Meet SNH48, a pop music act based in Shanghai. As Bloomberg Business reports in a story titled "China VCs Are Going Crazy For Girl Groups," the band (crew? posse? army?) has 119 members. ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN.
Alexandra Ho writes:
Modeled after the wildly popular Japanese group AKB48 […] the three-year-old Chinese version similarly auditions young women from across the country, trains them intensively in singing, dancing, and show-hosting for four months, then puts them onstage to perform choreographed routines in live concerts.
During the most recent round of auditions in June 48 applicants were selected out of 126,000, says Tao Ying, Star48’s chief executive officer. (Applicants can be as old as 22; the youngest band member is 14.)
Although there are 119 members, the ladies get divided into smaller teams—the video above stars just 16 members—and then they're rotated for live performances at their very own 340-seat theater in Shanghai. Seven shows a week. The company behind the band, Shanghai Star48 Culture & Media, is valued at several hundred million dollars.
SNH48's singing is not exceptional or notable; the voices are layered, but not especially harmonious or deeply talented. The video makes it seem like being in the group involves smiling, bouncing around in bikinis, and being adorable, yet robotically precise. But daily training is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and as Wu Yanwen, a 20-year-old band member tells Ho: “I learned that behind every glittery, glamorous profession, there’s a lot of sweat and tears.”
Western boy bands—One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer, for instance—attract hoardes of screaming young women. Has SNH48 managed to corner the market on young dudes? Maybe: According to Bloomberg Business, "the majority of the fans are young men, with only about 15 percent of the band’s followers above the age of 30." Ah, the power of bikinis.