AKB and its offshoot groups are the only ones with more than a dozen members; Kara and comparable groups, both Japanese and Korean, typically have between 3 and 9. I think what Kara, Girls Generation, Wondergirls etc. bring is a much more polished and accomplished overall package, i.e. dancing and better singing, along with the well-produced teen-pop records. Kara's songs are exceptionally catchy bubblegum, recalling the best of the late-'70s disco hits. Sure it's disposable music, but every generation has their pop acts that come and go. AKB trades almost exclusively on kawaii to sell themselves, as most of their members can't really seem to sing or dance. Hopefully the K-groups will serve as a wake-up call to AKB-style J-pop groups to up their game and place more importance on performance, not just presentation. That said, Japanese groups like Speed and (especially) Perfume have a well-defined identity and perform as well as any such group from anywhere in the world.
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@nemoflow, I'm sure Amuro-chan will shed a tear that some anonymous guy on the internet doesn't like her music.
It's pop music: disposable ear candy. Taken as such, Namie's is well-crafted and fun, and she's perfectly adorable. To what standard are you comparing her? Madonna? Britney Spears? Lady Gaga? I think she's right up there with the best of the female pop personalities. Faint praise perhaps, but it's not as if any of them are at the UN negotiating nuclear disarmament...
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