These days, when it feels like things are constantly happening and changing, you can always count on music to be there for you. Music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Regardless of my mood, listening to music always makes my day better, and I’m always looking for new songs that captivate me.
There are a great number of amazing artists out there; I’m particularly partial to Taylor Swift, Owl City, Allie-X, and Utada Hikaru. But the thing that makes up at least 90% of my 1500+ song playlist is Vocaloid.
What is Vocaloid?
Vocaloid isn’t exactly an artist. What it is, essentially, is a vocal synthesizer program made to sing. Though its development began as early as 2000 by a man named Hideki Kenmochi, it didn’t truly take off until 2004. Yamaha Corporation, a musical instrument manufacturer in Japan which Kenmochi was a part of, released the first Vocaloids, LEON, LOLA, and MIRIAM, during that year.
You can arrange pre-recorded audio samples to create words and lyrics with whatever voice you’ve bought. You can then tune the pitch, octave, vibrato, and everything else you can imagine to create unique singing for your song!
Vocaloid voicebanks come in many different types. There are male and female voices with different characteristics. Some are lower, higher, more powerful, more breathy, etc. There’s something for everyone.
Vocaloids also have anime-style avatars attached to their names, so they aren’t just some faceless voices. Hatsune Miku, the most known Vocaloid, always sports her iconic teal pigtails, for example.
The magic of Vocaloid
What sets Vocaloid apart from other artists (besides the whole ‘not a real person singing’ thing) is the fact that virtually anyone can buy the program and make their own music with it. Thus, you get to hear the same voice singing in almost every sort of music genre, from ballads to pop to rock to rap to dubstep!
Not to mention, because everyone tunes Vocaloids differently, it means the same voice won’t always sing the same! For example, two popular songs featuring Hatsune Miku, World is Mine by ryo and Tell Your World by livetune use the exact same voicebank. However, their styles are very obviously different. This means there’s something for everyone!
And what’s more, not all Vocaloids are limited to just one “style” of voice. For example, Crypton Future Media, the ones behind Hatsune Miku and friends, released Appends a few years after their Vocaloids’ initial releases. Appends add a variety of new types of voices from the same voicebank, making their singing suit different types of songs more easily! There are songs showcasing how each Append sounds while singing the same lyrics.
In addition, though Vocaloid’s Japanese scene is the most known, Vocaloid voicebanks now come in a plethora of different languages including English, Spanish, and Chinese! Hatsune Miku herself even has her own English and Chinese voicebank now.
As mentioned before, Hatsune Miku is currently the most popular Vocaloid. She was released on August 31, 2007, and has evolved amazingly since then. She and her fellow Vocaloids from Crypton Future Media have had their own concerts in Japan since 2009, and they’re still going to this day. Magical Mirai is an annual concert held in Japan featuring Miku and the members of her Crypton family: Kagamine Rin, Kagamine Len, Megurine Luka, KAITO, and MEIKO.
During the concerts, holograms of the Vocaloids are projected onto a glass screen while they sing and a live band plays.
However, concerts aren’t restricted to just Japan anymore. Miku Expo has allowed the Crypton Vocaloids to perform in America, Europe, Canada, and other parts of Asia!
It doesn’t stop there. Miku herself even opened a concert for none other than Lady Gaga in 2014, and has been in commercials for various brands, including Lux (featuring Scarlett Johansen), Domino’s, and Toyota.
Oh, and did I mention the Crypton Vocaloids have more than one video game series produced by SEGA? Project DIVA and Project Mirai are rhythm games, of course, as that’s only fitting for a music program! There’s even a mobile rhythm game called Project SEKAI which has recently had its global server release! It’s constantly being updated with new Vocalo songs to play.
Whether Vocaloid is popular or not, though, I’ve stuck with it since 2008 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I simply love the different genres and singing styles that producers (users who make songs with Vocaloid) come up with. There’s never a lack of Vocaloid songs to listen to because there’s always someone somewhere uploading their song!
With that, I leave you with some Vocaloid song recommendations. However, I sincerely encourage you to explore the vast world of Vocaloid on your own and see what you find!