Rumour: American rock band Toto was pissed off by SMAP’s (lousy) singing skills


(Japanese online gossip source: Uraurageinou) It is rumoured that in the episode of SMAPXSMAP aired on 24th March 2008, special guests Toto (some American grammy award winning rock band I’ve never heard of until now) were rather exasperated by SMAP’s lousy singing skills. So exasperated, in fact, that Toto tried to “teach” them how to sing, and everybody on the set, including staff, were “frozen” in awkwardness.

Apparently, Toto’s leader Steve Lukather commented that he was shocked by the low level of SMAP’s singing ability and even said that Toto could not sing with people like them. Other members of Toto tried to calm Steve Lukather down, but Angry Lukather singled out 2 members of SMAP and said that they had only been for voice lessons of a 30% standard. (pardon the awkwardness of this phrasing)


Did such an exchange ever happen? Well what WAS shown in the show was apparently this:

Inagaki Goro: “although we’ve had many special guests from overseas on this show, this was the hardest.”

Toto : Why?

Goro: Because there were a lot of english words in the melody

Toto: No, considering it was done in such a short time, it was well done. Thank you.

When contacted, Johnny’s Jimusho had this to say, “There was no such thing as Toto getting angry. Toto just got the members of SMAP to gather near the piano because they felt it was easier to sing like this. As for voice training lessons, Toto merely gave them “advice”. And it was not to two members but to all 5 members of SMAP. The atmosphere was also very nice and friendly. ”

I couldn’t find the video on youtube (taken down!) but here’s a video from a Toto’s fansite, which was taken randomly when they were just standing around. Anyway, nobody knows if the above is true, just that the blog from which i translated this entry guesses that if it were, those 2 members were most probably Inagaki Gorou and Nakai Masahiro. HMM. don’t know about that, not much of a SMAP fan heh heh.


27 Responses to “Rumour: American rock band Toto was pissed off by SMAP’s (lousy) singing skills”

  1. 1 MagiNcia

    Truth be told, I also think their singing is a little… bad XDDD
    I downloaded the medley they did with hikaru utada, and oh my lord, if it wasn’t for utada, the entire medley would go into the gutter. But probably that’s just me ^^

  2. 2 Feema

    Hahahaha! I’m surprised you don’t know TOTO. They were awesome, even if I’m still young I’ve heard some of their songs, and they’re pretty good.

    To be honest SMAP is lousy! I can’t blame TOTO for doing that they did. I mean listen to them for god’s sake! They’re all singing just because they were told to sing, but NO TALENT whatsoever. Sorry, I’m just being honest.

  3. 3 Feema

    Ooh~ your mom probably knows TOTO’s songs, hahahaha!
    Below are some of their music during their concerts.


  4. 4 bunnicouture

    Er. (I’m cringing here.) Ok, SMAP doesn’t have the best singing skills. But they’re popular, and TOTO was trying to get publicity in Japan through them, right? TOTO shouldn’t have just bashed the band, especially the two members that were singled out (I wonder who they were?)… can’t imagine what the atmosphere must’ve been like. (Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne all happily sang along with SMAP – but I guess TOTO doesn’t share their ‘pop’ mentality towards music.) Anyway, there are quite a few ‘singers’ we have here in America who aren’t quite, erm, talented but popular anyway (Britney, anyone?)… I guess the difference with the American singers is that they’re constantly criticized (even when all of it isn’t warranted), and that Asian (not just Japanese, I know) singers face very little criticism (in the media, I mean, and by media personnel or other celebrities). Their attitudes, I think, are influenced by different cultures and values. Asians prefer to keep things peaceful and harmonious (and tend to let others be, or just go with the flow), while Americans (I should say Westerners) feel more obligated to stand up for their opinions/ideas (even if they cause a disturbance or major awkwardness, like with SMAP). Dang. I’m still in cringing mode.

  5. 5 makinochan

    it’s not like TOTO needs to criticize SMAP to gain popularity. I mean, they aren’t grammy winners for nothing, even if they’re not “in” with the younger generations. asian entertainers have had their fair share of criticisms – for instance, why would johnny’s be so afraid of letting their talents have girlfriends (and only allow them to get married when they’re over 50, kimutaku, fangirls suicide for sobbing out loud) – unlike the backstreet boys who get more popular when they get high profile girls (ahem *nick * paris hilton). maybe it’s not more on the papparazzi culture, but more on the perceptions and sensibilities of the audience that asians (i’m not generalizing) are more careful of. i guess in the west “bad publicity” or “bad image” is still publicity (hello, getting caught by the police for DUI is the new way to get noticed, lol). bottom line is, once you’re a public figure, you’re bound to be put in a petri dish and get scrutinized. in all fairness to smap, as with all je groups, they’re PERFORMERS, not singers. but in my opinion, smap would be better off being seen, rather than heard.

  6. 6 bunnicouture

    Ah, well winning a Grammy doesn’t necessarily mean instant popularity, and I’m willing to bet more than half of Americans have never heard of the band TOTO. TOTO simply wanted to promote themselves in another country, and the best way to do that in Japan, of course, is through SMAP. I’m just saying the Lukather guy could’ve been more tactful about criticizing their vocal skills, instead of being so anal and degrading about it.

    Asian entertainers get their share of criticism, yes – but like I said before, not really in the media world. And by criticism, I meant criticism regarding their performing abilities (that includes singing and dancing, acting, etc.), which is why I brought up the Britney comparison. I wasn’t talking about her off-stage antics, I was referring to her lack of vocal talent, which has constantly been denigrated by everyone, from respectable magazines and newspapers to comedians and fellow musicians on TV. I don’t really see the same being done to SMAP.

    The problem with JE in the first place is that they’re too commercial. I agree with makinochan about how Asian entertainers are more sensitive to their audiences’ criticisms than Western entertainers are. That’s because all they want to do is sell, sell, sell. How do they do this? By tugging on the heartstrings of girls and women (and boys and men, I suppose). By answering hundreds of questions about what kind of girls they like. By acting adorably stupid. In other words, by doing a lot of stuff that doesn’t involve singing or dancing.

    I don’t think JE is completely devoid of talent, though. There are good singers here and there, lots of competent dancers and actors, and great talk show hosts. Plenty of the boys are acrobatically gifted. Many can play instruments. And they really do know how to put on a show. I would say that instead of being spectacularly talented at one thing, they are more well-rounded types. And I won’t deny that I’m drawn to their personalities – they are damn charming (!!!).

    Eastern and Western entertainment industries both have their pluses and minuses. I hate how that Heidi Montag witch (and douchebag boyfriend Spencer) gets tons of attention with a boob job and complete idiocy. I love how Zac Efron can openly date Vanessa Hudgens without fear of murder by poison. I hate how much control Asian talent agencies has over their performers’ personal lives. I love the pretty boys!! (And I respect their behavioral standards for celebrities.)

  7. 7 blaire

    smap got criticized because they suck. period. i’m sure everyone else in japan knows they’re bad, it’s just that TOTO had the balls to smack them. it’s about time. i don’t even know how they managed to stay in the music industry for this long. them in jdramas and talk shows i understand. but music? but then again, who cares about johnny’s boys’ singing anyways? (kat-tun? matsujun? no amount of practice can save you – except maybe fanservice). it’s all about spazz and flashy performances ala circus to cover up their lack of vocal abilities. every fangirl just wants some eyecandy. it doesn’t matter if they sing ala barney-slash-dora-the-explorer songs (hmm, or maybe they already do since their songs and choreography could might as well have been done by a 6 year old – kanjani eito ranger, wink* wink*), bottom line is, smap needs a vocal coach. oh, and je needs to shoot their stylist dead. talk about fashion victims. oh wait, the takki (pun intended heehee), glittery and ill-fitting outfits were meant to distract the audience! genius. *snort* i disgress.

  8. 8 blaire

    i forgot to mention – Goro: Because there were a lot of english words in the melody.
    pfffft. way to make an excuse, goro. if you haven’t noticed, they ARE an american band. it’s not about language. i’m sure TOTO will find it difficult to sing in jap, but if you sing it well, then mispronunciations and whatnot can be forgiveable. obviously, not for smap.

  9. 9 H no Granny

    In all honesty, SMAP really does not need to be a band anymore. Their individual careers are amazing already.
    Actually, sounding like a member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir is not a prerequisite to become a Japanese idol or talent. You just have to have the ability to draw audiences and earn money for the agency. Ah… in America they have Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
    TOTO, and most foreigners, have no idea of this Japanese “idol” culture. They could not be blamed for it. SMAP can’t really sing. Can’t blame them too… They could’ve taken voice lessons? Then more than half of Johnny’s artists should have INTENSIVE ones. Why bother when they sell anyway?
    My point is bashing each other here, will not change the fact that TOTO is a “Grammy” award-winning group and SMAP is a JPOP icon.
    P.S. Personally, the dialogue between Goro and TOTO is extremely considerate. It wasn’t an excuse also on Goro’s part…

  10. 10 carla

    hahahaha. i laughed at this news…really! even if its not true, its still funny. i mean, the guys from JE are not really known for their singing skills (or at least i don’t think so), but they are popular. ALMOST all are good looking, and that sells.

  11. 11 madeleine

    Some JE boys can sing! (Akanishi Jin, Tegoshi Yuya and Satoshi Ohno, for example). But some of them only look good but couldn’t sing (like SMAP and Matsujun). 😀

  12. 12 H no Granny

    It’s true that they can’t sing but it’s kinda weird to say they “only look good.”
    Especially Kimura Takuya, try to Google his filmography.
    Inagaki Goro is a fairly good actor.
    And even if Matsumoto Jun is often stuck with manga/pimpish/over-the-top roles, he can act.
    These three JE talents also try hard to perfect their talents and are very professional. For a JE boyband, I think a responsible (but imperfect) member is more of an asset than a talented one who doesn’t give a shit about his group…

  13. 13 therainbowstar

    If anyone looks for Johnny’s that DO know how to sing that should be KINKI KIDS…they are awsome singers! Domoto Tsuyoshi is an excellent guitarist, and he surely is one of the best singer in JE…who the hell is Akanishi? His voice doesn’t stand the comparison.

    Smap can’t sing, ok, but every single they have released starting from Hey Hey Ookini Maido Ari (’94) was a hit on oricon’s chart…come on, they’re a massive popular phenomen, and if I was one of them i’d be ok like that “hell, we suck at singing, but still noone has sold more than “sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana”
    I take off my hat to Smappies ❤

  14. good night

  15. 15 chris

    They butchered Kylie’s songs too but too be fair, ask Toto or Kylie or any western singer to sing SMAPs song in japanese and see how they do

  16. 16 noon

    I agree with Chris. Here is an example:

    I love Coldplay, but this version of SMAP’s Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana is just terrible.

    • I totally agree! I like Coldplay too, but listening to this, I just can’t go on… The pronunciation is…

      We can’t say that SMAP “suck”, because everyone has their own talent even if they can’t sing.. C’mon! Toto is an American band, SMAP is a Japanese band, why compare~??? Every country has their own style of singing, we just can’t compare bands from 2 different country, with totally diff culture!

      So I think it’s not fair to say that SMAP can’t sing, at least they have rhythm, melody and they hit the keys correctly. SMAP can sing, it’s just that their style are not suitable for some people who think they suck.

      If they can’t sing, why are they so popular not only in Japan? They are famous oversea too!

  17. 18 Riceboyws6

    I’m old enough to remember Toto. I guess back in the days they were OK, but now, among my age group… they’re a joke and nobody in my age group will admit to listening to any of their music.

    Whether they were Grammy-winners or not, it still doesn’t give them the right to insult others, especially when there’s a difference in culture. You can say that Toto was ignorant, but that excusse can only go so far. Toto is living on past glory and not even much at that either.

    English artists always seem to think that they are above the law, above the standards of society, above morals and just good sense. In most asian cultures, simple critism can be as serious as spitting in someone’s eye or giving them the middle finger… in western culture, insulting someone seems to be a normal everyday thing.

    Most asian idols are singers, actors, hosts, etc… they are multi-talented, although better at some talents than others… but they do almost everything. Western actors are… just actors. Western musicians are just…. musicians. I want to see Jay Leno do a Britney’s Baby Baby.

    Again… being Grammy-winners, once upon a time, doesn’t give them the right to criticize others… especially when their popularity is long dead… very long dead.

  18. 19 Noddy

    SMAP has been out there for 20 years already… They are still popular and successful. Even if they’re not the best singers, that doesn’t mean that their songs are bad. I mean, people have loved that group, listened to their songs and enjoyed both their music and acting skills for over 10 years. That must mean that they are not THAT bad. Till this very moment, despite all of their flaws, they are still as successful as ever. So, that makes me kind of respect them more than any other JE boyband.
    So, I completely agree with “”Riceboyws6″” when it comes to TOTO, and I quote:
    (Whether they were Grammy-winners or not, it still doesn’t give them the right to insult others, especially when there’s a difference in culture.)
    (… being Grammy-winners, once upon a time, doesn’t give them the right to criticize others… especially when their popularity is long dead… very long dead.)

  19. 20 robert akihiko tominaga

    I`m god.
    the americans think that stargatesg1 is american
    but its actually japanese.
    god of storm, god of rainbow, god of amaterasu,or yamato,
    is me. and the americans call it stargate.
    stargatesg1 is actually a bank robbery.
    the emperor is displeased that a second class
    nation like america think emperoship is a gift.
    emperorship is not a gift.
    its a show of power.
    actually all of america is foreign.

  20. 21 robert akihiko tominaga

    america only has 260 years of history.
    what do you expect?
    america is a degenerate nation its half mentaly retarded.
    emperoship is not afraid of america.
    yamato was never afraid.
    service to america is our job baby needs tobe treated
    like a baby.
    lets all begin our service to baby nation america.

  21. 22 robert akihiko tominaga

    I used to Love america.
    but as I grew older I realized people in history in
    america are vulnerable.
    america needs to become stronger.
    meaning more organized.
    information is vital,speed is vital, wise and smart
    vital, power is something to be achieved,not military.

  22. 23 random passerguy

    so…..who’s Toto again?

  23. 24 MissFalling

    it’s a prominent fact that smap can sing. but only a certain type of songs aka songs written to suit their vocal key and style. there’s this other embarrassing performance with tohoshinki on their show as well. man, they cant even sing like their jpop counterparts. i must say that it’s pure luck and good strategy that they can come this far. and no they dont look good either. period.

  24. 25 Peggy

    SMAP going strong after twenty years. Getting betteer as they mature. they don’t age like groups in US.

    What or who is TOTO please.?? Never heard of them and I am definitely old enough I think. They sure re ugly Americans by their words and actions it seems. Very rude guests in another country.

    I have TOTO toilets in my bathrooms. they are made in Japan. Best toilets you can get.

  25. 26 Clive

    @Peggy, you’ve got to be joking about SMAP getting better as they mature. You are definitely not talking about their voices. Acting, perhaps, voices, not going to happen.

    I was around when SMAP had their debut, and I’ve lived in the U.S. in the 80’s when Toto was popular. Let musicians stick to music and pop idols stick to wooing teenage girls, OL’s, and needy housewives. Which one are you?

    If you’ve never heard of Toto (not Toyo Toki) then you’re not old enough or your musically deficient. There are plenty of groups in the U.S. that age well and there are plenty of groups in Japan that don’t. It is the same in both countries.

    Granted, Toto should have held it together and not have gotten upset, but I blame their management for NOT telling them how poorly SMAP sings. Their management would have known what upsets them and should have done their homework and forewarned the band.

  1. 1 garage band app

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