aiko (real name: Aiko Yanai) (born November 22, 1975 in Suita, Osaka) is a Japanese pop singer-songwriter.
aiko is well known within Japan for her cheerful disposition, and because the majority of her material focuses primarily on the topic of love, she is particularly popular amongst young girls throughout East Asia as well. In fact, as proof of her popularity, aiko won Oricon’s subscriber survey as favorite singer in both 2005 and 2006.
aiko’s songs are generally upbeat, although she has also released some slower tempo numbers. With her somewhat wistful vocals, aiko makes the perfect popular artist and it is no wonder that she remains so popular in Japan some ten years after her debut.
Career & Life
aiko studied popular music vocals at the Osaka College of Music, graduating in 1996.
After graduating at the age of 21, she was offered a position as DJ at FM OSAKA. Through 1997 and early 1998, aiko released a number of indie mini-albums and singles, all of which failed to chart. Fortunately, this persistent young woman didn’t allow this depressing start to lower her spirits.
With the release of Ashita in the July of 1998, aiko established her first Oricon chart position. Despite peaking at #89, the single stayed on the charts for five weeks and was re-issued in 2001 as a 12cm release. With the release of her first single came aiko‘s first oneman performance at Esaka BOOMIN HALL, LOVE LIKE POP!
aiko’s third single Hanabi garnered public recognition for the songstress, with the single reaching #10 on the Oricon charts. Following this release, every one of aiko’s releases has been subject to intense television coverage. Releasing her first major debut album in April 1999, aiko found herself slowly creeping up the charts, reaching #30. Although this result can be seen by some as unimpressive, that fact that the album managed to hold a place in the chart for twenty-six is surely commendable for a first attempt.
The year 2000 saw aiko’s popularity reaching new heights, with her second album Sakura no ki no shita selling over 1,000,000 copies and reaching the #1 position on the Oricon charts. Not only that, the album managed to maintain a place in the rankings for sixty-four weeks and has so far been aiko’s best selling album. The artist’s second single of 2000, Boyfriend, became aiko’s best selling single to date, selling over 500,000 copies and achieving #2 position on the Oricon.
Most significantly in this particular year, aiko was invited to perform at NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen and has since performed at the event five times in total. Unfortunately, due to the word ”tetrapot” being used within a song’s lyrics and because of its similarity to the word ”tetrapod” (a registered trademark), aiko faced some brief controversy over legal battles with NHK. Fortunately, this disagreement was resolved without any amendments made to the lyrics.
In 2001, with the beginning of aiko’s LOVE LIKE POP Vol.6 Tour, this young artist had already found herself a devoted following. Unfortunately, while touring aiko contracted acute tracheitis, and certain dates had to be canceled. However, in order to make it up to her disappointed fans, aiko held a special performance at Tokyo Kokusai Forum. Even in the face of her illness, aiko stayed strong as her releases for 2001 all reached high positions on the Oricon. Her seventh and eighth single reached the Top 5 and her third album, Natsufuku, reached the #1 position and held it for 18 weeks.
2002 saw aiko holding her first no-seat concert, LOVE LIKE ROCK, in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. This particular tour consisted of only six dates and unlike the previous year’s misfortune, the entire tour went off without a hitch.
During her LOVE LIKE ALOHA tour in 2003, aiko performed at Katase Beach in Enoshima on August 30, and on the 31st of October she held her first festival performance at an institution: Aoyama Gakuin University.
The year 2004 saw aiko taking a break and she came back in 2005 with a new album. Also, for the first time in her career aiko released her first official book, aiko bon. This book contains her autobiography written in interview style and is accompanied by photographs and articles from the magazine GbMusicnet as well as linear notes from the artist herself.
With the singer’s popularity proven in the Oricon’s survey, it’s no wonder aiko’s LOVE LIKE ALOHA Vol.2, held on August 30th on the Southern Beach at Chigasaki, was attended by 25,000 people. aiko’s latest album Kanojo once again hit #1 on the Oricon, selling over 400,000 copies.
2007 has been a relatively quiet year for the artist, despite the fact that she celebrated her 10th anniversary this year. She went on tour, LOVE LIKE POP Vol.10, in January of this year, starting at MARINEMESSE FUKUOKA and concluding at Yokohama Arena. On the 15th of October, aiko held a special meeting with her fan club, Peenats (which is their third get together since the fan club’s creation), to celebrate her anniversary. In addition to this meeting, aiko also held a special live for the fan club’s members: LOVE LIKE ROCK LIMITED FOR BABY PEENATS MEMBERS.
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