Name: Imai Eriko
Nickname: Mikan sei-jin
Birthday: September 22, 1983
Position: Lead Vocals

Name: Arakaki Hitoe
Nickname: Koshifuri-man
Birthday: April 7, 1981
Position: Background Vocals, Dancer

Name: Shimabukoro Hiroko
Nickname: Uchuu-jin
Birthday: April 7, 1984
Position: Lead Vocals

Name: Uehara Takako
Nickname: Obaachan
Birthday: January 14, 1983
Position: Background Vocals, Dancer

Speed is an all-girl J-Pop group, similar in style to a mixture of the American pop, dance, and hip-hop genres. They usually sang fast-paced, dance-able music generally centered around love; the group was primarily marketed towards a teen audience. In 1995, the four girls were discovered in the Okinawan Talent School, a popular location where parents sent their children in hopes of their pursuing acting/singing careers in the future; the school is well-known for producing such stars as Amuro Namie, MAX, and DA PUMP, among others. In October of that year, Speed was chosen by RISING Productions to debut on the Japanese variety show, "The Yoru no Hippare." Shortly before taking stage, the group found themselves in need of a name. The name Speed was invented by Eriko and Takako -- inspired by the film Maximum Speed (according to Babelfish's translation). Their actual performance, however, proved to be a rather mild entrance for the group, unfortelling of their future.

In April of 1996, Speed recorded their first song, "Body & Soul", which would be released August 5 of that same year. The single became an immediate hit in Japan; though debuting on the Oricon charts (the Japanese equivalent of Billboard) at 18th, the song would rise and peak at 4th. Their next single, "Steady", came out on November 18th and rose to #2 on the Oricon within a week of its release -- shattering the record in Japan. This single would sell over 1 million copies and fully brought Speed into prominence in the J-Pop scene. After their short year in existance, the group was nominated for several awards -- including the "Best New Artist" & "Pop Group of the Year" equivalents.

1997 proved a large year for Speed, only topped in terms of success by one other. After their release of "Go! Go! Heaven!", which debuted at #1 on Oricon -- breaking their previous record, the group went on to release their first full-length album, "Starting Over," which also debuted at #1 and would go on to sell over 2.4 million copies. From this point on, virtually all of Speed's singles, videos, and albums would reach #1 on Oricon, including "Wake Me Up" and "White Love" (which sold over 2 million copies), which were both released in August and October, respectively.

Speed reached the peak of its success in 1998, a year in which they released three singles -- "my graduation", "ALIVE", and "ALL MY TRUE LOVE" -- and three new albums -- "Andromedia", the appropriately titled "Rise", and "MOMENT." While "Rise" was an album in the true sense of the word, "Andromedia" was a soundtrack to go along with the identically-titled fantasy/sci-fi movie in which they acted in that year. Though the movie was in and out of theaters, it managed to have an audience of approximately 800,000 -- not too bad for a movie which was only made to star a band. Unfortunately, this year also marked the first signs of internal conflict within the group. "ALL MY TRUE LOVE" (released in October) featured Hitoe and Takako in more prominence than in previous songs, as per their request.

The group furthered its downfall in 1999, a year in which the individual members began to worry about their own personal careers more than the future of the group, itself. Following Speed's release of "Precious Time" in February, Takako released her first single, entitled "My First Love," in March of that year -- which (surprise!) would reach #1 on the Oricon charts; likewise, Hitoe released "Inori" in June (after Speed's release of "Breakin' out to the morning" in May), which also reached a respectible #2. Both managed to reach these heights despite public controversy surrounding their singing ability. Hiroko would also release a single, "As Time Goes By," in August of 1999, which was the most popular out of the singles the group members would release. With this influx of personal careers, Speed would announce their imminent break-up in August, the month in which the group agreed that they could not reach their personal dreams together. The group's songs from this point had a sense of closing and finality to them, shown throuh the titles. Their final single and third-to-last album, released in November and December, respectively, were "Long Way Home" and "Carry on my way."

2000 marked the end of Speed's short but influential career. The group released their final two albums, "Dear Friends 1" and "Dear Friends 2," on March 29 and officially split up on March 31, in pursuit of personal careers, studies, boyfriends, travel, and individual time. Speed's 4 year period opened the door to future pop bands in Japan. The group's starting of fashion trends and varying style changed the role of music in the country, but also left the culture searching for a new band to follow -- a position Morning Musume quickly capitalized on.

Currently (March 2001), the members of Speed are still working on their solo careers. Most notable of the four, Imai Eriko has had great success with her hit, "identity." I wish the best of luck to all of them, and hopefully there will be a Speed reunion in the future, ^^.


96.8.5 - Body & Soul
96.11.8 - STEADY
97.3.26 - Go! Go! Heaven
97.8.6 - Wake Me Up!
97.10.15 - White Love
98.2.18 - my graduation
98.7.1 - ALIVE
98.10.28 - ALL MY TRUE LOVE
99.2.16 - Precious Time
99.5.19 - Breakin' out to the morning
99.11.3 - Long Way Home


97.5.21 - Starting Over
98.4.29 - RISE
98.8.5 - Andromedia
98.12.16 - MOMENT
99.12.22 - Carry On my way
00.3.29 - Dear Friends 1
00.3.29 - Dear Friends 2