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

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