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Akb48 Becomes Best-Selling Singles Group in Japanese Entertainment History

Updated on July 13, 2018

AKB48 Logo

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What is the significance of this milestone by AKB48?

Those of you that enjoyed the article about former AKB48 member Megumi Ohori will definitely find this next story fascinating. Popular pop music group AKB48 has now become the best-selling singles group in Japan’s history! They did this on December 9, 2015. That was the day that the single Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby was released. The single ended up selling 813,044 copies in its first day of release. It took the #1 spot for that day. As of December 2015, the number of singles sold by AKB48 stands at 36,158,000. B’Z held this record with 35,809,000 copies sold before AKB48 surpassed them. AKB48 has released 42 singles in 9 years while B’Z has released 52 singles in 27 years. Note: as of October 2017, AKB48 has now been active for twelve years!

A Group Photo of Girl Group AKB48

Here are some of the AKB48 members. The first row includes Sayaka Yamamoto of NMB48 (first one on the left) who is one of my favorite singers of all time.
Here are some of the AKB48 members. The first row includes Sayaka Yamamoto of NMB48 (first one on the left) who is one of my favorite singers of all time. | Source

A brief chronology of AKB48's singles releases up to Labrador Retriever

AKB48’s first major single was Sakura no Hanabiratachi in February 2006. At the time, Atsuko Maeda and Minami Takahashi were the group’s two main original members. The group has also had Japanese idols that are not as popular but still beautiful such as Mai Oshima. Other high selling singles in AKB48 history include Sayonara Crawl and Labrador Retriever. Other than Tomomi Itano and Yuko Oshima having been members for that single Mariya Nagao has also been a member for that single. Labrador Retriever also was a significant point in AKB48’s history because for that single many of these AKB48 girls took a trip to Hawaii to film the video for that song. One of the AKB48 members that went to Hawaii was the very cute Mako Kojima. It was the follow-up single to Mae Shika Mukanee, the last single to feature Yuko Oshima as a center of AKB48.

Why is AKB48's producer Yasushi Akimoto so important to the group and to the entertainment industry?

Yasushi Akimoto, the producer and “mastermind” behind AKB48 also has a reason to be very excited. With the release of Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby, he has become the first lyricist in Japanese history to reach the 100 million singles sold mark! Akimoto made his debut as a songwriter back in 1981. He has now reached 100,226,000 singles sold for the artists that he has written the lyrics for. Yu Aku is now in second place with 68,340,000 singles sold followed by Takashi Matsumoto, Komuro Tetsuya, and TSUNKU (producer of Morning Musume). Akimoto has also spent the most number of weeks at #1 on the singles chart as a songwriter with 129. He leads Koshi Inaba (54) and Takashi Matsumoto (47). The first single that Akimoto wrote the lyrics for is Momoko Kikuchi’s 1985 single “Sotsugyou GRADUATION.” His most recent lyrical contribution is HKT48’s Shekarashika! Other than AKB48, Akimoto’s bestselling singles acts are SKE48 (7,840,000), Nogizaka46 (5,968,000), NMB48 (5,614,000), and Tunnels (5,476,000).

Minami Takahashi on stage in 2015

A Perspective on this record breaking milestone for AKB48

AKB48 still has a long way to go to become the bestselling Japanese artist ever. B’Z holds that record with over 80 million records sold. AKB48’s total is still less than half that number. But with the way that AKB48 keeps on setting records for their singles sold, I would say they have a great chance to become Japan’s highest selling musical group ever. AKB48 also ended up selling 962,000 copies of its album Tsugi no Ashiato in the first week of the album’s release. Tsugi no Ashiato would go on to sell over a million copies and become a huge commercial success. They have expanded with the creation of groups such as SNH48 and JKT48 so there is no reason for me to think that they wouldn’t become Japan’s best musical artist ever in terms of sales. Their songs are upbeat, fast, and exciting! Congratulations to the awesome girl group from Akihabara! Note: AKB48 released a new album called Thumbnail on January 25, 2017.

AKB48's first ever major single Sakura no Hanabiratachi

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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