Avex’s answer to K-Pop27 January, 2012 by Chad
While Tokyo Girls’ Style continue to sway indecisively between their serious and idol images, Fairies emerged just 4 months ago as avex’s true successors to SPEED. In the short time since they’ve debut, Avex has not been shy to proclaim Fairies as their answer to the K-pop wave sweeping the rest of the world.
While Avex has been slow to jump onboard both idol and gayo crazes, only catching onto the less than subtle trends in the music industry in recent months. They have since brought under their wing the likes of SKE48 and After School. While Avex continues to use the knowledge to steer their first traditional idol group SUPER☆GiRLS to further success, it is through Fairies that they hope to combine popular Korean pop elements, with a more Japanese production process.
Fairies is managed by Vision Factory and signed onto Avex’s SONIC GROOVE sub-label, which is responsible for similar acts like SPEED, MAX, DA PUMP and Amuro Namie (who has since left for avex tune). The label boasts years of experience in the industry that certainly shows in the quality of the group’s first two double A-side releases, More Kiss / Song for You and HERO / Sweet Jewel. Many of the same producers who have worked with SPEED the past now infuse the same edgy tones into Fairies and DA PUMP’s KENZO provides the girls with the necessary dance tutelage.
But does Fairies really stray that far from Avex’s comfort zone? The company has been successfully churning out the same hip-hop inspired pop tunes, even before such a style was adapted in Korea. With Korean artists taking center stage in the rest of Asia though, one cannot deny that Korea’s take on the concept proves much more popular.
The 7 young members of Fairies wear not costumes but fashionably coordinated looks. In perfect synchronization, they perform catchy R&B-pop songs that occasionally throw in the song’s English title, that may or may not have any relevance to the lyrics. There is a heightened focus on sharp, hip hop style dances.
But while most Korean groups debut only after years of training, Fairies follow the typical Japanese fashion of throwing the girls into the spotlight unprepared. And it doesn’t get quite as young as this. All members of Fairies are aged between 13 and 15 years old, with most leaning toward the former.
The first two singles have established Ito Momoka as the group’s center. In fact, she’s the only one singing in their more prominent first A-side, More Kiss. HERO expands this vocal lineup to include Nomoto Sora, though the rest of the members contribute to the song’s spoken lines and K-pop styled dances.
Oddly though, the accompanying songs for each double A-side (Song for You and Sweet Jewel), tend to lean more toward pop, rather than the more distinct sounds of More Kiss or HERO. Though I suspect this is in part a result of the incorporation of the other young members’ high pitched voices. I’m not sure if it is intentional, the songs are still great (Sweet Jewel is possibly the best Christmas themed pop song in years) but it does stray a little from the group’s primary image.
During the recent travel articles, I mentioned about the plentiful amount of posters and banners, advertising Fairies’s new single. Avex has spared no expense in promoting the new group and along with large billboards everywhere, we found the entire Omotesando covered with banners. I learned that Fairies had been actively performing live at malls all around Tokyo in the weeks before and after the release of HERO / Sweet Jewel too.
An interesting thing to note, is that we were totally unable to find Fairies singles at any regular music store outlets in the vicinity of Akihabara like Softmap, or even general stores elsewhere in Tokyo that also happened to carry some idol CDs, such as Don Quijote. Something tells me that Avex is putting in extra effort to distance Fairies from the surplus of idol groups sweeping across Japan.
This might seem counterproductive to sales. And indeed Fairies aren’t selling as well as you’d think they’d be. More Kiss / Song for You sold only about 12,000 copies on its first week, with HERO / Sweet Jewel performing slightly below that. Though if true, Avex values the group’s image far more and not associating them with idol acts could well be part of a longer term plan.
Instead, Fairies seem to resonate well with a primarily young female audience much in the same way many other Korean groups do, a possible a sign that the group is headed on the right track.Click here to search CDJapan for Fairies and other related items.