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Idol Singer

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She's young, cute and can sing too. Just like the girl they chose to voice her.

A wildly popular trope in fiction about Japanese Pop Music is the "Idol Singer" — a teenage or early twenty-something (NEVER over 25) female performer, chosen for her cute and attractive image and sunny personality more than for her actual singing ability (though having actual talent underneath is not completely out of the rule). Idol Singers are recruited by multi-level audition processes, manufactured and managed by Japanese media companies, and ruthlessly discarded after a few years of cranking out formulaic hits. Over the past decade there has been a shift towards "mega-groups" that can have over one hundred members, with the lead spots on songs and choreography going to the most popular performers. Sometimes, Idol singers don't actually sing (like Milli Vanilli).

Most are tightly controlled by their producers and expected to maintain a public image of purity and innocence: for example, their contracts may include an article of her not being allowed to engage in any intimate activities. While this level of control has loosened somewhat with the growing impact of social media, which allows idols to interact with fans more casually, as well as a Japanese court decision that effectively rendered the "No Dating" clauses of Idol contracts unenforceable (it's still very in-force in Korea, however), the industry has been slow to overturn its most problematic and exploitative elements.


Naturally, every Japanese schoolgirl dreams of becoming one. Those who used to be one are often Broken Birds.

Thanks to the Disney Channel, American Idol, and The X Factor, this trope is also prevalent in the West, where it often overlaps with the Teen Idol.

If she's a villain in a Superhero or Magic Idol Singer show, she's an Evil Diva. Do not confuse with the singer Billy Idol.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bubblegum Crash (much-maligned sequel to the iconic 80's cyberpunk classic Bubblegum Crisis) Priss, a successful rock singer, is offered a recording contract by a major label, and rejects it in no uncertain terms when she discovers they want to turn her into an idol singer.
  • Castle Town Dandelion has two: Sachiko "Sacchan" Yonezawa, who worked from the bottom up and hence has Plucky Girl streaks and a cynical worldview, and Hikari Sakurada, a very talented Modest princess who used Overnight Age-Up to enter the business, originally as a mean for a kingship election but eventually find herself enjoying the job on its own.
  • Chance Pop Session is about three girls who attempt to become pop idols.
  • Deconstructed in one City Hunter story arc where Ryo has to be the bodyguard of a young idol: the villain is a Loony Fan who wants her to retire or will "protect her innocence" that has already thrown acid in the face of another idol, the "normal" fans are so insane she can't let herself be recognized in public or they'll give chase to show their love, trampling anyone in the way, and has a problem with paparazzi trying to cause scandals, with at least one snapping pictures of her while she's undressing. While spying he had seen she stuffed her bra, so...
  • Akihiko and Haruhiko Beppu from Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! are male examples as the VEPPer. They can sing and are popular with the ladies and the guys. They became idols because they wanted to get closer to Gora Hakone, not because they actually enjoyed being idols. Until the end of season 2 that is.
  • Death Note:
    • Misa Amane is not only a famous actress, but this as well.
    • A young man by the name of Hideki Ryuuga, who is much beloved by Sayu, and appears with Misa in a film or TV series.
  • Harada from Death Parade is a male example. He was a part of an idol group and was Mayu's favorite singer. Harada was killed by a bomb sent by the sister of an ex, who commited suicide after he broke up with her.
  • Maria Wong from Descendants of Darkness is a very popular idol who's slated to perform in Nagasaki by the time Tsuzuki and Hisoka start their partnership. She's also an incredibly tragic example, as her mother's Financial Abuse drives her to commit suicide in despair, and then to Come Back Wrong thanks to Deadly Doctor Muraki...
  • Detective Conan has several examples:
    • Yoko Okino is an older example, as well as Kogoro's main contact in entertainment industry. She also used to be in an all-girls band with her friends Kaoru, Terumi and Yuki, who get featured in an case alongside her.
    • An episode featured the idol singer Risa Shigaki, nicknamed Risa Purple for her trademark purple-dyed hair. Ran cosplays as her at her concert - and ends up getting kidnapped in her place. The mastermind of the kidnapping is Risa's former bandmate Bianca, out of envy because Risa managed to make it into stardom while she was unable to.
    • After weatching a movie about Girl Bands, Sonoko tries to rope Ran, Azusa, and Sera to become idol singers with her. She fails since Azusa can't really play instruments, but soon they meet a group of ladies who are in a band... and then the band leader/drums player is murdered by the keyboard player, who blamed her for the death of the band's original vocalist.
    • Another case features Rokumichi Hado, a once very popular male idol who is about to return to the musical scene much to the joy of the press and his fans. But then Rokumichi appears dead, his corpse hanging in the middle of a theater stage, and Conan and Amuro must deduce whether the killer was his manager Kanae, the paparazzi Kajiya, or the record label president Fuse. Neither did it: Rokumichi commited suicide over his Dark and Troubled Past. Kanae, his ex girlfriend and the other part of said past, made it look like murder so their tragic bond wouldn't be revealed.
    • An anime-only case has five very famous women, and one of them is the Idol Singer and songwriter Harumi Fukatsu. She's one of the suspects of the case, even, when two of her fellow famous ladies (the top model Asuka Shibazaki and the oil painter Ema Anzai) are murdered. She's a Red Herring, but she does have a personal connection to the case itself: the asshole victims caused her best friend, Sakurako Suzuka, to commit suicide.
  • Hikaru "Rabi~en~Rose" Usada from Di Gi Charat is methodically working her way to being an idol.
  • From Dog Days, we have bright pink dog girl Millhiore Filianno Biscotti. She is also a princess in a fantasy-esque setting, which makes it kind of weird when she's singing in a modern concert stage while in a medieval city. Bonus points for being voiced by Yui Horie.
  • Dream Festival! is a series about boy idols.
  • The Excel Girls (the two women who sing the intro, not the main characters) in Excel Saga are shown trying to get their big break by singing the theme song.
  • Parsely from EL is the most popular among a stable of idol singers in the last surviving human city on Earth. Among the ranks is at the very least one Evil Diva, Reiko.
  • Full Moon o Sagashite has the titular Magic Idol Singer, Full Moon (aka Mitsuki Koyama), and her rival Madoka Wakamatsu. Noticeable in that both Mitsuki and Madoka were voiced by actual idol singers (myco and Emi "Kana" Oota, respectively)
  • The title character of Futaba-kun Change!. It's funny, once you remember the main quirk of Futaba...
  • Gintama has Tsu Terakado, who's a parody of the concept since she's much more foul-mouthed than idols should be; all the lyrics to her songs are threats or insults.
    Otsuu-chan: "Where the hell is your mother from!?".
  • Hayate the Combat Butler:
    • Luca is one. It seems that she followed this path to help pay off a large debt she had.
    • Earlier in the story, Hinagiku showed that she had the ability to be one, including the singing ability, but has apparently chosen not to follow this path.
  • The boys of High School Star Musical are going to a music-oriented school that serves as a stepping stone to help people wanting to be this get their career started, much like in Uta No Princesama.
  • Iijima Kiiro is in the middle of a "very important concert" when she gets attacked in the first Iczelion OAV.
  • Idol Angels Welcome Youko. Just what the title says. The series aim was to push Mika Kanai's singing career.
  • Idol Densetsu Eriko (usually translated as "Legendary Idol Eriko") has... well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The sweet and cheery Eriko also has an idol rival, Rei Asagiri, who is of the archetypical Broken Bird type. The series is based on the life of idol Eriko Tamura, known to non-Japanese audiences as Princess Yaeko in Heroes.
  • Idol Project takes things even further, having the universe run by an idol. The whole story is about a contest to decide what idol is fit to take over the Ruler Of The Universe place.
  • Idol Defense Force Hummingbird parodies the concept a bit. Because the Japanese SDF has financial troubles, they hire an idol group as cash cow. The parody backfired when said idol group became more popular in Real Life than the show itself.
  • The Idolmaster has, quite obviously, a whole bunch of them, the girls of 765 and the boys of 315 in ''Idolmaster SideM.
  • In a bizarre variation, Idolmaster: Xenoglossia has a girl trying out to become an Idol Singer, only to discover that it's a front for an organization that pilots Humongous Mecha...called Idols, and gratuitous musical and stage terms are used in conjunction with piloting the previously-mentioned mecha. The original video game series released for arcade and XBox 360 actually is about Idol Singers, with players as managers who have to help their chosen character achieve stardom through minigames and competitive online auditions.
  • Is This a Zombie?: The Lovely Kira (Sarasvati), who is confronted by her subordinate Seraphim on her stealth who inadvertently gets dragged into becoming one. Then, Haruna gets jealous and steals the show. Finally Yuu joins in as well, thanks to Ariel and Ayumu.
  • Deconstructed in Kakegurui: Yumemi Yumemite, a member of Hyakkao Academy's Absurdly Powerful Student Council, is an incredibly popular idol singer who joined the school in order to get connections to help her achieve her dream of becoming an A-list Hollywood actress. However, spending so much time around legions of Loony Fans and smelly Otakus has made her extremely bitter about the idol lifestyle, but she says she's willing to pretend to like it as long as it pushes her toward the "real" stardom she desires.
  • Male example: Kuga Jin from Kamichama Karin.
  • Kurama from Kamisama Kiss. He uses the gimmick that he's a fallen angel from Heaven to partially cover up the fact he isn't human but a Tengu.
  • Corona, a Quirky Miniboss Squad member from Kannazuki no Miko. It's revealed in her past that she suffered sexual abuse and tons of failure, thus entering her into Broken Bird and then Evil Diva territory. In her next life, she's again an idol but is doing better.
  • Kemono Friends has the idol group PPP, of which all the members are Little Bit Beastly penguin girls. The PPP seen in the series is the third generation of the group, and one episode focuses on their first live performance.
  • Key, Miho, and Beniko, from Key the Metal Idol, which also uses their plights to deconstruct the trope.
  • KING OF PRISM is the male-focused spinoff of the Pretty Rhythm series, and it's wildly popular, but due to the fact that it has all been theatrical movies and not TV anime, none of it has been released in English so far. But that might change, since a TV anime has been greenlit.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of Kirarin Revolution, which is a show about a girl aiming to be an idol. The voice of the titular main character is Koharu Kusumi, a real idol from Hello! Project.
  • The Kodomo no Omocha anime has three girls becoming a pop star sensation and performing together as the group Sho-Roku-Tai. One of them is the protagonist, Sana Kurata, since this takes place after the Kodomo No Omocha Show Within a Show has been cancelled. The other two girls are Mayu Toita, who considers herself as The Rival to Sana, and The Quiet One Ayano Hanamaru.
  • In the anime of Love Hina, Naru becomes an idol singer, then fears a scandal and gives it up; before she does, though, Motoko and Shinobu are also discovered and recruited into a brief recording career as a duo called "Blade and Blossom".
  • The Love Live! franchise is about a group of girls who form an idol group. However, there's emphasis on the fact that they're "school idols" (female students who sing and dance to promote their school; in this case, the girls are trying to prevent their school from shutting down), not professional celebrities signed on to a company.
  • Kirari from Love Lucky. The main challenge she and her husband Fuuta face throughout the series is in balancing their private married life with the life of her pop idol persona.
  • Numerous characters from the various Macross series, in which Idol Singers are frequently the key to saving the day.
    • Lynn Minmay from Super Dimension Fortress Macross (as well as the Macekred Robotech), whose songs were used as a shorthand for the cultural pollution of the Zentraedi by human culture.
    • Sharon Apple, the virtual idol from Macross Plus (who managed the rare feat of being both an Idol Singer and the resident Big Bad). Also, female lead Myung Fan Long was in her way to become an Idol Singer, but due to a traumatic past she abandoned her dream, becoming Sharon's creator.
    • Sheryl Nome and aspiring idol Ranka Lee (the green-haired cutie supplying the page image) from Macross Frontier carry on the tradition, as well as forming two of the three sides of the inevitable Love Triangle. The show deconstructs the concept by showing just how easily such a singer can be replaced once the substitute is found, and how painful such a process is to the one discarded—the true power lies with the people behind the scenes like Grace. Then the show reconstructs it by the Idol Singer pair proving crucial to the plot and finally uniting to defeat Grace.
    • Averted by Macross 7's female lead Mylene Jenius, who's instead the bassist and backup vocalist for rock band Fire Bomber. However, this trope is parodied by the female members of Jamming Birds, a military-manufactured pop group whose efforts to emulate Fire Bomber's success against the enemy fail... because they're singing songs from Macross II.
    • Also averted in Macross Zero, where the local singers are shrine maidens rather than idols.
    • Macross Delta features the "Tactical Sound Unit" Walkure, an idol group of the type popular in contemporary Japan. They're deployed by the military to use their music to counter the Var Syndrome.
    • In the non-canon Macross II, the UN Spacy have actively weaponized idol singers, who are now the main line of defense against invading Zentraedi fleets. This strategy stops working when the Mardook counteract it with their own singing, and then the action is kickstarted when one of the Mardook girls is caught by the human Intrepid Reporter protagonist.
  • Magical Angel Creamy Mami is the Magical Girl version. Notable also for the fact that the show was a vehicle to build up the idol career of Mami's voice actress, Takako Oota. Creamy Mami was her debut as both VA and singer.
  • Mino Shinohara, the main character of Magical Stage Fancy Lala.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, some of the girls in Mahora have a music band named Dekopin Rocket. Ako Izumi is a member (more exactly, the bassist), and her A Day in the Limelight episode centers around their debut.
  • Romeo in the Manga Shakespeare adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is a Japanese rock idol.
  • Marginal #4 follows the daily high school lives of the four members of the titular boy band, plus their senpai and kouhai units, Lagrange Point and Unicorn Jr.
  • An episode of Martian Successor Nadesico is devoted to this concept (and poking fun at Macross) when Nergal, looking to promote the most manipulable ditz they could find, decides to hold a beauty/talent competition to select a new Captain. Most of the higher-rated contestants sing idol-style although not, oddly, Megumi Hayashibara's expy.
  • Mekakucity Actors: "Kisaragi Momo, age 16! Occupation, idol!". Played with; Momo herself doesn't think she's all that good at singing, or special in any way really, but her eye-power (Captivating Eyes) makes people flock to her whether she wants it or not, and scored her a record deal; she only agreed in the first place because her family was in a rough spot. The nation-wide recognition she now has at age 16 is the source of her conflict, and the subject of her Image Song, Kisaragi Attention.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has Magical Girl Warrior types of Magical Girls dressed as idol singers that use their singing as attacks.
  • Mink Shiraishi, Kanoka Moriyama, and Mahoko Toriumi from Mink (Cyber Idol Mink in Japan) all fit this image well. Thanks to the futuristic software WANNA-BE, they can transform into singing sensations with just a voice command to their fashionable cell phones.
  • Lacus Clyne from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED starts (or appears to start) as a naïve and sheltered idol singer who later is forced to grow up and become a resistance leader. When she goes into a more secluded life in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, her influence on people is SO strong that The Chessmaster Gilbert Dullindal hand-picks her biggest fan, a Naïve Everygirl named Meer Campbell, to have the epitome of a makeover and replace her. All ends up tragically when Meer, who's struggling with the identity issues she gained during her trials, ultimately dies in an Heroic Sacrifice to save Lacus' life.
  • Lunar Edomae in My Bride is a Mermaid. For as much popularity as she has, she's a bit of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and tries to enforce a Mistress and Servant Boy relationship with Nagasumi.
  • Milan Himemiya, vocalist of the Chocolate Rockers, in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. She was a background element for most of the show's run, but finally appeared in person in episode six of Purezza.
  • One of the two leads of Yuri manga Octave is a former member of a four-girl idol group that didn't catch on, leaving her washed up in Tokyo at an age when her former classmates back home have not yet graduated from high school.
  • Onpu Segawa from Ojamajo Doremi, already a seasoned and talented performer when she's introduced.
  • The same can be said about Kurusu Kanako, a.k.a. Kanakana-chan, from Oreimo. Despite being tricked into performing, she still enjoyed the attention and even performs afterwards.
  • Osomatsu-san:
    • Totoko tries to become an idol singer as an adult. She uses a fish theme as her main gimmick, and even wears a fish costume made out of actual fish. It's later revealed that her idol career isn't really going anywhere at all.
    • The Matsuno sextuplets tried to reinvent themselves as Magic Idol Singers in the first episode to appeal to modern day viewers. Choromatsu in particular is an idol otaku who is a big fan of Nyaa Hashimoto.
    • Nyaa Hashimoto is a cat themed idol with pink hair who dresses as a catgirl. She actually has an unpleasant personality when not performing.
  • Deconstructed in Perfect Blue. Mima is an idol singer who attempts a shift into serious acting. Her fans are not thrilled with this decision. Things promptly go to hell.
  • Pokémon:
    • The anime-only Showcases in the Kalos arc are heavily based on idols, and also bare similarities to the Contests from Hoenn and Sinnoh. Serena and Shauna are Performers in the anime.
    • Way back in the Johto arc, there was a girl named Brittany who sang on stage with her two Igglybuff. Bonus points for being voiced by Yui Horie and being named after singers in Japan and America.
    • Kris' anime counterpart, Marina, wanted to be a Pokémon Idol. She's later shown in advertisements, implying she's become a popular idol. Marina predates the Contests (which have elements taken from idols) but she's also shown to have become a Top Coordinator alongside being an idol.
  • Lack-Two's girlfriend in Pokémon Adventures is Yancy, an Idol Singer he breaks up with because she thinks their relation is detrimental to her career.
  • Masakazu Katsura's Present From Lemon has a male example. Lead character Lemon Sakaguchi wants to become an idol like his Disappeared Dad Momojirou, an enka singer who pretty much died on-stage.
  • PriPara focuses on a virtual world where young girls can transform into alternate idol identities.
  • Utae Sonokoe from R-15 is the Genius Idol Singer.
  • Noa Kashima from Rail Wars!.
  • Sailor Moon examples:
    • Minako, depending on the medium: in the anime she dreams of becoming one; in the live action she already is one; and in the manga she used to dream of becoming one back in her solo series, before the events of the finale made her realize she'd always put her mission over everything else.
    • Rei tried her hand at being one in the live-action series twice, first when Minako effectively forced her to and later to get Minako back to her senses through her competitiveness.
    • Mimete of the Witches 5 (anime and manga) and Kuroki Mio (live-action series) are two villainous examples.
    • Sailor Moon Stars also had the Three Lights, a Boy Band consisting of Bad Boy Seiya, Pretty Boy Yaten, and Smart Guy Taiki. In reality, they were actually women disguised as men (crossdressers in the manga, and gender benders in the 90s anime).
    • Finally, many of the enemies in Codename: Sailor V use idol acts as their disguise. The series also has Ace, a male idol and Minako's love interest, who reveals himself as Danburite, the Big Bad, and gets killed by Minako when he won't stand down.
  • Though she denies it, the classmates of Umino Mokuzu (from Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai) correctly believe that she is the daughter of a male Idol of the same surname. Her father Masachika was a famous TV Actor and musician, and his songs are used for popular commercial jingles; plus he's invested his money very well, and now lives with his daughter in a Big Fancy House. Sadly, Masachika is also one HELL of an Abusive Parent to Mokuzu, to the point he kills her.
  • Tsubasa and Kanade from Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Though the latter was Killed Off for Real in the first episode.
  • The Shounen Hollywood multiple media franchise features a group of male teen idols. Like Wake up, Girls!, it's a series grounded more in reality, showing the process of trying to get famous, some lying about age in the case of "God", and even a new generation of idols having big shoes to fill after inheriting the name of Shounen Hollywood from their predecessors. It even deconstructs the concept a bit by showing what happened to the original Shounen Hollywod after their band broke up.
  • Silver Nina: Nina's dream is to one day become one of the idol singers she watches on television.
  • Male example, Sho from Skip Beat! is ranked as one of Japan's top ten most popular entertainers.
  • After Radio Bodhisattvon ended in Sore ga Seiyuu!, Kaibara signed on Futaba, Ichigo and Rin as a voice actress idol unit called EARPHONES. Aside from that, several of the voice actor cameos throughout the show are current or former idols.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. In conjunction with the premiere of the second movie, Gainax released a CD and music video of Yoko singing and dancing around in Fanservice-y costumes. Reportedly, they've got one with Nia in the works, too.
  • In the second Light Novel for Tokyo Ghoul, a minor Idol named Mitsuba is stalked by Tsukiyama. It turns out she became an idol to follow in the footsteps of her old sister, who disappeared years earlier while pursuing a career as an Idol Singer. She's noted as being quite unassertive and melancholy, in comparison to the typical image of an Idol.
  • Run from To Love-Ru becomes one around midway through the story.
  • Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head Kidou Kyuukyuu Keisatsu has Sala Manda, a masked idol and model who dresses like a salamander. Despite this oddity, she's quite popular.
  • To Y. Much of the story focuses on several tries to persuade the main character into a career as an idol. His biggest rival is one himself, with the whole series having a hostile outlook on the idol phenomenon.
  • Primera the fairy from Magic Knights Rayearth appears as one in an early arc of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-.
  • The Tsukino Talent Productions (Tsukipro) franchise has quite a few of them:
    • Tsukiuta The Animation, the first anime, follows Six Gravity and Procellarum, two six-member male idol groups based on the months of the year.
    • Tsukipro the Animation follows four of the other major idol groups under Tsukino Pro— SolidS, Growth, Quell, and SOARA, all themed after the four elements. The Tsukiuta members make cameos in this series.
  • The Horse Girls of Uma Musume are champion athletes that double as Idols. One of the prizes for winning a race is getting to be the lead in a Winning Concert, performed to thank the fans for their support. Team Spica runs into trouble early on, when they win their races....and then realize they've neglected to practice for their concerts. (Naturally, the franchise organizes the actresses into idol units to crank out tie-in albums.)
  • Uta No Prince Sama is noteworthy for releasing singles that regularly top the charts IRL, as well as in-universe. Shouta Aoi also got a huge boost to his real-life idol career after voice-acting as an idol in UtaPri (Quartet Night's Ai), as well as in other series such as Tsukiuta, Marginal #4, and KING OF PRISM.
  • In Valvrave the Liberator, Saki was one. She's definitely the Broken Bird style cynical portrayal of this trope - she got into it to escape her Abusive Parents, and it's implied that she was also abused by her producers quite a lot. Specifically, the infamous unusual Horror Hunger attack late in the first season wasn't the first time she's been a victim of that sort of thing. And if she can still remember all of her lines from the movie she starred in back then...
  • Wake Up, Girls! is about seven girls who make up the titular group as they aim to become famous. This anime is notable for being more realistic and cynical than most series about idols, as it clearly shows all the struggles idols have to go through to make it to the top.
  • Asuka on Yu-Gi-Oh! GX defies this trope. Everyone around her from her brother to her teachers wants her to become an idol singer — everyone except her.
  • Male example: Kouji Nanjo of Zetsuai1989 is a VERY popular Visual Kei singer and a huge Broken Ace.
  • In Zombie Land Saga, Kotaro Tatsumi plans to make the main characters into a successful idol group to save Saga Prefecture. There's just the small detail of them all being, well, zombies. The anime as a whole tends to be a Satire of idol-themed anime and the idol industry in general, with zombies being about as on-the-nose of an allegory as you can get for overworked performers repeating the same content.

  • SERA 00 features a very large group of idol singers, based on AKB48.

    Comic Books 
  • The X-Men's Dazzler, after a long period of effective non-existence in the Marvel Universe, now serves as an in-universe spokesperson for the team thanks to her celebrity status as a former disco/pop/trance sensation. Her concerts are still considered wildly popular and she even has a protege, in the form of new X-Man Pixie.

  • The Disney Channel original movie Pixel Perfect revolved around a hologram created by a band who needed a singer. She is, well, a perfect singer and dancer. Not to forget drop dead beautiful.

  • Song at Dawn's author, Jean Grill, calls Troubadours the 'rock stars of the 12th century' and ladies such as Estela and Briez dream of becoming them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Disney Channel's been doing this with many of their teen and child stars (particularly their female ones, although a growing number of the males are getting this as well- the main examples being The Jonas Brothers and Ross Lynch), hoping to cash in on them as much as possible before they hit their twenties.
  • Super Sentai and its adaptation Power Rangers:
    • In Choujin Sentai Jetman, the initially tomboyish Ako was revealed to have become an Idol Singer in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
    • Nanami in Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, who once had an Enemy Mine moment with Furabijou. Nanami did go onto become a successful ninja/idol singer, as evidenced a few years down the line in GoGo Sentai Boukenger vs. Super Sentai. Although in a double subversion, Idol Singer IS a cover for her duty as a ninja, but Nanami clearly enjoys being an Idol Singer on her own.
    • Subverted in Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, where Ranru had previously trained as an idol but gave up because she wanted to be a mechanic.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder has Kira Ford, the yellow ranger, a high school student who wanted to be a famous singer. One of the episodes focusing on her invoked this trope, by having a producer wanting to control every aspect of her singing career, resulting in her wearing clothing and singing songs she really doesn't like. The episode ends with her breaking ties with said producer, wanting to start a singing career on her own terms. Power Rangers S.P.D., taking place 20 years later, reveals she succeeded, with Syd, the pink SPD ranger being one of her fans.
    • Sentai took idol singing to its wackiest in Engine Sentai Goonger with Saki, Miu and Kegalesia forming an idol group, named G-3 Princess, to defeat a Monster of the Week that weakened when hearing beautiful singing. The group reappears in a later episode to appease a nature spirit haunting a hotel. When that attempt fails, the G3 Princesses were succeeded by the G5 Princes, the Go-on boys forming their own idol group. With spotlights and glitter and cheesy outfits.
    • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Candelira performs as an Idol Singer in human form (played by her voice actress, real-life singer Haruka Tomatsu). Explained in-universe that she is impersonating a real singer whose appearance she can imitate. Mikoto "Meeko" from the Gaburincho of Music movie was also an idol singer, which was actually an important part of the plot.
  • Nickelodeon was late to the party. They also don't push as hard to sell actresses as idol singers, leading to multiple aversions from actors who don't sign up with Nick's record label partner, Columbia Records.
    • Played Straight:
      • Their first real attempt to create an Idol Singer is Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly. They built an entire episode around a plot dedicated to having Carly sing Miranda's single Shakespeare. It has been reasonably successful, as Miranda has been on multiple well attended tours and achieved reasonable record sales. Her most recent tour was sold out across the country until a bus accident cut the tour short.
      • Victoria Justice had Victorious built around her as a singing platform for her Idol Singer role and pushed hard. They brought out a Victorious soundtrack. Her first live performance was in the 2010 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
    • Aversions:
      • Jennette McCurdy signed to a rival record label because she wanted to sing Country Music rather than getting pushed into a pop career. As a result, Nick wouldn't let her sing on iCarly or promo her music. The closest she came to singing was rapping in an iCarly/Victorious crossover, and the closest they came to promoting her was a short excerpt from her first single when Jennette expected the entire song. It caused her to lash out on Twitter against Miranda and Victoria by retweeting and responding to people saying she was being screwed and was a better singer than the other two girls.
      • Ariana Grande signed up to Universal Records' Republic label, making her the 2nd Nick star not backed by Columbia. Unlike the other 3 mentioned Nick stablemates, she ended up being the most successful of them all.
  • American Idol, as its name suggests, is second only to the Disney Channel in its output of disposable idol singers for American consumption. The most successful singers from the show are pop-rocker Kelly Clarkson (season 1 winner) and country star Carrie Underwood (season 4 winner), both of whom have multi-platinum albums to their name, although it's mainly associated with churning out one hit wonders.
    • Indeed, one of the reasons why Season 8 was so much better perceived (at least talent-wise, thanks Kara) was that Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Allison Iraheta seemed to be personally determined to push the show as much as possible out of the pop-confection-machine mold.
  • The British version of the show is The X Factor (and before that, Pop Idol), which, unlike most examples, does allow auditionees over the age of 25, which are included in their own category. Its most successful winners to date are Leona Lewis and Little Mix, though its biggest success story comes from One Direction.
  • The British Girl Group Girls Aloud was formed by the reality show Popstars: The Rivals.
  • Robin Scherbatsky of How I Met Your Mother used to be one of these, to her great embarrassment.
  • Daddy's Daughters star Liza Arzamasova was promoted as one to capitalize on her new fame, and she released a song called "I Am Your Sun." She has not released any songs since, but has continued to act.
  • Mendol Ikemen is about three girl idols who, after repeatedly getting rejected from auditions (as a result of having to hide from the mob in drag), get talked into posing as male idols instead.

  • In America, the boy bands and female "pop princesses" of the late '90s and early '00s are probably the most famous examples of this trope. Many of the biggest boy bands (including the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC) were formed by Lou Pearlman, a businessman from Orlando whose talent agency, Trans Continental Records, turned out to be a front for a Ponzi scheme that got him sent to prison.
  • This phenomenon is Older Than They Think; change the "Japanese" to "British", and you'd have a pretty accurate assessment of the British music scene in The '60s (at least that bit not dominated by British Invasion bands capitalizing on the success of The Beatles). Ready Steady Girls has more details.
  • Idol singers performing in groups – of anywhere from two to literally dozens – began to gain popularity and become a cultural phenomenon in the 1970s with the duo Pink Lady, continuing into the 80's with Onyanko Club, the first "supergroup" (it lasted two years and had 52 members). The trend has continued up to today thanks to the breakout popularity of Hello! Project's Morning Musume in the late 90's, to the point that the Japanese pop scene in The New '10s is often called Aidoru Sengoku Jidai ("The Warring Idols Era") as these groups dominate the pop charts.
    • MM spawned several more large Idol groups, most notably supergroup AKB48, but also plenty of others, including but not limited to:
    • On a side-note: As of 2017, over half of all idol singer anime (shows about idol singers, not just ones that have one as a side character) were made in the previous six years.
    • Because of the popularity of the Idol Singer trope in anime, lots of voice actors have an overlap in the idol genre, especially actresses who started their career as an idol trainee before entering the voice acting industry. The growing interest in treating voice actors like idols also happened around the same time as the "Warring Era of Idols." Idols that have crossed over to voice acting include Yui Ogura, Kaori Ishihara, Sayaka Kitahara, and StylipS, all of whom used to train under Up-Front Works. Aya Hirano was one of the earliest examples of a voice acting idol after she gained popularity for voicing Haruhi Suzumiya at the age of 18, except it went nowhere when it turned out she didn't care about maintaining an idol image. In addition, Nanabun No Nijyuuni is a multimedia project of "real-life anime idols" created by AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto, Aniplex, and Sony Records Japan, with newcomer voice actresses portraying an idol group in animation and in real-life.
    • The Distaff Counterpart to female Japanese idols would be any act hosted by Johnny's Entertainment. Johnny's Entertainment is well-known for producing popular male idol acts like SMAP and Arashi. They are so powerful and influential that it's rumored that the company personally eliminates any competition from other male idols by forcing big music programs not to invite them onto their shows to promote.
  • Momoiro Clover Z were the first "anti-idol" group that deviated from the cute, fluffy pop style.
  • By far the best contemporary examples are K-pop groups, which take the Japanese idol manufacturing system and turn it Up to Eleven. Good looks are a must note , but singing abilities and other related talents are optional. Idols undergo long training periods before debuting. If Japanese idols spend two years of training before debuting, Korean idol training can go up for a decade. Their stages are extremely carefully choreographed, the idols undergo strict diets, social media is often prohibited. All their hard work, however, seems to have paid off, as it has made K-pop a global phenomenon.
  • Subverted with Perfume in that the trio were undeniably Idol in their early years but, as their songs gained a more distinct style of technopop, they became a "near future technopop unit".
    • Their producer, Yasutaka Nakata, thrives on this, working with several idols looking to break out of their pop image.
    • While Perfume's "little sister" group Sakura Gakuin, listed above, is undeniably Junior-Idol and has never tried to hide it, SG's spinoff group Babymetal (all three are under the same corporate umbrella and retain MIKIKO-sensei as choreographer) is sort of an open question. While frontwoman Suzuka Nakamoto describes the band as a fusion of Idol-pop and Heavy Metal and Japanese press often refer to it as a "Metal Idol Dance Unit", it otherwise defies most trappings of Idol-dom: the pop aspects of the music have dwindled over time, the girls have zero public social media presence, have never put out a photobook (their work with Sakura Gakuin excepted), have held no meet-&-greets since 2013, and kept the same lineup for seven years – only changing due to (according to official sources) the collapse of Yui Mizuno's health… and no "graduation" was held for her, just a short notice she had left which was itself deleted after a short time.
  • A specific American example from around the same time as The British Invasion: all of the big Motown names were pulled right from the streets of Detroit, which is not the kind of image you want to sell to a greater American audience. In order to clean them up, Berry Gordy set up a charm school specifically for up-and-coming Motown singers. If they didn't pass, they weren't allowed to perform.
  • In mainstream popular music, over the decades some of the best-known teenage girls who rose to fame... and most of these averting the trope due to genuine singing ability:
    • 1960s: Brenda Lee was perhaps the top female teen singing idol of all time, and perhaps overall the most successful. Hers was a career that transcended her teenage years, as she also flourished on the country charts as she grew into her 20s and 30s. Little Eva and Lesley Gore were probably the top teen stars otherwise. In the early part of her incredible career and association with The Supremes, Diana Ross (who was barely 20 when the Supremes had its Breakthrough Hit "Where Did Our Love Go") could have counted.
    • 1970s: Marie Osmond. Later on, Debby Boone, although she was 21 when she had her monster hit "You Light Up My Life", was often emulated by teenagers and younger for her winsome good looks, charm, and clean living (no doubt thanks to her father, Pat Boone).
    • 1980s: Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were easily the top female teen stars, and were noted for their own clean living.
  • In country music, all of whom avert the trope due to actual singing ability:
    • 1970s: Tanya Tucker was easily the top female country singer for more than 30 years, and – like Brenda Lee – had a career that has lasted long into her adulthood; she was just 13 when she had her Breakthrough Hit with "Delta Dawn." Also, due to her crossover success, Marie Osmond ... who to this day remains the youngest singer ever to have a No. 1 hit on the Billboard country charts ... she had just turned 14 when she hit No. 1 with "Paper Roses" in November 1973; like Tucker, her career has lasted into adulthood.
    • 1990s: LeAnn Rimes, who was just 14 when she first hit the national scene with "Blue".
    • 2000s: Say it with me now... Taylor Swift.
  • His most vicious critics blasted him as nothing but a Teen Idol who corrupted youths with his suggestive hip movements while singing and his love for amplified pop music, dismissing it as "garbage" and "noise". That was sixty years ago, and of course the criticism has softened; many people today who were the critics' ages back then (50s and older) now praise Elvis Presley for his powerful baritone voice and clean image, comparably speaking.
  • Vocaloid is a software with the concept of virtual idol singers, you can create music, along with third party softwares (e.g. MikuMikuDance) for character models. There've been cases of having the virtual singers being projected into real life.
  • The fictional agency Pythagoras Productions act as Rejet's mascot characters and as their main idol units. They carry 3 groups— Marginal #4 (the main group from which the project took off from), their senpai group Lagrange Point, and their kouhai group Unicorn Jr. Several of the characters, particularly Tsubasa of Unicorn Jr. (cv. Shouta Aoi), are noted for their singing. Rejet has a number of other idol series under their belt as well, such as the HAPPY+SUGAR cast, the characters of FORBIDDEN STAR, the Zenryoku boys, and the cast of the game Star Revolution.
  • Rejet's idols are part of a trend - male idol unit anime and games are some of the most popular franchises in Japan. Besides PitaPro, there's also Tsukiuta and the rest of Tsukino Productions, B-Project, mobile games Idolish 7 and Ensemble Stars!, I-Chu, of course, Uta No Princesama, which started it all. These characters are somewhat meta-fictional, releasing music like live groups separate from their stories.

    Video Games 
  • The Producer course from Ensemble Stars! gives us a whole group of male idol singers. Both the main game and the manga adaptation explore it a bit; they don't shy away from the point that the boys, first and foremost, are people rather than performers or objects to ogle at, and they pour a lot of blood, sweat and tears to becomes stars, with many ending up with their dreams crushed.
  • Lenne from Final Fantasy X-2. The game also features a "Songstress" Dressphere that allows any of the characters to transform into Idol Singers during combat.
  • Connie from Steambot Chronicles.
  • Ape Escape:
    • Pink Monkey from Ape Escape 2 wants to be one. You fight her during her debut concert. After a few hits, she screams that you ruined her show and then turns into the monkey equivalent of Carrie. In the third game, she changes her image and tries to break out again... and once again pulls out the psychokinesis when you ruin her show.
    • In the third game, the female protagonist is a successful idol singer herself. Monkey Pink was not pleased.
  • Athena Asamiya, best known from The King of Fighters series, holds the day job of Idol Singer when she's not in fighting tournaments.
  • Misora Hibiki from Megaman Star Force (named Sonia Strumm in the U.S. video games, and Sonia Sky in the anime).
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Lisa and a few friends unexpectedly got their "Wish" to be idol singers, with a dose of Character Development (Lisa admitting she doesn't speak a word of English, and revealing how much she hated being the "odd one out"), and plot (the songs were to spread the Joker Rumors further). In a bonus bit of Take That! to the exploitative nature of Idol Singing, the manager is a pedophile.
    • Rise "Risette" Kujikawa of Persona 4. Having quit the business to try living a normal life, she's left to cope with everybody knowing and loving her manufactured media personality, while she struggles to figure out exactly who the "real" Rise is, or if there ever was one to begin with. Enter her Shadow… In the end Rise decides to come back to the industry, since she has realised that she does like singing and dancing and there's nothing inherently wrong with it.
    • Persona 4: Dancing All Night introduces Girl Group Kanamin Kitchen, headlined by Rise's rival/friend Kanami "Kanamin" Mashita. Despite the game's Rhythm Game premise, its story is a big Take That! at the idol industry; the very first cutscene features an idol being Driven to Suicide due to the stresses of her job.
  • Courtney Gears of Ratchet & Clank is the evil robotic Omnicidal Maniac version of this trope, complete with a song about destroying organic life to a catchy pop beat.
  • THE iDOLM@STER is all about this.
    • Idolcraft is a freeware take on the same concept.
  • Okage. Linda, the idol singer evil king.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has its own idol singer in the form of Kuna (who is also an ARKS member more than capable of holding her own). She even performs live for the players.
  • Pokémon:
    • You can battle a couple in the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl games.
    • In the Pokémon Gold and Silver and Crystal versions, on the route leading to Mt. Silver, there's a cabin with a girl (using the overworld sprite for the Lass trainer class) and a Fearow in it. If you talk to her, she says that she was once an idol singer, and went to the route leading to Mt. Silver to hide form the paparazzi. She will then give you the TM Steel Wing, and says that she wore a dress inspired by the move at her first live performance.
    • And the Black 2 / White 2 versions bring us Nancy and Christophnote , who appear in various TV shows and are famous singers, too.
    • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire has Lisia, who serves to reintroduce Pokemon Contests to the series. Contests in general are revamped to be more like idols than before.
  • Catgirl Repre from Atelier Iris 3...
  • Dark Hero Axel from Disgaea 2 was one of these, but lost his fame before the game started.
  • Makoto Aihara's superstar persona in Rumble Roses XX.
  • Yuna in Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, mostly in backstory but she still does concerts.
  • The "Idol" in Um Jammer Lammy was Satan or a demon in the original Japanese version. Executive Meddling changed the level from Hell to an island. (The voice of Lammy was Sara Ramirez, known more for her role on Grey's Anatomy and for multiple musicals on Broadway.)
  • NG Resonance in Deus Ex: Invisible War. Clearly inspired by the Japanese idol singers, she's encountered mostly as an AI-controlled hologram that's way smarter and nicer than the real NG who you meet near the end of the game.
  • The Garner twins from Infinite Space are an example... which the main characters really do not like. Thomas is a fan, but everyone else goes "What the hell is this Grus?" and Franny remarks that at least one good thing came from being imprisoned for as long as she was.
  • Edy Nelson from Valkyria Chronicles wants to be one of these and sees Rosie Stark as a rival because the latter is a Glamorous Wartime Singer, not just a wannabe. Alas, Edy later finds that she is Hollywood Tonedeaf and just floors everyone with her horrible singing, eventually deciding to do acting instead. Her sister in the sequel, Anisette, also wants to become one, and she can sing better despite also being just as tone deaf as her sister, but doesn't have the stamina for it.
  • Lumi in Child of Eden, who is also the virtual face of Q Entertainment's own band, Genki Rockets.
  • Studio SiestA gives us Aqua Seep Seal of Trouble Witches Episode 1, a genius pop-star idol of the sea. Let it be known that no one should ever talk badly about her pop-idol career or her outfit. She won't like it...
  • Neptunia gives us the blue-haired, midriff-baring 5pb., who also had her own radio show in the original game. Neptune and Nepgear are featured as Idol Singers in-game in Mk-2 as well.
  • Sayaka Maizono of Danganronpa is an idol singer, and Makoto’s Love Interest. She is also a rare villainous and quite manipulative example who tries to kill Leon and frame Makoto for it. This is what ends up killing her, in a sense. Because of the dog-eat-dog nature of the business, she was all too desperate to leave the school she was trapped within (as she feared she would be forgotten and left behind), which drove her to attempt murder, as per the "graduation" rules.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica spin off Madoka Magica Portable for PSP; the Bonus Route has Homura convince (or rather browbeat) Mami Tomoe to become one (mainly because, if it works, Mami will have the attention and companionship that she desires, and in fact desperately needs and requires after her Dark and Troubled Past took her family away, all to keep Mami happy and more emotionally stable, thus keeping her from either going insane or getting herself killed, which Homura has seen happen miltiple times already and wants to avoid)
  • In Rhythm Heaven Fan Club mini-game features an Idol Singer singing typical j-pop song to an audience of monkeys. Also was reproduced in real life, when on one of the promotional tours for the game actual idol sang the song live.
  • Splatoon has the Squid Sisters, Callie and Marie, who are modeled on modern Japanese idol groups. Being very popular with the young Inklings, they host the Inkopolis News sections and Splatfest online events. They are also Hidden Badasses, being the player's predecessors in the single player campaign and the granddaughters of the war hero Cap'n Cuttlefish.
    • In Splatoon 2, it's two years later, and the new hip idol double act is Off the Hook, consisting of Pearl and Marina. Like the Squid Sisters before them, they report the news and have Splatfest hosting duties. Also like the Sisters, they're quite capable in a pinch; Marina is an ex-combat engineer and Pearl's voice becomes a literal superweapon when combined with her Killer Wail. However, they differ from the stereotypical Japanese-style mold in that they write all of their own music. Meanwhile, Callie has gone missing, and Marie is busy dealing with the Octarians; the latter doesn't take it well when the Inklings consider her So Last Season.
  • Among the love interests in True Love Junai Monogatari, Ryouko Shimazaki is one of these under the identity of "Sonoko Takahashi". If one pursues her route, the Player Character will learn that Ryouko/Sonoko has serious issues with how her brother, manager and father figure Tadaki has been handling her career lately...
  • Uta No Princesama is probably one of the more triumphant examples of male idol singers, given that the series revolves around two (three in the anime) different groups and is still going strong.
  • In Yakuza 5, Kazuma Kiryu's niece Haruka Sawamura goes to Osaka to pursue a career as an idol singer. Her chapter plays out very differently from the others, revolving around training for a reality show in the hopes of securing a lucrative contract and a Tokyo concert. Despite the game being an open-world beat-em-up, she never throws a single punch, instead engaging in dance-offs.
    • ''Yakuza 6 starts off where the previous game ended, with Haruka confessing about her relation to Kiryu and runs off after the show to find him. It turns out her confession comes back to bite her hard when everything she does is scrutinized in the public eye as mafia business, ruining her reputation. One substory has Kiryu trying to find a picture of Haruka for a fan and he finds out that after her statement, all merchandise of her was pulled from shelves!
  • ARMS introduces Ribbon Girl, a pop star with a cheerleader theme and ribbon arms. Her multiple mid-air jumps have a music note effect to them, and the music from her personal stage, the Ribbon Ring, has her providing the vocals. She's even described as "the pop star of the ring".
  • Idolish 7 focuses on three groups of male idols.
  • In the mobile phone game Love Nikki - Dress Up Queen one of the craftable outfits, Heart of Miracles, is described as the costume worn by twin sisters that are popular idols in Lilith Kingdom. It comes in pink and blue versions.
  • Female idol series Love Live! is still hanging on, but Idolm@ster, the other main girl-idol series, has started its own male line, appropriately called SideM.
  • The seven heroines of Shining Song Starnova are all members of the newly-formed Starnova idol unit, and the game’s story revolves around their efforts to become successful in the industry while also coming into conflict with the much larger and more popular group Quasar.

  • The webcomic Megatokyo has Broken Bird Erika, who is an ex-Idol Singer and extremely jaded about the whole experience. But she wasn't thrown away by an adoring public. She quit of her own free will at the height of her career after a little relationship problem. The fact that her persona involved her needing to be a bit of a Stepford Smiler likely didn't help matters.
  • Warren Ellis' Superidol (found here) in which an increasingly scared writer for a pop culture website documents the rise of a computer-generated J-Pop singer who is slowly taking over the world.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Outside of Japan, the All Grown Up! version of Susie Carmichael is close enough to this trope. She's not actually famous though, just an aspiring singer. Emica works as an example.
  • Possible reference to the phenomenon in Kim Possible, as Señor Senior, Jr. (a young man) wants to be a pop star as his all-consuming life's ambition.
  • Jerrica Benton as Jem fits the basic purpose, as someone that every little girl wanted to be like for her fame, singing, and fashion. However, she is presented as a powerful, grown-up member of a rock band and her own manager, not a cute teenage pop-singing pawn. Jem also has some Magical Girl tropes thrown in too.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is an Animesque example, starring the cartoon versions of two actual Idol Singers: Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura. Subverted by the real singers, now in their early 40's still being respected performers, considering that their pop-rock music appeals to a boarder demographic that simple teenage bubblegum pop.
  • HJ 5 from Kuu Kuu Harajuku themselves.
  • Cherry Jam in Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures.
  • Ember from Danny Phantom.
  • In her My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic animatic shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Lena Hall's character, Countess Coloratura, appears to be one.
  • Sunny Day focuses on 3 girls who run their own hair salon and are their own idol group, singing songs at least Once per Episode.