Thankful for Jpop 2: Avex’s Patience with SweetS

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

Okay… Imagine you’re Avex and you hold these auditions for a new girl group. You give them a catchy name, an excellent songwriting team that makes full use of that catchy name, and Amuro Namie’s husband for a choreographer. So there’s all these expectations, some incredibly lush PV’s… you even give them a DVD for their first single…

And they don’t sell all that great. What do you do?

Setting aside how much I like the first phase of SweetS – the first three singles and the eponymous debut mini-album – I am fully aware that it wasn’t a sales blockbuster. I have to give thanks that Avex didn’t just pull the plug on them. I’m sure there were business reasons, perhaps even contractual stipulations, but I often think, Avex could’ve abandoned them. SweetS could have been marked up as a failed experiment in rori-pop and they could’ve moved on to something else.

Instead, corrections were made: the rorikon image was shucked – as was the songwriting team of Bounceback, unfortunately – and a more innocent, schoolgirl image was employed. And when the girls were accomplished enough, that image was dropped this year and the girls simply became idols in their own right.

This is what makes SweetS so intellectually satisfying to me: their career trajectory reflects the negotiation between art and commerce… and while art may have taken a hit after that initial phase, the girls were still able to hone their abilities and make some memorable songs.

It’d be easy enough to look on the negative side – to say SweetS were great and now they suck – but I’m still hopeful for their future, and will point to "Mienai Tsubasa" as proof of this. Apparently, Avex believed in the talent of the Penty Five from the start and have done everything they can to make sure the girls stay together as a group. Even the hiatus of Aki and Aya reflects this flexibility and patience, allowing the girls to pursue school ambitions and not forcing a choice between academics and idol-hood.

And it’s going to pay off. Maybe SweetS won’t recreate their aesthetic greatness of their early months, but I truly believe they have a chance to be the next Speed. Fans know that, and thankfully Avex seems to know it as well and let their investment pay off over time.

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2 Responses to “Thankful for Jpop 2: Avex’s Patience with SweetS”
  1. bene says:

    They not sell so much because Avex do anything with them. It is true that their songs less “are sweetened” but they are always brilliant. It would be necessary just that avex understands that it is necessary that bounceback returns….

  2. bene:

    I sometimes wonder if Bounceback is being avoided by SweetS’ management because they were so instrumental in the early singles with the rorikon vibe that turned people off…