The Mystery Why Dinosaur Jr.'s 25-Year-Old Song Is Topping The Charts In Japan

Image: Dinosaur Jr., Facebook

“Over Your Shoulder” might be a good tune, but there seems to be more explaining why the 25-year-old song is charting in Japan, surpassing even Ariana Grande.

The Dinosaur Jr. track hit 18 on Billboard Japan’s Hot 100 chart and number one on the country’s overseas chart.

“Over Your Shoulder” racked up eight million views on YouTube, but the song apparently never got an official YouTube release. There does not appear to be any clips of the song on YouTube with a million views, let alone eight.

The song is not being used in any commercials, television shows or movies in Japan. This is what explains sudden interest in old tunes, such as the country’s current Queen interest.

Yet, the song just surpassed Ariana Grande’s latest single. What caused this sudden spike?

According to Japanese website Face It, one theory is that the February 6th episode of variety show Tokio Cocktail is responsible. The hosts of that show, boy band Tokio, previously had a program called Gachinko, which ran from 1999 to 2003. One part of the show as a reality segment called “Fight Club” in which tough kids took up boxing to turn their lives around.

Dinosaur Jr.’s “Over Your Shoulder” was one of the numerous tracks licensed for the show. Last week, a handful of Gachinko clips popped up on YouTube with registered copyrights (see below).

Screenshot: YouTube

The theory is that the recent appearance of boxing champ Naoya Inoue on Tokio Cocktail evoked memories of Tokio’s old boxing program, leading people to watch bootlegged YouTube clips and track down the songs.

Screenshot: Face It,Screenshot: Billboard

As Face It notes, it wasn’t just “Over Your Shoulder” that unexpectedly racked up views, but other tracks like U2's “One,” which suddenly came in at number 78 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and the song had the fifth most YouTube music views).

Matchbox Twenty’s “If You’re Gone” was 84 on the Hot 100 and sixth on YouTube music views, while Aztec Camera’s “The Belle of the Ball” came in at 14th on the YouTube music view ranking and charted in the top 300.

Screenshot: YouTube

These songs, it seems, also appeared in Gachinko. Here is “The Belle of the Ball” in a Gachinko playlist.

Screenshot: YouTube

However, this doesn’t exactly explain the sudden rise of these songs because the most recent Billboard chart was until February 3, days before the Tokio Cocktail boxing episode. Face It thinks a preview of the episode, which aired late last month could explain the sudden spike in Gachinko music like this Dinosaur Jr. tune. But to the tune of eight million? In a week?

Moreover, the Dinosaur Jr. song wasn’t apparently played during the recent episode, writer Patrick Macias points out. Hrm...

Even Billboard Japan isn’t quite sure. According to, “The likely answer is that some unknown user uploaded a video or videos using these songs, which were then viewed enough times for the songs to make significant inroads into the ranking.”

Or this could be bots.

Whatever the reason, can’t wait until Pavement and Guided by Voices also rule the Japanese charts!


    Always loved Without A Sound. I know it's not considered their best record, but it was my introduction to the band and it's always had a special place in my heart for that reason.

    That said, why it had to be Over Your Shoulder and not I Don't Think So will never be clear to me.

    This is great. I think the last Dinosaur Jr. song I remember charting was "Feel the Pain" (with the awesome inner-city golfing film clip) when I was in highschool from the same album.
    Also, J. Mascis released a new solo album late last year I just remembered I need to check out.

      Incidentally, that video was directed by the great Spike Jonze.

    OMFG! Brian Ashcraft is a Pavement fan?!?! Dude!
    I'm a Pavement super fan! Met Stephen Malkmus a bunch of times because I was annoying in my 20's and used to wander backstage after shows. He even did a couple of shout out songs for me during his last three tours (but always gets the song I asked for wrong).
    He has another solo album out this year, that is strangely electronica. That's TWO Malkmus albums in as many years! What a time to be alive.

      I've found Malkmus' solo stuff way more interesting than Pavement (not that I don't like Pavement-- Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is a classic record). He's incredibly creative as a solo artist.

      Also I strongly appreciate his obsession with R.E.M.'s second album.

        Ah, yes: The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence. Pavement, alongside Ween, have these flow-of-consciousness B-sides that have some magic album tracks will never possess. I find that listening to Pavement and Malkmus are different things post that first album. Where Pavement had songs that were generally about mostly nothing (sometimes they'd work themselves to a point in the process), all the solo stuff has either a narrative or story behind.
        Last year's Sparkle Hard was a very of the moment album that covered everything from auto tunes to police brutality. It took time for me to dig that aspect of it at first.

    The direct connection of how unathorised music use on youtube lead to an immediate spike in music sales...who would of thought that its free promotion? Shame DMCA will still be a robot hell despite this evidence

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