I've been hanging around with Japanophiles for the past few weeks, mostly because of my research into Vocaloid and its applications. A nice crowd, worth noting for their extreme tendency to synthesize everything. Each Vocaloid voice bank, in the minds of many fans, has its own apperance and personality. Each is a virtual pop icon, the avatar singing and dancing using programs like "MikuMikuDance."
"Real" instrumentals are rarely used, most everything being done through software. Their anime-styled avatars and the less-than-perfect synthesis Vocaloid provides, however, might be considered barriers to more mainstream approval.
AKB48 is a long-standing popular Japanese girl-pop group, often noted for having more active members (58) than any other pop group. The newest member, Eguchi Aimi, has made no live appearances and has no real record of existence, as noted by fans. Here is a video revealing the nature of the being:
The face, shown to the left in the latter half of the video, is a CGI amalgamation of the "ideal" portions of other popular band members. This is not a CG representation of a single face, basically being a kind of cyberpunk Frankenstein monster. Imagine! This is pop icon synthesis perfected, aside from the distinctly human voice. This, too, will be replaced, perhaps much sooner than we realize.
I, for one, welcome our new synthetic overlords.
If interested, here is a very popular Vocaloid-oriented forum which I am now frequenting. There's also an IRC, sakura.tsukihi.net #mikuchan.
ETA: here is an article released just yesterday about the virtual icon.