Synthetic Pop and the Death of the Artist

Next up we'll have a Dalek barbershop quartet.

June 27, 2011

Well, I called it.

We now have fully synthetic pop stars, and not just virtual copies of anime or video game characters. I’m talking full-blown people.

Japan actually had a completely virtual pop star for about a month until her digital identity was revealed this week.

Eguchi Aimi was the latest member of Japan’s AKB48, an all-girl group that consists of several different teams of performers. She was featured in a commercial, a magazine spread, and was listed on the group’s website. For all intents and purpose, she seemed to be a real person.

Then we find out that she’s actually a composite, which really begs the question…

Japan, this group had sixty-plus members, all attractive young women who were willing to work and perform. Did you really need a completely virtual singer?

I’ll give the management credit. The fact that people were even debating whether Aimi was real or not speaks volumes to the level of detail put into her design. Furthermore, the stills, while looking Photoshopped, are nevertheless quite impressive. She sings, she takes photos, and she’ll never ask for a raise. She’s the perfect client for her creators.

Fame by ~ShimmiChan on deviantART

Of course, this doesn’t answer the question of why anyone would even make her. It’s not like they have a shortage of starlets. In fact, Aimi is a composite of other members of the group. This could easily be a test of the new technology, a stunt to show everyone just how far the programming and hardware can go.

Me? I’m terrified. Management managed to pass off this construct as a real person for a respectable amount of time, and given a year or two, the technology might easily be good enough to do away with the tiny imperfections that tipped off some fans. Think about it. Any recording company with sufficient money will be able to make pop stars on demand.

Combine that with this little study that shows there is a scientific basis for what we consider to be “catchy,” that we might be able to scientifically determine if a song will be a hit in the next few years, and we have everything we need for companies to start churning out Justin Beibers, Lady Gagas, and Rebecca Blacks. Given how Facebook and Google can target ads based on your likes, this will make it so much easier to target specific demographics.

Skynet Nokia parody by ~paulelder on deviantART

Do you think the Grammys will give the award to the programmer or the virtual person?

And if you don’t think a company will invest some money in a pop star that doesn’t eat, drink, sleep, and will do anything and everything without complaining or going on a cocaine binge…

Hi. Welcome to America. Land of the free. Home of the Whopper.

Commercialism. by *WhatIfItAllWouldEnd on deviantART

Let’s get the links out there.

  • It looks like Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero is going to be a miniseries for HBO. I have fond memories of that album. I used to listen to it as I walked around the Capitol on my lunch break. The dissonance was amazing for clearing my head.
  • Evanescence is coming out with a new album. Without sounding too hipster, I remember hearing them before they got big. Their REALLY early stuff (the albums you can only find on eBay now) is really haunting and a lot more personal, but I’m looking forward to this new one.
  • And finally, seeing as how I ripped the Miss Universe contestants for not understanding basic scientific vocabulary, someone was kind enough to further show how dumb their arguments were by replacing one little word in some of the responses. Enjoy, and I’ll see you on Wednesday.

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  1. June 28, 2011    

    I know I sound like a stereotypical “oldie” which I swore I would never ever become…but damn, the shit kids listen to today sucks, as do the movies they flock to. Let’s face it, everyone with half a brain knows that today’s pop music and pop films cater to a certain demographic with a disposable income, as well as a disposable A.D.D. addled brain.

  2. Annie Annie
    June 29, 2011    

    The Wal-Mart link is the same link as the 9-Inch Nails link.

    • Entropy Echo Entropy Echo
      June 29, 2011    

      Whoops! Fixed.

  3. Roland Roland
    July 17, 2011    

    i read about this pop singer on vigilant citizen. i would be concerned to; today its digital pop stars, who as we know, have the power to influence large masses of people. Yet, why would this technology be limited to the music industry? (slippery slope alert) this can lead to fictional television actors and personalities, news anchors, even politicians…Hmmm, a president who says, does, and behaves according to his creator’s wishes? maybe were already there.

    • Entropy Echo Entropy Echo
      July 17, 2011    

      I was hoping to not even think about replacing all artists with this sort of thing… The politicians might be more difficult since they would still need to appear in public, but it’s not a stretch. Frankly, if the technology does get good enough to perfectly mimic a real person, I see entire shows where not a single actor is hired. I see vast wastelands of television where every second is calculated to the Nth degree until we are left with a cold semblance of art.

      Basically, a James Cameron movie.

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