• Zoe Lim

A New Phenomena : Virtual & Animated Bands

a picture of virtual k-pop band k/da made by league of legends and riot games

Recently, there has been a new phenomena where members of a musical group are not depicted as real-life musicians but as animated characters. The characters are fictional but the band produces music recorded by either a computer or by real musicians. The term 'virtual band' was popularized by the 'Gorillaz' in 2000 and Alvin and the Chipmunks in 1958.

This has been a growing trend in the music industry lately which allow musicians to have complete control of image, style and branding. Music videos are animated featuring the characters/members of the band and in concerts, computer-rendered holograms are sometimes used in place of the actual musician.

Without further ado, let's dive deeper into this fascinating sensation of 2020.

  1. Gorillaz

Gorillaz is perhaps the best and most brilliant example of a virtual band. The band was formed by Blur's Damon Albarn and Tank Girl's Jamie Hewlett in 1998 and has since released 6 studio albums. Gorillaz primarily consists of 4 animated members : Stuart "2-D" Pot, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. Despite the risk of the new concept of making a virtual band, Gorillaz has went on to achieve triple platinum and double platinum with their albums 'Gorillaz' and 'Demon Days'.

Yet, the most interesting aspect of a virtual band is its live performance. Most often, we wonder, are we going to see the actual musicians or the animated members? Well, Gorillaz combines both of them, having a mix of both real humans and its virtual characters. Have a look at one of their most famous live performances below :

2. Hatsune Miku

Possibly the most extreme example of a virtual musicians, Miku is coined as a 'vocaloid', a software that produces a completely synthetic voice. She was created by taking vocal samples from voice actress Saki Fujita at a controlled pitch and tone. Not only does Miku act as a pop-star and musician, she is also a vocal synthesizer marketed towards creators who want to buy Vocaloid and use it to create songs.

3. K/DA

K/DA is a virtual K-pop girl group consisting of 4 characters from the popular video game, League of Legends. The members consist of the animated characters Ahri, Akali, Evelynn and Kai'Sa. Evelynn and Kai'Sa were formerly voiced by American singers Madison Beer and Jaira and recently replaced by Bea Miller and Wolftyla respectively. Ahri and Akali are currently voiced by (G)I-dle members Miyeon and Soyeon, respectively. The band was unveiled at the 2018 League of Legends World Championships, a live video game tournament. The music video for K/DA has since garnered more than 300 million views.

During the ceremony, Beer, Jaira, Miyeon and Soyeon performed 'Pop/Stars' on stage while interacting with the