AKB48 is one of Japan’s most popular pop groups. The girl group made their debut in 2005 as theatre based performers before making their breakthrough as best selling artists, with hit songs like Sakura no Ki ni Narou, Beginner, and Heavy Rotation etc. They are still performing on regular basis at the theatre despite their mainstream success.
AKB stand for Tokyo’s Akihabara township where their theatre is located. The group consists of 48 members and are divided into three teams – team A, K and B. Minami Takahashi is the captain of Team A, Sayaka Akimoto captain of Team K, and Yuki Kashiwagi captain of Team B. Check out AKB48 member profiles.
AKB48 were formed in 2005 by Yasushi Akimoto through open auditions. They made their debut in December as theatre based idol group with only 20 girls, later known as team A. Their debut single Sakura no Hanabira Tachi was released in February 2006 and made it to the #10 spot on the Oricon chart.
AKB48 enrolled another 18 girls in April as team K. The group signed a major label contract with DefStar Records in August, and released Aitakatta in October. The forming of AKB48 was completed in December with 13 new members joining as team B. It was not until April 2007 though, that the number of members (48) finally reflected the group name after a few of the girls were graduated from the group.
AKB48 moved to King Records in 2008 and released their 10th single Oogoe Diamond in October, which became their first podium finish on Oricon chart. The girls also began starring in their very own variety show AKBINGO! (still running in 2011). They have starred in many other made-for-AKB48 variety shows and drama series since then.
2009 was AKB48′s breakthrough year. March single Jūnen Zakura became their first to achieve over 100,000 copies in first week sales. Their two subsequent single albums managed to maintain the figure, and they finally achieved #1 on Oricon in October with their 14th single, River, which sold over 230,000 copies.
AKB48′s first 2010 single, Sakura no Shiori, was also a huge hit, selling over 380,000 copies which made them the best selling Japanese female artists in seven years. The girls released their second compilation album, Kamikyoku Tachi, in April which did well with over 410,000 copies sold.
AKB48 broke their own single sales record in May with Ponytail to Shushu which sold over 650,000 copies. They set new record again with Heavy Rotation in August which sold over 700,000 copies, and yet again in October with their 18th single Beginner which sold over a million copies. The girls released Chance no Junban in December, which was also a best seller.
AKB48 released their 20th single, Sakura no Ki ni Narou, in February 2011 – another record breaker with over a million copies sold in just two weeks. The girls are setting up their first overseas regular theatre show in Singapore, with bi-monthly performances beginning in May.