Formed in 1988 by a pool of backup dancers for Hikari Genji (himself a J-Pop star), SMAP (Sports Music Assemble People) was the product of the massively successful Johnny's Music Factory, which specialized in boy bands. With a fairly unsuccessful start, at least by Johnny's standards, SMAP floundered for a couple of years after their 1991 debut album, eventually gaining ground with their own variety show. Building upon their newfound popularity on television (including a few successful show themes), the group returned to releasing music, with new songwriters and producers onboard. Success came quickly this time around, with a series of top singles taking the group ever higher. Beginning in 1998, a handful of singles sold over a million copies (particularly high in Japan's saturated market), with 2003's "Flower Unlike Any Other in the World" making its way into Japan's Top Ten best sellers of all time. The group returned to a new variety show in 1996, eventually interviewing world-wide notables as well as performing their signature female-friendly pop and dance routines. Despite the usual course of events for aging boy bands, they continue to sell strongly, and sell out large stadiums with live shows. They return to the top of the Oricon charts with each release. 2008's Super Modern Artistic Performance found the band back at the top, with their crazed female fans behind them all the way.
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