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AsiaFinest Utada Hikaru
The same birth date as Yuming, a colleague in the same company; writer/poet Edgar Allan Poe whom I fell in love with in junior-high school; Ogai Mori, a writer of Japan's literary history; and dear Mr. Udo Suzuki, another person Japan is proud of. Please let me know if anyone you know is born on the same date.
Height: 158 cm It's my height, honest. It hasn't changed since my debut. I wonder if that means my growth is totally over?
Blood Type: A Well! True born type!, 'cause both of my parents are A. It's a common type among Japanese, isn't it?
Hobbies: Literature remains my eternal passion! I've been missing Japanese literature so much of late. I rushed into a bookstore which sells books in Japanese, and bought about 15 books in one swoop... I stay at home and have been grappling with the books like a hungry beast. Buying furniture, collecting furniture and interior goods Though I said I've been growing my hair long, I've had it cut. Ou, la, la. (Girls who had their hair short once would know this feeling?) Of course email is a tool indispensable for business and private life, but cruise the Net too. I learned about several sites from Toshiba EMI's engineer the other day. They are awesome -- quite interesting, Mesdames! I recommend first of all two of them, Modern Living and otogaiworld-------. Visit them late at night, then they'll be further to the point.
Specialties: To evade saying "I suppose it's OK"*To puzzle others*Independent action of my left little finger*Basketball*Cleaning. Really, I have confidence at it. I get strangely obsessed about the cleanliness of my house. If I suddenly disappear from the music world, you might see Hikaru Utada working as a helper at some inn in Atami.
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";
Hermann Hesse. Read "Siddhartha" and "Happiness" and "Steppenwolf" as finale, then you'll be fully satisfied! (I recommend the translation by Kenji Takahashi)
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.
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.
Places I Want to Go: Italy, Mexico, Machu Picchu, Sahara Desert, my ancestral home in Yamaguchi Pref. (I've never visited before, and would like to visit as soon as I can.)
Things Hooked on Recently:
*Hoop-shaped pierced earrings (again) and accessories with silver and gold mixed, though I used to focus on silver only before (does that mean that I've grown a bit?)
*Stimulant seasonings such as tabasco, sesame oil with chili peppers, vinegar and wasabi.
*I'm into long baths lately. Throughout the world, whether at home in New York, in Japan or in a hotel in Europe, I'm indebted to Japan's famous hot spring bath powder from Tsumura. My father said he likes it, too. Don't you think I have fairly composed daily schedule, though my looks may be quite far out....
*It's a fairly recent thing but I've become very fond of making drinks myself. I bought an espresso maker and coffee maker and make them myself every day. I also discovered a cute teacup set at DKNY and I make Japanese tea often and drink it. I squeeze oranges every morning to make juice... Are these things so common that everybody does them? For me who doesn't cook, it's great progress!
My Favorite Words:
kinomi kinomama (with only the clothes one happens to be wearing); shogyo mujo (All things are in flux and nothing is permanent); kechon kechon (completely); charappoko (no sweat); gakeppuchi (cliff edge); ikkaku senkinn (quick money, fortune at a stroke) (--laugh);
February; maybe; love;
"Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be" - Abraham Lincoln;
"Instead of tug o'war, let's play hug o' war" - Shel Silverstein;
"Turn a negative into a positive picture" - Lauryn Hill
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...!"
Utada Hikaru was born in the United States to a famous enka singer and a songwriter, who not only made sure that Hikaru inherited their talents, but also that she learned English before returning to Japan. As a child, Hikaru, spent time in recording studios soaking in the music and, at age 10, she began writing her own song lyrics in English. During that time, she was rocking out to bands like Queen and Bon Jovi, but later on got into R&B. By age 12, she had released three singles in the U.S. under the pseudonym, Cubic U.
When she released her first album, "First Love," in Japan, it immediately went to No. 1 on the charts and became the most popular debut album ever released in Japan, selling eight million copies. Utada is currently living in New York City, and is an undergraduate student at Columbia University.
Part of the above bio is from Time, Hikki's website and jpopmusic.
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 her fellow Columbia University freshmen, she hasn't settled on a major yet. But there were rumors about her among the students during orientation weekstories 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 her praises: BILINGUAL STRAIGHT-A STUDENT! AND THE DIVA OF THE HEISEI PERIOD! The Japanese public devours her music: her debut CD, First Love (1999), sold more than 9.5 million copies, making it the best-selling album in Japanese history. Her 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 her own material, combining light melodies and strong grooves. Her 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." Her father Teruzane Utada is a producer and musician who now runs her 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 youngas early as 28and 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."
The music industry is ruled by stereotypes: whites rock, blacks rap and croon soul, and few dare to cross the color line. There are hardly any Asian pop acts of prominence in the U.S. (no wonder some see Hikaru as mysterious). Hikaru is mounting a challenge to the status quo. On Blow My Whistle, her voice is more resonant than on her Japanese-language songs, and the track boasts beats that are more forceful. She leaves no doubt: she's got Mary J. Blige, 125th Street-type soul. There's another twist. The credits bill her as "Hikaru Utada"using the Western custom of listing the surname last. Says Hikaru: "I just figured it's a good way to separate my English and Japanese personas." After the interview, she sends a follow-up e-mail that begins, "This is Hikaru Utada. (Or is it Utada Hikaru...oh, whichever!)" She's still a freshman. She'll work things out. This is from a Time's article Oct 2001 BY CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY WITH REPORTING BY TOKO SEKIGUCHI/TOKYO
Update 9/06/2002 - Utada Hikaru announced her marriage to 34 year old photographer Kiriya Taniwa. They met in winter 2 years ago and have continued a relationship ever since. She too plans to have a child in the near future and is puting her singing career on hold for a short period of time to settle into her new life.
On October 5, 2004, Utada Hikaru released her North American debut album, Exodus, under the name "Utada" (for fear of fans mutilating her Japanese nickname, Hikki). 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: "There really aren't any completely Asian people singing right now. For me, it's an experiment to see what people are gonna think of it". But her American debut as an Island Def Jam Music Group artist was met with indifference by the American market, perhaps due in part to poor promotion on her record label's part. Despite the failure in the international markets, this album topped the charts in Japan, though it sold less than her releases as Utada Hikaru. Also, "Devil Inside" became a club hit in the U.S. and topped the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Airplay charts.
"Easy Breezy" was released as the lead single in early August 2004, followed up by the dance blockbuster "Devil Inside" a month and two weeks later. "Exodus '04" was released at the end of June 2005. The fourth single from her "Exodus" album was released in October 2005: "You Make Me Want To Be A Man"
If you have any pictures of Utada Hikaru, please send it to us and we'll credit you for it. Talk about Utada Hikaru in our friendly discussion forum!
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