Everyone in America knows what American pop music sounds like. Here’s what some pop music from a relatively large niche international population sounds like.
Downtempo/chill beat: (with some awesome Chinese violin)
Pop/rock ballad form:
And my favorite setting for Miku, trance:
Composed with electronic samples both recorded and synthesized, pop melodies are presented in a sonic palette about as wide as YouTube is big, with the common ground in the singer, Hatsune Miku （初音ミク）: a synthesizer in Yamaha’s VOCALOID software with an associative anime character as an avatar.
What this means is that the people who write electronica have an instrument that can, with sometimes startling accuracy, synthesize a human voice singing with human emotion in a more relatable human way. It only works accurately with Japanese lyrics (at least, English Miku songs sound ineffective to me), but the part that fascinates me is that electronic musicians have access, at the software level, to a pop-star voice with a pop-star image and large and international audience.
Mark Stewart has been quoted to me in advising to “spend a lot of time playing music people like, some time playing music some people like, and a little time playing music people don’t like.” It leads me to question how large (and more importantly, how perceptive) an audience could be reached with the help of the Hatsune Miku name. I wonder what the possibilities are of more skilled electronic musicians, or dare I ask, “classical” composers writing more experimental music with a frontline role by the world-famous animated pop idol? Or even more interesting, just how experimental could you get with your Miku music and still pull in Miku’s fans? One of these days, I’d like to do a call for works and get some awesome composers to write with Miku.
The breadth of styles brings to mind Maroon 5, whose each subsequent album seems to be their best interpretation of the immediately current trends of pop music. As a result of staying as current as possible in the widest public ear (which some would call “selling out”) they’re being known as a funky pop rock band, who now does hip-hop collaborations and clubbable songs. Imagine then that as a composer, you had instant access to compose with Adam Levine’s voice, and anything you wrote that was sung by Adam Levine could be posted onto the internet legally free and considered by the general audience to be “just the next Maroon 5 song”. Of course Miku isn’t quite on popularity par with Maroon 5, but that’s the model we’re dealing with here.
I should also note that hearing what Hatsune Miku is capable of creating gives me a renewed appreciation of the nuances of a classically trained singer that can’t be recreated by technology [yet].