Homemaker, 37, joins girl group AKB48


Commercial music juggernaut AKB48 has added a 37-year-old mother of two to the wildly popular all-girl group as it looks to broaden the appeal of its teen-dominated line-up.

The collective, whose 90-plus singers and dancers are rotated in and out of the limelight according to their waxing and waning popularity, regularly pump out songs that sell more than a million copies.

But the management behind one of the most successful brands in showbiz put out advertisements last month seeking older members to branch out of its teen and early-20s demographic.

Enter homemaker Mariko Tsukamoto, a mother of two, who was picked from a pool of over 5,000 applicants, including an 82-year-old lady.

Tsukamoto will take part in live concerts and promotional events through August.

“I want to cheer up all the moms out there who are busy raising kids, like me,” she said in a statement Thursday.

AKB48, one of the most lucrative groups of all time, is part pop act and part talent show, where a member’s time on the front line is determined by how much adoration they inspire.

The most popular girls or young women remain a part of the core group that sings and dances their way through formulaic bubble gum tunes. Those who fall out of public favor are demoted to a sub-group in an organization structured somewhat like a football league.

Much of the group’s appeal lies in frequent opportunities for fans to meet them, chat or befriend them on social networking sites.

  • Lior Meron Freilich

    I somehow have my doubts that this is what will get a more mature audience.

    • phu

      I think that depends on what you mean by “mature.” That word isn’t used in the piece, and at least in American English (sorry if that’s not how you intended it, but it’s all I know), it’s a bit loaded: While I’d agree this almost certainly won’t make people look at AKB48 and say “hey, this move makes me want to take them much more seriously in an artistic sense,” I can see the potential for older women (and possibly men) to look at it and say “hey, they actually hired someone my age, maybe I could [be|date] one of those people!”

      It’s not realistic, of course, but it could very well be effective marketing. These groups are sold in no small part on the fantasy of having a chance with them (hence the scandal that erupts whenever one of them is caught having an actual relationship), so perhaps it isn’t that far-fetched that this could indeed draw in more listeners with a slightly different fantasy.

  • zer0_0zor0

    …trending—from bad to worse.

    Sure, she’s joining in order to “cheer up” all those hard-working mothers by participating in a spectacle of school-girl inanity…

  • GBR48

    Most of the cheap shots persistently levelled at the ’48 groups were levelled at The Beatles throughout the 60s. They simply would not sustain the sales and fan base they do if they and their music were as bad as their critics claim.

    I’m definitely a ‘mature’ fan and not through the desire of having a ‘chance’ with any of the members of the group: I’m old enough to be the father of all but the latest. I like the characteristic sound and many of the songs are amongst my all time favourites. A number of the music videos, particularly the extended ones, are as good as any that have been made, industry wide, since the pop video first developed. AKB48 is something Japan should be proud of.

    As for ‘PR gimmicks’, well the absolute king of the PR gimmick for several decades was David Bowie, and nobody ever takes cheap shots at him. AKS know their business. If only the world’s banks had known their’s.

    On the one hand, the Government of Japan seem hell bent on alienating the rest of the world (whales, dolphins, increased militarism and a persistent desire to isolate their nation from the international community). On the other, the ’48 bands are selling the many merits of their nation abroad, generating good will towards, and interest in Japan globally.

    If Japan is lucky, AKB48 might turn out to be the more potent force.