每日跟讀#543: An Aging Boy Band Calls It Quits, but Japan Can’t Let Go
For nearly three decades, millions of Japanese have clamored for their every album, lined up with breathless anticipation for their concerts and gathered on Monday nights for their hit television show.
Now, the nation is awash with anguish over word that SMAP — Japan’s longest-running boy band, if it can still be called that with its youngest member pushing 40 — is splitting up.
The news has dominated newspaper headlines and television talk shows since the band’s announcement this month. Even the mayor of Tokyo and two members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet have weighed in. One said he was worried about the effect on the Japanese economy, the world’s third-largest.
“We will not let them stop!” a grieving fan wrote in one of more than a dozen petitions on change.org pleading with the aging heartthrobs to remain together. “If we let them go and disband, it means Japan is finished.”
To understand the bedlam unfolding here, think of the Beatles’ breaking up, the airing of the final episode of “Seinfeld” and the “conscious uncoupling” of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin all rolled into one — the end of an era on the Japanese cultural landscape.
SMAP’s most famous saccharine single, “The Only Flower in the World,” is regularly taught in Japan’s schools. But SMAP is not just a wildly popular band whose albums have sold more than 35 million copies, making it one of the most successful musical acts in Japanese history.
For two decades, its five members — Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori — have also hosted one of Japan’s top-rated television programs, “SMAP X SMAP,” a family-friendly variety show in which they cook for celebrity guests, compete in games, perform comedic skits and, of course, sing. Each has starred on his own in numerous television series, movies and commercials. The frontman, Nakai, has been a newscaster for several Olympic Games.
20年來，SMAP的5位成員，中居正廣、木村拓哉、稻垣吾郎、草彅剛和香取慎吾，同時是日本收視率極高電視節目「SMAP X SMAP」的主持人。他們在這個適合闔家觀賞的綜藝節目中為名人嘉賓做菜、玩競賽遊戲、表演喜劇橋段，當然，還有唱歌。每一團員都獨自在許多電視連續劇、電影和廣告中擔綱。主唱中居正廣還是數屆奧運的新聞主播。
The group, whose members started out as teenagers performing on skateboards and now range in age from 39 to 44, managed to both broaden its audience beyond adolescent girls and hold on to them over the years. Many of their most ardent fans are women who grew up with them.
SMAP, an acronym for Sports Music Assemble People, also has legions of fans in China, South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/302673/web/