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Zard (???, Zado) was a Japanese pop rock group. Originally a group of five members, with lead vocalist Izumi Sakai as group leader. However, Sakai was the only member who stayed on in the group while others joined and left regularly. As such, Zard and Sakai may be referred to interchangeably. Zard's work was sold under the record label B-Gram Records, Inc. Their most popular and successful songs are "Makenaide" (1993) (?????), "Yureru Omoi" (1993) (?????), and "My Friend" (1996). As 2013, Zard has sold over 37 million copies of sales and become 8th best-selling music artists in Japan.


Zard began when Being Corporation former CEO Daiko Nagato (retired in 2007) recruited a 24-year old model named Sachiko Kamachi. Changing her name to Izumi Sakai in an attempt to cut off her past, she created a group called Zard. While whether the supporting members were firmly decided on is not clear, Zard made a breakthrough with the release of their debut single February 10, 1991 Good-bye My Loneliness, which was a theme song for the Fuji TV drama "Ideals and Reality of Marriage" featuring Misako Tanaka. The song was very successful, reaching No. 9 in the Oricon rankings.Zard's next two singles did not sell as well. The fourth, "Nemurenai Yoru o Daite" (?????????) took a slightly different approach. The group's rock style had morphed to popular while the seemingly dark music videos turned to a relatively brighter image. In fact, half of Zard's official appearances on TV were related to performing this song, which sold 440,000 copies. At that time, Music Station host Kazuyoshi Morita (aka Tamori) asked Sakai what took Zard so long to be on stage. Sakai's reply was that they wanted to make sure Zard would be an economically viable project and hence did not want to go public prematurely.The major breakthrough for Zard came with the sixth single in 1993, "Makenaide", which became No. 1 in the Oricon charts and went on to sell over 1.8 million copies. She went on to release two more songs that reached No. 1, "Yureru Omoi" and "Kitto Wasurenai" in the same year. An album titled "Yureru Omoi" featuring both "Makenaide" and "Yureru Omoi" sold two million copies, the first million milestone for Zard in album sales. In fact, Being was so successful in the early 1990s that it was called Being Boom. No one sold more CDs than Zard in this year.In 1995, Zard sold one more million hit, "My Friend". Although her sales fluctuated among six digits in sales for the remainder of the twentieth century, nine of twenty-one singles reached No. 1 and six reached No. 2. Only two could not break the top four mark. Since "Yureru Omoi" (?????) she also sold three hits of one million and one other of two million copies. On August 31, 1999, Zard held their first concert aboard cruise ship Pacific Venus, where six hundred people were randomly selected out of a million applicants. The DVD for this concert, released on January 26, 2000, had a limited production of 300,000 copies.Sakai was also a very prolific lyricist. She wrote 150 songs during her 17-year career (numerous songs for other artists as well as all of the Zard songs except for two, Koionna no Yuutsu (?????) and Onna de Itai (?????) from their first album, Good-bye My Loneliness, which was written by Dariya Kawashima,) and released several books of poetry as well. An editorial in Asahi Shimbun writes that the secret to Zard's success was that while the trend in Japan showed a decrease in the number of music programs on television, Zard used late night commercials that aired her voice to advertise her works.She also wrote songs for other artists, most notably for the J-pop groups that shared her management company: Field of View, Wands and Deen, and the late mainland Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng. She also wrote the lyrics for and participated in the collaboration for the single "Hateshinai Yume o" (???????) featuring J-pop groups Zard, Zyyg, Rev & Wands. The single also featured famed Japanese baseball hero Shigeo Nagashima. Some of her singles were used in anime, such as Slam Dunk, Dragon Ball GT and Detective Conan. The lyrics of Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku (Dan Dan ??????) by Field of View, the opening theme song of Dragon Ball GT, is by Izumi Sakai. Afterward, Zard covered this song in Today Is Another Day album.Zard's most successful single, Makenaide (?????) has been used as a theme song for Nippon Television program 24-hour TV, an annual Japanese television programming in which a celebrity host is on screen continually for a whole day. Sakai said that she was honored and looked forward to watching 24-hour TV. She also said that since Makenaide was widely appreciated by the public, she often felt as if that song was not hers to keep.Zard was also known for being mysterious. This is partially because her record label did not release too much personal information on their artists, and also because she did not make that many personal appearances. She rarely appeared on any live TV music programs (e.g. TV Asahi's Music Station), which the main public relations tool for the record industry in Japan, since 1993 or do any public appearances. Her first concert was in 1999, this being held on a cruise ship for a mere 600 people in her fan club (300 entries x2 among 2 million concert ticket requests). Her first real concert tour, "What A Beautiful Moment Tour", was held in 2004, 13 years after her debut. Almost every single concert was sold out at the time. The tour ended up having 10 concerts spanning 4 months from March to July 2004, with a final concert held in the famed Nippon Budokan.Although originally Zard is a group, Zard was frequently regarded as a solo female singer in Japan. She used to hold a female record in Japan for most single sales until Ayumi Hamasaki released "No Way to Say". According to Yomiuri Shimbun, as of August 2007, Zard was No. 8 for overall total in Japan. She has had 11 singles reach the No. 1 spot on the Oricon Singles Charts, and 9 albums reach the No. 1 spot on the Oricon Album Charts. 40 of her singles reached top 10 in Oricon ranking. Zard has released a total of 42 singles and 17 albums.Zard was also featured in Tak Matsumoto's Ihoujin (August 27, 2003).On a trivial note, Zard's album "Oh My Love" released in 1994 reached No. 1 for the 500th edition of the Oricon Rankings since it began in 1970. She has had 11 singles reach the No. 1 spot on the Oricon

Post-Izumi Sakai Zard

An album based on fan request was released on January 23, 2008, titled Zard Request Best: Beautiful Memory. NTV Morning News program, Zoom In Super's December 28, 2007 reports that over 500,000 entries were mailed to Being. Surprisingly, Makenaide and Yureru Omoi were not in the top 3, though they made the top 10. The three most voted songs were 1) Ano Hohoemi o Wasurenaide, 2) Shoujo no Koro ni Modotta Mitai ni, 3) Kakegae no Naimono.When this album hit number one in the Oricon charts, it marked the eleventh time she had done so, matching the record held by Dreams Come True for the most number ones by female vocal groups.

Sakai's death

Izumi Sakai died on May 27, 2007 at age 40 in Keio University Hospital. She entered hospital in June 2006 after discovering she had cervical cancer and had the tumor removed. In April 2007, however, the cancer had spread to her lungs, resulting in her re-admittance to hospital. According to the hospital, she took daily walks every morning. During her walk on May 26, she accidentally fell from the stairs and was discovered at around 5:00 a.m. JST. She was sent to the emergency room, but unfortunately, it was too late. an agency spokesman said:She had planned to release a new album in the fall, as well as her first live tour in three years to show her fans that she was fighting strongly against her illnesses.A memorial service for fans was held on June 27 in a funeral hall in Aoyama, Tokyo. On the previous day, a memorial service for the people concerned was held and Maki Ohguro and Tetsuro Oda etc. attended at this. At the same time, Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba of B'z, Mai Kuraki and Shigeo Nagashima announced memorial comments for her.Two compilation albums are planned for release on August 15, one that includes a selection of Sakai's personal favorite songs, the other that includes favorites from her staff. A fan-selected compilation album is also planned for the fall. Two tribute concerts were held—one on September 7 at Osaka Festival Hall, and the other on September 14 at Tokyo Nippon Budokan. The two places were chosen because they were the first and last stops respectively of the What a beautiful moment Tour in 2004—the only tour that band has gone on. The tour was called "What a Beautiful Memory".In September 2007, an audience of 13,000 participated in a memorial Budokan concert. There were nine screens set up where many showed previously unseen footage of Izumi Sakai. A first single after she died called Glorious Mind was played. This was a song which Sakai recorded before she was hospitalized owing to cervical cancer in June 2006. This song will be used for the opening theme song of anime Detective Conan. It was not complete at the time of Sakai's death, but the chorus footage was complete. Extra minutes where she was singing in English were incorporated from a previously unrelated and unreleased song as well.

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