We settled down in front of her colossal TV and I softened her up with some ONE OK ROCK. More rock than pop but lots of English and very accessible. She approved.
We moved onto some V6 - slick, classy and evidence that 'boy band' doesn't necessarily mean pre-pubescent. She thought they were quite handsome (except for poor Go) and their dancing was cool. The music and singing passed muster and Miyake Ken was a cutie. Tell me somethin' I don't know, my friend.
Feeling confident I launched into some Eito. As not to alarm her too much (I cannot even imagine trying to explain Crouton) I stuck to band style videos - Yellow Pansy Street, Kokoro Sora Moyou, Koko ni Shika Nai Keshiki and LIFE～目の前の向こうへ～. I threw in My Home for the cute factor.
This is where it got interesting.
She bopped her head, tapped her feet and liked what she saw. The music was fine, the boys were cute. All good, except for one thing. She was wasn't very impressed with one member's singing ability. Who you may ask? The much maligned Hina or the wrongly accused Yoko? No, she wondered why they gave ‘the guy in the hat’ so many solo parts when he was, in her words, 'bloody awful'. We were watching Kokoro Sora Moyou at the time.
My friend, with absolutely zero knowledge of the individual members (I didn't even point out my favourites) succinctly highlighted something I have often though but never articulated. Subaru is not always the amazing vocalist everyone makes him out to be. If you are familiar with Hans Christian Andersen's tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, my friend played the role of the young boy who innocently pointed out the Emperor was in fact naked, when everyone else was praising the imaginary clothing.
Now, before you start lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks, I am well aware that Subaru CAN be amazing. However, he can also sound like a strangled goat. My friend observed there were at least three other members she thought had much nicer voices. She didn’t identify them, but my money is on Tacchon, Ryo and probably Maru or Yasu.
The point of this post is not an assassination of Subaru’s abilities, more an observation of a particular phenomenon of fandoms that I call ‘fanlore’. A phenomenon that bugs the hell out of me. Fanlore is that body of half-truths, out-dated misconceptions and downright falsehoods that, when repeated often enough transform into ‘truth’. Every fandom has them. The Arashi fandom runs on them. The same fanlore that declares Subaru the best singer in Kanjani8 is the same fanlore that declares Yoko can’t sing. Neither of these fan ‘truths’ are actually true. The actual truth is they can all sing. Even Hina, singing within his range, has a nice voice. His 'rap' solos are overdone but I'm pretty sure that's intentional.
It fascinates me as to why fans and fandoms do this, though I guess a certain level of delusion is part and parcel of being a fan. From the weapons grade delusion that one day you’ll meet your ichiban and they will fall madly in love with you to excusing the fact your favourite group lip synchs their live performances. Perhaps this is the job of a fan – to create the dream and believe, no matter what? Maybe I’m just not a very good fan? Maybe I should I sack myself?