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J-Pop Star (and 3-D Hologram) Hatsune Miku Sells Out Stadiums

Hatsune Miku
Hatsune Miku has topped the pop charts in Japan, sold out stadium concerts and become a legitimate cultural phenomenon. The interesting thing is that Miku doesn't exist -- at least not in any traditional sense of the word. Miku is a computer-generated avatar that performs songs with the help of a live band. But unlike say, Gorillaz, a cartoon band that merely serves as the public face of an artistic collective, everything about Miku comes from a computer. She is the product of a company called Crypton Future Media, which synthesizes Miku's voice using Yamaha's Vocaloid software.

Creating the character -- which appears as a girl with blue pigtails and a cyberpunk version of the traditional Japanese school-girl uniform -- was a meticulous process. First, the creators recorded voice actress Saki Fujita making individual phonetic sounds at a specific pitch and tone. Then, they recombined the samples and fed them through the synthesis software to produce an almost endless number of words and sounds. Users can actually purchase a copy of Miku to run on their home PCs, and have her perform songs of their own creation.

Despite Miku's availability for private performances on home PCs, crowds still shell out for live concerts, where Miku is able to whip her legions of fans into a frenzy (as seen in the video below). At these sold-out shows, Miku is materialized, so to speak, as a 3-D hologram. She parades and dances around the stage as she belts out pop-rock songs, while her human band provides a musical backdrop for her J-Pop crooning.

The tech behind both the vocals and the public displays is impressive, but we have a feeling this will remain a distinctly Japanese phenomenon. American consumers don't seem like they're ready to shell out the big bucks to watch a 'Final Fantasy' character robotically plow through second-rate Avril Lavigne knockoff tunes.

Tags: 3d, HatsuneMiku, hologram, j-pop, japan, jpop, music, top, vocaloid