Billboard Japan unveiled its 2019 mid-year charts Friday (June 7), tracking the weeks of Nov. 26, 2018 through May 26, 2019, and singer-songwriter Kenshi Yonezu extends his reign over the Japan Hot 100 following his domination of the 2018 mid-year and year-end charts with his mega-hit song “Lemon.” 

The poignant ballad by the J-pop hitmaker racked up more total points than it did when it ruled the 2018 mid-year chart, meaning it has the potential of becoming the first song in the history of the Japan Hot 100 to top the year-end tally two years in a row. 

Coming in at No. 2 is singer-songwriter Aimyon’s “Marigold,” and veteran vocal and dance group DA PUMP’s “U.S.A.” lands at No. 3. 

Yonezu spoke to Billboard Japan about “Lemon” enjoying such long-lasting popularity, sharing that the song has far exceeded his expectations. “It’s a blessing,” he says. “The song had soared way beyond my imagination long ago, and now I’m interested in seeing just how much further it will go. It doesn’t feel much like my own song at this point. I hope it continues to be loved by many.” 

Leading the mid-year Hot Albums chart is Gen Hoshino’s POP VIRUS. Selling 281,039 copies in its first week after dropping in December 2018, the 5th studio album by the multi-talented star maintained momentum through his extensive media appearances well into this year. The 14-track set, containing his 2017 year-end-chart-topper “Koi,” ruled the mid-year tally after dominating the metrics for downloads and look-ups, which counts the number of times a CD is ripped to a computer. 

ONE OK ROCK’s Eye of the Storm followed at No. 2, while Nogizaka46’s Ima ga Omoide ni Narumade came in at No. 3 on the mid-year Hot Albums chart. 

Hoshino describes working on POP VIRUS as a challenge that he staked his musical career on, as well as being a process of “manufacturing hope, rescuing myself, and searching for love.” He thanks his team and fans in a statement: “I’m immensely delighted and happy that POP VIRUS has reached so many and that it’s being accepted and listened to like this. To the members of my staff involved who worked hard on its production. To all of the musicians. And to you, who listened to it. I’m truly, truly grateful!” 

And at No. 1 on the Billboard Japan Top Artists tally is singer-songwriter Aimyon. The Top Artist is determined by total points accumulated through both the Japan Hot 100 and the Hot Albums charts. With 8 songs charting in the former and 3 albums in the latter, the young streaming sensation claims the Top Artists honor for the first time.  

Aimyon told Billboard Japan that she intends to keep doing what she does best. “I’m really glad that people are listening (to my songs) more than I thought,” she shared. “My desire to create more hit songs, to give birth to them, has never changed. I’d like people to anticipate more from me without writing me off as a fad. I’ll keep on making songs non-stop, so I’d like everyone to stick with me until (my creativity) dies.” 

On a final note, another important feature of the 2019 mid-year charts was the resurgent hit of Queen classics, launched by the long-running hit of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen’s catalog performed well in both the digital and physical metrics of the charts’ methodologies, triggering a movement that crossed national boundaries and generational differences. 

Billboard JAPAN Top Artists Mid-Year Ranking 2019

1. Aimyon

2. Kenshi Yonezu

3. Queen

4. back number



7. Gen Hoshino

8. Nogizaka46

9. BTS

10. DA PUMP 

Billboard JAPAN Hot 100 Mid-Year Chart 2019

1. Lemon / Kenshi Yonezu 

2. Marigold / Aimyon

3. U.S.A. / DA PUMP

4. Konya Konomama / Aimyon

5. Flamingo / Kenshi Yonezu 

6. Kuroi Hitsuji / Keyakizaka46

7. HAPPY BIRTHDAY / back number

8. Kyun / Hinatazaka46

9. Kaerimichi wa Toomawari Shitakunaru / Nogizaka46

10. Kimi Wa Rock Wo Kikanai / Aimyon 

Billboard JAPAN Hot Albums Mid-Year Chart 2019

1. POP VIRUS / Gen Hoshino

2. Eye of the Storm / ONE OK ROCK

3. Ima ga Omoide ni Narumade / Nogizaka46

4. Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack

5. MAGIC / back number

6. Momentary Sixth Sense / Aimyon

7. ALL TIME BEST 1998-2018 / Kobukuro


9. BOOTLEG / Kenshi Yonezu


Text: Billboard JAPAN / Photo: Courtesy Photo