HINOIチーム (or in English, Hinoi Team) were a four member, all-female J-Pop group whose output was majoritively covers of existing Eurobeat songs. Eurobeat is typical ‘90s European club music, often termed as Hi-NRG or Italo Disco, that became popular in Japan through the ParaPara dance style and the street racing franchise Initial D.
HINOIチーム were my first foray into Japanese music, after a discovery on a certain Chris Scullion’s MySpace page, and was the spark that ignited my fire for Japanese culture. The song? IKE IKE, the opening to ICHIGO100%. With its catchy beat and enthusiastic vocals it captivated my music listening for the next few days. At the time I hilariously missed the link back to the Vengaboys’ track We Like to Party, of which IKE IKE uses the main rhythm. So it is in fact a cover of a cover, with the rhythm first being adapted by a group called Tri-Star.
The members of HINOIチーム consisted of leader Asuka Hinoi, Hikaru Koyama, Rina Takenaka and Keika Matsuoka. Both Asuka and Hikaru originated from the group LOVE&PEACE, and Asuka enjoyed a small solo stint in-between. The group were particularly known for their collaborations with Japanese wrestler and comedian Koriki Chōshū, with him appearing as a guest vocalist on NIGHT OF FIRE and STICKY, TRICKY AND BANG. While NIGHT OF FIRE, a cover of the popular Eurobeat track by Niko, was performed by the girls in Japanese, Koriki has his own version featured on the single release that uses the original English lyrics. The track was then used as his wrestling entrance theme.
While the majority of the group’s tracks are decent, there are a few cheesy, cringe-worthy moments that sound bad with the girls’ Japanese voices. It comes along with some sexual innuendo in tracks such as SUPER EURO FLASH and STICKY, TRICKY AND BANG. It sounds even worse when you realise the girls were 14/15 at the time.
However, these don’t spoil the best tracks, with the likes of IKE IKE, NIGHT OF FIRE, AISHITERU, KING KONG and I’M GONNA CARRY ON standing out in particular. AISHITERU in fact was their only original song, and is a lot moodier and angsty in pitch and tone than the rest of the tracks on their only album. The same tone is carried by I’M GONNA CARRY ON, the third track on the group’s fifth single. It’s actually quite inspirational, coming across as a track that could easily buff you up if you were feeling down.
Sadly, the group did not carry on and only made it to their sixth single, parting ways in 2007 after only two years together. The title track of their final single, Dancin’ & Dreamin’, is upbeat but slightly generic and is outshone by its B-side tracks, Please Forgive Me and Merry ‘Xmas to the World.
It’s a shame that the group withered out rather than going out with a bang, but I think it was the right time in their lives for them to go separate ways. However, despite the vast sea of online information, it’s difficult to find concrete information on the directions of the group members. Asuka had two solo singles and some drama work, and Rina issued her only solo single back in 2010.
Still, HINOIチームis a great group and is always fun to listen to. I have always highly recommended them, and if you’re one of my generation, the Vengaboys link is always hilarious.
HINOIチーム’s album and singles are still available to purchase online.