- Zoe Lim
A New Phenomena : Virtual & Animated Bands
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.
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.
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 augmented reality versions of the characters.
4. Studio Killers
Studio Killers is an electropop virtual band made up of four animated characters : Chubby Cherry, keyboardist Goldie Foxx, DJ Dyna Mink and manager Bipolar Bear.
In 2015, Studio Killers released a music video for "Jenny" which was a number-two hit on the Finnish Singles Chart and was received positively by critics. This single was also Chubby Cherry's favorite track off Studio Killers, in which she mentions that it "holds a personal place in my heart". The song describes a friendship between two women in which one of them, Jenny, has a boyfriend. However, Cherry has a crush on Jenny and lyrically, the song suggests that Jenny should "forget those amigos" and go with Cherry.
5. True Damage
Similar to K/DA, True Damage was also formed by the company Riot Games which made League of Legends. True Damage consists of characters Akali (also the rapping member of K/DA) , Ekko, Qiyana, Senna and Yasuo. The group performed at the 2019 League of Legends World Championships with their song 'Giants', complete with holograms to supplement the singers.
The song is a mix of hiphop and electronic music. The musicians behind the recording of the song are Becky G, Keke Palmer, (G)I-DLE's Soyeon, Duckwrth and Thutmose.
Zoe is an avid fan of all kinds of music. Her primary instrument is the guitar but she is always passionately learning how to play other instruments such as the drums and keyboard. She is currently playing the bass guitar in a band and has been routinely involved in music since she was a child.
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