The Most Powerful Japanese Girlie Pop Rock02 May, 2010 by MJ
SCANDAL is a Japanese pop-rock girl band from Osaka, Japan. Proclaiming themselves as “The Most Powerful Japanese Girlie Pop Rock”, they are composed of four high school girls: Haruna Ono, Tomomi Ogawa, Mami Sasazaki, and Rina Suzuki. Formed in August 2006, they started playing street lives until they were noticed and signed to the indie label Kitty Records. Since 2008, they have moved out of their indie career and are now under EPIC Records Japan.
I came across SCANDAL after searching around for K-ON! related stuff. This was the first ever video I saw of them, performing a cover of ‘Don’t Say Lazy’, the ending theme song for K-ON! Season 1 on Music Japan.
However the thing I found most appealing about SCANDAL was the way they started out.
In August 2006, the four girls met in an Osakan vocal and dance school called Caless. As they became friends, they decided to form Scandal, writing and playing their own songs while juggling their regular school lives. Unlike most ‘target manufactured’ pop groups, SCANDAL actually started out performing street lives every weekend at Shiroten in Osaka Castle Park. As time went on, the group started to get offers from clubs and music halls around Osaka and Kyoto.
Eventually, over one hundred fans began to consistently attend their live performances, causing the band to become more noticed in the eyes of the Japanese public. In August 2007, Scandal seized the opportunity to participate in a special event at Shibuya Club Asia, a highly recognized and respected club in Shibuya. It was during this time that record label Kitty Records (a subsidiary of Kitty Films) first asked the four girls if they would like to have their music recorded with them. Several months later, the girls had worked out a flexible independent agreement with Kitty in partnership with Tower Records.
Video below of Space Ranger, their first single released during their indie career under Tower Records. Released March 3, 2008, sold a total of 401 copies.
In 2008, Scandal released three indie singles, all of which were exclusive to Tower Records. Their first indie single, Space Ranger (above) was released on March 3, 2008 in celebration of Girl’s Day, which, despite being ranked second on Tower Records’ “Indies Weekly Chart”, sold out throughout Japan and had a hard time being kept in stock due to high demand. In an attempt to alleviate the fan’s troubles in getting this album, the single was released on both the US and Japanese iTunes Music Store on April 9, 2008. Two more singles (in CD form) were released in the months following, both being ranked number 1 on the “Indies Weekly Chart”.
Right after their first release, Scandal left Japan to go on their first international tour, “Japan Nite US Tour 2008”, followed by two concerts at the Japanese cultural and anime convention, “Sakura-Con 2008” from March 16 to March 30. In July of the same year, they performed at France’s Japan Expo and also at Hong Kong’s Ani-Com in August. SCANDAL concluded their indie career with the release of their first mini-album, “YAH! YAH! YAH! HELLO SCANDAL”. This was when they started to gain quite an international fanbase.
In early September 2008, Scandal began talks with the head of Sony Music Japan due to the fact that with Kitty, their CDs were made in very limited quantities (only 2000 of each) which caused them to sell out quickly. They soon worked out a contract with Sony, who signed them on to their Epic Records label. However, due to Sony’s ongoing disagreements with Apple Inc. over their iTunes Music Store and Sony’s own Mora, the band’s music which was formerly available on iTunes, was quickly removed from both the US and Japanese iTunes stores.
In October, they released their major debut single, entitled “Doll”. It gave them more exposure, including appearances on mainstream music television shows like Music Station. The video had much higher production values, but it still sort of kept their indie roots feel with the hilarious stuffed dolls scene xD
They released “Sakura Goodbye” in March 2009 to commemorate Mami and Tomomi’s high school graduation.
The following month, “Shoujo S” was used as the tenth opening of the mega famous anime series “Bleach”. This was when their popularity started to soar, as the single ranked #6 on the Oricon charts when it was released two months later in June.
On October 14th, SCANDAL released “Yumemiru Tsubasa” and their first album, “BEST★SCANDAL”, a week later.
The album ranked #5 on the Oricon weekly chart, making them the first Japanese girl band since ZONE to have a debut album chart in the top five. On December 30, 2009, the 51st Japan Record Awards was held, of which Scandal was nominated for Best New Artist. In the end, they were voted runner-up to Korean boy band Big Bang.
They have also been featured in commercials, representing Pocari Sweat in posters and in the promotional video for their song “BEAUTeen!” as part of their summer 2009 campaign. Which, also happens to be my most favourite video of them 😀
In 2010, “Shunkan Sentimental” was released, which was used as the fourth ending theme of the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
From their humble indie roots, the girls have come quite a long way to where they are now. In this music industry saturated with ‘sexy’ groups, it’s quite hard discover really talented groups like SCANDAL. Looking forward to more energetic releases from them! 😀Click here to search CDJapan for Scandal and other related items.