Idol groups are doing pretty well for themselves nowadays. Since AKB reignited the public’s interest in idols, it’s become mainstream again. Groups like Momoiro Clover, Smileage, and SKE48 have had huge growths in sales and popularity despite having only been around for about a year or less in the singles market.
It’s also evident when the two idol releases of this week were the top two ranked on the Oricon daily sales charts. ‘Idoling!!!’s 14th single ‘Eve’ sold 21,898 copies, grabbing 2nd place. SDN48, releasing their debut single this week, had a hefty 34,348 copies sold, ranking #1 for first day sales on their first try. I’m pretty surprised at how well SDN did; not only were they releasing a song that took inspiration from K-pop, but they’re marketed as a older and mature idol group; among the the first of their kind.
It’s a group that defies the idea of performing idols only having to be young and cute, showing that idols who are 20 years and older still have their own unique appeal. It’s a pretty large risk considering how different this group is from all the others that are dominating the idol scene. If you look at their variety shows and appearances, their mannerisms and banter is totally different from the bouncy, naive attitudes idols normally provide; In some ways the personalities in SDN48 is more relateable, and are able to talk about subjects and cut loose in areas that other idols can’t.
The big question mark was their debut single. The Kpop-infused song was different from anything they’ve performed before. Was there a casual audience for that kind of thing? Was there an audience for that at all? Japanese fans of Korean pop would buy Korean music, but would they buy a Japanese song that had those sensibilities? Looking at sales, I guess there is a pretty large audience for older girl groups who do J-pop with a Korean twist—I was starting to think we were in the minority for loving this single.