J-POP streaming

Japanese music releases and playlists

Why is YOASOBI’s “IDOL” so successful?

The Duo’s Pop and Hip-Hop Fusion Climbs Charts and Breaks Streaming Records

In the realm of modern J-pop, few songs have captured the essence of the genre as vividly and innovatively as YOASOBI‘s “IDOL.” Released on April 12, 2023, as part of their third extended play, “The Book 3,” the song is a masterpiece of musical fusion, blending pop with hip-hop elements. Its thematic depth, exploring the dual nature of a star in Japan’s idol industry, resonates powerfully with listeners.

IDOL” marked its debut as the opening theme for the anime series “Oshi no Ko,” further amplifying its appeal. This connection to a popular anime series, coupled with its thematic resonance, provided a launchpad for its extraordinary success. The song first featured in the anime’s extended trailer, and following its release, it rapidly climbed digital music and streaming platforms, drawing in a global audience.

The track is a testament to the innovative musicality of YOASOBI, comprising Ayase and Ikura. Its sound is a complex tapestry of church choir-like gothic renditions, bright and poppy bubblegum tones, and gritty sub-bass, orchestrated and electronic chorus. The production, inspired by artists like Ghostemane and Rich Brian, incorporates a range of influences from Akihabara livehouses to Atlanta hip-hop. The song’s structure, marked by dizzying transitions and a complicated composition, reflects a lot of K-Pop elements, drawing comparisons with groups like Blackpink and Nmixx. Ikura’s vocals, a blend of sweet clarity and deep, sarcastic snarls, add another layer to the song’s intricate soundscapes.

The lyrics of “IDOL” offer a multi-faceted narrative, detailing the experiences of Ai Hoshino, the anime’s central character. It presents three perspectives: the idol’s public image as seen by fans and media, the jealousy and respect of her bandmates, and Hoshino‘s own view of her imperfections and secrets, including the hidden aspects of her life as a mother. This narrative approach gives the song a rich, emotional depth that resonates with a wide audience.

Critically, “IDOL” was lauded for its unique approach and representation of the idol culture. The song was seen as a perfect embodiment of Ai Hoshino‘s character, seamlessly transitioning between moods and musical styles. Some critics even considered it a meta-structure of idol songs, surpassing conventional expectations of the genre.

Visually, the song was complemented by an animated music video directed by Naoya Nakayama, featuring the anime’s visuals. This video, which also showcases Hoshino‘s twin children, added an emotional layer to the song, enhancing its narrative depth.

In terms of commercial success, “IDOL” broke several records, becoming the fastest song to reach 100 million streams in Japan and surpassing previous records set by giants like Official Hige Dandism and BTS. Its impact was not limited to Japan; the song achieved significant success globally, topping the Billboard Global Excl. US charts and setting a new record for a Japanese act on the Billboard Global 200.

YOASOBI‘s “IDOL” is more than just a song; it’s a cultural phenomenon that encapsulates the spirit of contemporary J-pop and idol culture. Its blend of musical styles, coupled with its deep narrative and visual storytelling, has not only set new records but also paved the way for future musical innovations. In 2023, “IDOL” stood as a testament to the power of music to transcend boundaries and connect with audiences worldwide​​.