Iconic Japanese boy band SMAP to call it quits
Just last Sunday, Japan's most popular and successful boy band of all time made an announcement that they would disband at the end of the year, disappointing millions of fans and bringing an end to a career of 25 years that brought them iconic status in Japan and other Asian countries.
Definitely one of the biggest entertainment industry news stories to ever come out of Japan, iconic boy band SMAP is breaking up on December 31 of this year, just a few years after reports of them no longer getting along behind the scenes had begun to surface and circulate around the media. When holding an emergency press conference in January to address rumors of in-fighting and other personal issues within the band, they collectively bowed their heads and apologized to a national television audience, claiming that they had decided to stay together as a group. Millions of fans and those in the entertainment industry let out a huge sigh of relief, showing just how much SMAP, with their daily almost-over-exposure in all fields of media, and their longevity, the five members, led by leader Masahiro Nakai, had become a daily part of Japanese life.
Having started out as teen idols, members of SMAP all found individual success as entertainers, starring in TV commercials, dramas and movies, all the while getting together consistently for their own television variety shows or concerts at baseball stadiums. Takuya Kimura, the most popular SMAP member, is probably Japan's biggest male celebrity, and has been for over 20 years. Collectively, the five now-middle-aged idols have sold over 35 million records in Japan. They have served as cultural ambassadors between Japan, Korea and China. They are super-famous in Japan, and this is big news. The reality seems to be that they are no longer capable of even pretending to tolerate each other, with friction between the leader Nakai and the biggest star Kimura.
But Japan is the country of idols, so life will go on, until a new boy band sings and dances their way to stardom. As for SMAP, it stands for "Sports Music Assemble People." Whatever that means, they're now disassembling. A truly sad day for fans of one of Asia's biggest boy bands.