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News Navigator: Who are the 'Vocalo-P' behind Japanese pop music's latest big trend?

An anime-style official image for music duo YOASOBI. (Image courtesy of Sony Music Marketing United Inc.)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about so-called "Vocalo-P," a name often heard recently in Japan's music scene.

    Question: I heard Vocalo-P are a big deal in Japanese music circles of late. What exactly are they?

    Answer: The term Vocalo-P is an abbreviation of Vocaloid producer, someone who creates music using "Vocaloid" voice synthesizer software products. The software sings in a preset voice the lyrics and melody inputted to it. Among its features, it can sing songs with wide vocal ranges that humans struggle to reach, and high tempo songs with rapid-fire lyrics.

    Q: Who popularized it?

    A: Vocaloid generally refers to software products developed and released by domestic and overseas makers using Yamaha Corp.'s voice-synthesizing technology. Hatsune Miku, a major virtual idol who debuted online in 2007, was one of the most significant figures in fostering Vocaloid's popularity.

    Q: Who are today's popular Vocaloid producers?

    A: One famous Vocalo-P is Ayase, a composer and one half of music duo YOASOBI along with vocalist ikura, whose song "Yoru ni Kakeru" ("Racing into the Night") was a smash hit. Another popular Vocalo-P is syudou, who wrote the Ado song "Usseewa," literally meaning "Shut up" in Japanese. Both hit songs have distinguishing characteristics, such as a high tempo, wide vocal range and animated music videos created by people who have been making Vocaloid songs.

    Q: Given Vocaloid has been around a long time, what makes these recent songs stand out?

    A: Apparently what's behind it is how it is easier than ever for talented young creators to share and spread their works on widely used social media including TikTok and YouTube. It might also be said that Vocalo-Ps' avant-garde style is well suited to a time when people are moving away from CDs in favor of digital distribution.

    (Japanese original by Haruka Ito, Cultural News Department)

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