By reading that title, I’m sure some of you shuddered. Line distribution. The dreaded topic of many idol fans.
One thing I’ve noticed, in my days as an idol fan, is that it seems to be a primary concern mainly for Hello! Project fans. It seems like with every single, or even every performance, is concerned with who got the most lines, who deserved solo lines, who didn’t deserve solo lines. This is just something I don’t see with many other groups, like AKB48 or Momoiro Clover Z. Sure, people may complain that a girl gets pushed forward too much, but no one really complains about who sings what.
This seems to be for a pretty obvious reason; AKB48 doesn’t focus as much on solo lines. However, I don’t see many people complaining about it in the Momoiro Clover Z fan groups, even if Kanako gets a big solo in favor of the other members singing. I think with Momoiro Clover Z, though, there’s more of an expectation that Kanako will get a big solo line. The line distribution is relatively fair, anyways, so occasional unevenness is forgiven.
The biggest thing, though, that sets H!P apart is just how tied together solo lines and how visible an idol is. Take Resonant Blue. The song is dominated by Takahashi Ai and Tanaka Reina, with some singing by Kusumi Koharu. There are bits from Niigaki Risa and Kamei Eri, one “Help Me!” from Michishige Sayumi, and pretty much nothing from Mitsui Aika, JunJun and LinLin. If you’re a fan of anyone other than Ai, Reina and Koharu, you barely see your favorite in the PV.
Since Hello!Project doesn’t have much of a TV presence as they once did, PVs are a very significant way you see your idol. For many Hello!Project fans, solo lines are related to close up shots and ways you see your favorite.
Still, I have to wonder about other groups. I don’t follow Super Girls’ fans as much; is the amount of exposure, say, Maeshima Ami gets a spot of contention? Do Passpo fans argue about the line distribution? Or is this almost a completely Hello!Project phenomenon.
As for what I think about line distribution, I think it really depends on what the group is going for. If you’re emphasizing the vocal skills of some while everyone dances (i.e. Fairies, Dancing Dolls), then this shouldn’t be compromised (though I think those groups really do a good job of promoting all their idols and not just focusing on the singing ones). However, if every member theoretically could thing, I think they really should sing.
Back in the platinum era of Morning Musume, it was hard to be a fan of a back girl. I really liked Mitsui Aika, but focusing on a girl who rarely got any kind of solo part or close up was flat out frustrating. I would often buy the songs off itunes, but I never thought of buying the physical singles, just because the songs focused too much on Ai and Reina. Nothing against those girls and their fans, but Reina and Ai just aren’t idols I particularly care about.
While many people remember Platinum era Musume fondly, their sales were declining. The group really wasn’t doing all that well, and, to be honest, I thought they would be close to disbanding around now. However, the group is doing very well now, even though conventional wisdom was that when a girl left, sales dropped. Why is it doing so well? Well, the idol boom has something to do with it. Idols are doing well in general now. Also their overall production level is up. You might not like the current music or PVs, but they have been putting more into both of these. However, I think the variety of girls in the group makes it even easier. If you don’t like Sayashi Riho or Oda Sakura, you might like Fukumura Mizuki. Or Ishida Ayumi. Or Sato Masaki. As much as people complain about, say, Suzuki Kanon’s lines, it’s easier to be a fan of more girls now than it was in the platinum era. Even if a couple of girls might not get many solo lines, they do a good job of giving everyone a little something, or more close ups. It’s not perfectly even by any means, but it’s better, which I think has to make a difference.
Still, this relates to my topic last week. If an idol is in the background, it’s harder to be a fan of her. The more girls that someone could be an easy fan of, the more potential fans you have. A more even line distribution, while not something that will guarantee sales growth, certainly can’t hurt.