Well, as probably most of you already know, the once-premier Johnny's Entertainment group, SMAP, has finally decided to break up for good. I found out late on Saturday and any shock that I would have had about this news was mostly dissipated because of that averted breakup crisis by KimuTaku and company back in January. My feelings on the matter are that it is perhaps time to call things to a close although the video above has a lot of surprised reactions from folks walking about in Shibuya. And speaking with my student over Skype on Saturday night, he was also not too surprised about the announcement although he is also feeling somewhat wistful since the members of SMAP are around the same age as him and his contemporaries so that in his mind, an era is soon to pass.
So, in tribute to SMAP and as a form of SMAP anthropology, let us go all the way to the beginning to September 1991, when the boys released their debut single, "Can't Stop!! -LOVING-". It was an interesting time in terms of J-Pop. Rock bands were all the rage and it looked like that the female side of aidoru was going the way of the dodo outside of Wink, CoCo and Ribbon. But then SMAP came in on a ball of fire, with six boys pruned down from the rollerskating force of 12 who provided background dancing for the previous Johnny's kings, Hikaru Genji（光GENJI）. Of course, it was Takuya Kimura（木村拓哉）, Masahiro Nakai（中居正広）, Shingo Katori（香取慎吾）, Goro Inagaki（稲垣吾郎）, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi（草彅剛） and the 6th member, Katsuyuki Mori（森且行）who would later leave in 1996.
The official birth year of Sports, Music, Assemble and People was 1988 so I'm sure between then and the release of "Can't Stop!! -LOVING-", the guys had to pay their usual dues in show business but still when I hear this song by Hiromi Mori（森浩美）and Jimmy Johnson (aka Koji Makaino/馬飼野康二) being their debut, I can't help but feel that SMAP really hit the big time right off the bat. The song is oh-so-happy and jingly-jangly (with a tribute to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star") in a way that reminds me of the 80s Hikaru Genji days, and for these former skating back dancers-turned-star performers, it just seems as if the world was their oyster when SMAP went on the stage. Even though I have heard some of their earlier material such as "$10" and "Ganbarimasho"（がんばりましょう）, there was something about that performance of "Can't Stop!!" which hinted the beginning of a grand circus.
The SMAP single did extremely well as a debut, hitting No. 2. You can find out about the only song that did stop "Can't Stop!!" right here. But since the song otherwise did so well, SMAP got its invitation to the 1991 Kohaku Utagassen. And it is also available on the group's first album "SMAP 001" which came out on New Year's Day 1992. A very nice beginning indeed for a sextet of fellows who would go on to become one of the biggest all-round entertainment forces for years and years.
But all good things must come to an end, and that is also the case for SMAP. Still, the five remaining fellows all have their solo gigs still ongoing and I have a feeling that Nakai-kun and the guys may still pop up on this year's Kohaku although my student has some doubts about that. However, if I can end on a slightly snarky note, I kinda figured that the group may be breaking up either because everyone has finally gotten fed up of Nakai-kun's singing or they simply ran out of recipes on "Bistro SMAP".
|Back in the good ol' days...|