Laughing Hick was the featured artist for June in Next Fire, the collaborative project by Billboard Japan and TikTok.
The hybrid program is based on Billboard Japan’s TikTok Weekly Top 20 chart and highlights the hottest J-pop acts of the moment. The monthly series streams live performances on TikTok Live and pre-recorded interviews by the featured act of the month to give fans a multifaceted look at their artistry.
First up on the virtual concert was Kanae Asaba, who performed a couple of numbers as the opening act. The singer-songwriter was awarded the chance to perform on the show after winning the audition held prior to the event.
With her long wavy hair dyed blonde and wearing a pastel blue gossamer dress, the tall singer was all smiles as she appeared in the studio. She positioned herself in front of the piano and opened with “Fendi,” leaving a lingering impression with her clear voice and piano performance. She then went on to perform “Make A Wonderful Day,” after sharing that she wrote the song with makeup as the theme to ease some of the stifling feeling people face because of the pandemic. She delivered the airy pop song with a mic in her hand, swaying her body to the rhythm, inspiring viewers with her buoyant performance.
After Asaba’s uplifting opener, the three-member band Laughing Hick performed the headlining set as the featured act of the month. “Laughing Hick from Yamanashi Prefecture here to bring you music. Let’s have fun until the end,” said frontman and guitarist Kota Horiuchi before the band opened the set with “Local Hero,” an upbeat, bouncy rock number with matching positive lyrics. The harmony between Horiuchi and the bassist Akari also added a nice touch. The band then segued seamlessly into “Nakayubi wo tatete” (“Raise Your Middle Finger”), a song encompassing nostalgic melancholy and sadness along with the rebellious spirit of the lyrics.
“The next one is the love song of a scumbag that a lot of you seem to be listening to on TikTok,” said the frontman before launching into “Aishiterutte.” The contrast between the warm tone of the music and the lyrics full of heartless words was both shocking and amusing. The trio then went on to perform “Cassis Orange,” a song they said “connected us to a lot of people.“ The members appeared to become increasingly focused as the majestic and heartrending number progressed, resulting in a powerfully gripping performance.
Horiuchi prefaced the last song of the evening with a poetically heartfelt message: “We hope to continue delivering music to those of you who’ve always supported us and also to those of you who saw us for the first time today. May we seize the light. A flame that never goes out.” Laughing Hick closed their showcase set with “Lamp,” a fast-paced number perfect for the end of their show with powerful vocals and lyrics inspiring hope for the future.
Beginning Friday (June 10), a pre-recorded interview by Laughing Hick and the archived version of the virtual show will stream on Billboard Japan’s TikTok channel (https://www.tiktok.com/@billboard_japan) from 8 p.m. Japan time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays until June 27.