Jan 21 2008
Isn’t it ironic that by creating this blog, I have put myself in a position to think deeply about the subject of idoldom? I feel like idols are not meant to be thought deeply about. If anything, they’re meant to be a distraction from the things that you have to think deeply about, and yet here I am, writing this. Would they (the idols) be amused if they knew that people are writing things like this, I wonder? Well, for the fascet of idoldom that I’ve been thinking about recently….
In my opinion, the three most important qualities for an idol are musical talent, looks, and personality. I’ve recently found myself wondering which of these abilities is the most important when it comes to making an idol popular. Yeah, I know the girl who management decides to promote more is going to get a popularity boost, but management will choose the girl who is the easiest to sell to the audience, so it really comes around to the same thing anyway. It’s like taking the public’s initial preference and intentionally amplyfying it.
Being a science major, I decided to collect some data and make a graph! (yeah, I’m a dork. Shut up!)
What I did is rank the Morning Musume members on all three traits and then classify them as either being relatively high or low in popularity. I’m sure that you will vehemently disagree with me on some of my calls, so rather than showing you how I ranked each girl and spending the rest of the week defending myself in the comments section, I’m just going to give the overall results. I tried to be as objective as possible, but I do realized that this is all heavily influenced by my personal opinions. Anyway, there were calculations and spreadsheets and whatnot, but it came out that the trait most positive correlation with popularity was looks. Next was personality, and singing was last. That’s not so say that there weren’t any exceptions to these rules, but those were the general trends I found.
To clarify, as far as idols are concerned, the most important trait for popularity is looks, next is personality, and the least important is vocal ability.
So, assuming that I’m right, and looks really are the most important thing for an idol, what does that mean about a singing idol’s purpose from a business standpoint? Are, for example, Morning Musume, a group of singers who use their looks to promote their music/concerts, or are they a group of pretty girls who use their music to get their face out there so people will buy their pictures/merchandise? If you asked the group members, they would probably tell you that they are singers, but maybe the evidence points in the other direction.
That’s not to say that the music is a moot point, because a singing idol’s popularity is tied in with their musical quality, but I’m forced to admit that it’s far from being the determining factor. I can, however, confidently say that if I did not like a good portion of Morning Musume’s music I would not be buying their CDs or attending their concerts, no matter how cute they are. The “rainbow pink” duo is a good example of that phenomenon…
Now that I mention it, Shige-pink is what really prompted me to write this post. You see, when I first became interested in Morning Musume, I hated Michishige Sayumi. “She can’t sing!!!” I would scream at my computer in rage, “Why the f#@% is she even in the
group?!?!” But then… ever so gradually… something begun to change. I started to tolerate Sayumi, and before I knew it, I found myself liking her. I’ve come to realize that I like her quite a lot now, if you hadn’t figured that out from the numerous pictures of her that seem to make their way into my blog. She’s still a terrible singer, but somehow, that doesn’t matter much anymore, and it’s mostly because of how beautiful she is. *takes a moment to imagine how popular Sayumi would be if she sang and danced like Goto Maki*
I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m a fan of a singer just because she’s pretty. I’m no male wota who is romantically infatuated with Sayu. Why have my priorities shifted so much? I wonder if it’s a natural thing, for that to happen. Maybe, it’s exactly what they want. The music is like a hook to draw you in, but once you become charmed by the girls you don’t even really care about vocal ability anymore. I fear that the next stage beyond not caring if a girl can’t sing is truly believing that a girl is a wonderful singer when, in reality, she’s terrible. It’s happened to many a Koharu fan*, and I shudder to think that it may happen to me someday. It’d be interesting to see if a high proportion of relatively ‘new’ MM fans favor the better singers in the group while the ‘old’ fans lean more towards the prettier girls. I want to collect some data now. I bet it’d be a pretty graph…
Lastly, on a related, but not h!p note, I know that Matsumoto Jun is the worst singer in Arashi, and I used to dislike him for it, but when he whipped off those glasses at the Johnny’s New Year countdown, God help me, but I wanted to squeal like the giddiest of fangirls. Apparently my priorities tend to shift over time for the other half of the idol spectrum too.
*a note to Koharu fans, seriously guys, say she’s as beautiful as a Goddess, say she’s the most entertaining person who ever lived, say you love her and want to marry her and grow old together, but don’t tell me that she’s a great singer, because that is the point where I start to think you’re crazy.