2020s J-Pop Winter Ballad – Billboard

Official HIGE DANDismThe latest single from “Subtitle”, released on October 12, became a record success in Japan.

On the Billboard Japan Hot 100 song chart dated November 9, 2022, “Subtitle” took the No. 1 position for a third consecutive week. In its streaming metrics, which serve as major indicators of success, it came in at No. 2 on the October 19 chart (with 9,905,294 streams), No. 1 on October 26 (18,116,526 streams), No. No. 1 in Nov. 2 (20,781,069 streams), No. 1 on Nov. 9 (21,044,966 streams), and No. 1 on Nov. 16 (21,377,507 streams).

The number of streams keeps increasing. For the week of November 7-13, the song had 29,935,364 streams – the second highest number of streams for any song on the chart ever, surpassed only by BTS‘ ‘Butter’, which was released on June 2, 2021. It was also the first time in Japan Hot 100 history that a song had over 20 million streams for three consecutive weeks. There is no doubt that “Subtitle” is one of the main hit songs in the Japanese music scene in the second half of 2022.

“Subtitle” is a winter ballad written as the theme song for the drama television series quiet. The band members read the script treatment and the actual script of the show, which are completely original. The show’s story and message resonated with the band, which is why they decided to write the show’s theme song. quiet is a romance story centered on protagonist Tsumugi Aoba (played by Haruna Kawaguchi) and her former boyfriend, So Sakura (played by Ren Meguro from Snow Man). The bittersweet and endearing story of Sakura, who begins to gradually lose his hearing at the age of 18, Aoba, who works to accept the changes he is going through and rebuild her relationship with him, and Nana Momono ( played by Kaho), who was deaf from birth, appealed to a varied audience. The show itself has become one of the standout programs of 2022, with play numbers sweeping past record holders on TVer, the TV streaming service for live streamers. The synergy between the show and its opening theme energizes the trajectory of the hit. It is an ideal reconciliation.

The choice of the name “Subtitle” for the theme song of this drama about reunion in a silent world shows the respect they have for the series.

“Subtitle” begins with the line “’Pour the sun into your frozen heart’ and ‘This is what I will be for you’”, sung by Satoshi Fujihara (vocals and piano). The way the song launches straight into vocals without an intro shows a modern sensibility, but the structure of the song itself is pure J-pop: verse, bridge, chorus, soft chorus, eight in the middle. HIGE DAN’s strengths, like chord progressions that effectively use modulation and dramatic melodic lines, are taken to a new height, producing a song that’s enjoyable but never stale. Special care has also been taken in the arrangement, and the colorful guitar phrases and the rhythm line, with its deep bass tone, make quite the impression. Another of the attractions of this song is the musical skill of Daisuke Ozasa (guitars and choir), Makoto Narazaki (bass and saxophone) and Masaki Matsuura (drums and choir).

Coming in at over five minutes, the song is unusually long for a modern song, but thanks to the quality of the melody and the intricacy of the song’s design, it never overstays its welcome. The reason the listen count keeps going up is because the song has so much depth – every time you listen to it, you discover something new.

What fascinates listeners most about “Subtitle,” however, are its lyrics. The core of the fort is the powerful love the singer feels for “you” and the frustration he feels at not being able to convey that love. The lyrics artfully express how the words spoken to express one’s feelings disappear the moment they are spoken, as exemplified in the phrase “words are like snowflakes.”

This emotion culminates in the line “Even more than saying I love you, I mean wait, just a moment longer, until you feel my love.” The struggles facing the singer come to an end, unresolved. They take no concrete action. But the love that the singer feels for “you” is true and without a doubt, and the singer wants to share his feelings, moving “your” heart. As you listen to the song, you feel those emotions ringing pure and clear.

Immediately after the song was released, people started posting their interpretations of the lyrics on social media and in YouTube comments. “I love the lyrics. I’d rather feel the kind of love where two people hold each other than one-sided love. If I’m going to know the lowest of lows in life, that’s the kind of life I prefers to lead.” I feel like the lyrics to ‘Subtitle’ really affect the way I see love…but change it a bit, at the same time.” “No matter how you try to express yourself, if your emotions are not of the same intensity, your ability to communicate your feelings will suffer. But you can’t give up on sharing what you feel in your heart. Comments like these are a testament to how the words of “Subtitle” resonates with listeners’ experiences and memories, and how they feel the song is their own song.

Official HIGE DANdism has produced countless hits, including “115man Kilo no Film”, “Pretender” and “I LOVE…” “Subtitle” is sure to become one of their new standards, thanks to the quality of its music and to the depth of his words. . It would go on to become one of the leading J-pop winter ballads of the 2020s, continuing to captivate listeners for years to come.

This article by Tomoyuki Mori first appeared on Billboard Japan.

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