History Aydoru - The idol phenomenon began during the early 1970s, reflecting a boom in Japan for the musician Sylvie Vartan in the French film Cherchez l'idole in 1963, with Japanese title (Aidoru wo sagase?) in November 1964. The term came to be applied to any cute actress or female singer, or any cute male singer. Teenage girls, mostly between 14 and 16, and teenage males, mostly between 15 and 18, began rising to stardom. One in particular, Momoe Yamaguchi, was a huge star until her marriage and retirement in 1980. Idols dominated the pop music scene in the 1980s, and this period is known as the "Golden Age of Idols in Japan". In a single year, as many as 40 or 50 new idols could appear, only to disappear from the public spotlight shortly afterwards. A few idols from that era, such as Seiko Matsuda, are still popular.
In the 1990s, the popularity of female Japanese idols began to wane, as the music industry shifted towards rock musicians and singers for whom music was a more important sales point than looks or wholesomeness, as well as towards genres such as rap that were harder to square with conventional prettiness. At the same time, the popularity of male Japanese idols, such as SMAP, Kinki Kids, Tokio, and V6, grew. They gained high popularity in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Initially the term "idol" arose to describe very young newly emerging female singers who were noted for their innocence and freshness and sang cute songs. A diversification occurred in the 1990s and instead of few idols vying for popularity, a number of idols with specific characteristics divided the market. There is, however, an opinion that it is incorrect to use the word in this broader meaning and that an idol by definition should have some kind of fanatical overexcited following, something that a minor magazine model can't achieve.
In the mid-1990s, idols became much younger than before, and groups of idols like Speed and Morning Musume became prominent. A new genre of idols called Net Idols became known in the late 1990s, only appearing on websites. In 1997 there appeared Kyoko Date, the first "cyber idol" or "virtual idol". Kyoko Date has a fabricated history and statistics and her own songs. Meanwhile, gurabia aidoru ("[photo] gravure idols") have largely appeared skimpily clad in "cheesecake" photographs. Idols also became a fixture in countless anime by singing opening or ending songs that have little relevance to the anime itself. Some experimented with being voice actors, and so voice actors themselves became somewhat like idols, becoming increasingly popular. Even today, some are still involved with the video game industry, though they are not always entirely successful.
The 2000s saw the rise in popularity of idol groups such as Arashi, a boy band formed in 1999 and produced by Johnny & Associates, Inc., the largest male idol talent agency. The year 2002 saw the addition of the Hello! Project Kids, who later formed Hello! Project idol groups Berryz Kobo and C-ute, sister groups to Morning Musume. In 2007 NHK Kouhaku Utagassen, "Idol group from Akihabara" AKB48, "Otaku idol" Shoko Nakagawa, "Idol from the U.S." Leah Dizon performed a medley called "Special Medley: Latest Japan Proud Culture" together, introduced as "Akiba-kei idols". Since 2007, a new category of idol, the "Virtual Idol", is growing popular in Japan. Thanks to the advent of Vocaloid 2 and its famous character Hatsune Miku, the "Virtual Idol" is enjoying great popularity, gaining a solid fan base. This new type of idols, in addition to the usual media, often receive adaptations in other dedicated media spanning anime, manga, novel, video games, etc. Another example of this new category is The Idolmaster franchise.
In 2010s several new idol groups appeared; Momoiro Clover, S/mileage (another Hello! Project group), SKE48 (a sister group of AKB48), Tokyo Girls' Style and many other groups made debut. A TV-based group Idoling!!! has its own program on Fuji TV and gets some popularity. The fiercely competitive situation in the Japanese idol scene is called "Idol sengoku jidai". In 2011, Momoiro Clover changed its name to Momoiro Clover Z and gained popularity more than before. The group is known for energetic dance performances. They are heavily choreographed and feature acrobatic stunts. They also incorporate elements of ballet, gymnastics, and action movies. Although the girls' voices are not very stable when coupled with an intense dance, they never lipsynch. Momoiro Clover Z is ranked as the most popular female idol group according to 2013 and 2014 surveys in Japan.