On May 27, 2009 female JPop group SPEED released their 16th single “S.P.D.”
SPEED is a female J-pop group consisting of Hiroko Shimabukuro – 島袋寛子, Eriko Imai – 今井絵理子, Takako Uehara – 上原多香子, and Hitoe Arakaki – 新垣仁絵. They are from Okinawa and graduated from the Okinawa Actors School (Namie Amuro is their most successful student!)
SPEED made their debut in August 1996 with the release of “Body and Soul.” Unlike most artists from the Okinawa Actors School which were signed to the Avex record label, Speed was signed by Toys Factory. Their producer in the beginning was Hiromasa Ijichi – 伊秩弘将.
I first saw them on NHK’s Kouhaku Utagassen – 紅白歌合戦 (broadcast New Year’s Eve 1997.) The girls sang “White Love.” I was totally impressed by them, specifically Hiroko chan. I have followed her career closely since that day.
She did not have the greatest voice but she had amazing stage presence.
Meanwhile the others are quite talented themselves though Eriko and Hiroko sang lead for the most part. They had a string of huge hits which included “Go! Go! Heaven” and “my graduation.” Some of their PVs were shot in far off locations.. San Francisco, Philippines, Vietnam.
The group disbanded in ’99 and the members continued with solo careers. Eriko formed Eriko with Crunch; Hiroko became known as hiro.
They had reunions and released more singles until 2003. Five years passed until their next release, あしたの空 – “Ashita no Sora” (Tomorrow’s Sky.) It’s the theme song to the drama “OL Nippon”. After some singles with other producers in the post breakup period Ijichi returned as their producer.
SPEED is a wonderful group, friends! They only get better with age.