Born in New York City on January 19, 1983, Utada Hikaru began her life in a musical family. Her mother Utada Junko was a famous enka singer who went under the name Fuji Keiko. Though she was initially turned off by the stress and pressure involved in the music business, Utada Hikaru found herself enchanted with the idea of composing music and writing lyrics by the time she was only eleven years old.
While in junior high school, she released her first album titled Precious in the USA under the name Cubic U in 1998. Unfortunately, the album was met with little success. But every cloud has its silver lining as the album gained the attention of Toshiba/EMI record executives in Japan. Fluent in speaking English and Japanese, Utada Hikaru was able to easily make her transfer overseas.
The year 1999 was very active for Utada. In February, her second single titled Movin’ on without you, which was used for the Nissan Terrano commercial, was released. The single was such a huge success it even reached No. 1 on the Oricon charts. Her first album, First Love, blew away the competition once it was released in March. With over ten million copies sold worldwide, the album became the highest grossing Japanese record to date.
Her landmark attempt to reach musical success in the USA came with her 2004 album EXODUS released under Island Records. The album name itself suggests a departure from her roots in popular Japanese music. Recorded entirely in English, the release was her first album since Precious. However, just like its predecessor in 1998, EXODUS failed to make a mark in the USA charts. The Japanese audience, on the other hand, loved it, gaining Utada Hikaru another hit domestically. Even if her album releases in the USA have come with little success, her single DEVIL INSIDE off of EXODUS made a splash on the USA Billboard Hot Dance/Club Airplay Chart.
The year 2006 continued in the same fashion as her Japanese music career: successfully. Utada Hikaru’s fourth album ULTRA BLUE top ranked in the Oricon charts. She also held her second Japanese tour, which expanded throughout 11 cities and 22 venues.
In 2009, Utada Hikaru made guest appearances in a few places in the USA to promote the US album.
At the beginning of the following year, Utada Hikaru finally toured the USA and UK. The USA tour consisted of eleven stops in eleven different cities and the UK tour consisted of two shows in one city. The second date in London, UK was not only due to tickets selling out, but the venue actually over selling.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Utada Hikaru is an extremely popular Japanese pop musician with a rich voice and keen sense of rhythm who has left a lasting impression on the Japanese music scene. With such success and resilience, hopefully, she can eventually break through the USA music industry, which is difficult for any musician.
Official Website: http://www.toshiba-emi.co.jp/hikki/