Follow TV Tropes


Music / Ayumi Hamasaki

Go To

"In the beginning, I was searching for myself in my music. My music was for me. I didn't have the mental room to be conscious of the listener; I wrote to save myself.”

Ayumi Hamasaki (often stylized as 'ayumi hamasaki', Japanese: 浜崎あゆみ), often known as Ayu, is a Japanese singer-songwriter who has been dubbed the Empress of Pop because of her popularity and widespread influence in Japan and throughout Eastern Asia. She is known for her tight control over her artistry and ever-evolving appearance in addition to the numerous domestic records she holds. She is the best selling female and solo act in the history of Japanese music, and has earned the most #1 singles both consecutively and overall.


  • Nothing from Nothing (1995; pre-Avex album)
  • A Song for XX (1999)
  • LOVEppears (1999)
  • Duty (2000)
  • I am… (2002)
  • RAINBOW (2002)
  • Memorial address (2003; mini-album)
  • MY STORY (2004)
  • (miss)understood (2006)
  • Secret (2006)
  • GUILTY (2008)
  • NEXT LEVEL (2009)
  • Rock’n’Roll Circus (2010)
  • Love songs (2010)
  • FIVE (2011; mini-album)
  • Party Queen (2012)
  • LOVE (2012; mini-album)
  • again (2012; mini-album)
  • LOVE again (2013; contains the songs from LOVE and again, plus new material)
  • COLOURS (2014)
  • A ONE (2015)
  • SIXXXXXX (2015; mini-album)
  • Made in Japan (2016)


  • All Just a Dream: “Sweet Season”, subverted in “ourselves” in that we think it’s all a dream, but then-WHAM!
  • Animated Music Video: “Connected”
  • Answer Song: Several to her own songs: "HANABI ~episode II~" to "HANABI", "FRIEND II" to "FRIEND", and "Virgin Road" to "A Song for XX", "P.S. II" to "Powder Snow".
    • An amusing sort-of example is Ayumi's song GREEN, released in 2008, was followed by a song called 'Ayumi' released by the japanese band 'GReeeeN' a few months later.
  • Astral Checkerboard Decor: Found in the music video for "Song 4 u".
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: From the "Sexy little things" video, when a giant woman breaks through the wall.
  • Audience Participation Song: Many songs have "Para Para" dances, which are taught beforehand. These would be "Trauma", "independent", "MY ALL", "RED LINE -For TA-" and "Sweet Season". To a lesser extent, songs like "UNITE!" and "AUDIENCE" count. The audience is also expected to respond during the very 'call & response' songs, "evolution" and "Boys & Girls".
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Seen quite understandably in the music video for "alterna" - which features Hamasaki being turned into a robotic singing machine with this kind of anatomy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: English can be found in quite a few of her songs. Various signs and posters in her music videos as well come in different languages: English in "Endless Sorrow" & "Startin'", French in "Together When...", Thai in "talkin' 2 myself", etc.
  • Body Horror: Hamasaki finds a doppelganger of herself in the music video for "Ladies Night". The horror part? When said doppelganger turns around to face the camera, she's entirely faceless.
  • Costume Porn: She's had a number of lavish, intricately designed concert costumes over the years.
  • Cover Version: Has covered a number of old songs: TRF's Happening Here, TM NETWORK's SEVEN DAYS WAR, Matsutoya Yumi's sotsugyou shashin - not including the times she's performed live covers as well.
    • Also covered Utada Hikaru's "Movin' On Without You" for Utada's tribute album.
  • Crossover: Ayumi has one with the Bloody Bunny web animation series, where she gets to kick ass alongside the titular character in the third major series Ayupan×Bloody Bunny.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: In the "ourselves" video, stalkers with masks of her face hide in the back seat of her car.
  • Darker and Edgier: While Hamasaki is known for going head-on with dark themes in her work, one example is particularly notable: following her 2006 album "Secret", which featured plenty of uplifting, happy tracks such as "BLUE BIRD", "Born To Be...", "Startin'", "Beautiful Fighters", etc., came her 2007 album, "GUILTY", which was largely inspired by the suicide of a close friend and featured a total of two uplifting tracks.
  • Determinator: After suffering an ear infection in 2000, she was advised by doctors to rest, but she continued to perform just days later. This led to more serious ear damage that she continued to perform through against her doctor's advice, causing permanent hearing loss. She's now completely deaf in one ear with severe hearing loss and tinnitus in the other, and reportedly suffers from vertigo, but she has said that she will still keep performing as usual.
    "The stage is where I belong. It’s the only place I really, truly exist. I don’t know anything else. There’s no point in worrying about what lies ahead. I will keep listening, even if I can’t hear. I will keep moving, evening if I can’t move. I’m not looking for sympathy or pity. I will hold my head high and keep going forward until my last breath."
  • Disappeared Dad: Her father left her family when she was three. The song "Memorial Address" was apparently written in response to her learning that he had died before she had to chance to meet him again.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: “decision”.
  • DVD Bonus Content: Naturally found on essentially all of her Tour DVDs.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Her first EP, Nothing From Nothing, which is out of print, was a hip-hop EP that had her rapping for most of the songs.
  • Empathic Environment: From the sudden rain in "Together When..." to the breezy hills in "Dearest", weather features a lot in her music videos.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Last Angel", "Mirrorcle World"
  • Even the Girls Want Her:
    • In "GREEN", a song that seems to be about homosexuality (though one can never be too sure, with Hamasaki's artistically ambiguous lyrics), the video features a story of unrequited love between Hamasaki and her female dancer Midori.
    • If one interprets the "BALLAD" performance from Arena Tour 2010—a Romeo & Juliet-esque theatrical performance—in a certain way, it could easily be implied that Midori's place in the Love Dodecahedron is the one in love with Hamasaki.
  • Eye Scream: The "Brillante" PV, especially hinted at in the end, with Ayu weeping Tears of Blood .
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Notable in a few songs, such as "GUILTY", or in performances such as "M" from Dome Tour 2001.
  • Foreign Language Title: Almost every song she's written has an English title despite being in Japanese, with the few Japanese song titles being written in the Roman alphabet.
  • Godiva Hair: The LOVEppears cover.
  • Gratuitous English: Averted in her early career, as she simply did not use English lyrics at all in her songs.note  Starting with the RAINBOW album, it's popped up occasionally, such as the chorus of "Real me".
    • A number of song titles throughout her career would fit, such as "Greatful Days", "my name's WOMEN", and "STEP you".
    • Other than that, she is a fairly decent English speaker, as can be seen in this interview. And that was in 2006. Recently she's spent a lot of time in both America and the UK, met up with fans and communicated in reportedly decent-to-good English, and has even been tweeting overseas fans in English as much as possible.
  • Great Balls of Fire!: Are featured in many of her live performances.
  • Greatest Hits Album: A BEST and A BEST 2.
  • Grief Song: "untitled ~for her~" was written to a close friend of Hamasaki’s who died in 2007. The upcoming album that year, GUILTY, was dedicated to her. "Memorial address" was, as rumor has it, written for her father who left when Hamasaki was around three years of age.
    • Then comes 2013 and "untitled for her... story 2"
  • Handicapped Badass: She's completely deaf in her left ear, has tinnitus in her right, and as of 2017 is starting to go completely deaf. This hasn't stopped her from becoming the top-selling soloist of all time in Japan. She was warned not to continue singing and touring. She's now been touring for 15 years straight.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: In the "GAME" PV.
  • Hidden Track: "kanariya" comes after "Who...", "Memorial address" after "part of Me", and "flower garden" after "Endless Sorrow ~gone with the wind version~"
  • Hitler Cam: We get this shot in her music video for “Ladies Night” features her dressed as a dictator or military leader, addressing a crowd of clones.
  • Humans Are Flawed: A key theme in many of her songs—especially important to her is the acknowledgment and reminder that she herself is flawed, something she readily accepts and that her fans sometimes don't.
  • Hymn to Music: "Microphone", which is apparently written to music itself.
    Meeting you was fate
    Because you're always
    The one who teaches me what it means to be me
    Who gives meaning to my existence
  • Japanese Pop Music: One of the key leaders of the industry.
  • Jump Scare: The ending of the "ourselves" PV, and the ending of the "ladies night" PV.
  • Let's Duet: She and Urata Naota on the song "Dream ON", along with all her duets on her show Ayuready?.
  • Laughing Mad: Played with. In her cute, upbeat, party-anthem track "Party Queen"—which upon further analysis (and thanks to Hamasaki confirming it herself), is actually a deconstruction of the party girl image and emphasizes the loneliness and sadness inherent to being a "Party Queen". At the end of the song, even after the music stops playing, laughter can be heard that a few fans have claimed sounds oddly deranged—which really drives the whole point of the song home.
  • Leitmotif: "Happening Here" acted as one during HOTEL Love songs.
  • Lighterand Softer: After the emotional gut-punch that was GUILTY, 2009 saw the release of "NEXT LEVEL", which was significantly brighter.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • Many of her happy-sounding songs. Whatever you were expecting from a song called "Trauma", this wasn’t it. It comes complete with little hand motions!
    • "HONEY" is probably the biggest offender here. Her most bubblegum-pop song in existence, with pretty unhappy lyrics - at least in the verses.
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "ANGEL’S SONG".
  • Medley: In several concerts she has created a medley of "SURREAL"-"evolution"-"SURREAL".
    • Countdown Live 2010-2011 ~do it again~ saw her chain together a number of staples into a medley in the encore.
  • Meido: Her outfit for "Shake it" and "STEP you" in Arena Tour 2012 ~HOTEL Love songs~
  • Memento MacGuffin: The red bracelet she's often seen wearing.
  • Mind Rape: Seems to be what's going on in "Voyage"/"Tsuki ni Shimizu"
  • Motor Mouth: Try to sing "evolution" without getting tongue-tied.
  • Music at Sporting Events: "Born to be..." was the official song of the Japanese teams in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The majority of her songs. Almost every single song she released prior to RAINBOW would count, as almost all of them had English titles but no English lyrics.
  • Nostalgic Music Box: "HANABI", "You were...(Music Box Mix)".
  • Older Than They Look: She’s in her 30’s, but she can still be mistaken for a teenager to the unwary eye.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune:
    • "Marionette", and see its companion "Marionette –prelude-". Then go hide under your bed.
    • Furthered by the production of an actual spinning music box with the "Marionette" Ayupan from Asia Tour 2008, which plays a 35 second ominous music box tune.
  • Once per Episode: Short, instrumental interludes. Other than Colours, She's had at least one (though often more) on every full-length studio album she's released.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: She has a very wide range of styles, but some examples stick out like a sore thumb, most notably the rousing gospel-inspired "Bold & Delicious".
    • She's also done electro music quite a few times as well.
    • Her 2012 album "Party Queen" featured two songs heavily inspired by Broadway musicals, with hints of cabaret and old-fashioned jazz.
  • Pretty in Mink: Has worn furs in some videos and some stage performances.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "A Song for XX “030213 Session #II”", "Ladies Night ~another night~", the ballad intro to "evolution", "Endless sorrow ~gone with the wind ver.~" and her multitude of acoustic and orchestral rearrangements.
    • The 10th Anniversary Versions of "Depend on you", "LOVE ~Destiny~", "Who...", "TO BE", and "YOU".
    • Many of HAL’s versions of her songs can be considered rearrangements instead of remixes.
    • "Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~" and "Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~", though the two songs also have different lyrics.
  • Recycled Lyrics: Lyrics from the chorus "POWDER SNOW" are re-used in its Sequel Song "P.S. II":
    It's alright to cry as much as you want tonote 
    Until your tears have completely driednote 
    It's alright to scream at the top of your voicenote 
    Until your voice has gone completely hoarsenote 
  • Sequel Song: "P.S. II" (LOVEppears) is one to "Powder Snow"
  • Shout-Out: One to Lupin III in Countdown Live 2007-2008.
  • Talking to the Dead: A few of her songs could be interpreted as this, as they're usually written—not just about—but to a deceased person important to Hamasaki.
  • Talky Bookends: Her “Startin’” video begins and ends with two friends continuing a conversation. This is played for humor, as the video is a parody of multiple pop music influences and artists.
  • The Oner: The music videos for “HEAVEN”, “Curtain call”, and “Daybreak”.
  • Translated Cover Version: She used compositions and some arrangements from Sweetbox for "Ladies Night", "Bold & Delicious", "Pride", "rainy day"/"Every Step", "Beautiful Day"/"Beautiful Girl", and "In the Corner". While Hamasaki’s lyrics aren’t exact translations, some of the songs deal with similar themes as the English versions.
  • Vocal Evolution: Due to aging, experience and strain from overwork. She's gone from high-pitched and shrill in the 90s, to emotive and forceful (while still quite shrill) in the early 2000s, to deeper and somewhat hoarse today. Her voice has retained its distinctive nasal tone, however.
    • This is showcased in A BEST, where Ayu re-recorded the tracks from A Song for XX. Within just 2 yearsnote  her voice/singing technique had changed markedly.
  • Wolverine Publicity: At the peak of her popularity, she was constantly in the news and on various television shows and magazine covers, in addition to having her own clothing line, merchandise, and television show, in addition to releasing an album every single year and constant single releases, which themselves were often tie-ins for TV series or commercials, as well as touring every year. She's less heavily exposed these days, but still releases albums and tours every year.