attributed to a particular song. The next new artist or act to succeed will most likely be those who have both, as well as connections to the world in various aspects.
How will the Japanese music scene change in 2022? Billboard Japan will keep brushing up its charts to ensure that they continue to be the simplest connection between artists and listeners.
Billboard Japan Hot 100 of the Year 2021 Top 10
1. Dry Flower / Yuuri
2. Dynamite / BTS
3. Yoru Ni Kakeru / YOASOBI
4. Homura / LiSA
5. Kaibutsu / YOASOBI
6. Butter / BTS
7. Usse-wa / Ado
8. Gunjo / YOASOBI
9. Niji / Masaki Suda
10. Kaikai Kitan / Eve
Billboard Japan Hot Albums of the Year 2021 Top 10
1. BTS, THE BEST / BTS
2. Snow Mania S1 / Snow Man
3. 1ST / SixTONES
4. THE BOOK / YOASOBI
5. Re:Sense / King & Prince
6. SOUNDTRACKS / Mr.Children
7. BE / BTS
8. Attacca / SEVENTEEN
9. One Last Kiss / Hikaru Utada
10. Editorial / Official HIGE DANdism
Billboard Japan Artist 100 of the Year 2021 Top 10
3. Official HIGE DANdism
7. back number
10. Kenshi Yonezu
Billboard Japan Hot Animation of the Year 2021 Top 10
1. Homura / LiSA
2. Kaibutsu / YOASOBI
3. Niji / Masaki Suda
4. Kaikai Kitan / Eve
5. Cry Baby / Official HIGE DANdism
6. Gurenge / LiSA
7. Grandeur / Snow Man
8. One Last Kiss / Hikaru Utada
9. Inferno / Mrs. GREEN APPLE
10. Universe / Official HIGE DANdism