Keep Smilin'! - The Rise of Nico Nico Douga Singers (Part 1)

Smilin' for choice
Anyone who is a frequent user of the Internet is bound to be aware of the wonderful, time-burning entity known as the video-streaming website. Whether if one prefers the powerhouse YouTube or the Anime-catered Crunchyroll, the usage of video-streaming sites has essentially become the modern day equivalent of channel surfing on television.

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But like how there are lesser known gems hidden in the field of TV channels, there are also a few sites that most casual people might not be aware of. We're talking about a site that's based in Japan, where viewers are known to upload a bevy of original musical material of impressive quality, as comments from fans go whizzing by as specific instances occur. The site is Japan's Nico Nico Douga, and it's not only fast becoming a new source of entertainment, but also a platform for rising independent music acts.


A Happy alternative
Launched in December 2006 and starting off as a small site that used YouTube as a video source, Nico Nico Douga (or literally, "Smile Videos" in Japanese) soon became a service in its own right. Boasting unique features that enable users to upload their video creations in higher quality, creators could also enhance their videos with polls and quizzes. Nico Nico Douga also encouraged greater community involvement with its unique commenting system that allows viewers to have their comments scroll by the video at a specific point in the timeline.


Cheerful tunes
Whether if it's due to the quirky, yet inviting nature of Nico Nico Douga's interface and videos, or the zany spontaneity of its community, the site for many years, has become a new outlet for indie singers to shine!

The primary source of most of Nico Nico Douga's unique musical material comes from fans who make use of 'Vocaloids' - a series of virtual diva computer programs that can be made to sing any words programmed for them. So well received was this very concept, that many popular Nico Nico Douga song creations soon became mega-popular in other non-Japanese platforms, additionally shooting Vocaloids like Hatsune Miku into stardom.

With a whole bevy of Vocaloid-based songs having been made popular on the site, a wave of budding singers soon began attempting to cover these popular tunes - with amazing results!

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Known as utaite, a variation on the regular Japanese word for a singer, these aspiring artistes soon began carving their own loyal fan bases. Covering various popular Vocaloid tunes, many utaite have progressed onto doing collaborations with other artistes over the Internet, producing original material, releasing commercial albums, and even travelling to other countries for live performances!

Who are these hidden sirens of song? Stay tuned next time as anibee will introduce some of the most popular utaite on Nico Nico Douga, as well as a taste of their hit material!

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