BE: FIRST and Fans Succeed on Trending Songs – Billboard
BE: FIRST, a Japanese group led by musician and music producer SKY-HI, are hugely successful on the US Billboard charts.
The Global Hot Trending Songs charts follow the Twitter posts of artist fans and other Twitter users around the world. BE’s first single: FIRST “Gifted”. – which was released on November 3 – took first place with a dominant lead, a rarity for a Japanese artist. Even now, a month after the single was released, it still holds a prominent place in the charts. BESTY’s publications, BE: FIRST supporters, generate a constant buzz on Twitter. There are also fan accounts that share daily graphics updates.
As stated in numerous press articles, “Gifted. Took the # 1 position on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart on November 10, dominating digital metrics of downloads, streaming, and video views, as well as metric delivery. It also has the third highest number of weekly broadcasts by an artist. As the charts show, BE: FIRST is a first artist who breaks record after record, unlike anything seen in the Japanese music industry for years.
Even in Japan, it is no longer uncommon for songs with a high number of YouTube streams and views to occupy high positions in the Hot 100. Japanese market rankings are no longer the exclusive domain of CD sales, but reflect rather, the increasingly diverse ways in which people enjoy and consume music. The music market has evolved into a market in which new artists who excel in certain fields and artists with the power to create smash hits online and on social media can climb the charts. New original standards are also being applied, such as revised songplay count settings related to user-generated content. For artists and labels aiming for high chart positions, it would be fair to say that Japanese graphics strategies are gradually approaching Western graphics strategies.
Western maps evolve even faster than Japanese maps. They are constantly adding new metrics and changing the conversion standards. The goal is to stay in tune with the growing diversity of music consumption patterns. Of course, there are major differences between the music industries of Japan and the West in terms of the quality and amount of data that mapping companies and the industries themselves receive from streaming platforms. The game data and consumption data reflected in the graphics differ accordingly. This change in the rules used by the music charts has become considered common sense in the industry in recent years. The charts seek to show data that reflects the mutual relationships between consumers and music across the world. This is true not only for Billboard but also for the charts of subscription services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music.
In the context of this changing global music scene, Billboard launched the Hot Trending Songs charts. BE: FIRST continues to feature on these new global rankings. What is behind its ability to maintain momentum in the global charts? What does this mean for Japanese artists and Japanese music?
Hot Trending Songs charts are new global music charts created by Billboard based on data provided by Twitter. They monitor songs mentioned in Twitter posts in real time and use that data to create rankings. One chart is updated every 24 hours and the other is updated weekly, covering the period Friday through Thursday (US time). The most important aspect of the charts, which launched in October 2021, is that they cover Twitter posts, so the data they use is collected around the world.
Different types of posts can affect the ranking of charts. Fans can post messages containing full song names, not abbreviations. Posts can contain song names in hashtags. Looking on Twitter, fan activity is easy to view – fan accounts update chart information daily and provide tips on how to post in order to move artists up the charts as well as to create hashtags facilitating the cooperation of the fans.
As the name “Trending” makes clear, these are global charts that show, in real time, which songs are the most buzzing on Twitter around the world. However, unlike charts that count plays or sales, these charts visualize artist fandom activity, the existence of fans who consistently post about the songs, and the strength of fan communities.
Let’s go back to the story of “Gifted”. in the Hot Trending Songs charts.
It first appeared on the 24-hour chart on November 13, taking fourth place. As of November 14, it remained in the charts at 6th and 7th place. Then, on November 20, he knocked out BTS’s “Butter” from its longtime top spot. On November 22, he was also ranked first.
News of his appearance in the rankings, starting from the No.4 position, was shared on Twitter. This news caused a stir among fans, which helped him stay in the rankings. Then, when he took the # 1 position on November 22, SKY-HI tweeted his surprise, and even more artists and promoters tweeted about the Hot Trending Songs charts. This, in turn, generated even more buzz.
Part of it may be the fortuitous moment of BE: FIRST’s debut, shortly after the new Billboard graphics were created. However, keep in mind that these charts are based on song data from around the world. “Gifted.” kept up the momentum while taking on global hits like BTS’s “Butter” and LISA’s “LALISA”, and while competing against songs by global artists, like ATEEZ’s “Turbulence”, Mew Suppasit’s “Spaceman,” ” Bazinga “by SB19” and “Fly Away” by Dimash.
BE: FIRST is the only Japanese artist to feature in the charts and maintain their high ranking.
As you may have noticed, Asian artists are heavily represented in the charts. One song that particularly stands out is “Bazinga,” a single from SB19, a P-hop group from the Philippines, which took # 1 on the weekly charts. SB19 is the product of a local talent development program in the Philippines, run by Korean group ShowBT. “Bazinga” (included on the Pagsibol EP) was released in July this year, and the clip aired on YouTube on October 29, generating enormous interest. On December 11, it took the # 1 position on the daily and weekly charts. He received over 280,000 Twitter mentions in 24 hours and over 3 million during the week. Despite the major differences in games and sales between “Bazinga” and “Butter,” SB19 and BTS have been neck and neck in the charts for weeks. SB19’s situation provides food for thought about the importance and persistence of fandoms in the growth of global artists.
All eyes are on the strategies BE: FIRST will then use for Hot Trending Songs charts. The standards of global success for Japanese artists are diversifying, but there are several Billboard charts they might face, such as Emerging Artists, Song Breaker, and Billboard Global Excl. American maps. We’ll see if the BE: FIRST fan communities grow in other countries as well. Partnerships between artists and fans are now part of modern musical strategies and support the growth and development of artists. In recent years, the music industry has demonstrated that fandoms that transcend national and cultural boundaries are essential to the development of global artists. BE: FIRST could be the first Japanese artist to successfully apply this musical trend. He showed us that Japanese artists are entering a new phase of global expansion.
This Jay Kogami article first appeared on Billboard Japan.