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嵐

Named after the Japanese word for storm, Arashi were meant to take the world by storm, and they did that, at least for its East Asian part. They also managed to combine resonant fame with career longevity not very typical for a boy band, which is to 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 idols manufacturing agency that created Arashi. Johnny & Associates debuted the band in 1999 in Honolulu, to which 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 O Yobu!, they switched to J-Storm, 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 compilation, 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 it 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 E (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. ~ Alexey Eremenko

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