Q Why can't idol singers appearing on TV sing?

A In Japan, singing ability is not a prerequisite for becom-ing a popular singer. If one makes it as an idol, opportunities open up to sing in public and to act in TV dramas regardless of the ability.

The period from 1950-60 after the end of World War II marked a surge of overwhelming popularity for movies. Idols from the ranks of movie actors and actresses appeared in succession such as YOSHINAGA Sayuri and ISHIHARA Yujiro. Their songs actually came over quite well the more they sang and the more one became used to their singing.

TV hit parade programs were at the height of their popularity from the 1970s to the 1980s. Many of these idols debuted as singers through the power of TV even if their singing left much to be desired. They became instant stars if they had the right looks and an image that went over well with the viewers. The singing of many of these young pop singers was unbearable, but there were a few, however, such as YAMAGUCHI Momoe who were blessed with the ability to both sing and act.

These TV hit parade programs lost their popularity in the latter half of the 1980s and the qualifications for becom-ing an idol became stringent. It was not enough just to look cute or to sing well. The qualification for becoming an idol in 1996 is someone like the popular and rising star,

AMURO Namie and HAMAZAKI Ayumi, who has built up her career by taking music and dancing lessons and who is endowed with both unique looks and real talent.