Welcome to Homicidols Archives, an attempt to capture and document the ephemeral and ever-changing entity that is Idol.
Here is the reprint of the first instalment of The Idol Suicides, a column originally written for now-defunct 20hz magazine by Sokichi Osada, the producer of legend-worthy disbanded group Girls Excellency International & currently the producer of Cinema and Boy CQ (Den’ei to Shounen CQ), movie soundtrackers extraordinaire.
The text of the article is untouched and as Osada-san sent it to me. However, the original layout of the article had images and video content to supplement documentary appartés. I was linked to all idols videos, they are presented as they were. All other hyperlinks have been added by the contributor posting this.
The Idol Suicides
#01 “Underground idols are a shady cult, just some spooky shit.”
Such a thought was on my mind on my way to a venue, persuaded by my pushy friend only a little over 3 years ago.
Turns out I end up managing these ‘Chika Aidoru’ or underground idols; life is truly an enigma.
Back then I was an aspiring writer, submitting my work to a number of competitions and just beginning to hear feedback from the editors.
I liked listening to music but didn’t really know the difference between a guitar and a bass, much less a chord ― musically illiterate. A person like me who didn’t even go see many shows, somehow joins forces with songsmiths to write songs that were nationally promoted and sold in stores all around ― sounded like a fiction novel on its own.
After seeing the underground idols in a venue breathing low in Kabuki-cho, a bustling city of Shinjuku, I was enthralled with their ‘anything-goes’ freedom and became one of their numerous cult-backers.
The girls were allowed to do anything as long as it was entertaining, and the followers gladly scattered money for them.
Their performance did not have any point, probably not even a thought behind it. All they seemed to have was an effervescent freedom and rambunctiousness, which was what made it that much more divine.
What a sensational world it was. I wanted to leave the world of words, my world of writing ― I began to think that way after a few visits.
Of course that was just a thought then, but by some fluke my friend had asked me to help him start an idol group.
Yes. Now I get to venture full on alongside with them.
The term Aidoru, rendered Japanese from ‘idol’, defines starlets who’s platforms cover most of the following: singing, dancing, modeling (usually swimwear), panelling on TV or other forms of media, and acting. Though there are boy idols, it mainly points to adolescent girls in a group or in a solo form.
Within the Aidoru culture, there is a subdivision of ‘Chika-Aidoru’ [underground idols], a colloquial term for indie idols who emphasize on live performances. The term originated from their performances taking place in underground venues. Some prefer to be called ‘Rial-Kei Aidoru’ [realistic idols], ‘Indies Aidoru’, or ‘Live Aidoru’. Once they sign a contract with major production companies or once they acquire success, they are no longer called ‘Chika Aidoru’ but ‘Major-kei Aidoru’ [major idols] or ‘Chijou’ [overground].
‘Anything-goes’ freedom belonged to the girls only at their purest state, thus ineluctably ephemeral ― this is the basis of my installment.
I guess it’s the same for any industry, but the ostensible winsome shows masked their realities too.
“Underground idols last a year at best.”
An idol manager I met just after my take-off told me so.
There were several reasons to it, one of it simply being an economical one, but having ‘pubescent girls’ as the industry’s main arsenal was probably the biggest pit.
Girls mature fast. Physically and mentally, they grow in a heartbeat.
And in the transition from their girlhood, the reality sparks in their mind: “What the hell am I doing here?”
To explain the basics, underground idols perform in many ways, taking on the ‘anything-goes’ spirit.
If they can stand out, if they can let their individuality shine, or if they can earn some extra cash, it’s not an overstatement to say that they’d do anything.
A group called BELLRING GIRLS HEART took the conventional idol maniacs by surprise with their King Crimson spiked progressive-rock tunes; a duo by the name of Nama Ham To Yaki Udon [Prosciutto & Fried udon-noodles] with their quality sketch comedy.
I’ve seen others who’d shriek dementedly for the whole set, or play non-melodic noise music, or start a guerrilla flea market on stage for some petty cash, or another who’d imitate a masturbation session. Not an exaggeration that all sorts of performances, as long as it didn’t violate the law, have already been done.
Such boisterous freedom and chaos is exhibited at our current underground idol scene.
BELLRING GIRLS HEART
An indies idol group formed in 2012, ‘BELLHAR’ in short. Wearing jet-black school uniforms inspired by ravens, they were the topic with their psychedelic/progressive alternative sounds that were unlikely with former idols.
Nama Ham To Yaki Udon
A duo indies idol unit formed in 2015. ‘Nama-Udon’ in short. The two are responsible for most of the songwriting, producing, and managing. Their sketch comedies performed in between songs won the attention from the keen cult-backers.
How did such a riotous scene ever come to form?
To put it plainly, I think it’s because there was an understated acquittal with ‘letting a girl be’.
Here, the term ‘girl’ does not at all attribute to age or their physicality.
Their ages aren’t important, and in some cases their sexualities aren’t either. The most important asset that a girl possesses as an idol-caliber girl, is their nature towards society ― their negligent nonsensicality, their utter purposelessness.
The more a girl is disconnected from the world, the more she is liberated on stage. Say a girl started a tune that would even leave Sun Ra flabbergasted, or say she gave the finger to the world as the Sex Pistols had, she’s off the hook because the girl is ‘too ignorant to be responsible for her behavior’. If a lyricist shoved an embarrassingly corny message into a tune and have a girl sing it, voila ― she obliterates whatever meaning or virtue it had. A girl transmits all her errors, immutableness, prejudiced thinking and the incomprehensible pandemonium through the filter of her ‘youth-aspirated cuteness’ and turns them into an adolescent charm.
An American songwriter, bandmaster, philosopher, and a poet, allegedly from Saturn. Known for his “cosmic philosophy”, his seemingly unsystematic, ungoverned music is unmatched in the history of music. He has not stopped cultivating his followers even after 25 years since his death.
English punk band formed in 1975, a palpable face of the punk movement. They have reunited several times since their disbandment in 1978. Their lyrics bombarding the English government, the Royal family, and big enterprises, along with their eccentric outfits and outrageous personalities singed their name deeply into the history of rock music.
Incidentally, Japan has an idol group named Momoiro Clover Z that came to be one of the top in the hierarchy.
They’ve sold out to the point that they’ve become a norm to the consumers, but when they first launched off they were seen as quite eccentric with their roller-coaster progressive-rock songs that no other idols had attempted, let alone paired with their powerful acts that are often compared to pro wrestling.
It’s already been 7 years since their formation in 2009, and then junior-high girls are already at an alcohol–drinkable age. Idol groups that last for 7 years are rarely seen. A sarcastic friend of mine who’s worked with them told me that the key to lasting that long is to ‘be stupidly insensible’.
By ‘insensible’, he meant their ability to not relate themselves to the real world. Their ‘insensibility’ amped and elongated their girlhood.
Momoiro Clover Z
An idol group formed in 2008. They’re not an underground idol as they are signed with a major production company. Affectionally called ‘Momoclo’. Although they started off performing on the streets, they now hoard in crowds of more than 50 thousand per show (over a hundred thousand in 2 days).
Their straining sing-or-die performance and waggish demeanor, uncommon to the conventional idol figures, shouted the existence of Live Idols to the nation.
But most of the idols are short-lived. A girl who’s seen her significance and consequences in her speech and behavior within the world, is no longer residing in the purest ― or the idol qualified ― state of a girl.
Significance, responsibility, and their respectable value, all shackle a girl and levy her to ‘act her age’.
“I’m on my way to getting a decent job. I can’t be doing things like this anymore” ― when a thought like that infiltrates the girl’s mind, even by a hint, the rambunctious freedom withers from her stage.
No one can stay ‘insensible’ forever.
I guess the underground idols die young because the duration from their onset to the realization of their connection to the world is just so momentary.
The ingenuous girls compose the ‘anything-goes’ scene of the underground idols, but them being girls is the very reason it’s ever-fleeting and ever-changing.
So, as I’ve stated earlier, I’m here in this industry as a manager, and it so happens that the group I’ve been in charge of is about to end their transient life after a a little over a year and a half.
Their ‘purposeless’ name is Shoujo Kakka No International [Her Excellency’s International]. From noise to progressive-rock, insular trad-folk to free jazz, we’ve made a swarm of un-idol-like songs within our lifespan.
We jested around lyrically as well. A song about a sad middle-aged woman who’s head over heels for a serial killer, or a song based on a non-fictional child’s play murder case committed by a 12 year old girl, or a song referring to a boy-to-boy romance.
We were able to poke around jumbly because the team was exactly the ‘negligent, nonsensical, purposeless girls’ who were perfectly fit for the job.
Within our short year and a half, before anyone noticed, they were blooming into adulthood. I guess it wasn’t just their height that grew. Girls aren’t kids forever.
I can’t say that I’m not dreary about it.
In fact, it’s hard to admit that it’s just the opposite.
But I’m telling myself that these burgeons blossoming is a beautiful phenomenon. I mean, ‘ever-fleeting’ and ‘a girl blossoming’? The words themselves are already carrying vulnerable delicacy… So, I guess this installment must be brimming with their frail beauty.
Shoujo Kakka No International
An indies idol group formed in 2014. Colloquially ‘Shonasho’. Each member having their own characteristics, differing in height and looks, put on obscure and anarchistic performances that were once avoided by other idol groups.