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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh wow, SPEED is getting back together!



Got this from Tokyograph.

The 4-member girl group SPEED will soon be reuniting again. They will officially resume activity with an appearance on NTV's charity telethon "24 Hour Television" at the end of this month.

The group debuted in 1996 but broke up in 2000, at the height of their popularity, in order to pursue solo careers. They had two short-lived reunions in 2001 and in 2003. However, this time is said to be a complete return, with plans extending beyond 2009.

The decision to reunite started with this year's "24 Hour Television." SPEED previously hosted the program back in 1999, when they first met a young girl named Yui Nojiri who was battling spinal muscular atrophy. Last year, Nojiri reached her 20th birthday, and NTV producers decided to bring her and SPEED back for this year's show.

After learning about the idea, SPEED member Eriko Imai revealed that her own 3-year-old son is having hearing problems. Motivated to reach her son through song and to provide inspiration for other young children, she asked the other SPEED members to join her.

For "24 Hour Television," the group is scheduled to perform a 25-minute set at the Nippon Budokan on the afternoon of August 31. They plan to stay together for the time being, aiming to keep SPEED alive for at least 2009.

It's unbelievable that while I'm subscribed to Tokyograph's feed, I missed out this piece of news because I didn't check them out for the past two days. I didn't know anything until I stumbled upon Eripeng's blog post few minutes ago.

Now I know why SPEED songs were being played when I was at HMV Shibuya in the afternoon.

It's been 8 year since they separated. Many years ago, being such a great SPEED fan, and so giddily infatuated with lead singer Hiroko Shimabukuro (hiro), I started a mailing list (the imaginatively named PRECIOUS SPEED MAILING LIST) in their honour, but closed it a while ago because I wanted to move on to other things.

Even so, this blog has numerous SPEED-related posts worth reading. Like my emotional review of BACKDANCERS, which starred hiro. And my list of top six favourite SPEED songs (recommended read).

Well, this is to the SPEED girls: If you ladies want to do a low-budget but mindblowingly awesome music video, you know which filmmaker to contact. Things are more convenient now, since I'm actually in Tokyo ;)

Updated: It seems that I'm really the last person to know about their reunion, since it's already being covered extensively on INTLWOTA and the likes. Via Wota, I got this really nice article from Santos which speculates the prospects of the girls' success.

Frankly, I'm not that optimistic. Speed's career was actually winding down before their disband. Sales for their last few albums and singles were diminishing.

I wasn't too impressed by their temporary return in 2003 because of the rather unforgettable song and mediocre music video.

Facing the likes of PERFUME, the SPEED girls HAVE to do something different musically instead of conventional J-pop or they'll end up being pale imitations of themselves (which I thought they became during that temporary reunion). Go for R & B, go for funk, go techno, anything. Experiment around. The J-pop landscape has changed a lot since they reached the peak of their success, having just a musical presence won't be enough. Just like how SMAP would never have maintained their longevity if all they did was release singles and albums.