The disbanded girl group SweetS of Avex is remembered as a dream deferred. How will Avex's new flagship fare in these tough times?
Ironically, just as I was discovering dead!SweetS for the first time, I also found out that Avex is forming a brand new girl group this year- their first, in fact, since SweetS. According to Avex, this group was formed due to the “high demand” for girl groups. ORLY? Where is the research and development sector of Avex located, South Korea? Last time I checked, every idol girl group in Japan was rocketing down the sales charts. Maybe they meant that they wanted to REVIVE the girl group hype in Japan.[EDIT: blanket!statement fail. Actually, girl groups outside of H!P such as AKB48 are enjoying a great surge in popularity (thanks Nic!). However, H!P sales have indeed been dwindling.] Plus, you’d think they’d switch up the formula once it failed, but the new group, set to debut this coming May, bears an uncanny resemblance in structure and dynamics to the deceased SweetS. Maybe four years ago is ancient history to Avex too.
|Tokyo Girls Style|
Perhaps the only thing that they have running against them is their more generic, safe approach to their debut. Their recent performance of one of the songs on their debut single was less than memorable, featuring a very simple cutesy pop sound with lots of sparkly synth and an overall light flavor. Then again, SweetS far more risqué debut single, “Lolita Strawberry in Summer” was not well received, so maybe this is a smart move on Avex’s part. Besides, H!P is much less of a competitor with their dwindling sales these days.
Also, despite the ominous SweetS-esque vibe that this group exudes, it is quite valid to consider us in a completely different time compared to the Sweets era, especially in terms of celebrity promotion. Staying with the times, Avex has created a Youtube channel well ahead of debut time and posted various videos familiarizing and promoting the members from day one. The account features videos of their performances, profile-ish clips of each member, as well as very cute videos of the girls showing off their dance routines sans music and goofing off during their downtime.
The number of subscribers this channel as earned, around 850 at the moment, is almost 20% of the number of subscribers Upfront Agency's channel (which features videos of prominent H!P groups such as Berryz Koubou, Morning Musume, C-ute, Smileage etc) has- and Tokyo Girls Style has yet to debut! The interactive nature of promotion (thanks to their tech-savvy managers, I wager) may be the greatest saving grace for this new group.
Avex sure chose an odd time to be throwing a new group out to the sharks. But who knows? Maybe these girls can beat the odds of an economic recession, a losing battle of public interest, and bring back the girl group genre! I, for one, have my fingers crossed.