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Hikaru Utada

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Utada Hikaru, born in New York in 1983, grew up immersed in music. Recently she's earned much praise for her musical sense and for her talent as singer-songwriter. Everything started with the single "time will tell," which registered on numerous FM charts more than a month before her official debut "Automatic." That release also did well on the charts, and since then, she's followed it up with more and more songs, many of them entering the charts at the same time! Utada won the "PowerPlay" on dozens of nationwide FM stations. It is still freshly remembered that on the week of its release, her single set the record of ranking No.1 in frequency of airplay on FM and AM stations in both the Kanto and Kansai regions (203 times per week a 1998 record). And it's a well-known fact that "Automatic/time will tell" (released Dec. 9, 1998 as both 12cm and 8cm discs) amazed everybody, achieving the extraordinary distinction of being ranked highly on various sales charts for both 12cm disc and 8cm discs, including the Original Confidence (Ori-Con) chart. Her following second single "Movin' on without you" (released February 17, 1999 ), a commercial song for Nissan Terrano, earned the top position as it appeared in the Original Confidence chart. And her debut album, "First Love" (March 10, 1999 release), sold out at record stores prior to its official release date. In addition to instantly ranking No.1 on the Ori-Con chart, it also set new records for "Highest Initial Points for a Debut Album," and "Highest Initial Points for an Original Album." In the May 10 issue of Ori-Con, it became No.1 on the All Albums Chart. In the space of a mere five months after her debut, Utada climbed to the top of the Japanese pop music scene. After the title track of "First Love" (released April 28, 1999) became the main theme for TBS network's weekly drama "Majo no Joken" (To Be a Witch), it was released as a single. Together with the drama the song continues to give heart-throbbing excitement to all viewers. The first live performances as "Utada Hikaru" were held on April 1 (at Umeda Heat Beat, Osaka) and April 2 (at Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo) with a full invitation system. Each host radio station was swarmed by applications from fans. Each stage was one consolidated groove when everybody and everything in the hall became as one amid the highest excitement, as Utada voiced, "Live is great and fun...!" As is evident from the above, it is no exaggeration to say that Utada has become a social phenomenon, the female artist receiving the most attention from everybody regardless of age. "I will continue to do my own music, as 'Utada Hikaru,' without the constraints of musical genres. I want to keep betraying everybody in a good sense!" she says with a genuine smile. It will be fun to see how things develop; given her motto, "As it goes" (Que Sera Sera), Hikaru Utada will certainly continue to surprise everybody.

Utada was raised in an environment of constant exposure to music including studio visits because both her parents were engaged in music-related work. It was, however, after the family returned to Japan and Hikaru was about ten that she really started listening to music. In those days, she listened mainly to rock, for instance "Queen" and "Bon Jovi." The reason for her current preference of a wide range of musical genres has its root in her past. Later, on the advice of a friend, she encountered R&B, which she ended up devoting herself to. Hikaru started her professional activities composing and writing lyrics in English only at age ten. As soon as she debuted on an indie label in New York, she, as "Cubic U," caught the attention of many well-known artists and the music industry. In addition to releasing three 12-inch singles, she also released (still as "Cubic U") a maxi-single in the U.S. and Europe when she was 12. In Japan, the Toshiba Free Base label released the first maxi-single, "Close to You," and the album " Precious," under the name "Cubic U" in January 1998 before any other country. (Talks to release these on a major U.S. label are currently underway.) It's well known that Lenny Kravitz, listening to "Precious," offered great praise. And on Dec. 9, 1998, she debuted as "Utada Hikaru" with "Automatic/time will tell," songs written in Japanese for the first time. In the future, she says, she will do her activities globally as two totally different artists "'Utada Hikaru' in Japan, and 'Cubic U' in the U.S."

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