A live audience, watching a live band backing a 3D holographic projection of a 15-year-old synthesized pop star, Hatsune Miku. More here. I have stuff to do, so contemplate our grim musical future in this open thread.
Comments are closed.
William Gibson was right about everything. Next Ms Miku will be wanting to get married.
*It’s Miku with a u.
I honestly prefer this to Katy Perry or that Keisha or Ca$ha thing.
Phew, made it before my five minutes was up. Thanks. Hee.
Or the bieber. Shudder.
Woodrow "asim" Jarvis Hill
@R-Jud: Although the Fashionista in me loves Perry’s latex dresses, overall yes — I’ve had a soft spot for J-Pop in general ever since I was exposed to Bubblegum Crisis and it’s ilk. People, and record companies, aren’t going to stop wanting live pop stars anytime soon.
And it occurs to me that Gorillaz did this at some shows some time ago, so this isn’t just a Japanese phenom.
Idoru, welcome to the present.
Yes, Tattoosydney, but was he predicting where reality would go, or are they realizing his vision?
Would the Disney/Murdoch/Microsoft/Sony/Google Corporation just put the chip in my head and get it over with? kthxbai.
@Woodrow “asim” Jarvis Hill: I love J-pop. It’s so much better than Western pop that it’s not even a contest. Re Gorillaz, they’re not really the same as Miku – Gorillaz are cartoons created after the fact to illustrate/mime along with a song performed by humans, like Dethklok, the metal band from “Metalocalypse.” What’s interesting about Miku is that she dances and sings to songs written entirely on a computer – there’s no real person doing the singing. And what’s really interesting is that the software is commercially available – you can install it on your laptop and create your own songs (lyrics and music) for Hatsune Miku to sing.
Both, I suspect. It’s wibbly wobbly (and probably timey wimey as well).
When does Max Headroom get to interview her?
Couldn’t they substitute a human voice in place of that computer voice? I wouldn’t be able to stand that voice for an entire song.
Isn’t this in Japan? Even Cheap Trick and Ozzy Osbourne recorded ‘Live at Budokan’.
Katy Perry looks like the Rebbecca the replicant from Blade Runner
Well, at least when the holographic kids get on my lawn, they don’t do as much damage
And now for a nightmare fuel version.
Woodrow "asim" Jarvis Hill
@pdf: Actually, I was just talking from a holographic POV, as Gorillaz has done “3D” performances using similar tech. They also talked about using the tech on tour a couple of years ago, but it was too costly for a world tour at that moment.
I agree what’s going on w/Miku is a step above in terms of complexity.
@Tattoosydney: There are worse possible outcomes.
Ahh, a pleasure model. Incept date 10/84.
@Tattoosydney: I can honestly say that I’ve managed to avoid exposure to the Beiber, other than in photographs.
Katy Perry, on the other hand… my gym plays her idiotic braying on a ceaseless loop, along with Rihanna and “Tinchy Strider”, which has to be the dumbest fucking rapper name I’ve ever heard. And I like rap.
I can avoid it when I’m working out (woo iPod), but not when I’m changing, and I invariably end up with some of the dumbness running around my head the rest of the day.
Version 1.0, 1996.
Nice. Very nice. Thanks.
changed email test post
You know, I watched S1m0ne a while back, and was rather let down. The basic idea has a LOT of potential that I felt was never fleshed out (pun intended). There’s still room for a few movies with this initial set up before it gets old.
Better or worse – pop idol Hatsune Miko manufactured by the Crypton Future Media corporation, or pop idol Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana manufactured by the Disney corporation?
just look at the digitization of art as the democratization of art, and the fall into the abyss will seem like an amusement park ride and not a cataclysm.
That’s the whole point of this phenomenon — it was (and is) the widespread use of a particular type of software which composes music given some parameters and melodies (or not), will synthesize the singer to fit the music (given humans writing the lyrics), and then creates the dance moves for the figure to follow.
This very successful simulated music & performer is done by a particular company which uses the underlying software and adds a lot to it. In this case the voice is actually sampled from an actual human but then the rest is done in the circuits.
And you buy it, so millions of people are using the Hatsune Miku, uh, droid, so there’s certainly a built-in fan base.
And, of course, the character has lots of details: she’s 16 years old, 5’2″, and weighs about 96 lbs. I don’t know why any of this is important, but given the stuff which happens around anime and this is a product to sell, why not?
This is pretty seriously different than, say, the Gorillaz who do animated projection (none of this is ‘holographic’, just kind of looks like it when projected onto clear screens) but there are actually humans doing the music & singing. At least I think.
I looked all this up because I was wigged out the first time I saw this a few months ago, and also because at first no one clarified that it wasn’t really ‘holographic,’ so I thought someone had done some freakish technological advance.
On the other hand, I really have nothing to say about this, other than looking it up when it was mentioned and concluding as I so typically do with things related to anime-type stuff that it just is what it is.
You can buy a toy which is a flexible leek which has to do with the Hatsune Miku droid character.
I looked this up, and it is based on an internet video joke from a two minute outtake from a hugely popular anime series and, based on a character twirling a spring onion, the improv lyrics of a group singing a traditional Finnish folk song where the word leek appears then becomes part of a music-based video game.
I know that people have done all sorts of jokes and parodies of, say, Insane Clown Posse, I just don’t know if I’ve seen something moving through such a chain into a marketable toy.
I simply could not stop following up on this bizarre series of connections the first time I read an article about it and saw this video. I guess we do things here just as weird, but whether or not it’s my cultural imperialism talking, I just look at so many of these Japanese pop culture developments as just plain weirder than what I see here.
Brick Oven Bill
We really messed up the Japanese, once a proud military society where men would disembowel themselves over honor violations. Yourtango informs us of a disturbing trend:
When the 45-year-old, who uses a pseudonym of Ta-Bo, returns home, it’s not a wife or girlfriend who await him, but a row of dolls lined up neatly on his sofa. Each has a name. Ta-Bo often watches television with his toys before bathing them, powdering them so that their skin feels more human, dressing them in lingerie and then taking them to bed.
The man, who says he has had sex with five women but prefers the dolls, is one of a gradually increasing, though secretive, group of Japanese men who have given up on women.
This, of course, is great news for me and my co-workers, but it is nonetheless kind of sad.
Agreed. What is that Keisha/Ca$ha thing, anyway? Is it a person? It seems to dress in rags and warpaint. And wail unattractively. It’s weird that it gets paid for that.
Oh, there are other of these synth characters at different ages, they’re not all teens. We don’t want our projected robot software singers missing out on other demographics.
@NonyNony: A live pop star has the chance to become something else. I am not a Justin Timberlake fan by any means (for serious, guys, I am not), but he came out of a manufactured boy band and Disney and went on to do decent work. I shall now link to the ‘Mats to restore my self respect.
i’m sure purists were scandalized by the invention of player pianos, back in the 1880s.
@El Cid: And of course being Japanese anime, there’s porn of the teen character. Including the propensity to make 3D plastic dolls of this stuff. Jeesh.
If this is done with superhero or videogame characters here, it just can’t be as widespread or done openly, and if it is, I just don’t want to know it.
@El Cid: So, do you like the sound of her voice?
@cleek: Yeah, Sean Young. Like Katy, she didn’t know she was a replicant either.
I remember when the Japanese were the ones who were going to take down the US’s global hegemonic position. They were the Chinese before the Chinese were the Chinese.
Instead, they decided to make holographic objects of a pedophile’s dreams.
In 20 years, we will wonder how the Chinese got off track through their devotion to robot sex partners and becoming the world’s leading producer of fortified wines.
Villago Delenda Est
Hey, don’t knock Japan. They never headlined a puppet show over Spinal Tap.
Should have posted this upthread, but here’s the English translation and full song:
and @El Cid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbbA9BhCTko&feature=related
Beth in VA
Why isn’t she doing outrageous back-flips or something? She’s a hologram, they could make her overly long legs bending in pretzels. i guess we’d need The Simpsons creators to really exploit the value of imaginary characters.
perhaps the next step is an Avatar, true-blue man/woman group!
Sure – they can go on to do creative things (like Timberlake or Christina Aguilera) or they can go on to seriously mess their lives up (like Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan).
Also it’s not like there aren’t real artists working behind the scenes on the Hatsune Miku stuff who might go on to become something else as well. And no adolescents were psychologically harmed in the making of this manufactured corporate pop idol. So if manufactured bubblegum pop is here to stay (which it probably is) I don’t see any harm in it coming from a cartoon character rather than a live person.
meh. circa 2006
you guyz are late to the party as usual.
imho most guys prefer dolls. one of my exs said id be the perfect woman if only i was pithed.
consider the commentariat here…..they’d like me much better if i spoke cudlip, used “punctuation” and “grammer” and didnt think so much.
and yeah, Gibson was right.
and so were Stephenson, Morgan, Wheedon and Niven.
OT, but why does “a dingo ate my baby” in the rotating tag make me lol every. single. time?
@Cat Lady: Because it is funny. Sorry as well, Suzanne.
It’s an inevitability. First we started with lip-syncing for our more ‘studio-created’ phenomenons. Then there were the backing-track shenanigans where virtually every single teenfem pop star was running around with ‘enhanced vocals’ on tour. Then came Auto-Tune, and now everyone with a horrid voice can come across as a slightly garbled mess. This is just more honest.
is it safe?
Villago Delenda Est
It’s much more honest than say Milli Vanilli…
@Villago Delenda Est: Years ago, I actually met one of the real Milli Vanilli singers. He looked rather like a journeyman boxer. Nice guy.
All the money is going to made by the people who come up with a way for people to have more than one handed sex with a computer….
Odie Hugh Manatee
OT: As noisy as the GOS has been on the anti-Obama front, I do have to say that it’s heartening that the poll over there on approval/disapproval of his performance over the last two years is running at 76% approval and 23% disapproval with 4,066 total votes.
I guess the right has the 28%ers and the left has the 23%ers. ;)
@Omnes Omnibus: That’s the result of looking for a ‘pretty’ front for a couple of good singers. At least nowadays, you can have a CeeLo Green, which I think is pretty fucking awesome.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: When you nutpick a site with over 200,000 accounts, you can always find the evil you seek. I’m sure somewhere there’s a post or 12 talking about how you evil BJ’ers dismiss everyone as cudlips.
Rule 34. It’s always Rule 34.
@Omnes Omnibus: Don’t make me cut you, man.
Odie Hugh Manatee
I’m impressed with the depth of your knowledge on this subject that I was already well aware of.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: (Insert generic dismissive reply and gratuitous personal insult here.)
@NobodySpecial: You and whose army? (just to continue the juvenile theme)
Odie Hugh Manatee
Oops, I accidentally inserted an eloquently phrased compliment regarding my good looks and intelligence.
I owe you one.
I heart Miku Hatsune ;-) …
Can we have a Balloon Juice fan club for her?
At least there’s a live band.
Speaking of live bands… anyone like Shpongle?! Y’all seen the DVD?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJKr0fwaRh4 – Star Shpongled Banner
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2KBtUiUxn8 – Dorset Perception
Gawd, I wish I lived in London.
I dunno, it seems like one less life ruined by the pop machine grinding them up and spitting them out.
Also, too, while this may seem very cutesy, I’m pretty sure the unspoken reason for having animated pop stars is so that you can effortlessly sell computer games in which you have sex with Hatsune Miku.
I’m holding out for a Sharon Apple concert.
For those of you who may have missed this a few months ago, here’s Bieber slowed to a crawl and sounding surprisingly awesome.
Jay in Oregon
Why am I not surprised that the Japanese managed to insert tentacles into the Hatsune Miku phenomenon? (er, so to speak.)
I’ll have to d/l and view the anime series myself, but Vocaloid has had a major impact? I’ve seen Miku artwork dominating many Japanese cg boards ever since her debut. Not sure that I’ve seen such attention paid to a single character since Kinomoto Sakura.
@Xecky Gilchrist: Damn, 4tehlulz beat me to that one.
A Humble Lurker
Actually, the Japanese didn’t start this. The first Vocaloids where made by a company from the UK, and they sang in English. Japan just kind of ran with it because:
A) They’re very into anthropomorphizing stuff over there, so a synthesized voice with an anime mascot was a no-brainer and
B) Japanese is a LOT easier to synthesize than English, as the language is made up of syllables instead of letters.
I got into Vocaloid about a year ago and I love it. Because songs are made by anonymous folk who just buy the software and make songs with things like FL studio and then post them on the internet, they can be about anything.
For example, here’s a song entitled ‘When I get home my wife always pretends to be dead’. The story goes it was based off a Japanese Yahoo! Answers question. Check it (it’s subbed):
Wanna hear Miku sing Metal?
They say they’re making an English version of her and are going to try to sell their Vocaloids to the US soon. Personally I can’t wait.
I sez to my 16 year-old teenage daughter, I sez, “Come here, look at this – it’s crazy!” She walks over to the computer and says, “Oh, that’s Hatsune – it’s Vocaloid stuff. I like the Twins myself, but Hatsune’s cool too. Wow, I heard about her giving concerts… looks bitchin’…”
How does my daughter know about this stuff before I do? I’m technically hip dad! I’m a musician and audio tech! I’ve used Autotune in the studio since before it was called “autotune”.
They’ve despoiled my child with their evil Japanese techno pop music ways!
Bill in OH
I find this very disheartening from a purely musical POV. I do agree with other commenters though. In terms of pop music and the performers thereof, this is much more honest. There’s no doubt that Miku is an artificial construct.
Thanks for the vids, starshapedscar! Shpongle rules!
Hmmmm……. A holographic Jimi Hendrix, possibly?
Jay in Oregon
That story both warms my heart and makes me feel old, all at once.
What kind of evil J-pop horrors await suzanne’s kid, Bean, and SamKitten, I wonder?
Why did they have to program a sexualized under-aged teenager? That to me is weirder than having a computerized pop-star. As has been pointed out already on this thread, many “real artists” are manufactured marketing vehicles with over produced voices and pre-packaged sounds mixed together into songs.
The system goes on-line December 18th, 1987 with the introduction of New Kids on the Block. By 2007, human decisions are removed from musical pitch correction. The Autotuner begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, December 23rd. In a panic, they try to pull the plug…
Count me as someone who’s known about Miku and Vocaloid for years, ever since someone linked me to a video of her singing a vocal version of Terra’s Theme from Final Fantasy VI. I personally rather like the Vegetable Juice song. It’s kinda weird, really, that she’s suddenly getting so much attention.
I suppose what fascinates me is the fact that nearly all of her content is user-generated, including the songs at this concert. People can get her to sing anime songs, established J-Pop, or their own compositions. Heck, someone even made clips of Miku humming the music from Mega Man 3.
@Tattoosydney: Nice to see someone also knows of Idoru!
Truth is, the “virtual idol” phenom has been around for a few years now. Miku is the most recent and best-known.
@El Cid: Good job with your explanation–I think that mistermix left a lot of stuff out, but you pretty much put everything up there. It is a curious phenom (or, well, industry?) that I also started reading about a couple of years ago.
Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I also own a Miku Hatsune figure–I won it in an art contest….8-)
@cathyx: I guess it’s okay. It’s some Japanese actress who I assume can sing, it’s just kind of choppy and doesn’t sound like the way real people sound. For a computer-generated singer, I guess it sounds really good.
At first all I wanted to do was to look up the whole “holographic” thing. Then everything just kept following the links. It just got more and more bizarre. One of the most interestingly weird things I’ve seen in a while.
Oh, and if this isn’t creepy, this actual robot with a quite close (but not enough) copy of a real human female face sings using the same software.
permanent teenager they can dress how they want, control how she moves. and the music is crappy too. It’s just not my thing. But neither is most pop music.
The Moar You Know
As a musician, I’m glad to see this. It’s simply lip-synching taken to the next logical step, with the added benefit of a “pop star” that won’t get a drug habit, flash her cooch in public, or get knocked up at a career-ending age. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Plus the band is really, really good.
Or transform herself into a material girl at a convenience store on a bridge.
C.f., Norman Spinrad’s “Little Heroes” (1987)– although he was wrong to think the U.S. would be leading this development.
jake the snake
Beat me to it.
I’m somewhat sadddened by all the people here who think that this is somehow bad, or that it signals a deterioration for music.
Making a good Hatsune Miku song is no fucking joke. And several composers have gone on to break into more mainstream stuff (for example the composer of the song up top, ryo from supercell, has started composing music and songs for anime, most notably he did the ending theme of Bakemonogatari, Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari
Its sung by a real human, but without Miku, no one would have known of him.
@Fencedude: Good point. Hadn’t seen this point made, unless I forgot.
@Fencedude: I’m somewhat sadddened by all the people here who think that this is somehow bad, or that it signals a deterioration for music.
As a GenXer hearing Boomers’ opinions about stuff all my life, I’m used to this sort of reaction to anything that happened after about 1973. But it’s hardly new with the Boomers – Scott Joplin was a sign of the end times back in 1900.
As a tech geek and J-pop fan, I think this vid is pretty cool.
That’s not the future, that’s the present.
They were right because we as a society decided we’d make them right. Showing ways we might prefer to be living–well, what kind of kumbaya DFH are you anyway? Live in the real world, blah blah blah.
Do you really think Boomers haven’t been hearing it all their lives, too? “The big bands are coming back!” After all, the hippie era is when the term “generation gap” became popular.
Another thing you have to realize is that Boomers have tended to be disappointed by how even their own musical heroes’ powers have tended to diminish, not mature, over the years, so it’s not just the generation gap. When Ian Anderson made The Secret Language of Birds, I was genuinely surprised–I didn’t know he still had it in him.
I went to the “ambient Bieber” link, and what it confirms for me is something I’ve noticed for years: that everyone’s making the same music now–it’s now mostly the surface “sound” that’s supposed to distinguish one style and/or social group from another, not the basic content (melody, chord progression, form, etc.), especially since the permissible musical vocabulary is so much smaller these days (a process that’s been going on for decades). There are improvements–the accent patterns of melodies seem less “square” than in the past, more keys are in play, and there’s a little less I-IV-V. But those accent patterns are just driven into the ground in song after song, and used in song after song, too–and the unconventional chord sequences are used to make one-chord-per-bar four-chord progressions that essentially are the whole form. And this is where I put on my hippie/classic-rocker hat and point out that if punk hadn’t come along to make being simplistic and relentlessly straightforward cool, maybe we’d be in a better place now musically. (I was gonna say “Boomer hat”, but punk was invented by Boomers, too. Maybe we should just end the Boom at 1958 and classify the rest as GenX.)
Well, you can’t make people like something. And as Ralph Vaughan Williams once said, there’s nothing worse than “sham good music”. (Can’t find the quote on Google, alas.)
@PanurgeATL: Do you really think Boomers haven’t been hearing it all their lives, too?
Didn’t I say it wasn’t new with Boomers?
I’ve always said that Gen X started in 1961, the year Coupland was born. I don’t approve of people trying to shoehorn Generation Jones into that span, even if ::sigh:: Coupland himself approves.
The title of the song is a little disturbing, too. “World is Mine?”
At least “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” wasn’t quite a fait accompli.