Under Construction: The Differences Between Underground and Mainstream Idols
Suppose that I lived outside of Japan and could only see idols in person a few times each year, I think I would be more likely to follow famous idols like Momoiro Clover Z and AKB48. The reason is that it is easy to keep up with their latest news. The more famous idols become, the more they appear in media like television or movies. Big-name idols also release DVDs and Blu-rays of their live performances on a more regular basis. Even though the development of Internet narrows the gap between the concert site and the screen of PC, there still exists an absolute barrier. The DVD and BDs certainly helps their fans to enjoy the concert at home.
I mentioned the superiority of following famous idols overseas, but I would also like to strongly recommend such people to turn their eyes on underground idols as well. The word “underground idol”, 地下アイドル (Chika Idol) in Japanese, comes from the contrast of the place idols have concerts at. While minor idols mainly perform at small underground venues, major idols are capable of having a concert at a huge event hall like Budokan.
Recently, the meaning of the word “underground idol” has been changing. Regardless of the size of concert venue, famous idols like AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z are called “overground” or mainstream idols. On the other hand, lesser known idols like POP and Moso Calibration are referred to as underground. Those who made their major label debut are sometimes called overground idol but, in my opinion, a major debut has become more of a checkpoint in a career and it actually has less significance than it used to. I would like to add that the difference underground idols and overground ones depends on the degree of the performance’s perfection.
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