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When idols meet rock groups, the feelings will be intense

The Japan News/ANN | Takamasa Sakurai | Monday, Apr 14, 2014

The Japanese music industry has been subject to a phenomenon dubbed the "Idol Warring Period" for several years. Innumerable young female idol groups exist now, a development not found in other countries.

Some people may think idols are all the same. But honestly, Japanese female idols are a very diverse bunch. There is great variety across many domains, from song genres to the personalities of groups and the style of their live performances.

There are a considerable number of Japanese idol fans outside Japan. When I travelled to other countries and territories as part of my cultural diplomacy projects, I was sometimes surprised at the great numbers of Japanese idol fans.

Ask these overseas Japanese idol fans, "Doesn't your country have something like Japanese idols?" and they will reply in the same way, "No, we don't." Some countries have something with a passing similarity to Japanese idols, but they are completely different from them.

It is similar to the way that people in some other countries use the Japanese word "kawaii" in their own languages. They say the nuance of kawaii might be close to the English term "cute," but it is actually not. When people in other countries use the word kawaii mixed with their own languages, in many cases they use the Japanese term to evaluate something with "Japanese" or "Tokyo" elements.

Overseas fans of Japanese pop idols have expressed their impressions to me:

"Their performances on the stage are overwhelming. However, if you read the idols' blogs, they have lifestyles similar to those of their fans and share with them foods and fashions they like. There are no such idols in my country" or "Japanese idols become stars, but not celebrities." I feel the same way.

One Japanese idol group that is very popular around the world is Morning Musume '14. It was a live show with Morning Musume and other idol groups that first got me addicted to idols. A live concert is a single moment that never occurs again. It is a precious encounter with a golden opportunity. Every live performance of an idol or an idol group is different.

During concerts for idols I really like, whether they are individual idols or idol groups, it is hard to predict when the peak of my feeling will come each time. That's why their live concerts are so attractive. I used to go to live rock concerts often, looking for that same sense of exaltation. Today, I feel the same way at idol live shows.

People perform in front of other people, and audience members always evaluate the performances. A look at the basic anatomy of live performances can tell you that at their core, idols and rock musicians are not so different.

What I can say for sure as an observer of many years of the "Idol Warring Period" is that Japanese female idols have greatly improved their live performances. Rock musicians I know tell me that they find great stimulation from idols.

If so, what kind of chemistry would arise if there was a "ring" in which idols and rock musicians could do battle? I imagined a venue that I, as a producer, could offer my friends among both idols and rock musicians.

On July 8, two idol groups and two rock groups will stage "fights" at live house Duo Music Exchange in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

The two idol groups are The Possible-a group that has steadily risen in popularity over long years thanks mainly to their live performances-and Fukuoka-based "locodol" group LinQ, whom I introduced in my last column.

The rock groups are the Urbangarde, a band with a highly theatrical approach and rising popularity overseas, and Domino88, a ska band that will be making their first live performance after a long absence.

They are all brothers-in-arms who often talk with me about transmitting Japan's music to the world.

Personally, I am really looking forward to the event. I strongly hope that many people from outside Japan will also attend and enjoy the event. For more information, please go to http://cytv.jp/taiketsu.

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