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It was 1964 when 19-year-old ye-ye singer Sylvie Vartan captured the hearts of Japanese cinemagoers in the French film “Cherchez l’idole,” released here as “Aidoru o Sagase” and in English as “The Chase.” Her track from that film, “La plus belle pour aller danser,” was a hit here, selling more than a million copies.

Vartan’s true impact on Japanese culture, however, was her je ne sais quoi: She was young, cute and musically gifted. Taking from the film’s title, the Japanese entertainment industry began to assign the term “aidoru” (“idol”) to singers here such as Momoe Yamaguchi, Junko Sakurada and Masako Mori, who all had the same aesthetic.

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