Other strong performances from J-pop’s first six months include Keyakizaka46, Namie Amuro and WANIMA
22 Jun 2018 - 1:20 PM  UPDATED 22 Jun 2018 - 1:20 PM

Half a year has just flown by, huh? While you adjust from this truth, let’s take a second to look back on the most popular J-pop acts of 2018’s first half. Billboard Japan shared their mid-year charts recently, and if you are a fan of Kenshi Yonezu, rejoice, because he’s been shining so far. Watch the video for his “Lemon” below.

Yonezu came in as the number one artist of 2018 so far in Japan, narrowly beating out K-pop acts TWICE and BTS to take the top spot. It probably helps him in that category that he also dominated the top song category, with “Lemon” coming in number one. The Billboard site breaks down how each artist fared across platforms, and seeing how Yonezu ranks says a lot about the state of the Japanese music industry. Despite not being on any streaming service — where the Korean acts do very well — the number of downloads and “CDs read by computers” (reflecting rentals) pushed Yonezu up to the top, aided by solid performances on YouTube and other social platforms.

After TWICE and BTS, Keyakizaka46 come in at four, edging out the soon-to-retire Namie Amuro. But the J-pop titan topped the album list with her 2017 compilation Finally, which remains a force in the market. Expect it to only maintain its position as her September retirement gets closer. AKB48’s latest album came in second, while Yonezu’s 2017 effort gets the bronze. Fourth spot goes to The Greatest Showman soundtrack and fifth goes to pop-punkers WANIMA, another act shunning streaming to their benefit.

Song wise, Kayakizaka46 comes in second, while Hoshino Gen is third. TWICE’s “Candy Pop” lands in at fifth, watch that one below.

Now that the first half of the year is in the books, stay tuned to see what direction J-pop goes in the months to come.


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