Members to pursue solo careers

TOKYO — Members of Japan’s top girl group, Speed, which has racked up record sales of 20 million units in just over three years, have said they are calling it quits.

The four members of the group — which debuted in 1996 with two members still in elementary school — will pursue solo careers and try to live the lives of normal teenagers.

Speed will play a final concert tour and release one more album before disbanding next month, the members said.

The band members describe themselves as TLC wannabes. Since its debut, Speed has changed the Japanese music industry by adding a little hip-hop to the stale world of Japanese pop. They’ve also raised the bar when it comes to dance skills in musical acts, as most singers spend their time riveted to a mark in the middle of the stage.

Speed’s four members are Hiroko Shimabukuro, 15; Eriko Imai, 15; Takako Uehara, 16; and Hitoe Arakai, the senior member at 18.

The group has also added a few dollars to the coffers of American production companies by shooting all of the videos for their singles in the U.S.

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