This post originally appeared on Sciblogs.co.nz.
While New Zealanders were screaming over Justin and dazzling over Gaga this year, Japanese fans have been cheering on a popstar who sings exactly what they want her to sing and says what they want her to say. To be precise, she is not even human.
Hatsune Miku is a virtual popstar and character for Crypton Future Media's singing synthesiser application. The software uses Yamaha's vocaloid synthesising technology, and gives anyone the chance to make their own Hatsune Miku song by typing in the lyrics and music. To make Hatsune Miku sound real, a real voice actor recorded a series of letter sounds, which were then strung together to make words, and eventually sentences.
First released in 2007, songs and pictures of Hatsune Miku have begun to attract attention on video websites such as Nikoniko-douga, a Japanese version of Youtube.
Hatsune Miku has also performed on stage in front of real people. Her concert in Tokyo during March was so popular, organisers had to schedule in an extra performance to meet ticket demands.
Her 2D image was projected onto a transparent screen on stage, but with a live band backing her and a hall full of fans, at times it is hard to tell whether she is real or not.
Looking at such footage raises questions about whether we will be seeing such virtual popstars more in the future.
Over the years we have seen how the internet has given people the freedom to choose what news they want to read, or meet people on social networks who share the same interests. Perhaps then, there will be a place where more and more people choose to create the music they want to hear from their pop idol rather than put up with what is being thrown at them.
And just in case anyone's interested, Hatsune Miku's creators have said she is a 16-year-old girl, 158 cm tall, weighs 42 kg, and sings best at 70 to 150 beats per minute.
This post originally appeared on Sciblogs, New Zealand's largest science blogging network.