Last week, leaks originating on various Japanese message boards indicated B’z may soon be involved in a promotion with convenience store chain 7-Eleven in Japan. Those that have visited Japan have seen how ubiquitous the brand is in the country—in fact, there are more 7-Eleven stores in Japan than anywhere else, responsible for housing over 30% of their locations. Exact details of the promotion are yet to be confirmed, with one unverified post suggesting it could amount to a special live concert for select winners.
Today, apparent confirmation of some cross promotion came with the uncovering of a form on the 7-Eleven Japan website. For every 700 yen spent, there is a chance to receive a lottery ticket for at least a B’z-themed towel and possibly other unannounced prizes. There should be more news announced later this week.
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.
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:
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
Nearly two full years since the close of their last tour, B’z will soon embark on the as-yet untitled B’z LIVE-GYM 2017-2018! The tour will serve to promote the band’s upcoming twentieth studio album which is expected to be announced and released in late fall or early winter. The title for the 18-stop tour will likewise be announced alongside the album, and may come around August when the band are playing their currently scheduled music festival showings.
This is the third time the band have staged a cross-year tour, following LIVE-GYM ’90~’91 “RISKY” and LIVE-GYM ’91~’92 “IN THE LIFE”. It is also not unlikely the band will revive “Itsuka no Merry Christmas” for the first time since LIVE-GYM 2011 -C’mon- for the December showings.
The dates announced today are as follows:
Dec. 14/16/17 — Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Dec. 23/24 — Fukuoka Yahoo! JAPAN Dome
Dec. 30/31 — Nagoya Dome
Jan. 7/8 — Tokyo Dome
Jan. 13/14 — Saitama Super Arena (※Performed as a Dome showing)
Jan. 20/21 — Sun Dome Fukui
Jan. 27/28 — Sekisui Heim Super Arena
Feb. 1/3/4 — Kyocera Dome Osaka
The duration of LIVE-GYM 2017-2018 may not appear in line with comparatively massive undertakings like LIVE-GYM Pleasure 2013 -ENDLESS SUMMER- and LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT- that toured smaller and larger venues alike. While there will certainly be a LIVE-GYM Pleasure 2018 that picks up where this leaves off next year, it’s worth noting that 2002’s “GREEN ~GO★FIGHT★WIN~” also spanned 18 shows, LIVE-GYM 2003 “BIG MACHINE” was just 12, “MONSTER’S GARAGE” in 2006 was only 17, and “Ain’t No Magic” from 2010 was played over 19 dates.