The chief researcher of Gaon Chart has analyzed the sudden chart success of solo artist Nilo’s track “Pass,” as the controversy continues.
Nilo has recently been swept up in accusations of digital chart manipulation after his song from October of 2017 suddenly rose to first place on Melon’s realtime chart on April 12, beating popular artists including EXO, Wanna One, and TWICE.
The song has also been charting high on many other major Korean charts, and remains at No. 1 on Melon’s realtime chart as of the time of this article’s publication. A major factor in the suspicions surrounding the track has been that it manages to hold on to the top spot on many charts even during the middle of the night, when charts are usually dominated by songs by idols with large fanbases who stream while other listeners are asleep.
On April 16, Gaon Chart’s chief researcher Kim Jin Woo released an opinion piece entitled “‘Nilo’ Situation Fact Check.” In the piece, he compared the success of “Pass” to songs with similar sudden rises on the chart, including EXID’s “Up & Down,” Han Dong Geun’s “Making a New Ending for this Story,” and Yoon Jong Shin‘s “Like It.”
One of the points that Kim Jin Woo wrote about was how songs that are doing well on digital charts are also usually high on the charts on karaoke machines.
“If a song begins to climb on the charts to a certain level, it is common that the rank of that song will also go up at karaoke,” he said. “The charts at karaoke can be seen as an indicator of the popularity of a song because people sing it themselves.” He pointed out that the songs by Yoon Jong Shin, Han Dong Geun, and EXID showed an increase in the rankings both on digital charts and karaoke charts at the same time.
A song by Nilo’s labelmate Jang Deok Cheol titled “Good Old Days” also recently had sudden success on the charts. However, Kim Jin Woo explained that the song was not surrounded by controversy because it was also rising on the charts at karaoke at the same time, proving that it was actually popular among the public.
In comparison, the success of Nilo’s “Pass” cannot be verified by looking at karaoke charts. Kim Jin Woo said that in the case of one karaoke machine company (referred to as ‘T’), the song hasn’t yet been entered into the system. Another company (referred to as ‘K’) only entered the song this month, and so it hasn’t yet appeared on the charts.
Kim Jin Woo wrote that it’s only natural that a song that’s not yet in the system wouldn’t have a ranking in the chart yet. However, he noted that this factor can be seen as evidence of just how quickly the song rose in the charts, since it wasn’t even noticed by the karaoke companies, who have to be very observant about which songs are current or predicted hits.
The researcher also talked about Nilo’s agency Limez Entertainment. The agency had claimed the song’s success was brought about by social media marketing and viral marketing.
Kim Jin Woo responded, “There is reasonable doubt among Internet users over whether online marketing through social media can dominate realtime music charts in the early morning when the number of users is the lowest. This is because there are people who see social media posts immediately after they’re uploaded, people who see them an hour later, and people who see them one or two days later, and so the effects are bound to be seen over a long period of time. It is logical to think that no matter how precisely a target is set up, it would be difficult to see its effects intensively at a specific time.”
Kim Jin Woo concluded in part by saying that Nilo’s “Pass” is predicted to reach No. 1 on the Gaon Chart in the fastest time for any song that has experienced success long after its release without a controversy about the song’s content. He noted that Bro’s “That Kind of Guy” previously rose from No. 38 to No. 1 in 2014, but this happened after the song had become the center of a controversy about its lyrics. Nilo’s “Pass” is currently on Gaon Chart’s weekly digital chart at No. 28 for the week of April 1 to 7.
Next, Kim Jin Woo noted, “There were no ups and downs or a fall to the chart’s floor followed by an increase in ranking, as shown in the previous songs that climbed that charts. In the case of Nilo’s song, it is difficult to find a temporary decline in the charts or a plateau followed by another rise, which are common with sudden climbs on the chart by digital songs.”
He added, “Lastly, it is difficult to find any direct events and triggers similar to what caused the previous songs to climb on the charts.” He pointed out that events could be named for the other songs that became sudden hits. EXID’s “Up & Down,” for example, became popular after a fan-taken video of Hani performing went viral. Han Dong Geun’s “Making a New Ending for this Story” became a hit following cover videos and his appearance on “Radio Star” and “Duet Song Festival.” Yoon Jong Shin’s “Like It” skyrocketed on the charts after a YouTube video of him performing went viral. Kim Jin Woo also named GFRIEND’s famous performance in which they continued to dance despite falling repeatedly on a wet stage as another example of a concrete event that led to a rise on the charts.
Meanwhile, Limez Entertainment has said, “Once again, we state that the accusations of digital chart manipulation are not true. We have never used any illegal methods.”