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Japan's answer to Westlife or the Backstreet Boys, Arashi ("Storm") were meant to take the world by storm, and they did, at least its East Asian part. They also managed to combine resonant fame with a career longevity atypical of a boy band, releasing a new album every year but one since their inception, almost all of which went to number one. Their continued success can be credited to the inclusion of hip-hop, R&B, and rock elements in their music, giving them a greater identity than that possessed by other acts established by Johnny & Associates -- the prime Japanese male idol manufacturing agency that created Arashi. Johnny & Associates debuted the band in 1999 in Honolulu, where Arashi have returned several more times since; deciding on the bandleader in a paper-rock-scissors game on a TV show (the winner was Satoshi Ohno), Arashi began recording singles, the first of which, "A-RA-SHI," served as the theme song of the Volleyball World Cup of 1999 held in Japan. The single's sales approached one million copies.
Between 1999 and 2001, Arashi worked with Pony Canyon, but after their first full-length release, Arashi No. 1 Ichigou: Arashi wa Arashi wo Yobu!, they switched to J-Storm label, which was created by Johnny & Associates specifically to promote the band. J-Storm did a good job: Arashi's next two albums, Here We Go! (2002) and How's It Going? (2003), both charted at number two, all the band's subsequent singles and albums topped the charts, and every single after 2002 became a theme song for a movie, drama, or anime series. Arashi also released several DVDs and two more singles compilations, not to mention a number of TV and radio programs hosted by bandmembers, who also starred in various movies and TV series. In 2006, Arashi broke into the foreign market, releasing the album Arashic in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea, where it reached number one on the non-Korean albums charts. The LP was promoted by a tour in Taiwan and South Korea (the show in Thailand coincided with a putsch and was thus canceled).
The ninth album, Time (2007), sold 190,000 units in its debut week and allowed the band to gather a total audience of 200,000 for its gigs at the domes of Osaka and Tokyo. Touring extended into 2008, when Arashi played a five-dome show in Japan, as well as gigs in Taipei, Seoul, and Shanghai. The band also scored high ratings for its prime-time show on the TBS network, and claimed the top two places on the Oricon yearly single charts for 2008 with "Truth"/"Kaze no Mukou He" (number one) and "One Love" (number two) -- an achievement not seen in Japan in 19 years. Their eighth studio album, Dream Alive, went on to sell more than 300,000 copies.
Excepting 2009, Arashi continued to churn out a new album every year, with no sign of dwindling popularity. Every one of their albums released after that date went to number one in Japan, three of them selling over a million copies; two also topped Korea's import chart, and four Taiwan's. The most successful, 2010's comeback album Boku no Miteiru Fuukei ("The Scenery I'm Looking At"), was also their biggest-selling album overall. Every single they released since 2004 went to number one. The double A-side "I Seek"/"Daylight," from their 2016 album Are You Happy?, gave them their biggest hit single since their debut, selling over 800,000 copies, with both songs used as themes for TV drama series starring members of the band. ~ Alexey Eremenko
- Sep 15, 1999
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