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Who are the Japanese synth duo that topped Google’s 2023 list of top trending song searches? | CNN

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CNN
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It was the year that saw Taylor Swift and Beyoncé launch world stomping tours, Olivia Rodrigo spill her “GUTS” and Jason Aldean ride a wave of culture war controversy in the country genre.

But according to Google’s annual Year in Search roundup it was a Japanese synth duo that really piqued global music lovers’ curiosity in 2023.

In an era where K-pop has been at the vanguard of Asia’s musical exports for years, Yoasobi – which combines catchy synth tracks with electric live shows and anime lore – is leading a renaissance for J-pop.

Their track “Idol (アイドル)” featured in one of the year’s biggest anime series, “Oshi no ko,” and sparked a dance trend on Japanese TikTok, powering it to the top of Google’s annual list in the global song category.

The songs are not necessarily the “most searched” on Google. But the list identifies the search inquiries that saw high traffic spikes over a sustained period relative to the previous year and therefore offers a window into which topics became zeitgeists.

It is the second year in a row an artist from Asia has topped the global list after Indonesian singer Keisya Levronka headed the 2022 song category.

Formed during the coronavirus pandemic as a studio project and fronted by vocalist Ikura and producer Ayase, Yoasobi is known for songs inspired by short stories.

Their debut single, “Yoru ni Kakeru”, is based on an original short story by Mayo Hoshino, titled “Thanatos no yuuwaku” (Temptation of Thanatos), about a young man who falls in love with a woman who repeatedly attempts suicide.

“Yoru ni Kakeru” topped Billboard Japan’s Hot 100 list for six non-consecutive weeks and became the first song to receive a diamond streaming certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan, acknowledging that the song had been streamed at least 500 million times.

Their live shows, backed by a band, are notorious for their riotous use of lasers and dizzying digital projections.

Two other acts from Asia made Google’s top 10 list in the global song category.

Yoasobi was joined by K-pop girl group Fifty-Fifty, whose bubblegum Korean-English language debut “Cupid” was the fifth most trending searched song.

The song rose to global prominence in part because of its “Twin” version, recorded entirely in English. Fifty-Fifty, which launched only last year, became the fastest K-pop group to break into the US Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Cupid.”

Former BTS singer Jung Kook’s single “Seven,” featuring US rapper Latto, rounded out the Asian representation on the list at No. 10.

Released after the massively popular Korean boy band announced they’d be focusing on individual projects, “Seven” debuted at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and Global 200, becoming the fastest song to hit 1 billion streams on Spotify.

There was also a version with more explicitly sexual lyrics, something rare in the traditionally more conservative world of K-pop, which added to the track’s shock factor and internet virality.

Behind Yoasobi’s “Idol” in the No. 2 spot globally was the controversial track “Try That in a Small Town” by Jason Aldean, and “BZRP Music Sessions #53,” Shakira’s viral diss track aimed at her ex Gerard Piqué.

Other songs leading the trending search enquiries in 2023 include “Rich Men North of Richmond” at No. 8. Oliver Anthony’s lament for the working class and rage against Washington’s political elite became the first by an artist with no chart history to reach No. 1 on Billboard.

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