Seasons greetings, Magical Meteorites and other citizens of the universe.
As mentioned in a previous post, the blog has now become a full-fledged part of my job search/career development efforts (even if it has long been part of my personal brand). I was not the first person to do this as Serenyty (of Happy Disco) and NyNy (or NyNyOnline) have incorporated their blogs into their career development. As a result, the blog will be undergoing a much-needed makeover in the near future with new features and a sleek look.
It is hard to believe that idols can be thought of as something that can impact someone’s like this. We look to idols for inspiration and solace, making our lives a little brighter with their pop Noh theatrics.
However, what does all of this have to do with the hunt? How can following idols tie into it besides resume beefing? Actually, a lot. We’re going to take a look at how idols can benefit the prospective job seeker. Why, just recently we’ve had the announcement for a director (though despite the “open nationality” bit, it’s mostly geared towards Japanese residents. Sorry to contribute to the misinformation).
I certainly would not be the first person to relate the musical audition process to the hunt and career building:
- American Idol’s Lessons for Job Seekers
- What Can Gifted Kids Learn from American Idol?
- Lessons Reality TV Can Teach Us about the Workplace
- What American Idol Tells Us About The Job Market
- Feedback Do’s and Don’ts From American Idol (This is the main reason I brought this up.)
Yes, I am quite aware that most relate to American Idol. It is the one most familiar to the place where a majority of visitors hail from: the United States (yes, there are that many idol-minded readers who may or may not care about American Idol as much as they care bout Asian ones). Also, if you were brought here by any potential pingbacks via these sites, I am sorry if you feel deceived. While this post is about idols, they’re not American (unless Coconuts Musume gets in the picture).
1. Never Give Up
Tanaka Reina auditioned twice to get into her dream group, Morning Musume. The first time was due to her being underage and management discovering this during the training camp period. (On that note, don’t shirk around the rules and make sure you fit the requirements of your prospective job.) Now, she’s rocking the “grad” status in her band LoVendor, having released four mini-albums since 2013, all with the respect of the millions of fans she charmed when she made her second (and successful) attempt.
On another note there is also the various Kenshuusei who are rejects from previous auditions. (It has even come to the point where I view H!P Auditions as “glorified Kenshuusei auditions.” One had the finalists of an unsuccessful audition go right into the Kenshuusei―by choice. The girls all wanted it so badly they all became cadets.)
Speaking of which, that is just who stay in H!P. I’m not even going to count the rejected candidates who became members of the 48G platoon. I almost became a fan for that reason. There are also the countless rejects who move on to other groups and ventures.
2. Work Hard For Your Dreams
Being an idol is all about working hard for the sake of your dreams, your future. Part of the fun is watching them grow and cheer them on. Some of the most famous and well-known divas had questionable singing skills when they entered the field. However, by the time they graduated, you couldn’t believe how they began.
Besides, while the business of idols means you might end up taking a backseat to the “aces,” that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Just look around at any and every idol blog/forum/BBS/etc and you will find someone who is liked for their “underdog” status. Some end up being sleeper hits or getting spotlighted in other ways. (In the mercurial world of H!P, curveballs are a bit of the norm.)
To quote Puffy AmiYumi, “anything is possible” so work hard and reap the fruits of your labor. That Top 5 ranking range on the charts might be yours someday. Hey, you may even debut at #1!
3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Being an idol is not without its hardships. You might have a difficult working relationship (did you know that ex-Morning Musume leader Sayumi Michishige plucked her eyebrows as a result of the stress she endured while mentoring a now ex-member? Idols!) or a slump that can potentially send you into a death spiral of depression. You may be at a crippling disadvantage or have a medical condition that can wreck your career (Kamei Eri and Mitsui Aika graduated for that very reason).
However, positive attitudes are a definite winner. (Yes, we are prone to like the snarkers and the “scary” ones i.e. Nakazawa Yuko and Fujimoto Miki—even Michishige falls into the former category!—but there’s a reason they’re happily married with children and that’s the last you’ve heard of them.) Everyone wants to be around someone who can lighten the mood, especially in a difficult business.
4. Play Up Your Strengths and Channel Your Charm Point
In idol lingo, a “charm spot/point” is something considered attractive and marketable, the idol’s greatest tool in their arsenal. Maybe it’s that cute little mole or your fun personality. It all comes to one’s self-awareness and knowledge of what sets them apart.
What makes you unique? What is your dominating feature?
Emphasize your strengths and channel the thing (or things) that make you memorable. Sayu is known for her cuteness and beauty, coupled with a pleasant (speaking) voice. Speaking of which, this leads to the next thing:
5. Humanize Your Flaws
While it is important to emphasize your strengths, it is just as important to make your deficiencies work for you. Sayu and Ishikawa Rika (widely considered her predecessor) are both known for their questionable singing voices. However, they’re both just as accomplished as any diva (and Ishikawa has been in a lot of groups and units, possibly the most of any H!P member). The first full line in Sayumi’s solo song basically says “I’m cute even though my pitch is bad.”
It’s easy to get caught up in maintaining an image, but people (i.e. employers) prefer a more “authentic” figure than an autotuned robot. It’s one big reason Suzuki Kanon was always a popular 9th Gen member.
6. Be Mindful of Yourself
Don’t do something or anything that could jeopardize your career and wreck your future. Just ask Kago Ai (legal drama, which continues to haunt her even after she got her life together) and Yaguchi Mari (infidelity scandal with a lot of weird and at times confusing details). Takahashi Ai and Mika are the only members of Mini Moni to not get embroiled in a “scandal” that could shake up the faith of their fanbase.
I don’t remember where I heard this (it might be either RuPaul’s Drag Race or Adventure Time), but it bears repeating:
You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.
7. Learn to Handle the Heat
There’s no escaping it, people: You will encounter negative feedback (see that aforementioned American Idol post), some constructive, some destructive. Use the constructive critique to improve yourself and never you mind the destructive — and be wise enough to know the difference!
8. Remember That This is a Journey
You are on a journey of self-improvement and self-evolution. Idols change, mutate, and mature and if you want to be singing the “Fuutsu 10nen” song of your life, you would better do the same. Grow and improve and don’t rest on your laurels if you make it.
9. Take Pride in Accomplishments But Continue to Be Humble(d)
Take delight in the #1 spots, the Kouhaku invites, the 5,000 single sales in 5 days! However, nobody likes an arrogant blowhard, someone who gives off smugness in their own success. Yeah, we love to be proud, but don’t let it turn into hubris of the Furies will find you and the Fates will crush you. In this day and age (especially in the age of social media, people like someone who is humble and approachable. You’ll find more friends that way.
10. Be Open to New Possibilities
Part of being an idol is exploring new ventures. As Miss Frizzle famously said: Takes chances, make mistakes, get messy. Being an idol is more than just singing and posing for cheesecake (and some don’t even engage in the latter!). Some idols go into the theatre, appear on variety shows, co-star in dramas, do seiyuu work in anime (and release music to tie in it)… the possibilities are endless! It’s just a matter of knowing who you are and what you like to do.
You’ll never know what’s coming around the bend so be open to infinity and beyond!
11. Know Your Audience and Market
One common complaint about H!P’s output in the mid-late 2000s was how “out of touch” with current trends the music was. Since about 2009-2011, the music style has changed to style more reminiscent of the current thing in the J-music atmosphere: dubstep and K-Pop (pardon the latter comparison, but the Hallyu Wave is a force that can’t be ignored).
In fact, in my opinion, as much as I love “Kimagure Princess,” I feel its sales were hurt by the fact the release date was moved to compete with the big dog in the idol scene: AKB48. A brave and possibly foolhardy move, but this is a business, a competition. Everyone wants to be #1. (Besides, the fans welcomed the change in music anyway and as much as they can be insatiable, they are the ones who are both the leaders and the followers in this thing. We’re the ones who vote for our idols with our wallets, literally if you’re into the 48s.)
It all comes down to knowing who you’re marketing yourself to and knowing what the market is. There’s a reason AKB idols are marketed as “The idols you can meet” (handshake incident be darned).
Idols may be a frivolous escape into an orchestrated pseudo-realistic wonderland (a la wrestling), but there are some informative points and lessons we can take from them. After all, part of the point of the idol is to admire them and what better way than through inspiration? Take these eleven pearls of wisdom and blossom into the career idol you were meant to be.
Happy hunting days!