TokyoGirls'Update

Even Though Times and Selling Practices Have Changed, the Love of CDs Lives on with 80s idols Turning Their Records into Albums and Current Idols Continuing to Sell CDs

時代や販売方法が変わっても、アルバムへの「こだわり」は伝わる ーー80年代のアイドルはレコードからCDへ、現在のアイドルはCDから配信へ
Even Though Times and Selling Practices Have Changed, the Love of CDs Lives on with 80s idols Turning Their Records into Albums and Current Idols Continuing to Sell CDs

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When talking about idols from the 80s, there’s something important to consider, which is the transition to CDs (compact discs). CD sales began in 1983, and quickly spread. In 1986, the sales of CD albums surpassed the sale of LP records.

When CDs appeared on the market they revolutionized the way people listened and enjoyed music, as they were easier to handle, made repeating the same track easier, and let people play songs in whatever order they wanted to.

However, this isn’t to say that at the same time analog records were declining, and in fact, during that period a strange phenomenon has occurred.

The spread of CDs was mostly about albums. For singles, analog records were still popular. Even though people were listening to CDs at home, when you went to a new single release event, only records were put out for sale… Even though many would be these records to benefit the artist, a large part of the time they were left unlistened to.

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Analog record version of the single “Sotsugyo” by Yuki Saito, released in February 1982. At the time there wasn’t a CD version of the single. ’85年2月に発売された斉藤由貴のシングル『卒業』のアナログレコード盤。シングル曲のCDはまだなかった。

Now the main purpose of purchasing CDs is to receive tickets to handshake events, and there are instances of people buying the CDs without ever playing them, but “buying without listening” started back in the 80s. There were also fans that, instead of records, bought cassette tapes when they wanted to listen to the actual song.

Then, in 1988, the eight-centimeter CD that many had been waiting for (?) finally appeared. Following this, singles also began to be sold on CD.

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After the mid-90s, 12-centimter CD singles (maxi-singles) became popular, and eight-centimeter CDs declined. There were cases of eight-centimeter CDs being sold in 12-centimeter CD cases, like with Morning Musume’s “Love Machine”, among others. 90年代後半以降は、現在と同等の12センチCDのシングル(マキシシングル)が主流となり、8センチCDは衰退していく。12センチCDのケースに8センチCDを入れて販売したモーニング娘。の『LOVEマシーン』などもある

More than records, CDs could be packaged in a number of ways, and after becoming mainstream CDs started appearing with photo booklets, differing jackets versions with different coupling songs, and photo labels printed onto the CDs themselves. You can still see this with CDs today.

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Picture labels were all the rage pre- and post-1990. Many CD albums had adopted them. 1990年前後はピクチャーレーベル全盛期でもある。多くのアルバムがピクチャーレーベルを採用していた

Additionally this also seems to be when audio content started appearing regularly on CDs. At the digitalization of video content had yet to become wide spread, and because of this CDs were pressed with radio-like audio “talk” content, similar to additional DVD extras today. Yoko Minamimo’s first press edition of her fifth album, GLOBAL, among others, included a 12-centimeter CD recorded with audio content, but it was common for eight-centimeter CDs to be included with photo books or other books.

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The first press version of Yoko Minamino’s GLOBAL album, released on July 15, 1988, included a Nanno Compatibility Diagnosis Game. Additionally, this album also had a photo label. ’88年7月15日に発売された南野陽子のアルバム『GLOBAL』の限定盤には、『南野陽子 なんの相性診断げえむ』が付属していた。ちなみにこのアルバムもピクチャーレーベルだ

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Noriko Sakai’s fan book, NORI Ping, released on July 27, 1988, was the first to include an eight-centimeter audio content CD. ’88年7月27日に発売された酒井法子のファンブック『NORI・Ping』には、いち早く8センチCDの音声コンテンツが付いていた

With narration between tracks, it was an album where listeners could enjoy a story that tied into the songs and the album concept. On Nami Shimada’s mini album, VIA AIR MAIL, was created with the concept for exploring the city of London, and included a narrated dialogue at the beginning of each song. It designed as a complete package, and put together on the assumption that the listener would listen to it from the beginning until the very end. This album also featured the world’s first photo label.

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Nami Shimada’s mini album, VIA AIR MAIL, which was released on December 1, 1987. Much detail was given to its production, and it featured the world’s first photo label as well as a narrative-style dialogue at the beginning of each song. ’87年12月1日に発売された島田奈美のミニアルバム『VIA AIR MAIL』。世界初のピクチャーレーベルを採用する、曲の冒頭にセリフを入れて物語風に仕上げるなど、こだわった作りになっている

Capturing entire albums as a complete work was normal at the time. On Yui Asaka’s mini album, HER STORY, Yui Asaka put her personal history into song, and although the tracks themselves don’t contain any dialogue, transcriptions of conversations were included in the lyrics booklet for each song, and designed that way to link them to her private persona.

Times have changed, and now music is distributed using various methods, pushing away from CDs. Because songs off an album are distributed as single units, it’s now difficult to capture whole albums as a single complete work like in the past. There are many fans who purchase CDs without giving them a listen, and now more groups are starting to distribute their songs on music cards, which are easier to handle and more compact than CDs.

“So will we no longer be able to enjoy albums as a complete work like before?!” I wondered, but was then shocked by 3776’s (Minanaro’s) first album, 3776 wo Kikanai Riyu ga Aru to Sureba, that came out in 2015. The album was composed to be 3,776 seconds, to match the elevation of Mt. Fuji, with the concept of climbing Mt. Fuji at one meter per second. When you finish the album you’ll then have made it to the top of Mt. Fuji, and left with the amazing feeling of nature surrounding you.

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3376 wo Kikanai Riyu ga Aru to Sureba was released on October 28, 2015, and is the first full album by Mt. Fuji idol 3776 (Minanaro). Currently 14-year-old Chiyono Ide is the only remaining member of the group. 『3776を聴かない理由があるとすれば』は、2015年10月28日に発売された富士山ご当地アイドル3776(みななろ)の初のフルアルバム。3776は、現在は14歳の井出ちよのがソロで活動している

Tracklist
01 [Introduction]
02 Noboranai Riyu ga Aru to Sureba
03 [IntervalA]
04 Mizu de Dekiteiru
05 [IntervalB]
06 Dokutsu Tanken
07 Hinan Keikaku to Bosai Goods
08 Nippon Zenkoku Dokodemo Fujisan
09 [IntervalC]
10 Haru ga Kita
11 Wakutamaike Dayori
12 Seito no Hongyo
13 [IntervalD]
14 Tabi Photo Selection
15 [IntervalE]
16 Hachigome Nya Mada Hayai
17 [IntervalF]
18 Haru ga Meguru
19 3.11
20 [Ending]

This album by 3776 was highly praised, and seems to show that there are users out there who want albums with concepts like these.

Going back to the 80s, with the introduction of the CD as a form of new media, the framework for idol work was laid. At the time it was probably viewed as detailed work. Currently music distribution is shifting to something new, from CDs to the Internet. Right now may be one where people are looking for ways to best take advantage of this change. With music cards for example, not only can you play music content, but video content, too. As people make more and more efforts like these, surely detailed works will come out of this method of distribution as well.

But in the end, no matter what the period, it seems up to listeners as to whether or not they feel that detail resonates with them when they listen.

*Featured song: Nami Shimada, “Dream Child”

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Author
Toshiro Arai
Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

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