Ah, nostalgia! This week’s J-Pop Sunday takes me back a few years: Back to a time long ago when I was but a curious teenager, first discovering the world of Japanese music. A time when the idea of J-Pop being readily available in the UK – via legitimate means – was but a madman’s dream and import CD costs were far too much for the wallet of a poor secondary school student. However, back in such an archaic time a little video site called “Youtube” was rising in popularity, bringing with it access to a seemingly infinite fount of weird and wonderful Japanese music. It was there that I stumbled across a Japanese band with a silly name and guitar riffs that will have you subconsciously bobbing you head along to the music. And this happened to be the week I remember that they exist. So without much further ado, here’s “GO!GO!7188”!
Act Name: GO!GO!7188 (“Go! Go! Nana-ichi-hatchi-hatchi”)
Line-up: Akko (Bass/Vocals)
Years Active: 1998 – 2012
Genre: Rock, Surf-Rock, Light Punk (Is that last one even a genre…?)
Notable Tracks: Taiyo (太陽/Sun) (2000), Jet Ninjin (ジェットにんぢん/Jet Carrot) (2000), Ukifune (浮舟/Floating Boat) (2002), Kinyori Ren’ai (近距離恋愛/Short-Distance Love) (2006), Mayakashi no Sekai (まやかしの世界/Phony World) (2010)
Like all great rock bands GO!GO!7188 started life as a few high school girls mucking about. The younger versions of guitarist Yumi Nakashima (Yuu) and bassist Akiko Noma (née Hamada) (Akko), along with three other girls from their school in Kyushu (whose names have seemingly been lost to the annals of time) started a band called “Jellyfish”. Jellyfish primarily focused on covers of songs by a 90’s rock group called “JUDY AND MARY.” Sadly, Jellyfish never made it off the ground and the three nameless girls left the group but Yuu and Akko stuck together and in 1998 started calling themselves “GO!GO!7188”. In 1999 the pair performed at a local music festival/talent show, sponsored by Yamaha. Although the pair didn’t win the competition agents from Yamaha saw promise in the girls. Yamaha recruited the pair to their talent agency and paired them up with Takayuki Hosokawa; a drummer from Shikoku who also went by the name of “Turkey”. The line-up for GO!GO!7188 was complete. It was time to head on over to the big city.
The band moved to Tokyo in 2000 and released 4 singles and an album before the year was over, including their debut single “Taiyo” (太陽/Sun) and the oddly titled “Jet Ninjin” (ジェットにんぢん/Jet Carrot). 2001 saw 3 more singles, their second album and a nationwide tour. However, after 2001 the band’s output began to slow down: 2002 only saw one new release from the band: A traditional style ballad called “Ukifune” (浮舟/Floating Boat). Ukifune made several references to one of the later chapters of the 11th century literacy work “The Tale of Genji” which shared the same name.
Albums and singles slowly trickled out from the band while the group toured and worked on side projects. In 2003 Akko released a solo album and in 2006 she got married. Yuu meanwhile released a solo album in 2004, she followed that in 2005 with a formation of a new band called “Chirinuruwowaka” (チリヌルヲワカ) which went on to release two albums; one in in 2005 and one in 2006. As for Turkey? He was happy enough hitting things with sticks for GO!GO!7188. Regardless of side projects, GO!GO!7188 was still an entity. In 2004 they performed at the legendary Nippon Budokan arena and in 2006 they released a new album and their first single in two years: “Kinyori Ren’ai” (近距離恋愛/Short-Distance Love)
In 2007 GO!GO!7188 embarked on their first international tour which included visiting the USA. However, rather than spur them on, the band’s trip to America seemed only to slow things down even more and for the rest of their years the band rarely managed more than one release per year. Of course, that’s not to say that the band’s quality diminished as they slowed down. The song Mayakashi no Sekai (まやかしの世界/Phony World) from the band’s final album “Go!!GO!GO!Go!!” in 2010 is proof of this.
2012 saw the end of GO!GO!7188 with Yuu withdrawing from the band. Yuu felt that she had reached her limit of what she could do for the band that she believed still had more potential to grow without her. Evidentially, that wasn’t the case as Akko and Turkey are no longer performing together as GO!GO!7188.
Of course, there is one question that remains. What’s with the crazy name? When asked about it the members have repeatedly stated that there is a reason behind it, however, it’s a secret known only to the group’s members. A secret that, sadly, we now may never learn the truth about…