New Breeze from Dance Music! EDM IDOLS Change Conventional Idols?
EDM, Electronic Dance Music, is currently one of the most popular genres worldwide. ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL which began in 1999, has spread to many other countries including Japan. The festival has been held in Japan as ULTRA JAPAN since 2014 and in 2015 it gathered more than 90,000 people, showing the growing popularity of EDM in Japan.
In this article, it was stated that the songs of Gakkyoku-ha idols have a close relationship with music from the past, especially “Shibuya-kei”, as shown the examples of Negicco and Especia. However, it can also be claimed that songs with elements of newer music styles like EDM can also be classified as Gakkyoku-ha.
Recently, there have been an increase in idol songs adopting EDM. One example is GEM, a 10-member dance and vocal group from iDOL Street that was formed in 2012. Their songs fall into two distinct groups: White GEM and Black GEM. White GEM does cutesy pop songs and Black GEM incorporates the harder sounds of EDM. They are one of the most-well known examples of idols that accept and mix EDM with their own culture.
While EDM sounds comparatively new since it was coined in the early 2000s by the mass media however, the music itself has existed for decades before that. Thus, it is not strange that music producers were influenced by the music and worked on incorporating it with idols. Idols perform EDM songs while retaining the core of what makes them idols. (For other EDM idols here)
The group Stereo Tokyo has been gathering attention in the underground idol scene since their debut in 2015. Stereo Tokyo has 6 members and they are known for their performances that combine cute and club as shown in the video below.
This is from a release event held at the event space at Yodobashi Camera in Kichijoji, Tokyo. It can be argued that they can turn any performance space into a club. The audience seems to share more in common with the ULTRA JAPAN crowd than typical idol otaku. The members come close to the audience and dance together with glow sticks and even national flags of different countries. This kind of chaotic and free behavior is often seen at events like ULTRA Music Festival.
You may notice that their songs do not have a strong hook, which is thought to be essential to idol songs. This is because the producer, Fumito Mizukami, tried to make their songs as close to EDM songs as possible. Without seeing what Stereo Tokyo looks like, you might never realize that the songs are sung by idols. Core EDM fans may get angry with this statement but, is Stereo Tokyo’s sound really that different from other EDM artists? They are part of a new wave of Gakkyoku-ha idols.
A border between idol music and mainstream popular music in Japan still exists, just as there is one between Japanese music and European music. However, if many idols use trial and error while experimenting with other genres, the diversity of idol songs could expand to the point where the word “Gakkyoku-ha” could disappear in the future.
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