On Wednesday night, the Japanese anime projection Hatsune Miku sang "Sharing the World" on the Late Show with David Letterman. For audiences that are not familiar with Hatsune Miku (or Miku Hatsune) and her work, she is an animated projection that uses the Yamaha Corporation's Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3 singing synthesizing technologies. Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesizer, and its software allows users to synthesize singing by typing in lyrics and melody. Hatsune's voice is sampled from a Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita, and occasionally real instruments are used in the background, as was the case on the recent Late Show with David Letterman performance.
The inspiration from Hatsune Miku's look comes directly from Japanese animation, including the often used Japanese school girl outfit and very wild and unnaturally colored hair. The name comes from the word mash-up of the Japanese words for first, sound, and future, indicating that Hatsune Miku is "the first sound from the future".
Hatsune Miku has toured using her holographic form before. She is extremely big in Japan, an artificial pop star that has been used to sell quite a few products. Her influence in Japan has been compared to Justin Bieber's fandom in the United States. She has even opened for Lady Gaga in the United States. She may not be a household name in America, but this appearance on the Late Show could spread her popularity worldwide.
Hatsune Miku seems like the obvious evolution of pop stars. She personifies the artificiality about music sensations where absolutely nothing is real. It is reminiscent of the movie S1m0ne, a 2002 science fiction film directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Al Pacino. In that film, Pacino uses software to create an actress who is nothing more than a series of pixels, and this computer-generated woman quickly becomes a major megastar as everyone thinks Simone is a real woman. In the case of Hatsune Miku, the illusion is pretty obvious, and perhaps this is what makes her a star. Since we all know that Hatsune Miku is not real, she can essentially be whoever the fans want her to be.
When the performance of Hatsune Miku ended on the Late Show, David Letterman walked out to the stage, as if to congratulate her personally. While his back was turned, Hatsune Miku vanished in an explosion of pixels. Letterman's only comment was "It's like being on Willie Nelson's bus".