The veteran boy band becomes first Japanese artists to achieve such a ranking.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry released their ranking of global top-selling albums for 2019. This list counts the number of full album sales both physical and digital from all over the world, and this year heavyweights like Taylor Swift and BTS were all taken down a notch when the five men of Arashi turned up.

After moving 3.3 million units in 2019 the flagship group of major Japanese talent agency Johnny & Associates edged out Swift for the top spot in the world. The top ten are as follows:

1) Arashi5×20 All the Best!! 1999-2019 (3.3 million units)
2) Taylor SwiftLover (3.2 million units)
3) BTSMap of the Soul: Persona (2.5 million units)
4) Lady GagaA Star is Born OST (1.2 million units)
5) Billie EilishWhen We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (1.2 million units)
6) QueenBohemian Rhapsody (1.2 million units)
7) Ed SheeranNo.6 Collaborations Project (1.1 million units)
8) Ariana GrandeThank U, Next (1 million)
9) RammsteinRammstein (900,000)
10) The BeatlesAbbey Road (800,000)

Swift needn’t feel bad, however, since IFPI also crowned her the top-selling artist of 2019. Billie Eilish got her due as well, winning best-selling single for the same year.

It might seem surprising that such a Japan-centric group did so well internationally, but the Japanese music market is the second largest in the world by a significant margin. Also, in 2019 Arashi had announced that they would go on hiatus in 2021, no doubt fueling people’s urge to go back and revisit their greatest hits from over the years.

Combine that with their remarkably loyal fan-base along with notable honors such as performing in front of the newly enthroned emperor of Japan and being designated as official reps of the 2020 Olympics, and you have a perfect perfect storm for sales.

▼ Arashi teamed up with musical midas Kenshi Yonezu for NHK’s 2020 Olympic song “Kaito”

Reaction for Japanese people online is a mixture of surprise, celebration, and indifference.

“Wow, the whole world loves Arashi.”
“In the world! What they said they’d do in their debut has become a reality!”
“When I first heard I thought they were just talking about Japan, but it was the whole world! Congratulations!”
“Other countries don’t buy CDs anymore. That’s why.”
“Take that, K-Pop!”
“It’s a meaningless ranking. Fitting that Japan is at the top of it.”
“Does the rest of the world really know who Arashi is?”

The lists certainly show changing trends in music consumption. The lineup of album sales, including artists of other periods like The Beatles and Queen, is quite different from that of the singles ranking, with the likes of contemporary musicians such as Lil’ Nas X and Shawn Mendes.

But it’s an impressive accomplishment nonetheless, and if Arashi do through with their hiatus next year, at least they can say that they went out on the highest note in the world.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Hachima Kiko
Top image: SoraNews24
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