I have a deep love of Japan and its culture. I can clearly remember being in the second grade and a teacher showed us a slide show of a vacation she took there over the summer, and I was instantly hooked. I knew I had to go there at least once, and although it took me 21 years to get there the first time, I have been multiple times since. It’s a great country full of incredible nice people, a rich history, great food … and just a teeny tiny touch of insanity.
It’s become popular over the years to point at the Japanese and go, “Oh look how odd they are!” due to their game shows, Anime and so on. Most of the time I defend them, but even for me there are times where I just have to throw my hands up and go, “I got nuthin’.”
Case in point is the popularity of virtual idol Hatsune Miku. First off you have to understand the Japanese are obsessed with “idol singers”. These are typically teenage girls who sing infuriatingly catchy tunes, do synchronized dances and push the limits of how they dress to being almost trashy, but not quite. They are so entrenched in Japanese culture now that they actually have “idol schools” where girls not only get your standard education, but they also get trained to be idol singers. Just look up groups such as Morning Musume or AKB48 to get an idea of what they’re like.
At some point the Japanese also decided to have “virtual idols” which, as the name would imply, are not real. The first one I can remember hearing about was Kyoko Date back in 1996, and due to technology of the time, she was merely a voice on some CDs and some computer generated pictures. While there have been a few others, the next big one was Hatsune Miku who first appeared in a music video game in 2007, and she has now gone on to have top selling albums, action figures and a slew of other merchandise release about her.
And, oh yeah, she’s been selling out concerts around the country.
As you can see in the video above (more here) she is obviously being projected as a hologram, but that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone in the audience.
There has been a lot written about how odd this whole scenario is, and how could anyone pay to go see this, but I would also remind you that the Gorrilaz have done similar events, and they are also projected as holograms.
Is this the future of music? I highly, highly doubt it, but it does make you wonder if someday we could see famous past musicians come back. Imagine Queen wanted to do a farewell show and used a holographic Freddie Mercury to stand in to “sing” the vocal tracks … okay, lets not imagine that.
What say you? Would you ever go see a virtual performer/band in concert?