By now, most of the world knows about the mind-boggling concert footages of Hatsune Miku, the first 100% CGI Japanese pop idol. But what you didn't know is that she's only been around since 2007, that there are other virtual J-pop idols that way before her. Below are few known favourites:
Ayumi Hamasaki – "Rollin'" (live 2009)
Ayumi Hamasaki is the queen of Japanese pop, the Madonna of Asia. Her albums and singles routinely top the charts; her 50th single, "L," was just released, and her 12th album Love Songs will be out in late December. Her videos are hard to find on YouTube, but this live clip gives an idea of her cybernetic yet cutesy appeal. I have every one of her albums in my iPod.
Aira Mitsuki – "Barbie Barbie"
Several J-pop singers have embraced AutoTune and vocoders in a big way. One of the most enthusiastic proponents of voice-altering technology is Aira Mitsuki, who extends the artificiality to her imagery; her 2009 album Plastic featured her shrink-wrapped like a doll on the cover, and includes vaguely sci-fi track titles like "Sayonara Technopolis," "Robot Honey" and "Distant Stars."
Perfume – "Voice"
Perfume is a vocal trio whose music lays digitally altered vocals over ultra-chirpy technopop. Most of their music is produced by Yasutaka Tanaka of the duo capsule. "Voice" is the group's 16th single, and will presumably appear on their next album.
Namie Amuro – "Wild"
Namie Amuro's career began nearly 20 years ago; she was a member of the group Super Monkey's (punctuation in original) starting in 1992, going solo three years later. But she's still a chart-topper; "Wild" is from her 2009 album Past < Future, her ninth full-length release as a solo artist.
Ami Suzuki – "Eventful"
Ami Suzuki is a pure disco dolly, pretty much the Kylie Minogue of Japan. (She's even recorded a cover of "Can't Get You Out Of My Head.") Despite a nearly five-year gap in the middle of her career-she was effectively blacklisted after the head of her production company was convicted of tax evasion in 2000, and nobody would sign her until 2005-she maintains a strong chart presence. This song, "Eventful," was her second single for her current label, released in May 2005.