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by Barbi Broadus

Musings on Music:

I just can't help myself but I accidentally, and I honestly mean accidentally, keep referring to the music group SMAP as SPAM. I've been laughed at, scolded, reprimanded and nearly beaten with a stick, nevertheless, the misnomer sticks. But, finally I've come up with an argument, thanks to my subconscious, for my defense. I'm no logician but, see if you can follow this reasoning.

What is SMAP? Who truly knows it's origin? Well, according to The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture, which I have so recently acquired, SMAP is a group of "young pop singers who were scouted, trained and packaged by talent agencies and record companies for mass consumption." And I quote, "they didn't even have to sing that well."

It seems that a fellow named Johnny Kitagawa has made a career of marketing teen idols since 1963. (One more unimportant note is that Kitagawa cites Alice Cooper as an influence, FYI.) But lets skip a few decades and get right to SMAP. There was a group in 1988 called Hikaru Genji. It was composed of 7 fellows who not only were talented enough to sing but also to perform fantastic dance numbers on roller skates while they sang. I think that there was a dancing bear and a monkey but that part is still a little foggy. I digress.

Well, let's just say little Johnny had foresight. In fact, let's just call him Little Johnny Foresight, shall we? So, LJF, for short, wanted to hire some new kids in the event any of the Genji group should want to rethink the whole fame and fortune bit. He hired 12 kids as backup skaters. From this 12 emerged 6 who would form a new group but not on skates. Oh no, the Japanese people had had enough of skates. They were crying "skateboards, skateboards, we want skateboards!!" So this sexy sextet formed the group called Sports Music Assemble People. S.M.A.P. and they sang and they danced on skateboards. See? Perfect.

Next. Next paragraph that is. So LJF knew a good thing when he saw it. So he decided to exploit it. The SMAP boys began appearing on variety shows and dramas, with skateboard in hand. In fact, there was even a television drama about a group of six boys, played by the six members of SMAP, who were, believe it or not, skateboarders. Ingenious!!! These skateboarding boys, on the show.not in real life, formed a broadcasting club and had numerous adventures, funny dialogue, and just all around great times. It makes me laugh just to think about their misadventures. Ha, ha.

Anyhow, LJF decided to split up the team and market the boys as individuals. They each had their "own regular programs, series dramas, radio shows, musicals, concerts and TV commercials." Their following includes, according to the Encyclopedia, young girls, gay men and growing numbers of women in their thirties and forties. They took Japan by storm. The Encyclopedia refers to them as an invading army. To LJF, it seems as though they were meat for his market. Almost a decade later and they are still going strong.

Now I ask you what is SPAM. It is meat of unknown and questionable origin that has been selected, prepared and packaged by meat packing agencies and manufacturing companies. That statement alone should suffice to link the two anachronyms together for all eternity. But there's more to support my claim. Where can you get it and where did it come from? Much like SMAP, it's an enigma and it's everywhere. How long will it keep? Theorists say well over a decade but no one is brave enough to change theory into law. I'm sure I've made an impervious case for myself so, put down the horsewhip, I beg of you.

The only question remaining is what does SPAM stand for. An easy guess is something along the lines of Sliced Processed American Meat. (Enough to make you want to deny your citizenship, if you're American). However, I don't t