Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Vocaloid Hatsune Miku: The Hologram Pop Star
When I put three piercings in my eyebrow my parents were probably perplexed. Why would our child do this? My parents had tattoos in their world (they would never get one), but the advent of body piercing really didn't become a thing until I was a young adult. They probably also wondered about raves, and parents before them were confused by chia pets, and rug burn and leather bars before that. I was starting to think that I've got a pretty radical take on the world and as I age, I still have a finger on the pulse of what young people are into and why (even if I've outgrown some things).
Until this. Watch the clip and be amazed at a sold out concert hall rocking out to a computer generated voice singing songs, with an animated pop star representing it. There is a live band, but wow, the focus is obviously on this machine that some Japanese folks invented that can learn and sing songs. Look at those glow sticks! I kind of get it? Who cares if the computer can sing? I suppose I listen to a lot of wacked music with electronics being the main voice. It's just the arena of the icon worship that electronics really haven't ventured into. Not like this. Rock stars have been human until this. Gorillaz dabbled, but this is full on.
Hatsune Miku (初音ミク) is a singing synthesizer application and its female character, developed by Cypton Future Media. It uses Yamaha's Vocaloid 2 synthesizing technology. Her name translates to something like "Voice of the Future." I was hoping the videos I saw were just staged and that this wasn't really all that popular, but I was wrong. It's a world wide phenomenon. She's performed in Singapore recently. It's growing. Learning... compassion.
In a way, this pop star is perfect. It can't get chased by the paparazzi. It doesn't do drugs or make bad choices after a show. It doesn't get tired or go through the fame gauntlet, leaving it messed up for the rest of its life. It's always going to perform. Once the computer refuses to perform, the world will have effectively changed forever. Usually, people make mechanical or 3D versions of humans, but here, we see humans fetishizing the machine and dressing up like her. It's a total role reversal, and one that I am barely clinging to for some kind of understanding. Why would anyone really care how high a computer voice can sing? How is it that when a certain song begins at this show that everyone's voices rise in appreciation? It's manic, and I feel that gap forming between old fogey Nayt and what kids of the future are into. It's happening. I'm 32 and I feel like I'm already cut off.