vendredi 17 février 2017

ZOO (Eng)

Launched on the rails of success in 1989 by a TV show about dance, the ZOO band is a collection of the best Japanese dancers of the moment, dancing on the voice of one or two female singers depending on the time. If the show meets success on itself, it is especially thanks to an ad music for the national railways company, the Japan Railways (JR), that the band became famous...

ZOO

The locomotive of the Japanese dance

Choo Choo TRAIN - JR ski ski campaign song / ZOO



French publication : 31/12/2016.
English version: /02/2017.
Last update:10/08/2017.
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ZOO is created a bit in an informal way in October 1989 to give a name and some cohesion to a gathering of dancers, selected in June for a series of TV shows on the TV Asahi channel, in particular "Groovin Scene DADA", in the whole country through scouting in night-clubs or contests, as well as the 1 or 2 female singers recruited to give them somethings original to dance on. Songs were generally written by composers still unknow at that time, such as 中西 圭三 (Nakanishi Keizou), composer of their biggest hit, and who even participated to the back vocals on some other tracks.
Because of that, the number and composition of the members will stay quite variable and unknown. It is thus said that the initial line-up was made of 8 people, then 9 for the 1st single, opening of the show, Careless Dance at the beginning of 1990. Then one can see generally 7 to 9 persons pictured in the booklets of the singles and albums, without description, and sometimes up to 13 (including the ZOO Jr ?). Some of them can be nevertheless highlighted thanks to their regular appearance or their career:
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CAP (坂井俊浩, Sakai Toshihiro)
LUKE (斎藤憲史, Saitou Kenji)
MARK (岡山純久, Okayama Junhisa), then member of Runningman Tokyo
SAE (海老沢佐江子, Ebisawa Saeko)
TACO (野嶋千照, Nojima Senteru), band's leader, then researcher in modern dance !
SATSUKI (御木五月, Goki Gogatsu), main singer
HIRO (五十嵐広行 Igarashi Hiroyuki), future founder of EXILE TRIBE and E-Girls...
YU-KI (北村夕起, Kitamura Yuuki), singer between 1990 and 1991, who will get more famous then with TRF.

Also:
HISAMI (竹村久美, Takemura Hisami), starting member who left the band at an unknown date then member of Runningman Tokyo
NAOYA (瀬谷直也, Setani Naoya) and his brother...
CRAZY-A
MAMI (村尾真美, Murao Mami)
KAZU: then member of Runningman Tokyo
RYU
DJ TSUYOSHI


Choo Choo TRAIN - JR ski ski campaign song / ZOO


In parallel is created the band DEER, aka ZOO Jr, formed by:

MASATAKA (笹本将崇, Sasamoto Masataka), singer, who will found the J-Soul Brothers, ancester of EXILE, with HIRO under the alias SASA.
SINSAKU (前田真作, Maeda Shosaku), who joined the agency LDH of HIRO as instructor and production manager.
HIROSHIGE (池田裕成, Ikeda Yukari)
TAKUMI (須崎匠, Takumi Susaki)

In October 1991, they gain fame with the groovy tune Choo Choo TRAIN ! Indeed it is used at this time for a winter ad campaign of the East Japan Railway, and is released as a single (the 4th) on November the 7th. It reaches then the 3rd place of the weekly Oricon Top and exceeds the million sales !
The success is such that the JR recall them for the 3 following years, until their disband in 1995, while the shows which brought them to life were already stopped since March 1992.

Chibi-opinion

It is hard to give an opinion about this fuzzy gathering. The main point to remember is this outstanding spiritual heritage toward the Japanese urban dance that the highlights on the band, as well as their own success Choo Choo TRAIN, made possible. I'm of course speaking about EXILE TRIBE and E-Girls, founded by the dancer HIRO, rather oriented RnB and pop, and about TRF including the singer YU-KI, rather oriented Eurodance. But this heritage was also translated into an increased interest in the dance schools and contests in general, and even into an influence in the increase of the members number and generalization of the choregraphies (yet at a lower level) in the Idols bands at the beginning of the 2000s.
To be noted that in 1993 the British dance music duet Band of Gypsies and Miriam Stockley released a remix album of ZOO called Song of ZOO Meets House Style.
J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train ZOO

ZOO, that's definitely this famous chore in line and in spirale that could be seen in the JR ad I told about, and sometimes in opening of their Music Video of Choo Choo TRAIN, true meme of the Japanese pop culture, covered by EXILE and in countless ads, anime, games... until in the 2010s at least !
To conclude, they were also pionners in the selling of CD-DVD combo in order precisely to show their dance skills. Paradoxally, it is now quite complicated to find today such combos even as a Best of...

Similar Artists

Japan: EXILE, E-girls, TRF, Globe, Black Biscuits...
World: Disco-Funk (Earth Wind and Fire...), American Pop-RnB (Mickael Jackson, Paula Abdul...)

Standards:

First performers:

Discography (selection):


Choo Choo TRAIN - JR ski ski campaign song / ZOO
12/2003: A micro-compilation at low cost of the songs created by the band for the ad campaigns of the Japan Railway "JR ski ski" ; includes Choo choo TRAIN...

"ZOO" Golden Best Special Works / ZOO
03/2003: The only Best of available by now, slightly remixed, unfortunately regarding the authenticity of some tracks; includes Careless Dance ('95 vers.), Choo Choo TRAIN (remix)...



ZOO The Best / ZOO
11/2013: DVD zone 2; includes the original MV of Choo Choo TRAIN...


Liens

Sources: wikipedia JP, reportages TV...

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