Music

Creepy Nuts’ ‘Bling-Bang-Bang-Born’ Is in the Global Spotlight: Here’s Why

Creepy Nuts’ new song “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” is blasting its way up the charts — not only in Japan, but on a global scale.

Creepy Nuts is a hip-hop unit consisting of R-shitei (R-rated), the first MC in J-rap history to win the country’s top MC battle competition UMB Grand Championship three times consecutively, and DJ Matsunaga, who won the world’s largest DJ competition DMC World DJ Championships in 2019 and performed at the closing ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. While they both have such impressive titles under their belts, both members of Creepy Nuts are known in their home country for their laid-back personalities and talk skills, making them popular staples in TV variety shows. They have also been regular hosts on the historic All Night Nippon radio program for five years, and many people probably recognize them as radio stars as well.

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Music-wise, their mini-album To Us Former Prodigies, released August 2020, reached No. 2 on the Billboard Japan Hot Albums chart. Also, their track “Nobishiro” from the album Case became their first song to surpass 100 million streams (as of Dec. 1, 2022), and “Daten” — the opener for the anime Yofukashi no uta, which is based on the duo’s song of the same title — released in 2022, reached No. 35 on the Japan Hot 100, the highest position for them at the time. On their tour promoting the album Ensemble Play that includes this track, they sold out the Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo, the largest capacity venue in their career up to that point.

Then, “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” shot to No. 5 on the Japan Hot 100 on the chart dated Jan. 24, the week after it debuted No. 27, which was already higher than the duo’s record for “Daten.” The following week, “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” became Creepy Nuts’ first-ever No. 1 hit.

This track is actually gaining more traction outside of Japan. Featured as the opener for the anime series MASHLE Season 2, the comical dance by the protagonist Mash set to the refrain of the song’s title attracted attention on TikTok. The song was downloaded and streamed on a global scale before it reached Japanese audiences. As a result, “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” hit No. 8 on the Global Japan Songs Excl. Japan chart (Jan. 18), which ranks “songs from Japan” being listened to in more than 200 countries and regions around the world outside of the country. In its second week on the tally, the viral hit hopped over the top seven songs from the week before to take the top spot. Total points and streams earned by “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” that week broke the chart’s all-time high, and the following week it quickly rewrote its own record to hold at No. 1 for the second week in a row (Feb. 1). The track is still at No. 1 for the fifth week on the chart dated Feb. 22.

Looking closer at the rankings for each country calculated from the Global Japan Songs Excl. Japan chart’s data, we can see that “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” has accomplished an unprecedented feat, dominating seven of the nine countries currently included in the tally: Thailand, Singapore, France, the U.K., South Africa, the U.S. and Brazil. In terms of points gained, the song’s popularity in the U.S. is exceptionally high, followed by France.

The duo’s breakthrough didn’t stop there. The following week, “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” debuted at No. 77 on Billboard’s Global 200 chart (Jan. 27) that ranks streaming and downloads on major digital platforms in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. It surpassed even YOASOBI’s “Idol” and King Gnu’s “SPECIALZ” — two recent J-pop hits with an established global following — to become the highest-ranking song on that week’s list by Japanese artists. It also bowed at No. 48 on the Global Excl. US tally that week. “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” continued to ascend, and is currently at No. 12 on the former and No. 2 on the latter (Feb. 24) — again the highest position for Japanese artists on those weeks, indicating that the growing support in the Japanese market played a significant role in the breakthrough on both global charts.

Why did “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” suddenly attract so much attention on a global scale? The reason is simple: the synergistic effect of TikTok, dance, and animation. Encouraging users to participate in TikTok dance challenges is now a promotional standard, but that alone isn’t enough. Adding the element of a tie-in with an anime series, especially one being distributed worldwide on Netflix and other global platforms, to the synergy brings a song to the forefront of public attention.

Of the top 20 songs on the Global Japan Songs Excl. Japan chart, about half are anime tie-ins most weeks, indicating that being attached to a major anime title is enough to draw worldwide attention to new J-pop songs. Anime songs are particularly popular in France; about 14 songs out of the top 20 and over 65% of the total data collected are tracks linked to anime titles. Other such anime tie-ins that have made the Global Japan Songs Excl. Japan top 3 include YOASOBI’s “Idol” (Oshi no Ko opener), Tatsuya Kitani’s “Where Our Blue Is” (Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 opener), and King Gnu’s “SPECIALZ” (Jujutsu Kaisen Shibuya Incident story arc opener), all of which became hits in Japan and began climbing the charts worldwide at about the same time, then suddenly spread explosively on a global scale. This trend of simultaneous sharing is likely to become more prominent in the future, and not only with anime tie-ins.

But the reason “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” became such an breakout hit can be attributed to the fact that in addition to its link to a popular anime title, it became a TikTok favorite where non-anime fans could share the song, combined with the element of dance, which has strong distribution potential. Plus, the original manga that the anime was based on was serialized in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, released worldwide in multiple languages via the official MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA app, so the already established global fan base for the original manga gave “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” an advantage.

The track also adopts the Jersey club sound, a global trend originating in the U.S. used in music by other recent breakout acts such as NewJeans (“Super Shy” etc.) and LE SSERAFIM (“Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s wife”), and this is probably another reason why it caught the attention of listeners around the world, centering around the U.S.

The fact that the part used for the TikTok dance challenge was the refrain of the simple and catchy title may also have contributed to the song’s widespread popularity. The aforementioned NewJeans’ “Super Shy” and LE SSERAFIM’s “Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s wife” were also popular dance challenges on TikTok, and the viral snippets featured short rhymes in the lyrics or refrains of the same word, not limited to the songs’ hooks. While equipped with this type of TikTok-friendly refrain, the lyrics of “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” as a whole overlap sympathy with the position of MASHLE’s main character Mash with the rapper’s own braggadocio in a clever way. It’s brilliant as an anime theme song and a hip-hop single, a high-quality number that can satisfy both fans of the original work and fans of hip-hop.

After making an unexpected, yet understandable impact on a global scale with their first release of 2024, Creepy Nuts followed up with another Jersey club-infused track called “Nidone” (“Back to Sleep”) on Jan. 27, which is being featured as the theme song for the time-traveling drama series Futekisetsu nimo hodo ga aru! (which loosely translates to “That’s so Inappropriate”). As they begin to expand their reach beyond their home country, we can look forward to more “Nobishiro” (“Room for Growth”) from the duo.

This article by Maiko Murata first appeared on Billboard Japan

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