Community Article: The Solo Act

Biting at the heels of Iwasa Misaki’s debut, we have another great community article to share. NSK community member SleepyOta wrote an article discussing other AKB soloists and what varying levels of success they achieved. He brings up important questions and conjectures that talk about the past, present and future solo careers. Read on!


They’re Great Together But Can They Stand Alone?

Recently we were surprised by the news that two more members were going to join the ranks of Itano Tomomi and Maeda Atsuko as solo artists. I am of course talking of Iwasa Misaki and Watanabe Mayu. Iwasa is a particularly interesting case because she has a talent for enka singing, a form of music that you do not normally associate with idols. So, that leaves us with the count of 4 currently active AKB members that have started their solo careers, but do they have what it takes on their own?

Lately, Itano Tomomi has been doing pretty well. Her latest single “Fuini” sold well despite heavy competition and even had the number one spot on Oricon despite sales not matching her first single, “Dear J.” She has an Amuro Namie-esque style that is extremely unique and eye-catching but also appeals to the mainstream music audience. Her Shibuya girl look and her lone wolf personality really fits the image she portrays in her music and I think she has the talent, the popularity and of course the style to make it.

Maeda Atsuko also made her solo debut in June with the single, “Flower.” It did really well which I would honestly attribute to the incredible popularity Maeda has as the front girl of AKB48. But is she really cut out for her own single career? I would give her a “Hopefully.” Her voice while being extremely sweet and suited for singing lacks the particular strength that is usually attributed with solo singers. I’m afraid Maeda Atsuko just might not have the voice to really move audiences. However, “Flower” is easily one of my favorite slow songs this year. Its sweet, relaxing melody really fits the sound of her voice . I just hope to see more from her so I can really see what she has to offer.

So, about these soon to be debuted girls, do they have what it takes? I’m actually been really interested in Iwasa Misaki ever since I learned about her from her involvement in Watarirouka Hashiritai 7. I’ve watched a few Youtube clips of her enka singing and I must say she is really fantastic at her hobby. I’m just a little worried that she might not have the popularity that will back her up. Compared to other AKB members that have made solo debuts, including graduated members Ohori Meshibe and Oshima Mai, she definitely has not had the same push that they received. Hopefully, she will find popularity in her particular niche but I am unsure how well she will sell overall.

Now what about Mayu? She definitely has the following that will help push her to be successful but I had always thought she already did really well as part of Watarirouka. I personally feel that her talents and her cute high-pitched voice are more suited to being in a group rather than a solo debut. Overall, my feeling is that we will just have to wait and see how she does. While I am a fan of hers, I am not sure how her solo debut will work out. Being a soloist requires a certain maturity in singing that I feel she has not attained yet. While the few songs I’ve heard her sing solo were done very well, the problem is that it is very very hard to go from an idol to a soloist and she still feels like an idol. I feel that just popularity is not enough to sing on your own.

I’m always in support of solo singers though. It is nice to see some of my favorite idols to have the chance to be the only one in the spotlight. It’s just that the girls that can be successful are a rare breed. Now these are just my opinions but I’m wondering how you guys feel. How have Itano and Maeda done so far and would you like to see more? How do you think Iwasa and Watanabe will do? Any other members you would like to solo debut? Leave your comments below!

Follow me @SleepyOta

About Dae Lee

-Dae, aka Mizu -Writer, broadcaster, and podcaster on New School Kaidan

Check Also

New PV Alert: E-girls – Y.M.C.A.

For their “E.G.11” album (see links below), E-girls put together an updated disco fantastic to …


  1. From akbjournal: ” Wasamin’s Mujineki gets 1st place at its 1st day release on Recocchoku enka ranking”
    With that, I argue that, at least in the enka world, she can do fairly well (with the AKB banner on her back until she can make a name for herself as Iwasa Misaki)

    Mayuyu, well I believe she can hit low notes. What make me appreciate her singing is her ability to go high and low in her singing. And a uniqueness to her voice. But I do stamp a “hopefully” to a permanent solo career.

    Oh u forgot Sashiko! But I figure this article was written b4 her debut announcement. But I have confidence in Wasamin’s career as a enka soloist. Mayuyu and Sashihara I image it for their drama and we may not see them release another single for a while. But HELL YES if u ask me if I want them to have permanent solo careers as a AKB soloist. In fact, more solo debuts! Imagine EVERY week of the year, there is a new AKB Family release? Awesome idea….but then again, is saturation good?…..

    Two girls I think that will do well as soloist are Takamina and Masuda Yuka . If anyone can do it and make their dreams come true , its Leader. And I don’t think I have to explain Yuka-chan’s reason for a solo debut hehe ^^.

  2. With Maeda and Itano, although they had a huge accomplishment with their solo singles I can not really say how much I can give them credit since this is during the present popularity of AKB. I would like to see once the popularity train is gone and if they are still doing music if they can come close to match a similar or reasonable success.

    There are 3 members I would like to see have solo acts are the 3 most fans talk about that have the best voices in AKB; Takahashi Minami, Masuda Yuka, and Sato Natsuki. These 3 have been long overdue for solo debuts. I have no clue if any of the 3 can succeed by themselves but I would like to still see it. Out of the 3, I would be worry about my oshi Masuda Yuka. Although she probably has the best vocals, I can not think of what type of singer or songs she should do. I can picture Takahashi covering songs similar to what Maeda is doing. With Sato Natsuki, I recently heard her English cover “Time After Time” by Cindy Laupher while playing a guitar so with me she is set with something I can identify with her with. However with Masuda having a powerful voice and did a song for an anime, I can not picture exactly what she should be singing if she had a solo debut. Hopefully with the next DIVA release that includes a coupling song just for her I can figure out what she should be doing.

    • Oh my god, I just looked up that video of Sato Natsuki, I was floored! I didn’t know she could play the guitar that well, and her voice was amazing as usual. I would love Sato Natsuki to have a solo debut, every time I have seen a video of her live singing, I’ve been impressed. In my opinion she has the closest voice to a solo artist that I would hear on the radio, plus she has this guitar ability that I just found about :) If I had to choose, I’d put all my money on Sato Natsuki, it’s just a matter of waiting for companies to notice her.

      Also, I really want Sashihara to succeed. Not just because she’s one of my favorites, but because so many people are saying she can’t, or that she doesn’t deserve it. I think maybe David’s underdog attitude is rubbing off on me haha

      As for Wasamin, I don’t see her breaking into the same audience as other idols gone soloist. I just hope that she can get her foot in the door with the enka crowd. Honestly I think she’s improved a lot over the short time we’ve seen her singing, and she’s still really young so I hope she has a great future ahead of her.

  3. I’d really like to see what Takamina can really do considering how much she wants to be a solo singer. Although, I don’t think she has the mainstream appeal to sell much (which is probably why that hasn’t happened yet). I love the songs she’s featured on in AKB and No3b songs, and I like her low and powerful voice.

    Tomochin is the only one that I think has done well outside AKB48, and I think AKB48 is holding her back a little bit, because I think if she was more devoted to solo stuff she could really build off the momentum of Dear J, Fui ni, and her digital singles. She reminds me of a young Namie Amuro, or even Ayu in that she has a lot of room to grow vocally, but her dancing, and sense of style, have the ability to stand out. I noticed Tomochin and became a fan before I liked AKB48, so that stands as a testament to her musical style being accessable outside of wotas.

    Maeda’s solo debut….ZZZzzzzzz. Well done, but, for me, it’s completely forgettable. Just not my style I guess.

    I’m curious as to how Mayu does because I think she’s kind of on the road to lead AKB in the future, so I think she has to find a niche with solo stuff that will be unique enough to stand out, and accessible enough that not just her fans like it.

    No matter who would be doing solo releases, they face a hard path. With how popular AKB48 is, it’s going to be difficult to stand out, and appeal to not just the hardcore AKB fans, but the mainstream listeners. Also, with how much time they all put into AKB it really makes it difficult to put the time and effort into doing what’s necessary to really explode as a solo artist.

  4. @dj amaya’s post

    dear j/fui ni and all the bsides and digital singles are great.

    I also enjoy mujin eki. spent a good hour practicing singing that and kudoki nagara aza bu juuban last night. enka lite and kabajo song, lol

  5. I was reading this and felt I had to contribute. When I saw news elsewhere that Hirajima Natsumi is leaving AKB and WH7.. A fucking scandal??? I DONT EVEN CARE.

    Im so fuckin pissed right now. I love nacchan. I just started becoming a fan of hers.. obsessing and now today she’s GONE? Just like that… wow. This sucks. I don’t care if she has a boyfriend.. now I’ll never see her again. bs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *