Billboard Japan unveiled its 2019 year-end charts this week, and J-pop hitmaker Kenshi Yonezu makes chart history as the first act on both the U.S. and Japan Billboard tallies to score song of the year with the same track for the second consecutive year.
Yonezu’s inescapable hit song “Lemon” is Billboard Japan’s song of the year, for the chart weeks of Nov. 26, 2018, to Nov. 24, 2019. In both the 60-year history of Billboard U.S. and the 10-plus-year history of Billboard Japan, no one track has ever been named song of the year for multiple years.
After leading Billboard Japan’s year-end chart for 2018, Yonezu wowed viewers with a mesmerizing performance of his massive hit on the prestigious year-end live music program Kohaku Uta Gassen. Downloads and video views shot up in the following weeks and kept the song afloat in the upper ranks of the Japan Hot 100 for the better part of 2019.
At the end of the year, “Lemon” dominates six metrics of the chart’s methodology: downloads, radio airplay, look-ups (the number of times a CD is ripped to a computer), Twitter mentions, video views, and karaoke. What makes this feat all the more astounding is that this song isn’t available for streaming; this result brings home just how far and wide, and for a long time, the track is being enjoyed in Japan.
When asked to comment on how he feels about “Lemon” now, when it remains so popular among listeners over a year and nine months after its release, the 28-year-old artist shared that it almost feels unreal: “I don’t know if I’ll ever encounter a song like ‘Lemon’ from now on. I don’t consider it to be my own song at all at this point. I’d like to continue creating music one at a time without making a fuss, while being grateful to what this song has given me.”
The year-end survey sees another song from last year — Aimyon‘s long-running hit “Marigold” — coming in at No. 2, while two of this year’s breakout bands follow suit at No. 3 (Official HIGE DANdism‘s “Pretender”) and 4 (King Gnu‘s “Hakujitsu”).
On the album front, J-pop megastars Arashi lead by a long shot with their greatest-hits collection, 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019, which sold over 2.15 million CDs. At No. 2 is Gen Hoshino‘s POP VIRUS, and at No. 3 is ONE OK ROCK‘s Eye of the Storm. The former ruled downloads and look-ups while the latter came in at No. 3 for downloads, showing that two of this year’s top three albums were propelled by their popularity in digital consumption.
Streaming was another key point in Japan’s music industry this year, with major acts including Arashi, Gen Hoshino, Spitz, BUMP OF CHICKEN and more making headlines by releasing their past catalogs on various streaming platforms. While CDs remain popular, streaming is steadily gaining traction as a form of music consumption that visibly affects how a song performs on the charts.
Billboard Japan Hot 100 of the Year 2019 Top 10
1. Lemon / Kenshi Yonezu
2. Marigold / Aimyon
3. Pretender / Official HIGE DANdism
4. Hakujitsu / King Gnu
5. Uma to Shika / Kenshi Yonezu
6. Machigaisagashi / Masaki Suda
7. Paprika / Foorin
8. Konya Konomama / Aimyon
9. U.S.A. / DA PUMP
10. Shukumei / Official HIGE DANdism
Billboard Japan Hot Albums of the Year 2019 Top 10
1. 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019 / Arashi
2. POP VIRUS / Gen Hoshino
3. Eye of the Storm / ONE OK ROCK
4. MAGIC / back number
5. King & Prince / King & Prince
6. Ima ga Omoide ni Narumade / Nogizaka46
7. Momentary Sixth Sense / Aimyon
8. Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack
9. BOOTLEG / Kenshi Yonezu
10. aurora arc / BUMP OF CHICKEN
Billboard Japan Hot Overseas of the Year 2019 Top 10
1. Shape of You / Ed Sheeran
2. Bohemian Rhapsody / Queen
3. bad guy / Billie Eilish
4. I Don’t Care / Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber
5. HandClap / Fitz and The Tantrums
6. thank u, next / Ariana Grande
7. ME! feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco / Taylor Swift
8. Señorita / Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
9. Don’t Stop Me Now / Queen
10. We Are The Champions / Queen
Billboard Japan Hot Animation of the Year 2019 Top 10
1. Harunohi / Aimyon
2. Uchiage Hanabi / DAOKO x Kenshi Yonezu
3. Gurenge / LiSA
4. Ai ni dekirukoto wa mada arukai / RADWIMPS
5. Yesterday / Official HIGE DANdism
6. Spirits of the Sea / Kenshi Yonezu
7. Blizzard / Daichi Miura
8. Grand Escape feat. Toko Miura / RADWIMPS
9. Sora no aosa wo shiru hito yo / Aimyon
10. Inferno / Mrs.GREEN APPLE
Billboard Japan Top Artists of the Year 2019 Top 10
2. Kenshi Yonezu
3. Official HIGE DANdism
6. back number
7. ONE OK ROCK