Hikaru Utada
Last Name: Utada
First Name: Hikaru
Utada Hikaru
Cubic U
Gender: Female
Hometown: New York City
Country of Origin: United States of America
Birthday: Jan 19, 1983
Blood Type: A
Type: Person
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Hikaru Utada

宇多田 ヒカル

Hikaru Utada, better known by her stage name Utada in America and Europe, and also known by her fans as Hikki, is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter, arranger and record producer. Known best for her songs "Automatic" and "First Love", she was called by Time Magazine in 2001 "Diva On Campus". Utada's debut album First Love became Japan's biggest selling album of all time with over 7.65 million copies sold in Japan alone to date. The release of her later works helped her remain one of Japan's top artists, with 3 of her Japanese studio albums being ranked in Top 10 best-selling albums ever in Japan (#1, #4, #8).

She has had 12 #1 hits to date on the Oricon Singles chart, with two notable record achievements for a female solo or group artist: 5 of them being million-sellers and 4 placing in the Top 100 All-Time Best-selling Singles. In addition, Utada has won the Nihon Golden Disk "Song of the Year" award for 14 of her singles since 2000 and has won the Golden Disc "Pop/Rock Album of the Year" award for all 5 of her Japanese studio albums. In 2003, Utada was ranked the #24 Japanese pop artist in its survey of "Top 100 Japanese Pop Artists of All Time" by HMV, and #10 in HMV's "Top 30 Best Japanese Singers of All Time" in 2006. She is also known for her two theme song contributions to Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts video game series: "Simple and Clean" and "Sanctuary". In 2007, her single "Flavor of Life" reached #2 in worldwide digital download yearly single chart with over 7.2 million downloads, and contributes to 12 million digital sales for her over the same year.
Early Life and Musical Career Beginnings

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 (ごぜ, or goze). 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. In an MTV interview (on MTV's You Hear It First, October 2004), Utada explained: "Someone in Japan heard it—at a Japanese record company—and he said, 'Oh, can't you write in Japanese? You speak Japanese… And I said ok, why not? I'll try. Then I gave it a shot, and the Japanese album just really blew up in Japan." 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.

Breakthrough Success: 1998–2003

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. She was focused as a singer-songwriter while other Japanese female singers such as Ami Suzuki and Ayumi Hamasaki became famous as 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. The success of Utada's singles eventually lead the album First Love 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 Japanese History. Due to popular demand, Utada later released the song "First Love" as a single as well. By the end of the year, Utada was able to be 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.

It was two years after the release of First Love that Utada released her sophomore album Distance. All the singles that were released to promote the album were able to achieve success with "Addicted To You, the first single from the album, breaking the one-million mark in its first week and reaching #1 on the Oricon Singles Chart for two consecutive weeks (a personal first) and eventually netting sales of 1,784,000 copies, remaining Utada's most successful single of all time. The second single from the album, "Wait & See ~Risk~", was able to mirror the success of "Addicted To You," selling over one-million units as well. "Wait & See ~Risk~" would later be rank at #6 on Oricon's list of 10 Best-Selling Singles from January 1, 1999 to April 24, 2006[17]. Her two last singles "For You / Time Limit" and "Can You Keep a Secret?" were both able to claim the #1 spot, bringing her #1 hits up to five with "Can You Keep a Secret?" netting sales of yet another million units, becoming #10 on Oricon's Top Ten List of Best-Selling Singles from January 1, 1999 to April 24, 2006.

As it had been two years since First Love was released, the album Distance was highly anticipated among her fans, having the largest first-week sales for any album in Japanese music history, with over 3 million units sold. At the end of 2001, it became the most sold album for any J-music artist worldwide or in the residential industry, with 4.469 million copies sold in Japan alone. After Distance, Utada released 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." With the exception of "Final Distance" (#2 peak), they were all able to claim the #1 spot. Before the release of Utada's third album, Deep River, the artist eventually underwent surgery after being diagnosed with an ovarian tumor, causing Utada to put her promotional activities on hold.

After recovering and finally releasing Deep River, Utada eventually went back to promoting. While there were no TV appearances, she promoted her album in magazine and radio interviews. The Oricon count of the album was another amazing first-week sales debut for Utada, with 2.35 million sold for the week post its release day. Oricon reports that sales eventually surpassed 3.60 million, making her the only singer or group in Japanese music history to have three consecutive albums surpass the 3x Million (12x Platinum) 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. New Japanese-language singles would therefore come few and far between, but Utada did release "Colors" on January 29, 2003, which was her only single release for 2003. This song was distinctive because it featured heavy ethereal and experimental tones for the first time in Utada's discography, something that would display itself fruitfully in all the Ultra Blue and Heart Station eras' 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.

International Forays: 2004–2005

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. Its success was a particularly amazing achievement, since it 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+ 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.

Return to Japan: 2005–2008

A year after the international release and promotion of Exodus, Utada moved back to Tokyo and returned to the Japanese music scene. However, Japanese media and public criticized her poor overseas advance.[26] Leading up the release of her fourth album Ultra Blue, Utada released a string of successful hit singles: "Colors" (#1), "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro" (#1), "Be My Last", (#1), "Passion" (#4), and "Keep Tryin'" (#2). The digital single "This Is Love" was also release to promote the album, netting in at least 1,000,000 digital downloads and ranking as the ninth most downloaded song of 2006 at iTunes Japan.

Ultra Blue sold 500,317 copies in the first week, lower than that of the previous album, although it still easily topped the Oricon Daily, Weekly, and Monthly charts. In addition, Ultra Blue also gave the artist her fifth consecutive chart-topping Japanese album (excluding her English album) to sell in excess of 500,000 copies for a first-week sales. On July 13, Toshiba EMI published a report stating that Ultra Blue had sold over one million copies worldwide and four million digital ringtones already making it one of EMI’s 10th best-selling album of the past year. It did not have pop music so much, which made the decrease in album sales. RIAJ certified Ultra Blue one million for shipments. It was the highest-selling original studio album by a Japanese female artist in 2006.

Ultra Blue later became available on the iTunes Japan online music store, charting at #4 on the 2006 yearly download rankings. Two weeks after the release of Ultra Blue, Utada began a nationwide tour titled "Utada United 2006" on June 30, 2006 which ended on September 12, 2006. This was Utada's second concert tour after her debut tour "Bohemian Summer 2000" and one performance at Budokan Dome in 2004. Aside from her Japanese work, the tour's set list featured three tracks from her 2004 English-language album, Exodus.

The singles that were released prior to Utada's fifth studio album, Heart Station, were able to reach the Top Five position on the chart, including the #1 hit "Flavor of Life", which would later become the best selling digital single in Japan with over 7,500,000 copies download. Around the same time, Utada confirmed in her blog on September 25, 2007 that she had visited New York to with producers and executives at Island/Def Jam about recording a new English album. Later in the year a digital track by American R&B artist Ne-Yo, titled "Do You" from his latest 2007 album, Because of You featured Utada and was released in Japan on November 21.

The year 2007 ended with "Flavor of Life" single becoming the best seller of 2007 and with Utada being voted "#1 Favorite Artist of 2007" by Oricon's annual readers poll, three years after she was last voted #1 on the poll. She also sold a cumulative total of 12 million digital ringtones and songs in 2007, making her the first Japanese artist ever to have this many digital sales in one year.

Utada's fifth studio album, Heart Station, was released on March 19, 2008, becoming her fifth consecutive number-one Japanese studio album. Although it had collected the lowest first week sales for Utada's career, with 480,081 copies sold, the sales of this album eventually reached a million on the Oricon charts in January 2009, making it her first Japanese album to do so since her 2004 compilation album. It was given a certification of one million for shipments by the RIAJ. Heart Station also became the best-selling digital-format album on the iTunes 2008 yearly album charts in Japan, and was also the highest-selling original studio album by a solo female artist on the Oricon Yearly Chart.

On October 20, 2008, her song "Eternally" from her 2001 album Distance was used as the theme for the drama Innocent Love. The song was later released as a digital single. By the end of the year, Utada was also voted the "#1 Favorite Artist of 2008" by Oricon's annual readers poll, making it her second consecutive year, and third time overall, to win the vote; her previous years being 2004 and 2007.

Back to North America: 2009–Present

On December 16, 2008, information leaked onto the Internet that Utada's next English-language single, titled "Come Back to Me", is 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', and her new and update Myspace Music Page websites 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. On May 12, 2009 a physical copy of the album will be released in the United States. On February 23, 2009, Utada announced that she was in studio recording her next Japanese-language single.[50] This Is the One had a debut at #1 in Japan on March 13, 2009, the day it was released in Japan, [51] but became the first album for her not to top weekly chart since Precious, and the first album to sell less than 100,000 copies in its first week.


Precious -English album (Released 1998.01.28)

First Love (Released 1999.03.10) #1

Distance (Released 2001.03.28 ) #1

Deep River (Released 2002.06.19) #1

Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.1 (Released 2004.03.31) #1

Exodus (Released 2004.09.08) #1

Ultra Blue (Released 2006.06.14) #1

Heart Station (Released 2008.03.19) #1

This Is The One (Releases 2009.05.12)