Virtual Singers VS Real Singers – The dilemma of Japanese Singers
My History of Japanese Music
Over the years, we had witnessed major singers like Ayumi Hamasaki, Koda Kumi and Utada Hikaru, reigning over the Japanese music industry. Since their debut in the late 90s, their singles had sold over millions and millions of copies. In my opinion, Japanese music had a different atmosphere from others, I especially like their slow tempo songs, since they feel really calm and soothing, like one of Utada Hikaru’s hit song, titled “First Love.” When I was a kid, I loved it and of cause I’m still loving it now.
When I first watch some anime, needless to say, I was exposed to anime music as well. The openings and endings in particular grasp my interests, and then, I went and downloaded my first ever OP I really liked in my anime music collections, the Shaman King OP, “Over soul” by Megumi Hayashibara. Time went on and through anime, I was able to found out about more epic Japanese musicians like Aqua Timez, Uverworld, Yui and so on. More recently, I’m addicted to KOTOKO and Mami Kawada.
Virtual Anime Bands – Seiyuu/Singer
Fast forward to the present, “virtual bands” began appearing in the market, with some examples being K-ON’s Hokago Tea Time, Angel Beats’s Girls Dead Monster and Idolm@ster. The anime industry, at this point, had begun to realize the power of music. As these “virtual singers” are actually performed by seiyuu themselves, depending on who we are talking about, the quality of their vocals would be mostly a hit and miss.
From my perspective, I had mixed feelings regarding this. Seiyuu, in general is inferior at singing, especially if compared to real genuine singers who had trained themselves at a young and tender age. Unless their skills for singing are close to that of Nana Mizuki’s level, they will just be another group of “tone-machine” singers, only singing the right notes mechanically without any emotions or techniques. Not all are bad though, there are still some equally good seiyuu-singers. One of them is in K-ON itself, Yoko Hikasa (Mio) and is the only real good singer from the show in my opinion. Because she was doing a fair share of vocals, I was quite addicted with K-ON’s music at the early stages, but as Aki Toyosaki (Yui) begun singing more later on, the music in K-ON.. well gets just a little teensy weensy bad.
In the end though, unless the singer is very exceptional like Nana Mizuki, most of these music doesn’t sound refreshing at all. Though there’s no denying it’s large fanbase as a music idol themed anime, AKB0048, which looks like it’s going to another Idol@master, was already announced for release this Spring. Besides, what can I say when K-ON had albums debuted at No.1 in the Oricon chart?
The Boom of Vocaloids
After a while, another a virtual singer begun sweeping through the music industry, completely owning all the other real Japanese singers in the chart, even the likes of Shota Shimizu and Kana Nishino couldn’t compete against this virtual enigma, one we call obviously know by the name of “Hatsune Miku,” a vocaloid character.
What are vocaloids though? They are voice synthesizing programs. A basic rundown of how it works is that first, the lyrics and melodies are inputted. Then, the “character” will sing your composition and wa-la. There are currently three generations of vocaloids: Vocaloids 1, Vocaloids 2 and Vocaloids 3, each generations containing their respective characters. The more famous vocaloids include Hatsune Miku, Megurine Luka and Kagamine Rin/Len.
At this point, virtual musicians are all the rage, especially Miku and her vocaloid friends. Their singles topped the charts consecutively and they even had virtual 3D concerts, through the use of 3D projectors to project a virtual character on the stage, creating life for said virtual characters.
Future of Japanese Artists
In my opinion, I think the future of Japanese artists look bleak. They are still barely okay at the moment but perhaps give a few more years, the Japanese music industry will be overrun by virtual singers all around. With K-ON and Vocaloids snatching all the fame, real singers had lesser chance to reach the top as even the more talented ones are overlooked at this point.
While I like K-ON and Vocaloids, I will much prefer to let real singers had some fighting chance as well, though due to the harsh standards of the music industry, I don’t think that’s going to happen would it? Chart performance aside, vocaloids release new singles as fast as a roller-coaster ride, and with any piece of work inside this huge ass list a possible chart-topper, just how can real singers beat that?
My Overall Opinions
Ultimately, I’ll be supporting real singers. They are trained hard at a young age and worked their way to fame. I’m not saying virtual singers like vocaloids are bad, they are fun and cute but if you are strictly talking about the music, then… meh, I will be picking real singers over virtual singers in that case.
What about you? Which side are you on? Virtual or Real singers?