Billboard Japan’s 2020 year-end charts were unveiled this week, tallying the period between Nov. 25, 2019 to Nov. 22, 2020. YOASOBI’s “Yoru Ni Kakeru” rules the Japan Hot 100 of the Year list, becoming the first-ever song not released on CD to lead the year-end chart.
After first taking off on TikTok, the breakout male-female duo’s first chart-topping hit went on to dominate streaming and video views from around March. The pair kept the momentum going through savvy use of available online resources, hyping the track on social media and releasing an alternate live version of the song on YouTube’s “The Home Take” channel.
The track is still going strong, having sailed past 270 million streams to date, and the accompanying music video has accumulated over 100 million views.
“I’m thrilled,” says YOASOBI’s Ayase, the group’s songwriter and producer. “Of course I wrote the song hoping that it would reach many people, but I never imagined so many would end up listening to it. It went far beyond my expectations.”
Ikura, the vocalist, also shares: “The year-end charts are the culmination of the past year, so it’s gratifying to be able to actually see just how many people heard ‘Yoru Ni Kakeru.’ When it first entered the top of the charts, I kind of expected it to be a momentary surge, so it was surprising to watch it stay there for such a long time.”
While a number of mega-hits from last year follow suit on the year-end Japan Hot 100 — with Official HIGE DANdisim’s “Pretender” at No. 2 and LiSA’s “Gurenge” No. 3, respectively — a notable entry by a new artist hits No. 6 on the tally: Eito’s “Kousui.” The poignant ballad has become one the standout songs of 2020 in Japan, through its impact on streaming, karaoke (14 consecutive weeks at No. 1), and the simple yet unforgettable music video.
On Billboard Japan’s year-end Hot Albums of Year tally, hitmaker Kenshi Yonezu dominates with his highly-anticipated new album Stray Sheep, which becomes the first-ever album to lead both the year-end downloads and CD sales rankings simultaneously. “It feels strange that my music is being heard by so many people now,” says the “Lemon” singer-songwriter. “Right now, I’d just like to extend my gratitude to everyone.”
At No. 2 on the tally is King Gnu’s Ceremony and at No. 3 is Arashi’s This is Arashi.
From around February in Japan, the novel coronavirus pandemic began visibly impacting the music industry, forcing many artists to either cancel or postpone their concerts and tours. One positive outcome of the otherwise devastating effects of the global pandemic on music was the establishment of a relatively new way for a song to become a mainstream hit by expanding its reach though TikTok, YouTube, social media, and streaming.
With streaming continuing to strengthen its influence on the Japanese music market, this new pattern is a welcome addition to the already-established routes including regular TV broadcasts, mixed-media promotion, and recognition through music festivals in terms of launching the careers of up-and-coming artists.
A number of previously unfamiliar names became household ones in 2020, and as we welcome in a new, hopefully safer year, we look forward to seeing many more new artists gracing the Japan charts in 2021.
Billboard Japan Hot 100 of the Year 2020 Top 10
1. “Yoru Ni Kakeru” / YOASOBI
2. “Pretender” / Official HIGE DANdism
3. “Gurenge” / LiSA
4. “I Love” / Official HIGE DANdism
5. “Hakujitsu” / King Gnu
6. “Kousui” / Eito 7. Shukumei / Official HIGE DANdism
8. “Marigold” / Aimyon
9. “Homura” / LiSA
10. “Naked Heart” / Aimyon
Billboard Japan Hot Albums of the Year 2020 Top 10
1. Stray Sheep / Kenshi Yonezu
2. Ceremony / King Gnu
3. This is Arashi / Arashi
4. Map of the Soul: 7 – The Journey / BTS
5. Traveler / Official HIGE DANdism
6. L(And) / King & Prince
7. Make You Happy / NiziU
8. Oishii Pasta Ga Aru to Kiite / Aimyon
9. 24H / SEVENTEEN
10. Map of the Soul: 7 / BTS
Billboard Japan Top Artists of the Year 2020 Top 10
1. Official HIGE DANdism
2. Kenshi Yonezu
3. King Gnu
10. Mrs.GREEN APPLE
Billboard Japan Hot Animation of the Year 2020 Top 10
1. “Gurenge” / LiSA
2. “Homura” / LiSA
3. “Yesterday” / Official HIGE DANdism
4. “Navigator” / SixTONES
5. “Inferno” / Mrs.GREEN APPLE
6. “Harunohi” / Aimyon
7. “Hana Ni Bourei” / Yorushika
8. “New Era” / SixTONES
9. “Uchiage Hanabi” / DAOKO x Kenshi Yonezu
10. “Sora No Aosa Wo Shiru Hito Yo” / Aimyon
Billboard Japan Hot Overseas of the Year 2020 Top 10
1. “Bad Guy” / Billie Eilish
2. “Shape of You” / Ed Sheeran
3. “HandClap” / Fitz and The Tantrums
4. “Rain On Me” / Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande
5. “Closer” / The Chainsmokers feat. Mackenyu Arata
6. “Blinding Lights” / The Weekend
7. “Dance Monkey” / Tones and I
8. “Yummy” / Justin Bieber
9. “2002” / Anne-Marie
10. “Boss B—h” / Doja Cat