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On the first day of 2022, The First Take, a YouTube channel that gets Japanese musicians to perform their hits in one go, posted a video of J-pop act SixTones performing their track, “Imitation Rain.” It’s an elegant, stripped-down orchestral version of the rock ballad that marked the group’s debut on Jan. 22, 2020.

Jan. 22, 2020 … what’s significant about that date? Ah, yes, six days earlier, Japan saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19. As we now know, a pandemic can really put a spanner in the works of your group’s national debut — even when you have a powerhouse like Johnny & Associates backing you.

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