There are all sorts of gimmicky groups like this everywhere, though. Soon, they'll fade back into obscurity.
Take the American pop group, The Pussycat Dolls. They were a popular thing maybe 5 years ago. There was no real leader, they were controlled by their label in every aspect, the girls were swapped out every so often, and wore as little as possible on stage without being cited for public indecency. Fast-forward to now, nobody remembers a ☹ thing about them. AKB48 will end up the same way.
They've got one significant thing I've found different from those we've-seen-all-too-often gimmicky groups you mentioned, tho - even after their demise, which I suspect won't happen anytime soon, they could've already steered J-pop to a direction modeled on them, if not even worse. Many gimmicky groups have also appeared & then disappeared (quickly) in the J-pop scene throughout the decades, but when you see major national press like Asahi Shimbun
devoting a whole page discussing the AKB48 phenomenon, & even international press like International Herald Tribune
(or Financial Times
- can't remember ATM) also analyzing it (in an albeit smaller article space), you know there's some important difference this time.
I find this quit sad, especially for Japanese artist who can actually sing, have talent and write their own stuff and aren't the only one ideal of beauty AKB48 shows(light skin, 92 lbs, big eyed) and AKB48 and all their subgroups alot of them have been topping the charts in 2011 so they have made it to mainstream their in commercials. dramas and etc and I read somewhere about their fans alot of them arent just older men but both young boys and girls, and what kind of message is AKB48 sending to them?
They've already become national idols representing the country, like Morning Musume in the past, which've now been eclipsed by them, even tho the latter were initially (albeit incorrectly) seen as a copycat/bootleg of the former. Some of their members have also been sent to my country to rally for donations for the Mar. quake/tsunami in northeast Japan last year.
it just suprises me how people can get so many 1's on a music chart yet can't sing and so much recognition when their really not anything
I've to admit that they & their concept do make good business sense, tho, as they're evidently a thriving multimedia business nowadays.