Idoru: manufactured pop music approaches apogee

Paul Raven @ 25-10-2010

The more Bill Gibson claims modestly not to be a prophet, the more the world comes to resemble the ones in which his novels are set. Completely synthesized 3D holographic pop singer, anyone? [via MonkeyFilter]

Her hair is blue, she dresses like Sailor Moon, and she’ll only appear in concerts via a 3D ‘hologram’. Oh, and did I forget to mention that she’s completely fictional? Created by Crypton Future Media, Hatsune Miku is a virtual singing avatar that you can purchase for your PC and program to play any song you create.


Watching Miku sing live is pretty amazing. The 3D ‘hologram’ isn’t that impressive, it looks to be a modern version of the pepper’s ghost illusion we’ve seen before, but the crowd reaction is intense. I’ve been to concerts where the band’s fan base was considerably less enthusiastic. How must it feel to be a musician and see this virtual character getting way more love than you? Hatsune Miku and her ‘friends’ may only have played a few tours, but there’s little doubt that these guys are rock stars:

Well, you can colour me cynical, but given the levels of utterly obvious artifice on display in most of the popular meatpuppet pop acts, I’m not really surprised that the crowds go wild for idorus; there’s a strong element of suspension of disbelief involved with music fandom (one which extends just as deeply into forms and genres that are considered by their fans to be the polar opposite of pop), and unabashed artificiality is just another fact of modern life, especially to younger audiences.

Guardians of hollow notions of artistic authenticity (and curmudgeonly critics like myself) can at least take heart from the fact that idorus will face many of the same piracy problems and business model issues as flesh-and-blood acts, at least once the novelty quotient expires… though they’re probably less likely to get tired and jaded about their careers, to discover free jazz or to overdose on prescription painkillers.

That said, given how much of our engagement with musicians (and other artists) is connected to the narrative mythology that surrounds them – in many cases more than with their actual music, or so I’d argue – the arrival of the first by-design tortured/iconoclastic/bi-polar/just-plain-f*cked-up idoru can’t be too far away.

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6 Responses to “Idoru: manufactured pop music approaches apogee”

  1. ConfidentlyDubious says:

    What’s wrong with discovering free jazz? 🙂

  2. Paul Raven says:

    Nothing at all, CD… but one’s manager and A&R rep might not be too keen when they hear the demos for your new album. 😉

  3. ConfidentlyDubious says:

    By the way, a “musician” that is actually a piece of software will face *more* piracy problems and business model issues than its flesh-and-blood counterparts…! Suppose that someone publishes the 3D dynamic model of the “idol” on some P2P service and every kid starts including a barely disguised version of it dancing (special catchy moves and all) in her home-made music video published on Youtube…

  4. Chad says:

    This gives me the creeps. Not the actual music or the image, but the crowd getting into it. We have no hope as a species.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh, that’s just because Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid in general has a huge following. Mostly because of the fan nature of the works, a lot of it is just fans making their own songs and remixes and releasing them.

    That, along with the ideal of a perfect idol singing in basically live, gets the otaku into a fringe. They care for regular idols as it is, but the flawless ones get more love. Far more.

    Furthermore, the technology and effort that went into it is impressive. Motion capture up the wazoo along with a blend of artificial and live band music.
    Downloaded the BD rip of the concert video. It was amazing.

    I’m a bit disappointed though, one would think Futurismic would have heard of Hatsune Miku before. Vocaloid got quite the write up in Wired when the movement was getting started.

  6. Paul Raven says:

    I’m a bit disappointed though, one would think Futurismic would have heard of Hatsune Miku before.

    Well, there’s only one of me! And from ~1,000 RSS feeds daily, I can’t hope to read everything… much as I’d like to. 🙂