It’s been a while since I made a post revolving around Japanese idols, no?
How much do anyone of us actually know? When I asked this to myself the other day, I noticed how little I know about what goes on in Japan compared to Korea. In my opinion, it is good to know about the industry and it’s background as a fan. You can be aware of what goes on behind the scenes and understand how the music industry works more. Just to say, I know nothing about traditional music but I do think it is beautiful when I listen to it.
So let’s take a look and see.
Japan has the second largest music industry in the world. From what I also know, there are some Yakuza ties to the Japanese music industry but I have no clue where or what parts, it could be in the business section for loans or shares to a company, maybe…
The Oricon chart is the most known music chart in Japan. It regularly charts singles, albums and DVDs in a weekly and monthly period of time in physical and digital sales. I’m afraid I do not know much about the music charts in Japan. Most music in the charts is probably 80% domestic and 20% international. Many worldwide artists e.g Lady Gaga, Linkin Park have a demand to come and perform in Japan and can easily place in the charts alongside Japanese artists. A lot of them get invited to music shows like Music Station to perform and promote. The recent addition of more K-Pop idols after Tohoshinki and BoA in the Japanese market seems to have made an increase to more international artists in the charts.
Pop and Rock are the most popular genres in the Japanese music industry. Most international fans of either genre gotten into Japanese music and the culture from listening to these genres. While I have not researched much on J-Rock, Scholars have compared J-Pop to junk food meaning it is “easily accessible but ultimately not satisfying” and nothing represents this sentiment better than the domination of the Japanese pop music industry by idol singers. The idea that idol music is easy to listen with a simple beat and easy-to-follow dance movements but the idols and production are heavily controlled by the industry. There is no everlasting impression as an artist left upon the audience since their music is written for them not by them.
Idols these days are seen more than often on the charts with groups like AKB48 or a Johnnys group like Arashi are always getting #1 so easily. They seem to be the most popular within most age demographics and also bringing in the most profits. Johnny’s is the only company that I know that has an all male idol company and they still continue to be pretty successful. AKB48 is the same and has been getting #1 since 2009. Their company has created many duplicate groups stationed in other cities in Japan and also in Asia. However, idols do not dominate the chart all the time as bands, rappers and other genres of artists continue to chart in Japan which shows a variety of musical genres together and that they are able to top despite the increase in idols these days. It’s one of the reasons to appreciate the Japanese music industry for the continuous existence of these genres on the charts.
The “no dating” rule applies to idols who must commit to their fans who project the image that their love is only for their fans and no-one else. It has been going around for years but it was only until I understood scandals back in 2009 that I realised it’s more “no getting caught by the media” rule. I’m sure there are some idols who are hiding it very well right now.
Education is more important than ever. Fairies, an all girl group mentioned in Kurobara once that they all go to the same school. But there are some idols who don’t go high school (sixth form/college) or college and drop out after junior high school (secondary). Since school is not mandatory after high school, it’s ok not to carry on especially when idols have to multi-task school work with promotional activities would be tough. Ayumi Hamasaki dropped out of high school before she started her singing career for example. Looking at Morning Musume’s past members, there are quite a few members from when the 4th gen joined. For Kago Ai when she joined, important transfer papers had to be sent from Nara to Tokyo so that Aibon could change schools but her mother forgot it so Aibon missed a year, fell behind and never got to attend and finish school properly.
Not only idols, but models and entertainers know a decent amount of kanji in the entertainment world because some of them dropped out of high school. Kanji isn’t inherent knowledge after all. Japanese people (though educated) have trouble with kanji because there is so many. Yaguchi has said that Tsuji can’t read any kanji, and that if she sends her a message, she has to provide readings for even the most basic of kanji.
I would guess and say that most members (certainly not all) prior to 9th gen didn’t go to or didn’t complete high school, simply because it opened up so many more opportunities and adding school to what was already a very full schedule (TV shows, radio shows, dance rehearsals, recordings, etc) would have been overwhelming. I remember the OGs criticizing 9th and 10th gen for not styling themselves to stand out more, but schools can be strict about hair colour and things like that. The earlier generations could do what they liked because they dropped out of school early enough (and some just went to lenient or public schools that didn’t care).
What will be interesting to see is who, if anyone, chooses not to go to high school now. It’s become riskier to skip, as idol careers are becoming more and more unstable after graduations, and even Tsuji said in the press conference about her first child that they would let a daughter audition for MM only if she completed high school. Eripon says she wants to go blonde, so we’ll see I’m not surprised Haruna’s not going to college, though. She’s making the right impressions on the right people to have a decent career in entertainment.
Lurkette, a Hello!Online member
Idols fan are the same all over the world. You’ll have a few that leave a bad name for the others with their behaviour which would be regarded as obssesive. With the artists, I’ve met Ayumi Hamasaki fans who were mature and patient when she came to London. But I think I’ve explained enough about fans as it is.
That’s about it. Please share what you know about the music industry.