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Japanese pop sensation may change the face of entertainment industry

Japanese pop sensation may change the face of entertainment industry

For those unfamiliar with the Japanese pop music scene, this news will come as quite a shock. One of Japan’s top idols is a 16-year-old girl with light blue hair named Hatsune Miku. Now Miku is not an ordinary pop idol—she is a vocaloid (a computer program that sings). She, or it, began as a musical synthesis program for Windows that was first marketed by a company called Crypton Future Media in 2007. Miku got her voice from the samples obtained from the actress Saki Fujita, which were modified with a synthesizer.

What does this mean? Well, Miku’s success is bound to have an effect on the music scene eventually. She and her fellow vocaloids are already making waves in Japan. It’s only a matter of time before those waves will reach the United States. Not to mention with the advancements in technology, vocaloids may become sentient beings sometime in the near future. Eventually, Miku might be able to write her own songs and be more than just an image projected onto the stage. I understand this idea might seem disturbing to some (especially after watching Terminator), but I think that when the time comes for a sentient, Miku’s creators will prevent such a scenario.

Having a virtual pop idol might actually be an improvement to the entertainment industry. Since Miku is a not a human, she will not age and remain permanently young. Also she will be immune to the side effects of stardom that plague our current celebrities. Miku will never have alcohol or drug addiction problems. In the worst-case scenario, a computer virus might infect her. Who knows? Miku might even improve the image of pop idols. This can create a better pop culture with improved role models. Although it might seem weird to look up to a computer program, there are already Miku fans in Japan who copy her dress and hairstyle.

A recent post on pop culture website Bleeding Cool put it best “Hatsune Miku, when you think about it, is the perfect idol. She has no back story, no storyline, only an image.” Tara Knight, a professor at the University of California San Diego, called Miku as a positive agent “that encourages creativity and self-expression.” Miku allows her fans to be creative by allowing them to make their own songs and choreograph her moves. This can prepare teens and preteens to enter the music business and transform it with their own fresh ideas, which they were able to develop by experimenting with Miku.

However, is Miku really that popular? One only needs to look at Hatsune Miku’s meteoric rise to fame in Japan to prove my point. What began as a marketing ploy turned into one of the most popular pop idols in Japan. In fact, Miku is so popular that now she tours Japan performing concerts (of course during the concerts she is a projected image). At the concerts, Miku is backed up by a band of real people and her fellow vocaloids. Besides Miku there are “siblings” Kagamine Rin and Len (who can perform their own songs), and Megurine Luka. Despite only seeing the concert footage on YouTube, I can assure you that seeing Miku and the others perform is quite an experience.

Music videos of Miku and the other vocaloids, including ones that do not appear in concerts like Kasane Teto, are available on YouTube and some have garnered over one million views. Outside of the web Miku’s music has topped the Japanese Oricon chart in 2010. In addition, Anime News Network announced that “HeavenZ-ArmZ,” a song by Miku, would be featured in an upcoming video game called 7th Dragon 2020-II. And since we’re talking video games, I should mention that there is also a video game series entitled Hatsune Miku: Project Diva. Miku has also made appearances on products ranging from racecars to posters. There are even parodies of her in certain manga (Japanese comic books).

Either way, Hatsune Miku and the other vocaloids are here to stay. What impact they will have on the world of music is yet unclear. But one thing does remain certain: With this new type of pop star there will be less scandal and more sold out concerts.

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Japanese pop sensation may change the face of entertainment industry