Ken Hirai’s career began when he joined the SMEJ audition and became an award winner in 1992. He made his debut with the release of his single Precious Junk, which was also the theme song for a TV drama in 1995. Since the song was a hit due to the TV drama, the single sold relatively well.
Before his year and 8 month break in 1998, Ken Hirai released his 7th single Love Love Love. The release was an epoch for himself since prior to this release he sang what he had to sing, and this time he sang what he had wanted to sing.
In 2000, Ken Hirai released his 8th single LAKuEN which was the first collaboration together with other writers and composers rather than by himself. He was able to enter “the new millennium style of soul” with the combination of his mellow voice and melancholic tune. With this single he marked a lifelong hit in the Oricon charts which suddenly put him in the center of attention.
During this year, Ken Hirai began to perform overseas for some events, not yet having a “full fledged” concert. Ken Hirai performed at the Apollo Theater in New York, USA for Amateur Night as a guest artist and was applauded by the local audience. He also made his first visit to Taiwan to join the MTV Taiwan Summer Summit and performed in front of 30,000 locals, where he was cheered on by his Taiwanese singer and friend, Wang Lee-Hom.
In 2001, Ken Hirai made a promotional trip to Hong Kong and won the award for Best Japanese New Act at RTHK. After much promotion and many events, his 3rd album THE CHANGING SAME (which was released in Japan the previous year) sold over 98,000 copies all over Asia (excluding Japan). Ken Hirai released his 4th album gaining through losing which sold over 1.5 million copies all over Asia (including Japan). Soon after, there was a national tour covering approximately 20 cities where tickets sold out instantly. In the latter part of 2001, Ken Hirai released his remix album Kh remixed-up 1 which showed a different side of him and appealed to club-goers and DJs for the first time.
2002 was a year full of accomplishments for Ken Hirai. One of his life-long dreams came true when he was able to collaborate with Babyface who composed and produced Missin’ You ~ It will break my heart. In the same year, Ken Hirai attended MTV Video Music Award Japan and won the award for Best Male Artist. Ken Hirai was also able to have his 1st overseas concert in Taiwan, where the tickets quickly sold out.
2003 was the year of overseas events for Ken Hirai. He performed as the 1st Japanese male solo vocalist for MTV Unplugged Live in New York, USA. He was also interviewed by CNN “The Music Room”, which was televised in 210 countries and watched by 230 million viewers.
Not only did Ken Hirai have many overseas experiences in 2003, but he also released two albums LIFE is… (which contains several hits such as Strawberry Sex and Okina Furudokei) and Ken’s Bar (which was a compilation album of cover songs). At the end of the year, he was invited by Stevie Wonder to join his Japanese show and co-performed You Are the Sunshine of My Life.
To this day, Ken Hirai has had several album and single releases and continues to make himself known throughout the music industry.
Official Website: http://www.pinups.co.jp/hirai/