Itano did a live performance of her solo single ‘Dear J’ on CDTV Premiere Live:
This is a perfect example of transitioning from an idol group to going solo. It takes a lot of things to make a solo single work, especially from an idol-group background; you need exceptional marketing, mainstream appeal, an outstanding presence and more punch than a typical idol song.
It’s a tough mix, and extremely risky for someone to succeed solo, even if you have a big agency behind you. For example, as much as I want Mano Erina to succeed, she’s been dead in the water for a while and her recent unsuccessful album sealed the deal. They haven’t built her up enough, her voice isn’t strong enough for solo, and nearly all the songs created for her have been weak sauce. Why she wasn’t put in Morning Musume is beyond me, because she would have a lot more fans and be more successful.
At every point UFA messed up with Mano, Itano’s agency HoriPro got right. They were able to market her song and use her large fanbase from being in AKB to tailor an appropriate sound to fit her image. Where UFA tried to market her only to H!P and general idol fans, HoriPro put Itano’s trendsetting to good use; having contemporary electropop represent her, broadening the audience and giving Itano an edge.
This performance of ‘Dear J’ is awesome. Itano looks confident and the background dancers were a great touch. You can tell the AKB girls watching her perform through the monitors were emotional, especially Oshima Yuko, Maeda Atsuko and Takajyo Aki. Itano’s made some extraordinary leaps from when she joined AKB in 2005, and it must have been emotional for the other girls seeing her perform solo. It shows how far she’s come and also how far AKB has come as well. What’s also cool is that most of the audience for this CDTV event were girls— it’s always a refreshing change of pace from the usual overzealous male wota.
I wasn’t completely sold when they first announced Itano’s first single, but it’s proved me wrong 10 times over. This is a knockout.