Surname: Utada (宇多田)
Nickname: Hikki (ヒッキー)
Date of Birth: January 19, 1983
Place of Birth: New York, NY, U.S.A.
Began carrer in music on / First recorded songs: 1990; as part of family musical group U3 (aka. cubic U) on the album "U*STAR" (released September, 1993; Hikki wrote lyrics of two songs, at the age of 10)
Solo Debut: 1997 - January 1998 (under the name Cubic U)
Japanese Debut: December, 1998 (with "Automatic" single)
International Debut: EXODUS Album - Fall 2004 (Japan: 9.08.2004; US: 10.05.2004)
Ex-Husband: Kazuaki Kiriya (Divorced 2007-Mar-2)
Father: Teruzane Utada (producer/musician who now runs U3music, the family music company; Her manager)
Mother: Junko Utada aka. Keiko Fuji (was a popular enka (Japanese ballad) singer in the 1970s; maiden name Junko Abe)
Height: 158 cm It's Utada Hikaru height, honest. It hasn't changed since Utada Hikaru's debut. I wonder if that means Utada Hikaru's growth is totally over?
Blood Type: A, cause both of Utada Hikaru parents are A. It's a common type among Japanese, isn't it?
Favorite Movies: Shawshank Redemption, Meet Joe Black, Godfather Part 2 (I like Robert De Niro), Good Will Hunting, Baghdad Cafe, The Jerk, Unbreakable, Orlando, Amadeus, Sleepy Hollow
Favorite Writers: Kenji Nakagami, "Izoku," "Kishuben"; Ryunosuke Akutagawa, "Rashomon," "Kappa"; Yasunari Kawabata ,"Kanjo Soshoku," "Yukiguni"; Ogai Mori, "Takasebune"; Soseki Natsume "Kokoro"; Kenji Miyazawa (poetry); Yukio Mishima"Kinkakuji"; Ryotaro Shiba "Sekigahara"; Roald Dahl, "Tales of the Unexpected"; Shel Silverstein, "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "A Light in the Attic";Edgar Allan Poe; Elie Wiesel, "Night"; John Berendt, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"; F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby.
Favorite Artists: Freddie Mercury (Queen), Yutaka Ozaki, Bjork, Janet Jackson, Minnie Riperton, Slash (Guns 'n' Roses), Joe, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, Craig David, Garbage, No Doubt, GLAY, Guru, Enigma, Blink182, Miles Davis, Mozart, Blue Man Group, At the Drive-in, Erykah Badu, Jimi Hendrix, Bela Bartok, Edith Piaf.
Hikaru Utada was born in New York City to Japanese parents with roots in the Japanese music industry. Her father, Teruzane Utada, was a record producer while her mother, Junko Utada, was an enka singer, performing under the stage name "Keiko Fuji." Junko Utada’s mother, and Hikaru’s grandmother, was a blind shamisen player. Utada made her first professional recording at the age of twelve. She did her recordings with her mother, releasing songs under a band named “U3” (also known as Utada 3) until 1996 when she started her first solo project, "I'll be Stronger." The "Cookin' With Moses Vocal" from this project was called the "Cookin' With Gas Vocal" on the promotional release.
"I’ll Be Stronger" was the first song Utada wrote. It was released under the artist name "Cubic U," a mathematical reference to her being the third Utada 'power,' which was Hikaru's pseudonym before becoming a superstar in Japan. The song failed to release in the United States, and in 1997, she started her next project, though at first she was hesitant. Cubic U released her debut single "Close to You," which was a cover of The Carpenters' song. She then released her debut album Precious, but it failed to be released in the United States due to restructuring issues at her then record label Capitol Records.
She released Precious in Japan on January 28, 1998, and then later re-released it on March 31, 1999 to much better success. It has sold 702,060 copies to date in Japan, making it a significant hit for an all-English album in that market.
Utada moved to Tokyo in late 1998 and attended Seisen International School, and later the American School in Japan, while continuing to record on a new contract with Toshiba-EMI. Her movement originally came from Japanese FM radio. Unlike other pop-stars at the time, she was more focused on becoming a singer-songwriter while other Japanese female singers such as Ami Suzuki and Ayumi Hamasaki were targeting towards becoming idols. Leading up to the release of her first album First Love, Utada released two successful million-selling singles: "Automatic/Time Will Tell" and "Movin' on Without You". "Automatic/Time Will Tell" sold over two million copies. Backed by her singles, her supposedly-debut album First Love went on to sell over 7 million units in Japan alone (with an additional 3 million overseas, bringing it to a sum of at least 10 million units), becoming the highest selling album in Japan's recent History. The album then went on to yield the single "First Love," which peaked at the number-two spot. By the end of the year, Utada was rank #5 on a Japanese radio station Tokio Hot 100 Airplay's Top 100 Artists of the 20th Century by the station and its listeners.
After a two years' hiatus break, Utada released her follow up album Distance, garnering a first-week sales of 3 million units sold. Backed by her singles — "Addicted to You," "Wait & See: Risk," "For You/Time Limit" and "Can You Keep a Secret?" — Distance became the best-selling album of the year, with 4.469 million copies sold in Japan alone. Additionally, "Addicted To You" became Utada's best-selling single, selling one-million in its first week and staying on top of the chart for two consecutive weeks. "Wait & See: Risk" and "Can You Keep A Secret" also were later rank at #6 and #10 respectively on Oricon's list of 10 Best-Selling Singles from January 1, 1999 to April 24, 2006. Utada also went on to release a single that was dedicated to the female victim of a murder case in Ikeda, Osaka titled "Final Distance."
Leading up to her third album, Utada released "Traveling," "Hikari," and "Sakura Drops/Letters": all the songs reached the top of the charts. Before the release of Utada's third album, Deep River, the artist underwent surgery after being diagnosed with an ovarian tumor, causing Utada to put her promotional activities on hold. After recovering, she released Deep River and immediately went on promotional tours. While there were no TV appearances, she promoted her album in magazine and radio interviews.
Deep River garnered 2.35 million copies on its first-week sale: Oricon later reported that sales eventually surpassed 3.60 million, making Utada the only singer or group in Japanese music history to have three consecutive albums surpass the 3x Million sold mark, by RIAJ standards. It was also her third consecutive time to hold the #1 position on Oricon's Yearly Albums chart and became the eighth best selling album of all time in Japan.
In 2003, Utada's promotional and personal life schedules got more active due to her marriage and an imposing agreement with Island Records in America to release a proper full-English debut album. Though she released "Colors", it was her only single release for 2003. The song featured heavy ethereal and experimental tones for the first time in Utada's discography, something that would display itself fruitfully in Utada's later albums' singles. It became her longest charting single ever with a 45 week trajectory on the Oricon Singles chart, selling 881,000 copies, and was #3 on the Yearly Singles chart.
Her first singles compilation album Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol.1 was released on March 31, 2004. It became the best-selling album of 2004 in Japan, making her the only solo or group artist to reach #1 four times on the yearly charts. It was also the first compilation album to reach #1 in six years on the yearly charts, and the first compilation album to reach #1 in twenty six years by a female artist. Despite its success, the album received very little promotion and contained no new material or photos; moreover, it charted longer on the Oricon Albums chart longer than any other Utada release to date (over 2 years). The album would go on to sell over 2.575 million units in Japan, making it the 34th best-selling album ever in the country. A month later, on April 21, she released her only Japanese single in 2004, "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro," which topped the singles chart for two consecutive weeks and sold 365,000 units by the year's end and was also the main theme song for Casshern, her now ex-husband's directorial debut.
In mid-2004, Utada moved back to New York, and began work on a new recording contract with Island Def Jam Music Group. On October 5, 2004, she released her North American English-language debut album, Exodus, under the name "Utada," which was her new American-given artist title at the Universal Convention. It was released nearly a month earlier, on September 9 in Japan, with a special booklet and housed in a cardboard slipcase. In an MTV interview, Utada said: "I don't think it's the music that I'm concerned about. It's obviously that I look really different and there really aren't any completely Asian people [who are popular singers in the U.S.] right now." Exodus became Utada's fourth consecutive release to debut at #1 and boast 500,000 copies in its first-week sales. In spite of enlisting the help of Timbaland to produce and co-write some songs, her American debut as an Island Records artist was met with indifference by the American market, selling 55,000 units – although there was virtually no promotion on her record label's part. "Easy Breezy" was released as the lead single in early August 2004, peaking at #9 Billboard Hot Dance/Club Airplay chart, followed up by "Devil Inside" a month and two weeks later. And Utada became the cover of the Interview magazine June, 2005 issue.
"Exodus '04" was released at the end of June 2005 and featured remixes from The Scumfrog, Richard Vission, JJ Flores and Peter Bailey. In the UK, Mercury added another 2 remixes for "You make me want to be a man" in the original album Exodus 04, titled "You Make Me Want To Be A Man [Bloodshy & Avant Mix]" and "You Make Me Want To Be A Man [Junior Jack Mix]." By the end of the year Utada was voted "#1 Favorite Artist of 2004" by Oricon's annual readers poll.
The fourth single from her English Exodus album, "You Make Me Want to Be a Man," was released in October 2005. "Devil Inside" became a club smash in the U.S. and topped the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Airplay charts. Both the Exodus album and "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" single were released in the U.K., with different artwork from the USA and Japanese versions.
On December 16, 2008, information leaked onto the Internet that Utada's next English-language single, titled "Come Back to Me", would be scheduled for airplay release through U.S. Rhythmic/Crossover and Mainstream formats on February 9 and 10, 2009 respectively via Island Records, according to credible American radio news sites FMQB and R&R. The song then was made available for streaming on Island's, All Access' website, and her MySpace Music Page for advanced promotion. Island Records also updated their webpage with information regarding Utada's new single, and included a link to her official Japanese website and MySpace page, both featuring a track preview. Additionally, a number was included that fans can text to join Utada's mobile list to receive future news updates. The new English album, titled This Is The One, was released on March 14, 2009 in Japan and on May 12, 2009 in the United States. On February 23, 2009, Utada announced that she was in studio recording her next Japanese-language single. This Is the One had a debut at #1 in Japan on March 13, 2009, the day it was released in Japan, but became Utada's first album not to top the weekly chart since Precious. On March 30, 2009 she appeared on New York City radio station Z-100 (100.3), the largest pop radio program in the U.S., and granted a live on-air interview on the station's Elvis Duran Morning Show, a noteworthy breakthrough that would lead to a promotional schedule up and through the album's international physical release on May 12. Utada will also sing the theme song for the new Evangelion film, Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. Although the film will be released June 27, 2009, there is not a release date set for the single at this time.
Utada Hikaru has a hidden life. she appears to be an ordinary American college student. Last fall she attended classes by day, hung out with friends by night, and like most of Utada Hikaru's fellow Columbia University freshmen, she hasn't settled on a major yet. But there were rumors about Utada Hikaru's among the students during orientation week?stories that were hard to believe.
"Most of my friends know the truth," says Hikaru. "Even before the first day of school, I was talking to this friend who was going to Columbia also, and he told me, 'People all know you're coming.' And I go, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'Well, all the Asian kids know, but even the non-Asian students have heard something about the Japanese Britney Spears coming to their school.'"
She's virtually unknown in the U.S., but Hikaru, 18, is Japan's biggest pop star. The Japanese media sing Utada Hikaru's praises: BILINGUAL STRAIGHT-A STUDENT! AND THE DIVA OF THE HEISEI PERIOD! The Japanese public devours Utada Hikaru's music: Utada Hikaru's debut CD, First Love (1999), sold more than 9.5 million copies, making it the best-selling album in Japanese history. Utada Hikaru's new CD, Distance, is selling just as fast. While other Japanese pop divas are content to sing throwaway tunes in baby-girl tones, Hikaru, who says that growing up she used to go to sleep to Metallica and wake up to Pearl Jam, performs songs that draw from R. and B., rap and even rock. During a recent MTV Unplugged concert, she surprised fans with a rendition of the Irish rock band U2's song With or Without You. Except for such occasional covers, Hikaru writes almost all Utada Hikaru's own material, combining light melodies and strong grooves. Utada Hikaru's lyrics, though mostly about adolescent angst, can be intriguingly off center. "Our last kiss/Tasted like cigarettes," she sings on First Love.
Although the press has compared Hikaru to Spears, the two are sharply different. First, there's the issue of clothes. Unlike Britney, Hikaru keeps hers on. "I'm not like a gorgeous bombshell or anything like that," she says modestly. "It was just always my music at the front." Mobbed in Japan, she relishes anonymity in America. "I can never really enjoy being famous," she says. "So when I can just take a walk and go grocery shopping in New York, it takes a huge load off my back and I feel great. I feel human again, almost."
Hikaru was born in New York City but raised part-time in Tokyo. "When people ask me exactly how much time I spend in each country, I always tell them I have no idea," she says. "Because my parents have taken me back and forth ever since I was a baby." Utada Hikaru's father Teruzane Utada is a producer and musician who now runs Utada Hikaru's management company. Her mother Keiko Fuji was a popular enka (Japanese ballad singer) in the 1970s who broke her fans' hearts by giving up her career and moving to the U.S. to find a little peace. ("I don't sing anymore," is all Fuji says now, smiling.) Hikaru says she got her start when she followed her parents into the studio and began to make recordings around age seven. ("No, younger!" shouts her father from nearby.) Like her mother, Hikaru plans to retire young?as early as 28?and perhaps pursue neuroscience. "I kind of see myself in a white coat in a lab, working till late evening in front of test tubes," she says. It's hard to imagine that Spears has a similar vision of her future.
For now, though, Hikaru has taken leave from school (she plans to return soon) to focus on her music and establish her career in the U.S. She recently performed a song called Blow My Whistle, which was included on the sound track of the movie Rush Hour 2. Produced by the Neptunes, one of the hottest American hip-hop production duos around, the song features a cameo from gangsta rapper Foxy Brown. Hikaru said her producers were worried at first that she and Brown might fight, given their different temperaments and backgrounds. They got along just fine. The idea of having her on the song came from Pharrell (Williams, one-half of the Neptunes), says Hikaru. "He said Foxy and I would make a very strong combination, the two of us being such contrasting characters: the crazy, revealing, in-your-face Ill Na Na [Foxy's nickname] and the more settled and slightly mysterious Asian girl."
Japanese studio albums
* 1999: First Love
* 2001: Distance
* 2002: Deep River
* 2006: Ultra Blue
* 2008: Heart Station
Japanese compilation albums
* 2004: Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol.1
English studio albums
* 1998: Precious (Cubic U)
* 2004: Exodus (Utada)
* 2009: This Is The One (Utada)
* 2000: Bohemian Summer 2000
* 2001: Utada Hikaru - Unplugged Live
* 2001: UH2 Single Clip Collection Vol.2
* 2002: UH3 Single Clip Collection Vol.3
* 2003: UH Live Streaming "20 Dai wa Ike Ike!"
* 2004: Utada Hikaru In Budokan 2004
* 2006: Utada United 2006
1998 : "Automatic/Time Will Tell"
1999 : "Movin' on Without You"
1999 : "First Love"
1999 : "Addicted to You"
2000 : "Wait & See: Risk"
2000 : "For You/Time Limit"
2001 : "Can You Keep a Secret?"
2001 : "Final Distance"
2001 : "Traveling"
2002 : "Hikari"
2002 : "Sakura Drops/Letters"
2003 : "Colors"
2004 : "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro"
2005 : "Be My Last"
2005 : "Passion"
2006 : "Keep Tryin'"
2006 : "This Is Love"
2006 : "Boku wa Kuma"
2007 : "Flavor of Life"
2007 : "Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry"
2008 : "Heart Station/Stay Gold"
2008 : "Fight the Blues"
2008 : "Prisoner of Love"
2008 : "Eternally: Drama Mix"
1997 : "I'll Be Stronger"
1997 : "Close to You"
2000 : "Remix: Fly Me to the Moon"
2004 : "Easy Breezy"
2004 : "Devil Inside"
2005 : "Exodus '04"
2005 : "You Make Me Want to Be a Man"
2007 : "Do You"
2009 : "Come Back to Me"