B’z Set for Induction to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Landmark Institution Expanding to Tokyo This Fall
As was just announced on their official Facebook page with a feature in the Wall Street Journal, the world-renowned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be expanding to Tokyo this September. Already inductees in Hollywood’s RockWalk as its first ever Asian artists, B’z should be within the initial contenders after balloting begins—if not the outright favorites—once local artists are taken into account. The expansion will begin with a local exhibit established to showcase memorabilia from existing inductees such as Deep Purple and The Beatles.
As quoted in our article on the history between B’z and American rock legends Aerosmith—themselves inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2001—this is not the first time a similar sentiment has been put forth. Writing in 2002, David Higashi of Eye-ai Magazine suggested such recognition would be inevitable:
“Here is a hypothetical question for all J-Pop fans out there: If the Japanese recording industry were to establish a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow, which artist would be most deserving to be the inaugural member? Of course, the question barely needs to be asked, since there is really only one answer, and that answer is B’z. It is no understatement to say that B’z is to J-Pop what Michael Jordan was to basketball (only without the constant barrage of retirements and returns).”
Beginning with their fifth single “Taiyou no Komachi Angel” in the summer of 1990, every such release from B’z has debuted at the top of the Weekly Oricon Singles chart despite the drastic shifts in the country’s musical landscape in that time. Today, Oricon has announced that new single “Seimei/Still Alive” has done the same with sales in excess of 120,000 physical copies sold, which will see it certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.
It bears noting that Oricon’s charting, unlike those for Billboard (in Japan or the U.S.), does not account for any radio airplay or digital purchases. While physical sales have predictably been down year over year in Japan as with most markets, digital has continued to rise despite the relative importance of the physical launches. In the American music scene, streaming services such as Spotify have led to historic lows for both the physical and digital mediums. The Japanese market remains an anomaly in a constantly shifting landscape in which its physical sales are still of considerable importance.
While the long-term success of B’z and their streak is essentially unprecedented in the schema of modern music, and especially so with regard to a rock band, that success has not changed the band’s creative output over the years. When asked about as much in 2011 by American music and arts outlet Hard News Café, Tak felt it was inevitable the record would be someone else’s in time and did not consider it a motivation:
—You have seen an incredible streak of #1 albums and top songs in Japan. Is there pressure for B’z when writing to create the next #1 hit when you were in the studio recording the new album C’mon?
Tak Matsumoto: We’re very proud of having many hit singles and albums in Japan, but there’s no pressure to write hit songs. Someday our record would be rewritten by someone else. We intend to try to write songs that will be loved worldwide.
A sixth countdown also appeared yesterday on the official B’z website. The band will soon either begin promotions for their 2017 studio album or their 54th single that could precede it and potentially yield their record 50th consecutive one to top the charts.
A very special acknowledgment goes out to Keen for the archive of materials that contributed to this article. A great debt is owed to her not only for this article but for supporting international B’z fandom from its infancy.
Aerosmith formed nearly two full decades before B’z and, by the time Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba made their joint debut on September 21, 1988, had already sold well over 25 million records worldwide. “Dream On”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Walk This Way”, “Mama Kin”, “Back in the Saddle”, and “Draw the Line” had all long been released. Already commonly hailed as both the “Bad Boys from Boston” and the definitive American rock band, Aerosmith had by then already toured the world, broken up and spent a half-decade without its core line-up, reunited, battled drug addiction, and earned a reputation as both the hardest rocking and most volatile band around. The group’s biggest personalities and likewise its brightest stars—vocalist Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry—earned the joint moniker “the Toxic Twins” as a result.
So distant were these two bands in age that B’z guitarist Tak Matsumoto spent his high school years playing Aerosmith songs in his bedroom, whilst a young Koshi Inaba considered Steven Tyler a top vocalist whose ability and stage presence were to be striven toward. What the two acts undoubtedly have in common is success: both topped their respective music industries, both established themselves as definitive rock icons whose staying power is long beyond reproach.
What’s more, despite the different eras from which they hailed and the ages that separate them, the divergent paths of B’z and Aerosmith would later intersect in a way that would make rock history and prove an indelible moment for fans of both bands.
The fifty-third B’z single “Seimei/Still Alive” is now officially on sale! It has debuted at the top of the Weekly Oricon Singles chart with pre-orders sales in excess of 61,000 physical copies already moved. If you still don’t have a copy on the way, you can obtain one via CDJapan, YesAsia, or Amazon Japan.
As is always the case, the band have chimed in with their release message to mark the occasion which we have translated for you below:
In addition, the UCC Black x B’z commercial featuring “Seimei” is now on air:
What’s more, a making-of video for the special B’z-branded cans of UCC Black that will be available to winners of the 10,000-draw lottery was also made available on YouTube. The tongue-in-cheek video features the beans used to create the coffees being exposed to “Seimei” before being packaged and serves as a solid preview of the song as well:
Koshi Inaba and Stevie Salas will reform their CHUBBY GROOVE band for a few limited engagements this fall amidst Koshi’s B’z commitments. First, they will appear at SUMMER SONIC 2017 on August 19th and August 20th, performing with the Foo Fighters, All Time Low, Man with a Mission, and Royal Blood on both dates in Osaka and Tokyo, respectively.
Days later, the band will team with visual kei artist Miyavi and rock outfit Made in Asia for a special event at Toyosu PIT in Tokyo. Made in Asia is a band whose roster includes Duran, who has appeared with Koshi on his solo tours in 2014 and 2016.
The return of INABA/SALAS has been teased by Salas on numerous occasions on social media, and if recent posts are any indication, there could be something more on the horizon as well:
“Tonight we announced 4 HUGE rock concerts coming in August INABA SALAS on stage with some bands like the Black Eye Peas and The Foo Fighters will rock in August in Japan AND…????? Stay tuned! I live for the big shows…100 thousand plus suites me fine.”
The fourth show mentioned by Salas has not been officially confirmed but, if occurring, would be expected to take place in August or September as well.
UPDATE: Stevie Salas has clarified his post and confirmed that another date is coming soon, and that it will be in a country outside of Japan:
3 concerts in Japan in August plus another country added sooooon??!!BUT I can’t say where just yet
B’z New Single
2. Still Alive
3. Sekai wa Anata no Iro ni Naru
Bonus DVD: 「Still Alive」 Music Video
Pre-order CD-Only Edition:
Pre-order CD+DVD Edition:
Pre-order “B’z x UCC” CD Package Edition:
NOTE: CDJapan offers release-day delivery, YesAsia offers free international shipping, and Amazon.jp typically offers lower price with later delivery