Billboard Japan and TikTok kicked off the April edition of Next Fire, highlighting singer-songwriter Ohashi Chippoke as this month’s featured artist.
Next Fire introduces some of the hottest rising J-pop acts of the moment, based on Billboard Japan’s Heatseekers Songs chart. The collaborative project on TikTok Live streams studio concerts and pre-recorded interviews by the featured artist of the month to present an in-depth look at their career and artistry.
Ohashi is a solo artist whose bouncy pop song “Jouryoku” (“Evergreen”) released last year held the top spot on the Heatseekers tally for six consecutive weeks. The 23-year-old performed a live showcase set on Apr. 8, including this breakout hit and an upcoming new track called “Iya demone” due Apr. 29.
Ohashi Chippoke appeared in the livestream studio and began playing one chord on his electric guitar as the virtual concert began. Soon, the drummer gave the cue and the set kicked off on an upbeat note with Ohashi’s “I Love You niwa I Love You,” building up a welcoming, danceable vibe with the warm pop song. After murmuring “Thank you,” the artist went on to delicately perform “Shiawase ni tsuite” (“About Happiness”), a track featuring somewhat pessimistic lyrics set to a characteristically digital soundscape.
Ohashi then switched to an acoustic guitar and briefly addressed viewers. “I’ve never done an online show in such a fancy studio before. It feels like we’ll have lots of fun,” he said. “I know many of you are seeing me perform live for the first time today, so I hope we can get some of you to take interest in me after tonight.” The band then launched into “By Your Side,” a synth-heavy number that makes listeners want to close their eyes and immerse themselves in the sound.
The next song was “Jouryoku,” currently buzzing on TikTok. As expected, this song was particularly well known by viewers and the comment section grew more and more heated during the performance. Ohashi and his band members delivered a warm live rendition of the laid-back bop and appeared to thoroughly enjoy playing music as they jammed together onstage.
After introducing the band, Ohashi premiered “Iya demone,” his new song due later this month. Described as a “sad but danceable” tune, the number features clever wordplay and use of a dialect in its lyrics. The singer announced that the song would be his first digital single to be released from his new label Universal Music.
The last song of the evening was “Chinmoku no shonen” (“The Silent Boy”). Many viewers appeared to be struck by the lyrics that are heartbreaking yet full of warmth, and posted positive reactions in the comment section. The band’s raw take on the track was emphasized further as the song neared its end, and left a lingering feeling after the show ended.
The archived version of the livestream and a pre-recorded interview by the young new artist will be made available starting Apr. 15, from 8:00 p.m. Japan time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (with some exceptions) on Billboard Japan’s TikTok channel.