Utada Hikaru (or Hikaru Utada, if you're using the Western name order), born January 19 1983, is one of Japan's prominent and successful music artists. Her debut album, First Love
(1999), recorded when she was only 15 years old, is the best-selling album in Japan's history, selling at least 7.7 million copies in total (10.1 million copies worldwide), including over 2 million copies in its first week alone. Most of her following singles and albums went on to occupy the top ten spots on the same list.
She writes and produces almost all of her music, differentiating her from the numerous Idol Singers
who don't hold much creative power over their work. Born and raised in New York, she is fluent in Japanese and English, and has released two albums for the American market under the name Utada
In the west, she is perhaps most well-known for the theme songs of the first two Kingdom Hearts
games — both Japanese and the English versions. Her songs "Beautiful World" and "Sakura Nagashi" are featured in the Rebuild of Evangelion
She is currently on hiatus, beginning year 2010. Her goodbye concert was streamed live on the web for the benefit of her foreign fans and others who wouldn't be able to see it in person.
- First Love (1999)
- Distance (2001)
- Deep River (2002)
- Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol. 1 (2004) (compilation album)
- Ultra Blue (2006)
- Heart Station (2008)
- Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol. 2 (2010) (compilation album)
- Precious (1998) (under the pseudonym "Cubic U")
- Exodus (2004) (Utada)
- This is the One (2009)(Utada)
- Utada the Best (2010)(compilation album) (Utada)
Provides examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: In the video for You Make Me Want to be a Man has a modern, robotic twist, where Utada plays a feminine robot constructed around a masculine robot's rib. Also, there is a reference to the snake.
- Bare Your Midriff: Downplayed in the music videos for Can You Keep a Secret and Wait and See (Risk)
- Breakup Song: "Taking My Money Back", oh so very much. Also "Come Back to Me" and "This One (Crying Like a Child)" (all three from This Is The One).
- Continuity Nod: This is present in two of her music videos from different eras in her career. The first is "Keep Tryin" which has references to her past MV's that were all directed by her then husband, Kazuaki Kiriya. Naturally, avid fans had fun pointing these out. The second, "Goodbye Happiness" also has references to some of her past videos.
- Echoing Acoustics: For Beautiful World's Planitb remix.
- Cover Version: Covered "Close to You" by The Carpenters in her Cubic U days. She's also done covers of a-ha, Frank Sinatra, and Placebo in various live concerts.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Her classmates in New York nicknamed her Hikki. She was a bit flustered when she found out what a hickey was a few years later.
- Epic Fail: Toshiba-EMI (her record label) employed a company called Media Interactive Inc. to go through Youtube and delete all infringing videos. Seemingly, this included all the music videos (including the video debuted exclusively on Youtube "Goodbye Happiness") from Utada's Official YouTube Channel leaving many fans, her staff and the artist bewildered. ◊
- Genre Savvy: Has invoked Retcon ("Come Back to Me").
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: She has a massive teddy bear named Kuma Chang who features heavily in her career ranging from promotional photos, tweets/blog entries involving conversations with him and to top it all, she's written a single song from his point of his view called "Boku wa Kuma".
- Intercourse with You: "The Workout", "Let Me Give You My Love", "Dirty Desire"... There's a fair bit of this on her English-language albums. A Japanese song, "Traveling", might also count.
- May-December Romance: Her ex-husband was 15 years older than her. Some have speculated that the reason for their divorce was because of the age gap as well as the fact that she married rather young at age 19 (at that age, 15 years is pretty big).
- Mood Whiplash: On Heart Station, "Take 5", a rather haunting song about dying and being separated from one's body, cuts abruptly into "Boku wa Kuma" which is a cute, children's song about, uh, a bear.
- Also, the whiplash from "d'aw somebody died :(" to "lolsextime" in "Let Me Give You My Love".
- The Oner: The aforementioned "Goodbye Happiness" music video, with a still faux-web cam in a bedroom.
- Performance Video: "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro" features a performance more heavily than her other videos, but also features an implied plot about a broken-up family.
- Pop-Star Composer
- Red-Headed Hero: As a flight attendant in her extravagant music video Traveling.
- Robosexual: Subverted in the music video Can You Keep A Secret, where Utada is having a romantic relationship with a robot but by the last scene is revealed to be a Robot Girl herself.
- Sampling: "Give Me a Reason" samples the famous drum break from James Brown's "Funky Drummer". Hearing it in a slow ballad is... weird.
- "Never Let Go" interpolates the melody from Sting's "Shape of My Heart".
- The violin-sounding instrument from "Exodus '04", produced by Timbaland, is lifted from the song "Meshkeltek" by an Arabian artist named Aitha al-Menhali.
- Scenery Porn: Her video for Passion is just breath-takingly beautiful.
- Sequel Song: "Automatic", her 1998 debut single, and "Automatic Pt.2" from 2009's This Is The One. Interesting in that part one is in Japanese and part two is in English.
- Shout-Out: To Edgar Allan Poe in Kremlin Dusk. Utada even uses his full name in the lyrics. To Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, and Freddie Mercury in "Animato". Again, Utada mentions them directly in the lyrics.
- Singer Namedrop: Did this as Cubic U in "Ticket 4 Two".
- Softer And Slower Cover: "Final Distance" (Deep River) is one of "Distance" (Distance).
- Surprisingly Good English: Japanese name, Japanese career, Japanese-language albums. To the casual observer, she looks about as J-poppy as you can get, but her first album was entirely in English. (The US never got it because Capitol Records was restructuring.) As noted above, she's actually Japanese-American, and speaks both Japanese and English fluently.
- Waxing Lyrical: Come Back To Me
- Your Cheating Heart: "Tippy Toe", which is sung from the point of view of the mistress.