Since I reviewed an older idol song/PV for this week’s Review Monday, I’ve had older idols on my mind. In fact, I’m going to put out an additional blog post sometime this week involving that. However, one trend I’ve noticed (a very obvious trend, mind you) is that solo idols used to be more prominent and now idol groups are a bigger deal. The idol group isn’t a completely recent phenomenon; look at the success of Candies, The Peanuts, Pink Lady and Onyanko Club. However, the idol world was dominated by solo acts like Yamaguchi Momoe, Matsuda Seiko and others. In the early 2000s Matsuura Aya was a major solo force. And now, who are the main soloists in the idol world?
Let me ask a question, first off. Can anyone think of a solo idol working today that’s relatively popular but didn’t start off in a group? Mano Erina (though she’s graduated) started off in Ongaku Gatas. Kikkawa You is an option, but she started off in Milky Way. The most popular solo acts (by sales at least) are the AKB idols who are doing a solo career. Yokoyama Rurika is still an Idoling!!! member. During my TIF posts I came across some solo idols, but they hardly sell anything and are only known in their small niche in the idol fandom. One of my favorite idols is Aso Natsuko, who started as a soloist, but her sales depend mainly on what anime she’s doing the theme song for.
The point is, idol soloists are hard to come by. And why is that? I think that’s part of the AKB strategy for things. One of the reasons AKB has been so successful is because there are so many different, varied members. If you’re an idol fan and you can’t find a girl and a song you like in AKB or its sister groups, you probably haven’t looked hard enough. The lineup changes mean that your favorite might move to senbatsu, or they’ll be in one of the b-side groups, so you may still want that single. A solo idol has to appeal to every single fan, which means she has to be that more appealing.
Another thing a soloist idol has to be is some level of charismatic. She has to be able to command a stage, or at least put on a good show on her own. This isn’t something every idol can do. However, you don’t need to be completely charismatic if you can rely on other members. This is the same with singing ability. While there have been some solo idols who don’t have good voices (looking at you, Kusumi Koharu), most of them have pretty solid vocals. Mano Erina was never the best vocalist ever, but she wasn’t a bad vocalist. But being able to carry a song on your own vocals is something you need to do.
At this point, it’s hard to think a solo idol could become as big as the groups, and I’m wondering if any of the big idol agencies right now are even going to attempt to promote a solo idol with no prior experience. But what do you think? Do you think solo idols are over? Could a solo idol become big? Leave a comment and you too will be a part of my Your Thoughts post next week!