Morning Musume's 33rd single Kanashimi Twilight, Yoshizawa Hitomi's last single with Momusu debuts at #2 on Oricon. Kinki Kids takes #1 with "Brand New Song". A remarkable achievement indeed.
With this achievement, Kinki Kids still hold the World Guinness Record of achieving #1 on the charts for ALL singles they have ever released. When I first heard that Kinki Kids would be on the charts to challenge the top spot, I knew that Momusu's chances would be slim.
First, some facts. The current top 5 chart positions are as noted in the image:
#1 Kinki Kids - "Brand New Song"
#2 Morning Musume - "Kanashimi Twilight"
#3 Orange Range - "Ika Summer"
#4 WaT (Wentz Eiji, Koike Teppei) - "Awaking Emotion 8/5/my brand new way"
#5 BoA - "Sweet Impact"
To be honest, I am at some point looking forward to see how Kanashimi would fare in the longest hit chart in Japan. Number 2 is still good, but... why am I not entirely happy? I find myself in swinging between balance of the truth and lies.
Ikimasshoi notes that the actual sales for Morning Musume are actually higher than what was stated in the Oricon website. And that is exactly what I am going discuss here...
Oricon - of lawsuits and reliability...
I have recently discovered that on December last year, Oricon had filed a civil suit against a well-known freelance music critic Ugaya Hiro for libel and defamation, and is demanding compensation for the damages he has caused.
Apparently, the magazine Cyzo had called up Ugaya for a short interview for an article which they are about to publish. The article speaks about how Oricon had "fixed" the sales numbers for certain artistes, using questionable statistical methods for their ranking chart, and how it favoured talents from Johnny's & Associates company(e.g. SMAP, KATTUN, V6). End of the day, the publisher Cyzo wasn't the one being served the papers - it was the freelancer Ugaya. The president of Oricon Wataru Koike said that they will drop the charges if Ugaya apologizes and admits that his statements are incorrect.
This case greatly reflects on today's ranking position, because, for those who didn't know - Kinki Kids is from Johnny's.
Here's a snippet of what quoted from the article entitled "The Lies Behind the Hits; Does Johnny's Get Super-VIP treatment?!; The Honeymoon Between the Talent Agency and Oricon":
In Japan, Oricon was the only hit chart to exist for a long time, so their statistical accuracy has been excessively valued. First of all, Oricon puts reservation copies in its count. There is a high probability that there are dummy reservations in there - that somebody reserved a copy and then later canceled the reservation. If the words "Oricon Debut #1" get used, you can later use that as promotion. I have also heard from multiple record company employees that "you can manipulate the Oricon numbers to a certain degree." Oricon is a mysterious organization to start with. They assert that they use "Oricon's unique statistical methodology" but almost never clarify those methods. In a normal statistical survey, you detail the methods publicly, so it's natural that you emphasize that there is no room to insert doubts about the [survey's] credibility. If you don't do that, it's like as I am saying, the statistical reliability is low.
Not only that, apparently Oricon made up the numbers at will!. Neomarxisme has the translation for that interview.
The part of the interview that concerns me:
When you were editing Geinou Shijou Chousa, did you go out personally to check exactly how many copies of records were selling at the stores?
No, no. For those rankings, I just made up the numbers at will.
The "A rank" meant it sold about 150 copies in a week. "B" was 130. C was 100. I just assigned the ABC ranking as I liked!
At that time, it's not like stores were really checking their inventories.
It was like...
"Did you have the data?"
"Sorry, Mr. Watanabe. We've been busy and haven't done it yet."
"Well, shoot. Today's the deadline, so please do it."
"Just please make up appropriate numbers, Mr. Watanabe."
"We made this record the #1 seller at that store" - "Oh, that! That's selling well at our place too. Please make it #1."
From the looks of it, Oricon is perhaps trying to protect its public image, and is concerned that this article could defame its reputation. However, after further searching on the net, I find that lots of people are already aware of Oricon's inaccuracy and questionable ranking methods for a long time.
Then why the lawsuit? Why make a standpoint for an "open secret" that is well known for a long time?
What about having the wrong party sued for the wrong reasons? Why is there a price to pay for freedom of speech? A method of shutting up the negative critics in a legal way? Taking the blame for another's fault?
.... Most importantly, is it true that the Johnny's are favoured by Oricon?
Questions, questions, questions...
A similar case have been going on in my country on a national level, which is why I can relate to this Oricon vs Ugaya case. Seems like wherever we go in the cyberspace, we still cannot run away from situations like this.
Sorry I have mix a moment of celebration with this piece. Just that I felt my joy over Momusu's achievement have been tainted over these news, and I don't know if I should continue to believe what was on ranking charts anymore.
Oricon Music Charts Sues Freelancer Over Quoted Comment in Article
Oricon vs. Ugaya Update: "I just made up the numbers at will."
Oricon case gives insights into Japan's democracy
The Japan Times Online
ORICON SUES OVER INTERVIEWEE'S COMMENT
Libel suit attacks free speech: defendant
Reporters Without Borders
Music chart company urged to drop lawsuit against freelance journalist who questioned its practices
Ugaya Hiro's side of the story
Letter of apppeal to public from Ugaya Hiro
Oricon's side of the story
Summary description of the case against the journalist Mr. Ugaya