SMAP is a Japanese boy band formed by Johnny & Associates. While originally consisting of six members, the group currently consists of five: Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori. The group's name is an acronym standing for Sports Music Assemble People.
SMAP released their first CD in 1991 and has since released over fifty singles and twenty albums. Approximately more than half of the singles and a half of the albums have reached the top of the Japanese Oricon music charts. In recent years, the interval between the band's single CD releases has become longer, and they are now released approximately once a year.
The members of SMAP have also pursued careers outside of music, including involvement in television variety shows, dramas, commercials, and movies, making them one of the most popular Johnny's groups. Largely due to their popularity, Johnny & Associates became the most successful agency in Japan, with earnings of almost three billion Japanese yen in 1995.
Prior to SMAP's official debut in 1991, the group's lineup continuously rotated and, at one point, even included future V6 leader Masayuki Sakamoto and future Tokio member Taichi Kokubun. Once the official lineup of Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Shingo Katori and Katsuyuki Mori was decided in 1988, the group began to work as backup dancers for their Johnny's seniors Hikaru Genji.
On September 9, 1991, SMAP made their official CD debut by releasing the single "Can't Stop!! Loving", which debuted at number two on the Oricon singles chart. The group faced a quick decline in sales as their next string of singles became some of their lowest-selling singles in their history despite the fact that the singles all debuted within the Top 10 on the singles chart. It was not until 1994 that SMAP saw their first number one single "Hey Hey Ōki ni Maido Ari" (Hey Hey おおきに毎度あり, "Hey Hey Thanks For Your Business").
Since SMAP was so unsuccessful, Nakai asked Johnny & Associates to let SMAP host their own variety show to make people laugh with their unique personalities. The show was called "I Love SMAP" (愛ラブSMAP Ai Rabu SMAP, a pun as the first character also means "love"). Through this show, SMAP slowly gained popularity. 1993 was a year of opportunities for SMAP. They had a hit single, and SMAP member Takuya Kimura was in a TV drama called "Asunaro Hakusho", in which he played Osamu Toride, a shy boy. Asunaro was a big hit and Kimura's popularity soared. At the same time, SMAP also provided the opening and ending themes for the anime Hime-chan's Ribbon, and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi appeared in multiple episodes as himself doing the voice of a regular character. SMAP also recorded the opening song, "Kimi Iro Omoi", for the anime Akazukin Cha Cha, and this time the youngest member, Shingo Katori, lent his voice for the whole show as the young strong werewolf, Riiya.
After that, SMAP members starred in movies both individually and as a group. In 1996, shortly before member Katsuyuki Mori left the group to pursue a career as a motorcycle racer, SMAP started their own variety program called SMAP×SMAP. On SMAP×SMAP, they cook (on a regular section of the show called Bistro Smap), perform in comedy sketches (often parodies of other shows), play games, sing and dance with other musical groups. As "an idol group that does anything", they began starring in a wide variety of programs such as live stage to music, dancing, hosting other programs, acting in movies and commercials.
SMAP continued to release new hit singles composed by professionals. Their 1998 single "Yozora no Mukō" (夜空ノムコウ, "Beyond the Night Sky") and their 2000 single "Lion Heart" sold more than one million copies each. Their song "Yozora no Mukō" was mentioned in some Japanese textbooks. Their 2001 greatest-hits album Smap Vest sold more than one million copies in only one week.
In 2000, NTT East produced two animated and two live-action television commercials for their ISDN service featuring a more updated version of the anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. The live action commercials featured some of the members of SMAP in Gatchaman costumes.
In August 2001, Inagaki was involved in a traffic altercation, and there were allegations of wrongdoing on his part. Though he briefly retreated from the public spotlight and had all his commercial tie-ins and television appearances canceled and withdrawn, Inagaki made a comeback and starred in a 2004 drama about a fictional Japanese investment banker killed in the events of September 11. There were speculations that SMAP would disband following Takuya Kimura's announcement of his marriage and Goro Inagaki's traffic altercation in 2001.
2003: "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana"
In 2003, Noriyuki Makihara wrote and composed SMAP's 2003 single "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" (世界に一つだけの花, "The One and Only Flower in the World"). The single sold more than 2.57 million copies and became the ninth best-selling single in Japan in Oricon history. Along with Hikaru Utada's "Colors", it was one of the only two singles to sell over a million copies in 2003, a year that saw CD sales declining due to the Japanese economic slump. The single made it to the top of the Oricon 2003 Yearly singles chart.This song became popular in karaoke.
In 2003, Nakai was identified as the highest tax payer of any entertainer in Japan by the Japanese National Tax Bureau. That same year, he was involved in at least four television shows simultaneously, in addition to commercials.
"Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" held the number one spot for the first few weeks into the year and finished the year as the eleventh best-selling of 2004. They were invited to perform in Kōhaku Uta Gassen that year, but refused for the second time since 2001. They did not release any new single or album that year. All the individual members had so many commitments that year, such as movies and dramas, that they wanted to rest.
2004 was a year that did not have a single million-selling CD in Japan. Although they did not release even a single in 2004, the popularity of SMAP was still strong in 2005. This was reflected in the charts, where both their album and single (Sample Bang! and "Bang! Bang! Bakansu!" respectively) topped the respective Oricon weekly charts just moments after their release.
SMAP's 40th single "Arigatō" (ありがとう, "Thank You") was released on October 11, 2006. It is an expression of thanks in honor of the 15th anniversary of their debut.
In 2008, they had a six-day tour at the Tokyo Dome, becoming the first Japanese artist to have a total of six shows at the Dome in a single tour. They also released a new album Super Modern Artistic Performance (stylized as super.modern.artistic.performance) on September 24, 2008, the first day of the tour.will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas produced the first track of the album, "Theme of 019 Super Modern Artistic Performance" while Yasutaka Nakata of capsule (producer of Japanese electropop girl group Perfume) wrote and produced the tenth track "Kokoro Puzzle Rhythm". On October 1, 2008, since Super.Modern.Artistic.Performance topped the Oricon charts at 214,000 in sales, SMAP achieved total album sales of ten million, making them the second musical group of vocalists after Chage and Aska to do so.
While SMAP was scheduled to perform in their first overseas concert at the Shanghai World Expo on June 13, 2010, Shanghai World Expo officially announced on June 5, 2010 that the event had been canceled due to the possible chaos surrounding the first-come-first-serve concert ticket giveaway method on the day of the event. SMAP's album We Are SMAP, which included the song "Trust" written by Tetsuya Komuro, was released on July 21, 2010. SMAP's 2010 national concert tour program We Are SMAP! Tour 2010 commenced on July 31, 2010, including nineteen performances at five venues in Japan. With We Are SMAP! debuting at number-one of the Oricon weekly album chart, it was announced on July 27, 2010 that SMAP is the third group to accomplish the feat of having a number-one album in three consecutive decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s) after Southern All Stars and Chage and Aska.
It was announced on August 2, 2010 that SMAP will go on holding their first overseas concerts at the Shanghai Stadium on the ninth and tenth of October 2010. On August 10, 2010, SMAP's forty-fifth single "This is Love" took the number-one spot on the Oricon weekly singles chart, selling around 276,000 copies.
However, the planned October concert in Shanghai has been delayed. Speculation has arisen the delay was caused by reaction to the 2010 Senkaku boat collision incident.
SMAP had finally staged their first overseas concert performance on September 16, 2011 at the Beijing Workers Stadium in China under the theme of "Come on, Japan. Thank you, China. Asia is a united home", as a symbol of gratitude for China's assistance in the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami tragedy, and the strengthening of friendship between the two nations. SMAP also released their latest album on August 8, 2012 entitled GIFT of SMAP, which includes new songs including "gift".
SMAP's singing abilities vary, as fans go as far as to admit that "Nakai’s inability to sing is somewhat of a national joke today in Japan". In spite of that, their up-beat songs have been highly praised and well received by the Japanese public, such as their best-selling single "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" (世界に一つだけの花, "The One and Only Flower in the World"). The song was selected as the Space Shuttle Discovery crew's wake-up call in August 2005, on STS-114 Flight Day 13. The song was covered and re-arranged by heavy metal guitarist Marty Friedman on his 2006 album Loudspeaker.
Other projects and activities
Their variety program SMAP×SMAP shows several types of entertainments ranging from cooking, comedy, and games to singing and dancing, often with celebrity guests such as Tohoshinki, Mariah Carey, Ayumi Hamasaki, Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Perfume, Hikaru Utada, BoA, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Backstreet Boys, Paris Hilton, Matt Damon, Madonna, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sheryl Crow, Richard Gere, Avril Lavigne, Kwon Sang Woo, Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and Quentin Tarantino, though most guests are Japanese tarento.
Besides singing and acting, the group also manages to be active in numerous other forms of media fields as well. In August 1991 a Saint Seiya musical sponsored by Bandai, was shown in the Aoyama theater in Tokyo, Japan. The story recalls the Sanctuary and Poseidon chapter, starring the members of SMAP as the five bronze saints and Poseidon. In 2002, the group released a soft drink called "Drink! SMAP" in order to promote a CD of the same name. They did this once again in 2010 to promote the album We are SMAP!. SMAP was also chosen to be official spokespersons for Square-Enix's popular Dragon Quest series of role-playing video games. This actually is not the first time SMAP was associated with the series. SMAP starred in a musical based on the Dragon Quest games.
It was announced on June 10, 2010 that SMAP would appear in their first drama special in almost six years. Titled Doku Tomato Satsujin Jiken (毒トマト殺人事件), it is said to be the industry's first "candid-camera drama", in which much of the filming for the drama special went on without SMAP's knowledge.
Japan Gold Disc Awards
SMAP won fourteen awards from Recording Industry Association of Japan's annual music awards ceremony, the Japan Gold Disc Awards.
|1992||SMAP||Best 5 New Artist Award||Won|
|Sexy Six Show||Music Video Award||Won|
|1996||SMAP 007: Gold Singer||Album Award||Won|
|1997||SMAP 008: Taxomax||Album Award||Won|
|1999||"Yozora no Mukō"||Song of the Year (Special Award)||Won|
|2001||"Lion Heart"||Song of the Year||Won|
|2002||SMAP Vest||Pop Album of the Year||Won|
|2004||"Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana"||Song of the Year||Won|
|Smap! Tour! 2002!||Music Video of the Year||Won|
|2006||SMAP to Icchatta! SMAP Sample Tour2005||Won|
|2007||Pop Up! SMAP Live||Best Music Videos||Won|
|2009||SMAP 2008 Super Modern Artistic Performance Tour||Won|
- List of best-selling music artists in Japan
- at AllMusic