Published Feb 14, 2019Late last week, the internet was left in a ball of confusion when out of nowhere Dinosaur Jr. scored a Billboard chart hit with a 25-year-old song. Now some light is finally being properly shed on why Dinosaur Jr. are once again big in Japan.
As previously reported, Dinosaur Jr. scored the No. 18 spot on Billboard's Japan Hot 100 chart — a place typically dominated by J-pop and girl groups — with the band's song "Over Your Shoulder" from their 1994 album Without a Sound. Now Gizmodo has confirmed the real culprit for the sudden chart success — the YouTube algorithm.
While YouTube was the suspected cause of the sudden chart success when the news broke last week, Gizmodo has explained that "Over Your Shoulder" was frequently used as a musical cue during "Gachinko Fight Club" on Gachinko!, a once popular Japanese TV show that went off air in 2003.
For reasons unknown, YouTube's recommendation algorithm began heavily highlighting old — and pirated — "Fight Club" clips to users on its sidebar and autoplay function, and since plays of these sorts of clips (official or not) figure into the Billboard chart numbers, the Dino Jr. song soon skyrocketed.
Gizmodo writes: "'Anyway everybody's YouTube recommendation Gachinko Fight Club,'" reads a typical tweet from February 2. Many more tweeted about bingeing on pirated uploads of the show on YouTube, often through night."
This also isn't the first time something like this has happened. In 2017, a bizarre YouTube clip of Post Malone singing the chorus of "rockstar" helped the song top the chart. Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" also recently hit the Hot 100 in 2018 due to a viral joke tweet using the 1977 song.
In a statement to Gizmodo, Billboard Japan addressed the Dinosaur Jr. chart mystery, saying plays came from YouTube users binge-watching "a recurring segment from an old terrestrial TV variety program."
The full statement reads:
The Japan Hot 100 incorporates YouTube views within Japan of audio and video assigned with an ISRC code. This includes user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio.
We believe a recurring segment from an old terrestrial TV variety program — which prominently featured Dinosaur Jr.'s "Over Your Shoulder" as well as the non-Japanese tracks that mysteriously appeared on the Japan Hot 100 dated Feb. 11 [tracking date: Jan. 28 to Feb. 3] — went viral due to renewed interest, resulting in users to binge watch YouTube videos of the segment using these songs, racking up significant views to impact the chart.
Some of these user generated clips were then deleted, however new videos keep being re-uploaded which may result in these songs to appear again on this week's Japan Hot 100, to be posted on Feb. 13.
So consider the great alt-rock mystery of 2019 solved.