Vocaloid is my biggest and longest-standing special interest. I've loved it since I was about 14, and through it I've made many friends, discovered a passion for music and the Japanese language, and have even learned a lot about myself and my own interests.

What is Vocaloid?

Initially made by Crypton, Vocaloid itself is essentially just a software that synthesizes artificial vocals for you to put into your songs. That's it. It's a tool for music, just like a keyboard.

The tool became popular in the late 2000s with Hatsune Miku, the mascot for one of the voicebanks. A few songs took off, which generated more interest and more songs, which eventually turned into a community of people united by music made with this synthesizer.

The Beginning

As a young teenager, I struggled a lot with finding my own taste in music. I had only been significantly exposed to mainstream pop music, my parent's metal and rock music, and video game soundtracks. Of course, there were songs I liked, but my music selection was pretty limited. One day, I ended up trying the demo for Project Mirai on the 3ds eShop. After figuring out exactly what Vocaloid was, that these were actual songs that resonated with me so much more than the songs my classmates liked, I was immediately taken in. These were songs that told stories never heard before, songs that presented problems in a manner that felt truly personal, songs that spoke directly to the listener. Even the cheesy love songs had their own charm -- they were cute and electronic, or sassy and kinda funny in how egocentrical the singer was, ect. It was a completely different world discovered by an outcast whose previous way to find new music was through the radio.

Since then, vocaloid has been a huge part of my love for music. Vocaloid songs feel so personal -- they're generally made by a regular person in their free time who needs to express what they're feeling, instead of by just another celebrity or a massive record label. It makes it feel more real.

Why do people like vocaloid?

Although it's not as popular as it used to be, vocaloid is fairly big. Someone might wonder why this is, why would anyone listen to a god damn synthesizer as opposed to a real person with a real voice? I hear this a lot from people who are only hearing about it for the first time :/ Of course, it's going to be different for everyone, but there are a few common factors that draw a lot of people in:

  • The vocaloid community is a great place to find people similar to you and make friends
  • You can easily find songs about topics you would never find anywhere else, due to complete creative freedom in producers
  • Vocaloid sounds good! Of course it can sound realistic, but robotic-style singing has its own charm. There's a lot of things you can do with vocaloid to manipulate how the singer sounds, and gives a lot of extra creative freedom.
  • There are a TON of incredible vocaloid songs out there in all kinds of different music styles

Of course, it's easier to understand if you see vocaloid as kind of its own genre/community rather than an alternative to human singing.

Popular Vocaloids

Hatsune Miku is the most popular vocaloid by far. She's easily recognizable from her blue twintails and love for leeks, and generally appears as the face of all promotional material. merch, concerts, games, ect. She has a lot of versatility in her many voicebanks, and creating different versions of Miku to fit in different songs is something a lot of producers have fun with. Her two most well known songs are World is Mine and Melt, with the former being the most well known in the west and the latter in the east. Some other songs that have gotten extremely popular include Ievan Polkka, PoPiPo, Rolling Girl, Triple Baka, The Vampire, God-ish, and That One Song I Do Not Like. Some of my personal favorites are Patchwork Staccato, Selfish Princess, Town of Jade, 404, Melty Land Nightmare, and Magician In Love.

Kagamine Rin is probably the next most popular. She's Len's twin, and is known for having a relatively high pitched voicebank. Producers that are known to use Rin often include Neru, WAN☆OPO, ect. She has an insane amount of popular songs, but some of the most well known include Melancholic, Lost One's Weeping, Tokyo Teddy Bear, Meltdown, Roki, and Daughter of Evil. Some of my favorite Rin songs are Sweet Magic, Amatsu Kitsune, Terror, I Want To Be A Kind Person, and Wraith.

Kagamine Len is generally seen alongside his twin Rin, although unfortunately he isn't really in quite as many songs. His voicebank is similar, yet slightly lower pitched. His more popular songs include Paradichlorobenzene, Law-Evading Rock, BRING IT ON, and that one song everyone knows should technically go here but im not linking it so listen to this instead. Some of my favorites include Kabocha Parade, The Classroom Bystander, Butterfly On Your Right Shoulder, Jigsaw Puzzle, and Giga's remix of 1 2 Fanclub.

Luka is another popular vocaloid, with long pink hair. Her voice is a bit lower and more smooth, and works really well in rock songs as well as slower songs. Producers like otetsu and Yuyoyuppe are known for using her often. She is very well known for songs like Luka Luka☆Night Fever and Double Lariat, and a few songs I really really like with her are Black Gold, Leia, THE WANDERLAST, Highway Lover, and Stardust Utopia.

Meiko is one of the first vocaloids, and people generally agree she needs more appreciation from Crypton (or whatever company owns vocaloid now i dont know). She is notorious for being hard to use, but sounds incredible when tuned well. Some of her most iconic songs include Nostalogic, Piano x Forte x Scandal, and this cover of The Snow White Princess Is. Some of my favorites with her are Noise, Falling..., Lover's Suicide Oblivion, and After Burner.

Kaito is another one of the first vocaloids, and he was my favorite when I was younger. Like Meiko, he sounds great when used correctly, but it can be pretty difficult. I think he tends to sound really good when dueting with Meiko in particular, especially in On The Rocks and Wintry Winds. He also has some popular songs with Miku, like Ooedo Julia Night and Cendrillon. Some other songs I like include Snowman, Rosary Pale, Doctor=Funk Beat, and Kaito's Ice Cream Song (of course).

Gumi isn't technically a vocaloid but I don't really care I'm calling them all vocaloids cause the only real difference is the company. Gumi is extremely well known, even making it into Project Mirai despite not being owned by Crypton. She has a very bold voice that fits well in a lot of genres yet still manages to be recognizable. She also has a good English voicebank, making her one of the most used vocaloids for English producers. Her more popular songs include ECHO, Happy Synthesizer, Copycat, Ten-Faced, and Matryoshka, and some of my favs are Childhood Blues, A Lethargic Coup D'etat, Donut Hole, Turnover Game, Yoidoreshirazu, and CANDiES.

Teto is very cool and I like her a lot. She has two distinct voicebanks right now -- her UTAU one(s) which have a very distinct sound, and her SynthV one, which sounds extremely smooth. Both are very cool and although they contrast a whole lot you can still tell it's the same voice provider which is really neat. Teto has seen a recent explosion of popularity due to the SynthV voicebank coming out recently and I am so proud of her ヾ(´∀`ヾ). The majority of Teto songs tend to be covers, but the original songs that she's known for include Fukkireta and Teto Territory, and since I collect Teto covers like pokemon cards I'll probably make a seperate page for that. This is my favorite one though.

Vocaloid Producers

Vocaloid producers are the driving force behind what keeps vocaloid going -- pretty obvious, as they're the ones who make the songs. However, producers being overlooked in favor of which vocaloid is used in the song is an issue that still persists. Not only is it important to credit and support the artists, but knowing the producers can help you find similar songs or branch out into new genres.

Some of the most popular producers in older times included Hachi, Ryo, Livetune, Wowaka, Neru, and Jin. Unfortunately, a lot of producers have stopped making songs, but out of newer producers and older ones who are still active today, some of the more popular ones these days would be Mitchie M, DECO*27, Pinocchiop, Kikuo, Ayase, and Kairiki Bear.

Which producer you listen to essentially dictates what style of vocaloid you'll find. It's just as diverse as music outside of vocaloid -- you can find electronic, metal, love ballads, and so much more.